Friday, July 7, 2017

#cyberPD Begins!

This summer, I am once again thrilled to be a part of #cyberPD’s summer book study. This is my third year participating and I continue to be amazed at how powerful the experience is. This year, we are reading Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading byVicki Vinton. Here is the schedule if you are interested in participating.

The first week of #cyberPD just so happens to be one of the busiest of the summer for me. I am teaching multiple graduate classes in literacy education, finishing my first book with Heinemann Publishers, preparing for #ILA17 and shuttling three children to travel sports competitions. So, as I read this transformative book, I kept thinking about how I could respond to the text #cyberPD style, but still accomplish the other tasks I had set for myself this week. The beauty of #cyberPD is that the experience is personalized for each of us and we all respond in different ways that work best for our own learning. So, this week, I decided to respond to the text by creating an agenda for an upcoming professional development session with elementary teachers based on the content. They have not yet read the book, but I need them to think about the big ideas in the book immediately. So, I created a tentative agenda to share my thinking from the book with them in hopes that it would spark their own inquiry into dynamic teaching for deeper reading. 

Based on the chapters, I planned for activities and discussions that would help teachers reflect on their own reading and classroom practices and grapple with the mismatches that we might discover. While they do not have the book (YET!), they can still think about these important ideas and then continue their learning through Vicki’s helpful videos and blog posts by browsing her blog and the #cyberPD Padlet.

I would love for you to look at the tentative agenda and add in your own thoughts, ideas,questions and comments. How would you share the content of this book with teachers to help transform the reading practices in your school?


Friday, March 17, 2017

Digital Citizenship: Discrete Skills or Global Actions?

I was lucky enough to attend a session on exploring digital citizenship through the Educator Collaborative with Kristin Ziemke and Pernille Ripp. I came to the session expecting a session on how to teach students to be safe and respectful online and leave with concrete suggestions for teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. However, I left with more. Much, much more and my thinking is forever changed. 

How do you define digital citizenship? Common Sense Media (2017) defines digital citizenship as the ability to think critically, behave safely and participate responsibly in the digital world. Essentially, digital citizenship is the idea of using technology in safe, respectful and responsible ways for the global good. When I think about digital citizenship in elementary classrooms, I often see lessons on safe and respectful actions online and lessons focusing on accuracy and credibility. The focus is on the ‘safe, respectful and responsible’ aspect of the definition. While important, we must be sure to attend to the reasoning behind having students engage in digital and multi-modal literacy practices: to partner with others, collaborate to further learning and leave a lasting impact on the world. 

Kristin and Pernille’s session did just that and challenged viewers to rethink their ideas about what digital citizenship is, what we are all capable of accomplishing as teachers and learners and the potential we have to make the world a better place. Pernille and Kristin offered many starting points and shared a curated collection of global projects on their Padlet wall. I highly encourage you to take a look and give something a try. Let’s change the perception of what digital citizenship is to look at the world in a new way and help students leave their mark on it. 

How might you begin?


Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of a Handwritten Note

Front Side of Note
Sometimes, at it takes is a little unexpected token of appreciation to lift our spirits and brighten our day. I recently found a note from my daughter tucked into a notebook in my work bag. Ever the artist, she drew me a beautiful winter picture and added a brief note on the back: I hope you feel better. Battling the ever-lasting winter cold, she knew that I might need a pick me up as I headed into work. She was right. And it worked. Just a few weeks earlier, I found a sticky note tucked to a cabinet in the kitchen. My son’s heartfelt “Thank you” for our family game night was incredibly touching and drove home the power that such a personal note of appreciation and thanks can hold.
Back Side of Note

What if we made it a habit to leave unexpected notes of appreciation to those that matter most to us? What if we took a few moments to remind them they are valued, are appreciated and that we care about them? While this is certainly essential in our personal life, it has the potential to transform our professional lives as well. Imagine how the teachers we work with would feel if we left them a simple, yet unexpected note of thanks or appreciation? Imagine how they might feel to receive a note ‘just because’? Every time I look I my saved ‘love notes’ from my family, those feelings race back again and are long-lasting. Imagine if we cultivated those same feelings of happiness in the school and classroom? I bet there would be a tangible shift in the energy in the building. 

Here are a few ways to get started:

Leave a card of thanks after working with a teacher. Thank her for her teaching, for her willingness to work with you to elevate instruction and for her dedication to her students. I received this Christmas card filled with appreciation from a literacy coach that I work with and was touched by the personalization of it. It continues to hang on my office wall. 
Create notes of happiness for no reason at all. Simply thank teachers for all they do or write a positive affirmation for teachers to carry with them throughout the day.

Nestle surprises in unexpected places. Sneak a note of appreciation to a magazine in the teachers’ lounge, tape a smiley face to the back of a classroom door or write a backwards message to tape to the bathroom wall across from the mirror for an unexpected surprise. 

For me, the power of the note comes in the handwritten personalization of it. Knowing that someone took the time to personally recognize, thank or appreciate the work that I did is indescribable. I mattered that much to take the time for. These small acts of appreciation appeal to our emotions and create a more connected community. As teachers reap the effects of your actions, they are certain to pay it forward to their students and make their schools a better place to teach and learn together.