My Love Affair

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if the teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”

Nancy Kassebaum

I have been using technology more than ever this year.  If you have been reading the blog you will know that many strategies I have employed within my reading room.  I haven’t used them to their fullest potential, but it is a strong start.  Most likely, I have taken on more than I can chew.

But I am beginning to feel confident.  The students are seeing me attempt to use these sites and they are viewing someone who is learning.  At times I am frustrated, but it does not stop me and that is a lesson for them.  They see my interest and motivation which turns into their excitement.  They can’t wait to post on the student blog as well as comment on the other stories.

Using Evernote has also produced a desire to record themselves and improve their fluency.  One second grade boy mentioned he isn’t fluent, but he is trying and looking forward to assessing himself in order to learn.

I often thought of technology as a source for research and creating documents, but now I see how effective it is in regards to learning and developing a self-awareness as well as self-confidence.  I am now willing to take more risks and expose myself  in order to learn and that is exactly what the students need to do.  And isn’t that what love is about, taking risks.

Simplest Pleasures Bring Such Joy

A sense of accomplishment–what a comfort.  I just published our first student blog.  This venture always appeared to be difficult.  How would my students gain access to the computer since I do not have one other than my laptop?  How would the younger ones be able to type their stories within out time frame since it is a pull-out program?

Yes, concerns existed especially since I feel antiquated at times.  A pull-out program with only seeing students twice a week.  How will this blog work with those restraints?  Well, basically there are restraints, but the major one was me.  I failed to see the ease which this goal could be accomplished.

Last week, I mentioned how I was moving at a snail’s pace and some of this was due to panic and not knowing how to proceed. Then, a revelation came to light.

I am blogging for the reason to reflect and learn.  It may have an underlying reason to be recognized by someone famous.  Oooo!   But, no, the bottom line is to become a better teacher.  Asking myself, what can I do as a teacher to increase my students love of learning and motivation?  A student blog is one of my goals.

So, I posted first grader stories on the blog and then sent the blog site to their parents hoping for comments.  I was so excited when I received confirmation from the parents and then one posted a comment on her child’s story.  When I saw that student he was so excited.  The smile on his face made my decision to pursue the blog worthwhile.

In the end, what we do as teachers is for the students, not for us.  Our focus must always be how we can help them learn and grow.  It is our goal when choosing this profession and at times, I feel the profession picks us because the simplest pleasure in life bring us such joy!  Teaching is filled with so many pleasures like a proud smile from a student who accomplished a simple task.

karen-blenner-quote-seeing-the-smiles-on-the-childrens-faces-just

A Snail’s Pace

The cold is beginning to settle in.  I am feeling it in my bones and am moving as slow as molasses in regards to blogging.  I have even also adjusted my rate in achieving my use of technology with teaching and communicating with the parents. 

snail_turtle

When I started this year I was going full steam ahead.  Evernote, blogging, Smore, and Symbaloo.  I was inside a pinball machine.  One person who I asked to read my blog kindly warned me to slow down.  She mentioned she thought I was doing so much and I responded by “No, I can handle this”.  Heh, heh, heh, little did I know.

Well, that was not the case.  I needed to slow down to explore and digest what I was doing and why.  I jumped in full force with Twitter and received so many ideas that I felt was so behind the times.  I was a teacher who was not connected and didn’t even have a PLN.  So the rush was on.  

Now, I have decided to slow myself down and concentrate on a few areas.  One is a PLN.  I will continue to use Twitter to connect and learn.  In the past, it was difficult to find someone to connect and share with, but now Twitter has made that so much easier for me.  This is an place where I can continue to  grow as a teacher.

Another site that I will continue using is Smore.   I have been communicating once a month with the parents through Smore with success.  Basically, I created on-line newsletters for parents which includes ideas and information in regards to reading.  I covered topics such as reluctant readers and provided sites and book lists to aid reading at home.

Now I am going to extend my communication further by personalizing the newsletters.  This may be taking on too much, but the idea does sound good.  I had trouble attempting a classroom blog since I have a pull-out reading program.  Therefore, I have decided to publish the students work, strategies, and comments according to grades through Smore.

Going as slow as a snail may be a good thing.  As teachers we are pleased when students complete their work at an appropriate pace with few in any errors.  This is advice I need to heed.  I should not go quickly, but move slowly in order to learn and succeed.  I even learned how to insert a picture into the blog.  A step at a time. 

