I don’t know if you all are as big of educational dorks as me, but if you are here’s a post for you. My husband always makes fun of me because my work is my hobby. You will find me by the beach this summer reading such best sellers as, Teacher Leader Stories, Explicit Instruction, Mentoring Matters, and Text-Dependent Questions (my husband on the other hand will be reading Star Wars Insider, and Entertainment Weekly so he has little room to judge). My biggest challenge during our time “off” is not that I can’t find anything to read, but it’s hard to find people who want to talk about it on the way down the California coast. Luckily in my district there are more teachers just as nerdy as me.
I have been fortunate enough to have been asked to facilitate a virtual book study group. We have three going on in the district at the same time. Members of our literacy adoption team were asked to choose one of three books, Text-Dependent Questions, Pathways to Close and Critical Reading Grades 6-12, Text-Dependent Questions, Pathways to Close and Critical Reading Grades K-5, both by my literacy gurus Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, or Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman. Once we all had made our choices my district supplied us with the books. They also are offering us clock hours and stipend pay for our time spent reading and posting. Not to brag but it’s a pretty sweet deal for a bunch of people who would have probably done it anyway.
We are using a Google site that was set up for us by Teachers On Special Assignment in the spring. We are only in week one but it’s going pretty well so far. In this format our assignment, pages to read and question prompts are posted on the home pages for each week. We are able to use the comment function to post our initial answer to the question to begin with. Next we are expected to comment on each others posts to expand topics and continue the conversation.
So far it has been a pretty easy tool to use. There are about thirteen members of my study group and we are able to access and comment. I am sending out reminders but overall I think people don’t need them. I am really pleased with how this has enabled us to keep our professional learning going over the summer. I know that I will be doing a lot of my posting and participating while in another state. I am also aware that my cyber colleagues are collaborating from various locations as well. We are able to grapple with some really meaty issues, like student work independently vs. in groups and with others. We are discussing close reading and how to use text dependent questions judiciously and with fidelity. We are raising issues about our own practices and the implications this will have for us in the fall. It’s is really quite exciting and collaborative. I am also beginning to think about how this format could be used in the classroom with students and perhaps to connect classrooms across a school, district, or the country.
I am hoping that other nerds like me our there are finding ways to feed their inner education geek and collaborate and particiapte throughout the summer months. What are you doing to stay connected and be collaborative?