Archive for Leadership for Student Learning

Developing Wild Readers

I’ve previously shared my learning from reading Donalyn Miller’s book Reading in the Wild, but am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear her keynote on her research and practices within this book at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention (#WSRA15).  I am always inspired by hearing and reading Donalyn’s work and want to go back into my own classroom to inspire students to read, but then I remember I don’t have a classroom.  So, as a leader, I just continue to share my learning with our teachers and model myself as a wild reader for our entire school.

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp

 

Here is the Monday Musings post I’ll be sharing with my teachers:

The-single-factor-most

Over the years I’ve shared my learning with you from Donalyn Miller’s books: The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild (previous posts are HEREHERE, and HERE). I’ve seen many of the practices we’ve learned about from her implemented in your classrooms: reading choice, book talks, stealing reading minutes, sharing your lives as readers, reading goals posted (students and staff), etc.

Even though I have read both of Donayln’s books, I was re-inspired by hearing her speak last week and to hear her story of how she came to research reading habits and write the book, Reading in the Wild. As the well-known Book Whisperer, she always got her students to read voraciously and couldn’t understand what happened in the next grade level up when her students stopped reading, because their classrooms didn’t include the same practices. Instead of blaming other teachers, Donalyn realized that she needed to help her students to truly develop the habits of lifelong readers, not having to depend on her to get connected to their next book to read. How do you do this?

  • Instead of requiring reading logs to track minutes (which most students and parents “fudge” anyhow) having students track their book titles read (that’s what adults do!).
  • Instead of having required amounts of time to read, having students learn and find times to “steal reading” minutes like most adults do, by always having a book with them.
  • Instead of making a specific book recommendation to a student when they finish a book, ask first: “What’s on your to-read list?” (After setting up the structure/habit for students to have a to-read list.)
  • Instead of recommending a specific book to students, she started making a preview stack of books that included books she knows the student will like but included different types of genres to expose them to.
  • Never give up on having a read-aloud, kids are never too old (that’s why there’s such a large market for audio books!) Use the read-aloud to expose students to different authors/genres/series that they may never try on their own.
  •  Help students to build their reading community. If you are their only source of book recommendations, then they will be lost without you next year.
  • And just for fun: skip the “selfie” and take a “shelfie”: a picture of yourself with a stack of books you want to read (or your favorite books)!

If you want to read more “nuggets” from her keynote presentation, there were many attendees tweeting from it and you can find them all HERE.

Take a moment to reflect on how you share yourself as a reader with your students and how are you promoting the habits of lifelong learners in your classroom?

Growth Mindset, #SAVMP for December

This months’ School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program blogging/discussion prompt is on Growth Mindset.

Mindset-concept-in-word-tag-cl-342584841

Image from Lakeside Connect

I feel that I have always had a Growth Mindset by nature, which I credit for having the drive to learn how to do many different things and have a hard-working ethic.  It was only once I read the book Mindset by Dweck that I fully understood this mindset and the incredible impact it has on students, educators and everyone.

After I read the book I shared my reflections with my staff in these posts:

Knowing what I know now about growth vs fixed mindset has impacted me in so many ways: as an individual, as a parent and as a leader. It helps me to realize that, at times, I do have a fixed mindset and need to change my thinking. It has helped me change the way I give feedback to my children, students and staff. I have also seen students who had struggled for years make a complete 180 change when their teacher took time to discuss mindset with their class and have individual conversations about mindset.

As a school leader, I feel it is essential for myself to have a growth mindset:

  • I get into classrooms and give feedback with a coaching hat (vs evaluative).
  • I admit when I don’t know about or how to do something and seek to learn more/how.
  • I don’t hammer down on mistakes made (unless they affect student safety or are ethically wrong), rather I focus on growing from the mistake.
  • I share with staff what I am reading (in my email signatures and staff blog) and what I am learning.

I also cannot help but make the connection between the concept of growth mindset and the new qualification criteria for a Specific Learning Disability/Response to Intervention process…time and time again we are finding that when students are given intensive intervention and frequently progress monitored, most students do make growth.

