#SOL17: First Day


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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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#CyberPD: Being the Change


To read.

Surface Learning

To absorb and think about applying.

Deep Learning

To really consider the impact of my own words and the power of my actions, thoughts, and words.

Transfer Learning

We have a phrase in Iowa. It’s “Iowa Nice.”  When are we “too nice” and when do we need to stop and consider the impact of our words?  When do we need to step out of our comfort zone?  Some issues seem easier to advocate for?  Is that my background?  Or just my comfort level?

I wrote about this book just two short months ago before the #G2Great chat with author Sara Ahmed.  It feels like more than two months.   So many changes . . . locally, nationally, and internationally.

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I’m rereading it now for #cyberPD . . . just one of several book clubs that I am currently in.  As I thought about “What” to write, it dawned on me.

I read it.

But I didn’t really think it was “about me”.

Being the Change!

I acknowledged my background

And checked it off my list.


Back to the drawing board.

Rereading.

Digging deeper.

Not just doing.

But thinking.

And reading.

And writing.

And determining what actions I need to take.

How will others know this is important to me?

What does it mean to “see the humanity”  and to “activate your empathy”? 

How do I remove the “us” and “them” from my vocabulary?

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Paying lip service is not good enough. 

Nodding my head is not good enough. 

I must do better. It requires change.

Mea Culpa!




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: #OLW


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After a quick search, I found that last year’s check-in on my One Little Word (#OLW) was mid-July so I’m pretty much on target again. July.  Summer.  Heat.  A time to reflect.

Where has “curious” taken me this year?

Paying attention.

Listening.

Watching.

Reading.

Writing.

Thinking.

Curious and Learning

Most recently:

Iowa Reading Association and

#TCRWP

Front row learner

Book Clubs

#BookLove, #CyberPD, and more

Curious and Joyful

Graduations

Near and Far

Birthdays

With Family

With Friends

And special serenades

Curious and Fun

Ladies Football Academy

With my sister

And finding cousins along the way

Teaching

Consulting

PD Prep

Reading, Writing, and Blogging

Curious and Books

A Novel Approach

Literacy Essentials

It’s All About the Books

180 Days

To Know and Nurture a Reader

Engaging Children

Embarrassment

Kids 1st From Day One

Brave Leadership

Being the Change

Megabook of Fluency

Reclaiming the Principalship

What are you curious about? 

How is your #OLW? 

Have you checked in lately?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: Mirrors and Windows


In kindergarten I read books about Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Spot.  They lived in a town with houses, sidewalks, and fenced yards. They seemed to have fun and play a lot. The girls and Mother always wore dresses and the older characters had the longer dresses.  As for the guys, the Dad always wore long pants and the boys wore shorts and long sleeve shirts or sweaters. It wasn’t my neighborhood (a farm) or the way we dressed (church clothes, school clothes, play clothes).  I didn’t know if the stories were real or pretend.

I was reading before I went to kindergarten so I’m not sure of the impact of the environment depicted in Dick and Jane books. I already loved books. And I dearly loved reading. School was fun, for the most part. But some of it was sheer drudgery.  The silly workbooks, the round-robin reading, and reading one story a week was so . . .

excruciatingly . . .

slow.

As well as dry, dull and desperately boring. We stopped all the time to answer questions about our reading. The pacing was synonymous with a turtle and at many times, so darned tedious.  But I loved books.  And I loved reading. I loved reading for the windows into other worlds . . . enchanted, far away worlds! I didn’t see myself, my family or my neighbors in any of the stories I read.

But what if I hadn’t loved reading?

A groundswell exists for an elementary curriculum that includes both mirrors and windows for ALL our students.

“All students deserve a curriculum which mirrors their own experience back to them, upon occasion — thus validating it in the public world of the school.” (Source)

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Are ALL of our students validated?

Last week at the #TCRWP June 2018 Writing Institute I was reading Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time to a group of third grade teachers.  We were analyzing the text for “techniques” of narrative text and this book by James Howe had many. It was a new book for many of the teachers in the group, but the part that stuck with me were the brilliant words from our leader Simone Fraser:

“Read Alouds in our classrooms need to be more inclusive. It is important that ALL students are represented in our Read Alouds. We need to make sure that we read from at least ALL the bands of text that students are reading.”  Simone Fraser

Brilliant!

Deep!

Broadening the definition of inclusivity.

This sounds so much like  ‘common sense’, but are teachers doing this?

First, qualitatively. I am not saying you would start at Level H and read through to Level O (remembering that levels are only Teacher Tools), but do you purposefully read texts from bands that represent the students seated on the floor in front of you and that allow the students to ‘see themselves reading texts’ in your classroom?

