Sunday, August 13, 2017

Connected Learning: 3 Summer Experiences That Pushed Me Forward

I love summer!  But not because of the reasons people probably think.  It's not that students and teachers are not in the buildings.  It's not because administrators sit around with their feet up all summer. NOT!!! It's because this is my prime time for learning!

The summer affords me the opportunity to do 3 things that I love to do: read books, connect with other educators, and attend conferences.  Sure, I can do these things during the school year, but this is the time that I refocus myself and re-energize my brain for the new school year. 

This summer was no different.  I have been reading lots of great books, both educational books and children's books.  I read Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook and found myself wanting to tweet from the rooftops. We must, must, must move away from this textbook-drive system and provide more authentic learning opportunities to our students.  I also read Tribes by Seth Godin.  Not necessarily intended as an educational book but this had profound implications on school leadership and helped me to rethink some of my practices. 

Since I have two young boys at home, I also dedicated some of my reading time to checking out cool children's books.  Most of the books fed my interest in STEAM and Maker Education.  Most notably, I read Emmet's Storm by Ann Rubino. It won a Best STEM Book for 2017 and was well-deserved.  An intermediate level chapter book, it focuses on the innovative spirit of the main character who isn't always supported in his tinkering and inventing.  His inquisitive mind serves his community well in the end.   Set in the late 1800s it is a great book to read aloud to students of many ages as it highlights many of the dispositions that we want to see in our students.

In July, I participated in EdCamp Voice.  If you aren't on Voxer, you are missing a great opportunity to connect with inspiring educators across the country!  While the Compelled Tribe has been my primary Voxer group, I loved adding new groups to my queue.  EdCamp Voice provided me with new connections through an "Authors and Aspiring Authors" group, as well as a STEAM/Makerspace group.  The conversations with others who want to learn and grow has helped me to refresh this summer.

I was fortunate to attend the International Literacy Association's annual conference in July.  What a great experience!  Not only did I enjoy presenting but I also attended sessions with major ELA "educelebrities"--Pernille Ripp, Ralph Fletcher, Kylene Beers, Jan Richardson.  Need I go on ?!?! 

I also had the chance to meet some of my PLN face-to-face for the first time.  Jennifer Williams and Sean Farnum (aka Magic Pants Jones) are just as friendly and inspiring in person as they are on Twitter.  During the conference, I also participated in EdCamp Literacy (so much fun!) and attended a panel session with editors from ILA. 

While my summer was busy, I was able to refuel my educational engine and get focused on a new school year.  Can't wait to get started!