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! 


  1. Great post. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have heard of Smore from Cathy and Julia, but I love that you actually put examples here! They do not look like newsletters, they look like beautiful websites! Thank you for sharing them!


    1. I love the look of them as well! I remember making newsletters and cutting out and taping down cute clip art on them and then copying them for the class. Those days are over!

  3. You are already doing so much in the digital world. Thank you for sharing about smore. I wish I had known about it last year. I just used e-mail to send my newsletters. Also, there is so much that can be done with digital portfolios, even sharing among the students in class would be great. I often found that my students didn't share too much, unless it was a sharing session within a group or they saw what someone was creating. Thanks for sharing all your ideas!

    1. Thanks for the comments! With as much as I do digitally, there is still so much that I can get better at!

  4. Megan,

    That's too funny! I started with the same quote by Clare and Tammy -- it really says it all, doesn't it? :) I utilize many of the same literacy assessments to learn about my readers as well, but I love the idea of the "concepts of digital literacy." I would love to collaborate and work on creating that with you, if you'd like. It could be given just as the concepts of print -- but focus on digital texts and tools. (Now I can't stop thinking about this idea!!!)

    I'm also with you on the digital portfolios. We have student-led conferences and last year the district incorporated a Google Slide presentation -- that was only used at goal setting and goal sharing conferences. Not one teacher used it throughout the year to document learning and collect evidence! This is a goal of mine to do and encourage other teachers as well.

    I love 'smore' as well, but haven't played around with it yet. So I am super excited that you shared some of your newsletter examples! (I feel like I hit a gold mine with your post tonight!!)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving me many more ideas to ponder!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Michelle! I love the "interactive-ness" of Smore and how they look so nice. I think the parents really like them as well. I should probably embed them on my website...maybe that will be next on my list. :-)

  5. Megan,
    Thanks for sharing your newsletter examples! I had a S'More subscription last year, but my kids actually gravitated towards the free www.tackk.com site instead (go figure!) My district is really big into Google apps & extensions; kids all have their own accounts. I also kind of tried to use their Drive as a portfolio last year but wasn't very thorough or intentional about it. It's another one of my goals for this year! Thanks so much for sharing your thinking!

    1. I think I might do a post about how I set up my digital portfolios. It was pretty easy. Now, it's just a matter of using them to their fullest potential. I feel like I do so many different things sometimes that I forget to use the things that I have. My kids liked tackk as well. They loved chatting on tackk...of course!

  6. Megan, I appreciated your point about assessment. We should look at our literacy learners from multiple points of view. Clare and Tammy's work has pushed me to think of the questions I have as I look at assessments. What do I wonder? What are the connections? What do I want to know more about?

    Like you, I love SMORE. I haven't purchased an educator account, but it would be easy to be tempted to do so. You are right, it is such a smart way to communicate with parents.

    Thanks for joining the conversation,

  7. Awesome resource for creating newsletters! I'll be sure to share with my pre-service teachers who are always looking for ways to connect with parents. As a parent myself, I far prefer receiving updates or newsletters in my email inbox rather than having to remind myself to visit an outside website. I love your words about assessing readers too. So wise!