Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday's Five: Continue Your Learning This Summer

This week's Friday's Five is a special cross-post on summer learning that also appeared on Lee Kolbert's "A GeekyMamma's Blog." Friday's Five is a feature every week where I pick a new topic and list five items that I think fit best.  Then I ask you, my readers, to share your thoughts in the comment section.  For an archive of past topics, check the Friday's Five page.  If you'd like to make suggestions about future topics or discuss topics I bring up on the blog with other readers, make sure you click the "like" button on the right hand side of this page to join A Teacher's Life for Me on Facebook.  Don't be shy about sharing the blog and Facebook page with others.  Each post has buttons on the bottom that allow you to share several ways, including e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. / graur razvan ionut  
When summer comes, many of the sources of stress that drain your physical and emotional energy during the school year disappear.  Along with having some extra time to do some of the things you love other than teaching, it’s a fantastic time to learn, share, and find new inspiration that will make your classroom more enjoyable for yourself and your students.  So, when you are not taking a little time to enjoy camping in the woods, lounging on a beach somewhere, or whatever it is that you do to relax, here are five ways to continue your learning during the summer:
  1. Participate in a Professional Learning Network (PLN) – Nothing that I have experienced in my career has taught me more or inspired me as much as my PLN.  Whether through collaboration using social networks like Facebook, Plurk, and Twitter, seeing different points of view on the blogs that I follow, interacting with those that follow my blog, or learning through my membership in professional organizations, I am constantly gaining insight as to how to better do my job.  During the summer, all of those resources are still available.  
  2. Read a Book – It’s often hard to find the time to read during the school year.  During the summer, though, I’ve been able to read some great books that helped me grow as a teacher.  If you’re not sure what to read, ask your PLN. I’m sure they’ll have great ideas.  Another option is to join a book group on a site like Goodreads.  Two of the more influential books on education I’ve read are The Element by Sir Ken Robinson and Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.
  3. Attend and/or Present at a Conference – Educational conferences are fantastic places to both pick up new ideas for your classroom and network with other professionals.  Many take place during the summer months to make it easier for educators to attend.  Presenting is an extremely rewarding experience that often comes with the benefit of a free or reduced registration fee.
  4. Browse Through Bookmarks - During the school year I am flooded with great new websites and web 2.0 tools that are shared by my PLN.  Many I save in my Delicious account and never get the chance to play around with to see if they are useful in my 5th grade classroom.  There’s just not enough time.  Summer is a perfect opportunity to spend some time playing with these tools.  You might discover something you love. 
  5. Download Content from iTunes U - Many people don’t realize how much free content is available on iTunes for teachers.  There are over 350,000 free lectures, videos, and films available covering just about every possible topic.  The best part is that you can listen or watch them while you go for a run, garden, lounge by the pool, or even while you stick your feet in the sand on the beach.  
Now it's your turn. In the comment section, please share how you continue your professional learning. What books do you plan to read this summer? What conferences are you attending? Do you have any great ways to continue your learning that I didn't mention? What's your favorite iTunes podcast? Please share!