Thursday, July 16, 2015


I'm participating in #cyberpd, hosted by Cathy Mere, Laura Kournos and Michelle Nero around Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson's new book, DIGITAL READING: WHAT'S ESSENTIAL IN GRADES 3-8,

This morning I got up knowing I needed to write my post for Chapters 3-5, which focus on Authenticity, Intentionality, and Connectedness, the three tenets Bill and Franki see as critical for thinking about digital literacy instruction. I have to admit, I have been procrastinating about writing my response. The topics feel so big. I feel like I have soooo much to learn. And I don't even know where to start.

Before writing the reflection, I jumped on Twitter for a minute and discovered that there was a Twitter Chat around these three chapters that was scheduled to start in a few minutes. I wondered what people would say. I wondered whether that might clarify my thinking. I decided to stay and listen for a few minutes.

The Twitter chat was absolutely fabulous! A perfect example of how the internet can open up new connections! People shared lots and lots and lots of great ideas and resources. If you missed the chat (or if you were at the chat and just want to review some of the fabulous resources we learned about, you can read the transcript here.

Being intentional is about making meaningful choices as a reader. Whether it's choosing that just right book, deciding which tool or device to use to read or to respond to a text, or, as a teacher, determining our literacy goals and then choosing the appropriate tool or method , at their core each of these has to do with making intentional 

We are picky about the books we bring into our classroom libraries, so we must be picky about the sites and tools we introduce to our students (p. 49)

A couple of days ago, at Reflect and Refine, Cathy Mere (who I think is pretty much brilliant) had a post where she suggested choosing a digital core of 3-5 apps that are your go-to's, the ones you know you can count on all the time. Within her core, Cathy included Educreations, Google Apps, Twitter, Padlet and Kidblogs.

Cathy started me thinking about developing my own core of tools. We use Google Apps at my school pretty much every day. I have had a Twitter account for the past few years. I use it during the summer, but am not nearly as good when I'm busy during the school.  I'm thinking I want to add one or two tools. I'd like to check out Evernote. I also want to try Padlet. And finally, I really want a tool that I can use to create things like memes and charts. Maybe Educreations, but maybe also Show Me or Explain Everything, which Cathy said have similar purposes. I'd also like to try blogging with kids, which I have never done, even though I have had a blog myself for the past few years.

Finally, I'd like to use some kind of a digital reading log (not sure if that is the right term?) with kids. Many years ago, probably about 20, I took a class from Jane Hansen at UNH. One of my classmates had a little notebook he carried around in his pocket. In that notebook, he had written down every book he had read since he was eight years old. I have thought about that notebook off and on, and what a cool resource it could be for kids. For the past few years, I've used Good Reads off and on, but not nearly as faithfully as I could/should. I want to be better about using it myself. I want to start using a record keeping tool with kids.

Authenticity is what connects the work of school to the work of being a reader (42)

Authenticity is grounded in purposeful choice. Our students must know what is possible. 

I use digital tools in ways that expand, analyze, and record my reading, in ways that make my reading more meaningful (27).

I think I have always been a  teacher and coach who emphasizes authenticity. I work really hard to make sure that the things I am asking my students to do are things I do myself as a reader. I don't ask kids to make dioramas, or write letters to fake people. If I ask students to read an article or book, or to write a response or essay, I do it myself first.

I'm not sure I am doing that good a job with authenticity as a digital learner. I don't think I take as many risks as I should. I don't live my digital life nearly as publicly as I live my print life. I don't want to make mistakes in front of people, or admit how little I actually know. I want to take some new risks as a literacy coach. I want to experiment with the tools I discussed above, then that first week of school, when we are doing professional development and talking about the new year, I want to include the tools I'm trying to learn.

I want to buy an iPhone. I might even go do it this afternoon. I've joked for years about my flip phone, but I'm realizing now that an iPhone could be a really valuable tool in the classroom. And I think I am going to go buy one.

Along those lines, Michelle Nero has created a Google Doc of Digital Reading Resources for us to keep track of all of the tools we are learning about. In our discussion this morning, I talked about categorizing these tools by purpose, e.g. for record keeping, for creating, for learning new things. I think it would be cool to create some kind of a menu in the classroom, and add tools to it as we learned them.

And this morning, on the Twitter chat, Randall Sampson shared this tool. I wonder how I might use or adapt it with our teachers.

Digital tools have expanded my options as a reader (I would add teacher and thinker!) allowing me to make meaning at a higher level because of the variety of information and the multiple communities available to me (68).

Over the past few years, my digital community has been such a huge part of my learning. The conversation this morning was a perfect example. Such a rich and energizing experience. So many terrific ideas flying back and forth. I asked a lot of questions. I threw out bunches of ideas for feedback.  I grew a lot, just as a result of that hour.

This morning I learned about Voxer. Michelle shared a post by Angela Watson that seems to be a basic overview/how to get started. Shortly after the Twitter Chat, I was "talking" with Cathy and she said, "Are you on Voxer?" I'm not, but as soon as I get my iPhone.

That conversation was a small segment of my online life. I'm constantly reading blogs and articles on line. I follow people on Twitter. I do "Slice of Life" every Tuesday, and then every day in March. I participate in Poetry Friday and write Poetry the entire month of April. I don't know, though, that I am that good at getting the teachers at my school involved in the online community. And I want to get better.

I also want to continue and expand the collaborations we have been doing with Google Apps at our school.  I collaborate with the Leadership Team to create presentations and other documents. Teachers and I create documents on a pretty much daily basis. We've also worked a lot with our students on using Google to collaborate. It's been powerful learning for me.

Lots and lots to think about. And now I'm going to go buy an iPhone.


Tara said...

Sorry I missed that Twitter chat, Carol - I feel I have so much to learn, too. I guess I need to get on Voxer, too - another digital tool to discover and try to master. PS - hope you got your iphone - you will love it!

Mary Lee said...

You will LOVE your new iPhone! You will use it so much in your classroom work that you could probably write it off on your taxes!!

Looking forward to connecting with you on Voxer. I just joined last week. Not sure what all the protocols are. I think I prefer the quietness of texts and emails. We'll see. I haven't gotten into any big chats with it yet.

Cathy said...

You continually make me smile. I find it interesting that so many of us who lead such obviously digital lives still wrestle through bringing these pieces into our classroom. I'm glad we have each other to talk through these challenges, successes, and next steps. I agree that sometimes the topic seems almost too big to tackle.

Thanks for the mention about the CORE post. As I've reflected on my journey to bring digital literacy into my classroom, I have found that I started with a few apps that would support the young learners in my classroom. Since then, it seems thinking about a CORE is a way to get started. It's something we can wrap our heads around a bit.

I'm hoping you went out and purchased that iPhone. You will love the new possibilities that will arise as you play around with this new device. I'm hoping we can connect through Voxer as I'd love to hear some of your reflections on #cyberPD.

I'm so glad you stopped by the chat last week. You always add so much to the conversation. I hope you'll join us again Thursday.


Franki said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Voxer! It is one of my absolute favorites. So many teachers use it with kids and I haven't figured that part out yet but it is a tool I love! Love the image of that person with the notebook of books from the age 8! I have been good at using Goodreads for a few years and it is now a habit. I don't write much but it is a good tool for reflecting, organizing and responding. I can't imagine not having that record now that I do! Mary Lee started me on a reading log long, long ago but I read far less than! Lol!