Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of LIfe ~ Flashback- Childhood Friends & Gifts

Please join us at Two Writing Teachers to share your slice of life or to enjoy the slices of others. Comments make all slicers happy, happy happy and build relationships and community. So if you have time please leave comments as you visit. 

You can follow the Slice of Life on Twitter too #SOL15.


Recently on a road trip I spotted these large wooden spools. The minute I saw them memories began to flood my mind and spill out to everyone in the car. I knew then this had to be my Slice Of Life post. My very skilled and conscientious driver slowed down just enough for me to take this picture.  Thanks Cathy!

Do you remember these large wooden spools?  I do and they bring back fond, fond memories of friends, an elderly neighbor and jewelry making.

I grew up in a house that seemed to be the hub for all of the telephone wires in our neighborhood, back when telephones had wires. I remember watching the repairman from Ohio Bell attach the metal spikes to his steel toed work boots and jam his boots into the pools as he made his way up to the top where all the wires met.

Cam, Rachel and I would watch all the time crossing our fingers, hoping there would be left over phone wire for us and our fine jewelry making. And sure enough each time he would stop just long enough to supply us with all his scraps and have a cold drink.  (Remember when we offered the mailman or a repairman a cold drink on a sunny afternoon? I do.)

Fist full of colorful wires my friends, Cam and Rachel and I got right to work on our creations. We would make rings, necklaces, and bracelets.  The rings were grand in size and looped colors on top of colors before making their way back into the band creating a large flower, they were beautiful in a child's eye. And, we had a customer just waiting for our gorgeous designs! Mr. Dever.

Mr. Dever was our elderly neighbor. His wife said " He just loves to sit outside and watch the girls play." So each hot day there in the shade sat silent Mr. Dever. He rarely (if ever) spoke. He watched the cars go by, he watched us play and he waited. He waited for us to adorn him with our colorful telephone wire jewelry.

What we didn't know then is how much he and his wife enjoyed us accessorizing his daily outfit. My mom stills shares her fond memories of Mrs. Dever laughing about how the girls made jewelry for Mr. Dever.

I makes my heart smile to think back on these days, the sun, Cam, Rachel, Mr. Dever and telephone wire....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Search Is On! #CyberPD & Digital Reading What's Essential in Grades 3-8

Ok, Ok, we are a forgiving community, we all do what we can, and we make it work for us...and this is why I feel comfortable posting late AGAIN and now sharing TWO post in one!  Digital Reading What's Essential in Grades 3-8 gives us so much to think about, I am sure I will be back again and again. But for today here are my take-aways!
To read more thinking and reflections from the #cyperpd community visit #CyperPd . Thank you @CathyMere @LauraKomos at @litlearningzone for all you work in bringing together this community!

Chapters 3-5 
As I read I realized I had not expanded our digital options in terms of reading from multiple sources Wonderopolis, but why haven't I considered digital reading as a viable daily reading choice?  Am I enabling my readers to  understand a topic deeply and take in a variety of information ? Am I building teaching them to take in many sources and then synthesis the information making their own independent thoughts? Why am I limiting them?
around one topic; I have to admit our reading choices have been largely print. I was surprised as I thought about this in our room. I have worked to include more non-fiction text and a variety of genres, magazines, graphic novels and even a visit or two to

My first thought is the readability level of digital resources for first grade readers. I have to pause here and think about this... is it true the tools are limited or have I not invested the time needed  to look for sites that will be  users friendly for my students? And if the sites are too challenging how can I scaffold their learning so students experience what is possible. Only by knowing the possibilities can they begin to take on this responsibility and choose intentionally.

So this year I will be exploring the sources here in our book and looking for suggestions from all you and on Twitter! If you have suggestions please leave them here in the comments!

