Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, & John Hattie: The Distance Learning Playbook

by Fran McVeigh

On Thursday, September 24, 2020, #G2Great welcomed authors Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey to chat about their current book (which is one of the titles in this series, Link). The Wakelet from the chat is available for your perusal here.

Doug and Nancy are not new to #g2great. Previous chats include: This is Balanced Literacy, December 12, 2019; and All Learning is Social and Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond, August 29, 2019.

This review of their book by Jackie Acree Walsh said so much that I actually thought my work was done as far as this blog post.

Echoing through the pages of this timely book is the message: Effective teaching is effective teaching, no matter where it occurs. Teacher voices and classroom examples animate core principles of research-based teaching and learning, enabling the reader to visualize practices in both face-to-face and online learning environments. Multiple self-assessments and templates for reflection support reader interaction with the content. The authors connect Visible Learning and informed teacher decision-making to all facets of effective lesson design and delivery, and address the important issues of equity and inclusiveness; learner self-regulation and driving of their own learning; and use of formative evaluation and feedback to move learning forward. A must-read book!
Jackie Acree Walsh, Book Flyer Link (Corwin site)

What a great book that builds on our existing knowledge and pedagogy as well as our values and best intentions! But never let it be said that I didn’t share my own ideas and thinking! Let’s get started with Doug and Nancy’s thoughts about a message from the heart!

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Taking care of oneself is essential. Teachers are so giving, sometimes to the point where they sacrifice their own physical and mental well being for the sake of the students and communities they serve. Self-care isn’t selfish. It gives you the emotional muscles needed to serve others effectively.

So what does self-care entail? What do teachers and school staff need to be thinking about? Module 1 in The Distance Learning Playbook addresses this topic. Individual teachers and teams can work through this module to consider actions that will engage and impact students. An excerpt is available from Corwin at (Link) to explore a work / life balance.

One example: If you are considering a “standing desk” to avoid sitting all day every day, think about how you could “try this out” without spending money on a new desk.

HOW? Try a paper box . . . those sturdy boxes that reams of copy paper come in. Do you have one on hand? Or a crate? Set your computer on that box or crate to “raise” the eye level camera for distance learning. Find materials in your home that could be used to raise the work level of your desk in order to create your own DIY standing desk with $0 cost. WIN/WIN!

Do you want to increase the likelihood that you will carry through with actions to increase engagement and impact? Find a commitment partner and agree on what and when you need assistance from your partner in order to be successful.

All of this is possible because Doug and Nancy are quite specific about their success criteria and share those criteria as well as ways to think about rating the criteria and determining the importance of each factor. Link to an example.

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

The big takeaway is that we realized that as a field we know a lot about teaching and learning, and we didn’t forget it when we needed to engage in distance learning. We hope teachers will regain their confidence as they link what they know to new implementation practices.

This book is titled: The Distance Learning Playbook with a subtitle “Teaching for Engagement and Impact in Any Setting.” That “any setting” means that the basic principles apply across all settings. Yes, distance learning may be one setting but it does not wipe out all other teacher knowledge around pedagogy and curriculum. We don’t reset at zero when the delivery models change; instead, we sort and sift to ensure that we are choosing the BEST strategies and tools for engaging and impacting learning. This information is included in Module 9: “Learning, Distance or Otherwise”.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

Like educators everywhere, we had to rapidly shift to remote learning this spring. But going forward, we knew that we couldn’t remain in a state of crisis teaching. John Hattie’s Visible Learning scholarship has transformed education worldwide. Dozens of educators opened their virtual classrooms to us to create a new visual lexicon for how those evidenced practices are enacted in distance learning. Weaving the two together has transformed the conversation. We hope that it sparks action about how schooling in any setting can be better than ever.  

“Action about how schooling in any setting can be better than ever” is the goal. Time, learning opportunities and resources like this text have provided examples of increased learning for students. With a “can do” growth mindset and a toolbelt of best ideas and resources, we can and MUST improve learning. And as a part of self-care and informed, reflective decision-making, our days do not have to be filled with doom and drudgery. We can and MUST build in time for laughter and relationships with our students, parents and communities in order to sustain our lives in these challenging times. Additional ideas on this line can be found in “Module 3: Teacher—Student Relationships From a Distance.”

How are you handling your self-care needs?

What impact are you designing in your lesson planning?

