Monthly Archives: March, 2015

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 31 – Before That


(Following the example of Sally Donnelly, a colleague and friend that I met face to face Saturday .  .  .  you can read her “Before That” here.)

Before That

I arrived home last night just before dark, without having encountered any deer, in my blue Hyundai rental without cruise control, eternally grateful that I was able to monitor my speed while excited about my weekend of learning.

Before that, I was thankful that I did not need the picture that I snapped of the fire extinguishers on the wall of the parking ramp near my car in order to remember where I left it after my mad dash to the airport on Friday following all day PD!

Before that, my US Airways jet landed in Des Moines in the midst of a balmy yet windy 75 degree afternooon. (I didn’t believe the pilot, I had to text a friend for verification. 75? Really?)

Before that, my US Airways jet finally departed the Washington DC airport after two hours of delay due to undisclosed maintenance.

Before that, we deplaned after 30 minutes of sitting on the tarmac.

Before that, we began boarding at the time listed on tickets for our departure.

Before that, we were shuttled to our departure terminal after the bus idled in our rectangular-painted location until the corresponding bus left Terminal 23 – our destination.

Before that, our shuttle flight landed in DC . . . exactly one hour late.

Before that, I was using the internet at LGA to stay caught up with email, slices, and organizing pictures captured over the weekend.

Before that, I was clearing check in and security literally in seconds due to TSA pre-check status and at my departure terminal in minutes.

Before that, I was on my way to the airport in a yellow cab, relishing the fact that 50% of the folks at Central Park were wearing shorts and the other 50% were bundled up from head to toe in winter coats.

Before that, I finished packing and added a few last minute thoughts to a document as I contemplated topics for my last March Challenge slice as well as beginning curious thoughts about what “traditional Tuesday” slicers would find for imaginative topics.  My current list of all the modes of transportation from the weekend in NYC (in reverse order):  taxi, walk, subway (loud guy), walk (“reading glasses”), subway, subway, walk, subway, walk, subway, bus, walk, walk, walk, walk, taxi, plane, walk, plane, walk, and rental car.

Before that, I had a hearty American breakfast at the Nice Matin, adjacent to the Lucerne Hotel, on the upper-west side of Manhattan because with a full day of travel, a solid breakfast to begin the day beats any and all airport food.

Before that, I read and responded to daily “slices” as well as posting my own and linking it at Two Writing Teachers.

Before that, I woke at 6:00 on my last morning in New York City (this trip to Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) in the fabulous Lucerne Hotel.

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THANKS for reading my daily posts during March!

*   *   *   *   *

This is the last day of the March Daily Challenge. Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

slice

#SOL15 March Challenge Day 30 – What do you believe?


Kylene Beers

Literacy.Education.Kids.Teachers.Schools.Hope.

If you are not familiar with Kylene please go to her own blog and read “About” her!

Kylene and Bob Probst are universally known for their 6 signposts for fiction from Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Their new book with nonfiction signposts will be out in October and those signposts are listed here.

signposts

As a speaker, Kylene is witty, charming, and down to earth.  Her closing at the Teachers College paralleled her beliefs posted on her blog in March here.  Kylene urged the thousands of teachers packed into the Nave at Riverside Church to examine their own belief systems.

Specifically:

“What do you believe?”

How would we know?

What do you stand for?

You need to have these conversations!

That question, coupled with this statement have been swirling in my brain for the last day and a half, and quite literally will not let go:

Literacy is the 21st century skill.

Literacy

not technology.

Literacy

Not reading separated out.

Literacy

Not writing separated out.

Literacy

because of its role in power and privilege.

Literacy

because of its role in history.

Literacy

because of its role in history for minorities.

Literacy

because of its role in history for women.

Literacy

because of its role in history for the poor and downtrodden.

What are your beliefs?

How do we know?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 29 – 88th Saturday Reunion #TCRWP


It’s the little things that make life wonderful!

