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Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades


In her new book, Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades, primary teacher Kathy Cassidy makes a compelling case for connecting our youngest students to the world, using the transformative power of Internet tools and technologies. Her well-balanced text presents both the rationale for connecting students “from the start” and the how-to details and examples teachers need to involve children in grades K-3 in using blogs, Twitter, Skype and other social media to become true global learners.

This highly interactive digital book — featuring dozens of color photos, six student-centered videos, and hundreds of live links to helpful downloads and outside resources — invites the reader right into Kathy’s cozy and connected classroom, where kids are talking live with students “down under,” swapping video with peers in Greece, and using personal blogs to create digital portfolios that document their growth and achievement for parents, families and a worldwide audience.

Want to preview before you buy? Check out the table of contents and read an excerpt from Chapter 1. When you purchase Connected from the Start, you'll receive the eBook in both PDF and ePub formats.

Kathy CassidyAbout the author

Kathy Cassidy is a grade-one teacher for Prairie South Schools in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada. Since 2005, she has been integrating various technologies into her teaching practice to help “connect” her primary-grades students so they can become global learners. Kathy also does professional development presentations and workshops on technology integration and early literacy and is a recipient of the Kay L. Bitter Award from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for outstanding technology leadership in the primary grades. Follow her on Twitter @kathycassidy

What they're saying

Dean Shareski”Kathy Cassidy has become a shining example of what one teacher with some grit, curiosity and passion can do to realize the powerful potential of computing and technology in the classroom. And she does it with 6 and 7 year olds.” – Dean Shareski, Community Manager, Discovery Education Canada

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Showing reviews 1-10 of 13 | Next

  1. Connecting our Littlest Learners is Vital!

    Posted by Kate Peila, Purely Paperless on 15th Sep 2013

    I purchased and read this book on the recommendation of a friend this summer and I am so glad that I did. So many of my personal beliefs and values about technology integration in the primary classroom were validated.

    Kathy Cassidy has created some fantastic learning experiences for her students that are easily replicable in any classroom. It is amazing to watch the embedded videos and see the kinds of things that her students are doing at such a young age. Kathy is truly an inspiration.

    If you have an interest in providing your students with learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom walls, I would highly recommend this book. Learn to appropriately utilize tools like Skype, Twitter, and blogging in the classroom. You won't look back!

  2. want to take a step forward towards 21st century teaching? read this book!

    Posted by Sherell Stepp on 17th Jul 2013

    This was an amazing book with tons of authentic work done by primary children! The learning described in this book is inspiring!

  3. Tapping Technology for Global Learning!

    Posted by Pati Terry, Adjunct Professor, Education, Virginia Wesleyan College on 2nd May 2013

    "Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades," by Kathy Cassidy is an exemplary chronicle of one teacher’s journey into the use of social media to deliver multi-disciplinary experiences for her primary aged students. As stated in an old proverb, “experience is the best teacher,” primarily because it involves dynamic engagement in a specific activity. Ms. Cassidy recognizes the need for her students to develop the skills and attitudes that will serve them well in a global society, and as such has sought opportunities to expand their horizons by involving them in a variety of experiences with students from other parts of the world by using a variety of Web 2.0 tools. This book is not intended to teach how the technology itself works, but rather provides samples of the ways in which she and her students have used the tools to connect with others, and how they have shared learning activities with them.

    As educators, we strive to design activities for our students that will be both engaging and result in the achievement of our instructional goals. We often learn from each other, spending time chatting with the teacher In the next classroom, down the hall, across town, or somewhere around the world. When you read this book, you will feel as though you’re seated at a table with Kathy herself, two colleagues sharing stories. Her style is warm and supportive, and it is clear that her primary focus is on her students and their growth, rather than on the technology they might use.

    Kathy begins with a reflective look at her early days when she was just starting out, providing even the most tentative web user with simple activities that are easy to manage. She conveys a sense of excitement on the part of her students as she describes the questions they ask, and the wonderment they exhibit when learning about children in other cultures. One such example is how she set up a Google Doc and invited students in other classes to share what they eat for breakfast. As her students watched the words appear in real time on the white board in their classroom, they were amazed that not everyone eats the same foods. This led to a discussion on various foods, as might be expected, but also prompted many other questions. They wanted to get to know these other students. Their curiosity had been piqued.

    Throughout the book, Kathy has embedded links to various resources, images, sound recordings and video clips to illustrate how she engages her students in interactive sessions with others. Many of these links take the reader to online collections, so it is best to read this work in its electronic format. She provides examples of the videos which her students have created to illustrate how simple and short they can be. Kathy describes how her initial foray into video projection was rudimentary, but that because the tools that are now available have become both easier to use, and offer more options, both she and her students can easily create appropriate video material to share with others. She emphasizes the need for keeping her students safe, and provides strategies that may help other teachers to do the same. She takes the time to describe in detail how she encourages parents and other extended family members to read and respond to entries posted by students on their blogs.

