Category Archives: Slice of Life 17

#SOL17: Revisor


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It’s a typical Tuesday morning at my house.  Tuesdays when I draft, revise, and publish my “slice” before work.

It’s time to write my slice on my blog post, but I don’t know what to write.  Where will my idea come from?

I pace from the living room to the kitchen and back again.  “No idea YET!”

I stare out the window.  It’s still dark.  “No idea YET!”

I reread last week’s post.  “Can I write a part two?  No idea YET!”

I stop.  I ask myself, “What did I do this weekend?”

I went to the Homecoming parade.  I went to the game.  I watched the bands (alumni and current) march. I went to watch high school band competition.

I remembered how much I loved marching band when I was in high school and college.

I was so excited.  When I looked at my pictures from the weekend, I had tons of pictures of both my family and the marching bands.  Finally I have an idea.  I know . . . My slice is going to be about how I found my idea . . . and I begin to type.




And, now for the rest of the story . . . 

Paul Harvey story (Part 2)

The story above is the “Prequel” to last week’s post. I used the prequel in a second grade classroom to demonstrate some revisions that the writers could consider to make their writing stronger.

I am quite confident in my “revising” skills.  It is easier for me to say that I am a revisor than to say that I am a writer.  In the midst of writing, I have doubts.  In the midst of revising, I feel like my super powers are engaged.  There’s structure power, elaboration power, and the so important editing/conventions power.

How does that impact my writing?  

How does that impact my instruction?

I believe that my love for revision enables me to be both a more-focused and a more-flexible writing coach.

Here was my first draft of my writing – deliberately designed so I could use it with my second grade friends! A very short three page story

Draft Document

How did I get from my original nine sentences to the final draft (25 sentences) above?

What were my revision points?  

In our narrative mini-lessons these were some of our teaching points:

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What were student writing goals?

Student goals included strong beginning, writing more sentences across pages, or adding more details.

Beginning – Page one – I need to add where and when because I have the who and what.

Middle – I need more details so I decide to have two pages and decide to repeat the “No idea YET!” (page two)  and on page three I leave the first sentence and change the ending.

Ending – I check to make sure that I add details that bring the story full circle.

I use bright neon paper strips or green marker for my revised sections to make the revisions very visible for my readers and writers.

Google Doc- Revised story

This revision basically happened in order:  beginning, middle, and end.  Not all happen to work that way!

Are you a revisor?  

How do you teach revision?  

How do you match revision, instruction,  and goals?

Did you see Betsy’s post yesterday on Revision?  AMAZING! Sticky Notes, Arrows, and Margins, Oh My!




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

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#SOL17: Fall Favorites


Now that we are in double digit October, what are your favorite signs of fall?

The changing color of leaves?

Soybeans ready to be harvested?

Field corn turning brown as the stalks dry out?

The clamor on the high school gridiron on Friday nights?

The collegiate gridiron contests?

The crunch of leaves underfoot as you walk on tree-lined paths?

The pumpkins, scarecrows, and characters that decorate the lawns?

What is my personal favorite?

Decades of participating, watching, supporting . . .

Marching Band def

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Marching Band was one of my favorites that has endured the test of time.  I love to watch the band at football games and in parades.  Within 28 hours this weekend I had the opportunity to see high school and collegiate marching bands and here are a few of the highlights (including some links).

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Friday Night’s Homecoming Parade – U of I Hawkeye Alumni Band

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Saturday Homecoming (vs. Illinois) – Alumni Band Pregame Show

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U of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band – Pregame (Fight Song)

And then High School Marching Band Competition in Muscatine, Iowa . . . a rainbow en route guaranteed this auspicious trip would be highly enjoyable!

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Class 3A:  Central DeWitt Program

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Central DeWitt Marching Sabers – 10.08.17 (2016 performance)

What are your fall favorites?  

How many years have you enjoyed those favorite traditions?

And the best part of this weekend?

Celebrating Fall with my sister (Iowa alumni flag), my nephew (Director of Bands at Central DeWitt), and all of the other relatives over the weekend!




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

 

#SOL17: JOYFUL


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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.

Conversation

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 . . .

Excitement

Happiness

Joy

Learning again.

Joyful!

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.

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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?

@janmillerburk

@kimyaris

@burkinsandyaris

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

Shared Reading – #G2Great chat and subsequent blog post

#SOL17: In the Moment


The paddle dips and soars, alternating sides, and the kayak glides across the water. Sea gulls stand on the pier ignoring the signs that say “Keep Off”.  Waves lap against the pier.  Blue skies above.

“What’s the difference between a kayak and a canoe?”  

