Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lulu Series by Judith Viorst

I've vowed this summer to really get to know early chapter books.  I'm hoping to know them well enough to recommend them to the students I support in reading.  I know I need to know the characters, the story, the author's message, the supports and the challenges.  I know I'm hoping to find books that will help step these readers into other books.

One of the series I enjoyed this summer has been around for a bit, Lulu written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lane Smith.  You've likely already read them yourself.  Though this series is a bit more challenging than most of my readers will be able to manage independently, I think it has a lot of potential for read aloud.  As a classroom teacher I see it as being perfect for read aloud at the end of second or beginning of third grade when readers could more easily understand the change in voice as the author breaks into the story to add her own two cents.  I'd also recommend it to parents looking for a longer read aloud to enjoy with their children each evening.  It seems reading the first one would set readers to read the second and third independently.

I just fell in love with spunky Lulu.  She's quite a difficult child and is used to getting her way.  She's not going to go out of her way to make things easier for anyone.  In all three books she struggles with wishes of other characters and has to learn to change her ways to get what she wants.  Lulu grows up a bit in each story.  I think young readers could identify with Lulu and the books would offer opportunities for some great discussion.  There are three books in this series:

Lulu and the Brontosaurus:  In this story, Lulu wants a pet of her own.  When her parents refuse to get her a brontosaurus for her birthday, she leaves home to find one herself.  Of course, she gets more than she bargained for in the brontosaurus she hopes to take home.  It seems he too thinks having a pet is a perfect idea --- and that Lulu would make just the right pet for him.  

Lulu Walks the Dogs:  Lulu needs a little extra spending money so she decides to walk dogs to make money.  Lulu, of course, is only concerned about making money and really doesn't care much about the pets themselves.  The dogs provide plenty of challenge as Lulu just hopes to check these jobs off her list and receive a little pay.  Fleischman, a boy all the neighbors love, tries to help Lulu, but she's not really interested in his advice.  Will Lulu ever learn?

Lulu Mysterious Mission:  Lulu is infuriated when her parents decide to take a trip without her.  To add insult to injury they plan to leave her with a babysitter.  Lulu pulls out all the stops and throws her usual temper tantrums to force her parents too come home.  However, Lulu has met her match in Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky who specializes in dealing with especially difficult children.  Is Ms. Solinsky all she appears to be?

These three books were such fun to read.  I hope I'll get to read more about Lulu soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's Almost Time for the 5th Annual #cyberPD Book Discussion

It's almost time.  Beginning July 6th educators from near and far will gather together virtually to discuss this year's #cyberPD title, Digital Reading:  What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  Hosted each July; this is our fifth #cyberPD global book talk.

Laura Komos, Michelle Nero, and I are looking forward to discussing this book with the #cyberPD community.  Everyone is welcome!  Digital Reading:  What's Essential can be purchased through NCTE.  Each year the selected professional book is divided into three sections for discussion.  Participants read, share and connect with one another across the event.  The event is wrapped up in a final Twitter chat.  We're excited to announce that the authors will be joining us for this final chat on Tuesday, July 28th at 8 p.m. EST.

In five years the #cyberPD community has grown from less than 15 participants to over 100.  The strength of this event has always been in the community.  There's something about reading a book, sharing your thinking, and then responding to others participating.  Seeing the thinking from the perspectives of others and growing these conversations pushes the learning exponentially.

In the past, the discussion has moved across blogs.  Having a blog was essential in having a space to share your thinking, but our move to a Google Community has opened the door for participants to respond directly on the community page.

July's Professional Book Chat:  #cyberPD
  • Week of July 6th:  Read Chapter 1 & 2, digital response by 7/9
  • Week of July 13th:  Read Chapters 3-5, digital response by 7/16
  • Week of July 23rd:  Read Chapters 6 & 7, digital response by 7/23 
  • Final Twitter Chat with authors Franki Sibberson & Bill Bass:  Tuesday, July 28th at 8 p.m. EST
***Educators in Hilliard City Schools will be discussing the assigned chapters each week on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.  These chats will take place each Thursday at 10 a.m. EST.  If you do not teach in the district, you are still welcome to join these weekly conversations.  

