Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Reflections. My Why. Literacy Coaching Transforming Teaching and Learning with Digital Tools and Technology

I grew up alongside a sister with mental and physical disabilities.  My sister didn't walk nor talk.  She communicated much like a toddler with a series of sounds.  As her family, we came to understand her communication much like a family learns to communicate with a toddler.  Growing up in our family we experienced stares and prejudice every day.  My sister taught us there is much more behind a person than what we can see with our eyes.

The lessons I gleaned from my sister do not stand alone.   As a young adult, I lived in Okinawa, Japan. Nothing could prepare me for the actuality of standing amidst all the differences at the same time.  I gawked at all that surrounded me.  I was engulfed in a new culture, and I immediately wanted to learn about the people and their daily lives. I began to meet friends who graciously shared their traditions, their food, and their language. The differences were clear, but as they spoke, I heard, saw and felt the similarities between us. This deeper understanding changed the way I see our world.

 I chose to become an educator so I could help others understand the importance of learning about the person behind the one they see.  As a classroom teacher, I embraced technology as our hands into the world and a means to gain a more genuine understanding of others. I knew technology, used intentionally would not only allow students to show others who they are behind their facade but would also teach students about the person behind the one they see.

It's this drive that led me to my current role, instructional technology coach, and @Affinitolit book, Literacy Coaching Transforming Teaching with Digital Tools and Technology.  As an instructional technology coach, I work in collaboration with the media specialist, literacy coach, and math coach.  Together, we have the privilege and responsibility of supporting teachers and students.  We help teachers blend traditional and digital tools into the classroom to meet the needs of the learners.

As I read Dr. Stepanie Affinito's words, I noticed some thoughts more than others. Each one was circling back to my why,  teaching children how to see the world with an appreciation for the similarities among the differences.

1. "Articulating our coaching philosophies -- the what, how, and why of the work we do -- is essential in leading the learning of others. (p 4)

2.  "Connections with others gives us power." (p 20)

3.  "What we do each day impacts the kinds of human beings our students will become-- the way we set up our classroom communities, the instructional practices we engage in, and the ways we talk to our students.  For teachers to inspire student learning and make the kind of impact that lasts a lifetime, they must be supported through authentic, relevant, and meaningful learning experiences so they can do what they do best: inspire learning in their own classrooms." (p 62)

4.  Yet, the bottom line is that nothing we do will impact students unless teachers choose to apply their new learning in the classroom." (p 99)

5.  "Every journey needs a little inspiration." (p 128)

The transition from classroom educator, teacher to that of instructional technology coach has required constant reflection and intentional decisions.   I found myself on the edge of helping teachers and students see what is possible through collaboration, intention, and purpose.

With these words at the front of my mind and the wise words from Dr. Stephanie Affinito, I am moving onward to teaching others the importance of learning about similarities hiding among the differences.

Read @CathyMere's Reflections on her blog, Reflect and Refine 

Read My Why~

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Are Your Students ready to Blog?

Getting our students set up with blogging is more than opening up an account on a blogging platform.  For years my students blogged.  I taught them how to sign in, to type in the box, to change fonts and colors, add pictures, and even how to comment and reply to a comment. 

Did you notice anything missing?  I didn't either.  Not until I started supporting teachers on their journey of becoming bloggers.  Teachers were wondering about the basic navigation I shared above, but the teachers I work with were thinking deeper about blogging as a genre and how to set students up to be authentic bloggers. 

I was asked questions like:

  • What will they blog about?
  • When will they bog?
  • How can I fit blogging into out writing workshop?
  • How will students get comments?
  • How do we connect with other bloggers?
  • What's safe to share? 
I was relieved to hear teachers thinking beyond the basic navigation of blogging.  I knew I had work to do.  I  gathered the fabulous literacy coaches I work with, Carrie Higgenbotham and Julie Johnson and we set to work talking about blogging. Armed with questions and new ways of thinking about blogging I buckled down to work preparing a PD session, Setting Students Up for Successful Blogging. 

Click to view slideshow

Read More on my posts on Two Writing Teachers

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Flippin' Epic and Our Digital Readers

Stretch yourself, learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, build relationships, you'll be a natural.  I heard these words of reassurance and encouragement a lot this year as I embraced my new position, technology integration coach.

These words gave me the strength I needed to persevere as I tackled new challenges each day.  In reflection, it's been a year of new relationships, new strategies, new perspectives, and new ideas!  All of this learning needs a space.  Space where I can return to find my work, to share with others, and where we can all learn together.

