Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? #cyberPD Part 3

Our Event
I'm honored to be hosting today's installment of #cyberPD around Alan November's Who Owns the Learning? Our first week was held over at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect and Refine, followed by week two at Jill Fisch's blog, My Primary Passion. Please be sure to leave a comment below with the link to your post. You can also tweet it out using our #cyberPD hashtag. I'll be spending some time listing everyone's links within my post later today!

My Thoughts
After reading one of Tony Keefer's recent posts (Thinking About Roads and #allwrite13,) I'm still mulling over his very important reminder about slowing down and revisiting ideas from the past. Tony says, "Eventually we will get where we are going, but we also backtrack several times along the way." While I absolutely do intend to continue to move forward, learn new things, and try out some of what Alan suggests, I want to make sure I stay true to my beliefs in all of it. If we are simply adding technology to say we have added technology, we've really missed the eye of the education reform hurricane. This book has really helped me ponder where I need to go while holding on to what I believe to be true about teaching and learning. Thanks for the reminder, Tony!

That being said, I know I still have so much to learn, but when I was reading chapter 5, I had to stop for a minute and think about what I've already been able to do with my first graders. We had our own individual blogsa class blog, and a Twitter handle - and all of these helped us make connections with other first grade classes from the US, Canada, and New Zealand. I wrote more about what we were able to accomplish on this post from my old blogging space. Moving forward, I know this will form a great base for the work I plan to do with my future 4th grade learners.

I read and reread the story Alan shared on page 71. Hearing this young lady's story made me consider the importance of authentic work. I love how she responded with, "Every day, I have to decide if I will write for my teachers or publish to the world." Such powerful thoughts! Later, on pages 82-84, Alan had me thinking more about the grading and homework debates. I wonder how I will go about giving grades in 4th grade. If we want students to do the work because it truly matters, how does that tie in to the traditional grading system?

My "homework policy" has changed so much in recent years. My expectation was nightly reading, with a few nights of word practice and the "required" math pages. Very low-key. More often than not, I also received compliments and thank-yous for my stance on homework. And more often than not, my kids were inspired to read more than expected and write on their blogs from home. Because it mattered to them. I have to believe I'll want to take the same approach with my 4th graders.

When Alan talked about respecting others' perspectives, I couldn't help but break it down to a very primary (but important) debate right here in the Chicagoland area. Even my first graders have an opinion and get into heated debates about who is right. While it's not a truly "global" issue, they are all well-versed and can defend their position when we ask... Cubs or White Sox? :) It's ok. You can giggle. But it's true! We always had fun sharing which team was our favorite and why. We also learned to respect Karen Lirenman's hockey perspective as they were Canuck fans while we all cheered on our Blackhawks. Using examples like this one helps young learners understand varying perspectives on a very basic level.

I guess you know where I stand. :)
Me and my all-time favorite Cub, Rick Sutcliffe.
Alan talked a lot about using Skype as a means of connecting students with other classes and people from around the world. I think the possibilities are truly endless with video chats and am super excited to be able to have better access to it next year.

Next Steps
We'll be announcing our final (live) Twitter wrap-up chat. Details will be shared soon!

This Week's Reflections

Erika Victor shares her international school perspective from sunny Berlin. She is looking to connect her students more this year as she writes in her post #Cyber PD Part 3 - Who Owns the Learning?

Mary Lee Hahn teaches us more about the importance of leaving a legacy while she also shares some honest feedback about how she plans to proceed in her post #CyberPD -- Who Owns the Learning? Ch 5-end.

Maria Caplin's honesty about her struggles with technology and her excitement about starting a class blog are woven into her post Who Owns the Learning? Ch. 5-6 #CyberPD.

Linda Baie investigated and created some new search engines to go along with her reflections in the post #CyberPD - WOW!

Suz reminds us of the importance of the collaborative power of learning and seeking out other viewpoints, even in places like Twitter. You can read more on her post Valuing Perspectives & Opening Networks.

As she shares her thoughts on this week's reading, Julie Balen invites us to try out collaborative content by joining in on her Popcorn Maker tool. Check it out in her post #Cyberpd 2013 ~ Collaboration for learning.

While sharing her take-aways and unanswered questions from the book, Pat Johnson also reminds us of the importance of those face-to-face conversations in her post Final Thoughts on Who Owns the Learning.

