The Three P’s of Learning and Living

This is a transcript of my speech I gave for our 5th graders’ Moving On Up ceremony. It is also my last address I will give at Howe Elementary School, as I have taken a leadership position with the Mineral Point Area School District, also in Wisconsin.

13308641_584016381759130_810615427030176000_o

 

So how many days are left? (smattering of responses)  Uh, teachers, I was addressing the students…;-)

That’s okay! Having a clean end to a school year can be rewarding for all of us, educators included. It allows us to take a step back and reflect on the school year as a whole. A little bit of disengagement with the current pace of life is not a bad thing.

During these transitions, it is also good to take stock in our current situation. This means acknowledging where we came from, where we are at, and where we anticipate going. As I took some time to do this recently in preparation for this speech, I discovered that my life as an educator has followed three basic principles up to this point. They are not steps to be taken. Rather, these principles served as guideposts. I share and describe these with you today, as I believe they might also apply to your own personal learning and living journeys.

The first principle is passion. When I was your age, I was passionate about pretty much one thing: Sports. It didn’t matter if it was Little League, our school’s basketball team, the wrestling club, or a pickup football game in a friend’s backyard. If an athletic contest was taking place, I was sure to be involved.

Okay adults, you may want to cover your ears…One thing I did not have a passion for was school. It wasn’t that I was a bad student. I just didn’t work as hard as I could have. Part of that is my own fault – I could have made more of a commitment to my education, and getting my grades up to where they belong with a little more effort. But I didn’t. Also a part of this lack of engagement was that I often didn’t see the relevance in the learning experiences I was asked to pursue. Unlike sports, where our practices were always in preparation for an opportunity to showcase our talents and abilities, school lacked that same opportunity for me. I did what I needed to do in school in order to participate in my passion.

As I progressed through school and entered college, I started coaching the very same teams that I used to participate in as a younger student. This is when I realized that my passion for athletics could also be merged with a career, specifically working with kids in school. This led to the second principle I discovered of living and learning: Persistence.

We hear a lot about “grit” and teaching kids to persevere through challenges. It is my personal opinion that you cannot teach this skill. As educators and parents, we can only create the conditions in which learners will want to pursue a level of mastery and expertise in an area of interest.  That is what happened with me. Once I knew what I believed I wanted to do as a profession, I worked harder in my academics. I rose from a so-so student in high school to being named to the Dean’s List in college several times. A little bit of passion can go a long way.

The thing about passion creating the conditions for persistence is, when someone wants to become very good at something, we start to identify gaps in our skills and abilities. For me, this happened in my 2nd year of teaching. Previously, I had taught 5th and 6th graders in all subject areas, including reading and writing. I thought I was flying along in my first year, offering kids great literature and opportunities to write about what they read. When I moved to a 3rd and 4th grade position the next year, I realized that while I had been teaching reading and writing, I was not teaching readers and writers. It became evident to me with these younger students that I could not merely expose them to resources.

So I read everything I could about effective literacy instruction. I pored over current resources, attended conferences about differentiation and assessment, and observed veteran teachers in their classrooms. Once I persisted in improving myself, I gradually became the teacher I wanted to be for my students.

When I felt I had become proficient in instruction, I found this need to share it with other educators and make a difference in their professional lives. This led to me getting my administrative license ten years ago, which leads me to my current position at Howe. When I accepted the position five years ago, I felt like this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This was my purpose in life, the third principle.

What I didn’t anticipate was how my purpose might change between then and today. My passion for education and my persistence in learning everything about my profession evolved into writing about my experiences and the knowledge I had gained to support our work. Writing online in the form of social media and blogging has led to published articles and books on the topics of technology in education and school leadership. This was not in the plans five years ago, yet here I was, trying to balance a full time principal position while writing and share about my work and finding balance with my family and personal life. It was becoming an impossible task.

This year, I realized that purpose in education has changed a bit. I am no longer content with leading a school as my sole pursuit, as admirable as this vocation is. The saddest part about this discovery is that my passions and pursuits are not conducive with being the principal at Howe Elementary School. Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be my family, nor my writing and everything that comes with that.

