Sunday, June 17, 2018

Transforming Teaching and Learning with Digital Tools

"Helping teachers seek out connections with others fuels their creativity and generates a feeling of support, of a connected community (digital page 42)." -Dr. Stephanie Affinito

I've been learning from Dr. Stephanie Affinito for some time now.  Originally connecting with her work in literacy on Twitter (@AffinitoLit), it wasn't long until I was following her literacy thinking on her blog and joining her in virtual learning opportunities.  As a literacy coach, I was quite excited when I heard she had a book coming out about literacy coaching and the ways digital tools might help us to connect our learning community.

When we think about technology, we often think about the ways we can now connect with others far from our classrooms.  Through technology, I have been able to connect with teachers in other states and around the world.  These connections, outside of my daily community, have shaped my practices as an educator and given me much to think about.  I'm quite sure I would be a very different educator today without the connections I have made over the past ten years through social media, blogs, and expanded digital learning opportunities.

While we tend to think of the ways technology has allowed us to talk with educators timezones away as if they taught across the hall from us, I'd be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge what these tools have done to grow my connections within my community as well.  In the busy life of teaching and learning, it can be difficult to find time for extended conversations with colleagues.  As we work within our classroom communities, it can be challenging to find time to sustain the rich conversations necessary to continue to grow.  Technology can allow us to continue conversations beyond our day, see what is happening in the classroom down the hall, and collaboratively grow resources with one another, among other things.

I just finished reading Stephanie Affinito's book, Literacy Coaching:  Transforming Teaching and Learning with Digital Tools and Technology.  Stephanie reminds us of the ways technology can bring our local communities together in extended learning.  Here are three key ideas I'm pondering after reading her book:

  1. Digital tools for collaboration:  Digital tools can help to "cultivate a shared sense of inquiry into literacy instruction (digital p. 15)" and create a culture of collaboration within our learning community. 
  2. Digital tools for innovative practice:  As literacy coaches, we can leverage digital tools to, not only deepen our community conversations about teaching and learning, but also to help teachers envision new possibilities for "using them in more academic ways for reading, writing, teaching, and learning (digital p. 28)." 
  3. Digital tools for connection:  Digital tools can begin to "open the doors" of our classrooms if we utilize it to "take [our] experiences and make them visible and accessible for all (digital p. 66)."  
In her book, Stephanie shares concrete examples of the ways we can use technology to work smarter, deepen professional conversations, and grow our connections with one another.  While the book is written for literacy coaches, I couldn't help but think it would be a smart read for any teacher who wants to discover ways to connect conversations within their team or building.  I thought of many teachers who lead from their classrooms who would benefit from reading this book.  Full of charts to show how digital tools can extend possibilities for the work we do, Stephanie shares ideas for launching this work in your learning community.  


  1. Thank you for sharing this post, I will share this with others in a coaching position.

  2. I have Stephanie’s book up next in my stack to read this summer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and highlights. I can’t wait to dig in. I love to hear that it’s a great read for all teachers (because I couldn’t agree more) .... but I think the title may sway some teachers from reading it! Also, sounds like Stephanie is creating a voxer group to discuss the book in the fall, if you are interested...I think a few of your friends are joining in too!

  3. I am so thankful for your blog post, Cathy! Who would have known that a Google search on teachers using Twitter would have sent me to your blog, then to the Maker Playground, then to #cyberPD, then to our work with The Educator Collaborative and more! I am so thankful for our work together and can't wait to see what we come up with in the future!