How do you lead with a growth mindset? I can never get enough of reading about Growth Mindset and how to share it with staff, students and parents and look forward to reading more posts.

Jennifer Kloczko wrote a great post that is filled with video clips to help promote Growth Mindset HERE.

#SAVMP – Admin Credibility

Image from Sales Force

Image from Sales Force

This months’ School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program blogging/discussion prompt is on admin credibility.

As the prompt states, “In any profession, if people feel you do not understand their work, your credibility lacks, often leading to a lack in leadership.”

When I became an administrator I made a personal commitment to not turn in to one that has no connection to what is happening in classrooms.  I know from experience how frustrating it can be as a teacher to have an administrator making decisions that feel like they have no idea about teaching, classroom dynamics, or even what time of year it is (i.e. an extra big task to do the same week report cards are due).  As an administrator I keep this in mind as I make decisions and see myself as a filter; rolling out initiatives in small steps to not overwhelm, only adding on what is absolutely required, and passing on requests to implement programs/trainings that I don’t believe will be the best use of our time. When there is a new tool that may be beneficial for teachers/students, I try to learn about it myself so that I can help share how and why. I try to make our staff meetings/professional development sessions engaging with strategies that teachers could implement in their classrooms the very next day.

I try to keep current in teaching, by being active in classrooms to help teachers implement new technology tools or to cover classes for teachers to observe each other or if we’re short of substitute teachers. I’ve previously written about No Office Day here and here. I have also previously written about Keeping in Touch with Teaching and Learning which also includes teaching a summer school class each year. I also believe it is essentially important as a building leader to be a Lead Learner, learning along with my teachers, not just directing them to learn/implement new strategies. What is a Lead Learner? I wrote about it HERE.

Most importantly, I make sure to stay connected to the people in our school…the staff, the students and the stakeholders.  I am not a supervisor sitting in an office doing paperwork, I am a leader that seeks to know everyone in our building, have a pulse on what is going on day to day and to help out in any way that I can to benefit the learners in our building.

Habit 2 of Wild Readers

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

I’m continuing to share what I learn as I read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. (Previous posts are here and here.)  Habit 2 of Wild Readers are that they self-select reading material, a habit that I see instilled already in most of our students with the Daily 5 framework solidly in place. Why do we have students self-select reading material?  Miller identifies the following reasons (p.46):

  • Allows students to value their decision-making ability
  • Fosters their capacity to choose appropriate literature
  • Gives them confidence and a feeling of ownership
  • Improves reading achievement
  • Encourages them in becoming lifelong readers
But what about those students that struggle with self-selecting an appropriate book? According to Miller, “Students who cannot successfully choose texts that meet their personal and academic reading goals fail to develop a vital skill that all wild readers possess.” (p. 47)
 
So what can you do to help your students that are currently unable to self-select?  Here are suggestions from Miller:
  • Read-Alouds
  • Reading Community Suggestions
  • Creating Book Buzz (1 easy example is a raffle drawing to get to be the 1st reader of the new classroom library books)
  • Abandoning Books (conversations about when/why to abandon a book) – Miller recognizes that habitual book abandoners do’t have the reading experience to know how a typical story will flow with building pages to set the stage for entertaining conflicts.
  • Selection Reflections-do they know other readers, online sources or book stores/libraries to go to for book recommendations? Miller shares (in the appendix of the book) a student selection reflection form that can help you as the teacher get to know more about how/why they selected/abandoned a book.
  • Preview stacks- create a stack of books you think a student might like, let them preview/choose from the stack (or reject all to find a different book).
*While I am giving bullet points in this post, the book obviously goes much more into detail to build a better understanding of how/why for each of these.

Identifying Fake Readers

 

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

As I shared in last week’s Monday Musings, Habit 1 of “Wild Readers” is that they dedicate time to read. I am still devouring chapter one on this habit, spending quite a bit of time thinking about Fake and Avoidance Reading. I’m sure you can think of at least one student in your class that falls in this category.  These are the students that spend more time preparing to read or going to the bathroom than they do actually reading.  You all know from building the Daily 5 structure that just telling them to sit down and read will not do any good, so what do you do?