Enough about me. (By the way, have you noticed that principals like to hear themselves talk?) This is about your special day. You have achieved a major milestone in your educational career and I congratulate you. You should celebrate. Once the confetti settles, consider some humble advice as you take that next step in your life:

  • Your passions may not align with your current responsibilities. That’s okay. Keep working hard. The habits you build now will transfer when you find what excites you in the future.
  • Don’t let what you believe you are good at right now necessarily determine what you will become later in life. While I loved sports, as many of you do, I did not have the necessary talent to “make it”. I became open to combining what I loved to do with what I could provide for others that would bring satisfaction and stability in my life.
  • Persistence is largely dependent on how relevant one finds their current learning and living experiences. Try not to rely on every person in your life to connect your situations with your personal pursuits. Instead, figure out where the connections are between what you love and what is possible.
  • Allow your circumstances to reveal what your true purpose in life might be. If you look closely enough, you might see that what you are striving for may not be what you originally anticipated. This is also okay. It’s a natural part of the change process.
  • Write out or draw a visual of your dream job. I did this at the recommendation of a close colleague. It was excellent advice. When I started applying for positions this spring, I approached each interview as an opportunity for the district to partner with me on our mutual goals (instead of trying to sell myself as a “good fit” for the district). If I was going to move forward, it had to be on my terms with regard to my dream job.
  • Resist allowing others to frame what you are seeking. This is important. They mean well, but they don’t know you or what you are truly after. For example, a few districts did not hire me for the position I sought, but thought I would be excellent for __________. I politely declined. Although it was scary, especially for my wife as I had already resigned my position at Howe, I am glad I kept after what I really wanted.
  • At the same time, consider the advice of others, especially those you respect and admire. They have most likely gone through similar experiences and can offer suggestions that will be helpful. Having good mentors in your life is essential. Still, keep your focus on what you are really after. When ready to move forward with what you really want, don’t settle. You may regret it.

To close, the principles of passion, persistence, and purpose lead me to think about an important phrase you most likely learned about during your social studies instruction. It is at the beginning of our country’s Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Notice that it is not “Life, Liberty and Happiness”? “the pursuit of” is critical language. Our founding fathers understood that while it is our right to live our lives as free people, it is up to us to find our true happiness. It is not an entitlement, but an opportunity if you so choose to pursue it. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. I will be thinking about you as I pursue my renewed purpose in life. Have a great summer.

Acceptable Risk

During some of my classroom-school visits last week, I noticed the following:

  • A teacher was reading aloud an everybody book to her students, specifically a biography about a key historical figure from the Civil Rights era. This was happening at the end of the day, usually a pack-up-and-get-ready-to-go time.
  • 1st graders visited a local wildlife refuge. They experienced the habitats that they had been talking and reading about for the past couple of weeks.
  • The entire school engaged in a “read out”, where families joined their kids to read together in many common areas on school grounds. The local public library was also on hand, encouraging everyone to sign up for their summer reading challenge.

IMG_5317.jpg
Families read with their children in the hallway during our school’s read out.
What do all three activities have in common? That no one beyond our school walls was aware of these learning experiences until someone shared some form of media about them online.

Blogging, social media, and other forms of digital communications are becoming a necessary part of an educator’s life. It is pretty easy to do nowadays: Take a picture with a smartphone, add a caption, and post away. My goal is to get one share out a day, although lately I have been able to post only once a week.

Yes, there is risk. Risk in having strangers peer inside your school. Risk in being visible online which might allow someone to post a hurtful comment. Risk in posting content that comes across not as intended to the audience. 

But isn’t there also risk in allowing noneducators to make assumptions about the daily life in schools? The television shows currently out there that portray teachers, principals and students are usually not flattering, mostly archetypes to get a laugh. Pundits criticize schools as failing, knowing that the educators in those schools will most likely not respond. And if all our families have as artifacts of their child’s learning consists of a few conference nights and what’s in their backpacks, are we to blame society’s sometimes negative views about public education?

Having a presence as a classroom and school on social media is an acceptable risk. The benefits outweigh any negatives. So what’s stopping us? In my four years of sharing our school’s experiences on social media, I have found any negatives to be minimal, almost nonexistent. There is risk in whatever we choose.

As you make plans for the next school year, put “digital presence” on the top of your list of goals. The minimal risk will lead to many rewards, including improved family communication, teaching students digital citizenship, and having a bevy of artifacts to support our own instruction and leadership. It’s worth it.

