Friday, April 15, 2011

Personal Learning Network

I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about personal and professional growth - MY personal and professional growth. In a previous job, all staff participated in DuFour’s Professional Learning Communities (PLC). In my current job, we participate in Carroll’s Learning Teams. Both allow for collaboration, observation and professional growth all while focusing on improving student learning. As a Literacy Instructional Coach, I often facilitate these sessions and collaboration groups. I spend a good deal of time thinking about others’ professional growth, what other people need and how I can provide and connect the resources to meet others’ needs. However, where does that leave my own professional growth?

This has led me to the idea to create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for my own growth and development. While many of my professional needs can be met through job-embedded PLCs and Learning Teams, some of my professional interests are not addressed. As such, creating a PLN will allow me to tailor a learning model to those areas which interest me most while widening my network outside of my school (and district and state, for that matter).

I have an exciting idea to launch my PLN and would love to have others involved. Won’t you consider joining my little network?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thursday's Child by Sonya Hartnett

What would you do if things couldn’t get any worse?  Set during the Great Depression in rural Australia, a family deals with loss after loss:  the death of a child, the collapse of their home, the loss of themselves to something dark and craven.  Harper, the third child of five and the second daughter, tells of growing up and struggling to survive.  She tells of family relationships and how loss can change everything and especially everyone.  Her younger brother, Tin, is more comfortable burrowing in the earth than living with the family.  Harper must deal with this loss and come to terms with many others, mainly by persevering and using what Americans would call moxie.

Middle School appropriate although there is one graphic scene.  Lexile is 960.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Save National Writing Project! #blog4nwp

I write this post in support of National Writing Project (NWP), which is slated to lose its federal funding come Friday, April 8. Without a doubt, NWP has been the BEST professional development I have EVER received. There are three basic tenants:

1. Teacher as Writer

2. Teacher as Teacher of Writing

3. Teacher as Researcher

I know it sounds simplistic, but let me tell you that in six years as a Literacy Instructional Coach, I completely see the value of #1 and #3. (#2 is one most people buy into already.)

One cannot teach writing if one does not see oneself as a writer. How can we ask our students to do something that we are unwilling to do ourselves? How do we plan lessons and prepare for potential hang ups if we haven’t tried it ourselves first? Have you ever tried to write a myth? It’s HARD! When I taught in Michigan, seventh grade students were required to write a myth. It wasn’t until I sat down to attempt it myself that I realized what supports students would need.

While I may never write a novel, I write every day. I write email messages to teachers whom I coach where every word makes an impact. I write objectives and lesson plans. I write notes of encouragement to colleagues, friends and family. I compose my thoughts into a concise 140 characters for Twitter. I have written a few articles for publication. I see myself as a writer and that is because of the NWP training I received.

It is because I write every day that I know the power of words. It is because I write every day that I know the importance of words. It is because I write every day that I know National Writing Project is valuable and worth fighting to save!

I #blog4nwp!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Update: Goals for 2011

I figured we are beginning the second quarter of 2011, so I should check my progress on meeting some professional goals. Even though I’m a very driven person, I don’t normally write down my goals, but I now see why it’s important to do so. Plus, I have all of you to hold me accountable!

1. Get published.

This one is in the works. My colleague and I rewrote our article and submitted it to NCTE’s Language Arts for consideration of inclusion in their July 2012 issue. We are waiting to hear from NCTE.

2. Read more books. (Goal of 50 in 2011)

Right now I have completed nine books. I’m currently reading two. I better step up the pace or I won’t reach my goal of 50 by the end of the year. It breaks down to 4.16 books per month, so I’m already a little behind.  This graphic shows my reading history for the past two years in relation to 2011.

3. Blog more often. (Goal of three times per month)

I’ve been meeting this goal pretty well. January = 3 posts. February = 2 posts. March = 4 posts. That’s an average of three per month! 8-) And this makes my first April post, so I’m on my way for this month!