Tuesday, June 13, 2017

It's Coming! July's #cyberPD Event Schedule

Last week we shared our selection for July's #cyberPD book talk.  We're excited to have selected Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton for this year's conversation.  (You can hear her talk about the book here.)  This will be the seventh year for our virtual book group which reads and collaboratively discusses a professional book each summer.

2016:  DIY Literacy:  Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts
2015:  Digital Reading:  What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass
2014:  Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
2013:  Who Owns the Learning by Alan November
2012:  Opening Minds by Peter Johnston
2011:  Conferring:  The Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen

July's Professional Book Chat:  #cyberPD
  • Week of July 2nd:  Into & Section 1:  Chapters 1 - 4, digital response by 7/6
  • Week of July 9th:  Read Chapters 5 - 6, digital response by 7/13
  • Week of July 16th:  Read Chapters 7 - 8, digital response by 7/20
  • Week of July 23rd:  Read Chapters 9 -10, digital response by 7/27

How to Participate
  • Join the #cyberPD Google Community to connect and receive updates 
  • Read the selected chapters each week 
  • Respond digitally to each section by the Thursday of the assigned week 
  • Thursday - Saturday take time to reply to at least 3 participant responses

Ways to Respond
  • Respond on your blog and link your post to the Google Community or
  • Post your thinking directly in the #cyberPD Community or
  • Create a digital response and post it in the Google Community 
  • You can also share thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD 


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Maintaining Ownership in Personalized Learning

If you follow my blog, you know I've been giving Pinterest a hard time lately.  I miss being able to socially bookmark with people in my network I trust.  Often when I log into Pinterest I find a bunch of pins this "personalized" website thinks I want to see.

The truth is....they're almost always wrong.

The same is true with Facebook.  Most of the promotions they send my way are often items I've already purchased, merchandise I'd never consider, or links of little interest (don't get me started on virtual school posts that make their way into my feed).  Let me step off my soapbox to get to my point:  the only person that can truly personalize for YOU is YOU.

So....is "personalized" learning what we want for our children?

I continually read posts from people who are adamantly against personalized learning.  Their argument is that big business wants to personalize for students.  Like these advocates, I share their concern.  When I see Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg want to help personalize learning, I get a bit apprehensive.  As an educator, I've seen programs where students sit down and the app "personalizes" for them.  I've watched them robotically work through menus with new levels pushed their way.  I've sat through sales pitches in which companies hope to sell content that is collected and given to the learner.  When I think about the way we live, the jobs that will be available, and the possibilities that abound, I don't consider this enough for our children.

Personalized learning, to me, isn't about programs that try to use algorithms to determine next steps for children.  Personalized learning, to me, is personal.  It's learning that allows learners to assess their own understanding, determine their own goals, and design their own learning.  Personalized learning changes my role as a teacher.  It doesn't make me one stop in a rotation of "personalized programming products," but instead shifts my role to a co-learner in our classroom, albeit one with experience who can sit beside students as they design their next steps.  As I like to say, I'm now "coach on approach" for the learners in our community.

Here are a few of the characteristics I see as essential in personal learning:
  • It's Learner Driven:  Learners truly know what is next, set their own goals, and design their own path.  
  • It's Collaborative:  True learning never happens in isolation, but is part of a larger conversation.    Learners know the experts in the room (and outside of the room), reach out to peers for feedback, and have opportunities to learn alongside others.  Learning is part of a bigger conversation that is taking place in the community.  
  • It's Authentic:  Learners have the opportunity to solve real problems, ask genuine questions, and seek new understandings.  They are able to select their own books, choose their own topics, and follow their own interests.  
  • It's Connected:  Thanks to the internet, learning no longer happens in isolation.  Students now have a platform to share their work, reach outside of their classroom, and connect with other learners, authors, and experts.  
  • It Allows for Creativity:  While paper, pencil, markers and paints are certainly still important tools in creating, digital opportunities now allow for new ways to share our thinking with others.  
Is personalized learning what we want for our children?  I guess it depends on how you define it.  If it is spending our day handing students devices with programs that feed information to them, then I wonder as well, but if instead, it is creating learning environments in which children truly own their learning then it is absolutely what I hope we will continue to work toward.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

In Case You Haven't Heard: #cyberPD Selection

The calendar has turned to June and, as educators, our attention has turned to our bookstacks.  This is the time of year that we can catch up on professional reading, children's literature....and of course a few pleasure reads.  ;o)  It's also the time of year our #cyberPD community starts thinking about its selection for our summer booktalk.  This will be our 7th year collaborating and learning together.

