Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#Cyber PD-Last Chapters...Digital Reading

#cyberPD 2015

I can't believe that this is the last blog post for #cyberPD. This book was a quick read and one of those books that was just easy to read and made a lot of sense. There were many applicable ideas in this book and #cyberPD has taken this book to even the next level through this awesome "cyber-opportunity." :-)
Chapter 6-Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy

The quote that starts out this chapter...nails exactly how I feel about assessment in 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."-Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan

I've always believed that assessment when it comes to literacy should be qualitative. Teachers often think that there is one magic reading assessment that they can give to identify a child's reading/literacy needs, but it really is a bunch of little observations and assessments. I usually conduct the Words Their Way spelling inventory, a writing sample, the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessment, reading observations, conferring notes, and an assessment that entails an extended response. I put all of these together to develop a profile about the reader and then I can decide on the direction that I need to go with the reader. As I'm reading this book and reflecting, I realize that I would like to also incorporate assessing digital literacy skills. I need to do some more thinking around how this would look and what is most crucial to assess. I'm almost thinking...instead of concepts of print...maybe concepts of digital literacy to get a feel for what they already know and what they need to learn. 
I love the digital reading survey questions and I will definitely incorporate these questions into my reading survey in our data binders. I'm also looking to expand on using digital portfolios and "beefing" them up. Last year, I created digital portfolios on Google Drive and we used them, but not to their fullest potential. This is something that I really want to focus on this year as a way to collect student work and reflect on it. These are a great way to collect work for student led conferences and to show off the student's impressive digital work. 

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

As for the connection between school and home, I use our class Twitter account, our class website, and my most favorite tool...smore. This is a website that allows you to create digital newsletters and I love it so much that I buy an educator subscription. The newsletters are sooo easy to create, look attractive, and are "parent friendly." I can add links to articles or websites, have parents RSVP for events, add pictures, change the background/fonts/color, and the list goes on. I always try to add in an article or resource each week for the parents who wish to read them. 

Here are some links to some of my newsletters...

I send out a newsletter ALMOST every week and it's a great way for parents to access newsletters. They can go back to it at a later date and refer to the dates or the information that I have given out. It even has analytics so that you can see how many people have accessed your newsletter and you can even see where people are viewing it from around the world. I have noticed that there are a A LOT of traveling parents out there that access the newsletter.  This is just an AWESOME digital tool that I just LOVE! 
It's important for parents to see the importance of technology in our school and support our 1-1 iPad initiative. That's why I try to incorporate it as much as possible to showcase the importance of technology in the classroom. 
I love the line that says, "Teachers need to offer opportunities for schools and families to connect around these topics and make meaning of them together." This is an important job for each and every teacher! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#CyberPD-Chapters 3-5: Digital Reading

#CyberPD 2015

Well to start...I decided to change my blog name this weekend. Not sure of the repercussions 
 of doing this but I just did not like the name of my blog anymore. So it is now "Reflections of An Intentional Teacher"...which of course my 14 year old thought was HORRIBLE;-)... but I'm totally comfortable with my new blog name! 14 year old girls think that EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS HORRIBLE pretty much all of the time! Hoping that will change soon! ;-) 

Anyway, we've had beautiful weather here in Minnesota, so I've spent some hours by the pool reading this great book and reflecting on this "cyber-opportunity."

Chapter 3-What Really Matters? Authenticity

I loved the quote from Lucy Calkins, "I do not think those readers would tell us about making shoe-box dioramas of beloved novels or writing new endings to published stories. They wouldn't talk about sending make-believe letters from character to another, or about cutting books into sentence strips and reassembling them. Instead, I think that great readers would tell us about weaving reading together with the people and passions of their lives. They would tell us that reading, like writing, is a big thing we do with our whole lives." I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and I'm pretty sure I've underlined these same words or at least very similar words, somewhere before! As I've matured in my teaching career, I try to always think...do I like to make a diorama after I read a book, do I like to log my reading minutes and write a summary about my reading, do I like to answer critical thinking questions to the book that I just read and write them in a complete paragraph? No, no, and no! Then why do we want our students to do this? Let's make the learning authentic(more often than not) and maybe, just maybe, we can create a classroom of students who LOVE reading! 
I love Franki's connection to the book trailer being similar to the diorama because it wasn't authentic. 
Another reason for giving students choice in the classroom! When students ask me if they can use a different app on their iPad or create something that is even not digital, I usually always say yes. My students have blown me away over the last two years of having iPads with what they can do when given choice. Often times their projects turn out BETTER than what I had originally planned or envisioned and it is because I allowed them to be authentic and have choice. I've seen amazing projects this year with Padlet, Popplet, iMovie, Keynote, Pic Collage, Nearpod, Book Creator, iBrainstorm, Animoto, Prezi...and others that students have found and asked to use and have been amazing!  

