Sunday, July 1, 2018

{Being The Change: Week 1} #cyberPD


It's the 8th Annual 
#cyberPD Summer Event!

Join in our #cyberPD Google+ Community to participate!
We want YOU to join in the conversations!

This July we are reading and learning together around the new title from Sara Ahmed 

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My Thoughts and Reflections

"... we will give ourselves permission to create learning conditions where kids can ask the question they want to ask, muddle through how to say the things they are thinking, and have tough conversations. We will be proactive in this pursuit. Truthfully, we will not have all the answers. No one does." 
(Ahmed, p.xxii)

An Introduction to Social Comprehension and Strategies to Prepare You for the Work Ahead

  • This introduction was packed with so much helpful information!
  • This is the explanation of social comprehension and beginning thinking that I needed to ground myself in the hard work to come in our classrooms and homes.
  • Sara reminded me throughout this chapter that this work will NOT be easy, but it is worth it. And in the state of our country and world today, this work is essential. Previously, I may have turned the other way, ignored the big issues, skirted around hot topics. I cannot do that to our children and our future. I feel the responsibility to do more and be more. We must model caring, kindness, compassion and listening. Our students also need opportunities to practice as well.
"Avoiding these conversations now -- at a point in our students' lives when they are the most able to consider new perspectives -- will yield a generational ignorance we can't afford for the future. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is a luxury of the privileged and  a barrier to the unnoticed and underserved." 
(Ahmed, p.xxv)
  • I have to admit, Sara's words have slapped me around a bit, knocking me out of my comfort zone in my privileged comfy life. I needed this shake up right now to learn and understand what my students are living with, struggling with, and worried about day-to-day. And this means we need to be celebrating more successes knowing the challenges they are able to overcome.
  • I need to dig deep into this work first and that is why I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing community where I KNOW I will grow and change and grow in my understanding through our conversations.
  • Yep. Kids first. It's not about me.
  • Love this idea and I want to try it! Make a list of 10 things about each child as a person -- "the pieces of themselves they trust you with" -- and how they would define themselves. Relationships are essential to learning. Find out who they are and what matters to them. 
  • Also, consider the hard work:
    • Silence is a struggle, but necessary. Decenter your normal. I'm not the expert. I won't have all the answers and that's ok. The hard work takes time. 
  • This hard work is HEART work. And it matters: "At first I thought ... and now I think ..." -- this tool will be useful to document our change in thinking.
Chapter 1: Exploring Our Identities

"We can help students shine a light on who they are: their hopes and dreams, talents, family histories, how they identify culturally, the languages they speak, how they learn best, the story of their names, what they can teach us." 
(Ahmed, p.2)

  • I found myself nodding in agreement with Sara's beliefs: The kids are our curriculum. Relationships first. High expectations. Great hopes. Respect who they are.
  • I love allowing students the opportunity to reflect on who they really are today -- not who they want to be or who they "think" they are -- but raw, open, honest reflection. You can't hide behind that ... The power is when we start this process with younger students and build up to those middle school and high school days. Wow -- to know who you truly are every year as you change and grow and learn. This is powerful.

  • Affirming our identities: Identity Webs -- This reminds me a heart map for personal writing, but this takes those stories to sharing and connecting with others.
  • Love that Sara recommends starting with a read aloud -- and provides lots of title suggestions! The mentor text is the window, but then we look into the mirror to create our own identity webs.
  • Sara also provides powerful, clear language when beginning identity conversations with students and how to ask questions respectfully when sharing.
  • I sketched my identity web right inside my book. Later, I went back and added a few more details. One day I want to recreate in my notebook:

  • Placing ourselves in the World: Stories of Our Names -- Names are so important. We always start with our names when learning letters and doing shared writing. Names identify who we are, but Sara reminds us there is more to the story with our names. Kids need to learn the story of their names. I would guess the majority of my students have little knowledge or understanding about their name, but here is where we can open that door -- to learn more, talk with parents, find out the story behind their names.
    • As for me and my name, all I can remember is that my mom and dad really liked my name. There was no family history and meaning behind my name. Thankfully, I can still verify my understanding of my name with my mom and dad. One morning, I sent my mom a text and asked her to share my name story. I'm also thankful participates in the weekly Slice of Life (#sol18) and she wrote a slice about our family names
  • Journeying into Our Family Histories: "Where I'm From" Poems -- Love the idea behind writing these poems, but this caused me the most stress! I had a happy childhood, but memories are hard for me to retrieve ... unless, a story is retold or I see an old photo or even a smell brings me back. I dove into this hard work and tried writing my own "Where I'm From" poems ... from yesterday and today. These rough drafts are captured in my writing notebook. For now.
" kids grow, they are constantly evolving a new sense of self.  Stepping back 
or beginning the year with a study of  them to feel valued 
and visible in the classroom." (Ahmed, p.29)