And then a second issue, do the students actually see themselves, their neighborhoods and their cultures in the books in your classrooms?  What of neighborhoods that are so homogeneous that they need to see even more diverse communities? How do you build libraries that expand the world?

As teachers decompress, plan and re-plan for those first days of school next year, I would challenge each and every one to consider how those first days of school (August or September) could be more inclusive.

Planning Considerations:

What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were mirrors of the reading students did in previous years?

What if the opening community-building Read Alouds included one from each band of text – matching the students in front of the teacher?

What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were mirrors of the students and their cultures?

What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were fun, inspirational and then lovingly placed in a basket labeled “Our Favorite Books to Re-Read”?

Why Re-Read?

To feel welcomed.

To feel accepted.

To revisit old friends.

To build community.

To demonstrate the value of re-reading!

To remember the excitement of that “first read”!

How do you welcome EVERY child to your reading community?

How could Read Alouds, that correspond to your students’ previous reading, build empathy and respect as well as empower and engage your students?   

How could those beginning of the year Read Alouds strengthen and build upon student successes, positive attitudes and reading habits? 

How are you including both mirrors and windows in your classroom book collection?

Isn’t this the “Engagement, Excellence and Equity that should be quaranteed for ALL students?




And as you are planning, remember these words from Lin Manuel’s tweet . . .

“You’re gonna make mistakes.

You’re gonna fail.

You’re gonna get back up.

You’re gonna break hearts.

You’re gonna change minds.

You’re gonna make noise.

You’re gonna make music.

You’re gonna be late, let’s GO”  @Lin_Manuel




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#TCRWP: Farewell Final Five


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Five: 

Coffee deliveries may be the highlight of your day.  Sharing the love, being responsible for alternating days, vulnerability in early morning hours . . . exquisite moments in time!

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Life in the dorm!

Four: 

The Big Ideas of Teaching Spelling and Grammar are so important.

  • What is the purpose?  Purpose vs. rule
  • Time for practice
  • Having a focus or goal
  • Differentiation that works
  • Bite-sized pieces
  • Consider reading level
  • Provide opportunities for transfer

And then we dug into the actual lessons to find where they occur.  How can you, the teacher, make them more explicit?  Notice them during a Read Aloud or use them in  Interactive Writing before that lesson so the students have the language in their repertoire!

Three: 

Tears of laughter and joy from Colleen Cruz’s closing.  But this I will remember.

Always.

Always.

Always.

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Two:  

Use the resources in the Units of Study.  Here’s the “problem“.

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Here’s the solution.

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One:

Build your community.  Follow #TCRWP on Twitter and on Facebook.  Find your “family reunion” at TCRWP (nothing like being called out by Lucy Calkins in her speech at the closing).  There is no better support in the world than in the #TCRWP community whether you leave your red knapsack in the subway,  have questions, or are “going it alone” in your district.  Reach out.  There will be support!

What great learning! 

What great adventures? 

How will you continue your summer learning?

 

#TCRWP: Fantastic Four


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Fantastic Four Fireballs

Fantastic learning continues and today’s countdown of learning is from Thursday at the June TCRWP Writing Institute.

FOUR: 

From Simone Fraser’s session, there are at least three different ways to teach grammar.

  1. Demonstration 
  2. Inquiry
  3. Interludes and Extravaganzas

As teachers, we need to reflect:

Who is doing the work?

Who is doing the most talking?

Do we always use the same group size?  Or do we vary whole group, small group, partners, 1:1?

Do students really have enough “work” to really understand?

When do students become more independent?

Which method leads to the best transfer?

If you are only using one method, which one would you add to your repertoire?

THREE:

From Marie Mounteer and our Interactive Writing session,

When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.

When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.

When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.

The WHY? is critical.

TWO:

Marjorie Martinelli’s message in her choice session was exactly what I needed to hear.  When we consider any practices in our writing workshop, we need to consider these three lenses:

  • Remind
  • Refresh
  • Reflect

We were looking specifically at writing centers, routines and rituals, and anchor charts, but these three bulleted ideas can frame our discussions about classroom environments, all parts of the writing workshop, writing process and even genre work.  Reminding ourselves of the WHY or purpose behind our work is always a great beginning to review our goals and purposes in order to keep our eye on how all students can have increased access, agency and independence in writing.

ONE:

Katharine Bomer knocked it way out of Cowin Auditorium with her keynote titled, “With an Air of Expectancy:  Teaching Writing with Belief, Hope, and Respect”.

