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?


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Quote Collector

I love collections. Collections of books, of shoes, of childhood mementos, swatches of the favorite clothes my children wore to be made into a quilt (someday!), of wine corks, of sticky notes and most recently, quotes. Yes, quotes. Compelling, important, striking, sentimental and thought-provoking quotes from children’s books. 

I am surrounded by a family of television and movie buffs. My husband can lighten any situation with a carefully-spoken quote from a Seinfeld episode. My son has been known to stand up at the Thanksgiving dinner table to recite the pledge of alliance as Aunt Bethany did in Christmas Vacation. My daughter can quote life lessons from the Disney Channel like there is no tomorrow and my oldest can turn any moment into a scene worthy of a quote from Jason Bourne. Why? Because we crave connection. Connections to each other, to lived experiences and to experiences lived vicariously through other means and media. We have met new friends, visited new places and learned how to deal with life situations by watching it unfold first on the screen in our media-drenched culture.
I have realized that I possess the same skill, but rather than quote movies and media, I tend to quote the characters that I have met in books. When my daughter faced a difficult situation on the bus, I repeated what Junie B. did during her difficult bus situation. When my son and I were driving through a particularly harsh storm, I compared our experience to Dexter’s in Lauren Tarshis’s I Survived Series. Why? Quite simply, because I am a reader. I connect with the characters and settings in books as if I have lived them myself and cannot help myself but inviting others into those worlds as well. 

Lately, I have been making a more concentrated effort to cultivate my collection. I have a small moleskin notebook that accompanies me wherever I go. Typically, it is filled with to-do lists, ideas to remember later and important notes and reminders from work. Now, I use it to fuel my collection. As I read or talk with students about their own reading, I save the words that truly speak to me and I ask students, both adult and elementary, to share their favorites with me. Why? It is my hope to make it as commonplace to share a quote from a book as we would from a popular television show or movie. To show students that readers cannot help but make connections to what they read and share that reading with others…inspiring them to see for themselves. Ultimately, I envision a collection of quotes that could connect students to characters facing similar situations, celebrating similar milestones, grappling with the same tough questions or to simply lighten a moment with no bigger reason than to simply show students they are not alone and invite them to see for themselves in the pages of a book.

I would love for you to help build my collection. Please comment below with your most favorite snippets and I will work to compile them into a resource to help share my collection with others.