Tag Archives: Technology

PLC Series: Rethinking Classoom Roles

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Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series! This month we discuss cultivating literacy-rich classrooms.

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As a teacher, feeling as though you are less than an expert at something new can bring anxiety when working with students. However, if we can reframe our thinking to being a learner along with our students, the opportunities we have to enhance thinking and learning opportunities increase. This type of classroom environment becomes one where students feel empowered to problem solve and teach each other, qualities of learners that will sustain long beyond the classroom. 

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Get Tech Savvy: What You Can Do Now to Prepare for a Strong Year Ahead

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by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Cornelius Minor, the moderator of tomorrow evening's TCRWP Twitter Chat, is an education technology sage. Cornelius, a longtime staff developer for the Project, has been at the forefront of the push to use technology to enhance (not replace) existing reading and writing workshop structures.

Frequently, Cornelius reminds us: Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.

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Online PLC: Teaching And Learning With Technology

This month we will be featuring content to explore this question: How do we create cultures of learning that embrace and provide opportunities for exploring a wide range of literacies in the 21st century?

While communities and schools across the country are certainly diverse, we know that technology holds a strong presence in the lives of today’s learners. What does this mean for teaching and learning?

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What’s New In This Edition: Technology’s Role [Video]

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In the new and revised edition of Comprehension and Collaboration, Stephanie Harvey and Harvey "Smokey" Daniels share inquiry units of increasing richness with all the teaching and planning resources you need.

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The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Veteran teacher and author Colleen Cruz has seen it all and done it all in the writing classroom—and she’s got something to admit: this is hard work. Real hard. In her new book The Unstoppable Writing Teacher she takes on the common concerns, struggles, and roadblocks that we all face in writing instruction and helps us engage in the process of problem solving each one. In today's post adapted from the book, Colleen entreats us to work smarter.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

by M. Colleen Cruz

A very long time ago, very early in my career, I once labored until almost 9:00 at night in my classroom. Not unusual for me. I don’t remember what I was working on. I know I was sitting on the floor with my shoes off and the radio blasting. I was trying to just finish whatever I was working on when a colleague, who was leaving for the night, stopped by my room. She told me I needed to go home. “I will, I will. I just need to finish this,” I said.

She smiled at me, but stood in the doorway a little longer. Like there was something she wanted to say. “What?” I said. “You think I’m crazy?”

“Nope,” she said. “I just think you need to work smarter, not harder.” I heard her steps echo down the empty hallway, my eyes blurry with exhaustion. In my memory she was whistling. But that moment was absolutely a pivot point for me. I realized that so much of what I had been doing as a teacher was working very hard and not getting very far. I would create lots and lots of stuff, plan for hours, and yet, I could rarely trace back the impact of all my hard work on my students. I started to think that in my desire to become a good teacher for my students I was in fact taking time off my career. I was exhausting myself.

I realized all at once that I was covering for my anxieties and lack of know-how by working as hard as I possibly could, so at the very least I could say I had done the best I possibly could. But I knew, now, that it wasn’t the best I could do. That the best I could do would require putting down the tools and thinking a bit. I would need to do less of the heavy lifting myself. I needed my colleagues for support and collaboration. I needed to hand more of the work of learning to my students. In order to get control and actually improve the situation that was my teaching, I needed to let some of that control go.

I believe that teachers are working harder than ever

I am now a big believer in working smarter, not harder. Before I roll up my sleeves and get to work on a problemalmost any problemI stop and think for a bit about the best possible approach to solving the problem. Can I call a friend for advice? Can I ask for a volunteer to share the load? Can I teach the students how to handle this? How might technology help?

While it has likely always been true about teachers (Plato probably worked way too hard lesson planning for Aristotle and his classmates), I believe that teachers seem to be working harder than ever. There are dozens of reasons for this: rising levels of child poverty, new teacher evaluation systems, district learning targets that are constantly moving—all in an information age in which content and skill knowledge grow exponentially by the minute. We don’t need to add our own selves and our hard-work addiction habits to the mix.

As you move through your day, your week, your month, I encourage you to take small pauses before you act. Ask yourself: Is there a way to work smarter and not harder here? Before you pass out those papers. Before you hand-write every rubric. Before you create another assessment when you could simply read through your students’ notebooks. Because, the truth is, even if you endeavored to work smarter every single time you lifted a finger to work, you would still be working hard. And while working hard might make us feel a little better in the short run, in the long run, we need our energy in order to face the other problems yet to come.

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In addition to being the author of The Unstoppable Writing TeacherM. Colleen Cruz is the author of several other titles for teachers, including Independent Writing and A Quick Guide to Helping Struggling Writers, as well as the author of the young adult novel Border Crossing, a Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Finalist. Colleen was a classroom teacher in general education and inclusive settings before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project where she is Senior Lead Staff Developer. Colleen presently supports schools, teachers and their students nationally and internationally as a literacy consultant.

Technology and Reading with Frank Serafini

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How do we deal with the massive shifts that digital literacy is creating? Frank Serafini has the answer in his new book Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age. It's out now!

In today's post adapted from the book, Frank describes his reading workshop 2.0 framework.

Technology and Reading

by Frank Serafini

The term technology can be misleading. When people say the word technology, they often mean the newest gizmo, software application, or digital resource that is being bandied about by friends in and out of education. However, it is important to remember that the pen and pencil were also technological advances at one time in our history. So was the codex, or what we commonly refer to now as the printed book. Writing a book like Reading Workshop 2.0 requires attending to all forms of technology, print- and digital-based, not just the newest web-based resource or trendy app to hit the internet.

A reading workshop 2.0 framework must also take into account what Lankshear and Knobel (2006) refer to as the new ethos stuff, in addition to addressing the new technical stuff. By new ethos stuff, they are suggesting that along with the changes in the technologies teachers and readers are exposed to in and out of school, the ways in which these new technologies affect the way we interact with information, people, and ideas have also changed.

The profiles people construct on various social media platforms, the relationships that develop among participants in chatrooms and discussion boards, and the conventions and expectations for communicating with colleagues through email have changes as much as the web-based platforms used to house these interactions.

As readers draw on new technologies (new technical stuff), they are no longer viewed simply as consumers of information; rather, they are considered producers and critics of information as well (new ethos stuff). You will read more about the development of web-based and digital resources and the new ethos associated with it in the opening chapters of Reading Workshop 2.0.

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Frank Serafini has dedicated his life to making reading accessible to every student. His numerous Heinemann titles include The Reading Workshop and Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days. He is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education and Children's Literature at Arizona State University. Visit Frank's blog "The Reading Workshop" and follow him on Twitter @doctorserafini.