#Digilit Sunday: Function


Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function.  Check out Margaret’s post here. The part of “function” that I have been thinking about a lot lately is “executive function”.


It’s close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be increasing their own level of executive function?  Isn’t this where deep learning and even transfer live? Isn’t this the whole point of moving beyond “surface learning”?


Fisher, Frey, and Hattie

And of course, the most important factor in executive function, in my opinion, is that a student has had plenty of opportunities to “do the work”? How do teachers ensure that students are doing the organizing and the self-talk?  They must “say less so readers can do more” and demonstate over and over that they really can do the work with panache and  confidence!


Burkins and Yaris

For me, the connections from this post all began years ago during TCRWP Writing Institute with a conversation between Allison Jackson and myself about this book.  That conversation grew into a book study, Twitter chats and actually meeting the authors. Completely life-changing . . .


Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse

The function of learning is that students do the hard work of making meaning. That students actually dig into surface, deep and transfer learning.  That teachers are like the conductors on the train.  Recognizing the signs, making them visually and verbally apparent, but that ultimately students are really the ones who need to be in charge of their learning. And that learning should always, always, always be JOYFUL!

Unfortunately, this Mark Twain quote may still be true:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

-Mark Twain

But I can learn in spite of or even despite my education!

Is learning the FUNCTION of your work?

How do we know?


#SOL16: Always Learning


It comes in many forms.

In many places.




A journey of

Many ideas


And like a pile of legos

Rebuilt in another shape

A different shape

A synthesis of ideas!

The past week has been a journey into read alouds.  Perhaps you participated in the #G2Great chat last week.  Check out Jenn’s post about that chat, please. With the title, “Teachers Doing the Work:  Thoughtful Planning for Intentional Read Aloud“, you must stop and check it out!

And then I’ve continued to read in this new book.

Who's doing the work

Chapter 2 is all about Read Alouds and the title is magical,  “Read-Aloud: Giving Students a Reason to Learn to Read”.

I’m lingering with this idea, ” Next generation read-aloud focuses on read aloud’s power of engagement while still leaving room for intentional but limited teacher talk.  It follows the lead of students as much as possible making space for responsive teaching, reflective connections to standards or isolated strategies, and celebrations of productive effort.”

And then this post from Susie Rolander completely consumed my thinking as I continued to wonder about how we help students find their voice and path in literacy learning.. It is about the students and the learning they can show us IF and WHEN we tap into and “turn on their smarts”.

To top it off, I just learned about the research tool in google last night from my colleague Dyan.  Where have I been?  Why did I not know this? Inside any google document or slide show, you can research straight from the document WITHOUT opening another tab?  How, you ask?

research tool

Under the tool bar – select research and then you have a myriad of choices.

research tool two

Images – those that are free to use. Scholar for that quick look at resources . . . .And the link will be inserted with a picture or a reference . . . And MLA or APA style can be added.

As a result of this tool, here’s how I’m feeling:


as I wonder when WordPress will incorporate this feature?

Here’s a portion of my search for Read Aloud under Google Scholar inside a google document.

research read aloud

So much that I can now do without opening 10 other tabs . . . one for a search, one for an image, one for whatever distracted me . . . .

Always learning!  Thanks to my friends at #G2Great, @hayhurst3, @burkinsandyaris, @suzrolander and @DyanSundermeyer !

Have you used the google research tool?

Do your students?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!


#SOL16: Rainy Night Results in . . .

Rain . . .

No outside work.

Rain . . .

Time to read.

(Gotcha – definitely NOT inside work!)

After two glorious days of temps in the 70’s and 80’s, I was so happy that this was waiting at my doorstep yesterday after a long day of work.  Perfect timing! Relaxing with friends . . .

Who's doing the work

It’s available online courtesy of Stenhouse Publishers here.  I have been reading (albeit slowly) the online version, but it’s tedious.  Reading online means that I have one device open to read and another device open to take notes. No split screen. There’s a limit to the size that I like to view pages in professional texts. Slow. Absorbing. Delighted.

I love this infographic.

doing the work

“This book does not advocate the simple idea of the teacher doing less. Rather it is a guide to being intentional about what we do less of.” – Joan Moser (Foreword)

This book is truly a gem as it guides the reader to think, and to think deeply about whether teacher scaffolds unintentionally cause greater student dependence.  If our goal is joyful, independent, capable readers . . . what should we really do more of?  What should we do less of?

I’m savoring this book and pages 14 and 15 are my current favorite because the section is “What Do Reading Levels Mean, Anyway?” and wordlover me is mesmerized by the use of “ubiquitous”.  And the thought leaders . . .

