Monthly Archives: December, 2014

#SOL14: Ten Days of Christmas


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

After a day on the road yesterday traveling home, it’s easy for me to envision this winter break ending soon.  What an amazing time with friends and family!  And I only took pictures at the beginning and the end so my reporting is going to be random!

Traveling by car:  the price of gas was amazing!

Friday, December 19th at the New London, Iowa Casey’s the price of a gallon of gas was $1.99.  This was en route to the Moline airport to pick up the kids when they flew in.

20141219_133107

On Monday, December 29th at Columbia, MO, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.89. This was on the return to Iowa signaling the last turn north to home.

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Of course there were other tank fill ups during our travels but any and all that were under $2.00 per gallon were particularly noted.

Surprises were surprises!

On our path to new memories and traditions, we held a surprise baby shower for my daughter-in-law who believed that the surprise was that she and my son were in Iowa for the family Christmas. (The family did not know that she was accompanied by her husband so there was a surprise for everyone!) Even better, the projected overseas deployment is canceled for now so there was much to celebrate! Guests brought favorite books to share so the book shelf in the baby’s room will be filling up and the “onesie-decorating” contest was fun for all.  Proud of the many artists in the family. And special thanks to my sisters for organizing and planning the shower!

Good food!

The Ruth family Christmas (my mom’s brothers and sisters and offspring) was well attended.  We had the “family that came the farthest” – sister from Florida with her boys as well as five out of six children present for a high family attendance.  My son noted that he could tell he was in Iowa as there were five different corn dishes!

And then in Kentucky, we had great meals with many contributions from family members attending!  Debbie’s turkey was marvelous (so was her potato soup- different meal!)! John’s hash brown casserole – amazing! Aunt Lisa’s pies! Julie’s peanut butter balls and cake-batter bark were automatic hits! So many choices  . . . all great cooks!

Great Family Time!

We had a total of six different Christmas congregations between Iowa and Kentucky.  These involved parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and many more! Thanks to all family members for the great conversations, gifts and celebrations together!  Making the special effort to spend time together for the holidays and for family . . . Heaven!

What new memories/traditions did you begin/celebrate?

#SOL14: Prioritize!


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

               Winter Break

Bustle, hustle,

Here and there.

Traveling on,

Places to go,

People to see,

Things to do!

 

Travel?

Leisure Time?

Family?

Friends?

How do I eke out a few minutes for me?

 

Up early?

Up late?

Cooking and baking?

Straightening and cleaning?

Finish reading that book?

Or write a few lines?

 

Can I have it all?

Do I need it all?

Do I adjust my “all” and spread my goals

Over multiple days, times, and events?

 

Is it the holiday?

Christmas?

Chanukah?

Kwanza?

Or is it the togetherness?

The sense of family?

The security of beliefs held tightly?

 

Wishing YOU

peace

love

happiness

friendship

and a few moments to live

a readerly life,

a writerly life,

a family life,

however YOU best decide!

thank you languages

 

 

 

 

 

How do you prioritize during the holidays?

#SOL14 – Gratitude


success and happiness

How do you define success and happiness?

Two great posts recently include this from Kate and Maggie and this from Anna Gratz Cockerille.

As a “Slicer”. . .

I want to express my gratitude to the Two Writing Teacher blog and bloggers.  After meeting and hearing from five of them at #NCTE14, I am even more impressed with their prolific blogging, slicing, and “regular working lives”.  As with everyone, there is the need to be cautious and not burn oneself out in an attempt to do EVERYTHING!  I am very grateful for this supportive space to read, write and reflect!

As a “Blogger” . . . 

I want to express my gratitude to all those who follow my blog,  read my posts, and especially for those who comment.  I really appreciate knowing which ideas or words captured your thinking as you read my blog posts. We are all busy so I am very grateful for the extra time that you take to not only read but also to stop and comment!

As a “Tweeter” . . . 

I want to express my gratitude to my followers who RT and / or “favorite” my Tweets.  Special thanks to those who don’t moan on nights when the Twitter feed fills up during a # #T4Tchat or #TWTchat or a #TCRWP chat.  I love learning online and I am so grateful for the brilliant ideas shared!

As a “Reader of Professional Texts” . . .

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2014-12-15 21.15.44

 

I want to express my gratitude to the authors (their families), editors and publishers of these great books that were a part of my professional development during 2013-2014.  Even more importantly, I thank those who participated in the book chats and freely shared their thoughts and ideas.  I am amazed at the new things I learn every day as I read and reread these books, and I am grateful for having met these fabulous authors! (And I am so fortunate that I can “wear” evidence of my PD in the form of an autographed t-shirt!)

As a “Fra-mily” . . . 

I want to express my gratitude to those of you who may also be in all the categories above but who have become a part of my friends + family as a result of our personal face-to-face connections (often over a beverage or dinner), Twitter chats, blogs and Slices.  You range from Arizona, California, Washington, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland to Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana.  It is an honor and a pleasure to “KNOW” you and I am grateful for the time spent with you sharing online, face-to-face, personally and professionally.

As a member of our “Literacy Team” . . .

