I must admit that I probably wouldn’t have dabbled in the blogging world had it not been for the requirements of this class. My initial goals were to complete the assignments and remain open-minded about trying something new. I never considered myself to be a blogger and was a little worried about writing in such a public forum. Ultimately, I hoped to provide helpful resources on my blog, while also learning about what it’s like to follow others’ blogs in order to gather helpful ideas.
One of the first things I learned was that blogging is really not very scary. Even though the contents of a blog are public, the nature of blogging allows the blogger to personalize and use his/her own writing voice. This means that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to blog. As I realized this, my anxiety about blogging decreased considerably. This also led me to consider the possible benefits that blogging could have for students. The customizable nature of a blog would allow students to explore various writing voices, styles, multimodal response, etc. As a result, students could deepen their learning and understanding in ways that don’t happen when responding or sharing ideas in a traditional five-paragraph essay.
In addition, becoming a blogger gave me another resource for ideas and another link to colleagues. I truly enjoyed looking through and reading the blogs of my classmates, which is something I would have never explored had I not spent time trying out a blog for myself. The truly amazing thing about the connections that can be made through a blog is that those connections are not limited to a geographical area. In other words, a blog easily connects me to the ideas of professionals everywhere. This has the potential to open my eyes to a diverse range of helpful ideas. As I prepare to get back into the classroom next year, I hope to continue following some of the blogs I discovered to be most helpful and interesting.
Not only do I hope to follow certain blogs in order to learn about good ideas or helpful advice from fellow teachers, I also hope to continue reading blogs in order to hone my skills as a proficient blog reader. Before this experience, I didn’t like to read blogs, because they often intimidated me. Sometimes, I became overwhelmed by the amount of information that could be presented on one page. In creating my own blog, I learned about navigating others’ blogs in order to collect information relevent to what I wanted to learn. As I consider using new literacies in my classroom, I think it is really important for me to have experience as a reader of those new literacies (such as blogs). These experiences will provide my students with a model and allow me to make connections to what my students may already know.
Overall, although I enjoyed creating my blog for this class, I am not sure that I developed a clear enough focus for its content or purpose. As a result, I was not compelled to utilize it beyond the minimum requirements for the course. I would like to continue using this blog (or a blog) to make professional connections; however, I will be sure to set out with a clearer purpose. Now that I have learned about what it can be like to blog, I can spend time developing a concept for a new blog that will connect to my passions as a teacher and motivate me to share ideas/post resources.
Professional Book Club
Participating in the professional book club learning community was extremely rewarding. First of all, it was helpful to discuss a shared reading experience, because the discussion allowed me to clarify confusions and reach deeper insights through multiple perspectives. Most importantly, I realized how beneficial this same kind of experience would be in a school setting with teacher colleagues. I would love to speak with my principal about organizing book clubs for teachers in my school. Even if it doesn’t become formalized across the school, I am interested in organizing a book club with teachers I find who are interested in participating. Holding discussions around a professional book would allow us to support one another in bettering ourselves as teachers and provide us with a starting place from which to base potentially complex discussions.
This semester I have been working with a small group of ELL students. Four of the students are from Burma and one is from Mexico. All of them struggle with reading English, but the four Burmese students have considerable trouble speaking, understanding, reading, and writing English. Even though they struggle to express themselves in English, they have demonstrated a high level of understanding through visuals, gestures, and sometimes by using their native language. Therefore, I have struggled with designing learning opportunities that connect to their knowledge and strengths at an appropriate level – both ability and maturity wise. These students are in the sixth grade, and preschool-age leveled readers are not a very engaging or appropriate text choice!
One day, I came across Shaun Tan’s book The Arrival in one of my classes. I have been using it in a Language Experience Approach with my small group, and I am thrilled at the success we have achieved. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel that illustrates the experience of an immigrant who moves to start a new life for his family. The students have been writing and reading words to go with the pictures following the Language Experience Approach procedure (they speak the words/sentences and I write them). Not only have the wordless book and LEA technique made the text accessible, The Arrival has prompted the students to make some very powerful connections to their own experiences! I recommend checking out both the book and the technique, especially when working with struggling/reluctant readers and writers.
I have posted some resources for The Arrival and Language Experience Approach below.
The Arrival Resources/Information
The Following is a video of clips from the theatre production of The Arrival (performed in Australia).
Language Experience Approach Resources
I have worked hard this year to understand why I have encountered so many male students who refuse to read. Or, why I meet boys year after year who will only agree to read one type of book and push other books aside. Through my studies I discovered the website Guys Read. Created by the author Jon Scieszka, the website hosts a plethora of guy focused reading resources. Boys can peruse book titles by category, download cool guy bookmarks, and follow links to learn about their favorite authors. This is definitely a website I want to give my male students an opportunity to explore.
Check out Guys Read.
Welcome to my blog!
As a former middle school teacher currently working on my Master’s in Reading Education, it has come to my attention that starting a blog might be a useful thing to do. (Plus, I have been asked to create one for a class assignment 😉 ) At any rate, I agree that a blog could be a good place for me to share teaching ideas and connect to other teachers and their ideas – all while experimenting with technology.
My plans for this blog will unfold as I go. However, I am most interested in teaching reading and writing/teaching reading and writing with technology. Please feel free to poke around, make comments, and ask questions.
Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!