Friday, July 22, 2016

#cyberPD Week 3- Chapters 5 and 6

I have loved reading DIY Literacy and being part of the conversation here at #cyberPD! A family vacation and a lot of different professional commitments have led to this late posting this week. I decided to try to sum up Chapter 5 and 6 with a six word memoir for each:

Chapter 5: Tools help personalize learning for students.

Chapter 6: Make tools cool, not Pinterest perfect.

I love the message in this book: "Do it yourself- so they can do it themselves." I look forward to catching up on all the other posts for this week! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#cyberPD Week 1: DIY Literacy (Ch 1, 2 Bonus)

Week 1: Chapters 1, 2, Bonus 

I've been enjoying everyone's responses to our first section. I really love all the sketchnotes being created. I might try that next! After reading the selection for this week, I reread and found 10 quotes that struck me as especially meaningful. Here they are:

"The tool is there to help students do more, better work on their own. So we must always ask ourselves, 'Are the teaching tools I offer my kids really helping them to grow?'" (page 2)

"We are able to shift currents in our teaching when we step back, reflect upon the root issue for a student, group of students, or class, and offer a concrete, practical,visual tool to help address that bigger problem." (page 3)

"However, a chart or a bookmark keeps those strategies front and center, and allows your students to refer to and choose what will work best for them, gives students not just an understanding of the skill but a flight plan they can refer to whenever they are feeling off course." (page 5)

"Showing work via a micro-progression, or another teaching tool, is deeply rooted in practicality and the everyday, but the branches of this work reach toward the sky of big ideas and goals for kids." (page 7)

"Teaching tools create an impact on students' learning because they help students hold onto our teaching and become changed by the work in our classroom." (page 7)

"In a way, demonstration notebooks contain a collection of extreme makeovers. That is, they curate examples of work that explicitly show vast improvement (and clearly name the moves to make that improvement happen). Because this collection of demonstrations is housed inside a notebook, it is portable and easy to use when gathering small groups of students." (page 14)

"Then micro-progressions allow students to set goals, using the next level to plan and envision their future work. A micro-progression creates a visible path for your class to follow as they lift the level of their work." (page 18)

"In Getting Things Done, David Allen (2001) argues that our brains can only hold so much without some organized assistance. In fact, research shows the physical act of writing activates the part of our brains that bring desired information to the forefront, triggering us to focus and set intention (Klauser, 2001)." (page 19)

"As Meeno Rami wisely writes in Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re) Invigorate Your Teaching, 'an accomplished teacher must be connected. If we expect our students to be active, responsible and independent digital and global citizens, we need to be models for them. If we are striving to create a system where the role of the teacher is no longer the lone expert in the room but a co-learner, we need to model that for our students, as well (2014).' 
Having a trusted community of educators provides a place to go when trouble hits. We need professional friendships to get smarter and grow, but also to have a lifeline to email, text, or tweet on a Sunday night when we need three strategies for adding imagery to informational writing." (page 25-26)

"This do-it-yourself process uncovers how one actually performs a reading or writing skill and helps name the strategy in a way that is teachable to others. It helps you figure out a HOW on your own. Plus, it is rooted in real writing and reading work so the HOWs you discover will feel authentic to you." 
(page 31) 

My thoughts: I love how Kate and Maggie describe tools and the ways they can help students bridge the gap from instruction to implementing the new learning. It's really helped me reshape how I think of tools, charts, and strategies. I especially appreciate the notion that teachers would authentically engage in reading and writing and then be metacognitive about their process to figure out how to best teach students! 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mindset for Learning #MustReadin2016 (6/36)

A Mindset for Learning is one of the most important books I've ever read as a teacher and mom. It's one of the most inspiring books. I think every preschool and elementary teacher should own it. Probably middle school, high school and college, too.  At a time in history when our country is at a crossroads, leaving me often puzzled, frustrated, and despairing about what will be, a book such as this one reminds me that being a teacher is about creating a better world. It's a battle cry. 

In the Introduction, authors Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz write, "It is our deepest wish to build classrooms of risk and resilience so that all children...have an opportunity to live bigger and more bravely in the world. To live, and to engage, with hope and joy." Throughout the book, "a constellation of stances" are described as ways to become more successful and happy. The stances are persistence, empathy, flexibility, optimism, and resilience. 

The book has practical strategies and ideas on ways to teach the stances to your students and ways to help them set goals and internalize these stances. There are case studies of students and examples from classrooms. The stances are taught in workshop style classrooms with small group strategy lessons as well as whole class discussions/lessons. The appendix is full of helpful resources, including a book list with stances that match book titles. I love how this gives the teacher yet another lens to use when reading a picture book and how many of these books can be returned to again and again for reading, writing, and mindset lessons.