“Dorothy Barnhouse

Vicki Vinton

Debbie Miller

Regie Routman

Gail Boushey

Joan Moser

Chris Lehman

Stephanie Harvey

Richard Allington,

Peter Johnston,

Mary Howard

Kathy Collins

Kylene Beers,

Fountas and Pinnell”

Oh, my!

Ready for some “next generation literacy instruction“?  Ready to learn about “saying less” so students do the work to learn more?

You need to read this book!

And check out how long you resist figuring out where the words come from that are the background for half the page of the book cover. It’s another favorite section of mine. (Truthfully, I thought I would be farther in the book. But I’m rereading. Marking. Post-it-ing! Thinking!)

What’s it like to get that book you have been eagerly anticipating?

Do your students know that joy?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!



#SOL16: Time

Wide awake

Read a chapter

Think of a slicing topic

Back to sleep

two thirty

Toss and turn

Read another chapter

Check the time

Back to sleep

three thirty


White noise is not working

Book is finished


four thirty

Not successful!

Heard the weather.

Still tired

Time to write

Time to write about time . . .

What’s your remedy for early wake ups when traveling?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

#SOL16: Professional Development


What is Professional Development?

Are those groans that I’m hearing?  Does professional development bring a bit of a frown to your face or a sinking feeling in your stomach?

I’ve had the privilege of engaging in powerful professional development (PD) over the course of the last two weeks.  I’m going to cite four specific examples of PD that have been powerful for me and then explain the critical attributes that contributed to my learning!


Powerful PD:

  1. #TCRWP 90th Saturday Reunion
  2. #TWT Blog Series on Professional Development
  3. #G2Great Twitter Chat on Thoughtful Decision-Making
  4. #TheEdCollabGathering

What made these four instances powerful learning experiences?


All of these examples were freely chosen by me.  I chose to travel to the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion.  Once there, I had approximately 150 sessions to choose from – a veritable buffet of choices that was incredibly difficult. (You can read about those sessions here, here, here, here and here.)  The #TWT Blog Series could be read in order or as I had time to savor the content.  The #G2Great Twitter Chat involved choices about which questions I responded to as well as conversations that were extended.  And #TheEdCollabGathering on Saturday offered multiple sessions in four different time frames so I could choose the sessions of greatest interest.


There was no cost for any of these PD offerings.  Of course, the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion involved travel to New York City – but the PD was a gift from Lucy Calkins and colleagues just as #TheEdCollabGathering was a gift.  I attended the Saturday reunions from my living room for several years before live attendance!  The #TWT blog series and the #G2Great Chat were free – only required my time!  Free is a nice selling point for my frugal mind!

Learning Collaboratively with Others

Whether it was a turn and talk with Tara or Erica, or tweets to attendees or those at home, or even reading and collecting blog posts from others, #TCRWP is ALWAYS about learning collaboratively with others.  We kept talking over lunch at the end of the day – not yet ready to end the day.  Twitter chats are also always about learning with others.  Retweeting, or finding “frame-worthy” tweets, is all about rejoicing in the language precision of friends’ 140 characters that just must be repeated verbatim.  And a blog post series allowed me to respond to the #TWT authors and their posts directly or on twitter.

Available 24/7 to Revisit

The learning continues after each of the events above.  My notes, multiple blog posts and conversations on Twitter or Voxer are available 24/7 to revisit #TCRWP’s 90th Saturday Reunion. I can continue to revisit the #TWT PD Series and send links to friends for conversations.   I can review the #G2Great twitter chat in a column of my Tweetdeck as well as read Amy’s wonderful analysis blog post here. And all of the Hangouts on Air by #TheEdCollabGathering are available for viewing . . . anytime . . . anywhere.

Passionate and Inspiring  Presenters

Not only were each of the presenters above passionate and inspiring, but they were also knowledgable and skilled at “pushing” for action.  It was never enough to learn because the learning wasn’t the terminal point – that was reserved for the plan for “How are you going to use this?”  Masterful, experience, and models of reflective practices . . . EACH.AND.EVERY.ONE!

So a tough question . . .

If those are characteristics that I value in my quest for PD that fuels my heart, soul and mind, how does that match up with PD that I provide?



Learning Collaboratively with Others?

Available 24/7 to Revisit?

Passionate and Inspiring?

Choices are built into the task that teachers are asked to complete.  They have to “do” something but they have choices.  Free?  Yes! Learning collaboratively with other?  Yes, with pair-share and productive group work. Available 24/7 to revisit?  Yes, thanks to google docs and slides there is always some artifact to leave behind.  Passionate?  Yes!  Inspiring?  I hope so!

If nothing else,  naming these characteristics that I value will push me to make sure they are included in future PD sessions!

