Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#cyberPD Part 1: Who Owns The Learning?

Another opportunity to learn right beside you (Cathy) and you (Laura) and you (Jill) and YOU (Yes, YOU!)?  I'm in!

This summer I am participating (again) in the #cyberPD conversations about the book by Alan November titled Who Owns The Learning? Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age.

Reading any PD book grows my thinking and gets me wondering about the implications in my school and more specifically, in my resource classroom.  This title was not in my original #cyberPD summer book stack, but I wasn't about to miss out on the conversations and learning.  Opening up the conversation to educators across the globe, exponentially  e x p a n d s  my thinking and learning.  Because YOU just might:
  • Pick a phrase from the book that I missed and share your thoughts.  
  • Ask a really good deep question that makes me ponder.  
  • Share your insights to your understanding and the implications in your classroom.
...and all of your great thinking pushes my thinking.  Let the learning begin!  I hope you will join in the conversations too -- whether you are reading the book with us or not!  Your ideas and thoughts MATTER!

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"Unlearning is more difficult than learning something new, 
and one of our most important challenges is to let go of 
existing structures in order to build more effective ones." 
Alan November (p.15)

My Thoughts and Reflections
This is a book that is needed now.  We are breathing in the advances of technology on a daily basis.  There is already something newer or better (or shinier) ready to be sold on the market.  This is the world we live in, so how do we learn (and survive) when we are inundated with enormous amounts of information and technology tools and apps?  

Slowly.  We MUST do it right.  I'm a believer that we cannot just throw technology into a classroom and think we are preparing our students for the future.  It goes so far beyond access and a busywork app.  As November stated, "Instead, we have to teach students to use information and communication technologies to innovate, solve problems, create and be globally connected" (p.12).  Because we know, the novelty of the "new, shiny technology" will wear off, and we must push forward and continue to learn how to help our students be researchers, designers, collaborators, and innovators -- and to be ready for those jobs that they will create: "Truly educated people of the next century will not apply for a job.  They will create their own" (November quoting William Cook p.14).

As I think about the previous PD book I read, Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess, and also the many characteristics of a distinguished teacher from the Danielson Framework for Teaching, it is essential that students are engaged and want to contribute for the good and the learning of the class.  Students are helping students. Students are asking the questions.  Students are sharing feedback.  Students are pushing each other to do something bigger and better.  All because they want to -- not for a grade or points.  Who owns this learning?  It's quite obvious.

That is the culture for learning I want to create in my classroom.  And thus provides a shift in our thinking: "Rather than simply focusing on the transfer of knowledge process, teachers in the Digital Learning Farm model guide students in the complex tasks of innovation and problem solving, and in doing work that makes a contribution to the learning processes of others" (p.18).

As I continued to read, there were so many words that I highlighted over and over that go "hand-in-hand" with the success of a Digital Learning Farm model:

Powerful words for Powerful Teaching and Learning
"And I doubt that my students' test scores would suffer 
from the depth and detail of this purposeful work" (p.24).

Implications in My Classroom
As a reading specialist focusing on small group targeted interventions and Response to Intervention, I'm wondering how the Digital Learning Farm model fits into my little world.

Many educators on Twitter and in the blogging world share social media and other communication tools to enhance the learning in the classroom.  A short list that comes to mind includes: KidblogTwitter in the classroom, SkypeGlobal Read AloudWonderopolisAnimotoEdmodoVoicethread.  All tools and projects that allow students to connect and contribute in their classrooms and beyond the four walls of the school.  November reminds us that " is simply the means that makes the process possible ..." (p.14).  Some of these tools and projects I mentioned I have played around with, but I need to do more to learn how to use the tools to create that sense of ownership, purpose, and mastery in my classroom.

I have implemented the use of Kidblog in my intermediate small groups to encourage more writing and reading, but I have also closed the door and created our own private room.  I can easily change that setting and share with a more global audience.

I'm looking forward to learning with others how I could use other tools to improve reading and comprehension in our daily lives and to continue to encourage a life-long love of reading.  I would love to be able to record students reading to improve fluency or record book talks to share favorite titles.  I'm also curious about digital portfolios and capturing learning in one place.

In addition, I grabbed my school iPad, downloaded the ScreenChomp app and started recording.  I can see how easy and fun creating purposeful videos to share with others could be for our students.  Perhaps students can retell a story through drawings and words.  I can also see how this app would be beneficial for ELLs (really all students) to say it first (before writing) or a new version of "Turn-Talk-and-Draw".

Here is MY first ScreenChomp video. It's a bit rough, but I had to play in the "Digital Playground"!