I also agree that Genius Hour is a great time for students to explore new apps and tools and allow time for discovery. I've had students learn how to design amazing websites, create iMovies that were so good they brought tears to my eyes, create visually appealing Prezis, app-smashed many apps together to make their product more interesting, created beautiful keynotes without too many annoying transitions, and there are many more. This is why we host a classroom wide EdCamp every year so that students can be the experts and teach the other interested students about what they know. It is one of my favorite activities to do with my students and by far it is one of their favorite activities of the year. This supports the point in the next chapter that, "it's not important for the teacher or the students to be familiar with every tool available." Odds are that someone in your class is going to have it figured out before you can even turn on your iPad. Happens to me all the time! 

Chapter 4- What Really Matters? Becoming Intentional Decision Makers

I like the word "intentional" in this chapter. I love the thinking around teaching our students to be "intentional" with their reading. Is it best to read on the kindle app, borrow from the library, purchase the book and read a hard copy? I find myself being more intentional about "how" I read my books now and have different preferences based on what I am reading. If it is a book that is going to have difficult vocabulary in it, I prefer reading on my iPad as it is easy to touch a word and get the definition. If it is going to be a quick read and I would never want to read the book again, I will borrow it online from the library and read it on my iPad. If I want it NOW...I will buy it through Kindle and send it to my iPad. If I want to reflect it on the SMARTBOARD for teaching, I will buy it digitally. Otherwise, I still prefer old-fashioned books. But space is becoming a problem in our office, sooooo...my thinking may shift to more digital copies. 
I loved the section on page 48-49 on the teacher scaffolding intentionality by text choice! This is so important and something to really keep in mind going into a new school year. There are so many options out there! I LOVE Wonderopolis and I'm always amazed when I find a teacher who hasn't used it before! I love it so much and use it so much that I always think to myself that I should probably work for Wonderopolis! There are soooo many options when it comes to teaching with Wonderopolis and I appreciate the fact that it is free and has stayed free! 

Chapter 5-What Really Matters? Connectedness

I had a "text-to-self" connection when I read about Franki feeling "weird" about not having a device to refer to while reading a magazine on the airplane. I often read a book or a magazine and open up my phone or my laptop and google something that I read about, learned about, or want to buy. Amazon Prime is the best thing to ever happen in my shopping world. I see a book...I can have it in 2 days. It's beautiful. 
I also have found real value in connected learning. I love using Twitter to connect with other classrooms and authors. The students get really excited if an author retweets us or responds back to us and it is exciting to share this with them. I also loved participating in The Global Read Aloud this year and the March Book Madness. Both of these activities provided some added excitement around reading and allowed us to connect with others all around the country. I also enjoyed using Padlet to connect with other classes for It's Monday, What Are You Reading. I'm excited to try this again in the fall and see where it leads. Biblionasium was another favorite tool for the students to record their books and to recommend books to other students in the class. I felt that Biblionasium was way more powerful than a paper/pencil reading log. I love the lines, "one important paradigm shift in this connected thinking is to move beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge; instead, we want our students to build deep understandings around concepts and ideas and then adopt these ideas as they read independently. Connected reading builds this understanding." This is what it is ALL about...the whole reason we teach reading. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

#oneword365 revisited

My word is PURPOSE. I still use it and refer to it...even though it's July. My goal is to make it 365 days with me "purposely" using my word.  I have it as a hashtag in my email signature. I had my students choose their own word in January and they use their "words" all the time. I haven't forgotten my word and it pops into my mind often and reminds me that I need to be doing everything with #purpose. 

In June, my wonderful friend Mandy came to visit me all the way from Ohio with her family.  She brought me a little gift and when I opened this little gift...I LOVED this little gift! It was beautifully made!  This is what it was...

Stationery with the word PURPOSE!

I received 8 greeting cards with beautiful hand drawn mandalas that were sized 5x5, with the word purpose written inside of the mandala! They are gorgeous and the mandala is made BY HAND! Can you believe that!? I can't...because this is something that I could never do! 