According to Donalyn Miller, fake reading and avoidance reading commonly occur when students lack independent reading habits, confidence, or adequate reading skills.  To help our fake readers, we need to identify their coping behaviors that are helping them hide the fact that they aren’t actually reading.  Here are some warning signs that Miller identifies:

  • Finishes few books or finishes books too quickly.
  • Abandons books often.
  • Conducts personal errands during reading time.
  • Fidgets or talks a lot.
  • Rarely has a book to read.
  • Acts like a wild reader. (these are the hardest to identify)
As Miller explains this in her book, she actually took her conferring time on a few different days to secretly observe these students during the literacy block to record their reading behaviors (or lack there of) and then delicately confront them about their fake reading behaviors.  (When she met with the student she showed her notes that included “not turning pages,” “staring out the window,” “head on the desk” “turned a group of pages”) A common excuse for these fake readers is that “reading is boring.” These students have probably never had a positive reading experience, such as connecting to a book or even completing one.  She then gave the student an opportunity to reflect and make a plan together.
Do you have a fake reader in your class? Let me know if you’d like to try using Miller’s form to record their reading behaviors and have a discussion with them to move them forward. Want to read the book? We have several copies available in the professional reading library for you to check out.

Sharing Reading in the Wild

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

Read Across America week is probably my favorite week of the year, because I love reading and love any opportunity to promote it.  We celebrate reading in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday (on March 2) this week and encourage all of our students/families to celebrate reading together.  What is great about Dodgeland, is that this doesn’t happen just during Read Across America Week.  You all do a tremendous job of sharing your reading lives with your students, modeling a passion for reading each day, and having classroom practices that promotes building lifelong reading habits.

I am currently reading Donalyn Miller’s latest book, Reading in the Wild in which she shares habits of “Wild Readers” (as a result of surveying over 800 adult readers). I plan to share each of these habits with you throughout the next few weeks.

Habit 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

The #1 excuse to not read is not having time.  Parenting, work, housework, homework, etc. all excuses to not read.  But Wild Readers make time to read.  They read during small moments throughout the day when they can “steal” an opportunity to read.  What about reading logs to keep track of time?  Most wild readers don’t keep track of their time, they don’t have a concrete amount of time that they’ve read, because they often just sneak in those times throughout the day to read.  Miller points out how a mandate of reading 30 minutes a night can often be interpreted by students as 30 solid minutes. If they don’t have 30 consecutive minutes (because of their busy schedules) then they’ll likely just not read at all, not realizing that 5 minutes here and there can add up throughout the day.   How can you share these kinds of ideas with your students to help them learn about ways to find time to read?   I hope that our “reading storms” this week can help prompt the idea that we can “steal” minutes of reading throughout the day.

As you think about your classroom and Daily 5 block, does your structure give students enough time to read each day?  Donalyn Miller points out that we cannot blame parents when kids don’t read at home and then neglect the need for daily reading time at school.  It is easy for interruptions, special projects, unfinished work to sneak it’s way into the Daily 5 routine, taking away from students’ time to read.  Please be the protector of that time, because every reading minute for our students is precious!

 

Wrestling with Feedback

Image from Binghamton Univ

Image from Binghamton Univ

For the past couple of months my evenings and weekends have been devoted to wrestling.  This is a new sport for me, but one my family is enjoying together as we watch and encourage my 8 year-old in a sport that he has found to love.

We have now been to 6 tournaments with the opportunity to watch him improve each time with feedback and guided practice from his coaches.  Whether it is a practice or a tournament I have found that his coaches are quick to give feedback in a positive way that is specific enough to tell him what he needs to do differently.  In addition to the verbal feedback they follow the Optimal Learning Model of “I do, we do, we do, you do” by modeling the move, then physically moving their body to practice it and then watching it as they practice the move with a partner while continuing to provide feedback.

While at tournaments I have been saddened to see how some coaches/parents respond to their wrestlers in a way that is certainly not helpful feedback.  I’ve heard comments such as, “You should have done better than that!” “I can’t believe you didn’t cradle him!” or “You let him pin you!”  I have also seen some of these wrestlers a few times now at different tournaments and see the difference in their progress compared to others.  Those that are given positive, encouraging feedback with specific ways to improve seem to improve each time and enjoy the sport whether they win or lose.  Others that have been given hard feedback only seem happy when they win and are practically devastated when they lose.  I can only predict that they won’t make it long in the sport.

