Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#CyberPD - Week Three

   I'm reading Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 by Franki Sibberson and William L Bass II.  Click here to read more about #cyberPD or click here to join the Google+ discussion group! It's a pleasure every summer to participate in this knowledgeable group.  We are hosted by Laura KomosMichelle Nero, and Cathy Mere.


        As I've said before, this coming year is my first year of retirement. I already see others talking about planning, that the summer is coming to a close, that in just a few weeks, new students will be a reality. I am ready to say goodbye to that thrill of September, but this year I think I'll be remembering every step of the way. Sometimes, I know I will wish I was back, especially after reading these two chapters of Digital Reading!

 Digital Reading - Chapter six - Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on Literacy (p. 87)

       When I took over the class this past year, I had one more chance to do some different things that I hadn't been doing four years previously. Our entire school holds student-led portfolio conferences, and now after reading about digital ones I wish I had taken that step. However, there were some differences this time. Students had computers ready to show something online, like digital presentations, art, or special blog posts. Both students and I wanted to share and show the learning that had been occurring online as well as in print. With older students, the collection of work is always the broader collection, focusing on trimester goals (we worked on a trimester calendar), but also looking back at where they were, and then looking at the examples of growth that were  moving them forward. Even the youngest students can discuss the learning that has occurred, sometimes with guiding questions, and the skills that are new or are improving.


        At the beginning of the year I also had students complete a reading survey, and love the added questions Franki shared on page 89. It is a foundation on which to build our own picture of this reader. And then, the text support the NCTE stance of ways that formative assessment happens, with or without digital tools. Exactly right! We still need to confer, notice, and examine many examples of student work so we can "know" the reader.
         I appreciate the tools shared in figure 6.1. I used Evernote for keeping track of all the teacher contacts when I was the literacy coach. It was easy with tags to pull up the "history" of all I had done and discussed with one specific person, and was so helpful. 
         I taught 6th, 7th and 8th graders and blogged with them this year, using Blogger. They linked to the class blog with their own posts. I also used Google Docs sometimes, especially when students wanted to work on something over the weekend and send a doc to me for feedback, then work on still another draft. Some students used forms for doing surveys. Photos of many projects are taken and printed. NOTE: It would save a lot of ink and paper if we did digital portfolios!
          Combining work from digital portfolios into a work for the classroom community is such an awesome idea. I wrote a newsletter to parents each week, sometimes sending pictures of the class working on something, or of trips we took, but this could evolve into a "portfolio" of activities/actions/online work that could be shared often. What a terrific idea! And that brings me to the next chapter!

Chapter Seven - Beyond the Classroom Walls: Connecting  Digital Reading at Home and School 
         This chapter holds the final wrap of what must happen, connecting to families. I enjoyed hearing about all the ideas, like for an Internet Safety night, and connecting through the web by sharing what's going on in the classroom. I wrote about this a little bit above. 
         Figure 7.2 talks of the considerations for Parent Outreach, which is excellent. I would add that all parents don't have easy access to the internet, so must remember to include them in some important ways, too. And it is important to continue one on one connections. I still made phone calls this year, love the voice connection that often expands into learning more about each other. And I talked with parents who are there before and after school, trying to add information about what was going on with the class, and sometimes their children, in that way too.
          Choosing the goals for what are key components in digital sharing is also so important. I enjoyed seeing the details of Figure 7.3. As we teachers are used to setting goals for other learning, these too should not be haphazard, but deliberate. I do believe that whenever possible, the goals should also include goals set by students. 

         Thanks for a terrific two chapters, Franki and Bill. I will share with former colleagues. This is such an important book to have for staff discussions.

14 comments:

  1. Best wishes on your retirement! I'd like to experiment with blogging this year and I think I will start with my 6th grade students. I just haven't used Evernote as much as I should. From time-to-time I work with teachers in a literacy coach capacity so perhaps I'll use for teacher contacts too.

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    1. Thanks for the wishes, Amy. I commented on the Google+ too!

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  2. Congratulations on retirement! We are so happy for you. If blogging continues at your school, perhaps you will be able to comment to students so that they know you are reading and thinking about them.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, there will be some who'll continue. Great idea.

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  3. Linda,

    Loved the idea of collaborating with students to share with families and collect evidence of learning for digital portfolios. But also agree, that we need to continue the face to face and voice communication as well.

    It will be an interesting September without the excitement of a new year, but I know you will keep busy with your many communities!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Michelle

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    1. I will look forward to seeing what others share about what they're doing this fall, especially digitally. Thanks, Michelle.

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  4. Your school is so ahead of the curve, Linda, in terms of student portfolios and conferences led by them! I am working through ideas for digital portfolios, and having students create end-of-quarter self assessments. This is something I don't do nearly enough of, sad to say. Those kids were so lucky to have you this year - what a gift for them!

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    1. Thanks Tara, we have been doing some things ahead I think, but less with the digital work sometimes. It really does change from year to year with each group, even when one has some students again. I'm sure you understand that too! Best wishes for your quarter self-assessment. And thanks for the kind words.

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  5. I really need to try Evernote. It seems like there is never enough time to teach ourselves something new - as soon as school starts it's go go go! I may pick your brain about that this year!

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    1. I'm happy to help, but find it so easy, faster than Word, actually, & the organization is seamless. Thanks, Michele!

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  6. One question my pre-service teachers always want to talk about is how to connect with parents, invite parents into their classrooms, and I do think there are some exciting ways to use the Internet to do that, but yes, access and equitability always issues. As a parent, I find I much prefer to receive newsletters, updates, info directly to my email inbox than have to remember to visit a website that may or may not have been updated since I last visited. Not sure teacher websites are entirely worth the time and effort teachers are putting into them. As a teacher, I really need to use my digital tools more effectively for assessment. I am determined to get on the Evernote bandwagon this year. I do a terrible job keeping records of what I do in the classroom which means I'm constantly having to reinvent the wheel.

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    1. I know that some teachers set limits on when they reply to e-mails, etc., but I didn't. I just replied when needed & it seemed to help the communication flowing. The weekly newsletter by e-mail helped too, Elisabeth. Evernote is not a hard app. I hope you'll give it a try before school begins.

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  7. Linda,
    I appreciated your reflection of portfolios, their content, and the process for students. Whether digital, paper, or blended, it is always interesting to hear the thinking and intention behind these collections of student work. I am still wrestling with this piece. It makes sense to have a digital portfolio in the way I work, but I need something that is manageable for young learners. We've saved work in Evernote and on Kidblog with some success, but I haven't made it to the place where I feel students own that piece. I'm hearing a lot about Seesaw and am thinking it might be the answer.

    There was so much to consider about keeping families connected. I know I will be carrying this thinking into my new year as I work to connect our learning community. I know having had this conversation will help me to made intentional decisions for informing parents.

    Enjoy September. I'm in no hurry to retire, but do know the first thing I will do is take a fall vacation. Oh the possibilities.

    Cathy

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    1. I know that each child (at any age) comes to school with so many varying levels of expertise online. My granddaughter is very at ease & can figure out things already (she is six), but having her work collected in a digital portfolio sounds as if it might be much time taken for the teacher, too. Folders of work that is celebrated is what they do now at my school, Cathy. I'll check on Seesaw, have not heard about it. Thank you!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!