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.
It's back to school time! Next week I'll be going in every day for classroom preparation and meetings, and then we start on the 15th, so my summer is basically over. I enjoyed my last day of my summer languishing by the pool, but it was with our staff book study book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. I'll write more about this book later - it's not a new book, and many of you might have already read it, but I had not. Ironically, I didn't want to at first since I have so many professional books that are on my own to-be-read list that I was a little bitter about having to read this one, demonstrating a fixed growth mindset, but I'm sure glad I did - lots of good stuff for teaching! The whole growth mindset idea has been active in my life this past week when I went to a conference on Aug. 1st & 2nd in Cincinnati called High AIMS Summer Institute. I was presenting the first day and could have just attended that day, but I was intrigued with many of the sessions, so decided to attend both days. They were fantastic!
First, I attended a session on writer's notebooks by Angela Faulhaber, co-director of the Ohio Writing Project. She's a great presenter, so I try to go to her sessions when possible. I know a lot about writer's notebooks, but I know I can always learn more, and I did. She helped me get a new idea about having students help generate rubrics. This was something I wanted to incorporate in my classroom, so it was a good aha moment for me. Basically, it was using the "What I Noticed" chart from mentor texts as a basis for a rubric, but having the students notice that. Another was to use various genres to show a writing craft move instead of just one. I was trying to figure out ways for students to have more choice in their writing topics/genres/formats, and this would be a good one. Showing a craft move in various ways helps give them choices. When I told Angela about these aha moments, I was slightly embarrassed because they seem like things I should have already know/been doing, but she said, "Sometimes it's just having something come along when you're ready." That's a growth mindset! No matter how long we've been teaching, we can always learn something new.
Another session I attended was Tanny McGregor's "Sketchnoting". That was so much fun! I've been intrigued about sketchnoting for lots of reasons - I love Michelle Haseltine's writer's notebook - it's full of sketchnoting, and I'd love to use it myself and teach my students how to use it (many of them already doodle while listening during read aloud time). During her session, we tried out some strategies and watched Graham Shaw's YouTube video on how to draw. He believes everyone can learn to draw - an example of the growth mindset!
Tanny's sketchnote of Rick Wormeli's keynote
Rick Wormeli was our keynote speaker on Tuesday, and wow! He challenged all of us to really buy in to the growth mindset when he encouraged us to take redos, retakes, and late work for full credit. I've always allowed redos, retakes, and late work, but I had developed a few practices I'm not proud of now (averaged the redo/retake with the original, didn't encourage or allow As and Bs to be redone - mostly for my own sanity in grading, and reduced the grade when turned in late). I'm going to rethink those practices and try to figure out the time/organization challenges. Take a look if you've never seen Rick before - his speaking style is awesome:
In addition, I'm reading The Journey is Everything by Katherine Bomer. She's challenging me to think more about the essay and how it can be more organic and meaningful to our students. I have a few issues with her stances (I think we can think more in "ands" - teach structure/patterns AND more authentic essays - than "ors" - my daughter had a great response to my musings about that book - "You have to know the rules in order to break them effectively"), but I'll talk more about that in a future blog post. For now, she has me thinking and planning about how to teach essay differently/better.
Then I saw this posted on Facebook today: Four Skills to Teach Students in the First Five Days of School. I thought #4 was especially interesting and relevant to this DigiLit Sunday community.
So, I'm excited about taking on the challenges of a new school year, new students, and teaching my former 5th graders again in 6th grade. I'm excited about learning new things and doing things better - power to the growth mindset!!