Category Archives: Writing

#SOL18: Access & Equity


Labor Day weekend has come and gone.  All schools are in session.  Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in.  It’s that time of transitions.  No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes.  Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.

I remember kindergarten in a country school.  It was less than four miles from our house.  Easy access. A true neighborhood school.  The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined.  I loved that I was allowed to read.  I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.

And then first grade was in town.  In an addition to the school.  First grade with other first grade classes.  First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library.  First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter.  First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers.  That wasn’t her picture.  First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn.  First grade where I was going to conform.  First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.

First grade when I hated school.

Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time.  They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around.  I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines.  I wanted the task to be done.  I wanted to be able to read, write and draw.  Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.

He likes to eat and drink a lot.
When I put water in his dish,
He laps it up just like a fish.”  *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)

Which school better met my needs?

The rural, neighborhood school. In the name of equity it was closed.  In terms of access, my access to a quality education was lessened.

What matters?

Access and Equity matter.  All students need access to quality education.  Equity is huge.  The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here.  There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!Screenshot 2018-09-02 at 10.00.33 AM

What’s our goal?

If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books.  That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code!  Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!

And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books.  Books that match their interests!  Books that make sense to them!

Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Listening

THINKING!!!

Communicating as a priority.  Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!

Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world.  No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”!  Has you thinking been challenged?

A focus on learning NOT assessing.

The real tangible goal.  Are ALL students progressing?  Are all students learning self-assessment?  Are students developing their own goals and agency?  Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas?  What are your students telling you?  Do they love learning?  Are they curious?

Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .

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How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer? 

What are you still wondering about? 

What questions do your need answered?   

What quotes would you add?




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.                                                              slice of life 2016

 

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#SOL18: Magic


Magic:

Blogger

Blogger

Teacher

Teacher

Picture aficionado

Picture aficionado

Organizer

Organizer

Family – oriented

Family – oriented

Observer

Observer

International traveler

International traveler

A Pennyslvanian

An Iowan

And that’s a list of what I knew about a fellow “Slicer” before we met up IRL (in real life) last Saturday for breakfast.

The power of blogging.

The power of paying attention.

The power of responding to fellow bloggers.

The power of subscribing to blogs written by other folks.

It felt like “old home week” because we’ve been blogging weekly and every day in March for several years.  I could look it up, but this post isn’t about the numbers.  It’s about the friendships, respect and genuine “kinship” of fellow bloggers!

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They are on their way to California for their nephew’s wedding and several months ago said they would be going through Iowa.  We met up at the Iowa 80 truck stop and had breakfast together before they headed across Iowa. Westward, Ho!

It’s convenient.  Literally one block off of Interstate 80.  Loaded with choices of places to eat.  Knickknacks to examine. Souvenirs. Halloween items. Toys. Toys. Toys.

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I’m not positive that the ferris wheel works. But it adds to the scenic view.  And that’s the outside. The inside is spacious and puts most stores to shame with WIDE aisles and plenty of browsing space.

And vehicles. This is one of two trucks on the INSIDE of the building!  Truck tail gates adorn the walls.  And memorabilia fills all the nooks and crannies everywhere!

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If you are going to be on I-80, this truck stop is about an hour west of the Mississippi River (the eastern border).  Leave yourself some time to explore!  LInk

So when you are planning to meet, talk and enjoy some face to face conversation, The World’s Largest Truck Stop should be on your list because it’s entertaining, easy to access, and also like all truck stops . . . has really “delish” food 24 hours every day!  Check it out!

Take a risk.

Start blogging.

You will be amazed at the friendships that will develop.

Write. Write. Write.

Blog. Blog. Blog.




Fellow “Slicers”, how many have you met IRL? 

Where do you go to “meet up”? 

Does it involve food or drink? 

What do you have planned?




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.                                                              slice of life 2016

#SOL18: New Year’s Resolutions


Read.

Reread.

Re-reread.

Yes, New Year’s Resolutions on August 14th!

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publicdomainpictures.net

What are YOUR Resolutions for the New School Year?


