Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Professional Learning

I’ve been getting requests from teachers at my school for summer professional reading suggestions. We have multiple copies of classic books on various topics such as guided reading, conferencing, problem solving in math, response to intervention, even books on leadership in our professional library. Teachers are welcome to check them out over the summer! Can’t beat free, right?

This year, however, I am suggesting varied options beyond the traditional text. All of them are free. All of them are on current topics. All of them can be used to grow professionally. Almost all of them are blogs! I start them off with one of my favorite authors, Sharon Taberski, and link them up to her blog All About Comprehension. Next in line, another favorite standby is the Fountas and Pinnell Blog. Both of these blogs will give teachers new thinking and information from familiar resources.

Adding onto published authors I also suggest some local bloggers, such as Melanie Holtsman and Suzanne Shall. Sometimes we overlook the good things going on in our own back yard. These teachers are living with the same learning schedule and testing requirements. Reading their thoughts and ideas can help us grow and share new ideas in return. Additionally, I look to see who they are reading, and add those blogs to my Google reader.

But what if you like your summer reading in video form? Then I suggest you need to check out the Teaching Channel. These short videos give one a glimpse into another classroom. I love that the have connections to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Speaking of new standards, the Common Core State Standards will be rolled out in Kindergarten in the fall of 2011, followed quickly by 1st and 2nd grades in 2012. They will be implemented in 3rd, 4th, and 5th in 2013. This summer would be an excellent time to read up on the Common Core Standards, paying attention to the vertical growth over time as well as the standards for your grade level.  The Appendixes are filled with additional information, including examples of student work that addresses the age old question “How good is good enough?”

If you like your summer professional learning more interactive then I suggest you sign up for one, or more, of the many free webinars being offered. You can find them listed on sites such as ASCD and Edutopia. I have already signed up for one about using the iPad in the classroom!

Summer is a perfect time to reflect and rejuvenate. Each year seems to bring more demands on the classroom teacher and less time during the school year to think deeply about our own professional learning. Give yourself the gift of time this summer to learn something new. Your students will benefit greatly come next year!

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