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 on 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 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trust Your Voice, Share Your Story

A few weeks ago Julie Johnson, Deb Frazier and I led a session in our district on digital learning.  As I walked around the room while teachers worked, one of my colleagues and friends called me over.  "How did you get started with digital learning?" he asked.  This is always a tough question to answer because it was really the perfect storm of a lot of events all at the same time.  For me, I think the more I found myself living in the world of digital literacy, the more I thought my students needed to get there too.  I just started reaching out digitally, and soon found myself purposefully a part of our digital world.  I knew my students needed these same opportunities.

It was a smart question, but one I grapple with articulating an answer for every time it is asked.  Finally I said, I think my biggest steps were when I started blogging.  Blogging pushed me to be thoughtful about my message, to connect with other educators, and to participate in the educational conversations that take place in digital spaces.  "Who wants to know what I'm thinking?" he asked.  I hear this all of the time, and it always makes me pause.  Why don't educators feel they have a voice?  Why don't educators feel like what they say matters?  As I looked at him, I knew there were a million things I wanted to know about his classroom, his transition from his work as a literacy coach back into the classroom, his practice, his challenges and his successes.  I know with absolute certainty he has a story.

For the next two weeks I am working with the Columbus Area Writing Project.  There are probably close to thirty people working in small groups.  Each group is writing around a particular topic.  Our group has been working on pieces around digital literacy.  Over and over again we come back to that conversation of owning your story.  In a room full of strong professionals working in a variety of situations, most teachers don't trust their voice.  The educators in the room are full of interesting questions, thoughts, and ideas, but don't trust the significance of their message.  "Write with authority" has become the mantra.  Who better to tell your story than you?

In a world full of politicians and media telling the story of education, I'm grateful to the bloggers who put their stories out there.  I'm grateful for the moments when I read a blog and feel like I've stepped into a classroom.  I'm grateful for the educators who share the way they work, their struggles and their successes.  I'm grateful to educators who talk about the professional books they read and the way these will impact the work they do with children.  I'm grateful to the educators who are willing to take a risk and share their story.

Maybe your story isn't about education.  Maybe you have a different story that needs to be understood.  My hope is that somebody reading this who is doubting that they have a story will be willing to share it with the rest of us.  Just think about the number of stories waiting to be told.  Just think about the number of stories lost because of doubt.  Yes, I'm talking to you.  Please share your story.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Digilit Sunday: MobileMonet

I often like to use images when composing.  In poetry, essay, and other writing forms I find adding digital images can create mood, help readers know more, and make a piece more visually appealing.  Using my own photos makes it easier to get just the right image for my message and keeps me from having to search for correctly copyrighted work.

As a blogger I rely on digital images to help create interest in a piece so having ways to play with images to make them stronger is something I like to be able to do.  I am always on the lookout for photo apps that help me to work in new ways.  Recently I stumbled upon MobileMonet.  I have been playing with it and love the artistic look it gives an image.  I think it will be perfect for creating images for poetry and changing the look of a picture for blog posts.

MobileMonet is easy to use.  You import your picture, choose the best artistic look  for your photo, and save to the location of your choice.  MobileMonet shares easily with many social media applications.  

Here are a few before and after images:

The app is $1.99.  I rarely pay for an app - I'm cheap like that.  This app was worth every penny.

As part of a continuous collaboration among educators interested in digital learningMargaret Simon hosts a weekly Digital Learning round-up on her blog:  DigiLit Sunday.  Stop by Reflections on the Teche (today's link-up) to read, discover, and link.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mother Reader's 48 Hour Challenge: Finish Line

This weekend I have been participating in Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge.  When I woke up Saturday it was raining and looked like it could rain all day.  The perfect day for reading.  My house was a mess and really needed a good cleaning.  The perfect day for procrastinating so it was obviously just the right weekend for the challenge.  (and my apologies for the lack of photos and links...we are out of data.  As soon as I get to free WIFI I will update.)

With a graduation party, Father's Day, a lot of home to-dos, and some planned time with friends, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  I didn't reach my goal of 14 hours, but I did manage to read for 12.9 hours.  I started at 11:30 Friday night (and promptly fell asleep) and am ending at 9:30 on Sunday.  In past challenges I counted networking, but this year my total is straight book reading time.  

One of my goals this summer is to build my familiarity with early chapter books.  I want to read as many as I can, get to know their level of difficulty, gain understanding of their story, and create a bank of books I can recommend to my young readers.  I have decided to focus on series books as there seems to be some correlation between putting readers In a series they like and their reading growth.  For the challenge I decided to read a few of these titles.

Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford and illustrated by Elanna Allen.  This is the first book in a series and will be at the top of my recommendation list.  I really enjoyed it.  As I read this book I couldn't get away from thinking about what a great read aloud it would be with its strong character, its hints at strategies for solving problems, and its voice.  This would be a good book to read aloud setting kids up to read subsequent books in the series.

In this story, Violet goes with her mom to the market one day.  Her mom sells some of her knitting there.  Violet spies a beautiful blue china bird at another table. The bird is $10.  Violet needs a brilliant plot to be able to buy it.  With some outside the box thinking, maybe she can find a way. 

This book will surely be on my list to recommend to my second graders as they are ready.  The structure of the story, the make up of the characters, and the arrangement of text with occasional illustrations will surely support them as they read.  There is a bit of vocabulary to figure out, but the text supports this as they can be figured out by use of context.  They are also often repeated.  There are snippets in text in which character feeling is understood by inferring analogies provided by the author.  Would make for interesting conversation.  

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.  This is another book on my list for recommendation to students transitioning to chapter books.  Mercy, a pig, lives inside the house with Mr. and Mrs. Watson.  One night Mercy sneaks into bed with The Watsons.  All are dreaming peacefully when the bed starts to shake and fall through the floor.  Is it an earthquake? What will happen to them?  

This book is part of a series and perfect for those first steps into chapter books.  The larger text may feel more comfortable for readers beginning to make this transition.  The larger text also makes moving through the book feel faster and the illustrations make the book appealing.  While I'm not sure I'd consider it a mystery, it does have that mystery-like feel as you try to figure out what has made the bed start to fall through the floor and wonder if Mercy will be able to save the day.  Some of my readers who enjoy mystery would probably like this book.  I know my animal lovers would love it, for sure.

During this time I also enjoyed Lulu Walks the Dog by Judith Viorst (loved it...talk about a great read aloud), Magic Bones:  Be Careful What You Sniff by Nancy Krulik, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (a five tissue read - out of five tissues, but worth every tear).  I also got a bit further in my professional reading.

Thanks, Mother Reader, for hosting again.

Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge

This weekend I will be joining Mother Reader's 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.  This will be my fourth year to join to the fun. It looks like the perfect weekend for reading as it is raining outside again.  

I hit the starting line at 11:30 last night and fell asleep fifteen minutes later so let's hope I get a little better at staying awake to read.  Unlike all the participants I forgot to consider snacks which is probably better in the long run.  

The first book up is Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot.  

See you at the finish line.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge

I've just finished picking up books from the library, and loading my Kindle with books, for Mother Reader's 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.  This will be my fourth year to join to the fun.  Participants have a window beginning June 19th and ending June 21st to get started reading for 48 hours.  The goal is to read as much as you can during those 48 hours.  There is a 12 hour minimum participation to be eligible for prizes.

In the past, I've used this event to kick off my summer reading.  This year the event is a bit later so I'm already off and running, but will work to make reading a priority this weekend.  As I've done in the past I will push the middle grade line a bit and spend much of my time focusing on chapter books for young readers.  I'm always trying to get acquainted with more of the possibilities for students.  I will pepper in a professional read and a most likely a bit of YA as well....unless I change my mind.  ;o)

I'll be picking between some of these titles:

I'm thinking I will kick off my reading Saturday morning, but we will see.  I will be keeping my time using Amazon's Book Time on my Kindle again this year.  I just can't find an app from iTunes that allows me to time reading sessions and record titles in this way.  I'm open to suggestions.  I hope you'll consider joining this fun event to celebrate summer reading.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First Steps into Early Chapter Books

Working to support readers this year, I have realized that I need to brush up a bit on my early chapter books.  Personally, I'd keep kids in picture books as long as I could but, let's be honest, kids can't wait to get into them.  Of course, there are things readers learn from chapter books.  Readers build stamina, learn to think about more extended ideas, follow characters over time and develop comprehension strategies.  I'd have to say most of my second grade readers who made the most progress last year did so because they got caught up in a chapter book series.  Early chapter books were certainly a help in getting readers hooked on books.

This summer my goal is to read early chapter books to find some I can recommend to my second graders receiving support who often want to look like their peers in their classrooms.  Even first graders toward the end of the year begin to develop an interest in chapter books.

