Tuesday, September 5, 2017

{#EnticingWriters, #EnticingMe} #sol17

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

I started reading Ruth Ayres' free preview of her new book ... Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers as a teacher ... and then her words spoke to me as ...

A writer.

You see, Ruth and I go way back. (She maybe doesn't remember it.)


My babies were not even a year old and one February day during nap time for my girls, I stumbled upon the TWT blog.

Ruth enticed me then ...

I started a blog. I started writing. I just started and didn't quite understand why because really, what new mom of twin babies has any time for anything -- let alone time to write?!?

But I was enticed, invited, encouraged. I joined the Slice of Life Story Challenge that March with an amazing group of writers, many of whom are still around writing today.

I write because it's my story to tell.

Fast forward to today ... another Tuesday, another Slice of Life. It's been a few weeks since I wrote in a notebook or on my blog.

But there's Ruth ... again ... enticing me to just write.

Her stories are amazingly REAL and raw. She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She makes me feel like I'm not alone in this mother-teacher-writer world ... that at times can be hard.

I have to believe that my words matter so that I can encourage my writers that their words matter. And our words collectively can make a difference in this world.

Thank you, Ruth, for yet again enticing me to write tonight.

One of the MANY embedded inspiring Tweets to share in the preview copy!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

{Books I CANNOT Wait to Share!} #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

After my move to a new school and classroom, I knew I would need to spend some additional time with my books: reviewing, weeding, resorting, and, of course, plenty of rereading. I was pulling books out left and right to share with new colleagues and new students … Books perfect for the beginning of the year. Books perfect for building community. Books perfect for writing. Books that I just love! As of right now, my classroom library is a mess with piles and stacks of books scattered. It will all come together, but in the meantime, I’m happy to be surrounded by books. But this made my task of picking just ten books even more difficult.

So, for one of my favorite days of the year -- which I do believe should be a national  
an international holiday with some bookstore sales and deals -- I selected one of my stacks:
New books that I CANNOT wait to share this year!

My previous #pb10for10 selections:
 2016    2015    2014    2013    2012    2011

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

{Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Week 1} #cyberPD

We have teamed up with yet another fabulous author 
and PD book for #cyberPD! 

This July we are reading and learning together around 
Vicki Vinton's newest title: Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Shifting to a Problem-Based Approach

Join in the conversation in our #cyberPD Google Community!

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My Thoughts and Reflections
I'm finally here and ready to join in the conversations around Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Shifting to a Problem-Based Approach! Family time, vacation, and several district workshops took precedence at the beginning of July. I read the chapters prior to vacation, but never had the time to bring all my thoughts together in one place. I'll finally be able to read other responses too and learn alongside all of you!

Introduction: Plunging Into Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading
First of all, I go into reading PD books with an open mind and heart, looking for ways to clarify what I believe and ask myself how I can grow in these beliefs to do more with the students and teachers I work with every day.

But Vicki stopped me in my reading tracks. She was pushing my thinking every which way and upside down just in the introduction! Even Ellin Oliver Keene jumped in too: "I hope you and your colleagues are stirred and inspired and that you experience a great deal of cognitive dissonance." (p. xiii) I laughed to myself and whispered, "Well, this is what #cyberPD is all about!"

I am a reading specialist working alongside developing readers in an elementary school. When I talk to my readers, I remind them they are readers, writers, and thinkers, but here is where I can grow: How deep is their thinking? Am I rescuing too much? Am I allowing opportunities for complex thinking challenges? Am I teaching in too many parts?  It's time to reflect on my practices in the classroom (and at home!).

Section One: On Beliefs and Big Ideas
Chapter 1: The Necessity of a Problem-Based Approach to Teaching Reading

Take Aways: 
  • I found myself nodding in agreement and understanding Vicki's thinking.
  • I love, love, love "first draft" understanding and using language like "might be" or "could mean" because this shows room for editing thinking, changing it as we read more. There is not a right/wrong answer. (p.7)
  • Read to wrestle with the "real problems" (p.11) But what about ELLs or developing readers? Still questioning, but maybe I just need to try to let them struggle and change the path of learning through a different text.
  • Let the text set the agenda using problem-based approach to reading - aha!
  • Teach the reader and let it be a productive struggle.
  • Dewey's thoughts ... amazing!
  • "To take a risk, make mistakes and get messy!"
Ok. So Vicki has flipped my thinking about teaching reading. I can see the 'big picture' but I still have some questions and wonders ...

