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.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Page by Page vs Entire Poem {Poetry Friday}

Just recently, I was showing my students that sometimes one poem can be a whole book.  Up until now I had only been sharing anthologies of poetry.  We were reading Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater when one student at the end asked me to read the entire poem together when they saw it as one piece near the end of the book.  My first reaction was - was just read the poem but okay.  I reread the poem and it did sound different.  My voice felt different.  The mood felt different.  My students were raising their hands with excitement to share with these responses.

-it was more catchy

-I noticed there were more rhyming words

-it made more sense

-there wasn't any pausing

Maybe turning the pages does create longer pauses making the flow of the poem a bit fragmented.  However, I love being able to focus on one bird at a time and study the illustrations.  Either way, this day my students taught me to read the poem across the pages and again as one piece to hear a different voice and notice more of the craft.  

Thank you to Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting Poetry Friday.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Low Floor High Ceiling Problems {Math Monday}

Several sessions at OCTM - Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics mentioned and sited resources for Low Floor High Ceiling math problems.  These are problems everyone can have success and be engaged with.  If you would like more information has this great article, Using Low Threshold High Ceiling Tasks in Ordinary Classrooms.  I made a padlet with direct links to some fabulous resources for a staff meeting this week and thought this might be interesting for my readers. If you have a resource to add to the padlet, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Made with Padlet

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rereading for Meaning {Poetry Friday}


I threw 
a small water balloon.
That's all.

I hid.
I tossed.
I ran.

My victim knows, 
and lies in wait
with the garden hose.

by  Kristine O'Connell George

I shared this poem a few weeks ago with my second graders and I thought they would have a reaction to the ending of, "Oh, no!" but they didn't.  The room was silent.  I thought it was a great topic for young students.  There's a great illustration with it in the book - The Great Frog Race and Other Poems by Kristine O'Connell George.  I didn't want to tell them my reaction so I decided to reread the poem.  I started to see some eyes and eyebrows twitching a bit, a tall tell sign some thinking was flickering.  I reread it a third time and the reaction I was hoping for came and I was reminded that rereading for meaning might be easier with short poetry pieces.

Thank you Laura at Writing the World for Kids for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #ohioctm16, a Math Conference! {Math Monday}

This past Thursday and Friday I had the privilege to attend our local state math conference.  This wasn't my first time to attend and it won't be my last.  This year the conference had more attendees, more sessions, big ideas, and I found myself finding great ideas shared and/or new learning in each session.  Passion fosters excitement and the presenters I spent time with were passionate, positive, and became my heroes.  This list will just touch the surface from my two days, if you would like to know more about something let me know.

Top Ten Things I heard from Math Heroes while at #ohioctm16, a Math Conference!

10. - is interactive and has relevant media to promote mathematics.  It can be personalized and is aligned to the common core.  The layout is much like Discovery Education.

9.  Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler is a must read and her website has a wealth of low floor to high ceiling type problems we should be using in our classrooms.  These types of problems can be presented to the whole classroom and allow for varying levels and needs be successful.

8.  RTI doesn't mean same materials for all but watered down or taught again in smaller groups.  Tier 1 groups might get some front loading for the next lesson.   Tier 2 students might need some reteaching and a little detective work to figure out where their breakdown is for the concept being taught.  Tier 3 students need different instruction and lots of reteaching in very small groups, 1 - 3 students. 

7.  For Tier 2 students you might want to look at Cognition Based Assessments by Mike Battista to figure out the understandings your students have and need.  Mike Battista is a professor at The Ohio State University.  In each of his books, he offers an assessment and suggestions for activities based on student responses.  There is also an insightful trajectory for learning.   

5.  Zearn is a computer system that goes well with Eureka Math aka ENY.  You have to register for it but it's free and is based around a growth mindset.  These videos are about the mini lesson being taught and offers another way for students to learn via reteaching a concept, a possibility for Tier 3 students along with Do the Math by Marilyn Burns.  

6.  Engage NY was written for the state of New York and is now found with big updates in K, 2, and 6 at  They have parent components, videos, all the lessons and things needed to teach their lessons.  There are even some games included.  You have to register for an account but again this is a free resource.

5. "data can look good, but we might be teaching them shortcuts instead of learning the mathematics" from Carl Jones.  He has been a long time member of OCTM and is now a professional development coordinator with a website to check out.   He spoke a lot about mathematical mindsets too and things to make instruction better.  

4. Fact fluency is more than the basic facts.  It's subtizing, unitizing, ten frames - any visual recognition of number arrangements.  Sprints by Eureka Math were the only suggestion offered to help with fact fluency involving paper and pencil.  Games were mentioned in several sessions because they offer practice in a fun, engaging, and meaningful way.

3. "remembering is a different part of your brain than rote memorizing" in a session where Char Shryock spoke about the importance of using games and offered suggestions for hosting Family Game nights with a concept focus to help parents understand different strategies. You will want to catch her blog

2.  No more timed fluency tests came up in several sessions.  This fact was shared by Kim Sutton, "Timed math fact test are good for 17% of the learners, these students thrive on getting faster."  Jon VandeWalle found in his research; if you must do fluency test 3 seconds per problem orally and if written 5 seconds per problem.  

1.  The conference, #ohioctm17 will be in my hometown next year, Columbus Ohio.  I hope you'll consider joining us and watch the OCTM website for more information.