My #OneLittleWord for 2016 has been JOY and this past weekend at #NCTE16 was packed with joy every minute of every day. Surrounded by professionals that I know, admire, and constantly learn with, it was quite easy to forget the policies, problems, and politics that have rocked the U.S. landscape lately.
See how many “Slicers” you recognize at the Saturday dinner.
(Bonus: How many of the blogs can you name?)
The JOY began with a #G2Great meetup Thursday night at Max’s Coal Pizza. This group chats online on Thursday evenings with Mary Howard, Amy Brenneman, and Jenn Hayhurst as co-moderators.
Do you know which 4 are in both groups?
Can you name the states represented?
And of course another night of conversation and JOY.
On Sunday we actually found time to visit before leaving Atlanta!
One of the highlights of my travels was my great roommate, Dani Graham Burtsfield, from Kalispell, MT. Thanks so much for all your great work as our “historian”!
Joy with some of the audience members for the poetry session are found here!
And even MORE JOY with some of the presenters!
Have you checked in on your “One Little Word” lately?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Atlanta . . .
The home of a fabulous Civil Rights Museum
The home of Martin Luther King Junior
The home of thousands of teachers this weekend
Spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday together
Feeding their souls
Fueling their passions
Collecting their energy
Forging a future
In this fabulous #NCTE16 family!
I am so humbled to rub elbows among so many talented readers and writers who are so willing to chat, to dig into answering those clarifying questions and to help out in so many ways. And who in their lives have chosen “kind”.
Thanks for Voxer cousin Erica, the MARTA directions were perfect. Wowza! What an easy way to travel from the airport to the hotel. Thanks to the #G2Great dinner organizers – such a treat to meet up together before the sessions began. Looking up and down the table at all the JOY (my #OLW) amidst the hugs and conversations, there was a moment when I wanted to hit the pause button. Just a few short seconds to admire my companions and the many paths that brought us together from across the country. Together we are better. We bring our knowledge, our skills and our hearts together to improve literacy in our communities.
We are activists.
We are here.
We are learning together.
We are reading together.
We are turning and talking.
We are growing together.
And the rich conversations continue long after the sessions as we naturally have t0 share our learning with each other.
Friday was the first full day of #NCTE16 and it was a long day. It was a joyful day from the first navigation of the convention space to the Donald Graves Legacy Breakfast. Thanks to Heinemann for such a wonderful gathering. In the same space on stage: Tom Newkirk, Penny Kittle, Georgia Heard, Katherine Bomer, Smokey Daniels, Cornelius Minor, Allison Marchette, Rebekah ODell and Kim Parker.
Tweet worthy quotations.
Watching a master at work on a video.
Writing our own credos.
And then we were off.
Every session has close to 50 choices. Hard choices for learners. Who do I REALLY need to hear? Who will affirm my beliefs? Who will push me to new understandings?
Learning from Ralph Fletcher, Ellie Keene, Kathy Collins, Matt Glover, Marjorie Martinelli, Shanna Schwartz, Alecia Luick, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow, Val Geschwind, the amazing #G2Great crew (Erica, Amy, Jenn, Jill, Dani, Kari, Kathryn) and the many gracious Heinemann and Stenhouse authors filled my brain, my heart and my soul.
One of my favorite sessions was “Low Stakes Writing” with Ralph Fletcher. If we want joyful student writers, Ralph proposes that we must add some green belt writing for our students. The metaphor that he used to describe writing energy was the hot air balloon and he challenged us to think of when the balloon would rise – when writing workshop is going merrily along and when the balloon would sink back to earth – with the addition of test prep work and mandatory writing tasks that literally suck the JOY out of writing. As teachers, parents, administrators, we do need to be aware of our own limitations but we also need to stretch ourselves as readers, writers and thinkers. We must be the models of the writing that we want our students to do. The concept of “feral writing’ is fascinating. A feral animal – one who was once domesticated who has now returned to the wild. Writing that students choose to do on their own time. The creation of new genres of writing that arise from choice as students do find their writing voice. How can we honor those voices?
No pictures here in this blog post. My computer is taking a break so I’m composing this on my iPad mini. It’s not my favorite device. It’s challenging as I type in the dark out of kindness to my roommate at zero dark thirty.
Day Two begins at 8 am and goes until 5:30 pm.
Decisions about sessions.
Decisions about when to visit the exhibit hall.
And what about those favorite authors and those friends from twittter who we have not yet connected with?
Much more joy and learning ahead!
How will you spend your Saturday?
