Category Archives: Reading

#SOL19: Day 21 #SOLSC


Screenshot 2019-03-01 at 4.31.25 AMI check the calendar.


Meeting coming up.

Do I:

a. Cheer and high five with excitement over a meeting

b. Have a mini eye roll

c.  Yawn in anticipation of a lively session

d. Plan to arrive early, stay late and be totally energized?

Which one fits your feelings toward those regularly scheduled meetings?

At the TCRWP Saturday Reunion I deliberately chose Meghan Hargrave’s session titled:  “A Session for Coaches and Teachers Leaders: Professional Development that Sticks” and like the theme for the day, Meghan talked about a clear purpose, relationships, facilitation, and cycles of learning.

The topic was important. The room was packed. People sat on the floor in the back, on the sides, and leaned in to catch every word.

What do your meetings look like?

The information that I found most intriguing was when Meghan talked about different methods for meetings.  Just like in workshop, different methods for meetings. Here are the five she shared.

Methods for Meetings

Mini-lecture 5 – 10 min.

Demonstration & practice

Role play

Make and Take

ON-demand teaching – both coaching method and meeting method


Could be faculty meetings

Could be PLC meetings

Could be grade level meetings

Could be collaborative planning meetings

And the methods could vary.

Does that happen in your world?

Or are your meetings pretty much structured the same way, with the same method, meeting after meeting? 

What’s the best that could happen if you changed the method of the meeting?

What could be the potential impact for students?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 19 SOLSC

“Hey, Iowa, how are you doing?”

My walking companion turns to face the man talking, who is also selling . . .

“Iowa State,” I forget and say, “No, Iowa Hawkeyes.” Now I’m engaging in the conversation.

Someone always asks for directions on the Metro. Inside Columbus Circle, I had no clue. A second request came outside Riverside Church so I could provide those directions.

Why do folks talk to me?  I wear my collegiate pride. (Remember we have no National Sports Teams in Iowa.) So I’m used to strangers talking to me or asking for help.

It was a pure pleasure to hear Anne Taranto Saturday at TCRWP in a session titled:  “Lifting the Level of Student’s Talking and Writing about Books:  Give Kids Tools and Tips to Talk and Jot about Books during Read Aloud, Book Clubs, and Partner Time”.

Here’s quick peek into the first three minutes.

“Talk is important.  Layer your talk.”

A turn and talk:

“In your role, what are the patterns that you are noticing around talk?  

Some of the most common that Anne shared with the packed to the gills, sit on the floor, participants in Everett Lounge were:

“They do a great job when I tell them what to do.”

“They are resistant and drag their heels.”

“We get structures up and running, but they don’t talk.”

Why is TALK important?

We need the language so we can talk. We need to share in order to display our thinking.  Community matters. So in order to raise the level of talk, we need to manage the big lofty things.  We need the bigger goal to manage the mess.  That means that we will have to let the control freak that loves quiet go in order to let the learning chaos rise. 

WE, the teachers, know our purpose.

Do our students?

Will the students ever hit the target if they don’t know the purpose? 

Try the talk . . .

Try the layers . . .

Try to see it another way . . .

When you are stuck, do you use talk?

Talk for a “process” or Talk to think deeper?

What results do you get when you don’t know the purpose? 

Is the work a bit frustrating?

How could you “reboot” talk to improve it?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 18 SOLSC

“Oh, you were going down,” the maid commented. She pushed the button for a higher floor.

I remained silent.  “Should I use my typical Iowa spiel? ‘Well, I live in a town that doesn’t have any buildings taller than two stories.'”

Nah. Silence. No excuse. Too early!

The elevator dinged to announce its arrival. I moved to the elevator bank that was lit. I didn’t remember if it was a



W                                               P  arrow.

N  arrow or an       U

Simply too late to matter.

By the time all my thinking was done, the elevator was going down, down to my destination. Trivia. Let it go!

Tell Your Story . . .

Shanna Schwartz is a master storyteller and she delivered a powerful keynote when she used stories to offer tips to help teachers, coaches, and administrators in Cowin Auditorium understand what will make TEACHING STICK.

Old School . . .

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I noted and appreciated the delivery of the keynote. . .  Stories, a  document camera, and anchor charts created in front of us.  No powerpoint, google slides or Prezi.  These were the presentations I remember from the first sessions I attended at #TCRWP Institutes. (Lucy Calkins also addresses the atmosphere and delivery of mini-lessons in Leading Well.)

Three memorable quotes . . .


Children like all humans do not just learn things whole and then do it perfectly. They do it partially, making approximations, and gradually showing more learning.” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP) (Check out her book for the exact wording.)


“Have to be planned enough so I can watch students, to know what to do, and be flexible enough to change to meet kids needs!” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP)


“Sometimes teaching feels like a performance. Teaching should be a relationship, a warmth, and closeness that you are building together.” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP)

Timeless . . .

One of Two Keynotes at the #TCRWP 96th Saturday Reunion was “Making Your Teaching Stick” by Shanna Schwartz.

