Celebrate: Time for Summer Learning

One of the benefits of being a teacher is summertime learning.

This week I celebrate this annual indulgence. Find more celebrations here. Thank you, Ruth, for this weekly opportunity to reflect joyfully.

celebrate link up

First I want to celebrate my blog makeover. When I started blogging, I had no clue. I looked at themes and chose the one with the plainest possible appearance. I wanted to be low key, unnoticed, invisible.  And that was a good place for my insecure self. Now my blog has become a safer place. A notebook of sorts. Friends stop by. I have some extra time, why not remodel.

I played around with some color. For a few minutes, my blog had a bright yellow background. Then green, blue and finally this lovely share of grey-green. Ok, I’m still the gal that wears no makeup, low key. But, the picture at the top can be changed. Allows for a little wild and crazy.

My second celebration is writing about reading A Handful of Stars with my virtual colleagues. The writing has accelerated my thinking and meaning making around this book in ways I didn’t expect. The simple post-it or jot in the journal has exploded on collaborative Google docs. Each participant has offered their thoughts, each reader adding into the discussion and the thinking.  Throughout this, I wonder, how to bring this collective, complex, and engaging thinking about reading to students. Working on that one.

Next I want to celebrate the virtual summer camp program sponsored by the National Writing Project, CLMOOC It’s outside-the-box thinking about teaching and writing: fun and a little scary. I’ve attempted one and done a lot of “stalking” or should I say analyzing mentor text to figure out what might work for me. Yesterday, I saw Margaret Simon’s offering for week #3. It is a simple but beautiful word play game using game cards from Apples to Apples. It accommodates players abilities by allowing them to create sentences or poetry.

Taking cues from Margaret’s example and my virtual book club experience, I came up with this game, Capture the Quote.  In our club work, many found that lifting lines from the text and writing about them was a powerful way to grow thinking. This game attempts to help students explore lines in books as we did.  Students could use this as a game during a club meeting, small group work, to begin, end, or in the middle of reading workshop. The “value” of a quote could then be debated. Some lines, by virtue of the random choice, will be less powerful than others. That’s a lesson in itself. It seems to work for A Handful of Stars. In the spirit of game design, test it out on something you’re reading. Does it work for you?

Finally, I celebrate the power of my future students’ writing notebooks. My incoming fifth graders left their old notebooks with me for the summer. I thought, in my teacher mind, I could find teaching points, group them, put them on a continuum of learning.

But I found more. In every notebook, I see their school persona but also a bit of who they are. What they want and dream. What worries them. What matters. Alongside the lessons of how to find a small moment, write a compound sentence, and stretch your thinking are words filled with the passion and humor of being nine. Those lovely gems shine through and say this is me!

I wonder what people think when they look at me. They don’t know what I’m really like.

I snuck in the kitchen, late at night when everyone was asleep, I ate ice cream, it was delicious.

My brother was the golden boy, he was Mr. Little Prince until the dentist.

Pink is the best. Sometimes soccer teams wear pink…on their shoes like my dad.

I wish people called me the best basketball player ever, the smartest person ever

I got in trouble–accidentally

People who don’t like sports just haven’t learned how to play, yet. I was like that.

Reading student writing always makes me laugh and fall in love just a little bit.

Taking the time to read their writing makes my virtual and often theoretical summer learning more concrete. Real. A notebook or two a day keeps me in touch. Grounded.

Every day my learning expands. And I’m so grateful for it.

Then I read a notebook or two. And try to process that learning through the lens of a soccer player, a little brother, a Minecraft expert, a passionate reader, a comic book writer, a believer in the power of all kinds of sports, a big sister, a video gamer, a cat lover.

This week I celebrate the joy of time that lets me read, think, learn and grow alongside published children’s authors’, trade book writers’, my colleagues’ and students’ words.

10 thoughts on “Celebrate: Time for Summer Learning

  1. Thanks for the shout out about my #clmooc game. I had to go with something I knew. Sometimes I run into getting intimidating and not doing anything. But I jumped in with what I thought was so simple and have inspired a few people. That feels great! I must say!

    The reading collaboration has been so powerful. I want to reflect on it more for DigiLit Sunday and hope you will do the same. There is so much good collaboration and thinking and thinking about thinking! Intimidation threatens, but I will fight it!

    BTW, I love the new look. It is very YOU!

  2. Love the new look of the blog! Thank you for keeping the calendar and archives. 🙂 How awesome to get a “read” on your future students through their notebooks! Summer is a great time to learn in new ways.

  3. Your blog looks wonderful! I loved reading this post–your writing is so rich and engaging. I finished–and loved–A Handful of Stars but never made it to the Google doc. Internet woes–finally resolved this afternoon, thankfully. Though I didn’t mind the forced detox from Facebook. I love reading student notebooks for the same reason–these little nuggets and moments and noticings that are pure wonder and love.

  4. I so wanted to participate in the Handful of Stars collaboration, but Nerdcamp put me behind and when I returned, my daughter wanted my help in her new classroom. It was kind of hard to turn that down! I do want to go back and read the docs and maybe still participate in the chat. I think I can still learn from all of you in the discussion. Writing about reading was my summer “fix it” goal for this school year. Love the new look! I loved your game but I need to go back and look for Margaret’s. So much to read and do – thank goodness for summertime!

  5. The new blog looks fantastic. Like the colours and the simplicity. So nice to see your celebration of learning. It’s funny how we fill our summers with so much learning but that’s what we do! Wow those notebook entries you shared are so full. What a great first peek at these learners.

  6. I’m always sad when a blog’s face changes. It’s how I remember my friends, but I’ve learned that I can learn a new face because so many have changed recently. How fun to have those notebooks to peruse during the summer! I’m still decluttering my teaching files, but I find it hard to part with the student writing.

  7. It’s great to see all the things you are doing to learn this summer. Margaret’s game is fun, & when I get out my book in a while, I’ll come back to try out yours, Julianne. It’s a wonderful idea to have those notebooks all summer!

  8. Julieanne,
    It is always a celebration when the spaces we live in reflect the people we are. I loved your reflection about your design choices. Those notebook quotes are pure gold! I love them and it makes me wish I could meet your future class. There are some who clearly know what notebook writing is all about. Thanks for celebrating!
    Shine on,

  9. Wow – the new look is lovely and fresh. Thanks for all you’ve done to make the virtual book club take place – what with the move and not having internet for a while, I haven’t participated as much as I had intended to…but catching up in time for Tuesday’s Twitter chat.

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