Little things can seem like insurmountable objects . . .

like navigating the NYC subway system to arrive at Teachers College EARLY!  I was actually more successful than navigating through my “home” deer country!

like organizing for a day run on an hourly schedule with 50 minute sesions (10 minutes to sprint to the next location) and NO time in the schedule for lunch (encouraged to pack and yes, you may eat in the sessions – ignore the signs that say no food!)

like finding your way among 4,000 friends engaged in learning on a Saturday at Teachers College

like worries about the wi-fi (had some overloads and would kick you off – How many total devices would 4,000 strong have?  REALLY?)

and the ability to have a back up plan – First choice closed because you actually stopped to use the restroom?  What were you thinking?

Other slicers who have posted about yesterday include:

Tara 

Julieanne 

Dayna

Sally 

Catherine

and of course the many Tweets that emanated from the halls of the Teachers College campus.  Right this minute, this tweet says it all:

@ReadingTeachNC: We cried with @PatriciaPolacco, we laughed with @KyleneBeers, and we reminded ourselves why we love what we do! #TCRWP

What a day!
What a glorious day!
What a glorious day filled with laughter, love and learning!

(Notice how I worked on my elaboration there!)

Instead of an “All About Everything Post” the remainder of this post is dedicated to my #OLW “Focus” and will just focus on one key take away from the sessions I attended. (I promise – I will write more about what I learned.  Some of it has to percolate!)

word-focus-300x300

Patricia Polacco – Keynote Opening (Row 5)

“Teachers are my heroes.  You devote your lives to the minds and hearts of others.  What a wonderful calling”

Carl Anderson – Mentor Texts

We take the perfect text and we have to pull the curtain away.   We need to love the mentor text.  You wouldn’t marry someone you didn’t love.  You are going to live with this mentor text day in and out.  You have to know it inside and out.  Work with a colleague to analyze the text.  Make sure that kids will be moved by the mentor text (Not just one that you LOVE)!

Kylene Beers – Nonfiction Sign Posts

kylene's picture -signposts

This is the picture that Kylene took from the speaker’s podium to show what the audience was doing as she displayed the slide listing the nonfiction signposts.  By the way, the book will be out in October and we all had to promise to buy it!  The nonfiction signposts are not ALWAYS found in each nonfiction piece of material because of the very nature of nonfiction.  (more on that in another post) Here are the signposts in the order of frequency and importance:

Extreme and absolute language

Like this examples

Experts and Amateurs Words

Stats and Numbers

Contrasts and Contradictions

Again and Again

Cornelius Minor – Struggling Students

Cornelius began with an analogy about teaching skateboarding where one will fall the first 5-8 times.  So he has to give you 20 opportunities to practice.  “My job as a teacher is NOT mastery. Nothing will cultivate practice. Teaching sets you up for practice. Repeated practice sets you up for mastery.  Engagement – how do I keep you moving! Multiple and intellectual energy to get some learning going!  My job is ‘Teaching light and Practice heavy!'”

The brilliance of that philosophy!

Kylene Beers – Closing (Front Row)

Literacy is about power and privilege.

Choice, relevancy, volume. Wantability is more important than readability. @KyleneBeers#tcrwp” Can’t be said/heard enough.

Slicer meet up at the Kitchenette! – So much fun to visit, share, decompress!

My head and my heart are both full from the learning.  Much more to see and do while in NYC so “adieu” for now!

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 28 – “R Day”


It is officially Saturday, March 28th, the day of the Teacher’s College 88th Saturday Reunion.  What an honor to be able to follow in the footsteps of the many who have trod these hallowed halls!

Thousands of friends will be in Riverside Church for the opening by Patricia Palaccio and the closing by Kylene Beers.  Sandwiched in between are over 125 free sessions that also include the keynoters, Lucy Calkins and the many #TCRWP staff developers.  I have been fortunate to be accepted into the 2013 and 2014 June/July Writing and Reading Institutes.  Tomorrow will be my first Saturday Reunion!

tcrwp

See you there?

See you in the Twitterverse?

