Friday, March 28, 2014

Free Access. . .If You Don't Count Your Time

Close Reading,
Common Core Writers Workshop,
and Free eBooks

My Life in Squares
(Photo: Mary Ann Olsen)
             Still trying to shed the guilt from not having blogged last week. Wish I could say I had escaped to some place beachy and warm. Instead, I have been busy with my latest passion project which seems like it is taking forever. With each self-imposed deadline not achieved, I am reminded how difficult it is to cost base average between have-to's and want-to's. Isn't 21st century living all about cost base averaging our time? If we lose so much time with one activity we can leverage out another activity/activities in order to make up for the loss. Is time our most precious asset? How we use our time is becoming more and more like contemplating and strategizing the $22.47 stored away, safe, in the piggy bank back when you were eight years old.  The rub of course is that now there is little time for contemplation.

            So, I will quickly get to the point. A lot of good stuff has passed over my computer screen in the last few weeks. If you are a follower of my Pinterest boards you will know I favor free -- and in fact probably have only two paid items pinned (not counting recommended books:) out of 14,000 pins. Today's post is based entirely on quality information you can get FREE.

             Within the last few months, Heinemann Publishing began their marketing campaign for Lucy Calkin's new writing Units of Study K-8 . These were written for grade level Common Core writing workshop curriculum. To promote these units, free grade level samplers were created. I passed the links on to several friends in California but decided maybe I could request FREE sampler units shipped to my home rather than having to print them all off--to save time, right. Done! Easy-Peasy! Since my current passion project has little to do with writing, I have been doing my best to ignore this enticing cardboard box consisting of 9 books of Lucy K-8 treasures. I couldn't help but peak and yes, they are amazing and all are averaging about a 100+ pages. The actual workshop units must be fabulous, and certainly worth the price of under $180.00 per grade level set. That being said, you can glean a lot by just using the sampler. Meanwhile, if you are in a coaching, professional development, or administrative role you need all grade levels of the FREE sampler units. FYI: Lucy is currently working on the high school curriculum. For additional free samplers from Heinemann authors click here.

             Over the last few months, more and more FREE webinars are being held. It is completely dependent upon you gaining access to the right websites. This past week, P. David Pearson from Cal Berkeley did a webinar on Close Reading for the Developmental Studies Center. It is now posted on YouTube. Pearson spoke on 1) Where close reading came from and where it is headed, 2) What does text-based and text dependent really mean, and 3) Do we have to forget everything we have learned about prior knowledge? You might feel like you are back in the college classroom, but Professor Pearson makes some very good points and uses a great demo activity for modeling thinking. The PowerPoint presentation is available here.

                  "We can amplify each kid's natural inclination to dream,
                  we can inculcate passion in a new generation, and
                  we can give kids the tools to learn more, and faster,
                  in a way that's never been seen before." ~  Seth Godin

Translation: GIVE kids the tools to learn while we [teachers] motivate and cheer-lead them on.

             I still order a fair amount of books each month. I know I am retired. . .I just can't seem to break the habit. All my favorite authors, just keep pumping out new great books. Earlier this week, I downloaded a FREE book I have had on my computer for a month or so: Stop Stealing Dreams: What is school for? by Seth Godin.  Honestly, I don't know too much about Seth Godin, but as I read this book I kept having J Lo moments--lots of goosies. This is very, very powerful stuff concerning the technology implications of traditional schooling and where we are headed. This book had the same effect on me as Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. I can't stop thinking about it and keep wondering where have I been? Of course I understand, its hard to see when you are standing right in the middle of something. This is why you need to read this book.

             I had no idea we were so close to a complete paradigm change. Folks, this is so much bigger than the curriculum Common Core is suggesting and the political polarizing effect it is having around the country. The students are way ahead of the teachers in technology and will be for quite some time. How this all plays out is going to be very interesting. By the way, Godin provides a very great rationale for flipping your classroom.

Finally, here's a few more FREE eBooks:       
Preparing Students for Work in the 21st Century by Rob Mancabelli and Will Richardson
Mobile Learning by Jackie Gerstein
Focus by Leo Babauta
Time Management for Writers by Thursday Bram
The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins

       Hopefully you are comfy and have grabbed yourself a cup of coffee with a bit of time to play around with some of these links. If not, stop back by when you can. Have yourself a great week and especially a very Happy Saturday.