This summer I am again joining in the amazing community and discussion of #cyberPD hosted by Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine, Michelle Nero of Literacy Learning Zone, and Laura Komos. This summer's book is Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8. Click here to read more about #cyberPD or click here to join the Google+ discussion group!
Digital Reading: Reflections on Ch. 3-5
These three middle chapters address the question of "What really matters?" in three different ways: authenticity (chapter 3), intentional decision making (chapter 4), and connectedness (chapter 5). For me, this really gets into the heart of the book. I already know the what/why of digital reading, so I was excited to jump into to figuring out more about the HOW.
"Authenticity is about choice and ownership" (page 31). Exactly. It's that two-way street of giving kids choice (in reading, in response, in digital tools, etc.) and showing them how to take ownership over those decisions. This then leads towards the idea that "Focusing on the learning rather than the tool created a more authentic workshop" (page 37). Kids want to know why they are doing something in addition to knowing what they need to do.
That said, there is value in limiting the number of choices (here, the number of digital tools) available and making sure that kids know how to use them well.
Tools I Already Use
In my early years of teaching, I used digital tools primarily for having kids type up finished work, including writing pieces and social studies projects. We used Microsoft Word for typing and PowerPoint for sharing presentations, research, and interactive poetry.
Last year, I started using Kid Blog with my students for the first time (read, We are Bloggers). We connected with several other classrooms in other countries as part of the Global Read Aloud and continued those connections during the year.
We also did our first Mystery Skype with another class and had a Skype author visit with the delightful Tara Lazar on World Read Aloud Day.
Tools I Want to Learn More About
I have been introduced to many more wonderful digital tools through this book group and my PLN. These are on the top of my to-implement list. Please advise!
- Google Drive and other Google apps. I only just figured out that I have access to the Google Apps for Education suite via our school email accounts. After years of frustration with flash drives and third graders (if you can imagine it, it can go wrong), I'm ready for the cloud!
- Evernote. My other professional development book group this summer is focusing on Digital Student Portfolios, and Evernote keeps coming up as an easy way to organize student information and share it in real-time with parents.
- Twitter. I set up a class twitter account mid-way through the last school year, but never did anything with it with my students. I would love to get them active on Twitter. I also pioneered a hashtag, #3rdfor3rd, to highlight books third graders recommend for other third graders. I'd love to get some more classes involved in using it too! (Other third grade or even 2nd-5th grade classes who want to connect? Come find us at @KidLogonauts.)
- Padlet. I set up a Padlet account and then never used it. This seems to be one that teachers use more frequently with devices rather than laptops, which is what I have access to. Still having problems visualizing how to run a read aloud while kids are also able to access a collective Padlet.
- Haiku Deck. I like the ability to easily work with images here but may just stick with Google Slides as a first introduction to this type of tool.
- I am also really interested in building a strong, curated list of suitable research web sites for kids, like Franki describes on page 82. Much of our research revolves around our social studies curriculum of learning about different countries. So far, we have mostly stuck to our local library database, World Book Online (subscription required), and Encyclopedia Britannica Online (subscription).
This week marks the One-Year Blogoversary for The Logonauts.
Stop by our giveaway, running all week long!