Saturday, August 10, 2019

Picture Books I Love Right Now! #pb10for10


As we finish up our summer #cyberPD conversations, I'm quickly reminded that August is right around the corner and I need to start thinking about my picture book list to share. Ten books I love. Ten books I want to share. Ten books that I can't live without in my classroom. Ten books. I love coming up with lists of picture books I adore for various reasons. However, this year I came up with the most brilliant idea! (Well, at least I thought it was brilliant!) 

Here are the picture books I can't live without  ... because these are the LAST 10(+3)  picture books I most recently purchased! 

1.  If I Built a School 
by Chris Van Dusen

My daughters read If I Built a House and If I Built a Car over and over and over.
They couldn't wait to read this next book just published!

2.  How to Read a Book 
by Kwame Alexander

Just read it! And savor it.

3. The Pigeon HAS to Go To School!
by Mo Willems

A new pigeon book? Yes, please! And the Pigeon at school!
Oh, the kids are going to love reading this new silly book!

4.  We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands

by Rafael Lopez

This is the theme for our new school year ... so I had to add this book to my collection. Beautiful!

5.  The Bad Seed and The Good Egg 
by  Jory John


These two books alone were good, but together they will bring so much laughter and conversations.

6.  The School Book ~ The Don't Worry Book ~ 
The Kindness Book (arriving in October!)
by Todd Parr

We are big Todd Parr fans and when I saw there was a new book available, I had to get it! However, that's when I noticed there were 3 books I didn't have ... The Kindness Book will be out in October.

7. Raise Your Hand
by Alice Paul Tapper

My girls are enjoying Girl Scouts and this book provided us some inspiration and ideas.

8. Just Read!
by Lori Degman

A great book to read at the beginning of the year ... anytime in the year and the end of the year! 

9.  The Best Part of Me
by Wendy Ewald

I love when students share the best parts of themselves. I recently learned there was a book that provided inspiration for the displays.

10.  Say Something
by Peter H. Reynolds

What more can I say? Peter Reynolds yet again inspires all of us!
I just purchased two more copies of this title as a beginning of the year gift for my girls teachers.
There is power in our words. 


My previous #pb10for10 selections:

2017    2016    2015    2014    2013    2012    2011


Learn more about #pb10for10 from 
Cathy at  Reflect and Refine and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

{pen pals} #sol19

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Lisa sent me a message at the beginning of summer wondering if my girls would be interested in a summer pen pal with her daughter.

"Yes!!" They shouted. And they waited for the first letter to arrive.

It arrived one late afternoon as I was making dinner. They ripped open the envelope and read the note together with pure excitement. I have the image of them huddled together reading it aloud. I wish I grabbed my phone to capture a picture.

Within minutes, they each grabbed a notecard and a pen. Standing at the counter, they began responding.

Of course, the teacher in me wanted to walk them through the process of responding to the letter and asking new questions. Yet, they were busy writing while I finished up dinner.

"Dinner is ready, guys! Let's eat!"

"Done! I finished my letter."

"Me too! I even filled out the envelope!"

And, so, the letters were sent as is -- I let go and allowed the girls to own this new pen pal experience. We headed to the post office the next day to purchase international stamps.

Because how cool is it to have a pen pal that lives in Canada! The girls (and I) can't wait for the next letter!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

{Welcome to Writing Workshop} #cyberPD Reflection Week 1

I'm reading and reflecting on Welcome to Writing Workshop with a different lens than most teachers. As a reading specialist, I am not fully implementing writing workshop. However, I can support teachers with implementation, brainstorm ideas through the challenges, and support reading and writing in my role knowing the full experience of the workshop model.

My Thoughts and Reflections for Week 1: Chapter 1-4

"It's our belief that every student can write -- 
even the ones who have stopped believing in themselves as writers." 
(Shubitz & Dorfmann, p.1)


  • I work with students who have not yet developed the belief that they are readers and writers. So to hear from the authors they too belief ALL students are writers reminds me of the power of YET.
  • I need to remember this definition when talking about workshop: "The structure of writing workshop is simple: it is student centered and based on the belief that students become successful writers when they write frequently, for extended periods of time, and on topics of their choice." (p.2) Yes. It's really this simple. This should be our focus. 
  • I smiled when reading on page 3 (already!), Stacey and Lynne are explicitly telling us that we need to write too ... for so many reasons!
  • The emphasis on the third teacher -- our environment and learning space -- is critical to student success (p.5) And there is an entire chapter dedicated to the "write" environment with photographs! (Chapter 2)
  • This: "A great mentor text does more than show us qualities of good writing. It provokes something in us -- memory, passion, a desire to write, to take our turn." Tom Newkirk (p.11)
  • The chart on p.18 is a clear indicator as to where a teacher of writing workshop is: Traditional vs Workshop.
  • The launch at the beginning of the year is essential. Six weeks of building a community, setting expectations, learning routines. Model, model, model. Practice, practice, practice. 


  • The focus in writing workshop is entirely on the writer ... not to improve the piece of writing they are working on today. (p.6)
  • Yes, we want students to write. And write a lot. But that's not our goal. The goal is to help our students know themselves as writers. (p.8 and 26)
  • So much time is focused on the writing process as being linear ... and it really isn't! The writing process is different for every writer. (p.13)

Question for you ...

  • The power of sharing is crucial ... but time seems to slip away and this critical component of writing workshop is skipped. How can we be sure this sharing time occurs? (p.16)

"Children want to write. 
They want to write the first day they attend school. 
This is no accident. Before they went to school they marked up 
walls, pavements, newspapers with crayons, chalk, pens, or pencils 
... anything that made a mark. The child's marks say, 'I am.'" 
(D. Graves, quoted by Shubitz & Dorfmann, p.42)


Visit our NEW #cyberPD MeWe Community to join in the conversations!