What characteristics do you value in PD?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!


This post is shared with Margaret Simon in DigiLit Sunday here at Margaret’s request to share our reflections on #TheEdCollabGathering.


It was a sunny golden April Saturday.  Maybe a tad bit windy as winds up to 50 mph were reported in Des Moines.  But no rain . . . no snow . . . perfect day for yard work, gardening  or The Ed Collaborative Gathering. In Iowa it’s toooooo early for outside plants to escape frost so it was easy to log on to the computer for a free day of professional development provided by Chris Lehman and friends! Here’s the schedule.

What interests you?

Theme for the day:

Embrace your passion, your curiosity and your dreams

and let your students do the same!

Take Aways:

Opening session with Smokey Daniels

smokey lit curiosity home to grade 5

smokey and wondering

and Sara Ahmed

Smokey and Sara Saras wonders

From Dr. Mary Howard  – Session 3, # 11

dr mary greatest gift

dr mary passion

and Linda Hoyt

“Be picky, picky, picky!”

linda hoyt picky about read alouds

“Be planful”

linda hoyt muscle in read alouds

What this means?

The teacher needs to model passion, curiosity and the entire “quest to learn” EVERY DAY.

The student is the center of the learning. Not standards, not curriculum.

Students and teachers thrive on choices.  (Consider the 10,000 hits on #TheEdCollabGathering yesterday. How many teachers were REQUIRED to be there?)

Learning is joyful when it involves passion and curiosity.

The depth of learning increases for students and teachers with choice in  exploration, demonstration and inspiration.

The teacher needs to be thoughtful and have every action well planned.  That doesn’t mean serendipitous learning doesn’t have a place.  In fact, with the student as a focus, all learning will be totally relevant for the students.  With a plan, the teacher will know exactly how much time can be freed up.

Did you attend?

What did you learn?

Sometimes learning takes thought and reflection.  There were other ideas I heard yesterday that I need to continue to think about . . .


Other posts/resources about the day:

PD in PJs 

Ziemke padlet

Jo Ellen McCarthy’s Poetry Padlet

PD in my PJs:  Part 2

#SOL16: March Challenge 31 – Tools!

Technology = Tools that make our life easier

Technology from my life – before beginning school . . .

How many do you recognize and know?

Tool # 5


No rotary dial for this phone.  It was a party line phone that hung on the wall in our living room.  One phone for the entire house and family that was attached to the wall.  And you had to listen for your “ring”!

My parents still had a party line in 2005.  Two couples still on the line with neither household willing to pay the cost of a private line. That last portable phone on the farm included a charging base and an answering machine. 

Tool #4

wringer washer

The wringer washer was dangerous.  Your arm could get caught in the rollers.  I remember running cloth diapers and sheets through the rollers . . . it seemed like hours!  Monday was traditionally wash day and this machine was accompanied by tubs of rinse water before clothes went on the line outside to dry.

Our first modern “washer” was purchased in 1970 when we moved into our new house. Goodbye rollers and rinse tubs full of water!  Goodby  Monday wash day!  Any day could now be wash day!

Tool #3


The television was black and white and the picture was black and white. We had three channels.  The remote control was one of the  kids who got up and physically changed the channel.  We watched Lawrence Welk on Saturday night and Bonanza and Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights.  There was no tv watching after school or during the week nights.

The black and white TV was replaced in 1970 when we moved into the new house – a console color TV was part of our family Christmas gift. No cable, no satellite, no NetFlix, no VCR!

Tool #2

record player.jpg

The record player was in the dining room.  It played two different sizes of vinyl records – the singles (45 rpm) or albums (33 1/3 rpm).  The phonograph player was in the dining room.  I was always allowed to play it while I ironed clothes.  The song I remember most was “Give Me 40 Acres and I’ll Turn this Rig Around” – yep, country western – probably “Best Hits”!

I remember this being stored in the basement of our house in later years.  It was also replaced by a stereo console in a cabinet with green velvet under wooden trim. . . 1970 Christmas gift as well!  The stereo also housed a radio that could make the house shake when the bass volume was high!

Tool #1

butter churn

The butter churn was the number one tool that I remember using on a weekly basis.  We would beg I would beg to churn butter each week.  I don’t remember what the alternative was, but churning butter meant that “baking” came next.  Yep!  We milked cows, ran a home separator to separate the cream from the milk, sold cream in a cream can and then also peeled the cream off the home pasteurized gallon of milk daily.  By the end of the week there was enough golden yellow cream to make butter.  Butter that went into cookies –  soft and melt in your mouth cookies.  Oatmeal raisin freezer cookies that were rolled up in waxed paper waiting to be sliced and baked.

