Tuesday, August 25, 2015

{Today is the Day} #sol15


The Slice of Life is
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 
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Today is the day --
I wake up early and feel my heart
thump thump thump in my chest.

Today is the day --
I am full of excitement, wonder, and fear ...
wondering if you are feeling the same.

Today is the day --
I squat down to look into your sparkling eyes
imagining this first day from your perspective.

Today is the day --
I brush your hair to the side, rub your soft cheek,
and wonder how this day came so quickly.

Today is the day --
I give you the BIGGEST hug and kiss
to remind you that I am so proud of you.

Today is the day --
I pray over you, your safety, your teacher,
your open minds to continue to learn and grow and blossom.

Today is the day --
I give you three squeezes of your hand
to tell you again that I love you.

Today is the day --
You squeezed my hand five times in return
to tell me our "I love you so much" secret message.

Today is the day --
I watch you both slowly walk away,
holding hands looking at each other.

Today is the day --
I notice you turn back, smile,
and then wave one last goodbye.

Today is the day --
I close my eyes to capture this moment
forever in my heart and hold back any tears.

Today is the day --
I see only two big purple backpacks
that are now out of sight as you turn the corner.

Today is the day --
I quickly turn around as the tears start slowly
then flood the sidewalk.

Today is the day --
I can't wait to pick you up and ask about
your very first day of kindergarten.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

{summer learning} #sol15


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_____________________________________________________

I love summer learning.

I'm reading lots of picture books with my girls.
I read two real big people books.
I have read and dipped my fingers in many PD books.
I've read a generous amount of articles and blog posts from educators I respect.
I've conversed with many educators on Twitter and participated in a handful of chats.
I attended ILA in St. Louis and also attended a four day interactive webinar last week.
I've even participated in a Voxer PD group and started another group to continue our learning.

It's been a full summer of learning and I love it.  To help keep all my learning, ideas, thoughts, suggestions and so on, I have several learning notebooks around ... I use various symbols to highlight and code my notes, like stars, hearts, dashes and arrows.

One of my daughters took notice and questioned me about my coding.  I later found a couple special notes waiting for me in my notebook to be savored for a long, long time.  (I think I see a theme emerging as well ...)

I do love summer learning. {arrows and hearts}

Photos by Michelle Nero - Compiled with Photo Grid


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

{a love letter} #sol15



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_____________________________________________________

August 10th is a big day.  It's the day of sharing lists of your ten favorite picture books.

August 25th is also a big day.  It's the day my two girls start kindergarten.

I've been thinking a lot about both ... and then it hit me.


My #pb10for10 book theme was "I wish you ..."  I thought about all that I wished for my girls as they begin this special journey this year in kindergarten and connected the wish to a picture book.

And the words just poured from my heart ...

I shared my picture book list yesterday and I want to thank Susan for making this connection for me:



Here is my love letter to my daughters and all that I wish:  


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My thoughts in my SOL last week:  A Whole New World 


Monday, August 10, 2015

{I WISH YOU ... } #pb10for10

Check out other favorite Picture Book Lists: Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community
Learn more about #pb10for10 from Cathy at  Reflect and Refine and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Every year I (painstakingly) select ten (ugh, yes, only ten) picture books that I cannot live without in my classroom -- or in the case of the list I am sharing today, picture books that I cannot live without at home.

You see, I created this list of picture books for my twin daughters, who will begin their schooling journey by starting kindergarten in a short two weeks.  (I can't believe it.)  Yet, it's my Mommy duty to continue to build the excitement and their confidence (or perhaps my own) of this new adventure.  What better way to do it than with PICTURE BOOKS?!?!  A perfect #pb10for10 list of all that I wish for this coming year for my precious girls!


I wish you ...

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1.  I wish you ... COURAGE:  
The Kissing Hand 
by Audrey Penn

I wish you both to be courageous and brave as you begin kindergarten.  I know that you are ready for this big adventure!  I also know that you are relieved (and so lucky) to have each other and always have a hand to hold.  But always know that Mommy and Daddy love you and we'll be there to pick you up at the end of your day to hear all about it.



2.  I wish you ... WONDER:
What Do You Do with an Idea?
What Do You Do With an Idea?
by Kobi Yamada

I wish you both to continue being curious.  Never stop wondering, asking questions, thinking about all the possibilities, and asking more questions about all things BiG and small.  I wish your teachers will also encourage your sense of wonder and nurture your curiosity and dreams.  Remember, everything starts with one little idea.




3.  I wish you ... INSPIRATION:
The Dot
by Peter H. Reynolds

I wish you both to be inspired by your teachers and to make your mark your own ways.  You will be challenged each and every day to try something new that may not be easy and you may not feel confident about doing.  I wish you to remember that little word {yet} that we talk about: You may not be able to do it ... yet.  But I wish for you to hold on to inspiration and try it!