Here are three very early chapter books that I will recommend:

Katie Woo:  Boss of the World by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Tammie Lyon.  This very easy to read chapter book series is perfect for mid to late first grade readers.  It's probably one of the easiest to read chapter books I have found so far.  Who can resist Katie Woo?  Katie Woo is a bit bossy and not always the best friend.  In this story, Katie always wants to be first, takes things from her friends, and doesn't ever compromise.  Can she change her ways?  Readers will be able to relate to the struggles of Katie Woo and her work to be a better friend.  There are many many titles in this series.

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes.  In this book, Penny loves to sing, but her mom and dad aren't so crazy about the possibility of waking the baby.  Penny is often forced to put her song on hold.  One day she finally gets to sing for the family and the baby loves it too.  This quick read will help young readers who are hoping to take their first steps into chapter books.  There are three books in this series.

Extraordinary Warren:  A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard.  Young readers will delight in this story of Warren who doesn't want to be just an ordinary chicken.  Warren hopes to find a way to be extraordinary.  He gets his opportunity when Millard comes along.  Millard is looking for chicken dinner.  Can Warren save his friends?  Kids will love the story of this unlikely hero.  They will enjoy the colorful pictures and graphic novel-like breaks in text.  Right now, there are only two books in this series, but my hope is more are coming soon.

Follow Cathy's board Early Chapter Books on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Intervention and Classroom Instruction: Side by Side

June is a time to reflect.  The school year is complete, my classroom is packed, and I've had enough days to catch up on sleep so I'm beginning to think about what I learned last year that will carry me into a new school year.  This year was my first year to be out of the classroom.  I'm going to tell you it hasn't always been easy.  I miss the craziness of work in the classroom.  I miss the closeness of a community.  I miss read aloud, community writing, and hearing the stories of students.  I miss having the time to support literacy learners in multiple contexts across the day.  This year I moved to a reading intervention position supporting mostly first and second grade readers.  This isn't my first role in intervention, but it is my first time to completely be out of a classroom.

As a classroom teacher, I often felt that reading intervention seemed separate from classroom instruction.  As a reading intervention teacher, I wanted to do all I could to blend the support readers needed to the work they were doing in their classrooms.  For this reason, I felt going into classrooms would allow me to provide stronger support than pulling students out.  Thankfully, teachers were willing to let me come into their classrooms to work with their students.  (Yes, this did also allow me to get a classroom fix.  Bonus!  **wink wink**)

Looking back, here are reasons I look forward to trying to improve this model next year:

  • Students miss less classroom instruction:  Going into classrooms instead of having students come to me feels more welcoming.  It just says, "I'll meet you where you are."  Additionally, students don't feel like they are missing out on learning happening in the classroom.  Our time together is just part of their learning time in the classroom.
  • Ease of transitions:  Not only is going into the classroom easier for students who have difficulty transitioning, it is also saves time.  There's no waiting for kids to get materials or losing time in the hallway.  
  • Stronger connections for students:  Since I could see and hear much of what was going on in the classroom it was easier to make connections between our lessons and the work students were doing in the classroom.  It was also possible to reinforce whole class instruction and strategies being taught in the classroom as we worked together.  
  • Easier to match books and readers:  In most cases, I felt like I had a little better handle on what student were choosing to read independently.  This helped me to pick books I thought students might be interested in reading and support book choices for independent reading.
  • More effective monitoring of student progress:  It was easier to monitor students who were not receiving intervention, but were often sitting close to that line.  Sometimes I was able have these students join our groups for targeted instruction.  It was also easier to note student progress in relation to peers for students who were being served in intervention.  It also allowed me to reduce services in cases where students were making good progress (and watch progress) and monitor students who had been served but were discontinued.
  • Better communication:  There's always room to grow here, but coming into classrooms makes using assessment information, sharing observations, and creating common goals with classroom teachers possible.  There's just something about being in the same place that improves communication.  
Of course, there are things I would like to improve.  For example, often I come into classrooms with a planned lesson, but students are doing smart work when I arrive.  During these times I often consider if I can target instruction in this context chosen by the student.  I'd like to get better at making use of these situations.  

There's always room to improve communication with teachers.  Last year I tried keeping a weekly Google doc of lesson information (books read, focus, word work, things I had noticed), but it was difficult to manage this doc and few were using it.  I also tried sending my weekly plan to teachers in email.  This met a bit more success.  The best conversations seemed to happen in impromptu moments.  I'm going to have to think about how to more effectively communicate with teachers in a way that makes it easier for them to support the readers we share.  

