A rainbow peeked out between clouds.  “Has it been raining?”

“Not here. Not yet.”

“Wow!  And yet you still have a rainbow!”

Such a joyful and auspicious beginning to 24 hours filled with joy.

An hour.

Sixty minutes.

3600 seconds.


Traveling together

Talking together

Three months since our last gathering and a full day of professional learning.

And more precious time with dinner and continued conversation.

A prelude . . .




Learning again.


During our opening hour keynote with Jan Millers Burkin on Monday morning in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the Jacobsen Center for Comprehensive Literacy at UNI:

we danced,

we practiced the four intentions, alignment, balance, sustainability, and joy, with actual movements from Reading Wellness:  Lessons in Independence and Proficiency,

and we  lifted weights: 3 pounds, 5 pounds, 8 pounds, and 10 pounds from Who’s Doing the Work?  How to Say Less so Readers Can Do More, 

and we thought about what we should continue to do MORE OF from past literacy education in order to “refocus” and “reframe” our work.

Are the keynotes you attend always this joyful?  

Make a note to NOT miss out on a keynote by either Jan Burkins or Kim Yaris.  It will be memorable!

It was also my pleasure to sit in on Jan’s session about “Who’s Doing the Work?”  When our students have plateaued, we need to rethink our instruction.  One apparent cause is often “over-scaffoldization” in a rush to put “hard text” in front of students.  Jan and Kim provide some incredible thinking points for you to consider as you think about the gradual release of responsibility and Read Alouds, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading.

There is much to consider in this rich text and 90 minutes was a great “teaser”. How do you absorb information?  Do you like to hear it first?  Read it first?  Combinations?

I’ve read the book three times now and I’m set to reread it again.  Some parts I may skim as I look for specifics about which students at which time as well as marking up some of the bullets.  I am not doing this to “get ready to present this information” to others, but in order to better understand the processing of reading.  That invisible work that happens in a student’s head. That invisible work that is often “magical” for some students and so elusive for other students.

Teaching reading is complex.  There’s no “ONE way” (methodology, purchased program, or philosophy) that works for all students which is why “thinking teachers” are necessary in every classroom to meet this goal.


Students need to read (write and talk) a lot in order to meet this goal. And Shared Reading is one of the most overlooked possibilities for student growth.  But beyond that, thoughtful BALANCE is also required!  Balance in literacy instruction, balance across the day and in “real life” – not just a schedule that portions out bits of labeled reading without careful attention to the interaction of the student work.

Professional growth is one of my passions.  I have absorbed a lot of trivia from a lot of meetings during my decades of work.  I read; I read a lot.  I talk about my reading.  I write this blog in order to check my understanding.  I participate in books studies, Twitter chats, and Voxer conversations in order to grow and learn.  I cannot and have not ever relied on professional development to appear on my doorstep.  As a professional I have to continue to grow my understanding. I know when I need to learn more That means continued conversations.  That means continued work on my part.  Every day. Read. Write. Talk. Reflect. Intentionally. Purposefully.

It’s WORK.

It’s NOT a google search, hunting through Pinterest, or buying stuff from TpT.

It’s above and beyond scheduled work hours.

It’s a commitment to personal learning.

What are you reading?

What are you talking about?  And with whom?

What are you learning?  How are you growing?  How do you know?

How are you seeking out professional development?

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

Additional Information:

The books referenced:

Are you following Jan and Kim on Twitter?




Their blog?  https://www.burkinsandyaris.com/

Shared Reading – #G2Great chat and subsequent blog post

16 responses

  1. I feel the need to shout, “Amen!” 😊

    1. Thanks, Erin!
      Another day when my slice ended up in a different spot . . . I really was going to include more content but maybe rereading first is a better plan! ❤

  2. I agree that a good speaker grabs your attention, fires you up, teaches you something, and makes you want to learn more.

    1. So true! When folks don’t leave the session because they want to keep talking to the speaker, it’s another great sign! 🙂

  3. Strong ending!!
    It’s WORK.
    It’s NOT a google search, hunting through Pinterest, or buying stuff from TpT.

    So, so true!! And when you love what you are doing, it feels like JOY and NOT work at all!!

    So glad I know you! I helps me not feel alone in the world of those who do see teaching as a google search.

    1. Sally,
      I reread that part because I was afraid it was TOO Blunt! And you are so right, “….When you love what you are doing, it feels like JOY and NOT work at all!!”

      There is nothing in google for my teaching except when my brain has forgotten something. Teaching is so much more complicated than google! 🙂 So glad that we are on simultaneous learning journeys! ❤

  4. Your post made me wonder what my current PD is. I retired 3 years ago, but still did after school book club for 3 years. However, I gave that up this year. But I’m still reading MG books because I love them and I like to make my own Newbery predictions. And this month I’m trying out the #DWHabit since I want to challenge myself to write more. Love this last line from your post: “It’s a commitment to personal learning.”

    1. Ramona,
      It’s great that you are still reading and writing in retirement! That’s your PD! 🙂

  5. Oh Fran!! This is THE best!! ” I write this blog in order to check my understanding. ” and “As a professional I have to continue to grow my understanding.” Just two of my favorite lines! I couldn’t agree more with your passionate post!

    What are you reading? The Teacher I Want to Be and Feedback that Moves Writers Forward

    What are you talking about? Joy Write And with whom? We have a group of teachers researching the role of low stakes writing in the writing curriculum. We meet monthly to share our thinking and student samples, journal entries.

    What are you learning? How are you growing? How do you know? Blogging! Our teacher research group meets and writes reflectively! Listening and writing…great ways to grow!

    How are you seeking out professional development? Twitter has been an incredible means to not only seek, but to find energy – energy that drives my teaching and learning! My colleague, Jess, always on the lookout for the next book to keep our curiosity alive!

    You aked the questions – I had to answer “to check my understanding” 😉

    1. Awesome Answers!!! Love hearing what others are reading – Loved Joy Write! So much to be learned from Ralph Fletcher and his “greenbelt writing” Have you read Gretchen Bernabei’s work – especially if you are talking low stakes writing????

  6. Such a fabulous book, Fran – we need wise books like this to point us to joyful learning and teaching of our own.

    1. Tara,
      So very true. And it’s so helpful when our inspiring authors present in such a joyful manner as well – the old “Walk the Talk”!
      I love those words . . . wise, joyful, learning, teaching! POWER! ❤

  7. Fran, this one is getting earmarked as one of my favorite posts from you! Not only is it full of advice,motivation, and challenges, but it reminds me that I am not alone and am part of a bigger community even if I am a Twitter Chat Chicken! I’ve had some disheartening PD lately, but the things that brought me down were quickly turned around when I went to my podcasts, websites, and Twitter feed–then I was back on the mountaintop once more. What a delightful day you had–thank you for sharing your excitement and professional advice. As always, you point us in the right direction!

    1. Thanks, Kathy!
      It was an important reminder that learning is so much EASIER when there is JOY!

  8. Fran, your joy is showing. Thanks for sharing the wonders of PD.

    1. You are so welcome, Carol. I love that . . . “the wonders of PD”. Yes, it should be about the WONDERS!

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