Today is a special shout out to two wonderful people in my life!
Leanne and Kristin are two ladies who are wonderful human beings and I am SO delighted and grateful they are part of my life! Through training and time this fall we have become so much more connected. They helped me realize I need more connection, not more walls. We have laughed and cried and learned together.
I love you both! Both are amazing educators and coaches and kids and teachers are lucky at the buildings where they are spreading joy and knowledge.
There was a slightly different mix of coaches at this training. I drove into the city this time which was pretty stress free and the drive was full of sunshine.
We used feedback cards after Jim established a procedure for them. Red/Yellow/Green cards can be used with students to show answers really quickly and can also build community. Jim Knight said, “There is power in a collective response.”
A lot of the conversation was around relationships.
We learned how to use several data collection measures which are awesome and actionable. I have used several over the years but these were deep and focused.
One of the specific strategies we talked about was creating a learner-friendly culture. Bill Stickland opened a school that has beautiful things everywhere you look, a building that is full of sunshine and fresh real flowers.
He believes that change can only happen if you see change, including your surroundings. I have the book on hold at the library and am looking forward to it coming in.
Many of the conversations throughout the day continually reminded me that little things matter to ALL people. The thoughtful note, the smile, the nod, the acknowledgement of you being in front of someone…and the sunlight and the flowers.
How do you make your learner space inviting? This could be a writer space or a teaching space. What are your sunlight and flowers? Enjoy them today and share with someone else.
Last Wednesday I hosted Workshop Wednesday during team times. The invitation was specifically sent out to the English teachers but everyone was welcome as always. The email informed the staff the topic was Independent Reading. This meeting is voluntary so I always let staff know ahead of time so there is no surprise. I was pleasantly surprised myself when my content teachers showed up as well. Their attendance really showcases how dedicated they are to the new reading culture in our middle school.
Last year there was not consistent Silent Sustained Reading, Independent reading, or choice reading. It doesn’t matter what the label was, but there was not enough time or support it seemed to pull it off.
It was decided with the new block scheduling this year there was time to implement Independent reading time. Now is the time where teachers have tried various components and how to differentiate for their classes and students. I am so proud that all of the teachers who keep the choice piece sacred. All the decisions made were around that central idea.
The purpose of the meeting was to celebrate reading in our building and the culture they are all perpetuating. It was also to make lists of what was the reality of the reading time and what we want to make consistent across the school. To make a school wide definition decided by the teachers – not anyone else.
It was a great discussion about conferencing, book talks, reading identity, first chapter Friday and what it looked like and sounded like in their respective classrooms.
We talked about what they needed and how to make reading spaces more inviting.
There was celebration about reading memories, students asking for more reading time, and books disappearing because the students want to read them so badly.
Taking inspiration from THE ART OF GATHERING by Priya Parker, I had my version of “15 Toasts”. I had silly plastic champagne glasses with sparkling water. Everyone had a toast to make in the area of a reading memory or the first memory they had of reading. One teacher shared she sat in the back of her third grade classroom because it was where the bookcases were and she could snatch books and read no matter what subject was being taught. There was one book that she loved so much she stole. She still has it! After the meeting she came to show me the book!
I also incorporated the Google Jamboard which I had never used before. It is designed to be used on an interactive white board but I just used the post it note function for everyone to share something exciting going on in their classrooms. I hope to foster some relationships between teachers to visit each other’s rooms and share ideas that are working.
I am excited for the conversation when I can get all the stakeholders together and make some decisions for the achievement of our teachers and the students!
I participated in a virtual write-in on Thursday evening for NaNoWriMo. My online writing group who is awesome were on a Zoom call all together. If you haven’t ever used Zoom it is a video conference call free program. It is nice to be able to see everyone. There is a chat feature and video and audio controls as well.
We logged in, chatted a few minutes, and then got to writing. We did two 15 minute sprints. It is nice to write with people that you know. It is a comfort somehow that we are not alone. It was also oddly comforting to hear the clicking of other people’s keyboards.
Encouragement from my tribe is a good thing. They help me along.
