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
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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

" 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!

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

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

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


  1. Hi Michelle,

    We love the way you created the Digital Reading Resources. We added Wonderopolis and wondered if you wanted a column with a link to the website. Thank you for doing this - Such a terrific idea!

    1. Thanks for the addition and suggestion! I added the column for the website.

  2. Hi Michelle- Great post! I love how you organized it! Thank you too for starting the resource list. I'm loving the cyber-opportunity. ;-)

  3. I loved the way you shared your thinking - take away, think about, try it. Exactly what one hopes to do! Thanks for the resource page, too, Michelle.

  4. I was so glad to see you mention using digital literacy in an intervention setting. I have been contemplating the same thing as I teach a graduate class as part of an after-school ISA reading program. We are so focused on skill and strategy work that we do not 'have time' for the digital pieces. I write 'have time' because I now realize if we weave these tools in authentic ways, it will not be an add on, but a natural piece of our work and we WILL have time. I am thinking about using digital early readers (will have to find some), Educreations for writing, word work apps and SeeSaw Journal to share our work with families. What do you think?


  5. I like the organized way you shared your thinking! Well crafted!!

  6. I'm thinking the same as you: Finding digital resources for students do use during regular reading workshop time is going to be a huge game changer for me. I think. :) I'm always feeling like I don't have enough books, but the Internet is pretty big. We would never run out of reading content!

    Connectedness has been a huge help to me! I started participating in Two Writing Teacher's writing challenges and the writing/teaching community there about 8 years ago. I was teaching in a small school with only a few teachers. I didn't have anyone who was teaching the same grades I was teaching, and I needed a community. I found it there, and it has shaped my teaching. I continue to build that community and connect to more like-minded teachers and it helps me feel more passionate about the things I love to do in the classroom. I often think about who different school would have been had I had a similar kind of community as a teenager, or younger. I grew up in a small town and to be able to connect with the "outside world" would have been huge for me. I was always a reader, but didn't have a reading community. (Although, looking back, I probably had one and didn't know about it!) I'm feeling like getting my class connected should be a bigger goal for me than it has been.

  7. Love the organization!
    Thank you for creating the resource page. I'm hoping to look through and okay with things soon.
    I love the possibilities of some of the ideas - padlet for exit slips, GRA. Lots of new ideas!

  8. Michelle,
    I loved your organization of this post: take away, think about, try it. As educators who provide support to students from a variety of classrooms we face challenges we have to learn to work around. I appreciated your thinking specific to the work you do with smaller groups. You've given me to ideas to consider (and maybe a few more topics for Voxer).

    When you talked about blogging this is one I worked on last year and will continue to grow this year. Last year, blogging with students who were in classrooms that blogged was easy. Our first grade team blogs regularly with students making it easy to embed that into our lessons. When students don't have blogging as a regular part of their classroom I found I had to work to figure that out. Last year, I would write a post on our reading hub and allow students to comment. Students liked this way of connecting to one another, but it was hard for them to have as much choice as I would have liked in topic and ways to respond. This year I'm going to consider giving them blogs through our room or helping teachers in these classrooms get started with class blogging.

    Using digital text with the readers I support remains a challenge. Sites like Toon Books and National Geographic magazine provide some reading material that seem to work for my readers, but often reading is too difficult. Here are a few of the sites I've linked for my readers: Thanks for reemphasizing the importance of working harder to make this possible for my readers. You are right when you mention the possibilities of motivation and engagement for readers. Many videos, digital texts, and other media can help build background knowledge so students can grow their understanding and step into texts of varying difficulty.

    Last year we participated in GRA. I took one lesson each week to support this conversation. I think there were tremendous benefits across the year in referring to these common titles and having an author we knew well. Maybe there's a way we can link our communities in common work. Perhaps we can add that to our try-it list.

    Thanks for sharing your thinking,

  9. Michelle,
    I absolutely love the way you chose to organize your reflection! Such a fabulous way to really get to the heart of what you learned and how you plan to apply it. Your three goals for connecting students (blogging, GRA and Twitter) are the same for me. While I've used/done all three in the past, I have a renewed sense of motivation and purpose for weaving these into our day, just as I weave these kinds of things into my own life. Thanks for sharing your thinking!!

  10. This book sounds so good! I wish we had more technology here.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.