Tag Archives: 90th TCRWP Saturday Reunion

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 25 – The Beginning

Last Saturday the 90th Saturday Reunion began in the majestic and hallowed halls of Riverside Church with Andrew Solomon.  He made us laugh, cry, and most of all, he made us think.

One of my favorite quotes that he repeated was, “When I was little, my mother used to say, ‘The love you have for your children is like no other feeling in the world. And until you have children, you don’t know what it’s like.'”

In our school buildings we may well be surrogate parents, aunts/uncles, or grandparents for many of our children.  That love for the students sustains us, day after day, and especially in times of trouble. That love is patient, kind and enduring.

And yet the love for our children, and of course our grandchildren, is like no other feeling in the world.  That’s so true.  The love, the worry. the fun, the joy, the sadness . . . all blur together over time as our children age!

A second big idea from Andrew Solomon’s keynote was about the difference between love and acceptance.  He said, ” We need to change society. Most people love their children, but acceptance is a process that takes time.  Even if a child does not have extraordinary talent, deficits in acceptance are NOT a sign of no love. Instead, it’s the difference between acceptance levels:  social, family and self.

Do we need more love in the world?

Do we need more acceptance of others / self in the world?

Here is Andrew Solomon’s book!

far from the tree


Process / Goals

To complete my reflections/thoughts and stories from last Saturday’s 90th Saturday Reunion!  What a range from Andrew Solomon’s love and acceptance to Tara’s perfect hashtag #DoTheWork with Cornelius and Kate.  The whole writing process and technology with Cornelius, and then the books with Lucy, Shana, Norah, Molly and Heather.  And our return to Riverside Church for Lucy’s magnificent call to action.  Learning for my teaching soul at #TCRWP’s Saturday Reunion with great conversations all day long!

This post – focus on two big ideas from Andrew Solomon’s opening!  Write, tag, revise, link, grab pictures, and publish!

Dancing Lady

Which session/post was your favorite from #TCRWP and why?

Opening Keynote:  This post

Session 1: Cornelius Minor 0 – Reading

Session 2:  Kate Roberts – Reading

Session 3:  Cornelius Minor  – Writing

Session 4:  Lucy and the Classroom Library Project – Reading

Closing Keynote:  Lucy Calkins

slice of life 2016


Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!




#SOL16: March Challenge Day 21 – Books


So, yeah!

I have this problem.

This one teeny-tiny little problem.

I like books.

I like books a lot.

I have had summer jobs for over 10 20 30 years just to pay for my book habit.

In fact, I would not be stepping out on a limb here if I said,


So when I heard that TCRWP was going to develop lists of books for classroom libraries,

one side of me said,

“YAY, now I will know what the top of the line BEST books are!”

while the more frugal side of me said,

“Darn, I’ll need another job because this is really going to hurt my book budget!”

90th Saturday FREE Reunion – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

trumpet circle

So here is what I think I heard in Session 4.  Get the Latest Scoop on Books and on the To-Die-For-Classroom Library Project

Lucy Calkins, Shana Frazin, Norah Mallaney. Molly Picardi and Heather Michael were all gathered in 136 Thompson to explain progress with the #TCRWP Classroom Library Project. (If you have not heard about the classroom project, you can read about it here on the TCRWP website. Read it now and then come back!)

Goals / Process:

  • Develop a state of the art classroom library that students will want to and will be able to read.
  • Make sure every word of every book is read so no surprise language exists anywhere.
  • Represent the diverse culture we see in our current world.

Lists were solicited from teachers and other TCRWP literacy aficionados.   However, approximately  50% of the books on the lists were picture books. The review team has searched for chapter books, when appropriate by level, to increase the volume of print as well as continued to monitor a balance of fiction and nonfiction.  Book levels were also a concern as Lucy said, “Levels need to be accurate. We want the right books in kids’ hands; books they can and do read!”

Here are pictures of book covers of some of the books recommended for the libraries of students in grades 3 – 5.

And then for students in grades K 2:

  • Rigby’s Where does Food Come From?
  • Hammerray – Mrs. Wishy Washy

The group shared some of the things they had learned before a quick guided tour of the book review work.

  • Titles for book bins do matter so the labels will be preprinted.
  • Curating a collection of books that will sustain students’ interest is hard.
  • High-low books are not all equal for middle school readers and finding age-appropriate and conceptually appropriate leveled books for MS students is tough.

Lucy reiterated that these would NOT just be your favorite books and few picture books would be included in classroom libraries.  Why? Because 4 student chapter books could be bought for the price of one picture book. The few that are included will be in the brief “Read Aloud” section of the shelf!

What books do you know?

What books look interesting to you?