I could ask The Google, but I choose to remain in the moment.


“Grandma, play.”  We use the wooden dominoes to build a castle.

I could ignore the request, but I choose to remain in the moment.


“Missippi,” I hear.

I smile.

No one says, “Say Mississippi.” No one corrects. We accept the approximation.  Actually we glory in the approximation with big smiles and little chuckles!

                              I could talk about the Mississippi River or the state of Mississippi, but I choose to remain in the moment.


“This is a word search.  You look for these letters:  F, O, X.  Can you find an F?”

We watch as he locates three different Fs.  Then he colors them.  He finds the O and colors it.  We pay attention and celebrate what he can do.

                                                  I could point out an X, model one, trace one, but I choose to remain in the moment.


What do you learn when you stay “in the moment”?  

When do you celebrate approximations?  

How do you decide?

I could look up developmental charts for two and three year old children and see where my grandson falls, but I don’t need to.  I celebrate his joy in learning and honor his “Pete and Repeat” methodology.  His language mimics the language he hears.  His actions mimic the actions he sees.  His love abounds in the love he sees.  And my heart and soul are filled with joy and love and that is why I “stay in the moment”.  I need a camera to capture the memory but there is no “score” or “quantifiable data point” that gives me a ranking or a percentage.  Totally.Not.Needed . . . Not.Even.Appropriate!

Talk

Play

Love

Joy

Curiosity

Undivided attention

The child is the focus!




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

#SOL17: Voice


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What is my voice?

Am I the calm in the midst of the noise that flows and ebbs, varying in intensity as measured by decibels and heated emotions?  When needed, I am a place of refuge so you can rally and move on.

Am I the voice of encouragement?  Go ahead take a risk. I will stand with you shoulder-to-shoulder because I know that you are an amazing source of strength.  When needed, I will coach you through the work.

Am I the voice of an advocate for those who don’t yet have a voice?  Those who are too young, too weary, or too worn-down-by-daily-trials. When needed, I will help you name the faces that are behind your work.

Am I the voice of reflection?  What have you tried?  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What do you see as your next step?  When needed, I will serve as your mirror?

Am I the voice of radical change? Is it time to chart a brand new course?  Strike out in a different direction?  Try something brand new?  Take a leap of faith?  When needed, I will help you brainstorm many possibilities.

Am I the voice of maintaining the status quo? Continuing on the current course? Knowing that it is not effective but not yet ready to abandon it? 

Definitely not that indecisive!  Maintaining the status quo has seldom been my focus!

So what’s it all about?  

What is voice?

I was shocked, dismayed and flat-out discombobulated when I googled, “What is voice?” and the first page of responses was about finding my range or my singing voice.  What’s up with that? Of course, I didn’t specifically say my writing voice or my speaking voice in my Google query.  I was interested in the broad strokes.  What will “THE Google” say?  (But “voice” is one of the 6+1 Traits of writing!) So this is now my stunned, a bit shocked, and quite skeptical voice continuing on . . .

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A continued search (or rabbit hole) led to the source of “voice” from the Latin word vocare which means “to call, or invoke”.  So to call or, using some of the verbs above

“express … declare, state, assert…proclaim, announce, publish…vent, utter …”

So many ways to use my voice.  But my exploration was not yet over.  The source of “vocation” is also vocare.  In the midst of our work our voice is often called out because it is the underlying WHY of our passion.  When our passion is teaching, it is what we “are called to do”.

Does “voice” matter?

More and more teachers are expressing that they have little or no voice in what is taught in their classroom.  Content is dictated by a combination of curricula, standards, pacing guides, assessments and/or textbooks.  All of those are part of the WHAT that is current reality across the country.

But . . .

If I am a voice

of calm,

of encouragement,

an advocate,

of reflection,

of radical change . . .

And I am a reader, writer, and a thinker who believes in literacy for all,

The highest possible quality for all,

How do I use my voice to  speak up on behalf of students and teachers?

How do you use your voice?  

Which voices do you use?  

What is your major role?

Does your “day role” ever create conflict over your voice during the “rest of your day”?  How does that affect your voice?




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

#SOL17: Beginnings


Beginnings:

I’ve had a few. (Especially on this post today with technology gremlins!)

More than 50 “First Days of School” as a student, teacher, principal, or literacy consultant.

As a Mom, so many firsts, so much joy, pride and love.

As a Grandma, every visit is an adventure with new accomplishments.

I was in search of song lyrics and found these “Top 10″ but they didn’t include the melody that was bouncing in my brain.  Was it a real song or a “#wanttobeasongIthoughtIknew”?