4.  I wish you ... KINDNESS:
Each KindnessEach Kindness 
by Jacqueline Woodson

I wish you each kindness.  You will soon learn that some kids can be mean.  Mean with words, laughter, whispers, and ignoring.  But I wish for you to always choose kind -- no matter what.  No matter how hard it may be.   No matter if someone is being mean to you or your sister.  I wish for you to remember each kindness matters.  Always choose kind.






5.  
I wish you ... FRIENDSHIP:
Yo! Yes?
 by Chris Raschka

I wish for you to know the power of a little hello or "Yo!"  I want you to always remember that to have a friend, you need to be a friend.  And it starts with just asking.  I also wish for you to find your own friends to play with, to talk with, to learn with, to read with, to enjoy spending time with -- remembering that you will always have each other, your best friend.




6.  I wish you ... PATIENCE:
Waiting is Not Easy!
by Mo Willems

I wish you patience because we all know that waiting is not easy.  But always remember the miracles that can happen when we are patient.   Hold on tight to the patience required in a full classroom of kids and only one teacher.  I also wish your teachers much patience too!  (I was waiting and waiting when our favorite author/illustrator, Mo Willems, would make the list!)





The Most Magnificent Thing7. I wish you ... PERSEVERANCE:
The Most Magnificent Thing
by Ashley Spires

I wish you all the possibilities that are held in the creation of the most magnificent thing -- whatever that may be for you.  I wish you the struggles, the in-betweens, the wanting to give up, the mistakes, the sticking-with-it, and the triumphs.  I wish you the most magnificent first year of school in kindergarten too!




8. I wish you ... HAPPINESS:
Reading Makes You Feel Good 
by Todd Parr

You both know how much I love reading.  You're the ones who reminded me that "books are like friends."  I wish your teacher loves reading just as much because reading makes us feel good! I hope your love of reading continues to grow and grow.  Todd Parr is another favorite in our house, and I wish your teacher helps you fall in love with more authors, more illustrators and more stories.





9.  I wish you ... STORY:
Exclamation Mark!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I wish for you to listen for your story and make your mark in the world!  I wish you both to fit in by standing out with the help of Mommy and Daddy and your teachers to find your way.  I can't wait for the new chapter of your story to begin ...



10.  I wish you ... MORE:
I Wish You More
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I wish you courage and wonder and inspiration.

I wish you kindness, friendship, and patience.

I wish you perseverance and happiness and story, your story.

And then I wish you more ... and more {wipe tears}.




And I wish you MORE too -- 
 more POSSIBILITIES with picture books!
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My previous #pb10for10 selections:

2014     2013     2012     2011

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Be sure to check out other favorite #pb10for10 picture books at

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

{a whole new world} #sol15


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_____________________________________________________

I've been thinking a lot lately about this whole new world we will be entering in a short couple of weeks.  My daughters will begin their schooling educational journey this fall as they begin kindergarten.  I'm thinking more and more about school from a parent perspective, and I have come to realize that I have high expectations accompanied by many wonders.

I wonder if they will love their time at their new school.  Not just like it.  But LOVE it.  Kindergarten should be magical and fun with continuous opportunities to learn and grow.  School should inhale the dreams of all children and exhale all the possibilities of life.

I wonder if they will continue to love books.  Will they continue to look at books as a new world of wonder?  Will they continue to intensely look at each page thinking about the characters as friends?  I wonder if they will share their love of Todd Parr and Fancy Nancy and Mo Willems.

I wonder if they will make good choices at school.  Usually I hear about how sweet and quiet they are, but this summer I've seen my fair share of sibling rivalry.  Not pretty.  I wonder if they will choose kind and be a friend -- to each other and every other child.

I wonder if the girls will depend on each other too much.  Will they seek others to connect with?  Will one feel left out?  I wonder if keeping them together is best for them or best for me.  I wonder if they will grow closer, yet grow in their independence.

I wonder if they will continue to be creative and curious and ask questions and make things.  Just yesterday I heard: "I know Mommy! This [garbage bag box] can be a mailbox! I'm going to make a flag!"  I wonder if they will set up a store and play with their pretend money.  I wonder if they will continue to love to draw, doodle in notebooks, and create their own books.

Now more than ever I'm fully understanding the importance of the transformation of schools.  Real school should be like real life.  Full of opportunities to be curious, create, and be inspired.  And time.  Time to play and use their imaginations.  Without squashing hopes and dreams for compliance and fake engagement.

My whole world -- my two amazing five year olds -- will be entrusted to teachers I do not know yet with students and families that I know nothing about ... and I worry.  Of course, I don't show my worry face or express my fears to my girls, but I've been thinking about life in our house in the next three weeks.

There will be many conversations and life lessons.  I pray that God continues to give me the right words to share and eases any of our concerns.

