Digital Reading: What’s Essential Chapters 6&7 #cyberPD

#CyberPD is an online professional development learning community where teachers read and discuss a common professional development text. Visit Reflect & Refine for more details and links to connect with the group. This year’s book isDigital Reading: What’s Essential in Grades 3-8 by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.

digital reading

Chapter 6:

I had two takeaways for this chapter.  First, I need to reformat my first week of school reading survey questions to incorporate digital reading questions as well.  The questions Franki shared on page 87 were comprehensive, and I would only add a question that tries to ascertain what a student’s habits are when it comes to searching digital media for information: it is hit or miss? or has the student already figured out a way to do this and can the student then share his or her techniques with the class (and with me!).  I loved the idea of doing this on Google Forms, so that it can become part of the student’s portfolio for the year.

Second, I need to enlarge my assessment toolbox to include a variety of digital tools.  At the moment, my toolbox is pretty old school – conferring notes, rubrics, xeroxed copies of notebook work, etc.  It would be so much more authentic if I was to create Google Folders for each student which included photographs, video and audio files, as well as student annotations – the ideas presented on page 95.  Our school does not conduct student led conferences, sadly, but I imagine that the idea of creating a Google Presentation to showcase growth at the end of each quarter would give each student an opportunity to evaluate his or growth and progress, as well as set new goals. That would shift the entire assessment dynamic, placing the student in an empowered position and requiring a greater sense of involvement and assessment. The student is not a passive receiver of “this is where you need to go”, but an active participant in shaping “this is where I want to go.”

Chapter 7:

We began having access to Google Classroom and Google Drive half way through the year, so I did not have a chance to present exactly how it was all going to work to my students’ parents on back to school night.  The truth is, I didn’t know how it was all going to work, either – and many lessons were learned from January to June!

I so agree with this:

…technology has opened up the ways in which we not only communicate with parents but actually make them a part of their child’s learning experience.  Digital tools have made the connection between school and home so much more effective because we are no longer confined to the space of the classroom or the time constraints of the school day. Parents can engage in their child’s learning on a daily basis and in a variety of ways. (page 100)

This is exactly what I began to see happening in our classroom last year – the goings on in our classroom were much more visible to parents because everything was accessible online, via our Google Classroom pages, or our work on Google Docs for a variety of purposes.  It is a well-known and well-worn truth that our children rarely communicate about school work beyond: “nothing much”, “I don’t know”, and “I can’t remember”.  It was incredibly helpful for parents to know that they could access resources to see for themselves what and how learning is taking place in their child’s day.  I love the idea of weaving in Google Calendar, too, so parents can be part of the process of teaching kids how to manage their time and prioritize their work.  As a middle school teacher, this is a critical goal – and I know that it is important to have my students’ parents on my team.

I’ve come away from reading this book with concrete goals and ideas for next year; I keep coming back to the word intentional – I think I’ve learned that intentionality in digital literacy comes from practicing it ourselves, learning from the experience, and figuring out how to embed it in all we already do.  We want our kids to have that holistic goal: “we want our students to be active communicators in the complex world they live in.” (page 110).

I’m looking forward to the Twitter chat!


5 thoughts on “Digital Reading: What’s Essential Chapters 6&7 #cyberPD

  1. Tara, You didn’t leave a link on the Google page, FYI. As for your response, I guess each one of us takes different paths because of what our schools are doing, where they are in the digital world. I like that you thought of a way to empower the students with “creating a Google Presentation to showcase growth at the end of each quarter”. This will be such an added bonus for your students’ growth. And I enjoyed your concluding paragraph, so correct. That wider world is here, and teachers must be intentional about how they will integrate it into the classroom. Thanks!

  2. A student created digital portfolio is a great idea! It would be something that could easily move from grade to grade with them. I’m going to think about how to do this.

  3. Tara,
    I have to agree with you that most of my “tools” for documenting anecdotal notes and evidence of learning is old school too! That’s one of my goals this next year: Evernote for me and Google Slides for students! I appreciate this thought: “The student is not a passive receiver of “this is where you need to go”, but an active participant in shaping “this is where I want to go.” We need to give power back to the students and share as much as we can with families. Perhaps with Cathy Mere’s help and the TWT blog, we can find the support we need! 🙂

    It’s good to hear that you were able to experiment with Google Classroom and Drive last year. Now, as you say, you can plan with more intention, but sometimes we need the playing around time first to become more comfortable so that we can plan with purpose. All apart of the learning process!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Tara,
    My transition to digital tools for conferring and collecting snippets of student learning has made my life so much easier. I use Evernote, but think Google could work as well. When I started I decided to take it one step at a time. I began by setting up folders and then started keeping my anecdotal notes digitally. Soon I decided it was time to add images and focused on that. Then I worked on adding audio and continually layered new steps into digital use. It seems taking pictures instead of making copies would be an easy first step for you that would simplify your life a bit.

    Digital tools do open up new possibilities for keeping parents connected to the learning in our classroom. I’m going to be thinking a lot about this in the coming school year.

    I’m so glad you were able to join our event this year. I’ve enjoyed learning from you as I stop by each week.


  5. Pingback: DigiLit Sunday: Going digital with those first-week-of-the-school-year surveys | A Teaching Life

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s