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#SOL18: March 12

How much do typos bother you?

In Blogs?

On Facebook?

On Twitter?

I hate spelling errors in any form of social media.  Some formats are particularly difficult because revision provisions do not exist.  So careful review is necessary before hitting the button that sends the message out into the world.

This tweet . . .

Screenshot 2018-03-11 at 10.54.26 PM.png

is proof that money obviously cannot buy you an education.

Not even billions of dollars.

If this was your mentor text . . .

How many errors can you find?  What needs to be fixed?

Let’s parse it by sentences.

  1. “Great public schools will always work well for many kids, but if it’s not working for an individual child, they should have access to options.”

2. “No one should ever feel trapped or stuck.”

3. “No parent should have to feel like they are settling when it comes to their       child’s education.”

And in case you missed it, here was her interview on CBS 60 minutes last night.

What a train wreck!

And that’s probably the kindest way that I can phrase my complete and utter disbelief!

There are several ways you could “fix” this tweet.  Here’s just one view.

  1. “Great public schools will always work well for many kids, but if it’s the schools are not working for an individual child, they he/she should have access to options.”

2. “No one should ever feel trapped or stuck.”

3. “No parent should have to feel like they he/she are settling when it comes to their               his/her    child’s education.”

3:45 pm correction.  Courtesy of Donalyn Miller: “they is singular nonbinary.”


  1. “Great public schools will always work well for many kids, but if it’s the schools are not working for an individual child, they  should have access to options.            (error – contraction/possessive/or pronoun) and then 2 and 3 are correct! So there is a reason not to overreact toooooooooo quickly!

And in all fairness to Ms. Betsy, here is her response to 60 Minutes.

:“She asked me one thing about schools, and then another, and another,” she said. “If I had to answer every question she had about schools, I would have had to bone up on education for a month.” (Betsy DeVos, NewYorker)

Well, Duh!  You should have known the answers to those questions before you took the job.  Then you wouldn’t have had to “bone up on education for a month.”  THAT’S YOUR JOB!

This is called pronoun – antecedent agreement.  Khan Academy has a video here.

Practice with the Online Writing Academy can be found here.

Here’s a quiz from Oxford in case one would like to consider a proficiency level.  Link


Total Words:

  • 50 words
  • 4 errors 1 error
  • 92%   98 % correct grammatically


  • 4 words
  • 4 errors   1 error
  • 75 % correct grammatically

And what about the message in her tweet?

She was not talking about “failing schools.”  She was talking about “Great public schools” that might not work for an individual child . . .

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


This week:  I was going to comment about this . . . but the Washington Post beat me to it.

I had already passed on this . . .



#SOL18: It Depends!


Screenshot 2018-02-20 at 7.41.25 AM.png


We should do it!

It depends . . .

Was it our choice?

We are already doing our best.

It depends . . .

Is it our “Freedom of choice” or “Required”?

It does work.

It depends . . . 

How it is implemented?

It may suck the JOY out of life.

It depends . . .

Who makes the choices?

The purchase price was high.

It depends . . . 

How are time and resources valued?

Our decision-making criteria are in place.

It depends . . .

When must we decide?

It’s time for research.

It depends . . .

When will we begin?

Today I am curious.  A tweet from @rrcna_org.

Gravity Goldberg.

Same words I heard 10 days ago at #CCIRA . . .

Screenshot 2018-02-19 at 9.02.58 PM

Do we ask the right questions? 

Do we wait for the answers? 

Do we begin to shop around? 

Do we give up our autonomy? 

Are we outsourcing our teaching decisions?

Have we lost our faith in our own decisions? 

Have you named your non-negotiables?

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


Read back through but start with “When will we begin?” and read UP.

Does it change when the question for each verse is first instead of last?

Do you like it better the first way or the second?

#SOL18: Volunteering

There was a box.

“Would you like to volunteer?”

Hmmm.  What’s the likelihood?

Oh, well, nothing ventured.

Nothing gained.

Click, box checked.


Time passed by.

No more thought of that little box.

That little check.

And then . . . an email.

“Would you be a monitor?”

A monitor?

Sounds simple.


I replied affirmatively. 

Marked it on my calendar.

Linked the email.

Time passed by.

A few wonderings about the role of a monitor.

But not much thought.

And then . . . a second email.

A different question this time.

“Would you be a chair?”

A chair?

Sounds simple.

But wait . . .

For whom?

More details?

I read the email.

I checked the email again.

I reread carefully.

What a treat!

What an honor!

The email was an invitation to be a chairperson for a session at #CCIRA18.  Who knew?  An out-of-stater was going to be the chair.  And to introduce an #eduhero of mine!


February 9, 2018

in Humboldt Peak

9:15 – 11:15

at #CCIRA18,

Session 318

“Dynamic Teaching for the Deeper Reading of Fiction”

Presenter: Vicki Vinton

Screenshot 2018-02-12 at 10.12.40 PM

Heaven! Pure Delight!

