Monthly Archives: December, 2016

Reflection: Top 10 Posts for 2016


top 10.jpg

Which of my 131 posts during 2016 were most read?

In reverse order (10 to 1) with a few notes:

10.#SOL16: #WhyIWrite – No More Red Ink!

What happens when a teacher “edits” with red ink?

9. #SOL16: What are you planning to read?

Five books in February that were on my “MUST READ” list from authors: Stacey Shubitz, Kate and Maggie Roberts, Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins, Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen, and Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie.

8. #SOL16: Professional Development

Characteristics of professional development were highlighted for four different “sessions” attended within a two-week time frame.  Are these important for you?

  • Choice?
  • Free?
  • Learning Collaboratively with Others?
  • Available 24/7 to Revisit?
  • Passionate and Inspiring?

7. #TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 2

Different ways to share – a symphony and a museum share from Celena Larkey, why students need to write with a pen from Colleen Cruz, letting students lead with mentor texts with Mary Ehrenworth, and “DON”T KILL THE BOOK” with Donald Graves keynote.

6. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 2

The value of READING mini-lessons with Amanda Hartman, the value of “practice, practice, practice with Kathleen Tolan, What readers need in order to become AVID readers with Mary Ehrenworth, and Matt de La Pena’s keynote!   “Teachers and authors don’t often immediately see the results of their work.  Patience  . . . you will!”

5. #SOL16: Who’s Doing the Work?

Who's doing the work

Have you read this book?  You should have annotated and dog-eared it by now!  This post celebrates the twitter chats (with links to the storified archives) as well as an inside look into many of the activities Kim and Jan developed in their study guide.  How do you know you have “learned” something?  How do you expect students to share their learning?  So many DIFFERENT ways are shared here!

4. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 3

Learning about the many ways of shared reading with Amanda Hartman, inquiry for developing fluency with Kathleen Tolan, close reading with Kate Roberts and the keynote session with Donalyn Miller. What a fabulous learning day!

3. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 1

A Lucy Calkins’ keynote on developing reading community, sessions with Amanda Hartman on “one-focused teaching point” and Kathleen Tolan – a mind-blowing small group read aloud.  Never.thought.of.a.read.aloud.for.a.small.group.  And so obviously why I need to continue to learn.  Such a privilege to have been a part of Kathleen’s June Institute.

2. #SOL16: March Challenge Day 23 – DIY Toolkits

Do it yourself

Have you read this book?  You can create your own tools after reading this book.  Better yet . . . study it with a friend and then work together on creating tools.  Tip:  Best part of this blog post is the “summary tool” that Kate created and the links to other pages about this session (Tara, Sally and NCTE).

1. #TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 1#TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 1

This post includes quotes from Lucy Calkins (opening keynote), revision across the day with Celena Larkey, the power of stories with Colleen Cruz and planning for two or three days of small group sessions at a time from Amanda Hartman. What an amazing first day of Learning for the 2016 #TCRWP Writing Institute!

Reflection:

Data is so interesting.  I was not surprised at the popularity of the #TCRWP posts as the June learning has been quite high on the list in previous years.  Some of those posts continue to be “all-time” highs as well.  I was surprised that the top 10 was split evenly between #SOL posts and #TCRWP posts and absolutely delighted to see that three of the posts where Kathleen Tolan really stretched my brain were in the top 10. I learned so much from Kathleen this past summer and YET had so much more that I needed to learn. It’s time to practice, practice, practice.  I do write more “slices” than any other “type” of posts so I thank my slicer readers for boosting those stats! It was great to reread those posts with a “reader’s eye” as I considered WHY those posts were read more often than others!

What are you reading?  What are you writing?

How do you set goals and reflect on those goals?

And as always, dear readers . . .

thank you languages

#SOL16: In Memoriam


godfather

By the numbers:

34,310 +  = days alive*

Age 94

25,550 + = days married*

70th-anniversary

fran-and-godparents

July 26, 2016

Hundreds of family events:

The gold dress I wore in this family picture was a gift from my godparents . . .

36450025

Countless dinners and events across many states . . .

I remember presenting in Austin, TX and driving on down to visit Bob and Dorris.  It didn’t seem right to be “in the same state” and not go visit!  However, my favorite story is from my 16th birthday.

16

Old enough to drive with

Driver’s license in hand.

Five “drivers” in the family.

Three vehicles.

Mathematical improbability to get “drive time” as the youngest driver.

AND YET . . .

My godparents sent me a birthday card with a car key in it.

“When you find the car that fits this key, it’s yours!” was written inside the card.

Fun

Joy

Laughter

Thank you,

My godfather and uncle . . . Bob!

You will be missed!

(* Leap years were not accounted for. The numbers are approximations for average years.)

You were a father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, brother-in-law and filled so many hearts.

slice of life

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

Previous Connected Posts about the “Ruths” and/or my godparents:

Footprints

Family Christmas

Home

#SOL16: Traditions


It began with a text.

“What should I fix to take to the the Ruth pot luck dinner?  What do you all vote for?”

