#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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#SOL18: Commencement


What is commencement?

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A beginning?  A ceremony?  Both?

I’ve written about commencements before . . .

here . . . (the language of music)

here . . . (Commencement and ILA15)

here . . . (college graduation and a green river)

here . . . (since last March)

and here! (a micro-essay about TSA Troubles)

There are some extra special memories associated with Commencement this year.

We now have another Doctor in the family . . . in a new generation.

College commencement ceremonies for the son and granddaughter.

The decorated mortarboards that instantly make my eyes leak rivers.

High school graduations for friends and the step-grandkids.

And then a preschool graduate later this week.  That will be a new one for me.

I’m a sucker for “Pomp and Circumstance”.

I’m a sucker for great speeches.

I believe Jason Reynold’s speech at Lesley College was just the right length and oh, so true . . .  but I’m not including a link because the entire video is over two hours.  I had a major fail when I sent it to the kids. You just need to find the 50 minute mark and listen for the next 10 – 11 minutes.

“We made it!”

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What do you think makes a great Commencement Speech?




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: Planning


planning

Do you love to plan? 

Do you hate to plan? 

Planning can take many forms.  Planning to write in the form of creating an outline and then following it point by point . . . just the thought of it, makes me nauseous.  In the vernacular of “slicers”, then am I a “pantser” meaning I plan by the seat of my pants . . . in the moment?  Actually not.  I’m somewhere in between.

It all depends . . .

What’s your process for planning in your personal life? 

It’s time for a weekend get away or a family vacation.  Do you investigate possibilities on line via “The Google”? When and where do you plan?  As you are packing? Or in advance so you can make sure that everything fits?  That might necessitate packing that “carry on” bag in advance to make sure everything fits.  That might mean “lists” depending on the length of the stay.  That might mean a careful assessment of “technology needs” in order to be prepared.

What’s your process for planning in your work life?

As the school year winds down are you preserving those notes?  More of “x”. Less of “y”.  Scrap a, b, and c. How do you make those decisions?  That might mean lists of “If . . . , then . . .”, T charts of pros and cons that precede the inner debate, or even basic boxes and bullets.

Lists of lists???

Again, it all depends . . .

If you are a secondary teacher (grades 6-12), then you need to immediately order this book and join one of the many book studies that are planned for this summer. (Note that I did not say, if you are a secondary ELA teacher, because I believe there is merit in the principles and ideas in this book for social studies teachers, instructional coaches, principals, and curriculum directors.)

180 days book

The hashtag for this book is #180Days.  But I want to draw your attention to the subtitle:  “Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents.”

And in case you missed it, the full title is 180 Days:  Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. 

Let’s face it.

A “How to” book with QUEST, ENGAGE, and EMPOWER in the title.

There are probably days when you scratch your head and wonder, “WHY?  Why am I doing this to myself?”  Other days in moments of honestly, your first period class really sucked, second period was better, and third period rocked.  WHY?

That opportunity to practice.

That opportunity to tweak the lesson.

A different beginning.

A different ending.

That opportunity to re-vision the lesson.

Some teachers have the opportunity to adjust and discuss situations as they occur with collaborative teaching partners.  But in this book you have the collective wisdom of Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle as they share how they planned, the basis for their decisions, their varied class periods (each day, Kelly and every other day – block schedule, Penny) as they taught and collaborated across the country, NH and CA.

Not sure if this is the book for you?  Resources that may help you decide are:

Book

Sample Chapter

Heinemann podcast 1

Heinemann podcast 2

Facebook page

Travis Crowder’s Review

Podcast part 1 – ReadAloud

And if that’s not enough, please join the #G2Great Twitter Chat this Thursday night.

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Added – Literacy Lenses post about 180 Days #G2Great Chat  5.20.18

Do you “engage and empower” your adolescents on a regular basis? 

Do you worry about being responsive to life and also “fitting it all in”?

This book will show you how to make better decisions about your students  – based on the needs of your students – so that you can and do ENGAGE and EMPOWER them!

WHY does it matter?

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How will you be planning for next year?




