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.