I can’t help, but make this wrestling connection to what I have learned from the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and the idea of having a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.  I am also currently reading Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. Johnston talks about “yet” as a key word to help keep children from having a fixed mindset, that we want them to say, “I’m not good at this yet” and take steps to help them change that.  As I think about giving feedback in the school setting and as a parent, one quote from Johnston that sticks with me the most is:

“How we give children feedback is probably the most difficult for us to change, but it is probably the point of most leverage.”

 

 

Innovative Teaching Ideas Using Glogster

We are fortunate in our district to have an XPD program: a variety of scheduled Extra Professional Development opportunities taught by staff throughout the district that staff members can choose to attend what they would like to learn more about.  This week I attended a session by one of our great teachers on how to use Glogster.  I’ve seen students using Glogster before and have witnessed how much fun they have in creating an online poster of whatever topic they were researching, but I learned many other ways Glogster can be used as well.  The only downside of Glogster is that it doesn’t work well on the iPads.  Glogster if you’re reading this…please change that!

As I read 40 + Ways to Innovate Teaching Using GlogsterEDU I discovered many ideas.  I decided to create a Glog that can be used as a flipped approach when I lead an XPD on Twitter later this year and created one for Twitter Chats:

You’ll see within my Glog that there are resources to click on to learn more about Twitter chats. Teachers could do the same for a topic students are learning about. After reading the list of 40+ideas I am always thinking of ways I could utilize this tool on our school website to share information with parents in a much more engaging way than the monthly newsletter that goes home and straight into the garbage can.

Are you using Glogster? I’d love to know how, whether you’re a teacher or an administrator. Please share in the comments.

Book Review: Teaching with Tablets

In addition to the many great books that ASCD publishes, they have now started coming out with ASCD Arias Publications ; shorter books in print or ebook. The value of the aria is that they are each short enough to read in one sitting, yet filled with great information on the topic you want to know more about.

teaching with tabletsI recently read Teaching with Tablets: How do I integrate tablets with effective instruction? by Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher, and Alex Gonzalez. In each chapter, beginning with A Transformation in Education, the authors paint a visual picture for you of what happens in a classroom with tablets. They mention the apps that are used for various purposes to give educators ideas of ways to integrate tablets into learning.  This book is not a how-to; once you read an idea that you want to try out in your classroom you will have to turn to google or youtube to find out how to use the app.

The authors point out that it can be easy for educators to get too excited by all that the tablets can do and surrender their own knowledge of sound teaching and learning practices to the tablet.  They shared the story of one teacher that realized her tablet-using students were basically completing battery-operated worksheets and not collaborating with each other.  The authors emphasize that this is what can happen if you are not mindful of the teaching part of teaching with tablets.  If battery-operated worksheets are a concern for you, then the aria book Teaching with Tablets is a must read!

Using Educreations for Screencasting

I’ve previously written about using the Educreations app in the classroom, but now the app got even better! I’d like to say to say that I had a part in it, but it’s only because I tweeted to @Educreations about a feature that I hoped would improve and they responded quickly that the change update would come soon (wish I saved that tweet for this post!)

Previously if you made a mistake in recording your voice, if you needed to start over, it also meant your screen would start over.  The update now allows you to clear the screen or clear the audio recording which makes the process easier if you make any mistakes.

In effort to keep supporting my teachers with our 1:1 iPad implementation, I’ve added an “iPad Tip of the Week” to my Friday Focus post for staff.  So far, I’m just starting out with very basic tips. Last week was how to add bookmarks to your homescreen and how to create folders. This week I wanted to share how to change the default email signature so it no longer says “sent from my iPad.” To also show my use of the iPad, I used Educreations to create a quick screencast to show teachers how to change their email signature and to show that I am also using an app that they can use with their students. The beauty of this? It took me less than 5 minutes to create! Thank you Educreations!