Lately, lots of teachers have asked me what my plan is for summer reading. I always think this is a funny question because my MAIN plan is to just READ! Even though my summer is super busy with lots of ballet (I am doing summer intensives in Chicago and NYC), I’ll still have lots of time to do what my mum calls lingering around books.
Lingering means taking time to read lots of things that are interesting and fun with no real reason except to feed your brain with fun facts and joy! Since so many people have asked me for advice, I thought I’d write down a list with a few tips for summer reading.
Have an “I DID IT!” Pile
Collect books you hope to read this summer in a big pile. Put them in a place where you love to read. As you read the books, move the books from the “TO BE READ” pile to the “I DID IT” pile! It’s so fun seeing your books move from one pile to the next!
Create a Word Journal
I love, love, love to learn new words! I keep track of fun, silly, and interesting words in a word journal. I love to see evidence of all the words I collect over the summer all in one place! Words make me happy!
Make Room for Picture Books
Lots of times, and especially when you get older, teachers put together summer reading lists for kids and almost ALWAYS when you are older they are ALL chapter books. But, guess what? Picture books are important too, even if you are an older reader! I read sooooo many picture books and I get super inspired by topics I find there. Sometimes, a good picture book LEADS me to a chapter book on the same topic because I want to learn even more! I say make sure you have LOTS of picture books in your summer book pile!
Reread Old Favorites
My mum always takes pictures of all of us with our summer reading piles. If we don’t own the books we want to read, she takes a picture of the books we write on a list so we can get them from the library. This year my brother, Quinn is rereading all his old favorites by Roald Dahl. When I saw his stack of books, it reminded me that I love some of those books too! Rereading can make you remember old feelings you had and can inspire you to grow your thinking in new ways.
Start a Summer Reading Project
A really good book can motivate you to take on a cause or focus on a passion you have. Lots of times kids don’t think their voice matters when it comes to big ideas. But, that’s not true! After reading Heather Lang’s book, Swimming with Sharks, I was inspired to contact her and start a contest with her for kids to share their love of sharks AND bring awareness to shark conservation. I am also super inspired by Kate Parker’s book Strong is the New Pretty. At first, I dreamed of having my picture taken by her, but since that is probably impossible, I decided that I could take my own pictures this summer. I want to show the world that ballerinas aren’t all fluff and tutus. Ballerinas are strong, athletic, and fierce! While I am at my ballet intensives, I am going to document this and share the pictures on my website.
If I had to show my summer reading plans in hashtags, it would look like this:
I hope you’ll create your summer book plans in hashtags, too and share them with me! I wish you lots of book lingering, loving, and learning this summer!
Keep Reading! Keep Thinking! And, thank you for following LivBit!
This week my Mum, Cynthia Merrill is guest blogging! I hope if you don’t follow her on Twitter or IG, you will (@cyndisueboo). She has super good ideas about thinking, reading, and teching! But, the BEST part is that she believes in kids A LOT and, she especially believes in ME!
Recently, Liv asked me if she could delete a follower (and all her posts about her) from her Twitter and Instagram accounts. At first, I thought nothing of it, until she followed up with a brief explanation. It seems this person had gone from rabidly retweeting, liking, or commenting on Liv's posts, to virtual silence. She felt hurt and confused, especially when she could see that she was promoting other kids as actively as she had once promoted Liv.
This gave me a lot of pause – trying to figure out how to best support Liv in her growing understanding of adult behavior in digital spaces – spaces where the “slights” can sometimes feel bigger and are public. While also being mindful that Liv’s recognition of this didn’t necessarily give her the maturity to understand all of the machinations of why some adults act suddenly dismissive.
Social media slights are very real. They may not be talked about all that much, but I can attest to the feeling of not getting a seat at the “popular” table. In social media we have different names for groups of people that support each other, the most popular probably being PLN. The reality is that some PLNs function like a middle school lunchroom table -- the outright promotion of some people, and the exclusion of others. I listened this weekend as an accomplished friend told me how she had to “step away” from her social media feed because of the sheer panic she felt when she read how much other people were doing, experiencing, supporting, and learning. She felt like a complete failure.
Liv’s realization of the once fan now silent has more to do with the fan, and how she has moved on, than it does with Liv. But, as a parent, I am deeply aware that I allowed this to happen. I have found that with Liv’s success comes people who like her for what she can provide for them. Recently, an expert in social media research interviewed me – her first question asked why I would put Liv in social media spaces when the recommended age for these platforms is thirteen. It’s an honest question, and it deserved an honest answer.
I think thirteen is too late. Developmentally, 13 year olds are already finding their space from parents, figuring out their identity, and more often than not heavily influenced by peers and celebrity social media accounts. Helping Liv navigate these spaces at 9 and 10 is EASIER than it would ever be at age 13. She understands my role as an active guide on the side of her social media life. Initially, she would see my posts on Twitter and Instagram and mirror her own posts after mine. As her knowledge grew, she discovered that she had a talent for hashtags that people seemed to really like. As her followers quickly grew, she gained confidence interacting with them. Honestly, her biggest delight is meeting a follower in real life. I think this might be the opposite of many adults on social media – I’ve heard many adult stories of how meeting followers in real life is awkward and, at times, even disappointing.
