Monday, July 20, 2015

Digital Reading: Chapters 6 - 7

It’s always fun learning together and having conversations about books. This is true in my classroom and even more in the summer when I have time to reflect (OLW15) on my learning.  #cyberPD has been a perfect combo for summer learning. A huge thanks to everyone who has been posting their thinking and commenting!

Chapter 6:  Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy
This chapter made my heart happy.  I have been shifting my literacy assessments over the past several years to more of a "conversation" with students about their books.  I've never done required reading logs (page number contracts etc) because I believe that killed reading for our own two children in elementary school. My students write me letters about their current reading book and I write back to them. A few years ago that switched from pencil/paper to Google.  That switch really helped me for convenience and also 24/7 communication with my students through commenting.  On page 98 "'s important to keep parents and families in the loop."  Google has allowed me to do this easily,  I often share a letter with a parent or send it as an attachment if they don't have a Google account.  Most of my shares are positive and allowing parents to see what their child is reading and to see their thinking about the book. At fifth grade, most students are still not sharing their HW with their parents, so this has been a positive communication tool with parents. Sometimes they even join in on the conversations by leaving a comment which is powerful.   

Chapter 7:  Beyond the Classroom Walls:  Connecting Reading at Home and School
I think I was most excited to read this chapter.  It our busy world I am constantly trying to connect home and school beyond the weekly Friday folder.  I know that  I have done that with the weekly reading reflections, but beyond that point I have not figured it out.  My first thought always moves toward the Flip Classroom and shifting HW.   It's been on my radar for at least two years now and every summer I try and tackle it a little bit more.  Time at school is precious but time at home is even more precious.  As a parent of two grown children, I remember the busy sports/CCD/scouts nights and then HW.  I am still pondering how to connect HW to school so that it's not an add on but in addition to the classroom learning.  It's still an enigma to me that I will continue to ponder.

Summer Blogging Break:
Summer has been refreshing, slowing down and reflecting (OLW15) has been exactly what I needed. As this posts, we will be on our summer vacation, and I'm sad that I am going to miss the final Twitter Chat.  A huge thanks to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for organizing another successful #cyberPD.  I will be back sometime in late August ready to share new ideas and ready for the start of a new school year.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Digital Reading Chapters 3 - 5

Big Ideas from Chapter 3, 4 and 5
  • "Each day they used a new tool because it fit their need or purpose at that moment."p. 28
  • "They were using s particular piece of technology when it made sense for their learning." p. 28
  • "I use tools in ways that extend, expand, analyze and record my reading." p. 29
  • "Focusing on the learning rather than the tool created a more authentic workshop" p. 32
  • "Students need us to help them navigate the strategies and habits..." p. 47
  • "Sometimes the best strategy for a teacher is to simply get out of the way." p. 63

Knock me over as I read Ann Marie's tips....the idea of integrating tech tips into your weekly schedule.  I have read about this concept in different formats and still don't find time in our classroom schedule.  Last year, I did a much better job of building a Digital Menu.  Introducing our class to a new tool allowing time for exploration and practice then allowing choice in the lesson.  It was 50/50 some students went back to their favorite (Keynote, Explain Everything, Comic Life) others would try the new tool.  This year I plan to do a combination of new digital tools and allow the students to choose which one they are an expert in and letting them teach it to their peers.  Less reliance on me and more ownership on them.  

Finally I really enjoyed reading the Voices from the Classroom.  My biggest learning typically comes from hands and eyes on in the classroom. In all these sections, I learned a new strategy or how to modify ones that I am currently using.  It was fun to learn about a few new websites.  I am also thankful for the opportunity to write a section for a voice in the classroom and sharing my experiences with Wonderopolis.  Reflecting on my own practices helped me think deeper and becoming published in a book is now off my bucket list.  Thanks Franki for inviting me to write a small part in your book. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrating #SummerPD at Home

Time to Celebrate thanks to Ruth for always encouraging us to choose celebration!
This week's link up is here.

It's still raining in Ohio...plans had to change and gardening has been difficult.  I kept thinking the rain would stop, but it hasn't  I celebrate the time it has created for my summer learning.   I didn't have to go any further than my back deck. I am celebrating a balance with my book choices: adult, children and professional books.  None of those decisions are ever easy for me and finding a balance can sometimes drive me crazy.  

My professional book:  READERS FRONT & CENTER by Dorothy Barnhouse is a grand slam for me.  I've been struggling with my reading conferences and here are several ideas I'm lifting from  this book which is why it s a home run.  

  • "I had fallen into the trap that if a student retells a story that means they are getting it" p. 16
  • "So you're rereading to try to figure it out. That's a great strategy. What makes you think it's a ----" p. 18
  • "Oh you're changing your mind: How come? What information in the text is telling you it could be a ----" p. 19
  • Staying in a researcher mode is key to a conference. "What can I find out about this student as a reader?" p. 20
  • "Every text has an opening that allows us to notice how our students are comprehending." Accepting this takes an enormous shift in attitude, frankly a text does have right and wrong answers. p. 22
I'm only on Chapter 3 and I had to stop and blog...needed time to start recoding my ideas and gathering great questions as I get ready for revamping my conferences this fall.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Digital Reading: Chapters 1 & 2

How I read professional books has changed over the years.  I am curious about the author’s word choice so I find myself collecting vocabulary words and writing them in the margins.  In Chapter 1 & 2 I noticed:
·      Motivation
·      Intention
·      Flexible
·      Superficial
·      Rigorous
·      Interact
·      Ownership

In both chapters: Defining Digital Literacy and From Reading Workshop to Digital Reading Workshop, the first step is determining the intention of the lesson and increasing the motivation for all students. Motivation is varied among students: digitally it could include the flexibility of: BYOB device, class devices, Kindles as well as blogging, websites, and digital magazines. As the teacher I always take ownership of knowing my students as readers and writers through conferences. My goal is that the mini lessons will increase the rigor at the same time “being aware that some students may interact at a superficial level.” This was a key point for me as I read about Marissa. I reflected on this year’s class and know that I had a few Marissa’s.  How did I help them achieve ownership of their reading?  I was still giving them 2-3 book choices in March when they couldn’t find a JR book.