“Where do I begin to tell the story?”

With two parts to my new “Beginnings”, life will be busy.  The first is going to focus on

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No Eye Roll.

No, “Duh!”

No, “Really, Fran, is this just another excuse to read more books?  Buy more books?

This acronym is complicated!

R-Readers,

E- Everywhere, Taking

A-Action,

D-Daring to Dream

 

My Plan

As I’ve refined my thinking and yes, my writing in the last few weeks, I have faced many surprises. One of the biggest was that I was going to continue to focus on being a reader. The reality is that I’ve been reading for a very long time because I was reading before kindergarten. Yet, I propose to pay more attention to the craft I encounter in daily reading in order to continue my exponential growth as a writer. I don’t have reading or writing notebooks that cover decades of ideas.  Instead, I have bits, fits and dozens of beginnings where I waste precious time falling down rabbit holes as I try to remember where I wrote something. I have now made the conscious decision to move to an electronic notebook. I believe attainment of the bigger goal of being “Writers Extraordinaire” means that we all must be thinking “wide-awake readers” as we construct the meaning behind the words, pictures, videos and texts of the present and the future. Reading as a writer is SO different from the way I used to devour texts.

Reading (and Writing) is not just a school task.  Literacy requires life-long learning. Readers need to continue to choose to read long after they walk out of a school building, video conference or job site.  More careful attention to the world around us will result in a more informed citizenry everywhere in the world – not just in the U.S. With every technological advance the world shrinks and we need to stay connected with our colleagues around the globe to continue to grow as literate citizens of the world.

Joy surrounds us when we are “lost” in the pages of a book.  But even beyond the pleasure of exploring new worlds is the responsibility to think critically and consider sources, biases and points of view.  Thinking often demands taking action – both a right and a responsibility to apply our literacy skills.

As I work on this plan, I am “Daring to Dream” and using my #olw “Brave” to dream big for everyone everywhere.  I don’t know exactly what I will be doing myself but my goal will be to empower others on this journey as I continue to promote literacy for all citizens everywhere.  Current possibilities include:  more writing, adopting a classroom, and always more work with writing.




(Revision Note:  There were so many possibilities for this acronym.  Perhaps you prefer other word choices that better fit you . . .

R – Reflective, Reflection, Responsibility

E – Empower, Empowering, Encouragement

A – All,  Access, Actionable

D – Dare, Dream, Do, Denial)




The second part of my “Beginnings” is focused on Retirement.  August was bittersweet this year when I did not return to a classroom or to professional development in a building.  But I’m looking forward to exploring the opportunities listed in the acronym below (plus “Grandma activities”) that arrived on a retirement card last week. While not the same 8-4 schedule, I will be returning to independent literacy consulting work later this fall and I’m excited for the adventures that await!

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What are your new beginnings?

What new chapters of your life are you exploring?

Where are your literacy journeys taking you?




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

 

 

#SOL17: Memories


13 years ago this weekend . . . 

“Are you driving?” Sherry asked.

What an odd question?

“No, I just pulled into Hy-Vee to get some groceries.  What’s up?”

And I knew.

“Please, don’t tell me!” 

I just wanted to hang up the phone.  

I didn’t want to hear it.  

NO, NO, NO!

And the tears streamed down my face as I learned that Dad had passed.

Peacefully

Without undue suffering

Yet

Suddenly and Unexpectedly!

To this day, I remember where I was parked at North Hy-Vee that afternoon.

It’s a section I have never parked in since.  

Not tempting fate.

The sun was shining.

It was a relatively nice day.

Done with work.

Planning to buy a few groceries before heading home.

Immediately shifting gears . . .

A dying phone battery.

Phone calls to make.

Returning to work.

Using a land line and a cell phone.

Calling.

Leaving messages.

Calling

Asking questions.

Calling

Asking, “Are you driving?” when using cell numbers.

Calling

Barely able to say the words.

Numb. Shocked. Confirmed.  

Yet short on details!

Making lists of more phone calls.

Already exhausted.

Where do I need to be?  When?  What’s next?

I’m in limbo.

Half-way between my family farm home and my family home.

Is someone with Mom?

Which direction to go?

Plans to make.  Plans A, B, and C.

Not ready?

No longer an option

A hurricane is headed for Southern Florida

So Sherry is not yet on her way.

I want to return to the childhood days,

My treasured days,

As the best gift to my dad on Father’s Day!

The easy days of childhood.




Fast Forward to the present . . .

2017:  What a year!  And it’s not over . . .

If I could turn back the hands of time?