Expectancy:

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Expectation:

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Which one is more inviting?  Which one is more inclusive?

They aren’t the same.  Just as learning and achievement are not the same.

But this is my favorite and what every teacher needs to remember:

““Let us become ambitious about believing kids and lifting them up… let us see their knowledge, their experience, their languages as gifts. All kids.”




What are you remembering? 

What are your big ideas? 

What will you DO as a result of your learning?

What’s the key word connecting today’s “Fantastic Four Fireballs”?

#TCRWP: 3 Tips


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Day 3 Countdown . . .

Tip #3. 

Working with Jeff Anderson’s Patterns of Power this week in Marie Mounteer’s section has been a special treat in a section where our focus has been on Interactive Writing,

The steps for a lesson.

When to use.

Work with Conventions. Spelling. Capitalization.

Work with Grammar.

Beginning with the standards.

Using student writing to determine needs.

Formative assessment at its best.

Analyzing student writing to plan for one small group of three students with different needs.

Lifting the level of work for all.

It all began with this:

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Everything you will need for planning is in Jeff Anderson’s book.  Sample sentences from fabulous literature that you will be reading to your students.  The only exception would be an actual sentence from the reading students are doing in your classroom.

Everything

is

in

Jeff 

Anderson’s

book.

Don’t consult other sources like TpT!

Use the research-based work from Jeff Anderson! (never a rip off) as you work and plan with a partner – Priceless!

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Tip #2 

Simone Fraser and Toolkits

What do you include?

  • Mentor Texts 
  • Checklists from Writing Pathways
  • Progressions from Writing Pathways
  • Tools to do big work (micro-progressions! Also see Kate and Maggie and DIY Literacy – link)
  • Anchor Chart – Anchor Charts for the whole unit as well as charts from previous years

How do you organize?

So many possibilities. By units or within bends.

“I organize by the stages of the writing process.” 

Working collaboratively to create tools and share . . .

Tip #1

Do.not.ever.pass.on.an.opportunity.to.hear.Georgia.Heard.  What an inspiring keynote!!!

Her writerly life will inspire you as she details her process and shares the final product.

Her student examples will bring you to tears.

Gaspar’s Heart Map with a single wavy line down the middle to represent the line at the Mexican border.  He wrote a poem off of that map about his Mexican heart and American heart with alternating lines written in English and Spanish.  Awe-inspiring.

Heart maps are a powerful tool for writers and writing.  No one has ever said, ‘I have heart map block.’ Many students have said (prior to heart mapping), ‘I don’t know what to write about.’ Small moments can change us.  My writing teacher who wrote ‘add more details’ was really saying,  ‘pay attention and gather ideas for your writing.'”

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What are you learning this week? 

How are you filling and fueling your brain? 

How are you filling and fueling your writing heart?

 

 

 

 

#TCRWP: Day 2 Highlights


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One

Read Alouds are to be savored and today was a day to be all in because after hearing the back story, we had the distinct pleasure of having Matt de la Pena read Love to us.

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It won’t be the same. You won’t be in Cowin Auditorium with 600+ best friends.  You won’t be in the front row.  But here’s your opportunity to have the book read to you. Read by Matt de la Pena.

The hope

The joy

The love

That came from one little poem

About seeing “love” in the mirror.

Need more? Interview with author Matt de la Pena and illustrator Loren Long here.

Tissue Alert!  Tissues Needed!




Two

Pure Delight for those of you that work with the precious “littles” in kindergarten.  I attended Marie Mounteer’s Choice Session on the new kindergarten writing unit out in July – “Show and Tell: From Labels to Pattern Books”.  The room was packed with teachers and the excitement bubbled within the room as Marie previewed some of the 17 sessions in the unit.

I am totally in love with this progression of spelling development.

Nerd out over spelling.

YES!

I see that eye roll!

But how do we explain this to colleagues?  That first, yes, there is a progression and second, that not all students arrive at the same time on the same day.  I believe that the explicitness in this chart makes it easier to describe ALL the things that a student can do on their journey as they develop as spellers.

The key is growth.

The key is celebrating growth along the progression so a child who enters kindergarten may be at a different stage than peers, but just look at the journey.  It’s not about color coding whether a child is green, yellow, or red at any one stage.  Instead it’s all about building on what the child can do . . . writing in kindergarten . . . so important to recognize that it is a journey.  A journey students will love!  A journey we will love!

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And this unit gives students so many access points to be successful writers who can explore their passions.  Thanks, Marie Mounteer and Lizzie Hetzler for authoring such an important unit and for all the wisdom from Natalie Louis and Lucy Calkins (and other staff developers and teachers) that helped bring this joyful unit to life.