Join the #DigilitSunday authors at Margaret Simon’s blog here.
Welcome, old friend.
My #OneLittleWord for 2015.
So enough said?
Not so fast! Let’s reconsider “Focus” with a different lens – or two!
Focus on Who?
Simple . . .
Focus on Students
Who will focus?
The teachers and the school community
This two-fold approach ensures that students are the center of the work. And as teachers and the school community focus on students, the teachers will collaboratively work together as they learn, grow and share ideas and techniques to best meet the needs of students.
Maintain status quo?
Teachers and schools are constantly considering what is working and what is not. It’s 2016 so schools and “learning” don’t look the same as they did in the 1960’s, 1980’s or even in 2000. The adults in the community have already “DONE” school and years of schooling don’t make them experts. The students currently in the building are the FOCUS.
Focus on What?
Learning . . .
How does an educator decide “WHAT” to focus on? There are many lists/features that are all “research-based” and even appear to have “gold stickers”.
Which one is best? There’s no “clear cut” answer for the best or even the “one” that will have the greatest impact because many of the “whats” that teachers can work on can also be combined for even greater student results. Instead of searching for the best, look within. What can you the teacher, add to your repertoire to increase your impact or effect?
What happens when a teacher uses data to study what is working currently in the classroom with the current students and then decides to change one variable and measure that effect?
Any of these could be a target of district or personal teacher study (and could overlap):
- Hattie’s effect sizes,
- Art of Comprehension via Trevor, Rich, Donna, & Justin’s graphic, or
- questioning (DOK).
Art of Comprehension, Bryan, Donner & Dolci #40CF “Art of Comprehension” Voxer Conversation
The key is using several data points (never just one) to determine where a change needs to occur, developing a plan and then working that plan! Quality instruction, quality teachers, and a quality use of time!
Focus on How?
How are decisions made about instruction, learning and teaching? How is technology involved? (I know you were waiting for the “DigiLit” connection!) How can technology be a TOOL that allows equitable access for ALL students? How can technology level the playing field for students and for student learning? How can technology allow students to APPLY their learning outside of school settings?
Methodology varies from classroom to classroom, building to building, and district to district. Some have local choice and some have state mandates. Within all situations one factor remains, professional responsibility! The professionals in the classroom have a responsibility to provide the environment and instructional opportunities that enable ALL students to learn at high levels!
And now I’ve gone full circle. The answers to Who? What? and How? have brought me to the Why? which brings me back to my 2016 #OneLittleWord: Joy.
There is JOY for students when students are the focus. There is JOY for students when learning is the focus. There is JOY for students when teachers are growing, learning and sharing those practices that have data to support that they increase students’ desire to learn and their learning. There is JOY for teachers when students and teachers have learning as the focus. Teaching is NOT for the faint of heart; teaching is FOR the students! All students must be growing and learning every day and that’s no easy task!
Joyful Learning Every Day!
What do you focus on? How do we know that is your focus?
And what if?
What if . . .
Teacher Clarity (Hattie), The 6 Things We Teach Every Day (coming soon in a book by Trevor Bryan) and Questioning at higher levels (DOK) were all strengthened simultaneously? How would that look for the students? How would that make a difference for students?
Mommy pushes me on the swing . . .
Sliding down with daddy
Walking up with daddy
At the park
With my grandson . . .
And his family . . .
Using my #OLW Joy, I wanted to capture our fun at the park last night. What a treat to have family fun time at the park where his mom used to play. Visiting family memories and creating new ones. Nothing as precious as the infectious laughter of my grandson . . . 10 1/2 months old!
I knew I needed verbs as he is all about action and all about “I can do it myself”. And then I played with the spacing. That was the most fun part of today’s writing. . . how I wanted the words to look as they went across the page.
What joyful moments are you capturing?
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!
Traveling to new places
Visiting old places
Making new friends
Visiting old friends
Learning new things
Relearning things left along the way
Collecting words and images
Revisiting great words and images from the past . . .
Each day MUST involve some personal choice
As necessary as the air I breathe!
Something I choose.
To grow my thoughts!
To talk about books!
To write about books!
To find worlds to LOVE!
Do you read?
Why do you read?
If you teach readers, you MUST be a reader!
If you teach readers, you must BE a joyous reader!
Check out Donalyn Miller’s Nerdy Book Club post, “Getting on the Bus”, is a powerful read. Stop, go read it. Already read it? Go read it again! Demonstrate to yourself the power of rereading to confirm knowledge or celebrate the language.
