Thursday, July 23, 2015

#CyberPD - Chapters 6 & 7: Assessing Literacy and Moving Beyond the Classroom Walls

Assessing Literacy and Moving Beyond the Classroom - Chapters 6 and 7

"The digital tools we use have not changed our beliefs about formative assessment.  Rather they have given us better tools with which to monitor and encourage the journeys of our readers (pg. 90)."

A student is helping another reader in the class think about her response to the book titled Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. I loved capturing this student to student feedback.

I captured this moment using the camera on my iPad and then imported it into Evernote (pg.93).  Cathy Mere, who loves this digital workspace, came to our school last year to discuss the many features Evernote offers.  I loved all the possiblities it offered so I started to use this tool to help me monitor my students' growth as readers and writers.  I can have folders for each student or I can make a folder for a group of students.n I am not losing post-it notes or conference sheets and I don't have to add anything to a large binder.  I can jot a little note along with a picture to capture students' thinking or reading habits, and I can quickly snap a picture of work samples.  I can record a conference so I can reflect on my feedback to see if I am helping a student grow as a reader or writer.  I love how this tool gives me flexibility to gather artifacts about a student's learning and keep them organized.  

I really liked being able to take pictures of  "TBR" piles so that I could conference with students about their reading life.  We could have conversations about which books they loved, disliked, or abandoned and why? I could recommend a new book or series based on our conversations or I could talk to them about maybe recommending a book to a friend or to the class.  Sometimes the students would want to blog about a book to share their thinking with a wider audience. 

The only problem I had with Evernote was having a device to use everyday.  Since we did not have 1 to 1 or BYOD I would find myself giving my teacher iPad to a student to use.  I should have brought my computer to school or used my smart phone when my iPad was not available. However, I need to get a bigger smart phone so that it is easier to read and compose on.  Next year we will have more devices so that should not be an issue. I want to try and use tags and the work chat feature to see how this will help me better meet students' needs.  I look forward to using Evernote again and learning more about how to use this digital workspace to capture, gather, reflect, and share students' learning journeys. 

My students used digital bulletin boards and Kidblog. These tools helped us connect/share our learning and it also helped me monitor and celebrate student progress. We used Padlet to record our thinking about our chapter book read aloud or to write our reading goals.  It was so nice to have all the thinking on one page to quickly access during conferences.  I could look back over my Evernote artifacts and read their Kidblog posts to see decisions students were making as learners.  For example, in the beginning of the year Trey wrote about a baseball memory in his writing notebook.  He got the idea from another writer in our classroom.  In May when he was trying to think about a possible blog post he took this idea from his notebook and crafted a new post.  

Our padlet we used to share our thinking about Edward Tulane in the beginning of the year during Global Read Aloud -

A Padlet with our reading goals -

Next year I would like to use the following digital tools so that students and myself can assess how their learning is progressing throughout the year: 
  • Google Docs - (pg. 93) last year we used this tool to help us organize our first Edcamp Kids across grades 3-5.  We used the survey to see who was interested in presenting and what they would like to teach in a small group.  We also used the survey for students to reflect on the Edcamp experience.  This tool really helped us get organized and now we can refer back to it when we think about planning for Edcamp Kids next year. As a literacy coach I use Google Docs during data team meetings and to share documents with teachers.  I would like to have students use Google Docs next year for various reasons throughout the year.  I love this post from Two Writing Teachers -  I will reread this again before school starts to help me think more about how to use Google Docs in my workshops.

  • Digital Portfolios- I started these with my students last year but the year was more than half way over.  We used Weebly so that each student could create his/her own website.  I plan on starting this at the beginning of the year so students can collect and reflect on their learning all year.  I would also like students to refer to their websites during conferences with parents. Not all homes have a computer or internet access so parents could have an opportunity to see how digital tools are helping their child monitor and reflect on their learning. My new grade level team does student led conferences which I am very excited to try next year.  Of course the goal is for students to share their digital portfolios frequently with their family so that this tool can help parents and students learn alongside each other. 

There is always so much to ponder over and reflect on before school starts, but I need to think about my overall goals for the year.  "Just as in reading instruction, no one path or strategy will serve all students in all situations, so it's important to choose wisely based on your goals (pg. 97)." It is important that whatever tool/s I choose it will help me achieve my goals and to monitor how students are growing in literacy.  I need to keep in mind that some of the tools will allow parents to be more involved in their child's learning journey.  This will help connect our learning community to students' lives at home.  I need to be explicit with parents when sharing how these digital tools fuel our literacy learning.  "The key is having a plan with goals for communication that supports literacy in multiple ways and involves families as digital readers (pg. 108)."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Authenticity, Intentional Decisions and Connectedness - Chapters 3-5

I loved reading about authenticity, becoming intentional decision makers and connectedness in chapters 3-5.  There were so many "a-ha" statements and of course AMEN statements. In my reading and writing workshop I always valued all three of these components.  However, by incorporating digital tools within the workshop it opens new possibilities for us as learners.  Before integrating the digital component we connected our learning within our classroom community or our school community. Now we can have a wider audience which makes the work the students do more authentic, powerful and motivating.  I loved this statement on page 64, "We want students to make decisions about the things they consume and create because they want their messages to be powerful, because they want to make a difference in the world."  These words are like music to my ears and I want to help my students strive for this as learners. 