 

“Julie said buffalo chicken dip.”

 

“What for a snack at the hotel?”

 

“Fruit?  Like a fruit tray?  To be healthy . . . And because your grandson loves fruit!”

 

And the menu and shopping lists were created for the first weekend of holiday celebrations for 2016. Because of the extreme cold and the miles to be traveled, the shopping occurred in multiple cities and over time.

A tradition . . .

Family members returning home choose the menu.

Once upon a time . . .

My first paid publication was a $3.00 check for writing and responding to a call for a favorite Christmas dinner memory in the Cappers Weekly. My younger siblings were not as excited as me.  My favorite menu was that of a college student hungry for some home-cooked food. (And yes, I had to “cook” it myself! But that was a small price to pay for choosing the menu.)  Christmas with Mom’s extended family was typically the Sunday before Christmas and then a snack or two at Grandma’s after Mass. Our plans for Christmas on Dad’s side of the family depended on which day of the week Christmas fell on. Christmas this year was a day at home.  What a treat!  However, this was my first and only “choose your own menu” holiday treat.

The menu:

Fried liver and onions – golden brown

Mashed potatoes – used to build a dam on the plate

Stewed tomatoes – warmed, thickened, and held in place by that potato dam

Asparagus – my favorite vegetable

Dessert – gooseberry pie

traditions

What traditions do you and your family have?

What traditions do you continue?  What new traditions will you begin?

Happy Holidays and Enjoy Your Time with Friends and Family!

slice of life

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

PS. If I were a betting person, I’m sure that some of my siblings were checking out the Christmas candy BEFORE dinner even ended! But not me!  I wonder what those same siblings remember from that day!

 

 

 

 

#DigiLitSunday: Celebrate


celebrate

It’s time to celebrate!  Celebrate the waning moments of 2016.  Celebrate the oncoming 2017.  Celebrate winter in all its glory.  Celebrate family and community and togetherness!  I continue to celebrate “Joy” as my OLW for 2016 (how many times do you see that word in the background?) and as I spend this weekend with family! (Check out the other posts on Margaret Simon’s blog, “Reflections on the Teche” found here!)

Celebrate

Life

Health

Family

Safe travels

Time together

Precious time!

Today, I celebrate the kids in my life.  Short, tall, running, playing, talking, card playing and just down right entertaining.  Here’s the long and short of it:   35 inch grandson at 19 months and the 6’11” nephew who is 17!

jr-and-jay-waterlogue

Christmas 2017 with Waterlogue

What are you celebrating?

celebrate-one

 

#SOL16: A Paradox


paradox

A wise fool

Foolish wisdom

To act

Or not to act

To think, to plan, to reason out all possibilities

To jump in head first, risking all, tackling challenges

To listen, to ponder, to listen some more

To speak, to challenge, to dare

A consummate team member

Boldly lead where no one has charted course

Black

White

What are the roles that you serve throughout the day? Through out your job?  Throughout your life?

When are you encouraged to think? To act?  To dare?  To do?

When are you discouraged from thinking? From acting?  From doing what needs to be done?

Is there a middle road? Not black. Not white. But gray.  How does one stay true to oneself and yet also meet the needs of others?  Where is the fine line between being self serving and being a servant to others?  What role does reflection play?  

slice of life

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

#DigiLitSunday: Craft


Check out the links to other DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog here.

Craft:  What is it?

A woodworker has many tools that may range from hand tools like chisels. planes and mallets to power tools like saws, drills, and presses that can aid the process of turning out finely crafted projects.

Is the craft in the “Doing” or is the craft in the “Final Product”?

In writing there are many sources of craft.  Some of my favorites are:

art of writing calkins.jpg

Lucy Calkins,

Ralph Fletcher,

Lester Laminack, and

craft-moves

Stacey Shubitz to name just a few.

So many sources of craft information exist. Do I need craft information along the way as I draft or do I need the information as I revise and improve the clarity, anticipate a reader’s questions, and add additional information to make the work more interesting?  I believe that writers need both skills. The more that a writer knows and anticipates in the drafting process, perhaps the revision will become less burdensome.

What is a teacher to do?  Where should the teacher begin?

Many strategies and craft moves can be and are taught, but at some point the choices used by writers will come down to the individual authors.  Strategic use of those moves needs to fit within the piece of writing that the author has undertaken.  A wide repertoire of moves that fit into a grade level range of writing will come from mentor texts.  Those mentor texts are often published texts, teacher written texts or student written texts.  What a student will use will depend on the applicability to this piece.  Teaching students to “self-assess” and even to “self-reflect” on their use of craft will be important.  That’s one of the  reasons why I believe these items in a fifth grade opinion writing checklist that students can use are absolutely critical!

Development . Elaboration and Craft.jpg

Writers make many decisions as they draft and revise about their own writing.  Tools with visible examples that students can use when talking about their writing or matching to a checklist or a rubric will put the power of writing choices in the hands of students.

Have you equipped your students to be able to make their own decisions about writing craft?  What low-tech and digital tools have been helpful?

How do you make decisions about your own craft moves in your writing?