Chapters 6-7
"Somehow, with the inclusions if digital tools it's easy to move away from the things we know to be true of literacy assessment. But un this digital age we both believe that we must keep our eye on the literacy and assessment practices we have trusted for years." (pg 88)

Keeping my eye on what we have trusted for years has been a point on focus for me for quiet sometime. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that the glamour and fear of technology were the initial catalyst in rooting technology in my room. The glamour wasn't obvious to me initially, but the the fear was. I knew I wanted the students in my classroom to learn about digital tools because I saw the benefits of being connected, reaching beyond the classroom and learning to share in different ways. But it was the fear and pure challenge that fed my drive. I am a firm believer in doing something new, something out of the box, something that scares me each school year. This challenge gives me new energy and focus in teaching and the students and I benefit.  So as I read the final chapters I was again reminded to think about what it is that I am doing now that I believe to be true in literacy learning and then infuse my new learning.

Infusing Technology
As I reflect on my classroom I feel confident that technology is embedded in a way that allows natural use and enhances learning and assessment.  But there is room for improvement right from the start.

The first change I plan to make is in the survey I give to parents and students. Each year I have a list of questions, like Franki and most likely from something else brilliant I have read of Franki's, to help me get to know the students better as a literacy learner and to set a tone of our learning conversations throughout the year.
  • What kind of books do you like to read?
  • Where do you read?
  • Who do you read with?
  • How do you feel when you read?
  • Tell me about reading in kindergarten. 
  • Do you see your parents or siblings read?
  • Do you have tricky parts when you when you read?
  • What do you do when you get to these tricky parts?
  • What would you like to learn more about?
  • Do you have a library card? How often do you go to the library? 
  • Where do you buy books?
  • Where do you keep your books?

This survey currently does not include questions about the student as a digital learner. Looking at the list Franki plans to infuse I am planing to add the following questions to my first grade survey:
  • What kind of things do you read other than paper books?
  • What kids of things does your family read?
  • Do you have an e-reader?
  • Do you ever listen to books?
  • Do you have any websites, you tube channels or blogs you read? 
  • Is there anything other than books you can read? 
#CyberPD in paper and digitally has given me much to take in and grow my thinking! Thank you all for giving me pause to reflect and improve my practice! You are all to be commended to your dedication to education and kids! #LOVEmyjobitsaprivilege

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Agony of Cooking and Joy Around the Table

I have many friends who adore cooking. Something just clicks for them in the kitchen, creative juices start flowing and they just seem to relax and get lost in the process. Fortunately for me and my family, one of these friends is my husband.

This is a huge relief for us because when I approach the kitchen one of two things happens.

1. I stare into a full pantry and refrigerator and see nothing. Nothing to create a meal or even a snack!   
2. I enter the kitchen with a new recipe that even I can do that ultimately ends in frustration and ordering a pizza!

Cooking and I just are not friends and I am okay with this. Sure, I worry about passing on this trait to my daughters, but I have come to accept I am not a cook. Besides, look what a great role model my husband is in the kitchen. Who wouldn’t want to marry a man who can cook?

Of course, I can make a few basic meals, we wouldn’t starve if push came to shove, but basically my husband prepares the meals we look forward to seeing on the table.

But, something funny happened this Sunday. As I called the family to the table for a Sunday breakfast of homemade waffles, sausage and fruit I realized I am the only one in my family who cooks breakfast! I can cook up a mean batch of pancakes, french toast, and we all agree I make eggs (scrambled, fried or poached) better than anyone! If I am really feeling it I can even turn out biscuits!

These recipes are second nature to me and I enjoy making them! WHAT? Did I just say I enjoy making them? I did. There is just something about a weekend family breakfast that makes my heart smile. All of us gathered at the table, still in our pj’s, battling over the syrup, talking about the day ahead and the week passed. All this chatter somehow brings me into the kitchen ever Sunday morning to get lost in the process.

Please join us at Two Writing Teachers to share your slice of life or to enjoy the slices of others. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3 Splashes of Summer

I grew up with a pool in my backyard and a pool pass in my bag so to say I am a self-proclaimed pool princess seems fitting! My summers are planned around trips to the pool and the beach, it's just a regular part of my day in the summer. No questions asked, I will be in the water each and every sunny day June-August. So when the summer comes and there are no sunny pool days and your family vacation to the beach is transformed into moving a daughter to a college 4 states away what do you do?