"A mantra wrapped in a mandala"

These cards are on beautiful card stock and are blank inside. I wanted to share this artist's work with all of my blog readers as I know many of you have "a word" for 2015...and 2016 is closing in on us faster than we would like! :-)  You can find her work at http://noteworthycardcompany.com and order a set of your own or order a set for a friend...like my dear friend did for me! I love them and will definitely be ordering a new set or maybe sets! You can even custom design your own! Check them out! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

#CyberPD:Digital Reading-Chapters 1-2

#cyberPD 2015 book

NCTE Statement

I was so excited that this was the chosen #cyberPD book for the summer... especially after ending our first full year of having 1-1 iPads. I feel that in just 2 short years, I have done so much with my class digitally than I ever could have imagined.  So this book and "cyber-opportunity" is a perfect tool to help me reflect on my practice this summer. 

The book starts out with the NCTE Policy Research Brief about "Reading Instruction for ALL Students." 

"Both the qualitative dimensions and the reader-text variables depend upon the professional judgement of teachers, especially the reader-text variables, because only teachers know students well enough to help them find the best text for the purpose at hand, something "leveling" systems cannot do." 

This line really resonated with me because as educators, we have to remember that our professional judgment is so much more important than any program that can be offered to us and that students should not be strictly tied to "a level." Professional judgment will help us guide each and every student. 
The other line that resonated with me was, "Reading research shows that educational policy needs to include professional development opportunities that enable teachers to match instructional approaches to diverse student needs." It goes on to say that teachers need frequent and sustained opportunities to learn with one another...I can't even say enough this statement! Professional development is key for quality literacy instruction and should be ongoing throughout all of your years of teaching. Reading the latest literacy books, connecting with others on Twitter, reading blogs, reading articles from educational reading journals, dialoguing with literacy experts in your district, and taking post-graduate courses are all essential for growth as an effective teacher. 

Chapter 1-Defining Digital Reading

When reading this chapter, I underlined and marked the following lines with !!!!. "Digital reading experiences much be a part of the opportunities we give students on a regular basis. If not, we're discounting much of the reading they will engage with in the future." I couldn't agree more with this statement. If you think about how digital reading has changed in the last 10 years, 5 years, and 2 years...think about what will be happening in the next 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years. We HAVE to prepare our students for their future. The days of paper copies are coming to a quick end and we have to be fluent in navigating digital text so that we can teach our students. For example, which links should they click on, which ones should they stay away from, how can they navigate through the pages, how can they quickly look up a definition of a word, how can they open a new window in order to search something that is related to their reading? All of these are lifelong skills that our students need. 

Another important part of this chapter was that, "Just because students are 'good' with technology does not necessarily mean they are literate in the digital age." We need to guide students to use technology to their fullest potential and not on a "superficial level." It is imperative for students to know what the best tool is for them to use and how to really use the resources that are out there to their fullest potential. Technology is just not a source for checking Instagram and Twitter, playing games, and making Powerpoints.  

I also thought that the line, "We can't wait until a child is competent with traditional literacy skills and then expect the child to transfer those skills to digital text." was important. There are basic reading skills and there are digital literacy skills, and both of these must be taught in this day and age. We can't hold students back from digital literacy until they are reading at a certain level or reach a certain benchmark. I love the chart on page 10 that elaborates on how digital reading expands traditional reading skills. A very useful chart that will make teachers think about their instruction. As it states, "learning to read digital texts must be embedded in the ways we do our literacy work on a day-to-day basis." 

Chapter 2-From Reading Workshop to Digital Reading Workshop

Yes, yes, and yes to using
 the workshop model for reading and embedding the structures of time, choice, and response into the reading workshop. This chapter really gave me something to think about...how to create an effective digital reading workshop! I LOVED the list on page 19 and 20 about the role of digital texts in the literacy workshop. Definitely a stellar list to consider when teaching digital literacy during reading workshop. Are we teaching students how to use apps like Kindle, Overdrive, or the 3M Cloud Library? Are we showing digital texts as we read and modeling what we can do with them as we read? Are we looking for content online instead of looking it up in a textbook or outdated library book? All of these things are important for our students...or rather imperative for our students to know. 
My kindle app right now

I agree that a digital reading workshop is a "structure that honors authenticity, intentionality, and connectedness." The importance of a strong reading community is important, both inside the classroom and outside of our classroom. This is pretty easy to do in 2015. I use Padlet to build a reading community within our classroom and also connect with others outside of our classroom. The students love it and their responses are more meaningful(most of the time) when they know that anyone can see their posts. 
I'm looking forward to building an even stronger digital reading workshop this year!