Chapter 2: Shifting the Focus from Complex Texts to Complex Thinking

Take Aways: 
  • Vicki had me at the title of this chapter! Yes, that only makes sense!!!! This complex thinking is what we want of our students and teachers and the world!
  • I love that Vicki reminds me that we can learn so much from our students too through Takayaki's example.
  • Extraction reading vs. Transaction reading ... I think of "cold reading" - digging for answers and "warm reading" - allowing the book to touch your heart and soul and mind.
"I want students to be able to analyze and interpret, reason and imagine, critique texts objectively and respond to them personally. And I want them to do this with real independence and a strong sense of agency and identity as readers, in ways that support academic success and a love of reading." (Vinton, p.18)
  • A hundred yes, yes, yeses to Vicki's words!!! 
  • Text complexity ... After creating a school book room, we quickly realized that "leveling" text is a very complex process. My colleague and I did our best, but clearly expressed to teachers: Use your own professional judgement when selecting texts!
  • Whoever is doing the work is doing the learning .... even with the most complex piece. 
  • Text's message: "Comprehension is the floor ... connecting the dots to see the bigger picture." What a visual way to explain thinking to students!
  • Hmmmm ... I still thinking about this new vision of balanced literacy. (p.24) I need to reread and think through the differences of current practice of the balanced literacy components.
  • YES! Love the action plans for all students, especially for the Tier 2 students I work with. This is my goal: Think about:
    • What kind of problems is this reader facing?
    • What kind of text does this reader need?
    • How can we help this reader develop a more complex vision of reading?

"This deeper understanding is what I believe we, as teachers, need to aim for, since it's only when we read at this depth that our sense of human possibility is enlarged, we educate our hearts as well as our minds, and we are ready not only for college and careers but for whatever life might bring us." (Vinton, p.22)

Chapter 3: Toward More Complex Views of Thinking, Close Reading, and the Reading Process

Take Aways: 
  • I think internally I've always hoped and wished books changed my students lives ... but Vicki's approach to be more explicit about it just makes more sense!
  • Readers need more invitations and opportunities to think creatively and critically about text.
  • Again, I need to think more deeply about re-envisioning the reading process. It makes perfect sense, but need to dig into process this language and understanding. Love the reading process visuals Vicki included for fiction and nonfiction (p.41-3.) 
Chapter 4: Strengthening the Connection Between Teaching and Learning

Take Aways: 
  • Social-emotional and building relationships is essential to learning!
  • Ultimate Goal: Independence and transfer of learning
  • Mindset is important as well. Reminding students they may not be able to do it yet, but we can do this hard work!
  • Learning moves from short term memory to working memory (p.47) - One and done doesn't work!
  • Choice and opportunity to explore
  • Aha! Shift in my learning as a teacher of reading and the gradual release of responsibility: "seeing teaching as being less about explaining or showing students how to do things and more about creating and facilitating opportunities for them to learn through exploration, problem solving, and discovery." (Vinton, p.51)
  • Using a PBA, I need to consider when, how, and WHY we provide explicit instruction and teacher modeling.
  • The power of feedback and language has been a hot topic buzzing in my ears lately. I need to revisit Johnston's work and think deeper about this topic as I continue to work with developing readers and classroom teachers.

"And this is why David A. Sousa, the author of
How the Brain Learns, says 

that teaching is 'the only profession whose job is to change the 
human brain every day." 
(Vinton, p.46)

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

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Join in the #cyberPD conversations this month!
  • Grab your copy of Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading and read!
  • Write a weekly blog post or share your thoughts in the Google Community.
Inline image 1 

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

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

{yeah, you rock} #sol17

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

I didn't ask, but I still received.

Do you know how amazing that feels?

I shared my feelings and ups and downs with my new role and changes in my professional life.

And you were there to lift me up. Reminding me I could do this. Sharing wisdom and advice. Reaching out to connect.

Yes, I'm nervous about what is to come. But with you all by my side, this journey next year will be doable.

And in case I'm in need of more positive, encouraging words ... I've started yet another Pinterest board: New Adventure!  Let's do this!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

{time} #sol17

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

So far, I haven't said too much because at first I had {no words} and then all I had was {today}.

It was time for a change. I just didn't know it was MY time. After a few weeks of reflection and the process of packing up my classroom, I've accepted my new role and transition to a new school.