Where will you begin?

___ Online query (Facebook, twitter, instagram)

___ Professional Learning Community (Summer book study or Back to school updates)

___ Texts Read this Summer (180 Days, A Novel Approach, Kids First from Day 1, Engaging Children, Writers Read Better, Sparks in the Dark, To Know and Nurture a Reader, What’s the Best that Could Happen? Teach Like Yourself, What are you Grouping For?)

___ Blog posts ( TWT Blog Series – Dreaming Big in this Year’s Writing Workshop)

___ Personal mission/vision statement

___  Searching for a Fun, New, Community Building Activity

___ Other


Why does it matter?

Time is the most precious commodity in your classroom.  How will your use of time reflect your priorities?

Rules?  or Expectations?

Fun?  or Meaningful?

“Will your students READ, WRITETALK, and THINK on Day 1?  Day 2?  Day 3? . . .

What will your students LEARN this year?

What processes will you put in place to help set the stage?”

YOU, the teacher

Not you, the entertainer

You, the teacher

Teaching

Growing and Learning

Reading

Writing

Thinking

Respectfully,

Thoughtfully,

Kindly,

Setting the Stage

Crafting Experiences

What is on your list of New School Year’s Resolutions? 

What are your priorities? 

Will you be the “best teacher” that you can be?




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

For more information, this is the blog post I read before writing my post. Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. G:   I might just teach   

#SOL18: Time


The lyrics from the Byrds have been going through my brain lately as I’ve lost track of day and night, days, and now even weeks, and WOW, how did it get to be August?

“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven . . .”  Video, 1965.

What does it take to be an award winner?

This song won a Grammy back in the 1960’s.  Ah, yes, before many of you were born. So what is a classic?  What is real?  What needs to be repeated?  What needs to be retired?

Cherish . . . and another tune instantly comes to mind.

Do I have songs on my brain? 

Everything’s coming up roses and in verse! 

There’s something about the JOYFULNESS of song!

I’m hopeful that the joyfulness in my life spills over to ensure that joyfulness is a part of  every classroom this fall.  Enthusiastic teachers. Refreshed. Relaxed. Rejuvenated.

Ready for challenges.

Ready to toil anew.

Ready to advocate for EVERY student.

Ready to lose your heart to that next room full of students!

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And yet, every day the clock will continue!  Can you find precious minutes for MORE reading and writing? Can you redistribute the time you have?

The students . . .

Excited students. Excited and eager for routines. Eager for learning.  Eager to make a difference.  Eager and enthusiastic to be back at school.

A time to be curious and focus on their brilliant minds and all the great things they do know. A time to think about next steps and small nudges of growth that will start spinning the success wheel.

 

time

Time shows what we value.

I love this quote from Ralph Fletcher.

“Time is a new kind of poverty. A schedule

that features daily writing communicates to

students: ‘Writing is one of my non-negotiables.

It’s too important for me to squeeze in

once in a blue moon’” (p. 45).

~ Ralph Fletcher

The Writing Teacher’s Companion

Scholastic, 2017.

What is on your daily schedule? 

What are your non-negotiables? 

How will we know?  

And just to come to a full circle . . . “So what is a classic?  What is real?  What needs to be repeated?  What needs to be retired?”

What is really necessary in your classroom?

What do students really need to learn?

How will you know?

Life is all about decisions.  Time is in your favor.  Many have just begun.  Many begin soon. Others have about three weeks.  How will you use every precious second in honor of worthwhile and necessary learning?

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Before we can ask for MORE TIME, we must make sure that we use our existing time wisely!




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: It’s About Time!


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The heat and summer weather continues but visions of classrooms are filling many heads as teachers and students begin the final stretch of “vacation” and “It’s the last time, I can . . . this summer” routines.

I attended a research round table at #ILA18 in Austin  and posted the first side of the hand out from one 15 minute segment about Chapter 16, “It is About Time for Comprehensive Language Arts Instruction (We’ve Tried Everything Else!)” in this post.