Mraz and Hertz end with their dream: "This book holds our dream for all children: that they grow to be flexible, resilient, empathetic, optimistic individuals, brave in the face of risk, kind in the face of challenge, joyful and curious in all things." These stances will help children become better readers, writers, mathematicians, thinkers...but above all, it will help them to be happier, kinder people who work to make a more just world. I can't think of anything we need more. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

#MustReadin2016 Out of My Mind 4/36

There are books that just touch your heart and stay with you, making themselves quite comfortable, with a cozy blanket, in your soul. The last page read, the book closed, yet the story is now part of you.  Melody's story is just like that and Out of My Mind is a book that won't soon be forgotten.

I've read so much about books being like mirrors and windows and the need for both in a child's library. For students without a physical disability, Out of My Mind is that window to a world where you have the most amazing thoughts, but an inability to speak them. Reading this book as a parent, I could empathize with Melody but also with her parents and the challenges they would face raising a child with a severe form of cerebral palsy. I can imagine this would be a powerful mirror for a child who had a similar disability to Melody's and would ease those feelings of being "different" and "the only one like this." 

Out of My Mind painted an interesting picture of schools as places that are not always welcoming for students with disabilities, especially the ones that are obvious and hard to hide. Some teachers were quite awful. Melody's first hand account of finally being included in mainstream classes and desperately wanting to be "normal" was so incredibly moving. Parts near the end really tugged at my heart and there were tears as this book came to an end. Melody's story is one that should be read widely.

I think this book is really important, in addition to being incredibly well-written. I want my students to understand that a person with a disability often has many capabilities and is a person worthy of respect, kindness, and fair treatment. I think Melody's story will encourage kids to see people with disabilities in a whole new way. I hope it might make them think twice before they snap to judge a person. 

I highly, highly recommend Out of My Mind. It is brilliant. I plan on reading it aloud to my third graders for many reasons, one being that I just can't wait to read it again!

4/36 on #MustReadin2016

I also completed 5/36- Peace is Every Step. I read it last month for my book club. The importance of presence, breathing, and knowing that you can be happier right where you are in your life were valuable reminders. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#nf10for10 Favorites!

I am so excited to read all the #nf10for10 posts and get new ideas for books to read! Nonfiction is a favorite genre of mine as an adult, but I'm just really beginning to see the possibilities of nonfiction children's literature. I've been making more of an effort to read aloud nonfiction and it is the go-to genre for many of my students. I don't have a theme this year- this is just a collection of nonfiction books that I've really enjoyed and my third graders have too. 

In no particular order...

Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley

Sit in: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating 

The Cozy Book by Mary Ann Hoberman

Who Would Win? Hornet Vs Wasp by Jerry Pallotta

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
by Barb Rosenstock

A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake by Debra Frasier

I am Lucille Ball by Brad Meltzer

You Nest Here With Me by Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple

Mothers Are Like That by Carol Carrick

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Crenshaw & One for the Murphy's #MustReadin2016


I finished Crenshaw last week. I found myself annoyed at Jackson's parents at times and felt I never really got to know Crenshaw as a character. Since he was an imaginary friend, maybe that was the point.  I love how this book raises awareness about hunger and homelessness and how easy it is to find yourself in a difficult economic situation. Jackson's relationship with his little sister was my favorite part of this book. He was a character with character!


My class read Fish in a Tree for the Global Read Aloud in October and that was the first book I read by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. I loved Fish in a Tree, but was told that One for the Murphy's was a must read.  I'm so glad I listened to those smart friends. One for the Murphy's was a book I could not put down. I read it in one sitting, with tissues nearby. Carly's story immediately drew me in and Mrs. Murphy was an unforgettable character. While I don't feel I could read this to my third graders, I am glad it is a book that lives inside me now. 

33 more to go! :) 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Amplify! #MustReadin2016

1/36 completed! I finished Amplify! Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom this week.  Authors and teachers Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke have written an inspiring and user-friendly book detailing how digital teaching can enhance, and well, amplify learning! A key statement they make in the book is this: "The technology is as transformational as we make it. It's not the tool that counts; it's what we do with it."

Some ideas that I want to try after reading this book:
  • creating a classroom recording booth when students are making audio or video entries into their digital journals. 
  • learning more about vlogs and how I can use them. 
  • look into SonicPics (an app that allows students to enhance images with audio recordings and captions.)
  • teach more into evaluating infographics
  • creating photo book reviews
  • learning how to make book trailers
I really enjoy trying new technology tools to enhance teaching and learning. It's not about the tool, it's about the learning and the ways that the tool can make learning more meaningful, social, and long-lasting! I highly recommend this book!