I ordered (10 books) and saved copies of those book covers during the session (to my “blog pictures” folder on my desktop).  Ten was my limit! I read through my notes on Sunday and pulled the pictures of the remaining book covers and spent time perusing Hameray and other book publisher sites.  A.lot.of.time! (Remember I said I had a book problem. Did you really think I could click without stopping to read?  I had to look up Joy Cowley and then I was interested in her woodworking and then back to just how many Mrs. Wishy Washy books are there?  Wonder  .  .  .  I created the opening, defined my categories, added the tags and then pasted in my notes from my Word Document.  I did have to reload all the pictures into WordPress, but I had put the names into my doc so it went quickly.

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!






#SOL16: March Challenge Day 20 – #TCRWP

nyc skyline

So what does the NYC skyline mean to me?  

It’s home to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. And for two weeks each of the last three summers, it has been home to incredible learning documented on this blog.  Learning that has stretched me as a literate being, a reader and writer who learns alongside teachers and students.  Yesterday was a beautiful learning day as it was my third Saturday Reunion at TCRWP.  A day where attendees could hear Andrew Solomon, Lucy Calkins, Stephanie Harvey, Jennifer Serravallo, Carl Anderson,  Kathy Collins, Kathleen Tolan, Colleen Cruz, Amanda Hartman, and a whole host of other amazing TC Staff Developers.  ( Your assignment:  As you read this post, think about what you believe I value based on what I share in this post.)

A day of learning.

A day of choices (pages and pages in the printed trail guide and/or scrolling for hours in the new app).

A gift of a day.

But this gift was not without a price.

If Lucy Calkins’ closing keynote did not move you to action, please keep reading.  You missed the point!

Why are we here?

In Lucy’s own words, “We come here to feel less weird.”

We came to be a part of the tradition and the rituals of a process of continually learning.  We are a community of learners who have gold membership.  We are the traditions and habits of our lives.  Sometimes we stand out in our own schools and communities because we are not seen as conformists, we always want more for our students, or we really don’t want to be told by a textbook how to teach, so we quietly (sometimes) do our own little teaching in our own little corner away from the prying eyes of other less supportive communities.

But that’s not enough!

Spring is the time of new beginnings.  Lucy shared some characteristics of leaders: dominance, steadiness, influence, and compliance. We need to think about how we build leaders in our classrooms because leading only for the sake of compliance seems short-sighted at best.

What are the goals of our classrooms?

We want our students to be joyfully literate might be one answer.

So that means the teacher would set up the classroom so that students would have choices in their daily reading and writing work that would allow them to strengthen their own skills and knowledge as well as their own love of reading.  Simply stated.  Not so simply created.  This relies heavily on a deep understanding of the values, traditions, rituals and habits that are going to be the load-bearing walls of the classroom and sustain everyone in times of trouble. Everyone’s learning curve will be off the charts.


Teachers College Reading and Writing Project staff model this belief when 80 of them study together every Thursday and commit themselves to teaching and using that learning.  What a supportive community!

“No, we can’t come to your school on Thursday.”

“No, we can’t schedule on top of Thursday learning.”

Totally music to my ears.  Learning and growing together as a community to move forward. Choice matters.  We need to create these communities of respectful learning.  Some of us will seek out friends from across the country to continue to study and learn with, but we the adults, MUST do the work that we are asking students to do.


Literacy instruction is not about telling someone else HOW to do it.  It’s about the demonstrations and modeling that are steeped in the values, traditions and rituals of the classroom that support growth for all learners.  It’s hard to demonstrate when you’ve not done the work yourself.  You can’t anticipate the troubles.  You can’t anticipate the successes.  Your toolbox is empty if you haven’t done the work yourself.

Where can you start?

You can begin a habit of writing! Lucy shared with us that the action of writing about our experience helps us live a more wide-awake life!  We pay more attention to what is going on around us!  Make it a habit – and research says that five times of “doing” followed by “writing” can make it a habit.

Where will I start?

Another fact shared by Lucy was that the average person gets two minutes per year of positive feedback.  I’m gong to make it a habit, by the end of this year, to make sure that I give positive valuable feedback!  I’m long on the “will to get started” and short on the details, but I will have travel time to think about “how to implement.” I want to build that tradition or habit of being someone who provides positive feedback! (Currently, I’m not likely to say “That’s really pathetic” ALL the time; but I’m also not always as wide awake about small approximations as I should be.)

Why does this matter?

Habits constitute 40% of our lives on a daily basis.  I want 40% of my life to be devoted to more positive and joyful actions!  I want to help build MORE leaders! Our world is in dire need of great and empathetic leaders.

Are you a leader?

How do you lead?

“What tradition will you build in your classroom?”



With fellow “Slicers” yesterday, I discussed beginning two different posts and seeing how they went.  My first actions were to scan all 19 pages of my notes – making sure that the titles for each session were firmly embedded (then goodbye paper copy) and then I just thought about over all themes for the day.  I clearly heard that “we have to do the work” all day long in every session.  Then I decided that my first work would be retelling the story of Lucy’s closing keynote in many of her words and some of mine. Friends – 5 more sessions to talk about YET to come!)

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!


