Author Archive: franmcveigh

#SOL18: Why #TCRWP?


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Three letters

One word

Connected to my #OLW – curious

WHY?

A recurring theme on Day 1 of the 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP




As the day began in typical fashion at Riverside Church with 1200 teachers strong, “You’ve come from  41 states, 36 countries, those who’ve attended 25 or 26 institutes, as children in workshop schools or those who came alone who are now back with principals and teachers… movers and shakers.”

 

If you are not on Twitter, this is a time you should be.  Because you can capture thoughts such as these:

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Or these .  .  .

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But you had to be there in person in that setting to capture the eloquence as three fifth graders from Tiana Silvas’s classroom stepped up to the podium.  These students were definitely a part of a level three writing workshop as they, oh so eloquently, delivered their memorized poetry and reminded us of all the many reasons that we teach writing and we continue our tireless efforts!

The enthusiasm of the beginning of the day carried the theme of

WHY?

bringing purpose as we considered the energy, independence and transfer that comes from the creation and use of tools with Simone Frazer and building bridges between reading and writing with interactive writing with Marie Mounteer.

Decisions about Choice Sessions are never easy.  They are all amazing.  But Kisha Howell rocked Horace Mann with her tips about increasing writing volume.  The big ideas centered around:  feedback, talk, clear tools, “other texts,” meaningful process, and sketching.  Exquisitely delivered in a way that my ancient brain absorbed, retained and connected the tips in true “showing not telling” fashion . . .

I’m fascinated by this chart.  Where has the feedback that I’ve received fallen short?  What about the feedback that I give?  All feedback is not equal . . .

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This opening day of 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP satisfied my “WHY” to attend . . . . in order to continue and grow with some of the brightest literacy minds. Thank you, #TCRWP, for being a place to satisfy my “curious” and grow my thinking!




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

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#SOL18: Why Practice?


It was a simple comment.

It brought me to a complete stop.

“We practice to build proficiency.”

Is that the goal?

Proficiency?

If we build or meet proficiency, what does that mean?

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Retrieved from dictionary.com

In education, there seem to be points in time when proficiency has become a form of a new longer, four-letter word.  It causes a pain in my stomach.  It brings up visions of charts where students are color coded green, yellow or red that result in assignments to specific interventions.

Proficiency, in education,  now often implies an ability to meet an arbitrary cut point.

A “Yes”,  I made it or a “No”, not yet?

Once?

Twice?

Three times and that’s good?

What does proficiency look like in football?

One example

These descriptors come to mind:

Self- assessment

Goal-setting

Beginning with the end in mind

Time

Repetition

 EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Why do readers need to read (practice) every day?

Why do writers need to write (practice) every day?

To meet external goals?

To meet personal goals?

Is there a sense of urgency?

Is there a sense of joy?

A feeling of accomplishment?

Has it become drudgery?

What is the real goal?

Do readers and writers EVER stop practicing?  Should they?




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: “psst . . . I’m reading . . .”


2018 is the year of books!

These are just some of the books that I have read (and blogged about) during the last school year.  I’ve left out Ellin Keene’s Engaging Children, Tom Marshall’s Reclaiming the Principalship, and Kristi Mraz and Christine Hertz’s Kids 1st From Day One. So much to continue to learn.  So much to continue to read and write about.  So much to continue to be curious about.

And then another new book emerges  . . .

This week’s #G2Great chat will be about this new book from Stenhouse by Kari Yates and Christina Nosek.  And I’ve been waiting

and waiting

and waiting.

Conferring is still an area where I need to improve.  Where I need to listen more and talk less.  Where I need to grow.  And conferring about reading!

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The title is captivating:  “to know and nurture a reader: Conferring with Confidence and Joy”.  I love the conventions, and their use in the title.  I love “confidence and joy”.

Have you checked out the resources?

Book

Website

Help! My students want to choose books I’m afraid are too hard!

How can I support readers who pick the same types of books over and over again?

How can I use conferring to connect with students who are very new to English?

Some of my students just hop from book to book! What can I do to support them?

Why Confer with Readers? 10 Compelling Reasons

I have two chapters left to read and then I will be ready for the chat Thursday night.  I can’t wait to spend more time practicing and improving my conferring skills with students and teachers. The videos, the tips, and all the problem solving has thus far been on target.

What are you reading? 

What are your working on? 

How will we know?




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: Records


What matters?

Personal Best? 

State Best? 

National Best? 

World Best? 

What motivates you? 

Does it depend on the topic/event? 

Internal motivation?  External motivation? 

Private goals?  Public goals?

Or a simple desire to “Be Better”?  To “Do Better”? 

What drives you?  

(The record setting heat over Memorial Day began this thinking. Do I “set records” in my life?  Is that a part of my goal-setting? Should it be?)

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Questions, Questions, Questions!




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: 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?

180 quote.PNG

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


The  Power of EightScreenshot 2018-05-07 at 9.16.43 PM.png

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

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