We began, as usual, by sharing our summer bookstacks.  That was dangerous!  It always results in adding more books to my stack.  You can check them out in our #cyberPD Google Community.

By now I know you've probably heard, but just in case --- and because I'm just thrilled about it --- I wanted to share the good news.  This year's #cyberPD selection is....

Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.

If you'd like to participate in our July conversation, stop by our #cyberPD Google Community and join us.  You can also follow the events on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.

Find Out More:

Stay tuned.  We'll be sharing our July schedule and more information in the weeks to come.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Wanted a Good Visual Bookmarking Site: Goodbye, Pinterest.

Wanted:  A Good Visual Bookmarking Site 

Here's why....

As someone who loves to read and learn online, I began using bookmarking sites early in my transition to digital material.  My first go-to site was Diigo.  I loved that you could annotate and tag the links saved.  Then along came Pinterest.  I'll be the first to admit that Pinterest creates a lot of dangerous educational possibilities.  There are a million worksheets and pins that don't necessarily lead to best practice.  Of course, one of the things I've learned over the years is that it isn't the tool that is the problem, it is often the way we use it.

The Way It Used to Be
I didn't like Pinterest for its "make and take it" possibilities, but instead for the ability to save the links I had found and bookmark them.  Through Pinterest, I was able to collect articles, links, books, and resources.  Making boards around topics proved a helpful way of organizing for me as I built boards that included Literacy 3.0, Many Faces of Children's Literature, Rethinking Learning Spaces, and many others I repeatedly return to for reference.

I didn't just love Pinterest for its ease and visual appeal in bookmarking, but I loved it for its social bookmarking capabilities.  I started following friends I knew would curate smart links.  I knew I could count on friends like Jill Fisch for great book titles, Franki Sibberson for smart literacy links, and Michelle Nero for tips on best practice in reading.  I knew I could count on these connections, and many more, to bring strong content to my attention.  In addition to being able to take advantage of the curation of peers, I was also able to collaboratively bring information together.  For example, through #cyberPD we formed groups that shared bookmarking abilities that matched our topic of study.

Goodbye, Pinterest
Across the years, Pinterest has slowly tried to bring more promotional material into the feed and "personalize" links that come to my attention.  Instead of seeing the links friends are curating, I now see promotional links and links Pinterest thinks I want to see.  Dear Pinterest, I don't need worksheets for guided reading (because that isn't guided reading anyway).  I don't need cut out icons for "interactive notebooks" (because I haven't figured out what is "interactive" about that).  What I need is to be able to see the educational material my friends share, but I no longer easily see the links they are collecting.  I know I can count on these people for good content, but I can no longer find their links among the promoted and selected links.

So....goodbye, Pinterest.

For these reasons, I'm planning to begin to move my bookmarking to a new site.  I'm looking for something that is visual, tag-able, organizable, and can be social.  Any suggestions???

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Let's Get This Started #cyberPD: Share Your Stack

As the calendar nears summer, I'm starting to think about my professional learning plan.  Summer is the perfect time to catch up on reading, collaborate with others, and change course for the upcoming school year.  Of course, summer also means #cyberPD.  This event is always at the top of my summer learning list.  This year will be our seventh year of learning together as a community.

Each summer the #cyberPD community chooses a professional book to read and discuss in the month of July.  The event has certainly grown since its first year which began with less than fifteen people, but the community has remained collaborative.  You can join the conversation and see past years' discussions in our #cyberPD Google Community.  Here are the books selected since 2011: 
Share Your Stack
The first thing we need to do is choose our book.  

To help do this, we are asking the #cyberPD to share their book stacks.  Before May ends, please share the professional books you hope to read this summer.  Participants can share their stacks using the Twitter hashtag #cyberPD and post in our #cyberPD community under the "share your book stack" tab.  Michelle and I will then take a look at the stacks and choose one title to be discussed by the community in July.  The selection announcement will be made June 3rd!

Let's get this started!!

Here's my stack of professional reading....


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Time for Reflection: A Gift to Ourselves

Leaving the classroom, the coach and I walked side by side.  She had just finished teaching a lesson with young writers about growing stories.  "I wish we had time to talk," she lamented.  Unfortunately, she needed to be in another classroom and I needed to be in a meeting.  I paused taking in what she had said.  As teachers, we hurry about our day-to-day work without the time to step back to reflect.  It was at this moment I realized that our conversations with colleagues around the work we do are a gift we rarely seem to find time for in our daily busyness.