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This book.

487 pages.

I’m still reading.

How will those “8 Components” be implemented?

Well, that was side two of the handout and some brief discussion. This post is going to focus on just three of the 8 sections on implementation. (The numbering is mine so that I could keep the sections in order.)

The first implementation I am highlighting was the first on the page.

  1. Make Time for Self-Selected Reading and Teacher Read-aloud
  • Replace “morning work” with self-selected reading
  • Reduce time for “packing up” and end the day with self-selected reading
  • Read aloud to children during “snack time”
  • Read topic-related books and magazine articles aloud in subject areas

Four different options for “making time” were listed.

Will one of those work for you?  Which one?  More than one?

If your students need to increase their reading volume, time is an issue.  How can you ensure that they will have more time to read? What is within your control?  How are your priorities visible for yourself, your students, and your entire learning community?

The second implementation:

4. Teach Handwriting along with High-Frequency Words

  • Focus students on each letter during high-frequency word learning by integrating it with handwriting instruction

Sight Words?  High-Frequency Words?

What are you having students learn and why?

How will you know that students have learned the words?

I’m a believer that sight words are “known” when they are used and spelled correctly in writing. Not just the quick, fast recognition for reading but also the accurate recall and correct spelling when the words are written.  Part of the practice to get the word into long-term memory can be handwriting.  What a win/win for students!

And what a way to achieve my goal:    No more students spelling “said” as /sed/ because that is the way it sounds!!!

And for today, the final and perhaps most important recommendation . . .

8. Stop Doing Things We Know Don’t Matter

  • Stop doing activities, skills or lessons in traditional grammar
  • Stop teaching cursive handwriting
  • Stop teaching dictionary location skills

This last section is probably the most critical in my thinking.  Why on earth do we keep doing “stuff” that we know either a) is not effective? or b) does not matter?

Here’s the link to the document (both pages).

How will this inform your instruction?

What conversations do you need to have prior to sweeping changes?

How will you know if you are using time wisely?

How will you continue to “check in” on your own use of time?




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: Why?


My #OLW stood me in great steed this weekend at #ILA18.Screenshot 2018-07-23 at 11.14.01 PM

So much to see . . .

So much to do . . .

So much to learn . . .



But What’s the Point?



Back in the Dark Ages,

In the late 2oth Century!

I remember the value placed on

Whole-Part-Whole in education.

The goal was always LEARNING!

The intent was for ALL to be LEARNING!

Students

Teachers

ALL!



After #ILA18 I feel that many empowered teachers have been set free in the universe to “change the world” and continue learning.  We haven’t learned it all.  There is a real need to continue to grow and build our knowledge base.

And that brings me to one of my Sunday sessions.   We were learning about the Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts (4th edition) under the leadership of Diane Lapp and Douglas Fisher. It has 18 chapters.  Chapters that could be used in schools for professional development.

18 Must Reads.

18 Invitational Conversations.

Exploring the tight connections between research and best supported practice that promotes literacy for every learner.

This was not a book available to purchase in the Exhibit Hall.

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But could it?  Dare it be a lens to consider best practices?  A lens to consider What?  How?  or even WHY we do what we do in instruction?

In its entirety this is one side of a handout from a round table at that session . . .

Chapter 16

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8 Essential Components of Comprehensive Language Arts Instruction.

Any surprises for you?



As I reviewed the list, I found it quite interesting that this list of components included nine, or exactly half of the chapters.  Curiosity, of course, won out.  What on earth could the other nine chapters be about if this is “the list of components for instruction” and if THIS is the book for teachers to study.

So I was off researching.

In a classroom, I would have been in major trouble because I was on my computer and might have appeared to NOT be on task.  But I was in search of more information.  What is the other half of this book about?  This book we should study?  This book we should use? This 499 page book!



This post is titled “Why?” not to just allow me to pose my own questions but also to perhaps begin to develop some of my own theories.  Why these eight components?  Why do two of the eight (25%) not have chapter resources supporting them?

WHY? 