What were your top 2 Highlights from Day 2 at the 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP?

 

#SOL18: Why #TCRWP?


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Three letters

One word

Connected to my #OLW – curious

WHY?

A recurring theme on Day 1 of the 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP




As the day began in typical fashion at Riverside Church with 1200 teachers strong, “You’ve come from  41 states, 36 countries, those who’ve attended 25 or 26 institutes, as children in workshop schools or those who came alone who are now back with principals and teachers… movers and shakers.”

 

If you are not on Twitter, this is a time you should be.  Because you can capture thoughts such as these:

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Or these .  .  .

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But you had to be there in person in that setting to capture the eloquence as three fifth graders from Tiana Silvas’s classroom stepped up to the podium.  These students were definitely a part of a level three writing workshop as they, oh so eloquently, delivered their memorized poetry and reminded us of all the many reasons that we teach writing and we continue our tireless efforts!

The enthusiasm of the beginning of the day carried the theme of

WHY?

bringing purpose as we considered the energy, independence and transfer that comes from the creation and use of tools with Simone Frazer and building bridges between reading and writing with interactive writing with Marie Mounteer.

Decisions about Choice Sessions are never easy.  They are all amazing.  But Kisha Howell rocked Horace Mann with her tips about increasing writing volume.  The big ideas centered around:  feedback, talk, clear tools, “other texts,” meaningful process, and sketching.  Exquisitely delivered in a way that my ancient brain absorbed, retained and connected the tips in true “showing not telling” fashion . . .

I’m fascinated by this chart.  Where has the feedback that I’ve received fallen short?  What about the feedback that I give?  All feedback is not equal . . .

20180619_023753

This opening day of 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP satisfied my “WHY” to attend . . . . in order to continue and grow with some of the brightest literacy minds. Thank you, #TCRWP, for being a place to satisfy my “curious” and grow my thinking!




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: Why Practice?


It was a simple comment.

It brought me to a complete stop.

“We practice to build proficiency.”

Is that the goal?

Proficiency?

If we build or meet proficiency, what does that mean?

Screenshot 2018-06-12 at 5.27.30 AM

Retrieved from dictionary.com

In education, there seem to be points in time when proficiency has become a form of a new longer, four-letter word.  It causes a pain in my stomach.  It brings up visions of charts where students are color coded green, yellow or red that result in assignments to specific interventions.

Proficiency, in education,  now often implies an ability to meet an arbitrary cut point.

A “Yes”,  I made it or a “No”, not yet?

Once?

Twice?

Three times and that’s good?

What does proficiency look like in football?

One example

These descriptors come to mind:

Self- assessment

Goal-setting

Beginning with the end in mind

Time

Repetition

 EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Why do readers need to read (practice) every day?

Why do writers need to write (practice) every day?

To meet external goals?

To meet personal goals?

Is there a sense of urgency?

Is there a sense of joy?

A feeling of accomplishment?

Has it become drudgery?

What is the real goal?

Do readers and writers EVER stop practicing?  Should they?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

 

 

 

#SOL18: “psst . . . I’m reading . . .”


2018 is the year of books!

These are just some of the books that I have read (and blogged about) during the last school year.  I’ve left out Ellin Keene’s Engaging Children, Tom Marshall’s Reclaiming the Principalship, and Kristi Mraz and Christine Hertz’s Kids 1st From Day One. So much to continue to learn.  So much to continue to read and write about.  So much to continue to be curious about.

And then another new book emerges  . . .

This week’s #G2Great chat will be about this new book from Stenhouse by Kari Yates and Christina Nosek.  And I’ve been waiting

and waiting

and waiting.

Conferring is still an area where I need to improve.  Where I need to listen more and talk less.  Where I need to grow.  And conferring about reading!

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The title is captivating:  “to know and nurture a reader: Conferring with Confidence and Joy”.  I love the conventions, and their use in the title.  I love “confidence and joy”.

Have you checked out the resources?

Book

Website

Help! My students want to choose books I’m afraid are too hard!

How can I support readers who pick the same types of books over and over again?

How can I use conferring to connect with students who are very new to English?

Some of my students just hop from book to book! What can I do to support them?

Why Confer with Readers? 10 Compelling Reasons

I have two chapters left to read and then I will be ready for the chat Thursday night.  I can’t wait to spend more time practicing and improving my conferring skills with students and teachers. The videos, the tips, and all the problem solving has thus far been on target.

What are you reading? 

What are your working on? 

How will we know?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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