I am in New York City, too excited to sleep, and yet only a wake up away from the Saturday Reunion . . . .  visions of the new Reading Units dancing in my head!

I’ll be easy to spot on Saturday as I will be “wearing” my professional development t-shirt as evidence of my book chats on Twitter!

2014-12-15 21.15.21

2014-12-15 21.15.44

Are these books a part of your professional library?

How do you learn and grow professionally?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 27 – Tomorrow


This slice was inspired by a post by Erin yesterday here and will give you a preview of what my slices will probably look like for the remainder of March!  THANKS, Erin!

tomorrow

Tomorrow,

I will wake up in NYC.

Tomorrow,

I will enjoy breakfast at the Lucerne.

Tomorrow,

I will pack a lunch to take to TC for the Saturday reunion so I shan’t miss a single minute of learning or fellowship.

Tomorrow,

I will ride the subway to TC.

Tomorrow,

I will go early to pick up a flyer listing the sessions.

Tomorrow,

I will be at majestic Riverside Church for the opening keynote.

Tomorrow,

I will listen raptly to Lucy Calkins, Patricia Palaccio and Kylene Beers and many others.

Tomorrow,

I will join approximately 3,000+ friends both new and old for Saturday reunion.

Tomorrow,

I will be making choices about sessions – 125 free ones to choose from.

Tomorrow,

I will be wearing comfortable walking shoes for the miles I will travel.

Tomorrow,

I will be learning from some of the best in the field of literacy.

Tomorrow,

I will be tweeting and blogging back where I really began tweeting and blogging.

Tomorrow,

I will joining “Slicers” at the Kitchenette.

Tomorrow,

Will soon be here!

tcrwp

What will your tomorrow bring?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 26 – What kind of writer are you?


What kind of writer are you?

You must read how @terjeakke’s third grade students answered that question here on “Just for a month: A writing playground

No peeking.

Go read.

Three out of five of the students began with, “I am a ….. writer . . .”

Is that how you would answer the question?

Really?

What kind of writer are you?

Thinking of who I am today I can answer:

youthful river

I am the kind of writer who likes time to formulate a thoughtful answer that does not wind around like a meandering old stage eroded river but more like a youthful river that flows straight from one point to another point.

purpose

I am the kind of writer who likes a clearly defined purpose.  I am going to write a post about “x”.  Those posts seem fairly effortless and seem to “write themselves” without a great deal of wailing and gnashing teeth!

audience

I am the kind of writer who likes to think about my audience and pitch my writing to that audience.  For example, this month when I am “slicing” daily with the March Challenge from The Two Writing Teachers, I know that my audience is my regular readers plus possibilities from the 300+ “slicers”.  That narrows my focus a bunch! (Warning:  some days my audience is myself!)

turtle

I am working hard to be the kind of writer who can take a topic and respond to that topic within a reasonable time frame (less than an hour).  This is a huge shift for someone who used to draft every post in Word days in advance of posting them onto WordPress (OCD).  This is also due to “guilt” for all of those weeks that I required special ed. students to think for one minute and then write for three minutes about “….” And then I recorded correct letter sequences, words written, and words written correctly (CLS, WW, WWC). Now I cringe at the thought of recording any of those items after a three minute think time for a student who is struggling with learning.  It’s not about “who” finishes first, but it is about working at multiple rates over time so sometimes I need to write more like the rate of the hare and other days the rate of the tortoise is okay!

elephant

I am the kind of writer who likes a challenge.  I love generative writing.  I love to play with sentence development and using a word as different parts of speech or in different locations in a sentence is FUN because my work is unique and not the same as everyone else’s!  I think power writing is also FUN because I like to challenge myself to increase my own writing stamina just as the students are expected to do! I think it’s important to embrace the fact that writing can take many formats and can sometimes focus on the product and sometimes focus on the process.  It’s still the same elephant – our perspective and that point of intersection with the elephant at that specific moment does matter.

