Monday, January 23, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading! : My Weekly Accountability Check In
Have you ever found yourself in so deep you had to go deeper to keep yourself afloat?  Well, I have, and that's exactly why I am here today!  I am reaching to the It's Monday! What Are You Reading?community to keep me buoyant in my #Mustreadin2017 challenge.  

I am back for my second week to share my reading! Thank you all for your open arms welcoming! I knew I'd find a great tribe here! 

First up this week is Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz.  This is a book I have read before as part of a book talk organized by our fabulous literacy coach, Tonya Buelow.  As we read the book I knew I would be revisiting the message and lesson ideas Stacey shares.  And I was right, now I am reading it with my first-grade team and my class of first graders!  As a teaching team, we've been working to build comprehension in reading.  As we work we have noticed a weakness in recalling specific details.  This is particularly concerning as kids will need to support their thinking with evidence from the book as they grow as readers.  As we discussed lessons to support our readers I thought about the lessons in Craft Moves teaching kids to add precise details to their writing.  This was a light bulb moment and I knew the lines of our reading and writing workshops were about to blur. 

I shared my reading and thinking openly with my class.  I know it's important for the students to know why we need to learn about details in reading and writing in order for the students to take ownership of their learning.  I also wanted them to know I was working purposefully to support learning.  With Craft Moves lying open beside me showing my annotations and highlighted text I began reading a class mentor text,  In My New Yellow Shirt by Eileen Spinelli.  As we read we stopped to consider the specific details and how the story would change without these details. "It's not fun, it's so boring."  The students were eager to locate precise details and share how much the details changed the sound and feel of the story.  After a few lessons, the students are beginning to share precise details they are finding in their reading. 

I am so impressed with these readers! @sshubitz @HCSDElemLit @DarbyCreekElem
— First Grade! (@Frazier1st) January 20, 2017

In writing, we are blurring the lines of the workshops as we study how the author added these precise details and why.  Working together in shared writing lessons the students are eager to rewrite sentences and add precise details! I am hoping to see this pop up in their independent writing soon!

Who could overlook the irony the last week's bookends of Martin Luther King on Monday and then the inauguration of the 45th president of Friday?  So I packed in a little individual reading, Preaching to the Chickens the story of young John Lewis by Jabari Asim and illustrated by  E.B. Lewis.  Preaching to the Chickens refreshed my belief in be called to do for others. John Lewis became his life as a "doer." as he preached to the chickens on his farm.  In caring for these chickens, young John Lewis discovered his calling to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves.  Reading the words of those who have fought so hard before reminds me it's our job now.

I am also Just beginning to listening to The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  This one is going to require a bit of sketch noting as I listen. The topic is heavy and following such difficult story lines is going to require full concentration.

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading! : Jumping in to Save Myself!
Have you ever found yourself in so deep you had to go deeper to keep yourself afloat?  Well, I have, and that's exactly why I am here today!  I am reaching to the It's Monday! What Are You Reading?community to keep me buoyant in my #Mustreadin2017 challenge.

It all started when I surrounded myself with AMAZING people who read and share and say smart stuff!  It didn't take me long to know I wanted to be just like them!  So when they mentioned a title, a blog, or a hashtag I bought the titles, added the blog to my Feedly, and searched the hashtags!  The problem was I wasn't getting any smarter.  Then, I realized these smart people weren't just curating they were actually reading!

So, one day I visited the blog of Cathy, (one of those smart people who say smart stuff) and realized she was having the same "good problem" as she called it and had made a plan with #mustreadin2017 community started by @CarrieGelson to not to simply stay adrift but to actually reach shore!

In my typical fashion, I jumped in! (You see how I am already digging myself in deeper.) I created a #mustreadin2017 plan and made a commitment by not only pushing the orange PUBLISH button on blogger but I also shared the link on Twitter and Facebook! There was no going back, I was in!

So how am I Doing? What Am I Reading?