What’s your experience with volunteering at literacy conferences? 

What’s your experience with volunteering at non-educational activities? 

Do you continue to volunteer?

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


#CCIRA18: Disrupting Thinking

Satuday at #CCIRA18 meant three hours with Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.

Three hours.

Amazing three hours.




And most of all learning.

But I’m still struck by this . . .

Teachers know more about the teaching of reading than ever before.

Textbooks are better.

More books published for kids.

Yet more kids leave high school saying, ‘I will never read a book again.'”

WHY is this?

We know more.

Out teaching has improved.

The materials and resources have improved.

And yet, when students leave school, they aren’t reading.

The data is here.

Go wade through the data.  It’s been sliced, graphed and discussed from number of books to types of characters to choice.  Two that caught my eye are here.

Frequency of Reading and Number of Books

Screenshot 2018-02-12 at 7.53.51 AM.png

Frequency of Student Selection of Book and Likelihood of Finishing a Book

Screenshot 2018-02-12 at 7.55.47 AM.png

How do you interpret this data? 

How important is student self-selection of books according to the students? 

How might this data impact your work?

#CCIRA18: What do students read?

This picture of a slide from Peter Johnston’s keynote on Saturday at #CCIRA18 has had


118 likes, and

some pushback . . .


John Guthrie’s research here

Pernille Ripp also spoke to this issue at #CCIRA18


Kate Roberts book will be out this month.


Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s book will be out in April.  I’m not finding the preview of the cover now, but it has “180 Days” in the title and at #NCTE17, they shared their structure that includes one whole class book per semester.

What is a healthy reading diet?  How would one build a “Healthier Reading Diet”?

Check out Travis Crowder’s work with Donalyn Miller’s resources here.

What is the end goal?

Students who can read?

Students who do read?

Students who have choice and voice in what they read?

Or students who pass a test and never pick up a book again?

What books should students read?

How many books should the whole class read together each year? 

Who decides?

Does this speak to student engagement?

Does this speak to excellence in literacy?

Does this speak to equity? 

What is your interpretation? 

What are your expectations?


#CCIRA Day 2: Aha’s

How did I feel at the end of Day 2?  After another 11 hour day of learning . . .

Which picture?

I couldn’t decide so I had to include all three as my brain truly is full and there is more learning ahead.  My heart is happy because I need some space to think, write and share  in order to free up some brain space for Day 3!

Change is Necessary and Teachers Must Be Change Agents

Eric Sheninger led the final session, “Inspiring Students Bringing Awe Back to Learning” in which we looked at some of the changes in our lives/world and compared them to changes in schools.  Are our schools really preparing students who are ready for the rest of their lives?

So this hits me personally as I can remember a crank phone on the wall with a party line, a black and white TV and maybe three shows we watched during a week, and a wringer washer with separate rinse tubs that was used on “wash day”.  Yes, that old!

The change in phones is pretty obvious even though the picture makes them look similar in size.  So what has changed in education?  What looks the same?  What looks different? Think about that for a minute before you continue on!

The Teacher is Responsible for the Awe

“Awe is a huge component of life – it’s hardwired into our brains…Awe is a driving force for learning…However, traditional views and functions of school deprives many students from experiencing the joy and power of awe as a catalyst for meaningful learning.”     ~ Eric Sheninger, CCIRA18 program, p. 43

Not Technology, But the Teacher!

  • The teacher sets the conditions for learning.
  • The teacher sets up the environment for learning.
  • The teacher makes the decisions about next steps.
  • The teacher makes sure play is included.
  • The teacher facilitates the learning.
  • The teacher has a purpose in mind.
  • But the teacher has a mindset that allows the students to “wonder” outside the corners of the page.
  • And then the teacher steps back and the students do the work.
  • NO graphic organizers.
  • NO fill in the blank activities.
  • Real Reading.
  • Real purposes.
  • Real Writing.
  • Real purposes.
  • Talk required.
  • Thinking required.

Yesterday, I heard this over and over and over.

I heard it from Vicki Vinton as we, the teachers, did the reading work six minutes into the session (yes, six minutes in) that incorporated a different version of close reading, analysis, and interpretation that met the demands of the first six reading standards. Read. Talk. Read. Talk.  Read. Talk.  Constructing meaning.  Working together.  Building on each other’s ideas.  Revising our ideas.  Refining our thinking. No highlighting.  No three readings.

I heard it from Gravity Goldberg as she encouraged teachers to “do the work” and be their best source of “next steps”. Teachers’ best use of time is spent searching student work for the “awe and possibilities” that are NOT found online in any free, pretty, or even paid for resources. Use the time wisely in the best interests of your students!  You must trust your data, student work, for the next steps.

And I heard it from Kristi Mraz as she presented





and more research

(Link ) (and here PK)(and here)( and here – Best K design)

(and sneak peak at Kristi and Christine’s new book)

that clearly showed that play has longer term positive effects than “academic learning” at pre-school and primary ages!  Building play into the schedule is the teacher’s responsibility and it’s not, “PLAY, NOW!” in a demanding tone either.