What are the “Whys?” that are circling in your brain?



What format will the chapter take?

Will there be recommendations of “amounts of time” per component?

Will there be “recommendations of additional resources”?

Were any teachers involved in updating this handbook?

Is there any support for how to put these 8 components into action?

Or how to “know” when the components are all aligned?



Will this text continue to treat each component as a separate silo?  What about the reciprocity of reading and writing? How will we grow readers and writers?

Why this text now? 

What’s so compelling about this text, right now, that this book should be a part of a district’s professional development?

It was a pleasure to hear much rich conversation around real reading and writing at #ILA18.  Real, rich, robust reading that is NOT about single standard instruction or assessment.  It’s actually quite refreshing to go back to the “Whole” of language arts instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening that moves stedents to take action in the real world.

Doing school must end.  It’s time to capitalize on any instruction that promotes high learning and engagement that challenges students without mind-numbing page after page of annotation, Cornell notes,  and skills-based minute particles that can easily be googled.  Why do adults think these decisions can be made without broader input from our communities?

If the whole is our entire language arts program

and the part is the eight components,

what “WHY?s” will you need answered before you can implement these 8 components?




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

 

#ILA18: Sunday


Day 2



Joy

Friends

Breakfast

Sessions

Meeting face to face

Talking

Laughing

Learning

Dinner

Chatting

Chatting

Chatting

So blessed to have this time . . .

So important to make the time . . .

So important to say, “Thanks, Friends!  ILA was  so much fun together!”



Curious:  Mostly about the Pairs



Kari and Christina

“We believe every child deserves a teacher committed to conferring.  That work is within the reach of every teacher.”

Be there. Perfect place to be.  Next month, next year – grow your practice.  –  Kari Yates and Christina Nosek

To find out more, link to their blog here.

Or Facebook here.

On twitter:

@Kari_Yates

@ChristinaNosek

“Intentional language choices that include systematic thinking about how to support a reader. 

Figuring it out.

Celebrating.

Nudging.

Reminding.” – Kari Yates and Christina Nosek

Their book . . .

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Ellin and Debbie

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Two weeks until Debbie Miller’s new book is released.

Reviewing our use of time in workshop. . . This is the “Lift Off”.

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Ellin . . . brought her new book to life!

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Engagement . . . not compliance, not time on task, participation, nor motivation.

Read more here.



Rose and Lynne

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In a one hour session, demonstration, practice writing off a mentor text, revising, AND a video from a classroom.  Well done, Rose and Lynne.  So many great ideas!



Research

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This book . . .



And those that were missed . . .

Just a few quotes borrowed from Twitter . . . from all the cool kids tweeting . . .

“Kylene Beers & Bob Probst say to revise reading TODAY so that more kids engage with reading, we need to do four things in our classrooms: fewer strategies, more volume, more talk, more rereading. #ILA18 ”  – Penny Kittle

“Had a wonderful #ILA2018 because of the teachers who stopped me in the halls to chat, meeting colleagues who care about children, making new friends! Relationships matter!” – Laura Robb

“When a kid has the sniffles, we give them OJ & a healthy breakfast. We don’t rush to the ER. When they fall below benchmark in rdg, we send them out for an ER type intervention. How bout handing them a book? ⁦@AnnieTWard#ILA18 #fromstrivingtothriving #scholasticteach”  – Stephanie Harvey

@ProfessorNana Thanks for reminding us to feed kid books. Thinking a lot about edge time, priority time, and class time. #ILA2018” – Tenille Shade



Sunday, Fun Day!

How did you spend your Sunday?

 

#ILA18


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Dear Austin,

Thank you for the amazing warm welcome,  a supportive place to celebrate with friends,  the learning, and the many great dining adventures.

Love,

#ILA Attendees





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Spontaneous combustion of tortilla chips . . . Austin, Texas news . . . here



Celebrations . . .

Celebrating meeting so many in our #G2Great family as well as friends near and far.

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A book birthday.

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A real live face to face birthday!

