Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{connected learning} #sol15


The Slice of Life is
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 
_____________________________________________________




I have not had the time or space to fully reflect upon my learning experiences at ILA in St. Louis.

Except that it was invigorating to be constantly surrounded by and connecting with ...
  • Passionate educators who care so deeply about students, reading, and thinking 
  • Teacher leaders in literacy education that I listened to very carefully to breathe in every word and the opportunity to meet some of them, even if to briefly chat
  • Amazing authors trying to reach children and adults of all ages with the power of story through words and illustrations
  • NerdyBookClub members who remind me that I can't read them "all," but they will continue to share the love of reading and book titles.  (Oh, Jill.  That reminds me.  Here is your reminder to dust off that blog of yours.  It's Tuesday. Go write yourself a little slice of life!) :) 
  • Two amazing colleagues who live in this surreal world of never-ending learning with me and lots and lots of laughter!  I can't thank you enough for your time, your passion, your understanding, your belief in me, and your laughter!  (I wonder what Rick is doing now...)



As I left St. Louis last Monday, I was driving in the silence of my car -- alone for the first time in 84 hours -- and all I could do was think about the power of the conference and connecting with so many members of my PLN.

I relived moments.  I was in awe.  I smiled in delight.  I thought about how I grew and changed in just three days.  I questioned my goals and dreams for myself.  What will I be in 5 years? Where will I be in 10 years?  I wondered ... what's stopping me from growing to be what I'm supposed to be? I'm left with more questions and wonders -- and plenty of room to grow!


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

{Digital Reading: Part 3} #cyberPD



This summer a really BIG! group of educators are reading and learning together online.  I am participating and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about digital reading and creating digital readers in our classrooms with Cathy Mere and Laura Komos



Don't forget! Next Tuesday, July 28th @ 7 pm CST, we will be participating in a #cyberPD Twitter chat with authors Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.


Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 

by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson
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My Thoughts and Reflections


Chapter 6: Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy

"Assessment needs to be the vehicle that moves us beyond defining our readers as a number.  Assessment should not be about defining a reader but about piecing together information to help us design classroom experiences so we can observe our readers learning and understand what each one needs."
 (Assessment in Perspective, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan 
as quoted by Bass & Sibberson, p.87)

Take Away: That's it, right?  (Reread the quote above.) That's all we need to know and remember about assessment?  I wish it were that easy!  (And now I'm kicking myself for not attending Clare and Tammy's assessment session at ILA!)

Think About/Share: I guess I was quite relieved to see that all the best practices for collecting formative data holds true even when digital literacies are present.  Trying to determine where the reader is and how can I continue to move and push the reader forward in learning.  The structures for ongoing assessment listed on p.90 brought a smile to my face.  Yes, this is what I'm always trying to do and I'm constantly wondering how I can improve in my practices of ongoing assessments.  After meeting Patrick Allen at ILA, I'm reminded that I need to revisit an old #cyberPD book selection, Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop.

Try it: I loved the idea of moving beyond the note taking and using digital tools to gather evidence and artifacts of learning.  I'm realizing that it doesn't have to be complicated.  A snapshot in a moment in time: an audio recording, a photograph of a reader, a screenshot of text.  But how do I keep it organized?!?  I need a crash course with Cathy about Evernote!  I have a Pinterest board of Everything Evernote resources, but I have done nothing more than pin those resources.  I think it's time I create notebooks and go digital with my note keeping and involving students in collecting evidence of learning in digital portfolios with Google Slides (and other suggestions on p.93-94).

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Chapter 7: Beyond the Classroom Walls: Connecting Digital Reading at Home and School


"Parents can engage in their child's learning on a daily basis 
and in a variety of ways." (Bass & Sibberson, p.47)

Take Away: It is essential to open up our classroom doors and let parents and families know what we are doing all day long in our classrooms.  What I love about this concept is that it doesn't (and shouldn't!) fall on only the teacher to communicate with families.  It's important to engage the students in connecting and sharing with families utilizing a variety of digital tools.  

Think About/Share:  In order to communicate with families, I need "to design a classroom communication plan that harnesses the power of digital tools to reach outside the classroom" (p.104).  The reflective questions (on p.105) provide the guidance I need to think about my plan deeply.