Welcome to that space, my blog, Primary Perspective, my digital portfolio.

Today, I am sharing the work Julie Johnson, and I presented at a summer professional development session, Real Flippin' Epic: Digital Reading in our Classrooms.  The slideshow below represents the collaborative work of the instructional coaches, (Julie Johnson and Jennifer Bickley) the media specialist, (Phyllis Brown) and myself.

Epic is digital library app commonly used in our district.  Epic offers a plethora of books with just a tap!   Imagine sitting your student or child in the middle of a pile of unshelved books!  The choices are overwhelming, and this is precisely what happens when you hand a reader Epic!  We have to teach digital reading, we can't assume our readers know how to read digitally.

Teachers were at a loss.  "How can I make sure my students are engaged in reading?  When I look at the students on Epic all I see are students flipping pages!" Hearing the concerns of the teachers  I reached for  Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.  This book was a great resource as I learned to guide and support my first-grade readers in digital reading and I knew it would be an excellent guide for other teachers on their digital reading journey.


Summer is for Reading: Making Summer Reading Accessible and Irresistible K-5

Saturday, March 31, 2018

What Will I Do Tomorrow? SOLSC Day 31

What will I do tomorrow?
When I 
hear my parents say what we all know they're going to say?
feel the magic of having all of my family at one dinner table?
taste the delicious Easter dinner?
touch the hands of my family as we say grace?
see how much my adult children still enjoy baskets and egg hunts?

What will I do tomorrow?
When the SOLSC isn't here
to make me pause and reflect on my day?
to catch my words and keep them forever?
to put my words out into the world?

What will I do tomorrow?
we've all stopped writing?
we've all stopped commenting?
and we've all said bye?

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Hometown Dairy Queen: SOLSC Day 30

My husband and I chose to raise our daughters in the same town where we both grew up.  Our hometown has evolved from a small cow town to one of the largest suburbs in the area.

As we go through our daily routines, we hardly recognize the town, except for one place- the Dairy Queen.

Our Dairy Queen (DQ) is an original, still managed by the same man and his family.  Our girls were introduced to the cool treats of the DQ at a young age by my parents and us. 

Special occasions, softball victories, and dance recitals have all been ballyhooed at our hometown DQ.  It has been suspected that a few events were created just for a reason to go to the DQ.

Early today, our youngest daughter (home for Easter) asked, "Can we go to the DQ tonight after dinner?"  As we drove to the DQ, my husband and our daughter went on and on about how our hometown is THE BEST!

If you had been a fly in our car, you would've heard-

Oh, man their ice cream is so creamy.
I tell all my friends DQ is my favorite ice cream place, but I only like our DQ.
The Grill and Chills just aren't right.
If they ever sell the DQ, you and daddy have to buy it.
I love the coney sauce and the skinny hot dogs.
Yeah, no all beef for me.
The catsup based coney sauce is the bomb.
Oh, man I am getting water too. Their water tastes waxy. That's how you know you're at the home Dairy Queen!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Accepting and Embracing Change: SOLSC Day 29

We go through our days each day much like the other.  Until it's not.  
When the change happens, it's sometimes subtle.  Other times it overwhelms you.  This year I have been living out one of those overwhelming changes. It came when I least expected. 

An overwhelming and unexpected change doesn't seem like a good thing.  

I considered the change of working as an instructional technology coach and I felt remorseful for the classroom community and my building of fourteen years.  And yet, inspired and confused by the opportunity to work as an instructional coach and support teachers and students.  

As I live out this change, I cringe when I am asked, "How do you like your new position?"  I am afraid if I say I am enjoying the new position. It reflects a relief of not being in the classroom.  At the same time, I worry that my vague answer gives the impression that I don't like my new role. 

I have been struggling with this until today. 
This change was subtle.  It happened when I was sitting in my car, in the drive-through line of Starbucks.  I was sending a Voxer audio message to a friend.  

She's been presented with one of those overwhelming changes. 

As I talked into my phone, there all alone in my car, I realized something.  I was telling my friend how I am enjoying the professional growth and the opportunity to support teachers.  I shared how rewarding it has been to develop new relationships.  I shared my goal to learn to listen to teachers to hear what they need. 

I ended the Voxer message, and it hit me.

I am enjoying my new position, and this doesn't mean I didn't love my classroom community. 

It's because of the love of my classroom community that I accepted this position.  I want to help other educators and students experience the joy my students and I lived each day. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Kids See the Possibilities of Blogging

Today wasn't just any other day.

TodayI had the privilege of working with third and fourth graders.  These students are exploring what blogs are and why people blog. 