Most Memorable Blog Posts of the Year – 2015

Around this time of year, I highlight selected posts written by bloggers within the past twelve months. What these posts all have in common is they were worth saving for my own learning and reading enjoyment. You might also find them helpful. This annual post is also my way to show gratitude for other educators out there who are taking the time to share their thinking online in an honest and thoughtful manner.

photo-1444201716572-c60ec66d0494

Judgement – It’s all a matter of perspective by Jay Posick (Jay’s Journal, May 7, 2015)

This Wisconsin principal reflects on his experience as a spelling bee contestant during his elementary school days. He was wronged in his dismissal from the competition (there are two acceptable spellings of “judgment/judgement”). He applies this lesson to how educators approach learning with their own students, positively or negatively.

Four Lessons from Motherhood by Ariel Sacks (Center for Teaching Quality, May 3, 2015)

This English teacher and author reveals how her life has changed as an educator since the birth of her daughter. Sacks lists four lessons she has learned since her family’s new addition: “Learning by Doing”, “The Value of a Network”, “Respect for the Caregiver of our Students”, and “Anything But Standard!”. Many parent-educators can relate.

On differentiation: a reply to a rant and a posing of questions by Grant Wiggins (Granted, and…, January 15, 2015)

The late Grant Wiggins, co-developer of the Understanding by Design curriculum framework with Jay McTighe, takes on an Education Week commentary. James DeLisle questions the effectiveness of differentiation. Dr. Wiggins picks apart his argument piece by piece, showing the reader how DeLisle’s quotes are taken out of context and highlighting several resources that do support differentiation. Grant is and will be missed.

Planning for Student Centered IEP Meetings by Samantha Mosher (Samantha Mosher, June 2, 2015)

A new idea, evidence of student and teacher learning, and a combination of humor and humbleness – these elements make this post an informative and enjoyable one to read. Mosher, a special education teacher, highlights the four steps she is taking to help her students become more actively involved in the goal setting process of individual education plans.

Planning for the Planning by Beth Moore (Two Writing Teachers, May 11, 2015)

Some of our faculty and I actually used this process for a two day curriculum writing workshop this past June. Moore’s process worked well for us. The best advice I found from her post is setting dates for publishing student work. This has kept all of us accountable for completing our writing genre units of study. Of note: This site won the 2015 Edublogs Group Blog Award.

Knowing Yourself as a Reader by Franki Sibberson (Scholastic’s On Our Minds blog, June 25, 2015)

Sibberson, teacher and author, offers a classroom activity to help students reflect on their reading lives: Write 100 things about themselves as readers. She admits that no one ever gets to 100, but encourages her students to add to the list during the school year. Franki posts her own reflections as a reader (31 and counting).

Nurturing Responsible Learners by Mary Anne Buckley (Stenhouse Blog, June 22, 2015)

“Writing ‘I can’ statements or the ‘Standard for the Day’ on the board felt forced and unnatural. I wanted it to be more about the awareness of learning and being responsible for using that learning.” Identifying a felt difficulty, Buckley instituted “Learning Reflections and Frames”.

DSCN0016
Source: Stenhouse Blog. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Instead of listing expectations, this teacher and author now sets collective goals with her students. They also reflect on how well they met their goals at the end of the week. A simple yet powerful change in practice.

When to Say When with Homework by Starr Sackstein (Starr Sackstein, August 25, 2015)

There are a litany of posts about homework that get published every year. Starr’s rises above the rest. She reflects on her son’s own school experience with his homework load, worrying that this work he finds too easy is “a waste of time at home”. In response, Starr differentiates between what homework “can be” and “shouldn’t be”.

Your choice of words by Matt Wachel (PLC Ponderings, August 23, 2015)

Matt, an elementary school principal, received a very positive wake up call from the hotel staff where he was staying. This experience served as a good reminder for him in his own interactions with the students, staff, and families at his school. Matt also puts it on the reader to reflect on our language as professionals and the impact it has on others.

A Writing Life Requires Bravery by Elisabeth Ellington (the dirigible plum, September 5, 2015)

Elisabeth, an English professor in Nebraska, uses the everybody book The Story of Fish & Snail by Deborah Freedman as a springboard for her students to write about bravery in their future classrooms. She shares several of their responses in her post. Dr. Ellington also provides commentary about the nature of writing instruction in classrooms, especially the importance of taking risks as a teacher who models this craft for learners.

Writing that feels safe is often writing that’s just going through the motions. When I’m uncomfortable in a piece of writing, that’s when I know I’m getting somewhere.

