I have recently come to the epiphany that the lifetime of this blog–one I enjoyed curating, sharing, and using to reflect on my own pedagogy–has come to a close.
That is hard to admit.
When I transitioned completely from the classroom, I told myself I would keep up with the blog and continue to use it to share stories from my experiences as well as those of other teachers. For awhile that worked. But then posts became fewer and further between to the point where I was lucky to post anything once a month. The reality is my change in focus of how I support teachers and schools has changed the perspective I have to share whether I wanted it to change or not. After some difficult internal monologuing and even posting on social media of my dilemma, I have concluded it is time to move on and close this chapter of my writing and teaching career.
So what’s next?
I’m not entirely sure, but I will definitely be focusing more on the Teacher Casebook project and while I will let go of the .com for this site, I’ll keep the wordpress site up others to happen upon or look up as they need/like. I’m sure I’ll put a portfolio out there somewhere too. The casebook, however, will be the primary focus where exploring podcasting is a strong possibility as well as blogging.
That said, thank you to everyone who has ever read the blog, commented on a post, shared it with others, but especially to those who either contributed to the blog personally or allowed me to write about them, their pedagogy, and classroom. You the real MVP!
This is not a goodbye, but simply a see you later.
June 21-23 join me and my colleague Nick Thompson in Amicalola Falls for the Georgia Council of Teachers of English “Teachers as Writers” writing retreat. We will be hosting a workshop geared toward teachers sharing their formative, professional experiences for an audience of fellow educators while helping them navigate framing those experiences with current research.
If you join the retreat and partake in our workshop, your writing could be featured in the Teacher Casebook, a free, public offering of teacher’s stories being shared with one another as a form meaningful professional development that puts real teacher experience and research together!
We would love to see old friends there and make new ones as well. There is still time to register for the retreat by clicking HERE.
Glenn Rhoades, a good friend of mine and English teacher at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, GA, is breaking new ground (again) with this tenth grade world literature students, having them create podcasts that will help top off a year that has seen Glenn stretch himself as a teacher and as a teacher-leader.
At one point, Glenn was a bit of mentee, but he has quickly surpassed the work I was doing in my classroom and continues to innovate his classroom practice to give his students a rich, diverse, thoughtful, and relevant experience. When he recently shared with me a quick introductory podcast he had created to share with his students and introduce the work they would be doing, I quickly asked if I could share it here. Without hesitation, he said yes, which is typical of Glenn. If he can help spread the good word of elevating pedagogy–even when it is incredibly messy and doesn’t work as expected–he will.
Check out the cast he put together for his students using Anchor.fm:
If you took a listen, then you know the podcasts will be the culmination of a multicultural unit that uses graphic novels as a supplementary text.
My favorite part is how he is modeling the journey of learning and doing podcasting for and with his students. I am excited to see how the project unfolds and what his students will produce.
Here’s Glenn in his own words about using Anchor for instruction:
“There are so many products “for teachers” that are so challenging to use you might as well boot up your Linux box and get prepared to hack some code. If you have no idea what you just read, that’s okay. If you know slightly more about podcasting, that’s okay too: Anchor proves that features don’t have to be challenging time syncs that destroy your planning period. Minutes from loading the app on my phone I was recording a few minutes of rambling audio and enjoying the plushy cute but functional interface. It was harder for me to think of what to say than to get the app to record me saying it. I want this exact experience for my students. Their thinking should take center stage as technology is just a tool. When I was finished with my recording, it was even easier to add more features.
‘With hundreds of background song choices, sound effects, and even the ability to embed your favorite song via Spotify right into your podcast, I was soon playing around with design choices. A few more clicks and I figured out a little about editing my recording. Moments later I was picking a background image, naming my Podcast and exploring settings that actually made sense. As a user, this app is insanely easy. In addition to the app itself, what it can do in your classroom is equally impressive.
‘We’ve all heard the excuses from our students of why they couldn’t get together to collaborate. Somehow I was able to ride 3 buses and take two bicycles to get to my peers house on a weeknight back in the 90’s before the internet to work on a group project involving cardboard and markers, but students today can’t seem to be able to collaborate electronically. Anchor allows students to do what they do best; it has functionality to work as a group call and record a podcast segment with multiple devices loaded into the same call. You can also just work off the same phone and then edit the podcast directly on the same phone you recorded with. Segments are organizable, and you can cut as needed. While this isn’t the most powerful tool for podcasting, it is the most functional I have found. When you are finished, simply hit “publish” and it is sent to the top 5 biggest podcasting publishers around with the option to post to social media like Twitter and Facebook. This is the real life, authentic audience we are always talking about.
One assignment I am doing with my students will be to try to promote their podcast and get followers. The podcast that has the most listens at the end of the unit will win a trophy. We will also have a podcast listening party at the end of the year with other awards given out for performance and other categories. I think after years of being a listener, I’ve caught the bug myself.”
The Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) annual conference once again re-energized and rejuvenated me as another spring semester begins. I love this conference for many reasons, but none more important to me than the conversations I have with fellow teachers outside of the school setting. The conference reminds me every year how much I take for granted teacher discourse across contexts and experiences, which is so valuable and energizing to my own practice.
This year Nick Thompson and I conducted a roundtable discussion with six of our original case writers for the Teacher Casebook project we launched just a few weeks ago. Inside the post is my reflection of the experience and what we hope are the next steps in the project.