"In our workshops, we have tried to embed tools into our routines that stretch thinking and give readers new opportunities for understanding. By using these tools collaboratively first, students can then choose to use them independently when the tool seems right for their purpose (pg.38)." This statement is so powerful by focusing on purpose and choice.  When planning a lesson I would think about which tool to incorporate into the lesson and the purpose for using it.  I would also think about how the features of the tool would help us grow in our learning. A colleague, Deb Frazier, said this to me, "I typically focus mostly on the benefits of the tool and the outcomes."  It was important for the students to see how the tool helped capture our thinking, see connections in our learning, and share our work with an audience.  As a class we would use the tool collaboratively first and then students could choose to use it independently.  I was always amazed how children would find new possibilities on how to use the tool and then share that during share time.  Here are some of the tools we used in our workshops:
  • Kidblog - kids could share their thoughts about the book or create a book review.  Students could add photos or video to help articulate another layer of their thinking.
  • Explain Everything - students could create slides with photos and they could record their thinking or add text.  It is very similar to Educreations.
  • Padlet- pg. 39 
  • Pixie - is an authoring tool that students can create original artwork or add photos.  The can also add text or record their thinking.  This can be used a slides or you can create a podcast.
New tools I want to try:
  • Google forms
  • Biblionasiom - similar to Goodreads
  • Popplet
  • Symbaloo or Diigo
  • VoiceThread-web based communication network that allows children flexibility in how they share their thinking. It also is a different way to connect their thinking with a wider audience.
  • Canvas- our district has added this as a new digital classroom space as an option for learning.  

I will need to take time to explore these new tools and think about the purpose for using them and the options they offer to propel learning.  It is important that I not only think of purposeful ways to use these tools collaboratively but explain why I chose to use this tool and how it has fueled my learning. It is crucial that students see some of the intentional choices I make so they can begin to think about how they have voice in choice in the work they consume or produce. 

"Authenticity is evident when I look around the room and see kids using various tools that meet their needs at the moment (pg.64)." Franki and William also discuss how authenticity is about choice and ownership. Last year when I started to embrace the messy parts of learning by trusting and valuing the choices the students made our learning community changed.  Students stopped asking me for permission and started deciding which tool they needed at that moment to capture their thinking.  We had reading partners meet before our whole class share and I loved how students would flexibly choose between traditional and digital tools to share out.  Some students would choose to blog their reflections and some would use post-it notes to jot down thoughts.  Other students would choose an App like Explain Everything or Pixie and some would still use their notebooks.  The children started to think about their message and then which tool would best communicate that message.  

It was important for me to notice if students thinking was changing and growing and if not how would I support them to develop a more sophisticated understanding.  Did I need to think about changing their reading partner?  Did I need to offer a digital tool to help them connect to a wider audience so they could get more feedback about their learning?  Was it the book he/she is reading?  Just like I wanted my students to think purposefully about the tool they chose to use I had to think about what is the next step for particular readers and which tool at that moment would help he/she move forward in his/her learning.  I basically noticed that digital tools opened possibilities for my students but it also gave me more flexibility in meeting my students' various needs.

Before I read chapter 5 I thought that I really had dropped the ball on connectedness.  I felt like my students' work did not reach a more global audience to gain more feedback about their learning.  This chapter helped me realize that we did connect our learning in different ways and I can continue to work on adding more opportunities for my students.  One tool we did use quite a bit was Skype.  We were lucky to Skype with several authors to help us grow as writers and readers.  I didn't plan the Skype sessions simply just to connect with authors but I purposefully chose authors that would help us develop habits as readers and writers.  I also wanted my students to see how their reading life impacts their writing life.  I noticed children choosing books or websites to read because they needed to gather info for their writing pieces.  Students would choose to read a particular genre because they wanted to craft a writing piece in that genre.  Skyping allowed my students to not only connect the learning we were doing in the classroom but it helped them see new possibilities as a reader and writer.  In the future I would like to not only Skype with authors but other classrooms to help us share, learn, envision, and reflect on our learning.  

Franki talks about using digital text sets as shared reading.  I LOVE this idea.  "Connectivity with resources starts with being thoughtful about the resources we use across content areas. Rather than choosing texts and resources that teach about a topic, we want to build digital texts that help students explore an idea (pg. 79). "  I think that sometimes I choose resources to explore an idea and then sometimes my resources probably just taught about a topic.  In writing workshop I would carefully use books and videos to help us explore possibilities in our writing.  However, I think that some of the resources I used really focused on teaching us about a topic in science or social studies.  I really need to think about how to collect various resources so that we could explore and expand our thinking about an idea.  Franki's example about the different resources she used to help the students explore the idea of community was very helpful and eye opening.  Franki discussed how she met several goals by using digital text sets.  "It helped me think differently about how I was sharing content with my students, and it helped them see that as readers, we build an understanding as we read, view, and connect one piece with others. They saw the continued connections and recognized that each of these pieces did not exist solely in isolation but were stronger together."  I am super excited to use digital texts in my workshops next year! 