Chapter 2: Listening with Love

  • First of all, I love this title. We all need to listen with more love more often these days.
  • Second, I am just as guilt as Sara. On page 31, she describes how she "pre-planned" the outcomes of creating a class agreement. I think we all have done this ... set expectations of what we want included. Students need a voice from day one and not the pre-programmed, auto-pilot version.
  • Committing to social comprehension instruction means ...
    • understanding there are more questions than answers
    • the work is messy and there are levels of uncertainty
    • we must "practice the critical components of communication--how to listen, pause, speak, ask questions, and reflect" (p.32)
  • Active listening reminds me of ...
    • Steven Covey: "Listen to understand. Not to respond."
    • James 1:19: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
  • I love the active listening lesson -- that will be necessary to repeat over and over throughout the year! And the anchor charts will help capture this thinking and growth.
  • In addition, I appreciate the language Sara provides -- helpful for students and teachers!
"Our goal is to make the process of active listening automatic in their thinking and writing, and to treat listening to someone else as an act of love." (Ahmed, p.32)

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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 Being the Change and start reading!
  • Make #cyberPD work for you and your schedule this summer! It's a no-stress, no worries, join when you can kind of book study!  
  • Reflect and write:  a blog post or share your thoughts in the Google Community.
  • Participate in the conversations. This is where the magic of #cyberPD happens!  
                  #cyberPD 2018: Being the Change Padlet of Resources for all to add and share!

Questions, comments, or concerns about #cyberPD?  Contact Cathy Mere or Michelle Nero


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

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

{late night writing} #sol18

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

Summer months
Time to enjoy
A little extra freedom

To stay up later
Doing what we love
In slow motion

Quiet time before bed
Reading another book
Writing one more story

Until her eyes could
No longer stay open
And she rested her head

Holding her pen
In place savoring
Her last words ...


This could have been me this evening or any night. I knew I wanted to write, but I find it is harder during the summer to find the time and the energy. But tonight, I picked up my head and finished this slice! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

{playing school} #sol18

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

The very afternoon my girls were out of school, they were already making plans. They disappeared into the playroom ... and an hour later they emerged.

"Momma! Come and see what we did!" They called out.

The girls transformed their playroom into a new space: a classroom for summer.  Using items "gifted" from their teachers and other handmade essentials, the girls created a learning space, including a daily schedule made of popsicle sticks and a magnetic pointer on a pipe cleaner, classroom jobs, name plates with number lines, a decorative border on the bookshelf, and a "Chart of CRRCT" (Caring, Respect, Responsibility, Citizenship, and Trustworthiness) -- which is a more positive approach to the color/behavior clip chart!

My girls were sad about school ending ... but to work around this problem, they created a space to be creative, learn, cooperate, and have fun.  I have yet to experience time in their school, but when Grandma and Grandpa were visiting last week, they spent hours "playing" school! (I heard Grandpa caused some trouble too!)

Also, that evening when I returned from walking the dog around the block, I was surprised to find chalk messages outside of our house on the sidewalk ... Spreading positivity!

Be kind!              Be happy!          Happy Summer Break!

These girls amaze me with their creativity! I can't wait to play school now that school is out for me!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Announcing ... the 2018 #cyberPD Book!

Get ready for the 8th Annual 
#cyberPD Summer Event!

Check out our #cyberPD Google+ Community to learn more!
We can't wait for YOU to join in the conversations!


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. This year, once again, we were blown away by your response and stacks of books! We agreed, we all need more time to read ...

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 8th year, or somewhere in between, we are thrilled YOU are joining in!! 

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!