#SOL16: #NCTE16 Friday Takeaways


Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .

are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words.  Words Matter.  Words matter whether spoken or written.  Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more.  That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!

FRIDAY at #NCTE16

The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration.  I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work.  From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced!  Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.”  Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)

Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)

The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action.  The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”!  This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher.  Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!

One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use.  Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!

Vocabulary Matters!  – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock

How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary?  How do students become invested in their OWN learning?  Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?

Step 1.  Listen carefully.

Step 2.  Wait.  

Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!  

Step 3.  Think.   What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”

Step 4.  Audition what you know.  Try it on.  Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true?  (or True for me? True for us? True for you?)  Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!

Step 5. Revise and rename.  What assumptions changed?

Step 6. Spread the word.

This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”.  Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.”  If  we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words.  And then Katy  illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .

“Wow guys,  you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”

Some activities take time:

  1. Sentence game
  2. Grid game  – person and question
  3. Play with words –  Beck’s Bringing Words to Life  (Would you rather?  How much would you like to ?  Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
  4. Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
  5. Other work – paintings or artwork.

Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students.  Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!

The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher 

Fun

Laughter

Advice from students

“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”

Metaphorically

Like a big balloon…

Real choice

Audience (beyond the teacher)

A sense of fun and adventure

Teachers  who value

Invention, originality and voice

So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?

Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.

Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.

There is a battle between freedom and discipline

But teachers do have choice and must be

BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)

  • Free Choice Fridays
  • The Writer’s Notebook
  • Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
  • Classroom blogs
  • Slice of Life Challenge
  • Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
  • Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
  • FERAL writing
  • Study Driven Writing (Source  Katie Wood Ray)

Recklessly wonderful writing.

Students choose to work on writing because

The ideas of writing give them energy.

Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning – 

(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)

What do you think of when you hear professional development?  Who is it for?  This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!

Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination  – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins

Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot.  Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor.  Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered.  How do we help them revise their thinking?  Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead!  Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers.  Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire?  That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so

“Privilege all texts”

” Our attention shows what we value!”

“Show reading identities.”

“Elevate the book.”

“Elevate the readers of the book.”

Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?

At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins!  Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!

So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?  

When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!

slice of life

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

And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!

#DigiLitSunday: Gratitude for #NCTE16 Learning


digilit-button

Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche encouraged us to blog about “Gratitude” this week.  Read more links here.

.gratitude

My gratitude is for all those who attended (in person or at a distance) #NCTE16 and shared their reflections.  Here are my favorite quotes from our conference days. (Note they are NOT numbered so that I can include those that are “sticking with me” without stressing over the ones that have to be left out!)

  • “Courage is more exhilarating than fear–and in the long run it is easier.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt via Tom Newkirk
  • “We do not teach for mastery.  We teach for revolution.”  – Cornelius Minor
  • “Classrooms have to be spaces of light. That’s our revolution. What you do on Monday at 8:30 is gonna change the world.” Ernest Morrell  
  • Successful readers revise their thinking, and there is a huge chasm between those kids and the kids who grab a thought and then just hold on to it.  – Ellin Keene
  • “You probably don’t know adults’ DRA, you don’t know what level book they are reading. You might not even know what their community values. We acknowledge their habits and behaviors.” – Matt Glover
  • “Exploration, risk, and failure are essential components in a writer’s growth. Exploration and risk will not occur if everything is graded.” – Kelly Gallagher
  • “When we give students multiple choice tests, you get multiple choice test thinkers for an essay world.” – Kelly Gallagher

 

from-julieanne

And from sessions that I did not attend personally but could still learn from due to generous Twitter and blog authors:

  • “End every day with JOY no matter how the rest of the day may have gone.”  – Franki Sibberson
  • “It’s not what I do that matters, it’s what I do in relation to what my students need that makes a difference.” – Chris Tovani
  • “DO NOT USE THE TERM THOSE KIDS. Every kid that walks into the classroom needs an opportunity. They all need you.” – Sharon Draper
  • “All of life is material for writing. I rewrite the past as I wish I’d done.” – Tim Federle
  • “When you don’t know the language, you don’t realize how important it is to have language.” -Shana Frazin
  • “If you don’t struggle in front of students, they think you have a writing gene they don’t.” – Kelly Boswell
  • “When I’m not writing I notice a huge difference in my teaching. I need to be writing.” – Beth Moore
  • “Help kids revalue themselves as readers by explicitly showing them the complex work they are already doing.” – Dorothy Barnhouse
  • “The Just Right Book is the book that meets the head and the heart.”- Penny Kittle
  • ““If I gave a child a topic, I would find out what they know about the topic, NOT what they know about INFORMATION writing.” – Mary Ehrenworth
  • “We must not judge a child’s story by the chapter of his/her life that we walk into.” – Kristin Ziemke
  • “We have an obligation to tell and share stories. And we must make all kids visible in our learning communities.” – Sara Ahmed

What were your favorite quotes? What continues to linger in your mind?

Thanks to all who tweeted and / or blogged about #NCTE16!  Amazing Learning!

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