Additional resources: The Distance Learning Playbook – Corwin link Free resources – Corwin link Introduction to Visible Learning – Corwin link 3 part Webinar – Teaching Channel and Distance Learning Playbook registration – link Free Webinar: Going Deeper With Distance Learning, Tuesday Sept 29 @ 12pm PDT/ 3pm EDT – Registration on Corwin site

#G2Great From Pencils to Podcasts Digital Tools for Transforming K-6 Literacy Practices

By Jenn Hayhurst

On August 3, 2017, authors Katie Stover-Kelly and Lindsay Yearta joined #G2Great to extend a conversation that began with their book, From Pencils to Podcasts Digital Tools for Transforming K-6 Literacy Practices. Providing an education in the  21st Century means that whatever our role: teachers, administrators, professional developers, or college professors we need to be open to seeking out ways to intentionally integrate technology with learning.

This post is dedicated to the vibrant #G2Great Professional Learning Network, (PLN) because we are a community of educators who are unafraid to try new things, to learn, to mix it up and push ourselves forward in the name of our students. In that spirit, this post is beginning where our chat ended with our future technology goals. To boldly step out of our comfort zones and meet learning at the cutting edge of the 21st Century.  

Our last question initiated BIG GOALS for future learning…

BIG GOAL #1 Try Global Read Aloud:

Global Read Aloud is an opportunity to connect and learn around story with a digital backdrop. According to Katie and Lindsay, “In this age of digital tools and multiliteracies, there are increasing demands of students to collaborate in order to consume and produce multimodal texts in online spaces.

If you are interested in learning more about Global Read Aloud: “The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be. Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible. The scope and depth of the project is up to you. While there are official tools you can use such as Skype, Twitter, Write About or Edmodo, you choose the tools that will make the most sense for you. Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year. “ –  Pernille Ripp

BIG GOAL #2 Increase Learning on Twitter (Tweetdeck):

Twitter provides a unique social learning environment, It gives a space for intellectual engagement through live interactions with others. Katie and Lindsay underscore the importance of Twitter in their book, “Twitter provides students with a digital space to connect with other readers and authors to share and discuss books.”   However, due to its organization and fast pace, Twitter can be daunting. There is a solution. Tweetdeck is a web-based tool that helps users to organize their Tweets into more manageable columns. It offers many useful features such as enabling users to “pre-tweet” or schedule tweets ahead of time. This is especially useful when planning and facilitating Twitter chats.To learn more, watch this video.

Big Goal #3 Collect Formative Data technology:

Understanding why a goal is important is essential, answering what you will do to accomplish the goal ties it to an action. This article offers 15 dynamic ways to make reflection a habit of mind in the classroom. In their book, Katie and Lindsay remind us that, “In the 21st Century, information is updated and readily available in real time.” Collaboration, and reflection begin with us. Teachers who lead by example, are the ones who will give students experiences that will help them grow to meet their potential.

Big Goal #4 Skype Visits (Kate Messenger’s blog):

If you visit Kate Messenger’s blog, you will see that she has created a platform to connect readers and authors through FREE Skype visits. Technology offers virtually limitless opportunities to provide access that would otherwise had been impossible. All we have to do is step out and take a risk and try. In Katie and Lindsay’s words “It is through the struggle that we learn. Additionally, the struggle provides you with thoughts and ideas to share with your students…”

Big Goal #5 Integrate Flipgrid:

Flipgrid allows teachers to create video discussion platforms. There are so many creative ways to incorporate this technology tool that are too numerous for this blog post! The important thing about Flipgrid is that it is a tool that amplifies student voice from pre-K to college aged students and beyond. It’s ok to start small with this technology, but the important thing is just to start. We need to start because we are  educators, “As teachers we have the responsibility to equip our students with the tools that they need to fully participate in our interconnected, global society.”  – Stover & Yearta

Thank you for writing this book Katie and Lindsay. It is an incredible resource that teachers need to have in their hands so they can put your ideas to work in their classrooms. I especially love that at the close of your book you extend an invitation to keep the conversation going through Twitter. That’s just what you did, and now we have even more resources and ideas to explore. That is is what learning is all about, and we are educators who fully embrace a learning lifestyle. We are flexible thinkers who are  fueled by a collaborative spirit ready to take the next step forward together.

LInks to share…

From Pencils to Podcasts by Katie Stover Kelly and Lindsay Yearta

Review by Troy Hicks