#SOL16: March Challenge Day 19 NYC


I’m in New York City!  (Can you see that look of awe in my eyes?)  Soon I will be sitting in Riverside Church . . . eagerly anticipating this gift of a day!

Saturday is the 90th Saturday Reunion at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia! About 5000 of my #TCRWP friends (new, current, and not YET met)!

Learning, laughing and listening into conversations with some of the brightest minds in literacy!

Before That

Before that, I was eating Chinese takeout and enjoying brilliant conversation.

Before that, I was completing “homework” in the form of responding to a survey and suggested changes.

Before that, I was out for a fresh slice of pie, a walk, a visit to the dog park, fresh air and exercise in New York City.

Before that, I was in Everett Lounge, Zankel Hall, completing a spot of work, recharging electrical devices, and gearing up for the weekend!

Before that, I was so excited to have my feet on the ground. Now it was time to hunt for a restroom and then off to ground transportation for a cab ride to 525 West 120th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Before that, It was looking out the plane window, seeing houses in rows like dominoes some in straight lines, but rows and rows of houses. Sometimes curved lines..and then turbulence ….crosswinds. Oh, stomach hold on! Color, shapes, diagonals. So many patterns from this bouncy house ride.

Before that, Reading, and then an announcement, “25 minutes out.” “Prepare cabin.” Descending. Time for ears to pop.

Before that, Coffee. Cruising at 37,000 feet and COFFEE! My first cup for the day! Starbucks coffee… Maybe five ounces in the cup. Inhaling the scent… 1 hour and 30 minutes of flight time left. Thinking about advantages of nonstop flight…. Time saved. Actually cheapest by the time I booked it!

Before that, Pushing back from the terminal. Lift off! Noticing how green the grass is from the air. Nature’s way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day yesterday.

Before that, Boarding the plane. Chatting about Vera Bradley patterns. Stuffing bag into overhead bin. Settling in and nesting with devices at the ready.

Before that, Listening to multiple messages about the flight. Before that, Messages, both email and Voxer about joke book possibilities.

Before that, Logging into Amazon and buying joke books.

“What do you call a pig in Ontario?”

“Canadian bacon”

“What do you call a dog in a beauty salon?”

“A sham-poodle”

Before that, checking into the world of Twitter and Voxer. Sending and receiving messages. Noting the number of people on devices. All but the two girls reading joke books from National Geographic!

Before that, checking the screen for my flight and proceeding to Terminal C, Gate 1 at the Des Moines International Airport.

Before that, picking up bags, phone and ID, and asking the gentleman in front of me if that’s his phone still in the bowl in front of war my bags were on the conveyer belt.

Before that, walking into terminal, proceeding to expedited screening with three in line not fifty plus in line extending back to escalator, set 2 bags on conveyor, put phone and ID into bowl, step through screening.

Before that, Driving to airport, getting ticket for long term parking, parking and taking picture of location. Attaching it to calendar for return home.

Before that, Loading the car.

Before that, Verifying that I have TSA pre-screening and checking to see that the driver’s license is valid.

Before that, shower, repack, organize power for phone and computer only.

Before that, The br-r-r-ing of the 5 am wake up call.

Before that, I checked the clock…4:43.

Before that, I checked the clock….3:37.

Before that, I was sound asleep and dreaming of my upcoming learning at Teachers College.

Process … I made notes throughout the day after checking my “Before That”post from last year inspired by Sally Donnelly. I typed this up last evening so it would be ready to go. Categories, tags, etc. Format looking so VERY funky – even on preview! No Text box to type inside of. Technology FAILED again this week!

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 12 – Next Saturday

march 19


Next Saturday

Next Saturday,

New York City and

TCRWP’s 90th Saturday Reunion.

Next Saturday,

Lucy Calkins and

all the brilliant speakers at TCRWP.

Next Saturday,

Rubbing elbows and

Conversing with friends united in our passion for literacy.

Next Saturday,

Learning with and from

“Andrew Solomon, Mary Ehrenworth, Kathy Collins, Kathleen Tolan, Amanda Hartman, Carl Anderson, Laurie Pessah, Colleen Cruz, and Kate Roberts.”

Next Saturday,

Keynote at Riverside Church and

Learning with thousands of friends in New York City.

Next Saturday,

Topics like:

“argument writing, writing about reading, reading interpretively and analytically, embedding historical fiction in nonfiction text sets, opinion writing for very young writers, managing workshop instruction, alignin instruction with CCSS, using performance assessments and learning progressions to ratchet up the level of teaching, state-of-the-art test prep, phonics, and guided reading.”

Next Saturday,

Making choices and being joyful

Spending the day LEARNING, LAUGHING, and LIVING with friends!

Where will you be next Saturday?

What will you be learning?


Process:  Stream of consciousness this morning as I woke up this morning excited about next Saturday!  I knew my title was going to be “Next Saturday” so I just started writing.  Ten minutes of writing, borrowing two lines from the TCRWP flyer,  indenting, tagging and then to post.


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!





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