#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.
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.”
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!