Finally, I still felt like the class knew who I was coming to see.  It's hard in limited timeframes to work to improve this, but I'd like classrooms to see me as someone who might read with anyone.  I'm thinking in rooms with workshops just stopping by to chat with other readers, occasionally pulling different groups, or hosting reading events outside of the classroom may be possible ways to help with this.  Last year most classrooms had 30 minute support blocks, if I could wiggle in 40-45 minutes in each room I'd have more flexibility.  Not sure this would ever be possible. 

I think going into classrooms had many benefits for students.  I also know it isn't always easy for teachers to have someone else in their classrooms.  I appreciated their willingness to help make this work for our students.  There's still a lot to learn, but we're moving in the right direction as we work to find more effective ways to serve readers needing support.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Special Request to Past #cyberPD Participants

As many of you know, Laura Komos, Michelle Nero, and I will be hosting a virtual book talk, #cyberPD, during the month of July.  The group will be discussing Digital Reading:  What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  (You can join the community here.)

This is the fifth year for this virtual learning experience.  In the past, participants have linked to a host blog and then all posts were placed in Jog the Web to keep them in a magazine-like format.  Well, as many of you know, Jog the Web is no longer.  This means we have lost all of past #cyberPD reflections and conversation.

Each year as we talk about a book I'm struck by how much reading the reflections of other participants pushes my thinking about the author's message.  People respond from their personal perspectives and experiences, often shedding new light on important subjects.  My understanding grows exponentially because of the thinking of others in the group.

We're hoping those of you who have participated in past events will go into our Google Community and link your previous posts in the coming days.  We feel that many of your posts were so thoughtfully written that others can gain from your perspective.

If you've participated in the past, you simply need to...

Go to the #cyberPD Google Community:

Click the tab to the current event:  (If you're adding a post from the year we discussed Conferring, for example, then click the Conferring tab.)

Then write your post and add your link.

That's it!  You're done.

I know the end of the school year is busy for everyone (and I also know not everyone is at the end of their school year), but I hope as you find time you'll go back and add your contribution.

If you've participated in the past, I'd also love for you to leave some feedback in the comments.  Michelle, Laura, and I are wondering what you've loved about this event.  What keeps bringing you back?  Do you have suggestions for improvement?  I hope you'll share your thoughts --- and your past posts.  We have so appreciated your contributions to this event.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two New Wordless Picture Books

It seems wordless picture books are slowly trickling back into publishers' consideration.  In the classroom I find wordless picture books are perfect for learning to talk about books.  They help us to grow our vocabulary and develop story-like language.  They help us grow our sense of story and teach us to think deeply about all that is happening in a story.  They strengthen conversations about inferring and predicting.  Wordless picture books help young readers learn that reading is thinking as they work to determine an author's message through illustrations.

Yesterday I meandered through one of our local libraries for a bit and stumbled upon two new wordless picture books that I'll be adding to my collection.

Float by Daniel Miyares is a book I know I'll want to have on my shelf all year long.  It's a story of a boy who builds a paper boat and then heads outside to play in the rain.  He puts the boat in puddles big and small.  Eventually the boat gets carried into a current that takes it into a gutter.  He rushes to the spot where water is released only to find his boat is ruined.  What will he do?

This book is beautifully illustrated in black and white shaded drawings.  The author uses color to help add mood and keep our attention on the character and the boat.  As the story changes so do the illustrations.  It's really a must-see book.

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith is another book you'll want to check out.  In this story, a small girl is walking with her father.  He seems to be a man on a mission, rushing here and there as his daughter walks with him.  As they walk the small girl notices and collects small flowers seemingly unnoticed by the rest of the world.  She then takes these flowers and shares them with others as her day brightens by her good deeds.

This books begins in mostly black and white as she collects flowers on her walk and then brightens with color as she begins to share her flowers with others.

If you're looking for new wordless picture books, you'll want to take a closer look at these two titles.  You'll find more wordless picture books here:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hilliard City Schools #cyberPD Opportunity

In July, Laura Komos, Michelle Nero, and I will host our 5th annual #cyberPD event.  The event began five years ago as we all realized we had the same professional books in our summer reading pile and wanted to find away to talk about them together even though we lived too far apart to make that happen (learn more about #cyberPD here).