Read Tony Keefer's post #cyberPD (Who Owns the Learning (part 3) to find out about what he plans to do now that he has finished reading this book.

Cathy Mere reflects on what her students have already accomplished as digital learners and what she plans to do to help further their global connections in her post "WE" Own the Learning: #cyberPD.

Jamie Riley shares her perspective from the library media center and offers some additional resources to us in her post #cyberPD - Who Owns the Learning Ch 5-6.

You'll want to stop by Michelle Nero's blog to read her thoughts about starting small, remembering to ask questions, and a great description of our book chat! Check it out here in her post #cyberPD part 3: Who Owns the Learning? 

Katherine Sokolowski shares her plan of action for the upcoming year and her goal of balancing her classes more in her post Who Owns the Learning? - #cyberPD part 3.

Barb Keister is back from the beach and weaves together thoughts on empathy, Common Core, and more in her post #cyberPD week 3 - Who Owns the Learning by Alan November.

We are reminded to slow down and breathe as we join Jill Fisch, talking to us about her feelings of being overwhelmed. Find out how she helps herself get through these times in her post I Did It Again.

Barbara Phillips transforms her take-aways into a two-step plan of action for the next school year in her post Who Owns the Learning? #CyberPD - Part 3

Amy Rudd ponders the path she will choose as she moves forward from our book chat and shares the connections she has made in her post At the Fork on the Trail - CyberPD #3.

We get to enjoy a moment with Rose Cappelli as she connects new learning to what she already knows in her post An 'Aha' Moment.


  1. It has been so great to learn with all of the people participating in this!
    I think you are right on target when you say that it is in the many small conversations we have about respecting different perspectives that this gets strengthened. It is important for students to see that we do not need to always agree, but that we can respect differing opinions, especially when they are shared within an existing relationship.
    Here are my thoughts for this section:

    Thanks for facilitating this!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Erika! Those small conversations really do lead us to bigger discussions.

  2. Laura,
    I so agree with what you (and Tony) have reminded us about slowing down and backtracking. And I highlighted the exact same quote from p. 71! I want the work students do outside the classroom to MATTER to them!

    My post is here:

    This has been a FABULOUS #CyberPD that has pushed my thinking in so many ways! Thank you Thank you Thank you (one for each of the organizers) for leading us again this year!

    1. Thanks, Mary Lee! I'm excited to continue this conversation with you throughout the year!

  3. Laura, As I read your thoughts, I agree with slowing down and going back to reflect on what was working. Sometimes I feel like I am moving just as quickly in the summer because I want to learn so much for the upcoming school year. Thank you for organizing this amazing #CyberPD along with Cathy and Jill. Here are my final thoughts

    1. Yes!! I also feel like I am trying to cram so much into my summer learning to get ready for the new year!

  4. Taking a step at a time is a good idea, Laura, but you did quite a bit with your first graders so I imagine you will begin with doing some of those things with 4th graders too. I like hearing you talk from a primary perspective. While I know more each year, my natural way of thinking is from the perspective of middle school students. Thanks for hosting today-I loved the book's ideas!

    1. Thanks, Linda! It's really helping me to hear different people's perspectives during our book study.

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  6. Laura,

    I too was drawn to the student's thoughts on writing for a real audience. Such a strong reminder that many students view school as an interruption to their real life. Here's my thoughts:

  7. Laura much of what your write about makes me think once again about helping our students avoid the game of learning. Connecting what matters to students outside of school to what happens inside of school, expanding perspectives, and providing opportunities do engage in those things that matter most to our students is our work. On page 70, Judy Reppert reflects on how significant the Skyping interview experience was for all of the students and that it created a desire in her "to create more such experiences for the students and let them take ownership of what they were learning." This is the work then, to create more experiences, and it represents a shift in the way we prepare and plan our lessons. Such a challenge!!

    Thanks for hosting. Here is my post:

  8. Thanks for your thoughts on homework and grading. Makes us all think! Can’t wait to hear what goes on in your fourth grade room this year. Here is my post at

  9. Laura,
    Here's my link
    I'll be back later to comment on your post.

  10. Laura,
    Thank you so much for going down this crazy road yet again and hosting today's event. I will get all new posts connected to the Jog tomorrow sometime.