Liv’s delight in moving from digital relationships to real relationships provides us with a demonstration of how a digital native imagines the convergence of her lives – she doesn’t imagine them as separate. She sees both spaces as opportunities to be real.
Adults often fumble their way through these spaces because they see them as separate from their real lives. Social media brings out sides of adults that most of us wouldn’t see in person. Liv shares in her presentations: “Who you are online, should match who you are offline.” So, if we push this idea a bit further, we can assume that any adult that would go silent on a kid online would be equally silent outside of the digital space. If those adults are teachers, this causes me to be seriously concerned. If those adults are ones she sees promoting digital citizenship or running chats about empowering kids, it’s really a fraud.
Digital space is REAL space. For Liv -- it’s life, it’s love, it’s learning. It’s a chance to connect and grow. Consider your interactions online – are you authentic -- have you gone silent on someone? If so, why? Was your intent to hurt? Think about the person sitting behind the screen. Make it right.
For me, I am making it right with Liv. I encouraged her not to delete the once fan. I’m helping her understand complicated behavior. Thankfully, she has so many incredible mentors who don’t look at their interactions with her in an opportunistic way -- they understand how real Liv's feelings are. These mentors are also just as delighted meeting Liv outside of social media, as she is meeting them. One recently messaged me and said, “Thank you for sharing Liv with the world…she makes my world better…falling in love with her is so easy…and so REAL.”
That’s what it’s all about.
Keep Reading! Keep Thinking! And, thank you for following MY LivBit!
I love teachers! My mom and dad are teachers; Gram, aunt and uncle are too. Everywhere I look, I have teachers loving me. I even have teachers on the other side of the world encouraging me and helping me grow my thinking! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I like to hashtag my teachers with #MyTexasTeacher (thank you, Nancy) or #MyChiTeacher (thank you, Sam) or #MyOhioTeacher (thank you, Courtney). I am so, so lucky!
Last summer, I presented at Alan November’s conference, Building Learning Communities in Boston, MA. I got to do this incredible conference because of Kristin Ziemke, author Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom. Kristin’s work is about empowering kids to drive their own learning, and she had me join her sessions and help her teach teachers. Yup, I was the teacher! Thank you, Kristin!
When I was at #BLC16, I met a lot of really amazing thinkers. I’d say that lots of them are teachers AND innovators. They knew that kids and tech go together in ways that are important and powerful. I even met Reshan, the creator of the Explain Everything app. Meeting him motivated me to check out the app and teach myself how to show my thinking in new and exciting ways.
The energy at BLC made me feel like I could do anything! At the time, I had JUST gotten my own Twitter, and I was tweeting out lots of things that I was thinking. I remember that I tweeted out to Alan how I hoped to be a Twitter sensation. At the time, I had a few thousand followers, now I have over 25,000!
Looking back, I didn’t really know how powerful social media spaces can be. I was just having fun figuring it all out and “meeting” new people. Now, I understand how I can use social media to connect with teachers, thinkers, and just really cool people all over the world! Using social media platforms, like Twitter has changed me as a learner.
I met Pana, #MyTaiwanTeacher when I was at BLC last summer. Since then, she and I have collaborated on some really amazing projects, even though she is all the way over in Taiwan and I am in Durham, NH. Pana has even started a project with my little sister, Charlotte. It’s so exciting to know that even before Charlotte is in kindergarten, she already knows she can have teachers EVERYWHERE – even on the other side of the world! The work that Charlotte and I do with Pana is based on things we want to investigate. Pana supports us in lots of ways, and especially, by introducing new apps and ways to document our thinking.
This summer, I am the kid keynote at BLC17. I feel so honored to be able to share my story with the BLC crowd because in lots of ways that’s where I began thinking about being a #GlobalLearner.
When you allow kids to be in social media spaces AND you teach them about the power of connecting to interesting people, you give them the chance to know the world, see the world, AND change the world. If kids see themselves as an agent of change, it motivates them to WANT to do good things. They don’t just see their social media posts as what they want; they see them as what the WORLD wants.
I post with my audience in my mind. I think about what I can share that is important, challenging, and true. I think about my message. I think about what I learned from my teachers all over the world. I would say I CARE more about what is happening in the world BECAUSE of my social media interactions.
I know I am a kid, but I am a kid with a message:
Hey, world! Thank you for being my teacher! Thank you to ALL the teachers who have made my world smaller and bigger ALL at the same time! Thank you for caring about me: LivBit, a kid from NH, who loves to read and talk. Thank you for believing in me in REAL ways. Thank you for showing me how much the world can CARE and LOVE.
I hope after reading this post, you will think about how you support your kids to be #GlobalLearners, too.
Keep reading, keep thinking, and, thank you for following LivBits.
P.S. Yes, I know I spelled present wrong in my Kristin letter. I think it makes it cuter! Hehehehe!