This virtual book talk has grown across the years as more people have joined the conversation.  This year, our Google Community already has close to 100 participants.  During the month of July, participants will read Digital Reading:  What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  The book will be divided into three parts.  Each week, we will discuss one of the sections through digital response, community commenting, and social media interaction.  The great thing is, you can read, respond, comment and interact from your favorite spaces and in the times that work for you.

This year, I'm excited to offer this professional learning opportunity to educators in Hilliard City Schools for CEUs.  Educators in our district can earn up to 10 hours (or 1 CEU) credit for participation in this global book-talk community.  Many of you have participated in the past, but I'm thrilled to be able to offer credit for the work you do during your summer.

Here's how it will work.  You will earn .1 credit for each section read, each digital response to reading, and each weekly Twitter chat (1 hour 3 total for each section).  The event will not only give you an opportunity to think more about digital reading through this professional book, but also to connect with educators near and far.

To Get Started:

July's Professional Book Chat:  #cyberPD
  • Week of July 6th:  Read Chapter 1 & 2, digital response, Twitter chat 7/9
  • Week of July 13th:  Read Chapters 3-5, digital response, Twitter chat 7/16
  • Week of July 23rd:  Read Chapters 6 & 7, digital response, Twitter chat 7/23
  • To Be Announced:  Final Twitter Chat 

Digital Response:  Digital response to chapters may be made in any way and posted on our #cyberPD Google Community.  This means you can write a response in the #cyberPD community, make a digital poster, create a video, or choose another way to share your understanding.  In the past participants have posted from their blogs.  If you have a blog, you can post your digital response there and link to the community.  If you don't have a blog, this year participation is still possible.  

Twitter Chats:  Twitter chats will be hosted weekly using the hashtag #cyberPD.  Twitter chats will be held on Thursdays at 10 a.m. EST.  The final Twitter chat will be in the evening for the convenience of all time zones.  

Hilliard City School Colleagues, I hope you'll join me for this professional development experience.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

DigiLit Challenge: Digital Transformations (and a few others)

True confessions.  During the end of the year I have tunnel vision.  I just get busy accomplishing my to-do list and lose site of everything else in the world.  Like a runner nearing the finish line, I take deep breaths and keep my eyes straight ahead.  Of course, now that I can breathe again I'm noticing the little things that have slipped through my fingers in the last weeks:  my house (oh it needs cleaned), my mail (oh the stack is mountainous), my flowerbeds (oh the weeds!), and this #digilit challenge hosted by Margaret Simon.

Margaret graciously hosts a Sunday #digilit round up each Sunday.  I try to participate as much as I can.  It has pushed me to think more about my use of digital technologies to make meaning.  It has made me pause to consider the way digital literacy is shifting the work I do with young children.  Two weeks ago, in the midst of the end of the school year, Margaret posed a challenge:  to reach.  Her plan was to offer a bit of digital challenge for four weeks to push participants to reach to new understandings and considerations for digital literacy.

Well, I'm late to the party, but I JUST LOVE THIS IDEA.  Today I'm going to try to catch up.

Here we go:
Week 1 (5/24):  Challenge this week: Turn an image of nature into a work of art: #photoart

I used Photo Splash to take turn this photo of our
tulip tree (poplar) into a black and white --- then splash
the color back into the flower on the tree.  I then moved
it into Frame It to add a frame.

Week 2 (5/31):  This week’s DigiLit Challenge is an Invitation. You can create your invitation on the app of your choice.

Here's an invitation to relax made on my current favorite 
quick video app --- Magistro.  Choose a theme, find a song, 
insert video and/or photos, and presto --- you have a video. 

Week 3 (6/7):  I invite you to think about digital literacies and transformation.  

Digital tools and social networks have changed the way I work as a reader, writer, and educator.  I used to find my next books by going to the library or bookstore to look at what was displayed.  Now most everything I read is digital.  I keep a list of "next reads" on Shelfari and learn about new titles from blogs and readers on Twitter.  I used to write in a notebook, but web 2.0 tools have pushed me to write for an audience and be more thoughtful about my purpose.  Professional development as changed drastically.  No longer am I limited to the professional development in a seat, now I can learn in virtual communities.  For me, the connections have proven to be the most significant transformation.  I have a community of educators ready to jump in and think through new ideas with me at anytime.  There's virtual book talks, MOOCs, Google Hangouts, and much more to keep me learning.  

