Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Literacy Connection {Professional Development}

It's a Saturday morning and I drive to the neighboring school district to gather with new and old friends for a day of learning.  Except this kind of pd feels different.  It's not planned for me with someone else's agenda.  I chose to attend today.  It's not a conference with a plethora of speakers and I get to pick and choose my sessions and schedule for the day.  I do enjoy that format.  It's one speaker for the day.  The author of our book study for the year and I can't think of a better way to kick off a book study than working with the author - in the same room!

I am blessed to have spent Saturday with The Literacy Connection and Kristin Ziemke.  Kristin co-authored Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom.  Each time I hear Kristin I am inspired and motivated to use technology in a creative way to show student learning.  I'm motivated to use it as a means for collaboration.  I want to try something immediately.  

Here's a list of learning moments or words I hung on to from spending time with Kristin - 



"Some of the most important lessons aren't my lessons, it's what kids bring."

Visuals are tremendously important.  They educate, equip, and empower us.  Seeing information allows for a greater percentage of recall and travels to our brain much quicker than words.

I've always enjoyed visuals and was happy to learn text and visuals stimulates both hemispheres of the brain.  

I've seen quite a bit about sketch noting and haven't taken the time to find out more.  Kristin shared we are able to grasp information faster than traditional note taking.  I might have to play around with this.  

"It's not about the tech - it's about teaching and thinking not everything has to sparkle and be shiny."

Management Trick - screens go up and there's less collaboration.  Ask students to flip over iPads or close chrome books for learning moments.

Technology doesn't have to be overwhelming.  She kept on urging us to use less tools.  If we help our students learn one new thing each quarter and focus on a 80% creating 20 evaluation we'll be doing great things.

Anchor charts for technology workshop - work too.

Tech is about balance.  She suggested we hook the kids with the tech and bring them to the text.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

OCTM Annual Conference {Math Monday}

Getting to an out of town conference always takes a bit of work and once I'm there, I never regret going.  Last week, I gathered with other state educators at the annual Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics for two days of learning.   The conference theme was Bouncing Mathematical Ideas Around: Connecting and Collaborating in the Rubber City (Akron, OH).  The two days were just that; connecting and learning from and with others.  It's hard to replicate everything said, seen, and pondered so I'll share ten highlights in no particular order.


Juli Dixon shared, when students don’t have access to a productive struggle that becomes an equity issue.  We need to think about just in time scaffolding and not plan for just in case.  Allowing space for productive struggle and discourse.  That discourse could be student to student and student to teacher. 

Many of us live in a time where we are asked to post essential questions and/or learning targets in our classroom.  Juli Dixon urges us to zoom out for these to prevent giving away the punch line.  This encourages discovery and exploration.  I'd like to think of it as a means for fostering inquiry and connections.

Juli Dixon and friends have a new book, Small Group, Big Gains: Leading Effective Pulled Small Group Instruction.  She shared some sneak peaks from it that really nudged my own thinking about math workshop.  The purpose for small group work is for diagnosis and differentiation.  Diagnosis lets us see and hear student thinking up close; discovering misconceptions and understandings.  Differentiation is a place for remediation and enrichment.  

She also suggested small groups aren't needed every day and grouping should be organized in a moderately heterogeneous way.  I loved hearing her support small groups are NOT ability groups.

C-R-A model; Concrete (models), Representational (drawings) and Abstract (equations) was highlighted in two of my sessions.  Both sessions reminded us that at any given time we have students sitting in front of us at each of these stages.

We want to use the CRA model to help build mathematical fluency.

Dan Meyer encourages us to bring surprise back to teaching mathematics.  Good stories have lots of surprises and surprise brings interesting learning.   He had us ponder, What is a mathematical surprise?  He stated, textbooks ruin surprise.  He urged us to make math class more like things our students like to do.

Numberless word problems is something to look at.

I participated in my first 3 Act Math Tasks and would agree the purpose of these activities is to engage our students, understand math is needed in real life and changes math feelings.

