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When I look back at the last 10 years of my career, there have been certain experiences that have been pivotal to me growing both professionally and personally. The first was when I participated in the summer institute with the Columbus Area Writing Project. I joined CAWP because I saw teaching writing as my weakest area. I wanted to get better. Two things happened. First, I began to see myself as a writer and gained the courage to share that writing publicly. Secondly, and more importantly, I began to write with my students and build a writing community where we were all writers and learners together. A subtle, but significant shift occurred in my writing workshop.
Next came the opportunity to work with Troy Hicks (again through CAWP). Troy's first book, The Digital Writing Workshop led me to giving myself permission to explore, make mistakes and take risks with digital tools. Before that, I saw myself as being digitally inadequate and was afraid to try anything on my own. The summer work I did with Troy around digital literacy helped me learn how to weave digital tools seamlessly into the reading and writing workshop. Technology became less and less an event in my classroom, and instead, just another tool to use to make meaning. Again, there was a subtle, but significant shift.
Last summer brought another opportunity for me to grow. I happened upon CLMOOC by chance and I'm so glad I did. CLMOOC "is a collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning." (taken from their website) It was here that I gained even more courage and tried new things. The Connected Learning community is very supportive and encourages members to take a risk. Because it's a collaboration, members are invited to participate as they can in a safe environment where all efforts are celebrated. I began to develop a "maker mindset" where I no longer shied away from new challenges. I'm comfortable not knowing how something will turn out and am willing to say, "I don't know. Let's try it and see what happens." I invite you to explore and consider joining this great summer learning experience.
Margaret Simon has issued a DigiLit Sunday challenge for the next 4 Sundays. This week's challenge is to turn an image of nature into a piece of art. This is right up my alley. I've decided that I am going to explore a variety of digital tools and think about their application in the classroom. My job will be changing just a bit as I teach 5th grade Language Arts half time and coach the other half. I'm so excited to get back with kids and get back into developing a reading and writing digital workshop.