Close Reading: A Presentation

close reading button

Last year, in our school district, I facilitated a series of PD sessions with colleagues around ELA and the Common Core, and we spent one long session on understanding and using Close Reading strategies. This is the prezi that I created and shared with my colleagues, and I am digging it up as part of Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts’ blogothon around ideas of Close Reading.

I see now that more than 3,000 other folks have viewed this presentation, so I hope it has been as helpful to them as it has been to us. (And I want to note that I have set the Prezi as “public and re-useable” so feel free to steal it, adapt it, remix it and re-use it as you see fit. It’s yours.) For me, just making the presentation helped me frame the ideas in my head, and then sharing with colleagues built those ideas out even further. It’s sort of like writing — when we write, we make sense of the world. When you present, you dive deep into a topic – sometimes, a relatively unknown topic — and get a better grasp on it.

I think one of the take-aways from our group of teachers was how deliberate you have to plan to introduce the strategies and value of reading closely with students, who mostly read what we ask them to but they read quickly and therefore, they often resist having to go back and re-read with a focus and a purpose. I can’t say I have become an expert in teaching close reading with my students. Not even close. I still struggle with it even as I do see the potential for engaging readers with a text, particularly a difficult text, on a number of different angles and perspectives.

But I am working at it.

Peace (in the reading),


Making the Case for Connections

This Voicethread is a great place to learn more about why we should care about the principles of being Connected Educators, but also, to add your voice to the mix. The Voicethread is an offshoot of a book by Shery Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter-Hall’s The Connected Educator.

And check out the list over at the New York Times Learning Network of 28 examples of what Connected Education look like in the classroom and in teacher networks. There are lots of great ideas there.
Peace (in the connections),

Top 10 Ways to Document Learning (presented with humor)

The other day, the Daily Create asked us to list 20 ways that we document our learning. Sure, I could have gone the serious route. But … I didn’t. So, here using Haiku Deck as a way to connect to themes of “design practice” this week at DS106, is my Top Ten Ways to Document Learning.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
Peace (with your dog, cat, smoke signals and talking drum … preferably all at once),

Film Summary in Four Icons

Cloudy with Meatballs 2

One of this week’s assignments at DS106 this week is to summarize a movie, using only four visual icons. Since I went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 with my son, the movie was on my mind. Finding four symbols to summarize a movie is difficult. You leave a lot out, and context is everything. I suspect if I did not tell you which movie I was summarizing, you would have difficulty figuring it out (although if you saw it, the burger might give it away).

Since I “borrowed” these images online, here are the links to where I got them: the burger, the island, the inventor, the friends.

Peace (in symbolic thought),

Start Getting Connected during Connected Educator Month

It’s October, which means it is Connected Educator Month, as various networks of teachers and educators come together to showcase and strengthen the ways in which we build on our collective knowledge, share out our expertise, and create rich learning environments for our students.

No Teacher An Island Supporter Art

At the Connected Educator website (which, should be noted, is funded through the US Department of Education and various partners – it’s always good to be aware of who is behind things), there is a calendar of events and resources for the month. (Note: the homepage kept crashing on me this morning.) I’m always interested in ways that we can connect and having a theme of the Connected Educator makes sense to me, particularly if it gives folks a chance to take steps forward.

CEM Starter Kit cover

If you are looking for a place to start, I would suggest the Connected Educator Starter Kit (pdf file), put out by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and colleagues at Powerful Learning Practice. I like how it suggests one simple task per day to begin building out your online connective networks. There is also a blog — Innovations – that you can subscribe to as well as a series of book talks during the month. I, for one, am hoping to get involved in the Invent to Learn book talk.


There’s plenty going on. You just need to connect.

Peace (in the stretch out),



Early Morning Photoblitz/Learning Walk

Photoblitz for #ds106
Some folks at DS106 were posting the results of an assignment called a “photoblitz,” but I recognized it as our “learning walk” idea from the Making Learning Connected MOOC. In either case, the idea is the same: take your camera for a walk and collect photos of what you are seeing.

I went out early yesterday morning to our front yard, and used as best a photographer’s eye as I could to capture the world in that confined space. I realized that as autumn comes to New England, there are still plenty of colors hanging around, even after the rather cold nights. That became a theme of some of the photos. Others, I was searching for another way of looking at something common and familiar.

I pulled nine photos from my photoblitz into this iPad collage app.

Peace (in the pics),

All in for Audio at DS106

Headless Legos
What have I been up to this past week with the Headless DS106? Other than watching my son create freeze-frame zombie scenes all around the first floor of our house with his Lego collection (Seriously, they are everywhere, and none of them have heads right now, and they all look like they are about to start marching …)

I am helping to facilitate a “DS106 Radio Show” team on the theme of hacking and disruption with technology. We are The Merry Hacksters and I am hoping we can pull it all together. The folks on the team joined in Google Docs, and we have a working document underway, and our show will eventually be about 20 minutes long.

I created this comic as a title icon, but I don’t know if the others like it.
Merry Hacksters Title DS06
And I am planning two podcast segments. The first involved my sixth grade classroom, and I worked on that for a few days this week. I had my students “hacking the game of chess” as I walked around with my voice recorder to capture a “sound story” of their creativity in bloom, and discussions underway. I then recorded a voice-over, with the kids mix as my background track, ending with a short bit of just listening to the students. Here is a little teaser of the sound story element.

Meanwhile, I am asking two folks from Mozilla Foundation (Chris Lawrence and Laura Hilliger) to answer a few questions about the push towards more tools for students to remix the Web, and why that is important. We had started to talk about hosting a Skype session, but logistics and distance got in the way, so they agreed to record their answers and send me the mp3, and I will go about mixing it together.

Speaking of audio, I am working on a few podcasts for a new blogging project I am involved in, which I will explain later in October. And I worked on a short rap for the Headless Course, just for fun.

I did a few Daily Creates, too, including writing about a quiet space (always a good prompt) and capturing a transformation in time-lapse. I admitted to breaking the rules (which is OK with DS106) but bringing back a stopmotion video my son and I had done with a piece of clay that transforms into a man, and a dog (that was his idea and it was a great idea).

Peace (in the stories),

WMWP Best Practices: Writing is More than the Common Core

WMWP Best Practices

Our Western Massachusetts Writing Project’s annual Best Practices is coming up soon (Saturday, October 19) and if you are in our area, I invite you to considering joining this day of professional development around the teaching of writing. We are very fortunate to have the esteemed Peter Elbow as our keynote speaker, who will focus in on how we talk and what it means. And you can see from the title that we continue to push back on the Common Core expectations, and work to expand the ways in which our students are writing.

Here is the full program:

WMWP Best Practices 2013 Program by KevinHodgson

Peace (in the PD),