I shared The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas with my first-grade class, and the discussion was intriguing and demonstrated the strengths of the readers.  The story is about a man who lives all alone at the edge of the water. He has a very important job of opening any bottles containing a message and delivering the message to the recipient.  The man is very dedicated to his job but more than anything wishes that one day the message would be for him.  When the man retrieves a bottle with an unspecified message, the deeper meaning of the story begins.  This is where the story left the pages of the book and began to fill our hearts.  

Currently, this book is borrowed from the library, but this will become a forever book on my shelf! 


Dear Dragon by Josh Funk was another favorite this week! The story beautifully illustrates the beauty of getting to know the person behind the one you see. When Blaise and George are assigned to be pen pals they know nothing about the other. And that is precisely what makes this a beautiful story of true friendship.  Sometimes the best friendships are made we can't see the outward appearance of others.  Blaise and George will write themselves right into your heart and leave the door open for the important conversations facing our nation.  

Currently, this book is borrowed from the library, but this will become a forever book on my shelf! 

Special Bonus! @JoshFunkBooks is very responsive on Twitter! 


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance was just for me. This book, written by JD Vance a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate shares the story of growing up in an Appalachian Town and the struggles of the white working class. Much of the story takes places in Middletown Ohio, a town not far from me. My dad grew up in a town much like the town of JD which made this memoir and his stories even more powerful. I plan to watch the many Ted Talks with Vance and the interviews with Vance about Trump. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Good-Bye Laundry: Slice of Life 2017

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 and build community. So if you have time please leave comments as you visit. 

The week before she goes back:

Me- (Looking at the overflowing hamper in her room) How is your laundry going?

Her- Fine.

Me- Okay.

Three days before she goes back:

Me-(Looking at the overflowing hamper in her room) How is your laundry going?

Her- Ugh, I do just fine at college with my laundry, I will get it done here too. (with tone)

Me- Okay.

Two days before she goes back:

Me- (Looking at the overflowing hamper in her room and clothes laying on the floor and strewn all over the bed) How is your laundry going?

Her- I don't want to do it! I have a load in the washer and one in the dryer. I gotta go to work, bye.

Me- Be careful, I love you.

The morning before she leaves:

Me- (The family sitting around the breakfast table enjoying her favorite breakfast.)

Daddy- Do you want some help with your laundry?

Her- No, I got it. I don't want to do it.

Me- Are you planning to take your clothes back dirty?

Her- No.

Me- You don't want to do it because then that means you're closer to leaving?

Her- Yes. I am going to say good-bye to my friend Hannah after breakfast.

Me- Okay.

Her (walking out the door to go to Hannah's) Mommy, I don't want to go back. College is hard, and I just don't like it. (Walks out with a grunt)

Me- I love you, enjoy your visit with Hannah. Plan a  time for Hannah to visit you!

Today is going to be an emotional day.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Taking Control of The Infamous To Be Read Shelf: #MustReadin2017

Taking Control of The Infamous To Be Read Shelf: #MustReadin2017

It seems every time I browse social media, have coffee with a friend, read a blog, or even breath there's a new title I want to add to the infamous to-be-read pile.  I am not good at keeping track of all these titles either! If they're for the classroom, I jump on the library app and order them right away.  If they're professional, adult fiction, or self-help books, I order them from Amazon.

 Unfortunately, I do this so often I can't keep track of why I ordered the book or where I learned about the title.

 As I looked at my bookshelves (physical, digital, and audio), I realized, simply owning the books was not enough!  I was actually, going to have read the books.

My Lifeline
Enter my friend and professional lifeline, Cathy Mere and her post, Let's Read: It's All About a Plan #MustReadin2017.  Cathy shares her discovery of Carrie Gelson's #MustReadin2017 post.  Knowing Cathy was always into something good I started following her clicks. I read the posts and lists of books to be read in 2017 linked on Cathy's blog and then on Cathy's Goodreads shelf.  I knew all this clicking was leading me exactly where I needed to go to get these books off my shelves and into my mind where they can inspire, shape perspectives, and help me to be a better person.

The Plan 
Step 1-
Pull some books OFF my shelf!

Step 2-
 Organize and update my Goodreads shelf.

