Summer PD – #CyberPD – Digital Reading, What’s Essential in Grades 3 – 8

I’m on vacation mode right now, and I don’t just mean that I’m on vacation since that’s the case for those of us who happen to be classroom teachers. What I mean is that, at the moment, I am blogging from the comfort of my oldest daughter’s apartment in the heart of Manhattan, near Times Square. I grew up in NY and during the ’70’s and ’80’s you just didn’t go anywhere near Times Square at any time of the day or night. The fact that this is no longer true still astounds me to this day. So, even though many of us are enjoying the summer break from school we aren’t necessarily just lounging around doing nothing even as we travel to faraway destinations. In fact, many of us are participating in a variety of online #summerPD events. See the images below for a smattering of the PD that I am involved in this summer.

But back to #CyberPD and summer vacation…The fact that I am not at home makes it a bit hard to concentrate on all of the summer virtual professional experiences I’ve signed up for. Let’s face it: NY is a major distraction and family time is a priority. However, I am getting up early to take advantage of some alone time to catch up on reading and writing. I aim to reap the benefits of so many wonderful summer learning opportunities!

Today I am writing about the first two chapters of Digital Reading, What’s Essential in Grades 3 – 8 by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson. I attended a session that Franki and William Bass did at the NCTE annual conference in 2014. It was super exciting because it was a precursor to their book and I am not disappointed by the final result! I had a lot of aha and yes moments while reading chapters 1 & 2. I look forward to continuing to read this book and to learn with and from other participants this month.

Unfortunately, I finished reading the first two chapters a couple of days ago and none of my comments and highlighted sections were saved on the PDF version of this book. Aaargh! Nevertheless, here is a list of my biggest takeaways so far from memory.

  • Reading on a digital device requires similar strategies and skills as any other kind of reading.
  • Reading on a digital device requires new ways of approaching reading instruction.
  • We want students to be strategic and intentional when reading on digital devices as we do when reading print books.
  • We need to observe our students carefully in order to understand how they are approaching digital reading in order to provide instruction that is timely and appropriate.
  • Digital reading offers many more distractions than does reading print books. Therefore, we need to teach students how to navigate the world of digital reading so that they use and benefit from digital links and similar connections.
  • Reading must be authentic (meaningful and relevant), intentional (readers make careful and intentional choices as they read) and connected (reader connections). This is true for any kind of reading that kids do.
Happy reading!

The Writerly Ladies



Two friends and I have started a writing group. Yes! A writing group!

I am thrilled and scared to death at the same time. I’m afraid of exposing myself through my writing, and I’m afraid of revealing myself as a bad writer.

I have stepped outside my comfort zone. There’s no going back.

It’s one thing to write something that I don’t like and that no one else sees, and quite another to write something others will read and critique. I risk blowing my self-image as a knowledgeable writer and teacher of writing.

Nevertheless, there’s nowhere else to go but forward.

I don’t think anyone who writes will disagree that sharing writing is scary. So, instead of making my writing public, I read about writing. Although this is important, the act of writing and sharing that writing is infinitely more important. And, in order to do this I need to establish a daily writing routine.

Now that I’ve come clean and made my fear public, I can own it, confront it, and let it go.

I initiated this writing group to become a better writer. From all the reading I’ve done (it hasn’t been wasted), I know the most effective way to do this is to write every day and take risks by sharing my writing with others. But I get caught up in my fears and stop short by only doing writing exercises even though I know this is not enough. Or, I end up doing a lot of freewriting that goes nowhere.

I know I need to work hard at writing if I’m going to get better. (Isn’t this what I tell my students?) I know that I need to write a lot of bad stuff in order to get to something worthwhile. (My students have heard me say this a dozen times.) So, I’m hoping that this writing group will lift me up and help me soar.

I will be blogging about this journey from time to time. I hope you’ll join me.

And, you can read the blogs of my writing group partners here and here.