Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Learning

Happy July! I've been quiet here on the blog for awhile just taking some much needed time to unplug a bit and put my focus where I need it to be. I anticipate that everyone is enjoying their summer break and also finding some time to rest and relax. :) 

Having said that, I did want to pop in and share some learning I've engaged in thus far in the summer. As is true since I started this blog six years ago (!!), I am always fully honest about where I am in my journey as a teacher, whether that is bad or good. The further I get into my doctoral program, the harder it becomes for me to unplug during the summer (I suspect that will be even more true summer 2017 as I will be elbows deep in the dissertation by that point). Part of this is because my program is year-round and there is no such thing as a "summer break" for me from this learning (to be fair I do get a week off in August--which coincides with my return to work so... doesn't really count). 

This summer, I am taking my required religion course and we are studying the Parables of Jesus. The reading is extremely dense and I have developed a new appreciation for what it must be like for my struggling readers. I learned to read in kindergarten. I remember begging my mom (who is also a voracious reader) to help me learn how to pronounce words I practiced stringing together. Once I learned that words actually held meaning, I was off and haven't looked back. I have never struggled to read...and now I am because the readings and interpretations are dense and can be conflicting and overwhelming. As a true lifelong learner however, I am secretly relishing the challenge because a) it truly is giving me a new appreciation for what it must be like for some of my students and b) the more I push my brain, the hungrier it is for more knowledge. (Yes, I am a nerd. Sorry if you didn't know before and are just figuring it out.)

In addition to the required summer class, I participated in the second installment of EdCampVoxer July 5-9. I even led a session this time on Student-Centered Assessment. I am writing a chapter for a collaborative ebook on Student Assessment and running that group and getting new ideas was so incredibly beneficial. My wheels were turning and spinning out of control, in a good way, not only for ideas for my chapter but also for how I'd like to change things up this next school year. 

I also joined a session on Growth Mindset and holy cow. What an amazing and dynamic group that was (and continues to be). I've learned a lot, had my mind expanded and am jotting notes and keeping track of different files so when I have time I can go back and pick things to read and/or implement in the future. Some of it will also be good for the upcoming dissertation, which is always a bonus.

I also learned about SeeSaw. We do not have a ton of technology in our school (hopefully that will change this fall) so I am not well versed in much of the EdTech out there. I do know, however, that my intention was to go to a portfolio assessment tracking system this year, I just had planned to do it on paper (and some parts still will be this way). However, now that I know about SeeSaw, I can utilize the iPods I have for my class and have the students upload and note things they are working on and we can share them with families in real time, which is exciting. 

Lastly, of course, my summer would not be my summer if I wasn't doing tons of reading! It's been more difficult to get in the reading at a rate I normally would as I have had to read some pretty dense books on history for my Princeton Seminar and of course, for class.

Below are listed books (click on any picture to go to the book info on Amazon) that I have either already purchased and plan to read or will be purchasing. Doubtful I'll get through them all this summer with the vast amounts of reading I am required to do for class and my seminar but I shall try!

I own this one. I have only barely scratched the surface of this one but it's quite good. The research is fascinating and I am always interested in knowing more about how our brains do their thing.

I own this one. This one was a very quick and enjoyable read about how to set up a classroom utilizing Restorative Practices rather than incentives and punishments. I picked this one up because we have been using Restorative Practices in my school.

I own this one. This one is brand new from ASCD. I participated in a free webinar from ASCD about this book and I'm super excited to dig into it. It is basically teaching teachers how to teach their students metacognitive strategies so that the students can really drive their brains (there is even an activity where the kiddos get to have a picture of them driving their brains as a visual reminder).

I own this one. This one I started to read and it's very good thus far. I am really hoping to have time to finish this one before school starts just as a way to self-monitor my own growth as a teacher.

I do not own this one but it is wish-listed. I have heard nothing but good things about this book and will be buying it at some point. It focuses on some growth mindset type of things and that is an area I am quickly become very passionate about. There is nothing more frustrating to me than having a 7 or 8 year old child who is already so checked out because they think they are dumb.

I do not own this one either, but it is also wishlisted. I was very lucky to participate in a chat with the author of this book last week and I learned a ton and am excited to read this book and learn how to help my students push themselves forward. 


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