Thoughts on Makerspaces by Nicholas Provenzano (The Nerdy Teacher, November 3, 2015)

This high school teacher from Michigan collaborates with his school librarian to create a learning space “to give students access to tools on their own to see what they will create”. Nicholas provides examples of student-driven projects, including a prototype for a knee brace that would keep a kneecap in place and a prosthetic hoof for horses. This post makes it clear that #makingmatters.

Understanding Teach Like a Champion by Peggy Roberston (Peg with Pen, September 13, 2015)

Robertson, a literacy interventionist from Colorado, provides a critical review of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion 2.0. Some points she makes:

  • Lemov is an education reformer, with most of his experience in the corporate charter school movement.
  • His book is focused on improving test scores through uniformity in teaching.
  • The accompanying videos show lots of desks in rows, with teacher standing and delivering instruction to the masses.

I have not read Lemov’s books, but this blogger’s commentary makes me wary of his work.

Response to Joyful Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland by Timothy Shanahan (Shanahan on Literacy, October 11, 2015)

Dr. Shanahan, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, takes to task an article from The Atlantic that admonishes the teaching of reading in kindergarten in the U.S. (in comparison to Finland’s more relaxed approach). For starters, the U.S. has a more diverse population with many different cultures represented. He also points to the higher level of parent education in Finland. Reading instruction is beneficial for early learners, Shanahan notes, provided that these experiences are authentic and research-based.

The 80/20 Rule: Maximize Your Potential in Less Time by Brian Sztabnik (Teaching Channel’s Tchrs’ Voice Blog, October 1, 2015)

Teachers are always on the lookout for ways to be more effective with limited instruction time. Sztabnik, a high school English teacher from New York, enlists the 80/20 rule (“Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial”) to prioritize practices. For example, he recommends asking better questions while teaching to promote student thinking and deepen their conversations. More time is spent being an active part of learning.

What blog post(s) that you read this year were most memorable? Please share the link in the comments along with why they are worthy of recognition! You can access previous year’s most memorable blog posts by clicking here.

 

 

 

Three Ways to Provide Feedback for Digital Student Writing

No discipline has experienced a greater impact from technology than writing.

Photo credit: Unsplash
Photo credit: Unsplash

Blogs, tweets, multimedia timelines, posts, texts…all of these short forms of writing have come about through new digital mediums. Classrooms that adopt these tools during literacy and content instruction are providing learners with more ways to express their thinking and convey information more creatively. I could not imagine schools without them.

Once they are embedded in practice, the next logical step as a teacher is to ask: How can I provide feedback for students through these mediums so their writing improves, as well as to celebrate their work? Here are three ideas.

Google

Recently I have received invitations from our 4th and 5th graders to comment on their writing via Google Docs and Slides. I really like the Comments and Suggestions features. Located at the top right of the file, you can highlight a section of the text and provide feedback for the owner. What the students have shared with me so far are finished products. Therefore, I have made general observations and asked thought-provoking questions to let them know that I read their work carefully and valued their effort.

WordPress

For younger students without a lot of experience in digital writing, transcribing what they write down on paper and posting it on a blog is a great way to model the writing process. For example, my son and a friend gave me a handwritten review of the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon. I typed up their thoughts, saved the post as a draft, and then emailed their teacher with specific questions about the books they read. This feedback request was done through WordPress, my favorite blogging platform (see arrow).Screen_Shot_2015-04-08_at_8_25_32_PM

I actually sent the request to their teacher, who will hopefully help them write a bit more about why the Tom Gates series is such a good one to read.

Evernote

I was on a mission to a classroom when a 4th grade student asked me to read her writing in the hallway. How could I say no? I compromised by taking out my smartphone and scanning an image of her writing with Evernote. This student’s writing was then saved as a note in her teacher’s professional portfolio, which I keep for all of my staff.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.40.17 PMWhen I had time to sit down later, I opened up her note. Having downloaded Skitch, a native Evernote application, I was able to annotate right on her scanned work. This was also a finished piece of writing, so I celebrated what she did well and offered my thinking on possible ideas to consider for the future. This updated note was emailed to her teacher.

What digital tools do you find effective for offering feedback for the author(s)? How do you use them? Please share in the comments.