    "Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades" illustrates how young children can use blogs and wikis to practice reading and writing skills by developing their own “digital portfolios.” By contributing to these over the course of the school year, it is possible to observe a child’s growth over time. Kathy shares how exciting a Skype session can be for students and describes several activities that can be done using this tool, but cautions that time zones can often be tricky to work around. She also mentions several ways to use Twitter to promote learning in the classroom, and offers some do’s and don’ts for the successful integration of this social media tool. Of course, there are many situations where limited or even no technology can impact what is possible. Kathy provides some strategies that can be used with classrooms that may not have specific technologies at their disposal, and illustrates these with examples to show how these experiences enhance her students’ learning. She points the reader to numerous resources within the appropriate sections of the book explaining how to make connections with others.

    Kathy Cassidy credits her mentors with having faith in her as she first dipped her toes into the unknown world of the internet, and now eagerly mentors others who come to her for assistance. She provides links to her own blog, her Twitter accounts and her YouTube accounts so that anyone can reach out to her. She explains that she has only described a few of the many tools available online, and notes that new ones are are always being developed that can make the use of computers, smartphones and tablets appropriate for very young children. She wonders what tools others have found useful and encourages everyone to share them with her. If you are thinking of tapping into the power of the internet for the first time, or extending what you already know to craft powerful learning experiences for your students, "Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades" would be a great place to begin your own journey!

  4. With this book, I can finally open up the world for my students

    Posted by Jane Ching Fung on 23rd Apr 2013

    I have always admired teachers who are able to utilize technology in their classrooms to open up the world of learning for students. I want to be one of those teachers. With the new book by Kathy Cassidy, “Connected From the Start,” I think I finally can.

    As a first grade teacher, my students’ use of technology has been limited to educational games and websites, with a little word processing thrown in. I often wondered how I could engage and involve young students in more meaningful uses of technology. Kathy’s book shows even the most novice techie how to get teachers and students connected and engaged in activities that promote communication, collaboration, sharing of information, and making learning public.

    Connected From the Start provides readers with step-by-step instructions on how to enter the world of Skype and Twitter, how to engage young students in blogging, and how to use student blogs to not only share learning, but to document the progress of their learning.

    I highly recommend the e-book with all its hyperlinks to Kathy’s own websites, videos, and suggested online resources. The hyperlinks lead to real artifacts and resources that help readers understand each topic and see how they work in action.

    Connected From the Start is a simple and engaging how-to manual written for teachers by a teacher, and the best part is that you won’t have to go it alone! Kathy provides her personal accounts and blogs so that readers may post questions and provide feedback. I cannot wait to get my primary kids connected!

    Jane Ching Fung
    NBCT, First Grade Teacher, Los Angeles
    Board of Directors - National Commission on Teaching and America's Future

  5. Should Be Required Reading for All New & Pre-Service Teachers

    Posted by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (via Powerful Learning Press) on 23rd Apr 2013

    [Here's an excerpt from a new review of Kathy's book, posted at the Langwitches blog. See: http://bit.ly/17NSXOW]

    "The first person, I thought of immediately who NEEDED to read this book was my daughter, who recently graduated with a degree in elementary education.

    "Connected from the Start should be required reading for all new teachers, better yet, for all pre-service teachers. The book inspires, guides and gives practical how-to-get-started advice. Although Kathy is a first grade teacher, I believe the book is relevant for all grade levels. Yes… including middle and high school.

    "Teachers who have imagination and the desire to perfect their teaching craft will be able to tweak lessons learned to connect to their own curriculum, subject area and grade level."

  6. Amazing, revelatory, magical, beautiful book

    Posted by Lisa Noble (via Powerful Learning Press) on 19th Apr 2013

    [Excerpts from a review by teacher Lisa Noble - see http://bit.ly/11Lwy0Y]

    ...This book, this amazing, revelatory, magical, beautiful book – this is the example I would have used. It’s an e-book from PLP Press (one hopes the first of many), and reading it, as an educator interested in trying to take my technology practice up a notch, is like being handed a detailed game plan. Need to see what she means by a particular idea? Click on the video that shows her class demonstrating it (and experience their joy in what they’re doing). Want to see the background on digital footprint that she references? Click the link – you’re there.

