Monday, August 10, 2015

Becoming a Lifelong Reader

If you haven't read Jennifer LaGarde's post, Learning to Read Alone is Not Enough. Your Students Need a Reading Champion, and Gwyneth Jones' response, Reading: A Passionate Love Affair, go immediately and read them.
Gwyneth challenges her readers to write their own reading story, highlighting those teachers that influenced us, and those moments and book titles that touched us. Here is my story.

I can not remember a time when I wasn't around books and reading. My mother reads all the time and she took us to the public library regularly. I used to love participating in the summer reading programs and browsing through the shelves. The smell of that building brings those feelings rushing back even now.
I don't remember reading instruction strategies, but I distinctly remember my first grade teacher, Fran Mauney. I still see her a few times a year at conferences and we exchange big hugs. I credit her with teaching me to read although she claims I already knew how. I was placed into an advanced reading group with two other girls in my class. I felt so special every time we were pulled out to read something different in the hallway. One of those two girls became a math professor at a university nearby and the other is a guidance counselor in one of the schools I serve. I don't remember a specific book title as my favorite. I read anything I could get my hands on.

Throughout elementary school I read everything by Judy Blume and Betsy Byars, all the Ramona books, and all the Babysitting Club books. I remember rummaging through the stacks at a local flea market hoping I would find a title that I had not already read.

In middle school I had another amazing reading teacher,Vicky Galloway.We read Across Five Aprils which peaked my interest into all things Civil War. I devoured every novel set in that time period. I read Gone With the Wind in three days and read lots of adult historical fiction that school boards would probably not approve of for an 8th grade girl.
I hit a dry spell in high school when I did not enjoy any of the assigned novels. I hate you Silas Marner! I continued to read, but friends definitely took a higher priority. I came back to reading more in college. After finishing my assigned work I would read for fun: titles I felt I should have read in high school but didn't, philosophical novels my "intellectual" friends recommended, and mysteries loaned to me by my favorite college professor, Meredith Uttley.

If I'm not in the middle of a book I feel like something is missing. Sometimes life catches up with me and I don't have a lot of time to read, but it is a huge part of my life and always will be. None of my love for reading came from the traditional reading instruction strategies. My love for reading came from teachers and titles that reached my heart.

Teachers, please keep this in mind as you prepare for another year with your students. Read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, and dare to change your classroom in order to reach out to your students.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Day of School Signs

I'm sure you've seen the First Day of School signs on Pinterest and Facebook. A neighboring district created custom signs for parents to print and use. We loved this idea and made some for our parents as well.
I used my son as our model to advertise the signs.
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You can see the signs here. We're hoping our parents will share their pictures using the hashtag #a1firstday and we can repost on our district Facebook page and website.

Does your district make signs to share with their parents?

iTeacher and Induction Training 2015

This summer we had a fun time planning two special professional development days: iTeacher and Induction Teacher/New-to-District Tech Day.

For our iTeachers we started the day painting wooden apple signs for their doors. Thanks to Burlap and Ribbons for coming in for this activity. Teachers were so excited and the apples turned out adorable!

We also had Kristen Hearne's husband come in and take head shots for everyone. The goal was to have a nice picture to use for social media sites and our Google domain.

After checking out all the adorable apples we moved to the library and started discussion about model classrooms.

Our goal is for our iTeachers to be considered model classrooms. We used Answer Garden to brainstorm what a model classroom looks like. Then we used a model classroom rubric shared by Mooresville Schools. The rubric uses the 5 ISTE Standards. Our iTeachers were divided into groups and tasked with narrowing the evaluation statements down to 10 for each standard. This is the final product. Our iTeachers made a copy of the rubric, used it for self assessment then broke into grade levels groups to discuss weaknesses and share ideas for addressing the weaknesses.
We plan to use this rubric with teachers that we are working with to create technology goals for the year.

After a lunch break we discussed building a Twitter culture. I used ideas from Gwyneth  Jones' Tweet Like a Ninja presentation and this Edutopia article to help our iTeachers create or update their accounts. We were also inspired by Alice Keeler's Twittervention. We made our own Remind group for our teachers to receive Twitter tips and tricks throughout the year and another group for Google tips.

For the final hours we divided into two groups: Social Media/Bloggers and Professional Development. Our iTeachers completed a survey before attending telling us their preference and then we made sure each school had at least one iTeacher in each of the two groups.
Kristen Hearne took the blogger group and helped them log into our iTeacher blog and write their first post. Kristen Gunter, Jessica Preisig and I worked with the PD group brainstorming ideas for this school year. We introduced our new PD series called "Lead and Learn Tech". These sessions are bimonthly, optional sessions after school led by our iTeachers. We decided to do this after our iTeachers expressed interest in being more involved in presenting PD.

We got a great head start on the year and had a really fun time with our iTeachers.

Our next special day was working with our induction and new-to-district teachers. Each of us read Teach Like a Pirate this summer and our plans were influenced and inspired by the ideas in this book. If you haven't read it, go buy it now!

We created custom nametags with the agenda, hashtag, QR code to surveys and app icons for the apps they need for the day. We color coded the nametags by level.

In the pirate spirit, we put out tiny containers of Play Doh and asked each teacher to create something that illustrated where they were on the technology spectrum then share a picture of their sculpture on Padlet. You can see their creations here. I was impressed with their creativity: buckets, smiley faces and flowers. We took this activity even further to teach a few tech tools and the SAMR model.
Posting to Padlet was a Substitution level activity. Then they were asked to use Pic Collage to add to their sculpture picture; explanation of their Play Doh, name, school, etc. This is an example of Augmentation. For Modification, the Pic Collage was put into Thinglink so a link to a school website and Twitter account could be added. Finally for Redefinition we asked them to tweet out their Thinglink using our district hashtag. You can see a few examples by searching #a1digitalinnovation.

We had 5 breakout sessions planned for the day.
1. First Day of School with Kristen Gunter
2. Classroom Management with Jessica Preisig
3. Core Apps with Kristen Hearne
4. Google with me
5. App Gallery with some of our iTeachers

In First Day of School, Kristen shared a Google Slides template that could be used to make a door sign including picture, name, and QR code links to important websites. She also shared a few apps.
Jessica shared a few tips for managing a 1:1 classroom. In Core Apps, Kristen shared tips for using purchased apps like Notability, Showbie and Book Creator. I shared Google mail and calendar basics, then used a shared Google doc to talk about share settings and Drive features. We also took a little brain break using Go Noodle and I shared information about Seesaw to the K-2 and 3-5 groups.
In the App Gallery our iTeachers helped teachers explore displays about lots of different apps.

Just for fun we shared this video from Veronica Pooh Nash and we gave out our new iPad badge sheet and a badge for attending.

We enjoyed getting to meet our new teachers and letting some of their enthusiasm rub off on us.