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With friends

With friends from afar. . . FB Live (Julieanne & Justin) Facetime (Kitty & Justin)

With friends we have known for years are are just now meeting IRL (in real life)

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Our Montana connections!



The learning . . .

From the President of ILA, Doug Fisher . . .

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and not because of zip code!

From Cornelius Minor 

“Being nice in the face of oppression is not enough. Nice does not create change. Kindness does. Kindness means I care enough about you to call you out.”

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For more from the keynote – see Mary Howard’s facebook post here.

From Courtney

We don’t know what we don’t know.

Trust the wisdom of our children.

Ask them.

From Jess

Check the language you use.

Who does not fit in?

How can I be more inclusive?

Listen, Research, Self examine.

Also – look at the books you have out when parents and students arrive.  Do they see themselves in your classroom?

From Kate

Learn more than you can do.  Keep learning.

Keep your head and heart ahead of your actions.

From Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins

“What’s more important than text level when considering text selection by teachers?1) Student Identity,

2) Joy,

3) Reading Process,

4) Depth of Thought

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From Reading Wellness

A weight lifting metaphor

3#  =   light effort- People magazine

5#  =   A Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom

8#  =  Where good ideas come from – Steven Johnson

10# =  Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading – Alverman

Why is this not the same for our students?



Dining

Recommendations from the locals . . . Thank you, Terry and Clare.  We loved Uncle Julio’s.

And then pure decadence.

Banana Foster Bread Pudding.

Melt in your mouth.

Not Soggy.

Pure scrumptiousness!

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How was your Saturday?  

#SOL18: Summer Vacation


July

Hot days

Rising Steady HIGH humidity

Corn on the cob

That first BLT

Already anticipating

That dreaded question . . .

“How did you spend your summer vacation?”

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Book Club 1:  4 books scheduled . . . just finished book 3

Book Club 2:  Writing about Reading . . . jotting, writing long, trying to create visuals

Book Club 3:  Rereading, jotting, applying, thinking, and writing

Writing Project 1:  Notes, resources, writing, writing, writing

Writing Project 2:  Daily writing, reading, and responding

Online Writing Class: Video and writing

Online Writing Class:  Daily checking in

Summer Class 1:  Teaching

Summer Class 2:  Developing

When does vacation start?

And what did I forget?

Screenshot 2018-07-17 at 6.02.11 AM.pngTreading Water . . .

Hanging On . . .

Typical Summertime Fun!

What does your summer fun look like?




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




I totally forgot it was Tuesday and Slice of Life!  This was my 10 minute flash draft this morning.

Because

10 minutes

No more room in the schedule

The clock is ticking

On my summer work vacation!!!

#TCRWP: Farewell Final Five


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Five: 

Coffee deliveries may be the highlight of your day.  Sharing the love, being responsible for alternating days, vulnerability in early morning hours . . . exquisite moments in time!

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Life in the dorm!

Four: 

The Big Ideas of Teaching Spelling and Grammar are so important.

  • What is the purpose?  Purpose vs. rule
  • Time for practice
  • Having a focus or goal
  • Differentiation that works
  • Bite-sized pieces
  • Consider reading level
  • Provide opportunities for transfer

And then we dug into the actual lessons to find where they occur.  How can you, the teacher, make them more explicit?  Notice them during a Read Aloud or use them in  Interactive Writing before that lesson so the students have the language in their repertoire!

Three: 

Tears of laughter and joy from Colleen Cruz’s closing.  But this I will remember.

Always.

Always.

Always.

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Two:  

Use the resources in the Units of Study.  Here’s the “problem“.

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Here’s the solution.

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One:

Build your community.  Follow #TCRWP on Twitter and on Facebook.  Find your “family reunion” at TCRWP (nothing like being called out by Lucy Calkins in her speech at the closing).  There is no better support in the world than in the #TCRWP community whether you leave your red knapsack in the subway,  have questions, or are “going it alone” in your district.  Reach out.  There will be support!

What great learning! 

What great adventures? 

How will you continue your summer learning?

 

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

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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