    Like you, I am considering this global piece. I've loved the changes in our learning community, but think I need to be better about this next step. One of the things I've been pondering is our blogs. I've kept our blogs locked down as it seems easier to quell concerns, but I'm very careful to teach students about safety. I can't help but wonder how they'd feel if they got a comment from another state, another country, or an author. I may need to rethink this.

    I think we'll have better access to Twitter next year so I'm hoping it will be easier to connect globally.

    Also, loved the piece you pulled out from the girl who questioned how she should use time for herself or her teacher. It's so important to know our students and their interests.

    This group has been amazing this year! Wow! A week between hasn't been enough time to digest it all. I've got lots more to think about.


    1. Oops! My link:

  11. Hi Laura,
    I, too, was thinking about how to balance authentic learning and a traditional grading system. I don't know that there are easy answers to this, but after reading this book I think just to continue to be more aware of the balance is a good start. Here is the link to my blog post:
    Thanks so much for hosting and sharing your thinking!
    Jamie @jamieleighriley

  12. Hi Laura,

    Here are my thoughts for this week -- less wordy too! =):

    Still need more time to ponder, read other posts, and reflect on how I can incorporate November's ideas in my classroom. Thanks for hosting and will return throughout the week!


  13. Hi Laura!
    Love the thoughts flowing from this group. My final post is here:

  14. Laura,
    Amen to the low-key homework! I bet your families do appreciate that. My kids are on their own now, but family time is so crunched. I think we need to take a hard look at what we're asking kids and adults to do outside of the school day.

    I love that you found other first grade classrooms around the country and world through Twitter. What is the best way to do that? I use Twitter so much for my own learning - it would be great to start using it in the classroom this year. Any advice you have would be much appreciated!

    And last, I agree with your thoughts about not just using technology for technology sake. We do need to stay true to what we know about best practice and remember that technology is a tool. That will be baby steps for me!

    It's been a busy day, but I had a wonderful afternoon with my daughter, Kathryn who recently graduated from Ohio State. But here's my blog post for the end of the book:

    Thanks for facilitating the conversation today! (And best wishes for a great start in 4th grade - you will be amazing! Lucky kids!)


  15. Hi Laura-
    Thank you for hosting this week. Here is the link to my final post. I'm looking forward to sitting down and sharing in everyone's thinking!

  16. Hi Laura,
    Here is the link to my post for Round 3!
    I am going to read through your post and will comment on it...

  17. Laura,

    It looks like you and I were thinking a little bit along the same lines. Although, while I tend to spiral quickly out of control, you seem to know when to take a step back and slow down. I truly do believe that we all have wonderful ideas that are ready to implement and try but we will do our students a huge disservice if we go off spinning wildly with new ideas. We do need to circle back and remember the things we know and do that are good for students. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for being a great co-host.


  18. Laura,
    Thanks for hosting the third round this week...I appreciate how much effort you all put in to linking the blogs in a thoughtful way each week.
    I agree with the baby steps approach and connected with the idea of realizing what you've already been able to accomplish with your Firsties. I think I need to reflect on that as well...
    The quotes you shared were key points-I reviewed the book and I highlighted the quote about the student writing for the global audience as well...
    Looking forward to hearing how all of this wraps for our group and seeing how your year progresses with your fourth graders!
    Thanks again for all you've done to organize this learning bonanza! It's been such a rich opportunity!

  19. Thank you for hosting #cyberPD this week, Laura.

    I agree with your thoughts about slowing down. I've spent time this week reflecting on what I can realistically implement in my classroom without overwhelming myself. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and stick with what we know works. Your statement, "this book has really helped me ponder where I need to go while holding on to what I believe to be true about teaching and learning" can be used to refer to many things going on in education right now.


    Here is my reflection

  20. Laura,

    1) Holy Rick Sutcliffe! I am not a Cubs fan but meeting an all time favorite baseball player would be awesome. I'd probably go with Lou Whitaker since I am a Tigers guy, but I am not predicting that will happen.

    2) Really weird and humbling to be reading my writing on this blog. Though I am thankful that my rambling struck a chord with at least one reader.

    3) Thanks for sharing your thinking today. I enjoy reading your stories of how your first graders react to things and I imagine it will be the same once you start sharing what your fourth graders are doing. As a fellow fourth grade teacher who assigned very little homework, keep up that idea. I have found that students actually read much more at home when they have less busy work to do. And that is a great thing.