Monday, June 26, 2017

Reading, Connecting, & Learning...on Twitter

     Summer has always been a reading binge time for me: that stack of latest YA books that made it onto state and national book lists, that stack of professional books that need a deeper perusal, and that stack of best-sellers and award winners that the English major inevitably piles up from all gift-giving holidays. Not sure why I do this, but I keep the three stacks separated in my house, and summer is the time when I rotate through my stacks and allow myself the luxury of reading time without feeling guilty. So far this summer, I have made significant dents in my YA pile, reading the Novice series and the latest Cinda Chima Williams series at the request of my fantasy-loving teenage son. I then read Allende's Japanese Lover just for fun. Tackling my professional pile kept getting put off partly because that's the only type of reading I allow myself during the school year. I needed a push and a direction for my summer professional learning reading. Thankfully I found exactly the nudge I needed in a book club without the usual book club restraints (or wine): #BookCampPD.
     This hashtag connected me with educators and authors of books that I own and love as well as new books. I quickly ordered the ones I didn't already own (I love Amazon Prime), and I read the first title in a few days before having the opportunity to chat directly with the author and other readers around the country. Having a designated time and a few open-ended questions was precisely what I needed to make the reading instantly relevant and relatable. As a teacher and reader, I will freely admit that I am a social learner, but I don't often have the opportunity to "get social" with my professional reading. Preparing my novice version of "booksnaps" on my phone before the chat made me hone-in on the nuggets of learning that I gleaned from the text and helped me express what resonated with me in single images.
     I went into the first chat wanting to connect with other educators around a mutually interesting book, and I definitely enjoyed connecting. What I didn't expect was the amount of learning that would happen for me. (I thought it would be fun, but I underestimated how much I would actually gain from the experience.) The author's responses to my questions and challenges gave me concrete and actionable ideas that I can apply in my work with teachers in the fall. Her generosity and willingness to share her experiences to better the experiences of others took the idea of book club to a new level for me, and I'm hooked. Tonight I have two back-to-back bookchats discussing two of my favorite and most useful books from my past year's work coaching blended learning teachers. I've set alarms in my phone to remind me to jump on Twitter at the correct times, and I have looked over questions and websites to prepare for the chats. The flexibility and immediacy of discussing books with other interested readers around the globe is just one more reason to tap into the connectivity possibilities of Twitter. Even though multitasking gets a bad rap, I love being able to interact for thirty minutes on Twitter from the sidelines of my son's soccer practice or from a bench outside my daughter's latest show. I highly encourage all educators to explore #BookCampPD and other online bookchats this summer. Read, learn, chat...wherever you are.