I believe that Mom still has the butter churn.  It may have marbles in the bottom. It’s an antique so it’s welcome to hang around for a bit. .  . a tool to be admired.

What “technology” do you remember from your childhood that might be considered “pre-historic” today?

What memories are attached to those pieces of technology?

Process/Goals:  During drive time yesterday  I continued to think about the “Timeless” post  and wondered how else I could use an idea about how some household items have changed.  .  . not just in size but in terms of materials composition and even purposes of use!  I started typing some ideas, grabbed photos from Google images, numbered in blue.  And then I had the bright idea to add “the rest of the story” in italics . . . and right justified to set them off. Added categories, tags, proofed, and the #SOL16 to end the March Challenge which did not exist when I was a child!

And to dream of the devices used for this post that were not YET created in the time described in this post: laptop, internet, blogs, Google images, and no March Challenge connecting readers and writers around the world instantly!

Thank you, friends, for reading and commenting during the March Challenge Slice of Life!

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!

#SOL16: March Challenge 30 – The First Year

During my first year when I was learning to walk and talk with my basic needs cared for by my parents:

Eisenhower was President.

Swaps won the Kentucky Derby.

Narinder Kapany (England) developed fiber optics.

Gunsmoke debuted on CBS and went on to be television’s longest-running western.

Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus.


During my son’s first year when he was learning to walk and talk with his basic needs cared for by his parents:

George H. Bush was President.

Strike the Gold won the Kentucky Derby.

Boris Yeltsin became the first freely elected president of Russian Republic.

Ninety-nine percent of U.S. households had at least one radio, with the average owning five.

The Persian Gulf War ended April 3rd.


Thus far during my grandson’s first year

when he is learning to walk and talk

with his basic needs cared for by his parents:

Barack Obama is President.

The Kentucky Derby has not yet been run.

Space X launched the first reusable rocket into orbit and recovered it.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sarah and Duck are PBS shows for children.

The President and his family have visited Cuba.


I began with inspiration from Betsy’s call for slices yesterday called Timeless.  However after spring break with the family, I wanted to narrow the time frame a bit so I decided to go with events from the first year of three generations of our family.  Deciding on a format to showcase the three generations took the most work as there were tons of online resources for “data” facts. (Fun way to think about what’s important!)


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!


#SOL16: March Challenge 29 – The Zoo



So just imagine a family trip to the zoo during an extended Easter weekend . . .


The ABC’s of Our Trip to the Louisville Zoo


Brown bear / bald eagle




Flora / fauna

Gorillas / giraffes

Holiday Monday

Intent on visiting the zoo


Kids and families!

Lions / lynx


Napping grandson

Out and in – a stroller


Quietly and Not so Quietly

Reviewing the animals and their informational signs

Seals / sea lions


Under the cloudy Louisville skies

Very precious families


Xany dad

Youthful grandmothers


How do you capture the unique qualities of a day?

Process/Goal:   To describe the day at the zoo with grandson, mom, dad and the two grandmothers. What a fun day through the eyes of a 10 1/2 month old boy.  I recorded notes on my phone with “S Notes” seen here as we headed home from the zoo.

At 11:01 pm I decided to stay with the ABC idea since I was past the midpoint. I began the draft and thought of how to “cover” the letters where I did not have animal names. Seriously, typed and ready to post in less than 30 minutes!


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!



#SOL16: March Challenge 28 – Words


commandingly from his car seat throne as Dad pumps gas outside the window.

“Look at me!”


with nose pressed against the window panes as Dad hides Easter eggs in the yard.

“Let me come out there!”


when he abruptly sits on the kitchen floor as Mom takes his picture.

“What just happened?”


when he reaches for the camera as Mom sits on the grass in the yard.

“Can I have it?”

“lglllgal – l – l – ly”

What will that next word really be?



To capture moments to live in my heart when we are apart!  Listening for all that he says by word, thought, and actions!  Enjoying the weekend with my grandson!  When he does use words, what does he say?

At 10 1/2 months, enjoying his mobility (walking everywhere) and his words!

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas and Resources

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson


All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

I Haven't Learned That Yet

This blog serves to document my path of learning and teaching.

Simply Inspired Teaching

A blog by Kari Yates

Reflections on Leadership and Learning

Sharing my learning experiences

AnnaGCockerille Literacy

The Generative Power of Language: Building Literacy Skills One Word at a Time

Reading to the Core

Just another WordPress.com site

Karen Gluskin

My Teaching Experiences and Qualifications

To Read To Write To Be

Thoughts on learning and teaching

Books and Bytes

Exploring the best of literature and edtech for the middle grades.

To Make a Prairie

A blog about reading, writing, teaching and the joys of a literate life


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,314 other followers