February 24, 2013
O.K. I am coming clean. I am a blogging lurker. I love to read blogs to see what others are posting, thinking, and sharing. I reflect on these entires and I know what I read influences my professional practice. I use what I read to add technology tools and creative applications to my toolbox. I pass along great sites, new web applications, and even the ideas of others to my teachers. But that is where I stop. I rarely comment on others’ blogs and even more rarely post my own thinking where others can access it. So I am challenging myself right here where it can be read, maybe talked about, or best of all begin a challenge for others like me. Starting today I going to require myself to comment on someone else’s blog at least twice a week. Not a hefty start but something I know I will do now that I have made it public.
Recently I listened to the archive of Sue Waters on ETMOOC. Sue is the support manager for edubloggers. She said reading and commenting is as important in blogging as the writing part. I get the reading part, now I am going to jump on board with the commenting part. And I challenge you to join me! Come on, all you Discovery Ed blog lurkers, start commenting!!!
February 16, 2013
Simple is Good
This is a picture I took of the Dembo/Shareski presentation at TCEA last week. And ever since I haven’t been able to get the second one…”SImple is Good” out of my head. I even went so far as look up “simple” in the dictionary. Not like I don’t know what it means but just to see if the way I was metagonating on simple was even close…..Surprise, here are three definitions of simple that resonated with me. “1. free from ostentation or display 2. free of secondary complications and 3. not limited or restricted” I love that all three definitions imply some sort of liberation because that was one of the messagesI took away from their presentation. We need to give ourselves permission to share what is real, what is ongoing, what mistakes we are making, what risks we are taking, and how we are genuinely growing as learners and thinkers.
So it was with this mental frame of mind I went into working with the second graders this week as they were finishing up their projects for our district digital festival “Penguin Palooza.” SInce TCEA was smack dab in the middle of this three week project the kids and teachers were left dangling last week to get their projects finished without me. Or so I thought….
What I found was that the groups of students I worked with had continued on their projects freely without me or their teachers. While the projects weren’t completed they totally reflected the thinking of a child, the work of a child, the creation of a child. This gave me the luxury of simply sitting next them, watching their spontaneous collaborative exchanges, and offering assistance when needed. I was amazed and touched by the level creativity, the willingness to accept one another’s ideas, and the varied ways they chose to present their projects. While my students may not win in their respective categories for the competition, I am confident that my entries reflect their work, not mine. And while their work really wasn’t “simple, ” it was not limited or restricted or complicated by the invasion of adult ideas . To me that feels like “simple is good,” really, really good.
September 27, 2011
This year our district strategically abandoned the Accelerated Reader program after over a decade of use. For many who have been using it systematically with students it has taken quit an adjustment. For me I see it as an amazing opportunity to help children become excited about reading for the pleasure, interest, and sheer joy it can bring.
Now students can select any book they wish because they want to read it, not because it is on their level. While I do see tremendous benefit from children “practicing” reading on a level that is within their independent range, and I know practice is what we all need to improve our skills with all new learning, I see choice as a great motivator. Now that child who has an interest or passion for a subject, genre, or author can attempt to read content that is above his/her instructional level and tackle it because he/she is motivated to do so. Isn’t that what is happening in so many online learning communities? People are following their passions and becoming self-motivated learners. Why should learning to read be any different?
Reading for understanding remains at the heart of the reading process. Educators are still responsible for monitoring, suggesting, guiding, and above all teaching reading. We still must guide children to books that will strengthen them as readers. We still must help children figure out how to find a “just right” book they will comprehend. We still must help children analyze, and discuss what they read. We still must help children learn how to read for a variety of purposes. Above all we must still model the amazing wonders reading provides.
But here’s to the liberation of reading by choice! Keep those pages turning no matter in a book or a device.