Go on now and play too!  Try it and let's find out who owns the learning!

Thanks for stopping by and please share your thoughts and ideas!

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#cyberPD Schedule:


  1. Michelle,
    I'm so glad you joined the conversation. Like you, this book was not in my original stack, but I always know the #cyberPD community will push my thinking. You articulately reflected on November's work. I appreciated the opportunity to rethink through some of his key points.

    You really illustrated the look and sound of a classroom in which students truly own the learning. I appreciated that you shared your thinking of using this thinking within the smaller community of reading support. There is much potential in stretching learning support beyond the small group, into the learning community, and into the world. I think it would be a little challenging in the short time available. I'm fortunate to have a bit more time across the day.

    Like you, I felt like I needed to work with screencasting a bit. I have downloaded ScreenChomp. Actually, I realized I already had ScreenChomp, but have yet to use it. I'm going to play with it a bit too.

    I look forward to continuing conversations,

    1. Cathy,

      I always appreciate your insights and thoughtful comments. You are so right - one of my biggest challenges is time. My situation is different, but I know there is a way to innovate technology . . . I just have to think this one through the summer and hopefully some more great ideas will be shared through conversations and #cyberPD.

  2. Michelle,
    I'm so happy to have your voice in our conversation again this year! I love hearing your perspective from your resource classroom. The picture you created to represent those important words was just perfect! It will serve as a great reminder as we all move forward. Thanks so much for being brave and posting your first ScreenChomp video! I'm thinking I need to make the leap and try it, too!

    1. Thanks Laura! The video was lacking something of importance, but unlike our kids, I was a little self-conscious and at a loss of words! :) Imagine that! But it was fun and I can see the kids loving it too!

  3. Michelle,

    I loved your introduction to this post. You are such a Writer - with a capital "W"! Thanks for sharing that writing with us.

    I have heard of ScreenChomp and I think I played around with it before but now you have me motivated to take a second look. It might have better features that would make it easier for kids to use than ShowMe. Thanks for the reminder that we always need to be open to take a second look at a tool that might not have been right for us at first.


    1. Thank you Jill. That's Sweet of you - with a capital "S"! ScreenChomp was mentioned in the book about one of the tools needed to get started. I liked the ease of it. I think it's also important to allow kids several options and knowing how to select the write tool depending on the content of the video. A great option to check out!

  4. I see that you have different questions because of your teaching in small groups, but have already started doing some interesting things, Michelle, and then there's this ScreenChomp! How great to see that! I didn't know about it, & it looks like a great app to 'teach' a small concept. FYI-at the All-Write, I saw one presentation from a long-time educator, Dr. Tim Rasinski, who presented research that showed great improvement in readers who consistently did reader's theater. The numbers were impressive! I thought perhaps you could try some reader's theater with your students. Here is a link, and he offers many resources online.

    1. Thank you, Linda, for this resource. I know all about Dr. Rasinski and I appreciate the information and the link too! I think I can use reader's theater and some technology to enhance learning.

  5. "This is a book that is needed now. We are breathing in the advances of technology on a daily basis. " YES YES YES!

    And Screen Chomp? Off to download it now! Good for you for making a video on the first go-round!

    1. Mary Lee,
      ScreenChomp was fun! I clicked that red record button and then had no idea what to say . . . good thing the kids are never at a loss for words. Hope you get to play around with it too!

  6. Michelle,

    I wonder what tools your students already know and play with? I think it will be increasingly true that students will come to us with their own 'tool box' and then the self-directed learning that comes with choice can really kick in!

    I need to see if their is an Android version of ScreenChomp. Our district will never go with Mac.


  7. Michelle~ Always happy to see and hear your voice in the conversation! Such an incredible opportunity to share, struggle and learn together!
    Ive added ScreenChomp to my Pinterest board- Apps to try! \
    I have used Evernote to record kids reading for fluency and line breaks pin poetry- VERY effect and easy to share with parent, kids and the world!
    Also used EduCreations - (by accident) to record my little friend Alex when he an AHA moment- again easy to share and embed! you can see it here- warning, its rough- lots of learning for me too! LOL

  8. Michelle,
    As I read your post, I connected with thinking, "how would our LLI reading intervention teachers take this home?" With only 40 minutes and scripted lessons to follow, I am not sure...I knew you'd be able to give concrete ideas on how you'd work it with your setting...thank you for giving concrete examples to share and inspiring play with screen chomp! I'll check it out. I couldn't see your video as I am using my phone to read and respond so its on my list to view when I can get to a pc. As always thank you for wording your thinking to push mine to the next level!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.