I have to be honest in saying that I feel guilty that I'm the only one from my district that can attend this learning. I'd love to bring a slew of teachers with me. Especially to have conversation on the way home around how each topic relates to our own school.
Because of time constraints, I also do not have enough opportunities to share everything that I wish to share with teachers upon my return. It's the middle of March. Testing looms. Then, the downside of spring fever hits. The last thing to add to a teacher's plate, at this point in the year, is more PD.
So, I'm trying something new and sharing my new learning through technology and through study groups or in working side by side with teachers who are interested in a topic. To start with, I'm listing my ten topics of new learning in hopes that it stirs some interest in fellow teachers to dig in a little deeper with me. Our own learning can expand in countless ways in working together.
1. Reading and study of the book, Transforming School Culture, by Anthony Muhammad
This is a profound book that begs to be studied by all who live in the education world. Jason Hillman, the director at OSU Literacy Collaborative presented parts of this book and challenged us to see ourselves throughout. When Jason was a principal in Wyoming, he used this book as a book study for his entire staff and he transformed his school. The book can be purchased as an online workshop for staff at Solution Tree.
2. Graphic Novels
I have to admit, I've not been a fan of graphic novels. Well, my perception has shifted. We did some exploring of this genre and had discussion of whether it can even qualify as a genre. It's more of a form of writing as graphic novels can be in any genre (memoir, fantasy, narrative, etc.) The depth of thinking while reading a graphic novel is immense and can not be overlooked. We read the GN, March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. Wow, is all I can say.
3. Author talks
We had a Skype author talk with Andrew Aydin, one of the authors of March. I was reminded of the power of real authors talking to kids. Andrew is such an inspiration and mentor to people of all ages to find your passion and follow your dream.
4. Evaluation and Data Use by Wendy Vaulton, senior researcher at Leslie Univeristy
We skyped with Wendy about forming essential questions from examining our data and how to develop a process for this. I know I will share this process with our grade levels and our literacy team when we analyze our data for next year.
5. Curriculum planning and creating a writing unit of study from the Common Core Standards
Wendy Sheets, Literacy Collaborative trainer, presented us with a process for creating a standards based unit of study in writing. She modeled her persuasive unit and then we worked in groups to create a nonfiction unit of study. I have to say, that I love doing this work. I will be writing more about this in a post later this week.
6. Close Reading
Sherry Kinzel prompted us to explore close reading. Close reading is a new buzz word in literacy and there are many definitions and variations out there about what it really is. We read articles and dug into research to find out as much about it as we could (This was homework.). Then were organized into two groups: defendants of close reading and persecutors of it. We had a mock trial to help us (as a juror) come up with a verdict of it as a practice for use within our literacy framework.
7. Using Technology Within the Literacy Framework by Primary Literacy Collaborative Trainer, David Hensinger
David walked us through steps of analyzing and evaluating an app for adoption within a school. First, is has to be usable in many contexts and in with multiple content areas. Second, it needs to be a tool for student use, a tool for teacher use, and tool for coach/admin use. It needs to be free or at a low cost. It needs to be EASY to learn. The app should be able to have some form of communication with others that demonstrate their evidence of learning.
He then shared with us the app, SonicPics, that met these characteristics and modeled many ways the app could be used for literacy and other contents.
8. Study Groups by David Hensinger
Study groups are basically what the term implies. David started off asking us if we were spread thin in our positions. I believe every professional who works in education is spread thin - whether a teacher, principal or coach. He walked us through a process to form study groups with staff members to create an environment of inquiry and problem solving that can happen on it's own, with a coach facilitating how it might look and then encouraging teachers to form study groups independently.
9. Best Books of 2013 for Intermediate Readers by Lisa Patrick, OSU Professor of Children's Lit.
Lisa Patrick does not disappoint. She has shared with us her best books of discovery every year at our PD. Her energy and love of literature is contagious as I always want to run right our to Barnes and Noble and fill my suitcase before leaving for home. She shared her process of determining these books and tells of the countless hours it takes to finalize her list. I'm sharing it with you here.
10. Finally, the theme of our PD: We are Superheroes and We All Have Super Powers
I was thinking this might be a perfect theme for our staff and kids for the month of April - testing month. Wouldn't it be wonderful to fill our bulletin boards with "Super Power" things when we see it? Perhaps, a third grader read his first chapter book. Or, maybe a fourth grader writes a poem with figurative language that we can all learn from. Maybe a class creates a persuasive letter together for a social cause. Not to mention, the ways we can give our kids super powers in preparing them for the state tests. Capes will be necessary. I can't wait to brainstorm some ideas for this with teachers.
There you have it. We only had two and a half days of PD, but wow, the PD that to share with my colleagues is immense. Thank you so much, Sherry and Wendy for creating an environment for so much learning to happen.
Each of these topics deserves a separate post in more depth, so please stay tuned. Until then, if any topic grabs your attention, please let me know as I'd love to explore it together with you!