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: The Power of Eight


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It was in the eighth month

That I first counted his fingers and toes

All perfectly formed

That babe of mine.

It was in the year 08

That he graduated from high school

Ready to challenge the world

And to venture forth.

And in his eighth year of service

Fort Jackson, Fort Hood, Fort Knox, and Fort Campbell

Overseas deployments numbering two

He’s now a second lieutenant.

In the year 18

A college graduate

Ready for the next chapter

With his family every growing!

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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

Blog Tour: It’s All About the Books


Screenshot 2018-04-29 at 5.40.51 AM.pngAdapted from “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
“Because you know I’m all about the books,
‘Bout the books, everywhere
I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom

I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom

I’m all ’bout reading, ’bout the books,

Because you know I’m all about reading,
‘Bout the books, Read Alouds too
I’m all ’bout independent reading, ’bout book sets.
I’m all ’bout book clubs, ’bout, partners too
I’m all ’bout the books (books)
I’m all ’bout learning, all about growing,
I’m all ’bout poetry, all about the series,
I’m all about adventure, and mystery
We gon’ read fantasy, historical fiction, and nonfiction too.
We know that books save lives
We know they make you feel
We know they take you places
We know they open up the world
We know they are a must
We know that readers have to read
We know…”
This book is a treasure trove of ideas to help teachers, buildings and districts increase student access to books and ultimately with the generosity of the authors to fund elementary and middle school classroom libraries through Penny Kittle’s #BookLove foundation.  I’ve already written about the book here before I’d finished reading the book and here after the #G2Great Twitter Chat (and when I was done reading the book).  This week, posts are also available at the sites listed above.  In the book the color pictures from classrooms and bookrooms are so detailed that you can immediately begin to think of new ways to reorganize your own book collections. Tammy and Clare talk about the need to have school libraries, classroom libraries and a bookroom.

Do you have a bookroom? 

What is the purpose of your bookroom?

There is no “ONE” right way to set up a bookroom.  Tammy and Clare suggest that you can use a closet, a room, a portion of the school library for a bookroom or “book annex”.  The initial step is to inventory your books and the forms that are available from the Heinemann Publishing online resources.

 

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Mulligan & Landrigan. It’s All About the Books. (p. 41)

 

I’ve been reviewing these bullets as I’ve studied book rooms ever since reading this book (p. 37- 54).  Is your bookroom essentially a “guided reading library” or is it a bookroom in the sense that Tammy and Clare refer to?  Access is a key.  Easy access is even more important.  Design involves the physical aspects of the bookroom space: shelves, baskets, labels, and location as well as the uses of the books. How accessible are your books?

Do all students have enough books to read (volume) to both grow and be inspired to be a life-long reader?

Students need daily access to more books than they can read so they can have choice.  If students are to be reading independently for 30 minutes each day, they need choices from a “limitless pool” of books.  That’s the purpose of the bookroom.  Choice involves considering a redesign or redeployment of current book inventories.  Considering how to meet multiple instructional needs may require changes:  some books in six packs for guided reading/small group instruction, some books as singles for independent reading and some books in 2s/3s for book clubs.  All.without.purchasing.more.books.at.this.time!

Live dangerously.  Check out your bookroom.  Are there some books that are starting to collect dust because they haven’t been read recently?

If those are six packs of books in zip-lock baggies, Tammy and Clare suggest that you may want to consider having them redistributed as singles for independent reading.  This is especially true for the beginning levels where students will need a high volume of books to read daily.  To Consider:  Maybe not all of the books need to be in sets of six in the bookroom.  Is that a novel thought?

What are some other possibilities?

What are the key topics that your students are interested in?  If it’s animals and you are a kindergarten teacher, you may want some A and B books in a basket labeled “Animals”. The label will NOT say A/B  This may even be a basket with a mixture of fiction and nonfiction books (my thinking).  If your first grade students like animals, you may need an E/F basket of animal books or  an I/J basket of animal books.  Again, the label will be the topic. The labels might be topics, authors, or general like “Laugh Out Loud”. Think of how easy it might be to “use” these books in your classroom if the books are already organized into baskets of approximately 20 books that you would be ready to check out and go!

