Showing posts from 2016

DIY Literacy Reflection 1 #cyberPD

DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence Chapters 1-Bonus By Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts

I am constantly looking for the things I use in my classroom as tools.  I grew up in a house full of tools and I was taught how to use most of them.  There were special tools for every project.  You don't use the band saw to cut a 2x4 in half and you can't use the circular saw to cut the intricate designs of a rocking horse.  Needle-nosed pliers are great for getting in tight spaces and a ratchet will  save you a lot of time and effort when making a bolt extra tight.   I think it's very important as educators to carry around as many tools as we can to help kids learn.  These tools are constantly changing as we learn more about learning and as times change in education.  Some tools we use all of the time, they are versatile and work in most situations but some tools get dusty in the bottom of the box.  You don't pull them out often but when …

Professional Conversation

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the month long Slice of Life writing challenge.  I'll be writing here this month about kindness and other things.

A over the past few weeks I've been to a few PDs that talked a lot about language and questioning in our classrooms.  During one of these conferences I was fortunate to attend with some of my colleagues who I know better personally than professionally.  We all teach on the same floor but being in different grade levels and different schedules we don't get to collaborate often.  After this  PD we were energized and ready to do what's best for kids.  We were ready to make changes and improve our teaching.

We decided that we would read Choice Words by Peter Johnston and then discuss the book a few chapters at a time.  Today was the first of those meetings and it was awesome!  We invited every teacher in the building and 7 of us showed up.  The conversation that happened was thoughtful and safe.  We admitted the thing…

It's Taco Friday!

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the month long Slice of Life writing challenge.  I'll be writing here this month about kindness and other things.

By the time Friday evening comes around I'm exhausted.  I've given everything I have to my students and I'm in need of a break.  My husband also gets up early and works hard so he's in the same boat as me come Friday night.  When I was growing up my mom cooked every night except for Friday.  Even if we just went through a drive through we ate out on Friday.  That was everyone's (especially my mom's) reward to working hard all week.

Matt and I tend to go out on Saturday, we like to enjoy our time and not fall asleep in our dinner.  Friday's are another story we eat because we are hungry.  Matt and I have 2 major staples on Friday nights either Pizza and Wine Friday or Taco Friday.  Pizza and Wine Friday's are a rotating local takeout pizza places and usually a red wine.  We set out the TV trays, …

Fan girl to friends

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the month long Slice of Life writing challenge.  I'll be writing here this month about kindness and other things.

I have had many fan girl moments in my life, like the time I was front and center for Janet Jackson's performance on Good Morning America (I'm pretty sure we made eye contact and she knows I exist) or the time Zach Morris came to Kmart in my hometown and I had a photo signed.

I've also had fan girl moments as a professional, probably more so than in my personal life.  A few years ago I joined Twitter.  I can't even remember why but I'm pretty sure it was because Franki Sibberson was talking about it at a conference.  I hesitantly joined and started following all kinds of teachers who had awesome blogs.  I would read the blogs and see the tweets and always be inspired to be and do better.

After a while I started hanging out with some of these people and going to conferences with them. I was constantly amaze…

Balance- tipping the scale

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the month long Slice of Life writing challenge.  I'll be writing here this month about kindness and other things.
Who can find balance in the crazy teaching world we live in? Trying to balance home/school/personal life is the most challenging and the most complained about thing that my teacher friends and I deal with. If we put all of our effort into teaching then our home/personal life gets neglected.  If we go away for the weekend we feel guilty that we didn't do school work.

I can't find a balance between all of the things I'm required to do so tonight I went heavy on the me time. I unexpectedly got a hair cut, took a long walk, talked to a good friend on the phone for an hour and now I'm about to make my favorite juice.  I'll be better and healthier because of it.  I won't have those writing assessments required by the district graded again but my hair looks cute.

How do you try to keep balance in your life?


Who's doing the work?

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the month long Slice of Life writing challenge.  I'll be writing here this month about kindness and other things.

A few weeks ago at the Reading Recovery Conference I had the privilege of seeing Terry Thompson present a session called "Are you Scaffolding or Rescuing".  He told us about how recently he found himself lying across the reading table with his hands in the book trying to get the student to notice something.  The kid was sitting back in the chair with his arms crossed.  Terry said at that moment he realized he wasn't doing any kind of scaffolding for that student.  We've all been there.  We've all laid across tables, done the work for the students or taken pens out of hands to "show" them what to do.  It's never intentional and we always realize our HUGE mistake after it's already been committed.

This brings be to a conversation I had with Cathy Mere a few weeks ago at the Dublin Literacy…

Parents are people too

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life writing challenge. 
I decided to blog around the word kindness this month.  I want to focus on the good in the world and how we can be kinder everyday.

