I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.
I wasn't sure I had anything to write about on DigiLit Sunday today, but then I read Margaret's post, and at the end, she talked about a couple online collaborative places where teachers can talk about ideas. It got me to thinking more about collaboration with face to face colleagues and also with my online PLN. I don't have a lot of time to write about that today, but it's something I've been wanting to write at length about. Today I 'm just going to touch on it.
Collaboration is KEY in education. We need more of it in a time when I think a lot of teachers feel isolated and may feel like they are fighting the good fight all alone. I recently had lunch with a friend who reached out to me, wanting to talk about best practices in literacy education and how she can implement them in her classroom. She feels like she's doing the right thing by providing choice, time to read, writing time, and reading aloud, but needed some encouragement. She knows what didn't work for her students (a scripted reading program), and she knows what happened when she changed things up and created a reading/writing workshop with authentic literacy practices. She knows! However, it can get discouraging fast when you don't have support. Teaching is too hard to do alone! I'm glad we could talk, and I could encourage her to keep going, but she needs more. Right away, I started talking about online collaboration.
I'm fortunate that I am in a fantastic district with innovative teachers, but even so, I find much inspiration from online collaboration and tools. Megan and I get together in person a lot to write and share ideas, but when we can't, we write together using Google Docs. Our book proposal is an effort of much collaboration! David Etkin, along with several other teachers, and I collaborated on #ReadWalkWater for our Nerdy Book Club post on Google Video Chat. We worked together a ton last fall on this project and have never met in person! Countless literacy gurus share their wisdom on SlideShare, Prezi, Google Presentations and Docs, and Twitter. I'm frequently talking to inspiring literacy folks through blogs (and link ups like this one, started by bloggers who want to have conversations), Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. These online connections have kept me going. While nothing beats face-to-face interactions, I depend on my online PLN almost as much as my in-person PLN. I love an ongoing conversation I'm having right now on Facebook, inspired by Katherine Sokolowski's post on classroom design. Without these online friends, I would never have thought about getting rid of my teacher desk (I'm still thinking this one through ;-)). I'm also really enjoying getting to know some blog/Twitter friends better through a link up I started called Spiritual Journey Thursday. I've made fantastic friends through Choice Literacy, a website where contributors write about all kinds of classroom literacy practices and get together to write, connect, and provide feedback on each other's writing and ideas. Teachers Write is currently providing an online space for teacher writers to learn and comment on each other's writing with published authors.
I would love to extend this kind of collaboration to my students. I recently set up Kidblog for all of them, and many are using it this summer, posting writing that they're working on, sharing book titles, etc. They also started collaborating last year using Google Docs for commenting and editing each other's writing. I had heard of TodaysMeet, but haven't used it yet. I think David was the one who introduced it to me. How else could students collaborate online in their learning? Like Margaret, I'm excited about Christopher Lehman's new website, especially the group aspect. I've already joined a couple groups and look forward to the learning that will go on there. If you haven't seen this video yet, Chris talks about collaboration and why we need it:
Thank you, Margaret, for inspiring a topic even when I thought I didn't have one! And thank you for being part of my online collaborative PLN! :-)