Well, If you had told me this would be my summer I might have curled into a ball and cried or reverted back to my 2 year old self and screamed and cried. But no one told me this would be my summer. Instead opportunities (aka splashes) filled my calendar. Opportunities I had no idea were coming my way. Opportunities that filled my soul and gave me the confidence and discipline to learn about myself as a writer.

1st Splash~
Julie Johnson a colleague and friend extended an invitation to participate in the Columbus Area Writing Project (CAWP) to me and 6 of my colleagues.  We met at THE Ohio State University each day for 2 weeks. We conferred, we shared and of course we wrote everyday for 4-6 hours. I learned a few things about myself as a writer.

  • I need a busy place to write. Busy with people I don't know, like my favorite coffee shop where I am sitting in right now. 
  • Spotify has amazing playlist that really help me focus and produce.
  • It takes me about 45 minutes to find that little voice whispering inside my head. 
  • I can write for about 2-4 hours if I find the zone. 
  • Commas still terrify me! 
  • The 3 finger tap on the upper side of the track pad on a Mac brings up a thesaurus(my BFF).
  • I LOVE feedback! 
  • My words can surprise me and I love it when they do!
  • My words sometimes do not convey my intended message. 
  • I have a process! It's a bit crazy and maybe even a bit ritualistic, but it's mine! 
This splash was a huge confidence booster for me. I learned about myself as a writer and I faced a long time fear.  As a college student I avoided The Ohio State University. It's big, really big and I wasn't sure I would find my way around, I wasn't sure I was ready for the academic challenge. So when Julie invited me in CAWP through The Ohio State University I was nervous, very nervous! But guess what? I didn't get lost and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote! Now I waiting for the revisions and edits to come back… this will be a whole new learning curve and I can't wait! 

2nd Splash~
I am joining Two Writing Teachers (TWT) as a co-author! Did I really just type that? Is this really true? I have admired the work shared at TWT for a very long time and when they said they were looking to expand their team I knew I was looking to write more, increase my writing community and I began to feel a little nudge… (thanks @CathyMere and @KarenTerlecky). Cathy and Karen are long time mentors to me and having them behind me gave me the confidence to apply as a co-author. I am so glad I did, I have been wanting to write more and I know having deadlines, a team and this amazing audience will help me grow and learn right along side all of you! I am looking forward to a long and rewarding journey with TWT! Buckle up! 

3rd Splash~
For the first time I attended #nErDcampmi! I have followed the tweets on Twitter and read many reflective post on all there is to gain by attending #nErDcampmi, but nothing could have really expressed the empowering feeling of being amidst authors, bloggers, administrators, teachers, media specialist all ready to share and learn together in one space! Walking through #nErDcampmi you might brush elbows with those you've followed and admired and then learn they are just as happy to meet you and to learn from YOU. At #nErDcamp we all have one common goal- Learn all we can to support kids! This  one goal levels all playing fields and brings together a powerful group of educators!  I have a notebook crammed with new ideas, book titles and apps all to explore! While #nErDcampmi is amazing inside the camp the learning and growing began on the car ride to Michigan! Car PD up and back continued to fill my notebook! Thanks @JosieStewart, @MarissaReads and @KarenTerlecky for all the learning and miles of laughs! 

So while the summer weather in my neck of the woods has severally altered my self-proclaimed status as a pool princess I am overwhelmed by the splashes of my summer!  I truly believe everything works out for the best, and if it was a beautiful sunny summer how would I have fit it all in?  

Thanks for stopping by to read and I look forward to browsing your post and learning alongside you! 


