Isn’t dessert the best part of a meal? I love to look at the dessert menu first so I know what I want to leave room for! Dessert makes my main course more complete and sweetens my memory of the meal.
Ever wonder what the dessert of our profession is? It too is the best part: our learning, which has the potential to sweeten the impact of student learning.
By participating in professional learning communities, collaborating with colleagues and conducting action research, we have an opportunity to indulge in the dessert of our profession and sweeten the memory of our hard work.
If we are lucky enough to find professional resources that spark a wondering in us, tempt us to dig into that sweet bowl of fresh ideals and sip on new skill-sets, then that can potentially impact student achievement.
Recently, my colleagues and I read, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child (Miller, 2009). If you haven’t read it yet, you should. This is the kind of book that not only sparked a wondering in me, but generated fireworks when we started thinking, “What if.”
“What if” we raised the bar on how many books we required students to read? How would reading more increase reading comprehension?
“What if” we provided opportunities for teachers and classmates to whisper book recommendations to each other; essentially creating an endless thread about reading experiences?
“What if” we could engage students in the culture of reading through social media; keeping them more engaged and encouraging goal setting?
I’m working with two fourth grade teachers on our own ‘Book Whisperer’ Action Research project. Here are the highlights of what we’re doing:
- I’m developing a unit to build students’ understanding of how to use social media appropriately and responsibly.
- We are collaborating as we use Destiny Quest to facilitate and engage students in reading conversations and to teach them how to write effective book recommendations.
- Students are using the MyQuest feature as their own "space" where they can create Shelves containing the books they've read, those they're currently reading and those they want to read. Friends can make recommendations to Friends which creates a dialog or comment "thread" between Friends. Friends will have a clear picture of why the student liked the book and discover titles they may not have self-selected.
- Classes are discussing safe methods of online social interaction as students learn about Acceptable Use Policies. MyQuest offers educators an authentic opportunity to discuss these issues with an age-appropriate social media tool.
Our Action Research is now under way. I’ll keep you posted on our progress and results. We would love to have feedback as we work through this process and enjoy our dessert!
Jeanne Ziemba is currently a Technology Integration Specialist in St. Lucie School District in Florida. She believes learning is simply a sweet way to enjoy life to the fullest. You can connect with Jeanne by leaving a comment below or via email.