Step 3-
Choose my books for the month.

Step 4-Write my post and commit!

My to-read shelf on Goodreads is organized and updated, and I am in!  I will use my Goodreads shelf to add new books and make note of where I learned of the title or why I have added it to the shelf.  I am borrowing Cathy's idea of monthly planning. This will allow me to leave room in my #MustReadin2017 plan to add new titles and picture books I find throughout the year. I also want to make sure I can meet my reading goals.

January's Plan: #Mustreadin2017

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Bestowed Talent or Just a Dream? Slice of Life

Join the conversation at Two Writing Teachers, share your voice! 

As I was growing up, my mom shared the story of a reader telling her she would have two daughters, one who would be a home body and one who would be musically inclined.  This story left our family partly mystified.  I say partly because my mom did have two daughters.  My sister's disabilities made her a homebody, but neither of us were or are musically inclined.

Don't get me wrong both my sister and I enjoyed music, and my sister was always ready to clap along on the first beat! I, however, can't keep a beat or even come close to hitting a note or carrying a tune.  As a matter of fact, if there is anyone in the row in front of me at church, I kindly mouth the words to spare my embarrassment and the ears of others!

But, at 70 MPH with the car windows down, I AM ADELE!

My mom still loves sharing stories of me dressing up as Cher and singing into a hairbrush.

When I was a young girl, I WAS CHER!

I am not be blessed with the voice to sign, but I am blessed with a sincere desire to sing. Someday this dream will be realized.

"In my next life, I WILL SING!"

These stories rest at the front of my mind, and I share them often.


Well, this weekend while attending the NCTE conference in Atlanta I was approached by a woman with an unusual message.  She reached out and grabbed my arm.  After a few seconds, she said, "You're a musician. Do you sing or play an instrument?" I laughed and said, "No, I am a terrible singer, and I have never played an instrument." She persisted, "You're a musician, a talent has been bestowed on you. You are meant to sing for the Lord."

This was an unusual exchange with a complete stranger, and it left me feeling a bit creepy.  But, her determination and sincerity made me wonder if maybe, just maybe, I have a talent yet to be realized.

Those who have heard me sign will assure you and me, I do not have a musical talent, but it is fun to dream.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Energize Your Writers Workshop: So Writers Can Discover Their Process

It's always fun to bring new thinking into the classroom, and it's even better when you share your new ideas with others, and you can learn from each other! Well, Cathy Mere and I had just this luck this week. As a part of our district's Summer Academy, we shared our ( still under construction) thoughts on Writers Maker Space. 
Please take a minute to leave any thoughts or resources you have on Writers Maker Space.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thanks SOLSC for the Learning Day 31

On the first day of the SOLSC, I wrote about how I work best under pressure which is why I like teaching first grade.  I wrote about how all the business of the month seems to provide just enough busy for me. My school calendar is filled with parent conferences, meetings, progress reports, teacher reviews, spring breaks, and the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Well, today I am here to tell you learning is painful! I know this because this March I learned I have a limit to my busy. 

Sure, I wrote almost every day in the challenge. Well, I missed two days while out of town visiting my Disney intern daughter. I posted my students writing every day, I tweeted posts, I even made, at least, three comments a day, but I am here to tell you there were days when I struggled.  I kept going because my kids were writing, you were writing, and it was a promise I made myself.  Listening to my writing group on Voxer share similar stories pushing through the struggle comforted me. I wasn't the only one pushing myself, they can do it, I can do it, I will do it, I did do it! 

The treats of the first days are all gone but the words I left on the pages of the blog remain.  I have so many things I wish I would have done, so many I should have done, but rather than self-deprecate, I have decided to set goals for next year.  I, no we, deserve to be proud of all the efforts in the SOLSC, no effort was too small, and all efforts can grow with goals for next year. 

Next year:
I want to comment on at least three student blogs and adult blogs each day. 
I want to be a few days ahead on my blog posts.
I want to link my post in the morning. 
I want to eat fewer treats during the SOLSC ;-) 

See, already I am feeling ready for next year!