As a member of this Online Book Club, you are expected to post to the book blog at least once per week between now and July 11 -- that's six weeks. You should finish your book before then, and you will meet during the Institute in your groups to extend the discussion and plan how to present the book to the others in the Institute.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Building Communication Skills

(Another apology for being slow to blog. I've been away from a computer for a while and didn't feel like attempting to type up a whole blog post on my phone. But, I did lots of reading and finished the book, so now be prepared for a series of blog posts with ideas, connections, reflections, and more in the coming days as we get ready for the Summer Institute!)
Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/157485318196873775/
After finishing the Lattimer (2014) book, I feel like there are some definite similarities across all the chapters. She splits it up into different sections about reading, writing, speaking and listening, and assessment and critique, but they're all really just connected and fit under one larger umbrella of building effective communication skills - at least they do in my mind. Throughout the book, she emphasizes the importance of having real, authentic purposes to each of these literacy skill sets, and although I love the term literacies, I think that the real purpose of having literacies is to be able to communicate.

Specifically, I see some major connections between reading and listening and then between writing and speaking. The reading and listening is sort of consuming information while writing and speaking is more about producing and sharing it. For the consumption of information (reading and listening) and how to teach it and make it meaningful, we need to be sure to have a clear purpose or goal in doing the consuming - like the "Setting a purpose for reading" poster in a classroom mentioned in the book (Lattimer, 2014, p. 37). It must be clear and obvious why someone is part of this audience. It's way too easy to tune out when reading or listening if you're not invested, so having a purpose is essential. Furthermore, I think people who are consuming information need to be ready and willing to ask questions and learn more. If your purpose is clear but not met by the information you are given, then you have to continue in search of that purpose. Finding new information from other resources or by asking questions of the person who is speaking.

Furthermore, in terms of producing and sharing information (the writing and speaking part), we need to be sure to clearly target a specific audience (in language, approach, topics/information covered, etc.), provide some sort of organization to help the audience follow along, and be sure to focus on a clear point of idea to the forefront of our product. And throughout all of this - for both producing and consuming - it is essential to practice the skills A LOT (and for a variety of audiences and purposes) and to give and provide feedback and do lots of revision. These ideas all came through clearly throughout the book, and are important reminders for me as I think through revising my own units and lessons for next year.

Finally, all of these skills are important for a variety of reasons. Many of those ideas were outlined in Lattimer's (2014) first chapter and my first blog post, but it also reminded me of a quotation from Lawrence Clark Powell who said, "Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow." Those are all real purposes and goals for communication, and they are what I hope my students will learn to do and prioritize in their own lifelong learning.

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