What books do you need more of in your classroom?  Books for independent reading?  Books for book clubs?  Books for small group instruction?  Your classroom needs and student interests can help you figure out additional ways to organize books that may include your science and social studies curricula support as well. Sharing and redistributing books will keep the dust off and provide more reading for more students! What if you were able to reorganize your bookroom with a variety of combinations of books in order to enhance the readerly lives of your students?

If students are going to read a lot and become readers who love to read, they need access to books.  A lot of books. Single books for independent reading are needed in many classrooms because “rereading” the guided reading books are boring after awhile as are the Xeroxed books at the low levels, and perhaps FEWER books are needed for guided reading, especially after Level K.  (Moving to “strategy groups” for instruction allows the teacher to use the same mini-lesson for all students and provide practice in a text that shows they fully understand the strategy.) Practice, practice, practice in texts allows the student to build confidence and a skilled teacher can also consider how to close the gap for striving students.  That means fewer books will really need to be stored in groups of six.  Instead, baskets of books could be set up in the bookroom so teachers are able to rotate baskets to provide “new” titles for classroom libraries without depleting the school library. Independent student reading books can be refreshed and reinvigorated for immediate access in the classroom. (And it books are reassigned, perhaps the school book budget can now include some “new” purchases as new titles are published!)

Check out this April 29, 2018 Facebook Live session with Tammy and Clare here.

What ideas about bookrooms have intrigued you? 

What books could maybe be read more often if some changes were made in your current book collections?

Are you using your books in the most productive ways for students?




Heinemann has graciously donated a copy of It’s All About the Books for each stop on the blog tour. To enter, comment below and either post a picture of some part of your classroom library or your bookroom with the link in a comment or write about your thinking or your questions about bookrooms.  At the end of the week (Friday after 8 pm),  a random winner will be chosen to receive a copy of this fabulous new book!

#SOL18: Being the Change


Me.

I’m a product of my background.

I grew up on a farm in southeast Iowa. I went to school in a small town of approximately 6,000 citizens.  We were a homogeneous community.  Our biggest disagreements were between Democrats and Republicans or Catholics and Methodists.  Words.  Not anger. Not distrust. Words. There was one African American family.  One family. Although I graduated as one of 171 students in my class, there was no diversity at my grade level. None.

When I attended junior college, I was in a town of 20,000+. Diversity, some. And yet, our school was small enough that I knew people as individuals and not as a “racial group”. So it was a culture shock when at 19, I moved on to a university dorm in a town of 30,000+ with girls who didn’t look like me, didn’t talk like me, and who didn’t want to talk to me.  I was totally unprepared.

What could have prepared me? 

Relationships matter.  People matter.  When we understand our own relationships, we are better able to support the students in our classrooms. What happens when students want to talk about topics like race, gender, politics, religion and sexuality?  Are you comfortable with those topics?  What if their need to discuss those issues is so powerful that they can’t focus on learning until their conversation takes place.  What are your options?  One beginning point is to pick up Sara K Ahmed’s book, Being the Change:  Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension. It’s an EASY read.  What’s tough is actually “doing the work” yourself in order to become “comfortable with the discomfort” that comes with learning and growing.
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Here are just a few quotes from Sara  for you to think about:

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If you read and loved Upstanders, Sara K. Ahmed, will be no surprise to you.  She’s bright, articulate and so ready to challenge the complexities of the world. Heinemann has a podcast here where you can hear directly from Sara about this book.

What are you learning? 

What do you know about “social comprehension”?

Join the #G2Great chat Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 8:30 EST to learn from Sara!

Wakelet archive from #G2Great chat here.

 

 




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: Signs of Spring


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Signs of Spring

What do I see?

I see slivers of green

peeking through the brown grass

in the yard, the fields, and along the road.

Hopeful for fresh asparagus, daffodils and mushrooms.

What do I hear?

I hear choruses of birds

loud and excited

quiet and steadily constant.