My favorite quote:
Is this you?
If not, why not?
What’s your favorite quote? How have you shared it? How would we know?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
So what do you see?
- Is the glass half full?
- Is the glass half empty?
(Or does it only matter when you know what is IN the glass?)
Perspective matters. It matters every second of every minute of every hour of every day . . . you know the rest.
Like many bloggers, I was in search of my #OneLittleWord when Thanksgiving break arrived. I was searching, checking out the thesaurus, reviewing blogs from last year and YES, fretting about that poor little word that would focus my actions and thoughts for the next year.
Where did #OneLittleWord come from? You can read about it here from Ruth Ayres (2008) and even see how Margaret Simon used it with her students in 2015 here. You can also read some early announcements of words here, here, here, here, and here.
My word found me as I was making decisions about wrapping Christmas presents. Presents were everywhere. I had diligently removed the price tags. I had organized them by recipients. Then I added post-its (yep, color-coded) by the “recipient” as I considered those individuals who would be at multiple, multiple Christmas exchanges: my son, my daughter-in-law, and my grandson.
Easy Part – all gifts had to be prepared to travel.
However, there is a difference between gifts that travel two hours on a balmy 50 degree afternoon and those that had to be prepared to travel more than 8 hours without being crushed, torn, or so disheveled that they would need “re-wrapping”. This was an organizational nightmare.
And to compound the issue, the not so distant past included being “called out” by the blood relative (who shall remain nameless) who received about half as many gifts as the family newcomer at a previous Christmas. But names are not included in order to protect myself! 🙂
Hmmm . . . what to do?
As I surveyed the gifts and thought about every logistical concern. (How do the gifts get home? Is there really room for big gifts? What if some gifts really need to be exchanged before leaving town?) Simple questions. Multiple issues.
Gifts for the Iowa family Christmas would basically be wrapped individually in their “own” paper and too bad, so sad but the 7.5 month old grandson would have more gifts than his parents. Equal number of gifts for all three was not the major goal because after all Fair Isn’t Always Equal according to Rick Wormeli.
Then the gifts that were traveling to Kentucky would all be gift-bagged. One bag per person with the collection of gifts to be basically “tissue-wrapped”. WHEW! Major decision! I believed that DISASTER was averted and I had a wonderful plan. (Truth in blogging – Gift cards for books for nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews were not included in this decision.) All other gifts for Kentucky Christmases would also be gift bagged.
Seriously, what did this have to do with #OneLittleWord?
Well, it was all about my perspective.
What solution allowed me to designate the gift locations and collections and fill my needs?
It was all about my JOY at finding a solution that met both my needs as the giver and (I hoped) the needs of the recipients!
Joy is truly in the eyes of the beholder – whether it is the gifter or the givee! And my heart was so full of JOY at finding a solution that I knew JOY needed to be a part of my personal and work life every day for the next year.
This Christmas gift to me said it all.
My life every day this year will include: happiness, success, delight, gaiety, bliss, or the source of delight – wonder! (And see how sneakily seven other words fit under this umbrella of JOY!)
Schools and learning need to be filled with Joy, happiness, success, delight, gaiety, bliss, and the source of delight – wonder! And I will be looking for Joy in all its formats every day in schools and in my own learning.
So I will be looking for JOY each and every day and with my “half-full” perspective, I am sure that I am going to find it!
Have you found your #OneLittleWord?
Has your #OneLittleWord found you?
P.S. [Truth – three days of wrapping and organizing (after one day of LOCATING) and I was close to buying/repurposing boxes in order to scrap the bag idea. I had a hard time getting the exact number and sizes of bags that “matched” the recipient. New Solution: I just bought extra large, medium and small bags. After all my gifting, I used 31 bags and that was more math than my JOYOUS brain could handle.]
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy,Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
A New Year
Preparation the night before:
Am I ready?
Oh, yeah . . . Alarm set just in case.
Finally, to sleep.
What am I supposed to remember?
What was that last thought before I fell to sleep?
Did I write it down?
Seriously . . .
Another hour until the alarm goes off
Low stress! (Oxymoron)
HAH! My heart is beating with anticipation!
How will it go?
Check my list again
Smile on my face?
What emoticon or emoji best describes me?
A touch of trepidation . . .
And yet, also
Ready for fun
And yet, nervous – just a little!
It’s the first day of class
This new year
And I am the teacher.
Am I really ready?
“Good morning, and thank you for coming to school!”
What thoughts and feelings do you have the night before that first day of class?
Do you share those with your students?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.