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Distance Learning: Summer Reading Recommendations

by Lauren Heimlich Foley

Rita DiCarne and Kelly Virgin inspired this week’s blog post. Each summer I choose a combination of professional texts and YA novels to read. This July and August, one area I am focusing on is online learning, blended learning, and the digital workshop. I will not have time to read everything mentioned below but will use this post as a guide and reference point for my own learning. I hope it helps you to cultivate your professional development summer reading list.

1. Digital Writing-Reading Workshop

I mentioned the following two books—The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks and Adolescents and Digital Literacies by Sara Kajder—in my last distance learning blog post. I believe these texts are important for me to reiterate because they are foundational. If you have not read these books, I would highly recommend one or both to begin your journey at digitizing your writing-reading workshop. The theory, practical application, and resources will enhance your teaching whether you return to the brick and mortar classroom, remain distance learning, or teach a hybrid model. These books will serve as references as I continue to reflect on my own teaching practices. Looking ahead to next year, I want to explore more ways my middle schoolers can engage with texts they are reading whether a whole class novel, book club book, independent reading book, or online articles. I also want to cultivate additional online, real-world writing opportunities. The following titles will help me further hone my digital workshop best practices:

2. Creating Videos to Enhance Student Learning

At the end of the school year, I asked my students for feedback on distance learning. Three students mentioned that they greatly appreciated the PowerPoint lessons with my voice over. They also said my directions in Canvas were clear and easy to follow, but they asked for more videos and/or audio clips of me speaking the directions. They explained that reading the mentor texts, following along on the PowerPoints, and reviewing all of the written directions in Canvas added up to a lot of online reading. Not to mention when you multiply that routine times all of your classes. For the last week of school, I left a personalized message on the module overview page using the Canvas audio recorder. I liked the concept and wished I had discovered it sooner.

As I explored possible books for my summer read list, 99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Educational Videos caught my eye, especially “Tip 19: Take Students on a Tour.” In this section, Karen Costa suggests creating video virtual tours to “show” students how to navigate the learning management system. The video might review prior knowledge, module organization, course assignments, and weekly directions. After perusing more of the book on Google, I will be ordering my own copy as a reference.

3. Social Networking Influences on Adolescents

To better understand why social networking sites appeal to my teenage students, I want to read more about their digital, social lives and the psychology behind it. In learning about what makes them gravitate toward social media, I will be able to use Canvas, Microsoft Teams, and other technology platforms to further engagement students and enhance our digital workshop. As of now the following articles will assist me on this journey. I am currently looking for others and will comment on this post if/when I find additional titles.

4. Blended Learning

Blended learning may be a reality for many teachers this coming fall. Learning how to navigate and balance my brick and mortar best practices with technological enhancements will be important if I am going to create an engaging, meaningful, and relevant learning experience for my students. My district’s professional development secondary education coach, Michele Meyers, recommended Catlin Tucker’s books. Her blended learning philosophy will be of help as I envision my 2020-2021 classroom. She has many published books, resources, and videos on her website. I am still deciding whether I am going to order one or both of the following titles:

5. Structuring your Summer PD + Additional Resources

Dr. Buckelew shared the article “How I’m Spending My Pandemic Summer Vacation: A professor creates a syllabus to guide herself and other faculty members in preparing for more remote teaching this fall, amid Covid-19.” by Sarah Rose Cavanagh. The author’s voice is inviting, and she offers a plethora of reading options and great resources.

With the whole summer ahead of me, I am looking forward to enjoying the extra time to read and write for me, bird watching on my apartment balcony, finally getting to hang out with family and friends—six feet apart. This list of books and articles will guide my professional summer reading and help prepare me for the fall.

What resources are you using and what texts are you reading to prepare for the Fall 2020-2021 school year?

Call for Distance Learning Blog Posts

The PAWLP Blog would like to hear from you! What did distance learning look like for you, your students, and your school district? How will distance learning change or enhance your brick and mortar routines and best practices? What does Fall 2020 look like for you, your classroom, your school, and/or your district?

Blog posts will be featured in our Distance Learning column each Monday. Please email the PAWLP blog if you are interested or would like to find out more information.