Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#nf10for10 Sneak Peak {Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday}

It's been a long time since I joined Alyson for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday but I knew I wanted to "launch" my #nf10for10 rally with those who are dedicated to nonfiction books.  I haven't joined this community in quite some time.  That doesn't mean I'm not reading nonfiction.  That doesn't mean I don't value nonfiction and it doesn't mean I've stopped sharing books.

But I do have a confession.  When I realized this event was right around the corner I questioned, do we really need it?  We are all busy.  There's so much goodness being shared about books already.  I questioned why and discovered...

1.  It's our 5th anniversary!  Anniversaries need to keep happening.
2.  I love projects with Cathy Mere.
3.  I love the connections people make with others who enjoy nonfiction books.
4.  I love friends who are willing to look at nonfiction books closer.
5.  Nonfiction books are different and need to highlighted, shared, and loved.

So, while these reasons appear to be a bit selfish, I bet anyone who has participated in either nonfiction 10 for 10 or our picture book 10 for 10 events might feel the same way.  So, I'd love to have you, your teammate, your friend, your neighbor - anyone you know should join us.  

In 2010 Cathy and I hosted our first picture book event.  In 2013, Julie Balen suggested we add a nonfiction picture book event that worked the same.  Participants choose 10 - well, usually 10 (they're a crafty bunch) - nonfiction picture books to share.  On the day of the event, we'll ask that you visit the Google Community site to add your nonfiction link to the 2017 #nf10for10 tab

  • What:  10 nonfiction picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Friday, February 10th
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2017 #nf10for10 page of our Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.  
  • How:  Stop by our community site, join the community, and share your favorites on February 10th. 

Please spread the news and help us generate excitement.  Here's a sneak peak for one book that will be on my list this year.  You'll have to stop by on February 10th to find out why.

Thank you Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for hosting Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Can you count backwards from 100 by 7s? {Math Monday}

My in-laws were here over the holidays and my father in-law mentioned he just had his annual physical and everything went well.  He shared they asked him to do two tasks and he thought it was to show mental wellness.  When he told me the first task, I knew right away he passed that with flying colors.  He had to recite the alphabet backwards and he's been doing that for as long as I have known him.  A task I can't do.  

When he shared the next task I was worried but he didn't act worried.  The task was to subtract 7 from 100 down to 0-ish.  He didn't let on he couldn't do this or that he struggled so I wanted to know more and started an investigation.   I was envisioning regrouping mentally and I was stumped because it was taking me too long to think it through.  I asked him how he figured this out and he said, "oh it was easy - you subtract 7 one time and then subtract 10, adding back 3 each time."  I had to ponder and visualize this; only to confirm he was right.

I would assume much of my father in-laws math education involved learning how to regroup.  I was so proud of him for using an effective strategy to show his mental wellness.  Often parents I work with struggle to understand how strategies other than regrouping can make sense and be effective.  I'm going to share this little nugget with people when they need a concrete example for why we teach different strategies.

I also think this is a great story to share with students who also need to know why we study things and why different strategies can be helpful.

Friday, January 13, 2017

NOW {Poetry Friday}


What do you love to do?
Make time for it.
Work will be there
Always constant
Love is fleeting
So is a sunrise
The bloom of an iris
A walk in the park
A child’s laughter
Time with a friend

What do you love to do?
Go do it, savor it


Regie Routman

Reggie Routman closes her book, Teaching Essentials with this poem.  I read this title back in 2011 and shared the poem during the summer months.  It hangs on my inspiration board as a guiding reminder.  These thoughts shouldn't wait until summer for educators and they seemed like a great way to start a new year.

Thank you to Keri at Keri Recommends for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence

Last month I travelled with DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts, enjoying it all.  I had recently heard Kate speak at our local Literacy Connection session and wanted to dig in deeper.  If you are looking for a little professional nudge, over the upcoming winter break then this book might be for you to look at.  I felt more positive, hopeful, and gathered some tips to make my own work and the work of my students more meaningful.

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- start demonstration notebooks to show students how during conferencing and not just in literacy, try one for math
- get the teaching tools off the walls and into the hands of students with bookmarks
- personalize bookmarks with strategies and steps to help students own the learning
- carefully think about the how to demonstrate bigger strategy ideas
- try micro-progression to show the desired outcome and journey learners can take

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"True learning happens when students get the instruction that fits their needs, have the agency and motivation to work hard, and remember and recycle what they've learned."