Most Memorable Blog Posts of the Year – 2014

This is my third annual recognition of the most memorable blog posts I have read this year. Like in 2012 and 2013, I cannot say for sure if they were the most viewed or shared. They just stuck with me, even to this day. Anne Lamott stated in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions About Writing and Life that “good writing is about telling the truth”. Maybe what sets these posts apart for me: These writers told the truth, with so much clarity that I couldn’t help but read and respond to them.

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned by Grant Wiggins

This guest post garnered 285 comments. As the title states, an educator takes the role of a student in the high school school where she works. She discovered three things: 1) Students sit all day, and it is uncomfortable, 2) While they sit, they listened passively in 90% of the classes, and 3) She felt like a nuisance when raising her hand to ask questions and participate. This instructional coach concludes with three ways she would change her instruction if she were back in the classroom.

Technology in the Classroom: Embrace the Bumpy Ride! by Kathy Cassidy

Kathy, a 1st grade teacher from Canada, acknowledges what many educators experience in the classroom: Integrating technology into instruction is messy. She offers smart advice to other teachers, such as considering what learning you want to enhance when bringing in tech, and recognizing the unique ways digital tools can provide a global audience for students. Kathy encourages the reader to reimagine technology as an essential part of a connected classroom.

My Memory of The Giver by Dylan Teut

In response to other readers’ sharing their experiences regarding Lois Lowry’s classic title, this first grade teacher shares his own. Dylan laments about how points and prizes were awarded to the students who read The Giver in the appropriate time allotted by the teacher. He was not awarded anything, and was actually punished, because he had taken his time to read and immerse himself in this excellent story. Dylan recognizes that this practice almost killed his love for reading, and probably did for some of his classmates.

Don’t Hate the Standards, Hate the Test by Starr Sackstein

Starr, a high school English teacher and a guest blogger for Education Week’s Work in Progress, points out the difference between the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the new computerized assessments that attempt to measure students’ proficiency in them. She points out that the only difference between previous state standards and the CCSS is that now everyone is speaking the same language. Starr also lists a variety of benefits that the CCSS has provided, such as being skill-based instead of content-heavy.

That’s a Great Question! by Tom Hierck

This post found me at just the right time. It was July, and I was already starting to think about school, which involved getting nervous about the upcoming principal and teacher evaluations going live. This education consultant’s suggestion of reframing our challenging situations as questions helped me come up with a good approach for collecting artifacts to support teacher’s professional practice goals. For more on this topic, I recommend Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question, the best education book I read this year.

Something to Hang Your Hat On by Ben Gilpin

A principal from Michigan reflects on his process for working with students who come his way due to poor choices they made. It was prompted by a project he did years back as a 5th grade teacher, related to selecting careers and thinking about the future. This year, he has taken a similar approach by asking students who visit his office a series of questions regarding themselves, their current mindset, and what they think their futures might entail. Ben’s attempt to help his students reflect and set positive goals is admirable.

When Adults Test Young Children…Common Core Map for Primary Grade by Mary Ann Reilly

This post about the ubiquitous national standards focuses on what the ramifications might be when we test primary age students. Mary Ann reflects on her own young child’s experience with an online test, selecting answers out of interest in language instead of picking the “right” answer. She worries that our country’s affinity for multiple choice tests will stifle student creativity and experimentation. It is hard to disagree with her.

Related, check out the best education-related video I watched this year by Peter H. Reynolds, author of many children’s books:

 
The Common Core is Not a Person by Ann Marie Corgill

By just the number of posts in this list alone, it is clear that the Common Core has been a huge focus this year. According to Ann Marie Corgill, Alabama’s Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015, why is that? It is the teacher who makes the difference. The standards are there to provide guidance, and not to dumb down a child’s learning experience, one of many misconceptions flying around that Ann Marie attempts to clear up. She finishes up her post by inviting anyone interested in the CCSS to come visit her classroom and see them authentically addressed in her instruction.

Blogging with Freire by Steve Wheeler

This post prompted me to buy Paulo Freire’s classic education resource Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Okay, it is still on my bookshelf collecting dust, but I am closer! Steve openly wonders what the author would think about the participatory nature of the Internet and how his ideas for progressive instruction might be applied. He links six quotes from the text with how blogging allows for more equality among learners and thoughtful ways to connect with others online.

Reading – It’s Good for You! by Liz Burns

Liz, a librarian, has grown tired of the constant discussion about the role of fiction in readers’ lives. She feels there is too much focus on encouraging people to read literature because it is “useful” (this post was prompted by a New York Times article). Why isn’t it okay to read fiction because it is fun? Liz asks. She acknowledges that this focus on extracting knowledge as the main purpose of reading is driven by the high stakes testing environment. People should read for pleasure and not see it as a waste of time.

