Thank you to Ruth Ayres at Ruth Ayres Writes. She hosts a link-up every week that focuses on the reasons we have to celebrate. This is my reason to celebrate, but you can visit her website to read about other bloggers' celebrations.
One of my favorite professional conferences to attend is the annual conference of the International Literacy Association. I attended this year's conference, which took place in Orlando, Florida, last weekend. While there I reflected on my first experience at ILA, which was also held in Orlando and, I believe, in 2011. Although much of the experience was the same, my days were filled with valuable learning provided by engaging speakers with a passion for literacy just as much then as now, something was different. Much has changed with technology, social media, and educator's abilities to stretch their professional learning networks beyond school walls and across the globe. This has made a difference in how I experience an in-person conference such as ILA.
I've used social media in the past few years to expand my own professional learning network and to learn professionally from others in different parts of the country. My experience at ILA this year was enhanced, as it wasn't before these possibilities existed, because I could connect with educators that I interact with on social media in person. Kerry, is a member of the Facebook group, Literacy Teacher Book Club, that I started to discuss professional texts with other educators. Lena Marie facilitates the Read4Fun group that I participate in through Twitter and Voxer. Lorraine is a member of the #bookexcursion group that I formed with other teachers and librarians to read and share children's literature. I was lucky to meet each of these educators at the conference in person. In person, we continued the conversations we have through social media about literacy teaching and books and began new conversations based on our shared experiences at ILA. This week I celebrate these educators and all social media friends who haved help to grow my knowledge of literacy and teaching.