As teachers and members of the education community, parent communication is vital for the success of our students.  Speaking with parents regularly about their child's successes and challenges will only strengthen the relationship between school and home.

What do we do when parents/families won't speak with us?
What do we do when they schedule meetings and then don't show up?
What do we do when they seem nervous or hesitant to even come in the building?

Often times I hear things like "Well, if they just cared then they would be here" or "Why won't they talk to me?  The students is (insert negative comment about behavior or academic progress)?"

Lets stop and think about this from a perspective of kindness and compassion.

Some parents had…

Chirping at 4:00am

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting this month long writing challenge.

Everyone has woken up to the unmistakable sound of beeping or chirping of a low battery. That happened to us last night. At 4:00am I awoke to a chirping sound that I didn't recognize. We have smoke detectors, water detectors, and CO2 detectors so it could have been anything. I immediately jumped up to investigate. I hesitantly opened the basement door wondering what was happening down there. Quickly I discovered it wasn't in the basement but up stairs. 
I went back and told my husband there was a smoke alarm beeping and the battery needed to be changed. I asked what kind of battery it took and he said "I'll do it."
After changing the batteries in 2 smoke detectors he realized it was the CO2 detector with the low battery. He stumbled back to bed about 15 minutes later with the hopes of sleeping for another 2 hours. 
He was so kind to get up and take care of something that we both know I…

Wow, look at you!

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting this month long writing challenge. 
Some students come into our lives and change us in ways we don't expect. I had one of these students last year. He was a challenge, he was kind, he was frustrated, he was loving....he was unforgettable. This student has moved on to second grade and to a new unit within our building. He is thriving in his new classroom with all of the sensory stimulation and accommodations he needs. 
Tuesday morning was picture day. He wore a very handsome button up and had his hair gelled. You could tell he felt good. I was walking down the hall and saw him greet one of his new friends with the biggest smile and most excited hi I've ever seen. The other student smiled and said "wow, look at you!" This interaction would have been very different a year ago and might not have happened. Yesterday, it did and the complete joy on both of their faces has carried me through the day. 
I walked away with tears in my…



What does it look like?
Where can we find it?
Why don't we focus on it?

In a world that is confusing and often times sensationalized to make unkindness look like the norm; I'm planning on focusing my #sol16 on looking for kindness. I want to focus on everyday acts of kindness that I notice in my day to day life.  I want to notice the little things.  The daily things that people do to make this world a better place.

I know there are many many bad things happening every day in the world, in this country, in my state and in my town but maybe by focusing on the kindness we see we can slowly chip away at the anger that seems to penetrate our lives everyday. When we see people as people then we will be able to see the good in everyone.

Let's get to kindness.

Classroom Language

I recently attended two awesome conferences.  The first was the National Reading Recovery Conference and the second was the Dublin Literacy Conference.  A major theme at both of those conferences was classroom language and the way we talk to and questions kids.

The first session I attended about this topic was with Peter Johnston who is the author of Choice WordsandOpening Minds.  He went line by line through a classroom conversation of 2nd and 3rd graders around the book The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig.  The conversation the kids had were more mature than some adult conversations I've heard recently.  Peter then talked about how the teacher's questioning and presentation in the classroom had created this environment. I've read his books but I wonder if I'm just now ready to hear what he has to say.

Two and a half weeks later I attended the Dublin Literacy Conference where Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Kristen Ziemke, and Amy Ludwig Vanderwater all spoke about asking op…

Love/Hate relationship with blogging

I love and hate blogging.  I love writing a post that I feel great about and sharing it.  I also hate blogging, well not blogging, writing.  Writing makes you vulnerable and puts you out there in a way you otherwise wouldn't.  My friends Mandy, Deb, Cathy and Karen have been gently shoving me to write more. Then this post from Karen Szymusiak popped up the day after the most recent bout of shoving.

Karen so eloquently describes the way in which powerful things are not perfect.  Go read her post, it's brilliant.  This got me thinking all about the shoving and the blogging.  So here I am writing my first post in a very long time.  It's not perfect or powerful but it's here and that's better than I did yesterday.

Maybe I'll see you again tomorrow.


When thinking about one work to focus on this year I immediately thought of kindness.  There are so many awful things going on in this world and we hear about them everyday.  There are also so many wonderful things happening in the world that we should focus on everyday.  
Kindness for me means being the smile in someone's terrible day or being the "thank you" when someone feels under appreciated.  This year I'm going to focus on the kindness I can show others AND noticing kindness people show toward each other.  
Here's too a lot of smiles in 2016.