In the past few years, I've read a lot of nonfiction or informational text. I've read these books because I want to learn from experts in the field, people who have done tremendous study to understand the underpinnings of what it means to teach and lead well. Their words have served to elevate my practice in significant ways as well as to continue to deepen my excitement, enthusiasm to teach well.
As I've read these informational books, I've developed a good strategy for learning from reading. I'm sure that strategy is not new to many of you, but I know it's a strategy that I didn't use before, and one I wish I knew about as a young student as it would have propelled my learning in meaningful ways.
Set the Stage for Reading with Essential Purpose and Questions
First, prior to reading, I carefully set out my expectations and questions for the reading ahead. For example, I'll read Ta-Nehisi Coates book, Between the World and Me sometime in the next couple of days. When I read the book, my expectation is that I'll learn about an African-American man's experience of growing up in the United States. My central questions are How did his life differ from mine and As a teacher, how could I teach a child like Ta-Nehisi, a child whose experience of living and growing up in the United States is both different and the same as mine? I am choosing to read this book to develop my ability to teach all of my students well, and in particular, my students who represent cultures, religions, and race that are less represented and embraced.
Blended Reading: Books, Technology, and Social Media Fosters Deep Reading/Understanding
Next, as I read, I'll use the computer to investigate specific words, events, geographical locations, and other references. Similar to when I read Emdin's book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and Y'all Too, I'll watch related references on YouTube as well. By adding the visual and audio references to reading the book, I'll make the experience richer and more memorable. Further, as I read, I'll tweet out connections I'm making in the book to my central questions and other interesting facts, research, and anecdotes too. By tweeting, I create a social situation in reading the book since I'm sharing the information with others as well as making a collection of good notes. Sometimes that share results in response which furthers my thinking related to the story. I typically include the author in some of the tweets as well so if I'm misunderstanding or making a point that interests the author, he/she can comment as well.
Summarize the Reading by Creating Mini-Posters, Storifying Tweets, and Writing Blog Posts that Direct Application of New Learning and Ideas
Once I've read the book and tweeted out essential notes. I'll gather my tweets by making a Storify which allows me to collect all of my tweets in a slideshow. Then, on my blog, I'll write a summary of my experience reading the book including the answers to my central questions, other interesting information, and my collection of tweets as an embedded Storify. In the blog post, I'll commit to follow-up actions that make sure I embed the new learning into my practice in ways that matter. Typically I am quite specific about this plan.
Sometimes I create mini-posters of information from the reading that I don't want to forget. I generally refer back to these mini-posters as I work to embed the research and reading into my practice or advocacy. I often hang the mini posters in my classroom or home study space as reminders of the new learning and helpful guides as I work to include the new wisdom, ideas, and details into my work
Share New Knowledge, Note Reactions, Respond, and Reference
I post the blog post and mini-posters on Twitter to gain any response or reaction that people might want to share. At times, I'll share the post specifically with colleagues or others via email, Facebook or other social media if it fits with a collective initiative, question, or quest. I'll revisit the post often as I work on my own and with others to embed that new research and knowledge into my practice. I'll often use the notes to synthesize as well with other reading as I did yesterday in this post. I also use the posts to share my work, study, and thinking with others during online chats, in-house collaboration, and other study/collaborative groups.
Memorable, Brain-Friendly Paths of Study, Application, and Share
It's important to provide students with avenues for rich study and development today. Every student will create their own good paths of good work, but it's helpful for students to understand what's possible. This path works for me as it is multi-modal, commits me to follow-up action, and provides me with good information for later reference and share. Further, this approach fosters visual representations and repetition which helps to move the information from short-term memory to long-term memory which is important. The social aspect of sharing the information allows for give-and-take which also makes the learning more meaningful, relevant, and deep which is similarly important.
How do you foster paths of deep learning and application for your own study and students' learning? What do you do differently than me that makes a significant difference? I'm curious. Thanks in advance for your share.
In the days following the reading, I