This does fit with everything I know and believe about “students doing the work” in order to own the learning.  With frameworks like this . . .

  • Students do have MORE choice.
  • Students do have MORE voice.
  • Students do have MORE time to explore their own AWE.
  • Students do have more time to think and learn at deeper levels.

How do these classrooms look?

The classrooms are buzzing with learning, excitement, and student voices.  Walls include student work.  Students are able to access the materials they need.  Books are everywhere. Students aren’t vessels waiting for their brains to be filled like turning the tap on the water faucet pictured above.  Students are proposing topics and formats of their choices in ways that will demonstrate their learning. Students are invested in the work because they chose their own compelling work!

Learning MUST include Joy, Wonder, Relevancy, Engagement, Inspiration, Real-World Connections and AWE.

It begins with You, the teacher!

Screenshot 2018-02-10 at 4.59.43 AM

You are more important than any device!

You must know the WHY and then stay the course, check your data, and work in the best interests of ALL your children as every minute of every day is a precious learning resource.  The students’ future is literally in your hands!

If you are at #CCIRA18, what did you learn on Day 2?

How will your learning impact your work next week?

#CCIRA18 Begins


It’s like the first day of school

But it’s February!

But it was 53 degrees in Denver when I arrived.

That’s not winter weather.

Brown grass.

No snow.

Hmmm . . .

What season is this?

Here’s my agenda for the day . . .

Beginning at 7:30 am in Denver with Ralph Fletcher.

What an absolute delight!

Thinking brain needed by 7:30 am.

Before that in order to be in the right room in a great seat!

Screenshot 2018-02-07 at 8.46.26 PM

What will you be learning today? 

Where will you be learning? 

How will we know?

Plan to follow #CCIRA18 tweets for some great learning!

#Celebratelu: Life

Screenshot 2017-12-09 at 10.21.44 AM.png

In the waning days of 2017, it is important to celebrate LIFE.

When I say that it’s been a tough year, tears begin.  It was an absolutely awful year because we lost so many . . .


and without that last farewell.

Black holes of despair.

My godfather, my godson (nephew) and his wife, my brother, my mother-in-law, and now another cousin’s spouse.

And, YET,

Life continues.

We celebrate our memories, we laugh at the stories, and we remember with our shattered hearts.  We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and celebrate every precious moment.  We don’t know how long we have, so we celebrate the life we live. The events:  concerts, football, basketball, wrestling . . . The food.  The locations.

We bring our memories with us.  We wallow in out love.  We share. We cry. We laugh. We love.  We live.

I’m sharing a poem from a memorial service last week.

Screenshot 2017-12-09 at 10.32.27 AM

Easy?  Heck, no! 

But necessary?  Yes! 

Choose to celebrate their Love! 

Choose to celebrate their Lives! 

Choose to celebrate your LIFE! 

And anticipate that 2018 will be a year of LIFE like no other!   🙂





#SOL17: “Write, Write, Write!”


Day 2

and they chanted,

“Write!  Write!  Write!”

On Day 2

a classroom

filled with second graders


“Write!  Write!  Write!”

Forming a community,

Working on routines,


YET . . .

“When is writing?”


“Write!  Write!  Write!”

Filled the air waves.

This writing teacher’s heart is filled with joy.

A classroom of second graders

On Day 2



Even Anxious,


Write, Write, Write!

If your students come to you this year filled with a passion and joy for writing, how will you maintain and extend it?  

If your students are not YET filled with a passion and joy for writing, how will you create a love for writing?

And special thanks to the kindergarten and first grade teachers who helped these students find JOY in writing!

Thanks to the teacher and 2nd graders for being a part of my teaching life this week!

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

#DigiLitSunday: Wonder

What is left to accomplish at school?

Building stamina as a reader:

Reading Volume

Reading Choice

Joy Reading

Talk about Reading

Writing About Reading

Building stamina as a writer:

Writing Volume

Writing Choice

Joy Writing

Talk about Writing

Writing About Reading

Why is stamina important at the end of the year?

Stamina in both reading and writing is one way to counteract the “summer slide”. Reading and writing are NOT just “something to do” at school.  Reading and writing are both tools for living and need to be a part of everyone’s life . . . every day.  We need to find and celebrate the richness and relevancy that reading and writing bring to our “everyday” lives!

Important Wonderings:  

How much reading should students do in the summer?  

How much writing should students do in the summer?  

How much “talk” should students do in the summer?

 Is “talk” equally as important as writing about learning?

Encouragement, Advice, and Plans for Students for the rest of this year . . .

  1.  Build TBR plans
  2.  Build monthly Literacy action/Bingo Boards (Writing Bingo Board from TWT) or the Wonder Board below where students generate their own questions to answer
  3.  Schedule school library “open” days
  4.  Coordinate literacy events with the public library
  5.  Continue Family Literacy events

wonder board

What are your wonders?

Check out Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche for more posts about “Wonder”.




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