While reading Chapter 1 of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth by Aaron Hogan, I found myself reflecting on how to help students engage more with the texts they are reading. Even when they appear to be reading, they are not always having a conversation with the text. Many students do not realize they should be. I am amazed at the difference when I am modeling inner voice by having a conversation with a book. Then, I ask them about the inner conversation with their books. Initially, they do not have much to say. The more I model and reteach; the more they practice what they see and hear. A
After reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Readicide by Kelly Gallagher I also realized they need choice. I have learned to ask myself “Are they interested in what they are reading?” We may want them to be learning about a certain topic, but have we considered the options available for learning and provided voice and choice. It is like providing a choose your own adventure book, but with a variety of options, including articles, ebooks, multi media, and traditional books. In some cases it is good to let them do the research (make sure you have taught them how) and encourage them to find the materials; giving them voice. The empowerment with appropriate support can yield amazing results.
I wonder how Twitter can help me connect with others and grow to become a more effective leader of literacy and Bring Education to Life for students and teachers? This was my inquiry question at the beginning of 2017. I am amazed at what I have learned so far and the PLN that I discovered because of it.
My introduction to Twitter started with one of my reading certification classes with Jeanette Armstrong at Viterbo University in a cohort in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A couple years later, it was reintroduced by Susan Tegen in a Foundations to literacy class and again in my new teacher cohort at Howard Suamico School District by Brian Nichols. Brian really got us Tweeting Out during our boot camp into the district. A few of us became quite good at sharing out as a way to connect with others. Then, our Literacy Coaches started offering opportunities & Jessica Budek offered an opportunity with Brian to teach us about Twitter Chat at our district Creation Days PD.
Learning about Twitter chats lead me to a place where I could reflect about myself and then find other people with similar passions. I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me. That is where I met Meredith Johnson and Tara Martin, the founder of #BookSnaps. Tara introduced me to my favorite way to respond to books, #BookSnaps and how awesome Bitmojis are to communicate visually. I was not big into Snapchat so used Book Creator because that was what I knew and the kids had available to them.
Tara held a #BookSnaps challenge so I lead some teachers and students on the journey. I learned how engaged students can be when the right platform is presented. It was like we were meeting them in their world. They were writing, digging deeper, and asking for feedback. This provided opportunities to conference with students and increase writing skills through micro writing.
I was honored to be invited by Tara Martin and Book Creator to collaborate on a blog that was shared out in September. We collaborated totally via the internet and without ever meeting. We even made a video using Book Creator to make Booksnaps. That blog was read all over the world and I met people in Russia. How cool is that!
Tara lead me to George Couros and the #IMMOOC PLN family. I learned a lot about keeping up with a fast Twitter chat through some serious fail forwards. The amazing thing is when you make mistakes the PLN family helps to show you the way in a safe environment. We are all taking risks out there, so everyone wants to help you on your journey to learn. IMMOOC also taught me about using a blog as a professional portfolio to document my professional growth.
From there I met Dave Burgess and Aaron Hogan, who helped to encourage me to continue to blog. I read Teach Like a Pirate and then, Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. They taught me about sharing appreciations abundantly, about being visible, using hooks, and numerous other treasures found in their books
Through Twitter and chatting I have met so many educators such as Mena Hill, Tisha Richmond, Emily Francis, Cori Orlando, Heather Marrs and Brett Salakas from Australia. I even joined teachers in Australia for a chat on a few Sunday mornings at 6 AM and others in Oregon at 11:30 PM. Time change was an issue for chatting, then I realized how to join the chat after it happened. (That could be a whole other blog.)
Once school started my chat time decreased, but my knowledge was in full swing. I am hoping to get back into my routine of making my favorite chats a few times a month. My PLN family is my driving force that helps keep my passions alive and moves me forward so I do not stagnate. They keep me focused and reflecting on my ultimate goal “what is best for learners of all ages?” We are all on a journey of learning; it doesn't matter where we are on the path, only that we keep moving forward in our growth and shining our light for others to follow.
The people I have met this year on Twitter taught me we are all leaders in education no matter what our title is. We lead from where we are. You just have to #Believe! (my one word for 2017-2018)
April Padalino and Cyndi Dull
We are educational coaches with a passion for learning and empowering students, parents, and educators to Bring Education to Life.