It is always gratifying to me when I read a professional book and in my head I can say “Yes I am doing that" or “Hooray I’ve tried those websites>" Sometimes in education we need to be our own cheerleaders.  As I finished, chapter 2, I started to think about the statement that was posed: What is my vision for my digital workshop for the 2015-16 school year.  I am constantly thinking about how to make it stronger and I’m sure as I continue to read the rest of the book I will continue to lift the best ideas out of Digital Reading:  What’s Essential in Grades 3-8 in addition to reading the blog posts.

I am excited to learn along with you, and I'm thankful to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting #cyberPD.  Here is the link up for this week.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Celebrating a Rainy Perspective

It's been raining all week and if I was counting it probably rained all last week too.  Rain slows me down and reminds me to take some time to do those projects that have been on the back burner for a while as of course gives me extra time for reading.  Ii's been a fun week with our daughter home from Charleston with time to visit as we continue to build family memories. Both kids are home time weekend and this makes my heart warm. A mother never sleeps better when she knows both her children are at home - it's a true blessing that I never take for granted.  

My next celebration is one of learning at home!  Which is perfect for me since I chose to stay home this summer and not attend the summer conferences that I have typically gone too.  It really is amazing that I could sit at home on my deck and feel like I was at Allwrite15 through twitter.  I wrote several ideas in my WNB and tweeted out and felt like I was almost there.  Perfect for me.  

I'm also excited for virtual book clubs that I am gong to try and participate in this summer. #CyberPD has chosen Digital Reading by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass. I'm on Chapter 4 and already taking notes and reminded constantly  it's not about the tool it's about the learning.  Secondly, though Facebook, I have joined a Notice and Note group which is going to read certain pages weekly and comment so we can all learn together.  Virtual PLN at home in Ostrander-perfect for me.  

Thanks to Ruth Ayre's for reminding us to celebrate every week.  Her post today was a beautiful reminder about the importance of friends and our writing communities.  Have a great week - stay dry or find a great book!!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Celebrate: a handful of stars

It's summer and the first full week has come to a close. It's interesting to me how time seems to slow down in the summer.  The minutes move like a snail crawling across our garden wall.  Each summer I appreciate that feeling more and more.  

I am celebrating finishing my first book:  a handful of stars by Cynthia Lord.  It's a beautiful story about friendship, Lily and Salma. Lily lost her mom at a young age and lives with her grandparents who own the general store in a remote corner of Maine near the blueberry barrens.  Selma is the daughter of a migrant family who comes in seasonally to pick blueberries. Their friendship includes Lily's blind dog, Lucky, and Selma's love of art which helps both girls achieve their goal. A few of my favorite lines I lifted include: 

  • "different is good it makes you pay attention." 
  • "sometimes life is like a long road leading from one "if" to another" 
  • "takes all kind of people to make a world"
I am celebrating having the time to digest this book, to lift lines and think about how I will weave this book into my mentor text pile.  There are so many possibilities:
  • Beginning of the year with building community
  • Math time with a wonderful part about how hard fractions are yet "That's math for you. But the good part is that once you learn it, it doesn't change. You always do it the same way."
  • Writing Workshop:  How Cynthia wove so many important facts to help the reader learn about blueberries and mason bees. Both of which I didn't know anything about.
  • Reading: character development and how two main characters interact and the importance of secondary characters like her grandparents, Hannah and Dr. Katz (which was a fun play on words) 
  • Social Studies: an important message about migration and the idea of inclusion vs. exclusion.
  • End of the year letting go and taking a small part with you
I look on my time in the summer as a gift. My perspective (OLW15) each summer shifts more to gratitude. I have time to be writing again in my writer's notebook and reflecting on my blog.  I'm excited to be celebrating this week here is the link up.  Enjoy your Saturday!

Time to read, write and play with Ringo who is resting on the left.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Slice of Life: Respecting Summer

Thanks to the Slice of Life community. I am excited to have more time to visit the different slices now that summer vacation has arrived.  Here is the Link for this week’s round up.

It’s Tuesday, June 2, and it’s our last day of school.  It’s been quite a year. As summer vacation is knocking on the door, I am thankful for the next 12 weeks. This summer is going to be different for me.  I am celebrating my perspective (OLW15) of slowing down and realizing I just can’t do it all and the fact I don’t want to do it all.  

This is the first summer that I am choosing to stay at home and not take advantage of different professional learning opportunities. I am sure that I will be learning virtually on twitter, and I’m excited to connect with friends though my virtual #PLN.  How does a girl already have five professional books that she wants to read and one more on the way? I am positive that I have enough professional learning without leaving home.

My perspective on summer is slowly shifting; I have been on overload from previous summers. There are so many ideas that I want to implement when I return to the school in the fall, but I have felt like an island and I needed to change that for this summer.  This is why I need to slow down and respect summer. A chance for early mornings on my porch reading an amazing book which will help me prepare for next year’s Newbery Club. Time to read several professional books and digest them while making connections to my instructional practices. Linger on into the afternoons with a quiet lunch after some midmorning gardening. And finally if it is a perfect day hopefully there will be some time for reflection and blogging. 

Welcome summer….I have been waiting on you.