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Shanna referred to this book (as did Sarah Picard Taylor in her introduction of Shanna) that she wrote 11 years ago as a base for her keynote.  It might be a quick book to pull out and review with your staff. Every single book from the Help Desk series has tips worth revisiting and the price is right.

So when something isn’t right in life, do you choose silence as I did on the elevator or do you study the situation in order to figure out alternatives?  If it’s a short interval, time may solve the issue.  But what if it isn’t?  Then what do you choose to do?  What is your default?  Your knowledge? Your skill set? What stories do you lean on?

What are the principles that you hold onto dearly? 

How do you deliver your instruction (and your PD)?

What are the areas you continually return to for problem solving because they don’t seem “to stick”?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 17 SOLSC

Friday we walked, talked, walked and finally checked GPS.

“I think we need to turn here.”

Not quite sure, we made a turn. We walked and talked some more. The weather was balmy.

The conversation: Kids. Family. Work. Life. Catching up on life changes. On slicing. On plans for the weekend.

We walked, talked, and walked some more.

“Oops, let’s recenter the map.”

“And now that means retracing our steps.”

It was enough that the daily goal was met. Better yet, we laughed at mis-steps and retracing our steps when we made wrong turns. The destination was talk and enjoying NYC – not our physical location.

The errors were not totally “user errors” as Google Maps on my phone has only ever given driving directions. (And Google loves to volunteer information based on past information.) It wasn’t “set” for walking directions so a three or four block walk was over 10,000 steps by the end of the afternoon. The directions were a source of laughter. After all the weather was comfortable, the company was delightful, time was plentiful, and the conversations connected on so many levels.

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So how does this GPS/Google Maps story connect to Saturday and the 96th Saturday Reunion at TCRWP?

Before the final Saturday keynote at Riverside Church, I was quizzed by the master.  After telling Lucy Calkins that it was a fabulous day, of course, she asked me what made it so good.

Gulp. . . On the spot . . .

Every session talked about purpose.  Purpose for teachers. Purpose for students. Joyful purpose. Not “git’er done, struggle through it” purpose! And make no mistake about it, it’s also all about student choice. Student choice in what to read and write is the foundational framework that motivates more reading, more writing, more thinking and sustains it at deeper levels when it gets tough.  It’s not about FUN, it’s not about cute activities, and it’s not about the chevron-themed classrooms. Instead it is  about following interests and passions of students, allowing students to blossom and grow . . . And it is also about relationships. Our relationships with each other as learners, as readers, as writers and thinkers, as coaches of teacher leaders, coaches and administrators. Our relationships with books, writers’ notebooks and the work that we ask students to do.  Life work, not just compliant school work. And of course it’s not easy, but with a group and the continued support of our community, WE can do this together. We can rise to the challenge because our expectations are the students’ ceiling!

HELLO, isn’t that why thousands of teachers were REALLY in New York City on a Saturday for a day of free learning at the 96th Saturday Reunion at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project?

The literacy levels that your students reach are in your grasp. Stop fussing about the *$&@$/ tests and all the “things” outside your control.

You are the GPS, the Google Map, the roadmap for your students’ success.



What will you do to ensure that you grow and learn in order to be the best YOU that you can be? 

What will you read? 

What will you write? 

What will you think? 

What words can you go back to?

Who will you partner with to sustain your work?

You will have to return for details in future posts . . . fun in NYC beckons!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 16 SOLSC

Four years ago I was headed to Riverside Church;

Today I’m headed to #TCRWP for the keynote.

Four years ago I took the Red #1 to TC;

Today I’m taking the Red #1 to TC.

Four years ago I headed to the Kitchenette for a Slicer Meet Up;

Today I’m spending the day with Clare and our Slicer Meet Up began on Friday.

Just one of the many venues today;

For sure with the closing so grand!

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How are you spending your Saturday?

What will you be learning today?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 11 SOLSC

I’m pretty sure that the steam rising from my poor computer is clearly visible on all coasts. It’s been rising for awhile but I was determined to really focus more on narratives as I sliced this month.

But life interfered.

I applauded this tweet a week ago.


A reputable reading researcher.

I’ve talked about Dr. Nell Duke and research before.

Here, here, and here.

She’s my “go to” when I need the details on research.


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But then all this other gobbledy gook stuff comes up. Pseudo – journalists who, after 2.5 years of studying “the science of reading” bless it as the ONLY way to teach reading and now are having webinars on Edweek, radio shows, and articles purporting to tell teachers how to teach reading.

How to debunk the malarkey?

Start with P. L. Thomas’s “The Big Lie about the ‘Science of Reading'” here.

It’s an amazing article that debunks the whole issue.

And if you need additional reading material, here’s a direct plea for media also by Thomas.

Here is where the journalist said she did not have to report both sides – link


Because these are the journalist’s sources:…/where-i-learned-how-to…/…/why-our-kids…/…/an-open-letter-to… “These “authorities” on teaching reading 1) pre-service teacher 2) teacher in his 4th year of teaching. The other link is a  professor’s blog in Australia about their pre-service program.”