Working with numbers abstractly doesn't work...students need numbers in context.  Let's anchor it to How Many pictures and children's literature.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

I Am Human - A Book of Empathy

I knew I Am Human - a Book of Empathy by Susan Verdi and Peter H Reynolds would be beautiful, heart tugging, and filled with guidance.  The book begins with affirmations.  Affirmations are empowering; helping our mindset and mental wellness.  The book shifts to helping the reader understand that being human involves making mistakes, hurting others, and being hurt ourselves.  The authors give the opportunity for readers to think about three emotions; fear, timid, and sadness. I believe the illustrations will guide students to think about their own emotions of fear, timid, and sadness.  It's important we help children and adults navigate different emotions and realize emotions don't always last.  The reader is then presented with ideas for moving forward with examples of choices one can make to turn their feelings around.  The story ends with the best guidance of all; we are not alone and ways we are all connected.

As I finished reading this book yesterday in class, I was reminded how important repeated readings are for increased understanding and thinking.  A student asked me what empathy means when we finished reading the story.  I tried to explain it as the bell rang to end our day.  I spent time rereading the book and finding places where we can discuss and describe empathy tomorrow and on future revisits.  


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley

Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Tracy Subisak reminds me of many children I've had over the years obsessed with a topic.  They are truly experts about their passion.  Shawn is an expert on sharks and can't wait for the predator project selection day.  As you can guess, Shawn does not get sharks and gets really upset when another student in class does.  He gets seals and is quite distraught because sharks eat seals.  The shark and seal topic carries over to a game of chase on the playground even with roles reversed because Shawn use to chase everyone around being a shark.  I love that Shawn reads and as he learns he changes his mind about seals.  He learns how seals would get away from sharks and uses some of these tactics on the playground.  In the end, Shawn learns to love two things and sometimes we have students who need this too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Poor Louie by Tony Fucile

Poor Louie by Tony Fucile is another dog story I explored this weekend from my school library.  As I read the story I kept connecting in our yearly days of marriage with just us and one dog.  The three of us did everything together and then things started to change a bit when a baby was on the way.  As Louie watches new things arrive to his home he realizes he may not be quite prepared for this.  He begins to think there's going to be two new things coming home.  As a reader, I could feel Louie's uneasy feelings through the illustrations.  They are carefully crafted to support this story.  I so desperately want to share the ending of this story but it was a huge surprise to me and one I didn't predict.  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Franki by Mary Sullivan



I love dog stories and I met Franki in my school library.  Franki is written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan.  The text is simple and arranged in a text bubble format.  I found myself wanting to find a class of kindergarteners to read this book to.  Kindergarteners will be so excited to read the word no frequently as Franki adjusts to his new home with another dog, Nico.  Nico doesn't really like to share and Franki thinks everything is his.  All ages will enjoy the ending where Franki finds a solution for claiming his own items and how Nico decides to be a bit like Franki.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

I AM A WARRIOR GODDESS and how I used it in class

This public library book is overdue.  I must return it for others to enjoy and I must personally buy it.  I first shared this title on my 10 for 10 Picture Book Event - Books to Help with Worry.  After reading it with students and using it to foster thinking I wanted to share more about it here.  

I'M A WARRIOR GODDESS by Jennifer Adams and Illustrated by Carme Lemniscates is warm and soft and empowering!  The little girl greets different aspects of  nature each morning to start her day and reads to train her brain.  Next she fills her heart with kindness, "the most powerful weapon there is."  The following pages show scenarios where the little girl is demonstrating an affirmation in action.  She is grateful when she receives flowers and generous when she shares them with someone else.  I love the page when she's painting bold shapes with a paint brush and views herself as fierce.  At the end of her day, she says goodnight to different aspects of nature before going to sleep.  

After reading this text and illustrating our own self portraits, I had my students add their own affirmation.  I love this addition to a project I've done each year.  The students thoughts were sincere and I think they will be helpful on a sad or frustrate day.