I want to express my gratitude for those of you who are part of my regular work team.  Together we are better!   Sharing resources, information and learning helps us all grow.  A growth mindset allows us to be continually improving our own skills.  I am grateful for our collaborative nature.

As a “Sister” . . .

I want to express my gratitude to my siblings.  It’s been years since we have been under one roof for extended periods of time, but each family event provides many opportunities to share our hopes and dreams.  Sometimes we even reminisce about the past and we are at that stage where our memories may have faded but our enthusiasm remains.  I am grateful for our time together.

As a “Daughter” . . .

I want to express my gratitude to my parents.  Miss you, Dad, but think of you daily with so much love as I continue to appreciate all that I learned from you.  Mom, I’ll never master crocheting and quilting, but I love your work and still share hearts as I travel.  I especially appreciate your love and support across the years and the miles.

As a “Mom” and soon-t0-be Grandma . . .

I want to express my gratitude to you my readers who have graciously allowed me to share my stories.  I am proud of my growing family and can’t wait to share their brilliance with you!

I wish you all a happy, healthy, joyous, and fun-filled holiday season!

What’s your plan for sharing your gratitude?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

“Close Reading and the Little Ones”: #NCTE14


Wow! It’s been over a year since Chris Lehman (@ichrislehman) and Kate Roberts(@TeachKate) published Falling in Love with Close Reading. There have been Twitter chats, presentations, Twitter book study chats, PD sessions and much continued conversation about the many facets of close reading.

falling in love

 

 

 

 

It has also been more than a year since the Close Reading Blog-a-thon!  This post “Close Reading is not THAT important!” is one of my favorites.  Have you read it?  What about the series of posts between Chris and Kate? Check out the thought-provoking posts and reread CCR Reading Anchor Standard 1.

So today, it was back to work on reading for a bit.  This is a short look into my thinking since Chris, Kate and Kristi Mraz’s (@MrazKristine) presentation at NCTE14!

  • Reading –
  • Close Reading –
  • Reading Closely,
  • Still thinking about!
  • Who?
  • When?
  • How Often?
  • Why?
  • Wondering . . .
  • Hopeful . . .
  • Silent . . .
  • Watchful . . .
  • Curious
  • Listening . . .
  • Fun . . .
  • Thoughtful . . .
  • Effective! ❤

Close Reading Session – Not starting with a song . . . (sigh!) but here are screenshots from a presentation that made us laugh, cry, and cheer for its thoughtful work with “The Little Ones”!  The presentation – “Close Reading and the Little Ones: How it’s Different (And Incredibly Fun and Effective) in Early Elementary Grades” from #NCTE14

Think about “HOW” you make sense of these pictures  . . . where and when do you linger?

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I was excited to try out the routine.  Amazed!  It’s all that Chris, Kate and Kristi promised.  And even more!  What an empowering tool for students!  Supportive of curiosity, wonder, and so much talk – what a wonderful way to frame paying close attention to “read” the world!  (NOT a bloody hammer for teachers!)

Not convinced?

Check out these notes! @ShawnaCoppola has the most beautiful notes.  Here is her visual of the session! If you are on Twitter and are following Shawna, you would have already seen this!  If you are not on Twitter, you should be.  Lurking is encouraged. Explore the possibilities!

Shawna Coppola

 

Convinced?

What questions remain?

 

 

#SOL14: The Value of Words


What is a word worth?

Individual words are added together to create sentences and then accumulated into documents, speeches, and presentations of all types.  Is one format valued or privileged over another?

A word in “Words with Friends” has a point value and is part of a competition.  Will my total point value exceed yours?  If yes, that game will be added into my total as a “win”.  But what about the words that I have evaluated and added to my own vocabulary as a result of “playing Words with Friends” and stretching my own vocabulary use?

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words (1)

‘ Source: Wikipedia

 

 

 

A single visual image has a value of many words.  Is that value in the visual or in the words that are used to describe what we see in that image? Do I use the same words as you? What is the real value of a “thousand words”?  (Or by now are you saying, “Does it really matter?”)

 

“Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.”

– Sigmund Freud

How is the value of words shared?  Do both the author and the reader have equal responsibility?  How and and when is that “power” or “value” passed from one to the other?

What is the lens that we use to consider our words? I remember Kelly Boland Hohne at #TCRWP using the “lens of language” to see more as readers.

lens of language

 

 

 

 

These questions help a reader focus on how an author has used language.  Is their value in talking about the power of words to help, to heal, to share, to live and even perhaps to love our friends, family, and neighbors? What about that positive or negative tone? Did the message transmit as intended?  Did it perhaps go a wee bit astray?  Which words are you regularly using?  What message does your “word use” send to others?

How do you value words?

How do you share that value with others?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

Top Ten Quotes I have used from #NCTE14!


I can’t really believe that I’ve been back from #NCTE14 for two WHOLE weeks!  Wow!  Turkey Day and back to work with a vengeance.  What to do before the holidays hit?

I found some time to work on another view of my first time attendance at NCTE.   It involved a new use of Zoom.  Still in draft/learning mode, but I wanted to share what this could look like!

