Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crowdsourcing Book Recommendations #CEL15 #NCTE15

I am continuing to decompress from attending the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Conference on English Leadership (CEL) events in Minneapolis, Minnesota where sessions, keynotes, and roundtables were brimming with resources and book recommendations.  Throughout Penny Kittle's book-loving CEL closing keynote, I live-tweeted many of her recommendations, but I know I was not able to tweet out them all.

Penny Kittle (as well as Jeff Wilhelm, Carol Jago, and all of the keynote speakers) are so inspiring (what an understatement!), and after 6 days of the NCTE and CEL conferences, I am struggling to retain all of what I learned. While I know I can go to Goodreads or Amazon to find books to read, I get overwhelmed with all of the choices and reviews.  In an effort to simplify the process and capitalize on crowdsourcing, I created a Google Form for Book Recommendations.

If you think a book is worth reading, complete the form.  Quick and simple.  Notice this form does not provide a place for 5-star ratings or reviews. As Penny Kittle pointed out when we recommend a specific book, we are imposing our own thoughts on the person to whom we are making the recommendation.

Transferring this same notion to general book recommendations (not just for students to read books in class), the books recommended via this Google Form will serve as our digital stack. The spreadsheet results can be filtered by fiction or nonfiction, alphabetized by author or title, and we can then venture to Amazon or Goodreads to find more information on the text. The form and spreadsheet are intended to serve as a starting point, a quick list of recommendations.

Even if you did not attend NCTE15 or CEL15, fill out the form!  Thank you!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flipping ELA-- More than Students Reading Books at Home

I had the wonderful privilege to present at the 2015 NJEA Convention in the Flipped Learning Theater with the pioneering Jon Bergmann and the ever-enthusiastic Marc Seigel. I presented two sessions:  Flipping the English Language Arts Classroom and Technology Tools for Flipped Reading.

My slide decks are below. I'm really proud of my visual design for these slides! Slide Carnival has some excellent templates that can be customized. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks within the slides for access to resources. Lots of goodies!

Speaking with Jon Bergmann at the convention for his BAM radio show, "The Flip Side," the question was broached, "Well, isn't English already flipped?  Read at home and come to class ready to apply?"  My answer is a resounding NO! For some students, reading is the difficult task, and I want to be present with my students for the difficult tasks. I can Flip 101 (aka replace live, direct instruction with video or tech tool) many things in the classroom, including reading, but I need to make sure that students are adept at the skills when we are face to face before I send them home with flipped tasks to complete.  The "face-to-face before do at home" time will vary depending on the content.  For some material, I need 5 minutes to make sure students are adept, but for other skills or content, my students may need multiple class periods to demonstrate that they are proficient independent learners.

I am a big fan of the "in-class" flip:  allow students to practice self-pacing and independent learning in class rather than at home.  Remember, the primary premise of Flipped Learning is to make the best use of face-to-face time with your students. So if this means they need guided, independent learning (I know, such an oxymoron) prior to unsupervised, independent learning (I know, redundant), then that is what I will do.  The flip at home will not be successful, and we will lose precious face-to-face time if I don't scaffold the process and gradually release control to the students.

The Flipping ELA Slide Deck features some activities and resources for how to Flip 101 and Mastery Flip an English Class. I've learned so much from my Flipped ELA peeps that I can not take credit for all the things in the slides. While I use what I share on the slides with my students, the original ideas may have come from one of the phenomenal flipping ELA teachers listed towards the end of the slide deck.

The Tech Tools for Flipping Reading will provide some examples of Flip 101 screencasts for modeling close reading, as well as edtech tools such as Booktrack Classroom and Curriculet for flipped reading instruction.  And make sure you listen to the interview with Jon Bergmann because I share how my students practice close reading using Google Docs as we Explore-Flip-Apply author's purpose and literary devices in texts.

Be sure to reply in the Comments to this post with your strategies for flipping your class or any questions you may have about how to flip!