Using the book study to narrow the teacher tech gap.
The teachers at the middle school have just completed Frankie Sibberson’s A Joy of Planning . For the most part, the book was discussed in their PLC meetings, but every second Monday, we met online and had a Twitter chat about a chapter of the book. Despite fluctuating participation, there is definitely a growing interest in online communication and collaboration. As they prepare to read and discuss Book Love by Penny Kittle, there is more talk of the various ways the conversation might happen. We decided to set up a wiki page as the place we can slow the conversation down and really think about our students, their reading lives, and what we need to do help them become life long readers. But we are also going to try using Google Hangouts because teachers from two different buildings are participating in the study and there is no opportunity to chat in person.
The last book study, Inquiry Circles in Action by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, is what I am calling a book study review. Only a few teachers, those who are already dabbling in the inquiry process, are taking on this (in some cases, extra) book study. They are some of the most technologically advanced teachers, so we will try to push the boundaries a bit more than the other groups. So far, we have decided to work on a wiki page and through twitter, but I am encouraging them to consider blogging about the book, their work, and whether they think that student inquiry (supported by this book) is the direction in which we should be moving.
My goal here? I certainly want teachers to be engaged in the various books they are reading. I do want them to feel the power of collaborative learning. And I hope teachers, with or without my coaching, will transfer their learning to the classroom.
But, I also hope that the means by which we communicate in our book studies strengthens teachers’ beliefs in the tools while alleviating their discomfort in using them. Bill Ferriter captures this idea in a 2010 article found in Educational Leadership.
Teachers must identify how applications like Twitter can facilitate their learning. Digital opportunities to connect with new content and communities can accelerate learning for every student—but only after teachers become efficient digital learners, too.