Try it: I currently use Kidblog.  I have a class website through the district.  I have a class Twitter account.  I can use Google Calendar and Docs with my students.  Now, I need to think about the purpose and focus of each of these tools and how I will utilize them to increase communication with families.

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Please edit, add to, and use the growing list of DIGITAL READING RESOURCES available.  This is a living document that is meant to be a work of collaboration.   (Note: It's in the early stages of development ... and needs your help!  I'm beginning to organize the various digital resources.  See the tabs at the bottom of the document.  Add headings and notes too!)

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You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this month too:

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

{Digital Reading: Part 2} #cyberPD



This summer a really BIG! group of educators are reading and learning together online.  I am participating and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about digital reading and creating digital readers in our classrooms with Cathy Mere and Laura Komos.  Please join us as we read and discuss online:





Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 
by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

My Thoughts and Reflections

Image created with Canva

The middle three chapters are the heart of this book, focusing on what really matters:  

Authenticity, Intentionality, and Connectedness

There is so much I could write about for each chapter.  My book is full of notes, highlights, questions, connections, and many a-ha's.  After reading the variety of reflections from last week, I decided to try to narrow my focus in my reflection.  I have to remind myself this will look and feel different in my small group/intervention/resource classroom -- and that's okay.  I'm going to do my best to limit my thoughts for each chapter to one: Take Away, Think About/Share, and Try It.  

Chapter 3: What Really Matters? Authenticity

"...in the reading workshop, acknowledging that the work of young readers must be based in the things 'real readers' do." (Bass & Sibberson, p.26)

Take Away: All that we do in our classrooms is based on what we value.  We must continue to value all reading, various types of responses, and student choice and purpose in reading.   I value the use of digital text and tools and understand the importance of embedding digital literacy in my classroom.  My lessons need to reflect my beliefs and values.  It's also important to remember that it's NOT about the tool, but about the reader, the text, and the thinking through many shared experiences leading to a gradual release of responsibility to independence.  It's about keeping reading a meaningful experience extending beyond the classroom.

Think About/Share:  Students need to experience a variety of digital tools and text, then they can own the power of choice and voice.  I need to think about core digital resources (texts, tools, apps, websites, etc.) that are available and valuable to share in my classroom.  Many resources have been shared via Twitter and Pinterest.  Some teachers have started to curate resources.  I just whispered to myself, "GoogleDoc."   I love GoogleDocs ... to collect, share, and collaborate!  There are so many digital resources being shared that I need an organized list to help me select the necessary tools for my classroom.  Therefore, I created DIGITAL READING RESOURCES.

This is a living document that is meant to be a work of collaboration.  Please edit, add to, and use the growing list of DIGITAL READING RESOURCES available.  (Note: It's in the early stages of development ... and needs your help!  I'm beginning to organize the various digital resources.  See the tabs at the bottom of the document.  Add headings and notes too!)

Try it: I need to try more shared experiences using the digital resources collected in the above document.  In particular, sharing digital text and annotation tools to leave track of thinking.  I have also used Padlet to collect thoughts and reflections of teachers, but I need to try it with students next.

"Being readers ourselves is the best tool we have to keep our 
classroom workshop authentic." (Bass & Sibberson, p.30)

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Chapter 4: What Really Matters? Becoming Intentional Decision Makers

"Intentionality is the difference between thoughtful understanding and random clicking and scanning." (Bass & Sibberson, p.47)

Take Away: Every decision I make when I'm reading is intentional.  As I move from my phone to my printed book to my laptop, I am continuously making intentional decisions about my reading process and understanding.  It's amazing how much I learn about myself as a strategic reader when I think about all the intentional moves that I make.  It's my responsibility to make these strategic, intentional moves visible to students.  I will admit that when I was first reading this book, I was limiting my thinking to the intentional choices teachers were making.  However, after reading the reflections and this chapter, I am now more aware that it's both the intentionality of the teachers and students!

Think About/Share:  Franki and Bill provide so many thoughtful questions to think about throughout the text.  The list of reflective questions on p.51 push me to think about my goals with students and the use of digital tools.  I need to dig deep and spend some quality time jotting down my thoughts and answers to these questions.  As the authors' state: "These questions help us stay honest about how much we are really embedding digital tools and texts into every child's day" (p.51).  These questions can also be shared with my colleagues as we continue embedding the intentional use of digital texts and tools.