"Research also shows that people who write down their goals and share them with others are 33 percent more successful in accomplishing these goals."

"Each tool focuses on a skill students need (what they need to learn to do better) and strategies (ways to help students learn and perform that skill on their own).

"Your students can be more thoughtful about what strategies they use in their reading and writing, and they can hold onto your teaching as time goes on.  They just need a little help."

"When we find ways to differentiate our teaching the conserve our energy, we are able to do more than just deliver lessons."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Top Ten Things I Heard that Filled My Heart at #NCTE16

As I sat in the Atlanta, GA airport last night I looked around at the nine of us visiting with each other and thought I leave with a full heart.  My heart is full because I felt encouragement, hope, and warmth while I attended NCTE.  Yes, the temperature was warm when we landed in Atlanta and enjoyed our lunch outside but the warmth in my heart is from spending time with friends.   

Friends is defined at as; a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard or a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter:

These definitions help me make sense of why my heart is full.  I spent time with old, new, and wanna be friends.  I passed lots of strangers but I never felt uncomfortable. I felt this year especially, the NCTE planning committee, volunteers, and attendees all came to give each other a lift because we do have common feelings about the work we do and live within our classrooms and out of our classrooms.

This list of Top Ten Things I Heard that Filled My Heart at #NCTE16 will just touch the surface from my two days, if you would like to know more about something let me know.

10.  "Words alone can make a story hard to figure out but illustrations help pull the story through." - Erin Stead.  She gave an example of just the words for a picture book without the illustrations; typed on one page and then we read the words with the illustrations spread across pages.  The meaning was truly stretched and strengthened.

9.  "It's not about a level, it's about a process.  We want the same effort for print and meaning strategies.  They often become unbalanced." - Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins

8.  Author, Kate Kine hated hyphenated words as a young reader and now she makes sure they don't show up in the books she's writing.

7. Matt Glover encouraged teachers to give students choice for the type of genre they want to write and not just topic choice within a school year, and shared several examples of just how powerful this is. 

6. "Conferencing gets to the heart of lifelong reading." - Karen Biggs Tucker

5.  "Trust your wisdom and connect it to observation and data ." - Terry Thompson

4.  "Our job is to watch, to notice and listen so closely, so we can connect those dots." - Tammy Mulligan and Claire Landrigan

3.  We often feed into their weaknesses, why not feed into their strengths.  We saw an example where painting led to powerful writing.  "I chose orange it makes me think of disappointment."  Cheryl Tyler

2.  "Creating is not magic, creating is for everyone." - Bill Bass

1.  "Students need to read powerful stories of the human condition.  Courage is not something you say but something you manifest." - Ernest Morrill

Monday, November 14, 2016

Learning with Kate Roberts and The Literacy Connection

This past Saturday, I took time to learn with our local professional group The Literacy Connection and Kate Roberts.  Kate Roberts came to spend time with us as we think through her new book, DIY Literacy.  Kate is delightful, uplifting, and offers sound advice as we think about instructing our students in reading and writing.  The only downside to our day together was the lack of wifi which limited our tweets for sharing our learning.  While it was great to stay in the moment, I might have shared these thoughts.

Look for the moments when you are frustrated and/or you say things in your head, I've already done this or said that - that's when a tool might be needed.

We want tools to be personal, responsive, supportive and lead to independence.

We have this weird idea – kids should be working really hard all day, its not healthy or necessary.

A bit part of tool making is personal, it isn’t perfect.

More tools are better than perfect tools.

I know this past summer the #cyberpd community read this book and had lots of grand discussions around it.  Authors Kate and Maggie released some wonderful videos at the website for readers to watch.  I have a confession, because this book is marketed for third grade and up I didn't order it for my summer pd stack.  I knew I was missing out on something but was determined to stick to my already purchased reading plan.  I think this book is going in my bags to #ncte16.  I'm so excited to read and learn more about demonstration notebooks, learning progressions, and chart planning.

Kate will be back in the spring, if you are local and would like to hear her speak.