To blog or not to blog?

I came across a blog post through a tweet that provided some insight.  The link was provided and I am always looking for something good to read.  When I read, I read deeply to gain a connection and an understanding.  The article must reach me and this one did.

Here is a quote from Steven Wheeler’s blog that struck me:

http://linkis.com/blogspot.com/O31u4

     “I write because in the act of writing, I am written. In Daniel Chandler‘s terms, it is about      constructing meaning, discovering and drawing out your internal thoughts, and externalising them in prose. He says: “The experience of ‘discovery’ in writing may sometimes represent having found a way to make one’s ideas coherent.” In effect, as I write, I create concrete meaning from my abstract thoughts. Also, because the blog is public, I write for an audience. My writing has become a social act. As I learn my thoughts, I share them with you.”

I have often questioned as to why I am blogging or tweeting.  I know it is due to a desire for knowledge, but it is truly the connections, the feedback even though I may comes across stumbling blocks.

However, due to this article I realized that that is not the focus of my blog, I am using it to discover myself as a writer and a teacher.  I need to express myself and organize my thoughts in regards to teaching.  Through blogging and Twitter I am gaining so much knowledge even though at times I feel as a voyeur.  Now, I am feeling as if I am discovering so much and wish to share it with others in education.  There are so many teachers out there just thinking and feeling the same as me.

While watching Aaron Sorkin’s  “Newsroom” on HBO an ‘aha’ moment crept up.  The one character posted a tweet which was inappropriate as a journalist and regrettable.  She deleted it about a half hour after posting, but it was picked up and then led to her dismissal.  When asked why she posted the tweet her reply was for the RT (re-tweets).

This led me to question if that the purpose of Twitter?  To see how many RT’s you get.  I have participated in chats and I honestly must admit that I await anxiously for a RT.  I even look to see is anyone responds or RT my post.  So, is this a good thing or not?  Is this what it is all about?

I am going to continue using Twitter for to learn.  If I make the connections wonderful, if not then I am okay as well because the bottom line is seeking knowledge to make myself a better educator.

I also will continue blogging if only for myself as a writer and a teacher.  It will help me develop an identity and focus as an educator.

HELP! (I am not drowning, yet! At least I don’t think so.)

I was on a Twitter Chat this past week and I came across some new sites to help with record keeping.  This is the tweet that was posted:

“A3: I’m seeing BrightLoop, Evernote, Confer, KustomNote, & GoogleDocs being thrown out. Any other tech suggestions for this? “.

This tweet led me to investigate the other options out there.  I am somewhat familiar with Google Docs and I have already started using Evernote.  Currently, I am only recording the student’s reading to monitor their fluency.  I have not expanded into other areas yet.

I then looked up Confer, KustomNote, and BrightLoop.  BrightLoop intrigued me.  So, what I ask for is input.  Who uses these sites and how successful are they?  I am looking for stories of success and disappointment to help me in my research.

The internet is wonderful, but without help from other colleagues I do not know if I can stay afloat.

Please share!

Constantly Learning

I was going to write about how my pace has slowed down.  Let’s just say I “hit the wall”.

It is not lack of ideas; it is the world of teaching where I have been consumed by other projects.  That is one hindrance for a teacher.  There is always change and challenges, but we are easily diverted or choose to spend time on that diversion.  Just like the students, but we choose to call it procrastination.  Being an adult, it is a diversion.

Anyway, I visited Twitter and came across a tweet from Pernille Ripp about her new post.  Since I do visit her blog weekly, I went right to her site and came across my subject, my re-focusing.  Here is a link to her blog:

http://pernillesripp.com/2014/10/24/how-to-do-meaningful-student-blogging-presentation/

I just completed what I thought was a version of a classroom blog.  I set up a blog specifically for my students.  They can participate with the post through comments after reading my directive.  I was so proud of this as a sent out the blog to my recipients.  But therein lies the rub.  I am directing, controlling the blog.

Then, I read Pernille Ripp’s blog and thought, “Oh my, I have it all wrong!”.  The blog I created for the student’s is not meaningful.  I choose to control the blog as opposed to letting my students enter their work, their thoughts, which a blog should be.  A blog gives a person a voice and my struggling readers need their voice.

So now, this leads me to the drawing board again.  It just shows how we are constantly learning through reading and interacting with others.  I am becoming a Connected Learner.  I think?

