PLN1 Final Reflection: Where Do We Go From Here?

Overall, I found this course and project to be very beneficial to both myself and my students. A common theme that stands out to me from our conversations throughout the course is the need for a common language to implement this framework at perhaps a district level. As a person working with grades K-5, I lend a different perspective to what this model could look like if implemented across the board. I think it would be helpful to our learners, both students and teachers, to be using the same language, if not framework, K-12. The quality of work produced by my students would be richer and at a deeper level if the four lenses and five processes were introduced in the early elementary grades, and then spiraled as students progressed.

In thinking about my library curriculum, I would wonder if a project like this one could be used as a pilot to look at one project within one grade to start to introduce ideas of project-based learning or higher order thinking skills that the PA Core demands? Having looked at a variety of school library curricula (New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc) there is a need to increase the rigor and depth of thinking required of our students. While I appreciate the PA Model curriculum for libraries and its fidelity to the PA Core standards, I think it could be supplemented by being approached from a PLN mindset that moves beyond standards and focuses on not only the learning by also the metacognitive piece.

That being said, having completed this project for one unit in one of the six grade levels that I teach, it is overwhelming, at times, to consider creating something of this caliber for every lesson at every grade level. Looking forward, I would like to start looking at a kindergarten or first grade level to see how this could be implemented and then grow with the same cohort of students as they move from kindergarten to fifth grade. As a person new to my role and also to the district, I’m still learning where my students are at. While I love trying new things and approaches, it is important to be mindful of what my students are used before radically changing their routines and/or processes. An example of this would be our shift from a significant amount of teacher talk to student talk. Though some time was devoted to explicitly teaching the language needed to collaborate and listen to peers, in the long run, students are now more accountable for their talk and on their way to becoming better, more active listeners.

I love a quote mentioned at the Collins lecture, “kids need to know about words and the world.” In developing this project, it was important to me that my elementary students share their learning, both product and process with a wider audience than their homeroom. The ability to use technology to connect and collaborate with one another as well as mentors at our high school allows students to see and take ownership over the connection between their words and learning and our 21st century world.

A final thought throughout the building of this project is the role of technology within a PLN framework. In creating these lesson plans, the technology tools seemed to fall into place naturally and were not added on as an afterthought.  While I attempt to integrate technology in a way that is meaningful and relevant, I wonder how or if this link should be looked at more explicitly. Thinking about models of technology integration, SAMR being one, I wonder what it would look like layered on top of a content area curriculum developed with these lenses and processes in mind? I like to think that technology provides teachers an opportunity to accelerate our pedagogy, and that this is done most effectively when the technology becomes invisible and just another tool at our disposal. Yet, taking transacting with text as an example, do the skills we teach and strategies we use change when the texts shifts from physical to digital? While the lenses are constant, do the processes change? Should they?