    The book is not only a great experience for a teacher, it’s terrific for a learner. The information is chunked, so you can take it one gentle, hand-held step at a time. And the “how-tos” are just that – there is no previous knowledge assumed (I am really beginning to think this is a key piece in convincing people to try this sort of teaching and learning). It is a true step-by-step approach, and you can determine how many steps you’re ready to take.

    Throughout the book, Cassidy manages a great balance between the why and the how. It’s that balance we’re always looking for – where good pedagogy is driving the use of the technology. So, she explains why she uses Skype in her classroom, and what it brings to her students (with concrete, curriculum-linked examples), and then she takes you through exactly how to set it up for your classroom.

    If this was a hard-copy book, it would already be dog-eared and highlighted into oblivion (and I would suggest reading it in a .pdf program that will let you highlight and annotate) This is a keeper, one to have in your digital backpack all the time, but, most of all, it’s one to share. Give it to your admin, your colleagues, your student teacher. Their students will thank you.

  7. Can't Say Enough about This Invaluable Resource

    Posted by Powerful Learning Press on 19th Apr 2013

    [NOTE: This review by 4th grade teacher Patti Grayson first appeared at Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day blog. Reposted here with permission.]


    Editor’s Note: I will periodically be inviting guests to write short reviews of books that I have read and feel are particularly helpful to educators. Patti Grayson kicks off this new feature reviewing Kathy Cassidy’s exceptional new book.


    I can’t say enough about what an invaluable resource for teachers I found Connected From the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades to be. Author and primary teacher Kathy Cassidy has included something for everyone, whether you are just beginning to find ways to connect your students to the world via the Internet and social media, or you have experience using tools like Skype, Twitter, and blogs in the classroom.

    In addition to discovering how to provide this incredible learning experience for your students, you’ll learn how to bring experts into your classroom via the Internet, hold interactive student-led conferences, and help your kids develop public digital portfolios.

    I was amazed at how much Kathy’s six-year olds could do online. Kathy says it well in this quote:

    “Some people worry that young children should not be online because they cannot be safe. Instead, I worry that young children who are isolated from social technologies will not learn HOW to be safe online. In our increasingly connected world, it is important for even five and six year olds to begin to learn what is appropriate when using technology to connect.”

    As an elementary educator, the name Kathy Cassidy was far from new to me. I’ve been following her posts at the Voices From the Learning Revolution group blog since she wrote about global learning for primary students there almost two years ago. I also follow her on Twitter, and my class follows her class on Twitter as well.

    Kathy is an inspiration to elementary educators everywhere – and not just primary teachers. She is a risk-taker and boldly jumps into new connected learning experiences for the benefit of her incredibly fortunate Grade One/Two students – with amazing results. I’ve learned a great deal from this Canadian prairie teacher, thanks to her transparency. She openly and honestly talks about her teaching experiences, in the hopes that others can learn from her successes and failures.

    I was proud to be featured along with Kathy in the first publication from Powerful Learning Press, The Connected Teacher: Powering Up, and was pleased to see that PLPress’s next offering provided a thorough account of Kathy’s connected teaching practices. She has much to share and her book is written in a very reader-friendly format. Her passion and excitement in the learning of her emerging readers and writers shines through in every chapter.

    Speaking of format, Connected from the Start is an interactive book filled with color photos from her classroom. I loved the fact that I could relax and read it from my iPad, clicking on embedded videos of Kathy’s adorable students and links to examples of their learning. There is no wondering: “What would this look like in my classroom?” Simply click and see exactly how it’s done.

    Links to resources, websites, blogs, and other information are everywhere, making the information easy to understand and accessible regardless of your experience (or lack thereof) with connected learning. Kathy also includes green shaded boxes throughout the book with additional information about the sites or apps available to support teachers and students.

    Teachers will return to this book again and again as you bring the joys of connected learning to your students. Before you know it, they will be learning and sharing with others across the globe (and you will, too!).

    --- Reviewer Patti Grayson is a fourth (and sometimes third) grade teacher at Virginia’s Hampton Roads Academy and a member of the digital learning leadership team. Her articles have appeared at MindShift and Teach.com and she was named a Top 10 Teacher in the Hampton Roads community for 2012. Follow her on Twitter @pattigrayson. Her account of her own students’ adventures traveling the world via Skype can be found at the Voices blog of Powerful Learning Practice.

  8. First Impressions

    Posted by Powerful Learning Press on 16th Apr 2013

    [NOTE: We grabbed these comments from Dayle Timmons' blog because they SO make the case for why Kathy's book is best read on any digital device that can display an interactive PDF! -- John Norton, PLPress Editorial Director]

    I know Kathy Cassidy's work because she is a 1st grade teacher who has been "the" voice for how first grade teachers can connect to the world...As I sat down this morning in my comfortable chair with my paper printout of Connected From the Start, I soon realized this was going to be a different reading experience indeed! There are live links throughout the book and I wasn't ten pages in before I had to get up out of my comfy chair, go to my computer, and check out one of the videos.