Saturday, July 11, 2015

#CyberPd Digital Reading- What's Essential (Reflection Chapters 1-2)

First, I would like to give a HUGE shout out to the #CyberPd team who brings together an amazing community of learners who are all willing to share and learn in one space (virtually)! The possibilities in this group are amazing and will impact many children and educators and for this I can't thank you enough @CathyMere, @LauraKomos and @MichelleNero! You three ladies are modern day super learning heroes!

As I read Digital Reading -What's Essential in
Grades 3-8 it's clear this content is appropriate for all learners. As a first grade teacher I find myself making connections to my classroom, inspired by “aha’s” and highlighting away. I have embraced digital tools into reading and writing workshop for a few years now and each year I strive to find new ways to move our learning forward and to root digital tools in our classroom just as paper and pencil have been for centuries. Just as I teach a reader to choose books to support learning or a writer to choose a pencil grip, topic or paper type to support writing growth I teach the learners to consider the features and capabilities of the tools they choose.  Student choice with any tool is paramount in learning.

Franki and Bill caution us about assuming the students (while well versed with digital tools outside of the classrooms) know how to make choices or use digital tools for learning without time and experience as a digital learner.  The world in which our students will live as adults has already embraced new and different forms of literacy and students not unlike print literacies need time to learn the intricacies of digital literacies in a way that will allow them explore new tools and literacies as our tools and literacies evolve.

...we can't view digital reading as an add-on; in other words, we can't wait until a child is competent with traditional literacy skills and then expect the child to transfer these skills to digital texts.

These words spoke to me over and over as I read. As the mother of two daughters who grew up with digital tools I have watched as they've self-taught themselves how to use these powerful tools and it's clear we use them VERY differently. I often suggest to them how they could use these tools to connect, research, and  expand learning they reply-

"You're using it weird" or "That's not how people our age use it."

Franki and Bill express the importance of embedding the use of these tools in our instruction on a
daily basis to enable students to learn to read digital text. My daughters have shown me how true this is, they have experience with all the same tools, but rarely (if ever)  do they choose these tools to show or deepen learning.  I doubt they understand the power they have in their hands.

As a first grade teacher what better time is their to root the purpose and power of tools for learning.  I strive to instill choice and purpose in learning and as our media has expanded from paper and pencil so have our choices. This is not to say paper and pencil are not still viable choices, it's never about the tool, it's about the purpose and choice.

Forgive this ROUGH book i created as my FIRST book on Book Creator. I am pondering how my classroom has evolved through the implementation and rooting of digital tools & digital literacies.
I've included the book below despite it's raw state to invite more conversation on this thought-
How has your teaching and/or classroom changed with digital literacies?

How have Digital Tool and Literacies Changed your classroom and Teaching? from Deb on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Paths with Digital Literacies-Summer Academy

Tomorrow @CathyMere and @Jreaderwriter and I will share New Paths with Digital Literacy at our districts Summer Academy. We will share tools and beginning steps to move toward digital literacy in your classroom. We also hope teachers will will find a supportive network of learners to go on the journey down the digital path.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Is Addition like Subtraction? Math Monday and Wonderopolis

We are going to be the "Wonder of the Day" on Wonderopolis Thursday May 28, 2015! 

One afternoon all the first graders were gathered on the carpet discussing what we wanted to learn about numbers. When, just like that, one inquisitive mathematician asked "Is addition like subtraction?" A few students shared their thoughts on this question, but as they did they found themselves wondering even more. Knowing we needed more time to think about this and to try out a few ideas, we headed out into the workshop to grapple with our inquiry. 

The more we explored the more we wondered, so we sent this tweet~

Then, @CherylGehres sent us this tweet~

It was a great cupcake frenzy!
Friends who saw the similarities tried to convince those who did not. Those who saw the differences set out to prove they were indeed different! The debated raged on. Then, just like that we got these tweets-

AND then THIS...

We are THRILLED to announce that on Thursday May 28, 2015 we will celebrate as OUR wonder will be the featured "Daily Wonder!"  Please visit our wonder on Thursday, May 28, 2015!

Our final finding was, "Yes, addition is like subtraction because if you take something away and then put it back it's the same again."