 

Yikes!

Connected Educator Month is not going well, but that is according to my standards, which I usually set high. I find that a problem with connecting is connecting. This is my first year building a PLN with Twitter and I believe I am expecting too much. I have connected with some wonderful teachers, but it is all going all too slow for me. I just need to breathe and recognize all the goals I have set for myself and all the projects I have started at the same time. Yikes!

I must admit that I took a plunge and expected great things as always. Things have been slow, but they are building and I need to be patient. The self-imposed pressure to tweet the correct words that will spark others interest in heavy,  pressure not to come across too strong and pressure not to sound like a complete fool. This is all so nerveracking.

Hiding behind the screen seems easy, but it is not. You need to make the contacts as you do in life. You need to put yourself out there. All the so-called rules also apply to the chats and Twitter, but I think that the screen adds some confidence for people, but not for me. It appears that my personality and doubts are following me onto the web.

This has all been eye opening for me. You find out who you are as a teacher and it is humbling and yet empowering. The tweets and connections I made have made me feel stronger as a teacher. Every now and then we need a boost of confidence and the connections I am making are doing that, but if only I could….

Sinking Deeper

I have entered the waters of Web 2.0. I never knew I was in Web 1.0, but now, look out! By creating this blog and participating in twitter chats, I have upgraded myself as an educator. This is a brave new world, Aldous.

I was never good at taking risks or exposing myself and I believe I am still not. But, I feel a desire to become a Connected Learner in order to learn and improve myself as a teacher. This month is Connected Educator Month, so what better time to bring myself out from behind the classroom door where life is so comfortable. I was achieving my masters and applying what I learned without leaving my depths.

Then, along came the Internet where I became solely a consumer. It served my purposes, but as the Internet grew, I did not. I was uncomfortable with the navigation. Through classes and conferences, I realized that I needed to become a connected learner, which will lead me into the brave new waters of being a connected educator.

Now, I am learning from many sources how to connect to other educators and contributing to the conversations. I do tend to question my participation and doubt myself, but that is who I am. However, I am jumping into the waves. And, this week, I navigated through Evernote, Symbaloo, and Smore. Each month, I intend to create resources and recording for the students and parents through these sources. I really like the online newsletter. It is a simple way to keep contact with the parents.

Now, comes a greater dive. I need to accept feedback from others in the education world. The plan is to send my blog to others on Twitter and receive some criticism. As teachers, criticism is not always easy to accept. We are not that far from our students. Are we?

Little Fish in a Big Sea

I love being a Reading Specialist! I have been venturing through the sea of Education in Kindergarten, First Grade, and as a K-12 Reading Specialist for close to 30 years and my passion has never faltered.

Professional development, books, conventions, or classes have never left me disappointed and have keep me questioning and learning.   But this has always been solo not in collaboration with another. I decided that I needed to change things up and broaden my horizons.

So I started with Twitter in May of 2014, but I joined years before. Twitter always intimidated me until I thought, “I need to have a PLN”.  So, I went deeper into education, but I got discouraged often thinking this is just like high school with the clicks. The jocks are here, the nerds are over there.   Well, I went the route of the nerds, the Nerdy Book Club, which led me to chats and other people to follow.

I began to get my feet under me, but then there was always a slip.

“Oh my gosh, I sound like a fool.”

“I can’t believe I made that grammatical error.”

“My God! What was I thinking!”

In my mind, I was the one that made the reader would roll their eyes.

Through Twitter I had books recommendations, professional and personal, for my summer enjoyment. I read Meenoo Rami’s Thrive, Jennifer Serravallo’s The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2. My knowledge grows and changes. It changes through exposure to ideas, apps and sites that I never knew about. Symbaloo. Evernote—to me it was the elephant app. Plus I was learning of the advantages of Google. All this brought me into the present and future of education. It is a new section of the sea for me to swim in and I am excited, but yet I feel I am in strange waters.

My summer exploration has brought me to a place of jealousy. I am jealous of the younger teachers and their technological knowledge. It comforts me in a way that I know students are in good hands and also that the future of education is in good hands. But, jealousy creeps up because they will last longer than me in this amazing sea of education.

A tiny fish is the sea of education where I have been swimming for close to 30 years. I love this world! I was so comfortable in my space, but now I am approaching new depths. So I hope you join me as I navigate the new waters of education, which are filled with young impressive fish.