The students were a bit cloudy on what a blog is and what a blog is not.  We used a Frayer model to help students understand not only what a blog is by contrasting it with what a blog is not,  but also we uncovered the characteristics of a blog and then finally wrote a definition.  This lesson is one I have lead many times.

But today wasn't just any day.
Today was the Monday after the March For Our Lives.

To help the students understand why others blog I shared the Who We Are page on the Kid President blog and @theLivBits first post on Franki Sibberson's and Mary LeeHahn's blog, A Year of Reading.
We read these words-
I believe kids can change the world. I also believe grown ups can change the world. It just takes all of us working together.
Brad creator of Kid Blog

I think kids should be able to share their thinking with bigger audiences than just their classroom. It gives kids more ideas, more feedback, and more inspiration.

Then- I paused- I asked
Have you thought about why you'll blog?
At first, they were quiet.
Then, I asked them if they'd heard about the marches this weekend.

The chorus roused, and students began to share their understandings of the marches.  With the spirit high
I asked again, Why will you blog?

Students began sharing what they called their mission statements.

To help others know how to be kind.
To tell people about what you're like.
To teach others how to do things.
To find other people who like to do what I do.
To share what I know about video games.

These kids got it!  They've witnessed student voices going beyond the classroom!  They believe in new possibilities.

Soon, students realized they had similar ideas, and they worried they would be coping.  This was the perfect place to talk about finding your audience and building your writing community!

Student voices are powerful! Let's support our student in raising their voices and writing and speaking from their passions.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Bedtime Stories and Hugs and Kisses Day 25

When our girls were little bedtime stories were as dear as bedtime hugs and kisses.  Each night as daddy drew the bath the girls chose bedtime stories and pjs.  "Mommy, how many books tonight?"  It seemed no matter how many I said the retort was. "Ahh, how about five?"  Of course, they won every time!

After a warm and playful bath, we helped the girls dress in their pajamas and climb up on our bed.  The girls always smelled so fresh and clean.  (The books aren't the only memories of those days.)

Tim and I sat like bookends beside our girls.  Some nights I read each book in its entirety and some nights I tried to skip a few words or even a page.  Shortcutting was a mommy trick that had to be done at just the right time, or I would be called out! The girls knew their books and adored this time. There would be no shortcuts allowed.

As the girls got older and family storytimes transitioned. First, books were read individually at each daughters bedside.  Later,  we tried family book clubs.  We would all read one book and talk about it a dinner.  The family book club just didn't have the same appeal as family storytime.  The girls grew older and busier. Soon high school homework, dance, and cell phones filled all their extra minutes.

Now, my oldest daughter, L and I have discovered we read the same genre, physicological thrillers.  We share titles, recommendations, and conversations about books regularly.  During our spring break this week, L was reading a hardcover book without a jacket.  I was ear reading on Audible.  Neither of us had asked the other about our reading.

One, moring I was ear reading without headphones when L walked in. " You're listening to, The Woman in the Window?" Immediately, she thumbed through her book.  "Tell me when you're on chapter 73."  This tease drove me crazy.  I was on chapter 53!

The next morning the first thing I said to her was what I knew was THE line she teased me with. She grinned.  "You're not going to believe all that spills out now. I couldn't put it down after those words!"

Today, we drove L to the airport, and I still wasn't finished with the book.  As soon as we returned home, I grabbed my headphones and my book.

When L turned off airplane mode, she had a text waiting.  I left just the right words to let her know I had finished.
I can't tell you the words; you'll have to read it for yourself.

You're never too old to share a book with your family.

Friday, March 23, 2018

3 Little Head Games I Play: SOL Day 23

Today is the last day of spring break.  I should point out it is the last weekday of the break. THinking of today in this manner helps me settle into the weekend knowing and accepting what Monday brings. 

I play this little games like this with myself to help me adjust to the inevitable.

I have a few more of these little games. 

Would you like to hear them?