I've been fascinated by Sketch Notes.  I've been wanting to try my hand - literally - at this way to show thinking.  I started with Sketch Note, then tried Ink Flow, but finally went back to Noteshelf as I preferred the drawing tools and the ability to write in a magnified view.  

What about you?  Want to join the party?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summer Learning Opportunities

Summer.  Sure, summer is a time to enjoy the green grass, the leaved trees, the warm waters, and that gorgeous sunshine.  Sure, summer is a time where my schedule slows enough that I can actually breathe again.  For me, however, the best thing about summer is time to work to grow professionally. Summer is the time to read professional books, attend workshops, rethink practice and pedagogy, and connect with other educators.

This summer, my plans may be bigger than the time available.  Here is some of the professional learning I have planned for the summer.

Hilliard Summer Academy:  In June our district hosts its Summer Academy.  Educators around the district lead these sessions creating opportunities to learn from others.  Last week, Julie Johnson, Deb Frazier and I lead a session on digital literacy.  We had an amazing group with so many smart questions.  I was also able to attend a session on our new LMS:  Canvas.  Betsy Bargar led our session.  I'm glad I took it early in the summer so I could play around with it a bit before the year begins.  There are other classes available in the coming weeks.

Columbus Area Writing Project:  This summer I will spend two weeks writing with the Columbus Area Writing Project.  I'm honored to have this opportunity.  I've always admired the work of CAWP and the NWP.  I've participated in many events sponsored by this group, and have always grown as both a writer and as a teacher of writing in the process.  Julie Johnson will be leading our group which includes Tonya Buelow, Deb Frazier, Scott Jones, Deb Lairson, and Mandy Robek.  Our group will be focused on digital literacy. I'm working with educators I know will push my thinking during these weeks.  It should be quite a learning experience.

CLMOOC:  Speaking of the National Writing Project...I'm looking forward to participating in the Connected Learning MOOC hosted by the National Writing Project (June 18 - Aug 2).  This virtual collaboration will allow me to grow in my work to compose digitally and will also provide opportunities to work and learn with others.  During the past year I have followed the work of the Writing Thief MOOC and helped lead The Digital Maker Playground Community.  I have found these learning communities to be another way to learn and connect.

nErDcampMI:  Yes, I made sure to keep my calendar open for Nerd Camp this year (7/6-7/7).  I attended the first year, but due to a conflict was unable to go last year.  This year, I'm looking forward to attending this #edcamp focused on literacy.

#CyberPD:  In July, I'll be cohosting the 5th annual #cyberPD global book talk.  We'll be discussing Digital Reading:  What's Essential by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  The book talk takes place across the month of July.  The book is divided into three sections.  Each week a new section is read and discussed across blogs, #cyberPD Google Community, and on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.  At the end of the month, a virtual live book talk is held in a Twitter chat.  This is always one of my favorite summer learning events.

Innovative Learning Environments (ILE):  August 5-7, I hope to attend ILE.  This conference is focused on using technology to enhance instruction.  Speakers share ways to think differently about the way we define school and share ways to consider new opportunities for young learners.  ILE will conclude with an #edcamp on August 7th.

Professional Reading:  Summer isn't just about events, I have quite a stack of summer professional reading.  The problem is I have more books than I have time.  My hope is to read some of these titles in the coming weeks.  I've signed up for two district books talks that include two titles from this list.

Children's Literature:  During the summer, I always hope to catch up with some of the newer titles available to young readers.  My focus is usually on picture books, but I do find a few middle grade books to enjoy.  This summer I really want to focus my reading on early chapter books so I have better recommendations for the readers I support.  I need to find titles that will work for them as they grow as readers.  Later this month I will participate in Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge (6/19-6/21) which is perfect for reading some of these early chapter and middle grade books.  In August, Mandy Robek and I host #pb10for10.  This is usually the event I use to celebrate new picture book discoveries.

Wow, when I type all of that in a post I realize I have a lot to do.  It's going to be a busy summer of learning.  Don't worry, I have a vacation planned.  There are a few days tucked away for rest and relaxation.

What do you have planned for your summer learning?  (Yes, I'm a little worried to ask this question as I'm afraid I will want to add to my list!)