    A few more pages and I had to see if my Skype account was still active. I was remembering how we skyped a teacher who went to Japan last year for the opening of the games of Major League Baseball. The kids were so excited. Why haven't I used that more in my classroom? It really wasn't so hard except for managing the time difference. So as I searched first grade teachers in Skype, I tried to think of a project that might be interesting. We have just started a new author study so I put in a request for any class that might also be studying Mem Fox. We'll see what turns up!

    Twenty pages in and I've reconnected with my Twitter account (which I admit to not using very much - I just couldn't seem to find MY place on Twitter), because Kathy suggested searching by the hashtag #1stchat! An hour later and I've been through dozens of links to amazing suggestions and apps. Can't wait to get to Chapter 6 which is all about Twitter!

    Now this is going to be one interesting read! I think I need a more comfortable chair at my computer!

    – Dayle Timmons, Chet Creek Elementary, Jacksonville FL, 2004 Florida State Teacher of the Year.

  9. A Must Read For Primary Teachers

    Posted by K. Lirenman on 14th Apr 2013

    Kathy's book takes a look at the journey of connecting young learners with the world. In clear, gentle language Kathy explores connecting through skype, blogging, digital portfolios, twitter, and wikis. Within each section, in addition to comprehensive text, she provides loads of links to websites, blogposts, and videos. You truly get to peek into her classroom.

    Kathy starts by stressing how important it is to teach our children how to be safe on-line instead of limiting their access. And that access to an abundance of technology is not needed to get started on this journey. A lot of what Kathy talks about can be done with just one device with internet access.

    Throughout the book Kathy continues to remind us that having students connected provides them with authentic literacy opportunities. Using twitter is about reading and skyping is about listening and speaking. Connecting with real people whether through skype, blogs, wikis etc.. is a powerful way to learn.

    But in true Kathy style she remains humble. She talks about many of the errors that she's made along the way but stresses that it's okay to make mistakes. This genuine honesty makes it easy for the reader to connect to her writing.

    Kathy is a truly gifted educator. Her book provides many examples of ways to connect a primary classroom with the world. It is an inspiring read, and one that should be read by all primary teachers.

  10. A Necessary Read

    Posted by Matt Renwick on 14th Apr 2013

    "A good book encourages thought. A great book will change the way you think."

    When Lani Ritter Hall, co-author of The Connected Educator, asked me to review Kathy Cassidy’s new e-Book Connected from the Start, I got a little nervous. Who am I to pass judgment on the work of a highly connected educator like Kathy? Even worse, what if I didn’t like it?

    Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. This book is a necessary read for all elementary educators. The only thing she got wrong was which grade levels this book was most appropriate. I can imagine any K-5 teacher could implement the ideas Kathy shares to help their students become more connected online.

    Instead of giving you a persuasive essay about why you should buy this book (and you should), I will share two ways Kathy’s work has impacted what I do as an elementary principal and literacy leader.

    1. Digital Portfolios

    In the beginning of the school year, Dropbox was the tool selected for my teachers to curate student writing. The plan was to share these web-based folders with parents as the year progressed, so everyone could see student growth over time.

    One problem was (and still is) that the teachers are doing the work. Although Dropbox is a great tool for online storage of many types of media, we have found it a bit time-consuming for documenting student writing. The teacher has to take a picture, upload it to the student’s file, and organize it chronologically.

    After reading Kathy’s book, I realized that a great digital portfolio tool was right in front of me: a blog. She has her students, as young as six years, regularly post online. The students’ content is not only given a broader audience, it solicits comments from other teachers, peers and family members.

    This practical application in a primary classroom is powerful. It comes from someone who has been there and done that, and not from an administrator (like myself) or from a technologist that lacks that meaningful and authentic experience.

    2. Collaborative Writing

    I had been thinking for a while how I might show 4th grade students how to share their writing with an audience beyond our school walls. After reading Kathy’s book, it sparked the idea of using Google apps to make this happen.

    We plan to have the students write a narrative based on one of the fourteen scenes from Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Students can use Google Drive to create these stories, and post them on one Google Site. It would be maintained by educators from both schools, even though we are hundreds of miles apart. Teachers would show students how to comment effectively on another student’s writing. The benefits of these practices are a broader audience and a more authentic purpose to their work.

    Lani Ritter Hall stated that “there is not another e-book out there like this”. I couldn’t agree more.

Showing reviews 1-10 of 13 | Next

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