This week, our #cyberPD Google Group is reading the last two chapters from Digital Reading:What’s Essential in Grades 3 - 8 by Bass and Sibberson. Rather than summarize all of my learning, I want to share how I plan to immediately apply my learning to my college classroom with these two ideas:
How Do You Like To Read?
The authors talked about authentic assessment within a digital classroom. In particular, they focused on reading interest inventories to get to know their students and the kinds of readers they are. Just as our teaching practices have changed, so should our assessment, including these inventories. They need to expand to include digital reading practices.
This was a real ‘lightbulb’ moment for me. In each of my literacy classes, I require students to reflect on the literate histories and their identities as readers and writers. We talk about how our experiences and preferences shape the kind of readers, and teachers, we are. Even though we talk about digital literacies and the course is held online, the inventory I give to students as a starting point never asked them about those practices! What?! What does this inadvertently say? As Frankie writes: By adding these questions, I not only get to know the digital reading experiences of my students, but I also let my students know that I believe reading includes more than traditional texts. I have to be more mindful of the fact that the practices I use in the college classroom lead my teachers to believe certain things about literacy that they then pass along to their students. Changing my reading inventory was a simple way to start this journey.
So, I created a very simply graphic to share and post in my classes to get the conversations started this Fall. I hope to play around with it and create one they could use with elementary students, but this is a start.
Digital Literacy Plan
In the text, Frankie shares her plan for introducing families to digital communications. As we end our #cyberPD book study, I thought it would be fitting to create my own plan for introducing my graduate students to digital literacies in my classes so they could then do the same for their classrooms. Here is what I am thinking:
Websites and Digital Showcases
I have a website that provides a bit of background about myself, links to my blog and social media sites and highlights my conference schedule. Rather than just have it be ‘there’ and share it with students as a form of communication, I want to better use is as a model for what they might do with their own classroom. I need to keep it up-to-date and interactive and include a digital portfolio of my work and happenings in my classes, as well as provide links to the most current research and professional information. By doing so, and explicitly articulating my work to teachers, they can clearly see the rationale for having such a website for their own classroom and have a model for creating one.
Blogging for the world to see is still relatively new for me, but I have been ‘blogging’ over the past 10 years as I created online lectures and course announcements for my graduate students, but within the confines of my courses. My goal is to continue to blog and connect with other educators to show my students the power of the practice. Even if students do not blog themselves, reading the blogs of others, and connecting with other educators, has numerous benefits. By encouraging them to comment and reply, I can show them the power of blogging that they might then take to their classroom.
My graduate students are already on social media, but in the past, I have not taken advantage of this and used it as a learning tool in my classes. I tended to stay within the confines of Blackboard. My goal for the coming year is to better utilize social media within my courses so my students can see the professional power of doing so. By helping them use these outlets professionally, I am opening them to the power of using them as tools for learning and communication with their students as well.
Google Docs and Forms
Many schools are abandoning traditional software and instead, are ‘Going Google’. I cannot possibly prepare my students for a teaching position unless I use these tools in my own classes. More and more, I realize I need to move away from Blackboard alone and use additional networks and resources. I have already included Google Docs and Forms into my classes and hope to use Hangout in the Fall for synchronous communication.
Technology Tools For Learning
Above all, I have many plans for changing the ways I teach the content of my field to better model the ways I hope my graduate students will teach literacy in their classrooms. I will teach through the technology, rather than teach the technology itself, and provide authentic experiences and choices that facilitate intentional decision-making. I will articulate my decisions and invite discussion around them. Through technology, I hope to build connected communities, teach the content of my field, provide literacy coaching and collaboration and lead my field forward in important ways.
I am excited for the journey ahead and could not have possibility envisioned the possibilities if it were not for the #cyberPD group!