  1. Tell people you're about seven or ten years older than you are.  They'll think, "Wow, you look amazing!"
  2. Start saying your child is their up and coming age about four months before their birthday.  Pre-announcing the number allows you time to adjust. Now, you won't be sad on the actual birthday. 
  3. When I am shopping for clothes, I always take in my size and one size larger.  And, I  ALWAYS try on the larger size first.  Feeling how big this size helps take the sting out of the size I actually need.  I started the size game because once upon a time I arrogantly said, "If I ever need to by a double-digit size I am not shopping!"  This haughty comment was long before marriage, four pregnancies, the long-standing tradition of Friday night pizza and Saturday morning doughnuts. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mom and Daughter Spring Break Day 21

This week I am on spring break with my oldest daughter.  Having her home from college is a blessing.  The week has been filled with fun and visits.
First, shopping.
Every good vacation starts with shopping!
Next, pizza.
Charleston, SC doesn't have square cut pizza.
Then, DVR.
Studying hasn't allowed time for mindless TV viewing.
End Day 1
First, brunch.
College budgets only offer cheerios and oatmeal.
Next, Groceries.
Our empty nest pantry lacks her favorites.
Then, Nap.
Sunday naps are the best.
End day 2
First, Grammie and Papaw's.
Because time is precious
Next, a best friend.
Conversations, pedicures, and dinner.
Then, dessert.
Every great day needs to be celebrated.
End day 3
First, home.
A day in your pj's, well earned.
Next, books, writing, snacks, and more DVR.
Because there's never enough time for these things.
Then, Slumber.
End day 4
First,  a medical appointment.
Taking care of yourself matters.
Next, visiting.
One friend for lunch, one friend for dinner.
Finally, reality.
Only three more days home.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Yep, A Post About the Weather: SOLSC Day18

Yep, A Post About the Weather it was bound to happen.

So many times I find the word perspective playing a role in my life.  So much so I think it should've been my one little word for 2018.  Maybe next year.

My oldest daughter goes to grad school in Charleston, South Carolina where the sun shines most of the year, and where she can choose to go to Starbucks or the beach to read or do her homework.

I live in central Ohio where it snows and stays between 10 and 32 degrees for two to three months of the year. My reading and homework spaces most certainly include a cozy fireplace.

 But now, spring is on its way, and we are excited to see the sun and my daughter is home for spring break.
 Our spring is Charleston's winter.

So this morning when we woke up, and it was predicted to be sunny with a high of 53 degrees I dressed in ankle pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and my slides.  When I met Lexi in the foyer, she was wearing a cable knit sweater, long jeans, and ankle booties.  We both laughed as I reached for a light wrap and she reached for her parka!

It's all about perspective.
How's your spring perspective?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Juxtaposition: March Madness and a Desired Respite

March Madness cheering, shoes squeaking, and the announcer's excitement overwhelmed my senses as we ate dinner.  Then the phone rang, and a memory of a much-desired respite came to mind.

From the moment my doctor said, "Let's have a baby this weekend."  This baby was ready!  My husband and I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 am as directed.  By 12:07 pm I was holding our second daughter. 

Liv was born with strong lungs, and she exercised them regularly for the first two months of her life.  No matter what we tried, Livi cried!  I was desperate for sleep, and one night I handed her over to my husband, "She's dry and full, and I need sleep.  Do what you can I am going to bed."

Later I feel my husband slip into bed, I woke with a start, "Where is she?" I expected him to be handing her over to me; retiring in defeat.  Instead, he whispered, "She's in the bassinet, go back to sleep."

The next day I learned Liv loved watching March Madness with daddy.  He held her high on his shoulder and rocked her in the glider while they watched basketball.  Liv fell fast asleep, and I had sweet dreams.

This respite wasn't a one and done.  Liv and her daddy continued to watch March Madness together.  Liv didn't cry, and each time she fell into a comfortable slumber.  To this day they share this memory, and when she's home, they take in a game or two together.

She's away at school tonight, but she just called her daddy for a quick little chat!

Join us at Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Really? Ninety-nine iMessage Alerts? SOLSC Day 16

Day 17, Slice of Life Writing Challenge and still my writing is surprising me.  I didn't see this one coming when I sat down to write, but here it is...

Really? Ninety-nine imessage alerts?

I worked with first grade- my watched tapped my arm.

I worked with teachers- my watched tapped my arm.

I checked slice of life comments- my watch tapped my arm.

I said a prayer of well being for a friend- my watched tapped my arm.

I prayed for one daughter's safe flight- my watch tapped my arm.

I ate lunch- my watched tapped my arm.

I sat in a meeting- my watch tapped my arm.

I sat in my car, pulled out my phone and

My friend's surgery went well.

All our friend's prayers were answered.

My daughter landed safely.

My family expressed their gratitude.

My dad is feeling better as his Shingles begin to heal.

A teaching friend chased a dog off the playground,

While the first graders paniced!

My husband will be home early.

A teacher wondered about her kids blogging on spring break.

Now, one more daughter in the air...

I am praying for her safety.

At 12:01 am she'll be home,


I'll put my watch away for spring break!