Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I love teaching #9 - Out of My Mind

Honestly, I don't know where it fits in the ranking, but this one is pretty high up there.  A little background is helpful.  My sister +Sharon Buehler is a school librarian in Oregon. She often gives me book recommendations and she knew of my inclusive education practices, so she suggested I read Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper (OOMM). I bought it over a year ago but didn't get around to reading it, so I brought it to school to add to my classroom library.  Last year, one of my most reflective and deep readers asked what she should read, so I suggested OOMM. She came in the following Monday and said, "Oh Mrs. McConnell, you HAVE to read this book, and read it to the class, too!"  I dutifully took it home and added it to my summer reading stack.

Fast forward a bit to this past summer, and I read the book. In a day.  It was, to say the least, compelling. OOMM is an incredible story of inclusion and acceptance told from the eyes of a child.  I knew I would start my year reading it aloud to our kids.  About a week later, I stumbled across a tweet by +Pernille Ripp about something called The Global Read aloud (GRA), which she started a few years back. This year, the one book to connect the world, at least for my grade level, is OOMM! I knew we had to participate.  It is an incredible opportunity to share and discuss this powerful book with a wider group of students. Since I am super lucky to be a part of our 1:1 iPad program, I knew the kids would be able to easily collaborate and communicate with their 'colleagues' in other parts of the world using technologies such as +Edmodo , +Skype, +Kidblog  and even Twitter (with a teacher, of course).

I set about acquiring enough copies of the book for all 35 of our inclusive ed. kids to read. I co-teach +sheila monger who provides services to students with special needs.  Our kids are together every day for at least part of each day.

I ordered 5 copies with a B&N gift card I'd received at the end of the last school year. Then I went to my trusted fundraiser, Adopt-a-Classroom, and raised money to buy more books there. I put the word out via Facebook and my class web page.  One of my friends shipped me 12 books, just because she cares about public education and inclusion.  One of the parents of a student bought her daughter a copy and 2 extra copies for our classroom.  Gratefully, I should have enough books for each child to read their own copy.

Since we are participating in GRA13, I asked my kids not to read the book ahead of time (if they hadn't already) since we'd be making predictions with our global classmates.  Today, the child of the parent who bought the books for us came in and slipped this note on my desk.

 And this, my friends, is on of the many reasons I love teaching.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Notes from Edmodocon 2013

I attended this free PD in a hybrid mode - part online, part live, thanks to an invite from +Jill Florant It was amazing and I learned even more about my BFF  +Edmodo .  I created a storify to gather my thoughts, since most of my notes were on Twitter or in the various Edmodo groups.  Each session had its own group, so that we could back channel and get access to resources from the presenters.  It was a great day and well worth the break from summer vacation/back to school planning!

After I got home, I listened to the last two sessions on my exercise bike, so no notes but there were some great ideas from the presenters. +Anna Davila had some creative ideas for building student leadership capacity including new student groups and student leadership groups on Edmodo, and using +Padlet  embedded into a message, to gather suggestions.  In addition to the earlier discussed Global Read Aloud, there were some other creative ideas for flattening the classroom and finally, Denise Yamashita had inspiring remarks as we closed out the day.