I want try my best to be hopeful and excited ...  But then I wonder what else there is to wonder about. I'm sure there will be more as we enter this whole new world.




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{connected learning} #sol15


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I have not had the time or space to fully reflect upon my learning experiences at ILA in St. Louis.

Except that it was invigorating to be constantly surrounded by and connecting with ...
  • Passionate educators who care so deeply about students, reading, and thinking 
  • Teacher leaders in literacy education that I listened to very carefully to breathe in every word and the opportunity to meet some of them, even if to briefly chat
  • Amazing authors trying to reach children and adults of all ages with the power of story through words and illustrations
  • NerdyBookClub members who remind me that I can't read them "all," but they will continue to share the love of reading and book titles.  (Oh, Jill.  That reminds me.  Here is your reminder to dust off that blog of yours.  It's Tuesday. Go write yourself a little slice of life!) :) 
  • Two amazing colleagues who live in this surreal world of never-ending learning with me and lots and lots of laughter!  I can't thank you enough for your time, your passion, your understanding, your belief in me, and your laughter!  (I wonder what Rick is doing now...)



As I left St. Louis last Monday, I was driving in the silence of my car -- alone for the first time in 84 hours -- and all I could do was think about the power of the conference and connecting with so many members of my PLN.

I relived moments.  I was in awe.  I smiled in delight.  I thought about how I grew and changed in just three days.  I questioned my goals and dreams for myself.  What will I be in 5 years? Where will I be in 10 years?  I wondered ... what's stopping me from growing to be what I'm supposed to be? I'm left with more questions and wonders -- and plenty of room to grow!


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

{Digital Reading: Part 3} #cyberPD



This summer a really BIG! group of educators are reading and learning together online.  I am participating and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about digital reading and creating digital readers in our classrooms with Cathy Mere and Laura Komos



Don't forget! Next Tuesday, July 28th @ 7 pm CST, we will be participating in a #cyberPD Twitter chat with authors Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.


Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 

by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson
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My Thoughts and Reflections


Chapter 6: Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy

"Assessment needs to be the vehicle that moves us beyond defining our readers as a number.  Assessment should not be about defining a reader but about piecing together information to help us design classroom experiences so we can observe our readers learning and understand what each one needs."
 (Assessment in Perspective, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan 
as quoted by Bass & Sibberson, p.87)

Take Away: That's it, right?  (Reread the quote above.) That's all we need to know and remember about assessment?  I wish it were that easy!  (And now I'm kicking myself for not attending Clare and Tammy's assessment session at ILA!)

Think About/Share: I guess I was quite relieved to see that all the best practices for collecting formative data holds true even when digital literacies are present.  Trying to determine where the reader is and how can I continue to move and push the reader forward in learning.  The structures for ongoing assessment listed on p.90 brought a smile to my face.  Yes, this is what I'm always trying to do and I'm constantly wondering how I can improve in my practices of ongoing assessments.  After meeting Patrick Allen at ILA, I'm reminded that I need to revisit an old #cyberPD book selection, Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop.

Try it: I loved the idea of moving beyond the note taking and using digital tools to gather evidence and artifacts of learning.  I'm realizing that it doesn't have to be complicated.  A snapshot in a moment in time: an audio recording, a photograph of a reader, a screenshot of text.  But how do I keep it organized?!?  I need a crash course with Cathy about Evernote!  I have a Pinterest board of Everything Evernote resources, but I have done nothing more than pin those resources.  I think it's time I create notebooks and go digital with my note keeping and involving students in collecting evidence of learning in digital portfolios with Google Slides (and other suggestions on p.93-94).

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Chapter 7: Beyond the Classroom Walls: Connecting Digital Reading at Home and School


"Parents can engage in their child's learning on a daily basis 
and in a variety of ways." (Bass & Sibberson, p.47)

Take Away: It is essential to open up our classroom doors and let parents and families know what we are doing all day long in our classrooms.  What I love about this concept is that it doesn't (and shouldn't!) fall on only the teacher to communicate with families.  It's important to engage the students in connecting and sharing with families utilizing a variety of digital tools.  

Think About/Share:  In order to communicate with families, I need "to design a classroom communication plan that harnesses the power of digital tools to reach outside the classroom" (p.104).  The reflective questions (on p.105) provide the guidance I need to think about my plan deeply.

Try it: I currently use Kidblog.  I have a class website through the district.  I have a class Twitter account.  I can use Google Calendar and Docs with my students.  Now, I need to think about the purpose and focus of each of these tools and how I will utilize them to increase communication with families.

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Please edit, add to, and use the growing list of DIGITAL READING RESOURCES available.  This is a living document that is meant to be a work of collaboration.   (Note: It's in the early stages of development ... and needs your help!  I'm beginning to organize the various digital resources.  See the tabs at the bottom of the document.  Add headings and notes too!)

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You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this month too:

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.

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As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!