Try it:  One of my goals is to include the use of digital texts and the authors provide a starting point for me on p.52 with a list of  websites that provide "great opportunities for growth in digital reading" (p.52).  I have shared the Wonderopolis website and maybe shared it last year a handful of times.  I'm still struggling with how much digital literacy I need to embed in my intervention classroom with limited time constraints.  But I can imagine the possibilities of motivation and engagement ... I just need to keep in mind the goals of my developing readers and find the balance of a variety of texts.  Perhaps I can utilize "video as paired texts" or create QR codes with students to support book choice (from chapter 5).

"Literacy teaching remains the same, but the new tools add new possibilities 
for student learning." (Bass & Sibberson, p.64).

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Chapter 5: What Really Matters? Connectedness

"Thinking about community and connections in this digital age is crucial because students create and connect in new and different ways." (Bass & Sibberson, p.69)

Take Away: I understand the idea of community and connectedness.  I am connected the way that the authors described being connected on p.69.  I live it and breathe it every Tuesday (and every day in March) when I write and share my Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  I live it here every summer with this amazing #cyberPD group that continues to grow.  This Tuesday's slice I wrote about my summer learning and why I love being apart of this community:
It's an amazing event that is an authentic cyber-opportunity* where I am intentionally  pushing my thinking about digital literacy through connecting with other educators.  
I'm connected with educators across the world via Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest and Voxer.  I have tools that keep me connected.   And I ended my slice with this thought:  Because you share, I continue to grow.  And I thank you for this.  So, I do understand the power of community and connectedness.  My students must know the possibilities and learn from a community of learners to feel this connected too -- within our classroom and beyond the walls of the school. 

*The term "cyber-opportunity" comes from Megan Skogstad.  I just love her description!

Think About/Share: I remember first hearing about the Global Read Aloud project the first year it started.  I signed up to join in.  I wanted so bad to be involved ... and then realized that it was going to be difficult in my resource classroom.  I think with intentional planning and a little more confidence, I could have done it.  But, I didn't.  I quit before I even got started.  

GRA has grown tremendously over the last couple years.  My goal is to share and encourage teachers in my building to participate in the GRA.  What an awesome first experience with digital literacy -- a project that screams authentic, intentional, and above all connectedness!  I hope to hear Pernille Ripp at ILA and get fired up to share this project at my school.  I'm more than willing to help teachers any way that I can to help make their involvement successful!

Try it:  For the last 4-5 years I have introduced blogging as an authentic writing experience.  Once I started blogging in 2011, I was so excited that I brought it to my classroom.  I limit it to intermediate grades.  I had to check out laptops on a specific day.  It wasn't a natural feeling of writing, rather it felt like an "event."  Students now have access to ChromeBooks all day.  How could I embed the use of blogging into a more authentic, natural part of our time together?  

Again, I struggled with the importance of intervention, RtI, time constraints ... I still wonder: what digital instructional learning should be embedded in the classroom?  And what can I do in my resource classroom?  I think I need to keep reminding myself of the goals of my developing readers.  Perhaps we dive into sharing our thinking and learning on Twitter.  (I already have a classroom account.)  This seems to be one small, possible step in the right direction.

Whew.  That was a lot to process and think about in one post!  Thanks for reading!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this month too:

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

{a summer learning life} #sol15


The Slice of Life is
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 
_____________________________________________________

As a teacher, of course, I enjoy my summers.  It's not the three months that most people think it is. (But you already know that.)  It is still plenty of time to be missing the kids like crazy, but I'm currently not missing the busy schedule and daily stresses of wanting to do more and be better in the classroom and also at home.  Summer is a time when I can breathe (my one little word) and do so much more -- always thinking about getting ready for a fresh new year of possibility.   

I'm enjoying my long days with my five year old daughters.  I'm able to squeeze in a little time for myself to read and write (almost daily), even if it's still after they are in bed peacefully sleeping.  My days are full and focused on my girls, but I'm able to find valuable learning opportunities to push myself to be a better mother and teacher.

Reading.  I'm reading lots of picture books with my daughters.  We make many trips to the library.   I love picking up the newest books from the library or the ones that are rated with a 'must read' seal of approval from colleagues on Goodreads or Twitter.  We see the beauty of books, even when Daddy can't understand how we could have 133 books checked out from the library.  I'm reading adult books this summer too!  Rarely can I find the time to read a real grown up book as my to be read pile of picture books and MG books consume my reading life, but that's a good problem.  I'm also reading professional development books.  I have way too many sitting in this stack as well (another good problem).  I'm reading blogs and articles and tweets and emails and everything in between.