There were many great books shared again. Yet, this year one book stood out from the beginning. 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 ... and with this book, positive changes in our world. It's timely, relevant, and so necessary in our classrooms today.

Announcing ... the 2018 #cyberPD Book! 

Let's dig in and read Sara Ahmed's new title  ...

Sara states in the introduction: 
"I recommend experiencing the lessons in this book first not with your students, but with your peers. This examination is just as valuable for adults as it is for kids: I have used the core elements of these lessons with adults in professional development sessions for years.  
More importantly, if we want to teach students to be compassionate, complex thinkers, we must first muddle through this work ourselves. Otherwise we may not be prepared for the outcomes: the fight or flight, the tears, the crawling of skin, the desire to shake the tables." (Ahmed, xxvi)

Let's get to work! 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 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 reading!

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

Additional Resources

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Join in #cyberPD 2018!

It's the 8th Annual #cyberPD Summer Event!

Check out our #cyberPD Google+ Community to learn more!
We can't wait for YOU to join in the conversations!

I am always excited about new PD books that arrive into the world.  I usually pre-order like crazy because I want have to hold them in my hands. But time is limited during the school year between home and school. I immediately get excited when a book arrives and start reading any moment I can squeeze in some reading, but then sadly the book lies in a stack waiting. And those beautiful new books stack up with a bookmark holding the few pages that I was able to devour.

And then summer arrives, where I have a little more time to read and catch up with those old friends. (I still never read as much as I want ...) But every summer I love spending time with the #cyberPD community where we read, reflect, and share our thoughts around a shared book. This group of educators always pushes my thinking and I learn so much more through the social aspect of learning alongside many amazing and talented educators spanning the globe!

During the month of July, the selected PD book is discussed across three weeks. A schedule for reading and posting your thoughts will be shared in June. Participants read and discuss a different section of the book by sharing your thoughts each week around specific chapters with a reflection in the Google Community -- through a blog post, a Google+ comment, and/or on Twitter (#cyberPD). Then the last week of July, we will host a final Twitter chat. We encourage you to respond and comment on at least 3 other participants reflections. 

Stay connected and find out more specific details via Twitter (#cyberPD) and our #cyberPD Google+ Community.

Are you ready to join in? 
Jump in and let's learn together! 
1.  Join the #cyberPD Google+ community. 
2. Share a photo, image, or list of your PD book stack that you hope to tackle this summer in the "Share Your Book Stack" section in the #cyberPD Google+ Community. We will be checking out book stacks from MAY 16 - 30, 2018. 
3. One PD book will be selected for our #cyberPD conversation and announced on JUNE 2! Fingers crossed it is in your book stack ... if not, order it ASAP!

Here's a starting list of some of the books I hope to read and tackle this summer. Yes, I have already accepted that I will not be able to read them all ... and this list always grows as I see more and more #cyberPD book stacks!

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)

Past #cyberPD titles include:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

{dandelions} #sol18

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

Who can resist picking
 the round ball of perfection?

Waiting and willing
anyone or anything to --

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          * l *
                         * o *
    * w *

Amazing how it is so beautiful and delicate,
yet carries the power of unwantedness

Once the beauty is carefully plucked
and a quick, forceful 

* b *
          * l *
                         * o *
    * w *

Sends little seeds flying
floating in the air to continue

The round ball of perfection
waiting and willing to be plucked again

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

{eight} #sol18

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

I knew I always wanted to be a mom.  Jon and I were married almost seven years before we were blessed with our twin daughters.

I remember the day vividly when I found out I was officially pregnant with twins.

It was a shock at first. I remember asking, "How does that happen?" The nurse just laughed.

And, in what seems like a blink, the girls are eight. Eight. Eight! I can't even believe it.

They are growing up
to be amazing little people.
They are sweet and
caring and kind and funny.
They love school
and learning and reading.
They love being with friends
and riding bikes, drawing with chalk
and playing outside.
They love their tablets
and games and creating online.
They love building forts
and making up dances.
They love their American Girl dolls
and all the accessories.
They love crafts
and painting and glitter.
They love creating and building
and experiments.
They love soccer and gymnastics
and doing cartwheels anywhere they can.

They love so many of the same things. Yet, they are as unique as they can be. Similar, but different.

And I adore them. All eight years of them.