I would definitely rewrite March and April. Those days when I wanted to huddle under the quilt and cry for all the changes in our family.  Too many losses, way too fast!

I often come back to this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Moving forward may seem to be at a turtle’s pace but forward motion is ALL that is required.  Some days it’s not necessary to measure the miniscule change.

Does it ever get easier?

Saturday I stopped by the family cemetary (after a neighbor’s funeral – age 91).  A few minutes of conversation with Joey, Grandma, brother Joe and Dad . . . and aunts, and uncles and so many more!

Was it missing the opportunity to say an Earthly “Good-bye”? 

Was it not knowing how or what to say?

Was it the shock of the “suddenness”? 

Taking comfort in our memories,

And remembering the JOY, the LOVE, and the many celebrations.

Never taking a single moment for granted.

Precious life!  Precious time!  Precious family!




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

#SOL17: First Day


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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?




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

#SOL17: August


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What’s your future?

Lazy days of summer continuing?

Shear panic as school soon starts?

Last days of vacation?

A room to assemble?

Weeks to go?

Days?  Hours?  Minutes?

According to Your Students:

Is school their safe place?

Is school a friendly place?

Is school a kind place?

Who is welcomed?  Who is not?

Who are the heroes?  Who is not?

What do we read?

What do we write?

Whose interests are included?

Whose ideas are reflected?

Who matters?  

Will you bravely include ALL?  




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

August #TCRWP Reading: Day 1


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Monday arrives with rain and yet the fire in my brain flames on . . .

Lucy Calkins keynote . . .

Laughter with Natalie Louis . . .

Learning with Kelly Boland Hohne

Illumination with Cornelius Minor

Such was the Monday in my life!

Today’s post is a recap of information from Cornelius Minor from his closing session: “Using Digital Tools to Offer Access to Students with IEPs”

Access for all Kids – Why is Access Important?  (AKA “Research to Weaponize”) 

  •        UdL – more inclusive
  •        On heels of Civil Rights
  •        Architects – ADA compliant – door width, door knob  (designed from inception)
  •        Knowledge of the three networks that access the brain:
    • Recognition (input – see, hear, perceive);
    • Strategic (executive functioning); and
    • Attitude (and feelings about teacher and learning)

 

Here is a chart I developed to organize some of the information shared by Cornelius.

                                                             What is the main thing?  
Skills Instruction
Vocabulary

Alfred Tatum – Teaching Reading to Adolescent Black Boys  (Chicago) (EL)
Start with verbs – most common  (not ameliorate)  to speak, to move, to think

Build on strengths!

Synonyms:  Ponder, saunter, exclaim – derivatives of most common words.

Camera  saunter A , B photographer

Video ponder B, A videographer

Develop criteria together.

Make pic for word wall – Use students in the class

Social – Doing and Talking

Fluency

The sound of my voice when I am reading text I care about.  (have to like my audience as well as my text)

Teen ink  is a source

“The day I met you was a bad hair day”

Need texts that are worthy of practice.

“Going to play Simon says. You are going to read the poem like I do!”

3 different emotions:

  1. “You just ate the last Dorito” and I wanted it
  2. “Cutest baby” – change voice to match your meaning
  3. Accused, but didn’t throw paper ball!

   Annotate text for emotion

Specific Chrome Tools

  • Announcify
  • Read and Write for google
  • Ginger – grammar checker
  • Google dictionary – define and save
  • Text compactor – summary
Have 3 or 4 that are extremely effective.

More is NOT better.

Can also change readability

Effort

Behavior mirror

Transfer – Use contexts that are familiar – Audio / Video – Students use daily!

Do what the leader does!  SELL it!

Effort lives in our methodology.

What was something tried and true?  

What was new?  

What will you do next?




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

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers

Present Perfect

adventures in multiple tenses

Leadership Connection

from Great Prairie AEA

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together

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Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson

adventuresinstaffdevelopment

All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis

TWO WRITING TEACHERS

A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

I Haven't Learned That Yet

This blog serves to document my path of learning and teaching.

Simply Inspired Teaching

A blog by Kari Yates

Reflections on Leadership and Learning

Sharing my learning experiences

AnnaGCockerille Literacy

The Generative Power of Language: Building Literacy Skills One Word at a Time

Reading to the Core

Just another WordPress.com site

Karen Gluskin

My Teaching Experiences and Qualifications

To Read To Write To Be

Thoughts on learning and teaching

Books and Bytes

Exploring the best of literature and edtech for the middle grades.

To Make a Prairie

A blog about reading, writing, teaching and the joys of a literate life

Raising Voices

Thoughts on Teaching, Learning, and Leading