What posts inspired you to respond and share them with others? Please share in the comments, and have a great New Year’s Day!

Why Should Educators Blog?

After finishing a rewrite for my upcoming book Digital Student Portfolios, I took a moment to briefly reflect. Where am I at? Where did I start? This post is my 232nd on my blog, now two and half years old (young?). I am pretty sure I am a better writer now than when I started.

Just yesterday, I was fortunate enough to come across a kindergarten teacher’s first blog post.

As I read her initial writing, I was almost envious of her position. Her writing was fresh, full of enthusiasm, and excited about the future. Not that my posts necessarily lack any of these qualities, but getting started in becoming more reflective about one’s own practice is very exciting. I left a comment, recognizing her accomplishment and expressing my anticipation of future posts from her.

This lengthy intro leads into my primary question: Why should educators blog? 

To quote John Belushi from Animal House, “Why not?” But I know that this is not always a possibility for many current practitioners. We have families. We consider our time away from school sacred. We are working a second job and don’t have the time. I get it. I have been there at one point or another.

At the same time, to want to write about our own practice via a blog first requires a burning desire to do so. This need circumvents all the reasons not to write. That feeling of a need to share, to express our current thinking, or to reflect on our experiences, can each be the catalyst for us to start blogging.

So what might be the impetus for our initial post?

Because I have so much going on in my head

Whether it stems from our need to share and reflect, or our fear of losing what we have learned, blogging can provide that needed online space for this purpose. For me, the act of writing out what I have learned is a very challenging process. That probably means that it is also important at a cognitive and metacognitive level. I have to think back about what happened and consider the artifacts, such as images of my learning, before inserting them into the post.

Because I would like to go back to what was in my head

In their book The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research (Corwin, 2009), Nancy Fitchman Dana and Diane Yendol-Hoppey describe blogging as a teacher’s “personal pensieve” (91). This is in reference to the Harry Potter series, in which Dumbledore, the head wizard, keeps personal memories magically stowed away for later retrieval.

The idea is that the teacher is not only dumping their thinking into an online space, but also intends to come back to it for future reflection and learning. Using categories and tags can help in this later process of searching for previous posts.

Because I have something important to share

Maybe our experiences, readings and online interactions have led us to some new thinking. Educators are notorious for not wanting to share their ideas with reasons such as, “Why would I share that? What I do is nothing special.” We also know, especially if you already are a connected educator, that this reasoning is not accurate at all. What a particular idea looks like in a certain classroom or school is very context-specific. Just because it has been applied in a different setting doesn’t mean it is unoriginal.

Because everything I have to share is important

We all need to be sharing what is going well in our schools. The current political climate that does not favor the individual teacher, along with non-educators cherry picking standardized assessment scores to push forward their personal agendas, has created a situation where not sharing our best work is a default knock against our profession. If there are no opposing viewpoints, who are the public to believe? Make your students’ learning visible as often as you can on your blog.

Because “Why not?”

Okay, it is hard to argue with John Belushi. I previously gave some reasons why some educators may not have time. But don’t you already write a classroom or school newsletter? How hard would it be to just copy and paste the text and images onto a blog, and let everyone in the world see it? Or at least your students’ families?

What we have to share on a blog is significantly more important than what any person or organization could possibly provide. What you could post is the real deal. No conjectures or agenda. Just your and your students’ experiences on a daily basis. If you are still struggling to come up with a reason to start blogging, try starting here.

 

 

 

Using Evernote for Literacy Instruction

This screencast was created to present four ideas for how teachers and students can use Evernote during the K-5 literacy block. The content shared here started our staff’s fourth and final tech night of the year.

While this quick tutorial was nice for considering what’s possible, we really appreciated our Skype guest Cathy Mere (@cathymere), author of More Than Guided Reading (Stenhouse, 2005). She took a lot of time answering our questions about technology in the elementary classrooms, such as “How do get your 1st graders to become so independent with the iPads?” (The answer: Shared demonstration)

imgres

 

While I can talk about technology use in the classroom, Cathy and my teachers are doing it, every day. That the work they do is grounded in strong literacy instruction makes all the difference. Their approach in considering how digital tools can best support and augment student learning is the right approach.