Hopeful for woodpeckers and their staccato beat.

What do I smell?

I smell the earth

fresh-plowed and ready for seeds

anticipating the new growth.

Hopeful for abundant, fruitful crops to feed the world.

What do I feel?

I feel the sun’s rays

as day temps finally rise to 70s

and nights remain in the 50s.

Hopeful for no more sleet, slush, or snow.

Signs of Spring

What signs of spring are present in your region? 

How will you celebrate spring?




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: A Ripple


When do you speak up? When do you take action?  When have you “had enough”?  


I have a question. 

I see an injustice. 

Do I remain quiet? 

Do I speak up? 

What if my question is not accepted? 

What if  . . . 

What is the worst that can happen?

 

risk.PNG

I love this poem that Vicki Vinton posted on Twitter (as well as a new source for poetry)!  It can apply to so many situations in life.

Inaction . . .

Inertia . . .

No longer acceptable . . .

What is the tipping point?

Relative Truths:

Do no harm?

Truth?

What will be the cost of speech?

What will be the cost of inaction?

ripple.PNG

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water,

the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”  Dalai Lama

“This is what kindness does, Ms.Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Jacqueline Woodson

What will your “ripple” be?




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

#SOL18: Pinning


15 minutes.

A Pinning . . .

Yes, in nursing,

Yes, in sororities,

Yes, in service,

Specifically in the Army

We sit in a row:  wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister.

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Others slowly gather and fill rows behind us.

Ready and yet waiting.

Adjusting the controls on the screen and listening to the prep work behind the scenes.

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The promotion . . . (yes, via webcam)

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A speech . . .

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Changing rank . . .

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The celebratory cake for the new Command Sergeant Major . . .

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the highest non-commisioned rank in the Army!

And that’s just a small part of “How I Spent My Monday”!




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

Poetry: Love/Hate


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Today’s post is based on the mentor text, “I Hate Poetry”, by a Virginia middle school student.  Her poem can be found here (and all the comments that she responded to individually.  The comments tell exactly why she “hates” poetry!).

How do you feel about poetry? 

Which version best matches your experiences?

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Happy Poetry Friday!

( Click here for more info about Poetry Friday.)




Process:

  • Read student’s poem.
  • Studied the rhyme scheme.
  • Jotted down some ideas to include.
  • Decided that I wanted definite stanzas (so drafting outside of WordPress).
  • Used the student’s ideas for the first stanza.
  • Decided to repeat part of the first stanza in the closing stanza.
  • Drafted, revised, drafted!

 

#SOL18: What to read?


Book Birthdays Abound; What should I read?

If you also wonder, “How do we create lifelong readers?”,  then this is the book for you because it all begins with books!  Yes, books!

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One book that’s hot this week is:  It’s All About the Books!  

Event 1:  Heinemann Publications is hosting a Facebook live session with Tammy and Clare today, Tuesday, April 3rd. Information here! *7:30 pm EST  (podcast link)

Event 2:  #Good2Great chat at 8:30 EST on Thursday, April 5 will have Tammy and Clare as guests hosts. (Literacy Lenses post with storify & Tweets from chat- Link)

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What’s the book about?

This book helps teachers figure out how to maximize their resources (classroom libraries and bookrooms) in order to have the most engaging books available for students when they need them. And you will soon know what Tammy and Clare’s signature quote is when asked how to get the money for more books!  It will make you laugh!

Resource 1:  Heinemann Web page

Resource 2:  Podcast with Tammy and Clare (Link Here)

Resource 3:  Sample chapter

Not YET convinced?

Tammy and Clare are donating their royalties to Penny Kittle’s Book Love Foundation in order to put additional books into the hands of elementary and middle school students.

And in Clare’s own words, the power of books:

Slice one – “A Reader Reminds Me”

Slice two – “The Power of a Book”

This book explains how to inventory, assess and reassemble your book collections so more books are in your students’ hands across the entire year.  This is the week to learn about books with several resources at your fingertips!

What professional books are you reading? 

What’s on your TBR stack?




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

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