So what have I used? My Top 10 Quotes in the order of frequency of use! This video should give you an idea about the topics I have been working on / using during the last two weeks! (It was also in response to a challenge from @davestuartjr – another virtual and now face to face friend!)

 

What are you doing differently since #NCTE14?  

How are you sharing your learning?

 

 

 

#SOL14: “You can’t always get what you want . . .”


Rolling Stones

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in a bit of nostalgia (AKA classic rock), you can listen and watch the following video.

 “So what’s up with the song?  Those lyrics are pretty darn old!”

#NCTE14 hosted a twitter chat for “first time attendees” early in the convention week.  I took much of the advice to heart:

“Wear comfortable shoes!” (Go Walks by Skechers ~ Thank you, friend Katie!)

“Download the convention app! (Done)

“Watch for Twitter PLN members!” (Thank you for initiating many conversations!)

“Plan for multiple sessions in case you can’t get into your first choice session.” (I had multiple choices for Thursday and Friday – before I left home. That took me through our presentation time.)

But I didn’t really believe that I would not ” get into my session” once I made my final choice.  It was my first trip to NCTE, but I have attended IRA multiple years and even the World Literacy Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2002.

Imagine my shock when I didn’t get into my first session choice or my last session choice.

Bummed!  Yes!

I assumed that due to the notoriety of the speakers, the presentation would be in a ballroom at least.  Not so!  Small room! Full room!  Some chairs were eventually brought in and a few others were allowed in to sit on the floor.

The door guard was adamant about observing the “fire code” rules.

I knew I was missing out.  I sat on the floor and logged into wi-fi and hopped onto TweetDeck on my pc.  It was soooooooo slow.

Plan B:  I closed my Dell and pulled out my iPad.  Mumbling a bit because I had not brought my keyboard for my iPad, I waited for it to fire up and to get connected.  Even three columns of Tweet Deck was slow. . . .wow . . . Home . . . #NCTE14 . . . Notifications.  Three columns.  “C’mon on. This is ridiculous!”

I often live by data. (Sorry!  I know that is shocking!)  But 140 character tweets were “averaging” three minutes to send.  Connectivity was not a strength of the convention center.  Without a calculator that meant approximately 50 characters sent per minute! .  .  . .  SSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

By this time, I had been asked:

  • “Who is in that room?”
  • “Is that really a line for people trying to get in?”
  • “How do I get to the parking garage?”

and I really had little to do BUT answer questions.  (I was sorry, though, as I had no clue where the parking garage was as I had no vehicle and was not staying in the Gaylord Convention Center hotel!)

Plan C:  I closed my iPad and pulled out my personal Mac Air Book that was my reliable all day lightweight tech friend for two weeks of Writing and Reading Institutes at #TCRWP last summer.  Another series of log ins in order to connect to the wireless for NCTE. Password in. Tweetdeck up on Google Chrome.

Nope. Frozen.

Google Chrome was frozen.

No tweeting . . .

Plan D: ?#!/(*?

So what did I do?

As the song says, “Sometimes you get what you need!”

I took advantage of my first gift of time.  I was the first of the 5 of us on our panel to arrive and I had volunteered to make sure we had “tech” so I decided to use time wisely and:

1) check out the room for our presentation – hmmm, table set in center, not set in rows of chairs . . . . . looking small . . . room located!

2) check out how well technology worked and preview our google presentations (3) and pdf formats (2).  Google was sssssssllllllllloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!  My presentation (heavy on pics) did not load.  I tried Julieanne’s.  After about 15 minutes, all but four pages had loaded.  Technology was not cooperating very well.  However (glass half full), it’s only Thursday and I have more than 24 hours to come up with a plan!

The plan for converting from google presentation to an offline format worked (combo of pcs and Macs) so we went with PDFs in a common google folder (not everyone had Office so powerpoint download was not going to work).

Reality:  Not getting into my first Thursday session meant that I had the information that I needed in order to scope out our presentation room, check out weak tech and devise a work around and check into our hotel room before the next session.  The sun, earth and moon continued to revolve and rotate as they always do. . . Life was good!

Sunday afternoon session:

What I wanted:  To attend the Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle session on Voices in Democracies on Sunday.

However, the doors were closed and once again the doorkeeper was not allowing anyone in. (One poor teacher who had entered earlier, left her bags on her chair, and then gone to the restroom was ALMOST denied re-entrance!)

So instead, I went to a poetry session.  It was fabulous.  Multiple poets and teachers  shared student writing that made us laugh and cry.  Mary Lee, Catherine, Cornelius, Katie. . . were all there.  Words, images, and voices filled my soul!

I still had books to pack to ship home.  I decided this gift of poetry from the heart would be my last session.

Reality:  Poetry, and the power of words, was one theme of #NCTE14. It fit in with the “Be Kind” theme from Lester, Colleen, and James Howe where “laughter meant learning was taking place”! I had time to hang out and chat a bit with my roomie as she packed up to leave. Another gift of time.  Time to chat about our learning and our plans to use that learning.

REPRISE:

Rolling Stones

 

 

 

 

When have you gotten what you needed instead of what you wanted?

What’s your story?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

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