expert

I am the kind of writer who loves informational/explanatory writing.  I can now write credible persuasive/arguments and narratives but they are not my “go to” choice of writing.  When they turn out well, it is usually due to time to plan, reflect, collaborate, rehearse and revise long before I put my fingers on the keyboard.

keyboard

I am a keyboard composer.  Sometimes the music of the keys lulls me into a sense of complacency as sentences follow each other effortlessly across the screen.  At other times, I correct and correct and correct and even pound on the keys until the print has been bled dry of any emotion or remotely interesting trivial source of entertainment!

fifty years

I am a writer who has written for decades, more than half a century.  But I am not comfortable saying that I am anything above an average writer.  Sometimes I have flashes of “bright spots in writing” and sometimes I have days and days of writing that should not ever be imitated.  Writing still requires thought and even improves over time when my thoughts are either rehearsed or revised during long stretches of driving time.

revising

I am a writer who loves to revise . . .to nitpick my word choice until I believe that I have found the most appropriate word, structure, comparison or even metaphor.  I am an ever-evolving, ever improving, ever stretching writer as I push myself to go beyond initial expectations and find the heart!  I am a teacher of writers who also believes that I must be a writer myself, before I can ever teach writers!

reader

I.am.a.writer.because.I.read.  Writing is one way to process my reading by adding internal thoughts or by sharing it “aloud”.  I am also now a writer who likes to “slice” daily during the month of March and annually on Tuesdays with friends!

What kind of writer are you?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 25


In 33 days her son will be born.

In 33 days her tenth great grandchild will be born.

*

The nursery is ready.

She remembers a time when babysitting multiple babies – babies who slept in dresser drawers.

*

Diapers are purchased and are ready to be used.

Soft cloth diapers were used and even became “burp rags” when less servicable.

*

Baby lotion, shampoos, and body wash now abound in multiple scents.

The smell of Johnson and Johnson baby powder brings back memories.

*

She and her husband read to the baby every night while waiting for birth.

She. without her husband, reads books of her own choice or books for her book club.

*

Days and nights will soon be surrendered to the cries of the young son.

Days and nights pass endlessly one after the other.

*

Inspired by kmurphy1027’s “The Start and Finish Line” and found here at Just a Note about Family, two views of the impending birth of a boy – his mother and his great grandmother.  Lives that will soon be changed as the family continues to grow.

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 24 – Community


thank you languages

Thank you, readers, for your reading, your likes and your comments throughout this month of slicing.  There is a real sense of community among slicers especially when you consider this definition

a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

The good news is that all the “slicers” are winners even though Dana will anounce the “one” commenting winner later today.  Those that read 60 posts this last weekend are richer for their reading and those that have written 24, heading to 31, consective days of posts are richer for their writing.  We have shared laughter, tears, fear, joys and had FUN this month.

Some of us will extend this fun this weekend as slicers, courtesy of Tara, gather after the TCRWP Saturday reunion.

will-you-be-here

Will you be there at TC?  See Tara’s slice here for more info!

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 23 – Visual Poetry


During the weekend’s challenge to read and comment on 60 posts, I ran across a new app – Visual Poetry:  Word Collage for $1.99 in ITunes.

Here’s what I created for today!

thephoto

Made with Visual Poetry by ImageChef on the iPad

Check out the multiple ways that you can read the message.  Which do you prefer?

Reading the words in white?  or in black?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 22 “Currently”


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Currently:

Browsing through slices still in search of a topic

Thinking about slices previously written and slices yet to come.

Reading great introspective pieces like Dayna Wells Writes

Sipping that first cup of coffee and waiting for inspiration

Putting off the dreaded “grading papers” that are in need of attention

Watching the information about “passwords” on the Sunday Morning show

Wishing my car was “repaired” from the “deer damages” (see slices 20 Unexpected and 21 The Real Story)

Wondering if this draft of “Currently” which is a brainstorming piece may end up as my slice for today

Packing for my trip to Teachers College for the Saturday Reunion next weekend

Anticipating the “Great Learning” and renewed face to face friendships in NYC!

What are you doing, currently?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

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