If you have any questions, please contact:
Cathy Mere on her blog or on Twitter (@CathyMere )
Michelle Nero by leaving a comment below or on Twitter (@litlearningzone)

Stay connected via Twitter (#cyberPD), our #cyberPD MeWe Community page, and
a compilation of resources on our #cyberPD 2019 :: Writing Workshop Pinterest Page.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

{more} #sol19

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Summer is here. And I'm loving it. Even though I keep saying that being a full time mom and working through the to-do lists is more exhausting than going to school every day!

In summer, there's ...

slow mornings
reading time
baking yummy goodness
dinner creations

spontaneous moments
hanging out with friends
hiking, swimming, biking
it's past bedtime nights

'yes, let's do it' days
summertime adventures
special memories captured
time to just live in this moment

I will continue to soak up this summer life and enjoy the mores ...

What do you enjoy MORE of in the summertime?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

{the last days} #sol19

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

The last days of school are for ...

reminders to exercise their reading brains
making a reading plan of who? what? where? when? and why?
filling their arms with new books to read at home
and a notebook and pen to write story after story

The last days of school are for ...

small moments of connecting with each child
noticing and telling of why they matter to me and this world
sharing and caring as much as they need with hugs in between
pouring all that I can into their hearts and minds

The last days of school are for ...

not knowing for many of my students
if these are the last days of school until next year ...
or if their families quietly move on to a new school
and if these are our last days together.

Get your copy here --> Summer Reading Plans

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Announcing the 2019 #cyberPD Book!

Announcing the 2019 #cyberPD Book!

Check out our NEW #cyberPD MeWe Community to learn more!

We can't wait for YOU to join in the conversations!

It's that time of year again! Cathy and I have finally selected our #cyberPD book for our summer learning. It's never an easy decision. 

Conversations go back and forth. 
Ideas fly. 
Standards are high. 
Book stacks full of possibilities are higher. 
And then ... it happens. 
The just right book emerges from the stacks.

The book selection is important, but what makes this PD event truly successful are the amazing teachers and educators across the globe that support each other through the learning process.

YOU make #cyberPD a success! 
Thank YOU for joining us ... whether this is your very first year, or your 9th year, or somewhere in between, we are thrilled YOU are joining in! 


This summer, our #cyberPD title we will be reading is ...

Happy reading ... and writing!

Here's how #cyberPD works:

TODAY ... Order the book and start reading!

THE FIRST THREE WEEKS of JULY ... Participants read and discuss a section of the book by sharing thoughts each week around specific chapters. We have seen so many creative ways of sharing from a blog post, to visual sketch notes, to videos, to a brief post on our MeWe Community page ... it's really up to you!

**We encourage you to respond/comment on at least 3 other participants reflections.  This is where the deeper learning happens!**

THE FOURTH WEEK of JULY ... A final Twitter chat to share highlights of our learning!


If you have any questions, please contact:

Cathy Mere on her blog or on Twitter (@CathyMere )
Michelle Nero by leaving a comment below or on Twitter (@litlearningzone)

Stay connected via Twitter (#cyberPD), our #cyberPD MeWe Community page, and
a compilation of resources on our #cyberPD 2019 :: Writing Workshop Pinterest Page.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

{a walk} #sol19

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Rescuing a dog comes with many responsibilities, like lots of walks.

Every day Harley and I walk about the neighborhood at least two times a day. One walk occurs after the girls get on the bus in the morning. I make my way around the outside of neighborhood completing the one-mile stretch. It's usually a quiet walk as most are off to school or work. Sometimes I think about my day and ponder life or pray. Other times I intently observe the neighborhood, houses, plants, front doors, and so on looking for ideas and projects.

In the evening, I head out again. I may have a kid or two join me for conversation. Sometimes I listen to a podcast. I step out the door deciding what route I'm going to take. Usually, we meet lots of friendly faces and other dogs. Those are always exciting moments. Just yesterday, I met another Mom taking her Opal for a walk. We have passed each other a couple times, but I made the point of having a conversation. I learned in a few short, quick minutes her name, about her family, where she lives, and Opal's story.

I like to walk at a brisk pace for the exercise. Keep on moving.

Harley, on the other hand, likes to take her time and stop to smell the roses ... all of them. Individually. And all the blades of grass too. She likes to sneak a stick or a wood chip to chew on. Harley has learned to turn her head away from me when chewing ... as if I can't hear her crunching. And at least once on every walk, she gives me the puppy dog eyes asking me to stop so she can lean in on me for some pets and love.

I never thought a dog would change my life. And all the extra walks together? Worth it.

Harley Quinn ~ Rescued Dec. 2017

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

{Starting Again} #sol19

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

I can't believe it's been almost a year without writing a slice of life or even a blog post.
After years of writing. Nine years. 626 published blog posts. Most slice of life stories.

To be exact.

I know that my habit of writing slipped away.
I chose to ignore the blog, the calls for slices, the messages from far away friends.

I let it go.

It's hard really to say why. I'm sure it's a combination of home and school.
And to be honest, my heart wasn't in it.

However, my heart has been empty too.

I have missed capturing my stories about life.
I've missed you, your stories, your connections, your support.

But I haven't missed my personal pressure to write ... and to write well.

Yet, I think I'm ready to ignite my passion for writing again.
At least I'm going to make the effort. And it starts with the first day.

Here's to starting again.