The Need for Reflection
The need for reflection struck me again the other day as I was waiting on a friend for lunch.  The restaurant was quiet, and for the first time in days, I felt like I had a few minutes of unscheduled time.  I paused and just started thinking about the week.  It wasn't long until I found myself taking a few notes, reflecting on a few interactions across the week, and planning a few next steps.  Honestly, I was amazed at what had been accomplished in less than ten minutes as my friend entered the restaurant and joined me.

It seems in our world, especially in our teaching worlds, it's hard to find time to pause and reflect.  As teachers, our lists remain long so we move from one task to another.  As teachers, it can be a challenge to pause when we are busy working alongside young students with little break in our day.  I'm going to be so bold as to say I think we even feel guilty when we take the time to pause and reflect.  We are always on a path of doing.

That day at the restaurant I don't think I would have paused had I not been given a few unexpected minutes.  We talk all the time about reflection; we understand its power, yet we rarely carve time to pause.

Collaborative Conversations 
As I work alongside instructional coaches and teachers, I'm continually struck by the power of pausing to reflect.  Often in our side-by-side work with colleagues, we do the work inside the classroom; because of time constraints, we settle for moments of demonstration teaching, observation, or quick touches of learning, but it is the deep dive into focused conversation that helps us to grow in our practice.  It is the small reflective conversations before and after our time together we struggle to make the time to have, yet it is these very conversations that lift our work.

While I am trying to be more disciplined about taking the time for personal reflection, it is when I am reflecting with a colleague that I learn the most.  It is in these conversations where new thinking pushes against what I understand.  It is in these conversations that my words are sent back to me in a way that brings fresh understanding.  It is in these conversations I find new perspectives.  It is in these conversations that I find strength for next steps.

As I sit beside coaches and teachers, I've come to realize that the short pre and post conversations we often skip, are truly a gift.  As I observe collaborative conversations I'm always struck by what both people take away after a few minutes in reflective conversation.   Our work is too complex to do it alone.

Whether it is sitting quietly for ten minutes or finding a colleague to bounce around a few ideas, I'm trying to find ten minutes each day for a bit of reflection.  Instead of thinking about it as a something I have to do, I know it is a gift I give to myself.

A Bit More About Reflection
Watch It:  

Live It:  
  • Take time to reflect (find the white space in your day to think, time to journal, talk with a friend)
  • Grab your favorite notebook (or app)
  • Apps for written reflection:  Google, Google KeepEvernote (organize notebooks, tag, type, audio, insert images, and you can write --- but that feature is still very limited), Noteshelf App (set up notebooks with paper-like turns, write, type, insert images), Notability (for fans of handwriting.)  
  • Daily Habits  (set reminders for your reflection time...)

Friday, February 10, 2017

10 Nonfiction Picture Books of Promise for Our World #nf10for10

Today's the day for our nonfiction picture book event:  #nf10for10.  This is our 5th annual nonfiction event.  In the past Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning, Julie Balen of Write at the Edge, and I have cohosted this event.  Again this year all activity will be collected on our Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  Stop by to read, share your favorites, and/or link up.

Ways to participate:

10 Nonfiction Picture Books 
In previous nonfiction events, I've shared:

My 2017 List:  10 Nonfiction Picture Books of Promise for Our World
In school, we often talk about our 20 square feet.  If we each take care of our own 20 square feet, we can help the world be a better place.  However, the world is much bigger than our 20 square feet.  Here are books that remind us of our obligation to make the world a better place.

We can make a difference.
The Water Princess, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter Reynolds.

We can share our gifts with others.
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe.

We can bravely speak against injustice.
Iqbal:  A Brave Boy from Pakistan, Malala:  A Brave Girl from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter.

We can stand for equality.
The Youngest Marcher, written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.  

We can raise our voice.
I Dissent:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley.

We can take care of our beautiful earth.
The Earth Book by Todd Parr.

We can reuse items in new ways.
Ada's Violin:  The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport.

We can protect our endangered species.
Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins.

We can help care for our oceans. 
Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey.  Kids will enjoy this book full of information about sharks.  The book ends with ways to help keep oceans healthy.

We can respect the delicate balance of life.  
No Monkeys, No Chocolate, written by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, and illustrated by Nicole Wong.