Writing.  I scribble in my notebook.  I jot a note on a post it to hold a thought. Sometimes it only consists of a list of to do tasks or grocery items.  I'm writing comments on blog posts, educational and personal.  I'm writing more with my girls too.  They are drawing and illustrating and I help them with the sounding out of words to label or record a love message.  They are seeing that words hold weight.
  That writing is powerful.  That words express meaning.  That stories hold possibility.  
So, I'm dabbling in writing a little here.  I gave myself permission to take a week or two off from writing a Tuesday Slice of Life.  And I missed it.  I missed sharing.  I missed connecting with you.  Sometimes I need that to grow as a writer too.  Because I missed sharing a story, my story.  


Learning.  Every day I'm learning about myself and learning about how to do better at home and at school.  I'm participating and co-hosting  #cyberPD, an online event that connects educators in collaborative professional conversations centered around a common professional book title.  This summer we are reading Digital Reading: What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  It's an amazing event that is an authentic cyber-opportunity where I am intentionally pushing my thinking about digital literacy through connecting with other educators.  Quite a smart group with lots of ideas! (I hope you check it out!)  I have also jumped into the Voxer ring and I'm sharing and learning with other reading specialists who push me to think about our role in our schools.  I'm also preparing for an awesome weekend in St. Louis at the ILA conference with two of the greatest colleagues!


Reflecting.  Summer life slows a bit than during the crazy hectic school year.  I have more time to stop and think.  I ponder and question.  I reflect on what went well last year and what I need to change up for next school year.  I take more time to reflect and plan with purpose.  I add thoughts to my notebook and google doc of ideas.  I'm reflecting on my reading and my writing.  I'm sharing my learning on my blog about the #cyberPD book and thinking about the comments left behind.  Teachers need more time in the school day to do more reflecting as do students.  Amazing what a couple minutes of reflection can do.


Growing.  As a mother and an educator, I'm always growing to be the best me I can be at home and in the classroom.  I learn from an amazing group in many different communities in real life and online.  Because you share, I continue to grow.  And I thank you for this.  

I'm enjoying my {summer learning life}.



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Image from icanread tumblr

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

{a summer reading life} #sol15



The Slice of Life is
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 
_____________________________________________________

Sometimes I envision my summer of working only one full time job as freeing.  

I envision my summer full of long days of reading, basking in the sunshine with a book, gifted with uninterrupted time in another world, sneaking in reading during breakfast and lunch and in between, finishing a book a day, reading and reading and reading only to read some more ...

Instead my true summer quickly reminds me that being a full time mom is full time.

My true summer includes making multiple meals a day, doing the dishes multiple times a day, starting another load of laundry, picking up toys, planning activities, picking up more toys, slathering on sunscreen, calming the sibling banter, visiting the library, reading aloud picture books ...

Nah.  It's not all bad.  I love every minute with my two girls with many moments to treasure.  

Like this ...
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I finally got wrapped up in a real adult book.  It's been a long time since I read a big person book, but I fell into the life of The Girl on the Train.  I was stealing reading time whenever I could.  I even asked my hubby if he would play with the girls outside last Saturday so that I could lay in the hammock and read ... just for twenty minutes.  (Or what truthfully became an hour!) A gift of time to read that I rarely ask for.

At one point, the girls joined me in the hammock.  I continued to read.  

"Wow. That's a lot of words on the page," M. noted.

"Mmm hmmm," I murmured in response, continuing to read.

After a couple more minutes, P. politely interrupted.

"Excuse me, Mommy?  But what are you doing?"

"I'm reading, honey," I laughed, not quite sure what she meant.

"But, I don't hear you reading," she explained.

"Oh, no! I'm not reading out loud like when I read to you.  I'm reading the words in my head," smiling at her innocent thinking.

Then she smiled and put her ear right next to my ear.  I guess she was curious about all those words! 