Sources for the condition of reading in the U.S.

Consider the source.

Is the person even in the field of education?  What are their credentials?  What is the source of their data? 

Read critically!

The future of our children literally depends on all teachers.

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Administrator Webinar:  How to communicate the need for evidence-based practices from the What Works Clearinghouse Link

#SOL19: Day 7 SOLSC

Lucky Day 7

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On Day Seven . . . Using the Throwback Time Machine . . .

Quality Instructional Practices

  • How do teachers improve?
  • How do they know what to improve?
  • How can teachers be given an opportunity to rethink, reflect, and revise with support?

This post began four years ago today, March 7, 2015. But the content remains pertinent.

What is the source of teacher improvement?  Is it “Professional Development”? Is it “Professional Learning”? Is it time for “Reflection”? Are there some features that should be present for all teachers?

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Doug Fisher, Visible Learning


Collective Teacher Efficacy – John Hattie – effect size of d=1.57 (approx. 4 years growth)

Feedback – effect size of d=0.72 ( half of Collective Teacher Efficacy)

The message seems to be clear: together teachers can achieve more, especially if they collectively believe that they can do so!

How Leaders Inspire Teachers . . .

But what if . . .

These discussions / conversations were a part of “regular business” in all our schools . . .

How do I know I am using my instructional time wisely? 

How do I know my students are learning?

One professional filter might be Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters . . .

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Good to Great Teaching by Dr. Mary C.Howard

Where is the learning?

Are pendulum swings the result of information overload or the lack of solid grounding in the research/understanding WHY?

A search for FUN?

A search for the EASY button?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum in March from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Day 1 SOLSC

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To begin

Day One

March First

To write

To read

To “catch up”

To reconnect

To make new connections

No matter what your year of participation




I am a reader of many decades.  I love to read anything anywhere (but not so much fantasy). I remember holding a book up to the south window in our childhood bedroom to read by the last bit of daylight. I remember bringing home every Nancy Drew book from the public library. I remember comparing Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys. Who was having the most fun?

I remember challenging myself to read my way through the fiction shelves in junior high.  Countries and other worlds in my hands . . .  Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy were just a few of my constant companions.

And then the tide ebbed.  Constraints. Busy with family and school events I read less. The library in high school was in a separate building and required a pass from study hall. But I had two a week and school work to do.

Reading for fun now is on my Kindle app, picture books in my hand, or professional books marked with post its of many colors.  When I find an author, I usually have to read everything by that author.  Book binges? Guilty.  Time to read?  Just a minute . . . let me finish this page!

And in the month of March, I love to read “Slices”. Glimpses of lives. Glimpses of writing that inspires. Glimpses of writing that I aspire to add to my own writerly life. A reader I have always been. A lifetime of page turning. A lifetime of travel . . . much of it in my head . . . in my reading!

How would you describe your readerly life? 

What is your relationship with books (text)?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Bonus Added:  Book Series by Levels for Teacher Recommendations

#ILAchat: It’s a Wrap!


The chat was amazing. Many preservice teachers from #UNILitEd in Cedar Falls, Iowa, were participating in their first Twitter chat. We hope they will continue to participate in chats,  grow professionally, and find additional sources of on-line learning.

Chat questions:

00_Question graphics_Independent Reading

Resources for Quotes:

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I quoted Donalyn Miller’s research in the chat. (link)  Also Nell Duke’s Edutopia article here. Another new source during the chat was “Sustained Silent Reading:  What the Research Really Says“.

Accountability for Independent Reading.  Students can choose many non-invasive ways to keep track of their reading.   I can’t say enough about how I love the “book stack” showing a month of reading here in Christina’s tweet via learning from Penny Kittle.

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Archive from the chat – Link

And after all, what are a student’s rights?

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What will you do to ensure quality implementation of Independent Reading?

What is your first step?


#ILAchat:  Independent Reading

#ILAchat: Prep Work

Clevern tweet from NY Public Library

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Kelli Westmoreland – Research on Independent Reading

Barbara Moss – Independent Reading

Matt Renwick – Silent Reading vs. Independent Reading

Children’s Book Council – The Value of Independent Reading for Kids – Independent Reading

Stephen Krashen – What Does it Take to Develop a Long-Term Pleasure Reading Habit? **

#ILAchat: Prep Work

Yesterday, I introduced the ILA definition of Independent Reading and a Green IS and Red IS NOT table for you to consider. (Link)

  1. Study the definition:  How does it match your beliefs?
  2. Read through the “WHY” in this Literacy Daily post from ILA:

3. Read the Literacy Leadership Brief:  “Creating Passionate Readers through Independent Reading” (link)

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4. Review the questions to begin thinking about your responses

00_Question graphics_Independent Reading.jpg

5. Question 4 refers to Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s work and you can refresh your understanding here.

6. Follow @juliaerin80, @mrsjjee, and @DulceFlecha.

7. Participate in the #ILAchat!

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