As a learner I have enjoyed participating in online communities.  I can work and read at my convenience and each space always helps me push my thinking.  These learning opportunities also help me reflect on teaching and provides ways for me to build upon best practices.  I look forward to the powerful feedback because it energizes me and propels my thinking.  I think it is important for students to have the same online opportunities so I am going to have my students participate in International Dot Day, The Global Read Aloud, and World Read Aloud Day.  These are some authentic ways we as a class can collaboratively connect our learning with a more global community.  I am hoping that some participants in the #cyberPD would like to connect with my 5th graders through blogging, Google+ Communities, Skype, or Voxer.  I choose which online PD I want to participate in and I would like to offer some choice for my students too.  On page 70 this quote sums up why I am going to work hard for my students to become more connected, "When teachers are intentional about connecting their students learning in several ways and across several communities, students will begin to grow in ways they can't when confined to the community of a classroom." 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cyber PD- Digital Reading Chapters 1 and 2

Chapters 1 and 2

    After reading chapters 1 and 2 I find my mind reflecting about last year and spinning with new ideas for the new school year.  Last year I tried to integrate more digital literacy into my reading and writing workshops.  I showed students how to use different digital tools to compose various writing pieces. Students would choose which tool to craft their writing piece depending on their purpose and audience.  The students crafted reviews, nonfiction pieces, narratives, poetry, etc.  This was a great start but during independent reading time students were not choosing digital pieces to read. Most of the students in my class used technology to write or to research. Even though students could choose the technology tool, what to write about, and what to research on they still needed more.  I realize that I need to think about more authentic ways to help the readers in my room be flexible with various types of texts including digital pieces.   The quote on page 4  really hit home for me: "Digital reading experiences must be a part of the opportunities we give students on a regular basis.  If not, we're discounting much of the reading they will engage with in the future."   
     The words from the quote: opportunities on a regular basis is so key because in the book Franki Sibberson and William Bass mention that we can't view digital reading as an add-on.  The authors mention that students do not have to be competent in traditional literacy skills before we introduce them to digital texts.  As teachers we have to be intentional in providing different experiences so that students can develop skills to navigate digital texts. They need to understand that reading whether it is a digital text or a paper book requires them to use various strategies to make meaning.  Their reading life should impact who they are and change their world.  I know all of this but I didn't think about the importance or even how to incorporate digital pieces on a more regular basis.  
     I used the website Wonderopolis on Tuesdays and Thursdays to incorporate more nonfiction throughout the year.  We would read the articles together and share out what we learned and some fierce wonderings it might have sparked.  I would pick pieces that tied in with either social studies or science standards if possible.  The students loved the website and the videos.  However, I did not observe many students reading this website on their own during independent reading.  Some students did get on the website at home and would discuss what they learned. 
     We would read poetry once a week for Poetry Friday.  I used poems from books and poems from websites.  I used quite a few poems from Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's The Poem Farm.  This is an amazing site to discuss poetry and the author discusses where she got the idea for the poem.  It is a great resource for kids and teachers.  We enjoyed reading and discussing Amy's poems on Fridays but again the students did not visit the website on their own.  I needed to think about the chart on page 8 figure 1.2 where it discusses what digital reading is and isn't.  
     These are just a few examples of how I tried to incorporate digital pieces into my workshop, but I realize that even though this wasn't a one time event I made these digital pieces available during specific times and days.  I didn't think about other ways to flexibly use these resources.  I also didn't take into consideration voice and choice from the students which is key.  I need to think about the intentional use with each of these digital pieces and a place to house these resources for easy access.  I will need to add links to my class web page so that students might start to access these as readers. I will also use the chart on pages 19 and 20 which is figure 2.2 to help me make decisions about text choices across all workshop routines so that I can begin to help students see more options. Figure 2.3 will also guide my thinking in understanding the differences between a traditional and digital workshop.    
    On page 21 it stated: "We have learned again and again that running an authentic reading workshop in this digital age is a huge challenge as we try to keep up with the technology and tools in the midst of teaching children to read." This is so true but it also makes me realize that I need to be more reflective about the digital pieces I read as a reader and why I choose those pieces.  How do the digital pieces I read impact my world? I have focused so much about how I use digital tools to compose pieces so that I can connect with others to push my thinking.   Most of what I read is still traditional books and then I find a space to share my thinking. I do read blogs and tweets to fuel my professional life but how often do I find digital pieces for personal use?  How can I incorporate more digital pieces to push myself as a reader?  So much to ponder and think about but I want myself and my students to be intentional and active readers who know what is possible (pg. 23).