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Monday, July 6, 2015

#cyberPD: DIGITAL READING - Part 1




This summer a really BIG! group of educators are reading and learning together online.  I am participating and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about digital reading and creating digital readers in our classrooms with Cathy Mere and Laura Komos.  Please join us as we read and discuss online:





Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 
by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

My Thoughts and Reflections/Implications in My Classroom





I always think about my reading with three different visions:  What does this mean for my developing readers receiving small group interventions?  What does this mean for all students in my school? What does this mean for my own daughters who will be starting kindergarten this fall?  So much to think about, but always worth stretching my thinking to do what is best for ALL -- and that's why I love that quote mentioned above from Kyleen Beers and Bob Probst.  Isn't that true about all reading that we do?  

I appreciated that the book started with the NCTE Policy Research Brief (2012): Reading Instruction for ALL Students.  It's a clear reminder of the expectations for all our students touching on hot topics such as text complexity, close reading, implications for instruction and formative assessment.  We MUST know our students as individual readers to motivate, to match text, and to provide necessary instruction toward building independent readers and thinkers.

And then I read this:
"... teachers need frequent and sustained opportunities to learn with one another about the range of instructional supports, interventions, and formative assessments as they emerge from the latest reading research and practice."
(NCTE: Reading Instruction for ALL Students, 2012)
We need more of THIS.  I need more of THIS.  I find opportunities to connect with educators across the world via Twitter, blogs, and this amazing #cyberPD community, but THIS professional development needs to ever present in every school every day, so that all teachers have the opportunities to grow and learn in the area of literacy instruction.  I want more of THIS visible in my school and district.  I want more of THIS as a natural part of conversations of learning and growing together.  (The wheels begin to turn ...)

After reading the first two chapters, I felt validated.  Bill and Franki confirmed and verified what I already know about best practices in literacy instruction and the Reading and Writing (R/W) Workshop.  A reading workshop classroom is surrounded by books that naturally creates a community of readers who talk about their reading lives due to the plentiful amounts of time to read books and authentically respond to reading.  But it's important for ALL educators to know and understand the foundational research as the basis of conversations and learning:  "... all the more important for teachers to understand and articulate what our core beliefs are about literacy instruction and to remain true to them" (p.6).  Remain true to them.  No matter what.

Creating a Digital R/W Workshop isn't as difficult or scary as some would think.  Of course, as Franki mentioned, there will be challenges.  I am thankful for a clear definition of "digital literacy" from NCTE (p.7) and the further explanation and expanded examples from Bill and Franki.  Yet, what is essential is knowing that all literacy instruction is grounded in the foundations of what we know is true about reading research.  

What do we also know?  Digital reading does not easily transfer from traditional literacy skills.  Readers need to experience it all.  Traditional and digital reading are a more natural part of my daily life.  It's embedded in my day-to-day work.  This is just what our students need as well.  I love how Franki explains the importance of knowing what tools to use for what purpose.  It's more than "because this tech is cool."   It's more just "this is what we do."   There are reflective questions for students working in a digital reading workshop on page 23.  However, I thought these questions would also be helpful for me!  I need to be more aware of my understanding and use of digital texts.  Teachers have to grow and be comfortable with digital reading and tools to share with students ... and, of course, students should also become the teachers too!

"Digital reading wasn't an additional part of the classroom;
rather, it became integral to the nature of our work." (Bass & Sibberson, p.20)

And that's when it hit me!  A-ha!  The key is embedding digital texts while focusing on AUTHENTICITY, INTENTIONALITY, and CONNECTEDNESS.  Providing students access, modeling through explicit instruction with lots of time to practice, practice, practice while providing immediate feedback, and time to share in the learning process using BOTH traditional and digital texts throughout the school day.   I need to be more intentional in my planning and purposefully (but naturally) incorporate digital texts.

Then Franki does it again!  She provides reflective questions about the role of digital texts in the literacy workshop (p.19-20) to plan more thoughtfully.  I'm still working at the surface level of digital literacy, dabbling with bits and pieces in my classroom.  I also need to move to thinking more deeply about digital reading in my own life and then think about the implications for my developing readers.

There is still so much to think about and plan for in my classroom and home.  I'm thankful that I can spend this week reading and reflecting with your a-ha's and take-aways from DIGITAL READING through our #cyberPD community!

"But most important, digital reading workshop is a time and place 
where young readers develop the habits and behaviors 
they will carry with them throughout their lives" (Bass & Sibberson, p.23).


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this month too:

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!