My reading specialist role is changing. I'm now considered a "Literacy Interventionist" in my district. Sounds fancy, I know.

But really, my goal is the same: Improve student learning as readers, writers, and thinkers, and nurture the love of reading.

The location is what differs: Instead of working with the most developing readers, writers, and thinkers in my own space, I'll be working with classroom teachers and students in their space.

Oh, and all this in a new school too.  The learning curve just curved again.

I understand the benefits of both working in classrooms and working with students outside of the classroom. Of course, I'll be honest, I adore my own cozy room full of books and magic and connecting with readers and writers.

I'm open to the possibilities of what is to come, working with teachers and students in classrooms. I'll be reaching more students and working alongside teachers to be a thinking partner and to help students achieve their goals.

Change can be good, but change can also be hard.

Or, in my case, change can be hard, but change can also be good. I have to envision the positive.

For now, I appreciate time - time to reflect, to accept, to think, to plan, to read, to write, to ponder, and to dream forward.

And, so, with change, a new Pinterest Board was created: New Adventures!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

{Today} #sol17

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

I packed my last box
stacked it on top of all the waiting boxes
and I sighed.

I looked around my desolate classroom
thought about my students
and smiled.

memories of students laughing, learning, sharing
of great books echoed in the empty room
and I looked down.

I left a note welcoming the new teacher
moving in hoping she loves the cozy space as much as I did
and I blinked back tears.

I took one last look, closed the door
for the last time
and cried.

I walked down the hallway, out of the school
drove away for the last time
and never looked back.

my summer can begin -- time with my girls, reading,
continued learning, growing and preparing for my new role
and I let out a big sigh of words.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

{no words} #sol17

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

I don't even know where to begin.
There is so much to say.
Yet, still no words.

My brain is a tangled mess of words and emotions.
So many changes: New role. New school. New teachers. New students.
Saying goodbye to my school family after 15 years.

Friday was our last day of school.
Squeezing students goodbye because I just couldn't say the words ...
As tears fell, heartbroken.

I waited and waited and waited before starting to pack.
A room full of books and treasures, because once I started ...
Then I knew it was all too real. Too final.

Yet, I understand my purpose for moving on.
It wasn't my decision, but I understand there is a bigger plan.
I must forget all the reasons why it won't work--

And believe the one reason why it will: The kids.
There are new kids who need me, my help. my love.
Or, perhaps it's me. Maybe I'm the one that needs these new kids.

I'm in the midst of packing box after box after box.
Every little thing packed has a story.
A memory that I'm bringing with me.

Huh, I guess I found a few words.
There is still more to say ...
But this is where I begin.

(Thanks, Terje, for nudging me to slice.) 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Announcing the 2017 #cyberPD Book Choice!

Check out our #cyberPD Google Community to 
learn more about our summer PD event.


Every year in May, we ask to see your stack of PD books you can't wait to dive into over the summer, looking for just the right book to read together. Then, we plan to discuss our thoughts and learning virtually through our Google Community, blog posts, and Twitter during the month of July.

This year, once again, there were many great book selections shared. And, yet again, we had many conversations about the perfect book for our #cyberPD group. Our list of criteria is extensive and our standards are high.  This book must reach a wide audience that will allow for deep thinking and learning. Our hope is that the book selected will push our thinking to make positive changes in our classrooms.

Yes, 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 seventh year, or somewhere in between, we are thrilled YOU are joining in the conversations! 

The beauty of this summertime PD is you make it what you want and you do what you can when you can do it! Personalized online PD that meets your needs!

So, are you wondering what book we selected for 2017, like these #cyberPD friends?!?

I think Kylene Beers would agree ... the 2017 #cyberPD title will teach us, touch us, make us want more, and fill us up! (And, no, it's not Kylene's new book Disrupting Thinking ...)


(Now cue the drum roll ...)

This summer we will be reading Vicki Vinton's new title  ...

It all begins this July! Order the book (if needed ... it was in many book stacks, so a lot of you are ready to ...), start reading, and join in!  Share your thoughts each week around specific chapters (more specific information to come) with a reflection in the Google Community -- a blog post, a Google+ comment, and on Twitter (#cyberPD).  We encourage you to respond and comment on at least 3 other participants reflections.  Happy deeper reading!


Additional Resources

Questions about #cyberPD? Contact Cathy Mere or Michelle Nero. We are here to help!