Inspiration Number 2
I read a story but Kimberly Lojewski today about a hot air balloon, a strange island, and treasure called About The Hiding Of Buried Treasure. It is so well written and fun!
Inspiration Number 3
I had my 7th-grade writers group Thursday and they were wonderful! I started with them filling out a card with the sentence stem: I WISH PEOPLE KNEW… The responses were honest and raw.
Then we wrote to my prompt of requiring 4 words to be a major part of the story. The writing was the best I have seen from them.
If you would like a link to the cards I created just click below:
DOK (Depth of Knowledge) is a scale for questioning I utilize with teachers and students.
Level 3: Strategic Thinking Characteristics
Requires deep knowledge
Students encouraged to go beyond text
Students asked to explain, generalize, or connect ideas
Students must be able to support their thinking, citing references from the text or other sources
Items may involve abstract theme identification, inferences between or across passages, application of prior knowledge, or text support for analytical judgment about a text
2 Strategies for increasing the rigor and use of questioning
Have students write their own questions relevant to the content of the class using DOK question stems.
Not only is this a great creation exercise for students but it also hyper focuses their attention on the content and what is important to know. The students find out quickly that higher level questions are not always the easiest item to write!
DOK 3 Sentence Stems
How is ____ related to ____?
What conclusions can you draw _____?
How would you adapt____to create a different____?
How would you test____?
Can you predict the outcome if____?
What is the best answer? Why?
What conclusion can be drawn from these three texts?
What is your interpretation of this text? Support your rationale.
How would you describe the sequence of____?
What facts would you select to support____?
Can you elaborate on the reason____?
What would happen if___?
Can you formulate a theory for___?
How would you test___?
Can you elaborate on the reason___?
Questions and ideas should be the ax that breaks open the frozen sea within us.
2. Plan your questions ahead of time and WRITE THEM DOWN
No matter how many years you have been teaching this is a strategy worth trying. If you formulate several questions before the lesson using the higher levels then your mindset is changed and you will move forward from the higher level questioning rather than go back to more knowledge or surface level questioning. When we meet students where they are we sometimes rely too heavily on the knowledge-based questions or DOK 1 that only have one answer.
My teachers are working on this concept today! I hope that you find it helpful or at least a reminder of a practice you haven’t thought about in a while! As a coach, I have offered to visit classrooms and script just the questions the teachers are asking so we can analyze them later. We often don’t realize the questions we are actually asking!
I was honored to be able to attend the Indiana State Literacy Association (ISRA) Fall conference. I used to be heavily involved with this organization when it was still called ISRA (Indiana State Reading Association).
The main reason I wanted to attend was because Pernille Ripp was the keynote speaker. I was not disappointed in either her keynote or her breakout session. She is a unique educator and reading warrior and a seventh grade English teacher.
Here are some highlights!
Her keynote was full of great educational wisdom and in the fashion of a true writer, she used her unique voice and uttered several funny statements.
Pernille was able to live in the United States with her mother on 3 occasions in her childhood. When she was 18 she moved to Wisconsin where she said,
“I met a boy.
That boy introduced me to a much better boy.
She started teaching in 4th grade (Like me!) and she said, “I graduated college with my fictitious lesson plans.” This made me laugh because it is true! I know in college we learn the whole process but my lesson plans never look like the ones from college in the “real teaching world”
“I know the student through the stories that we share.”
“If I know the books you like I know you more deeply as a person.”
Reading needs to be fun.
We cannot say that reading is the most important and then not give them time to read!
To Create Readers We Need:
Inclusive libraries – kids read more when they are surrounded by books. Even if the school library is right outside your door, that sometimes is too far. You need books in your room.
Sacred time to read
Exploration of self and reading identity
Choice to discover what they like or dislike
Relevant and meaningful work
Building a community of readers
The question that stayed with me:
How do we protect the hope of readers?
Her breakout session was about picture books and how to use them in the classroom. She reads a picture book to her 7th graders on the first day of school to kick the year off correctly.
My Amazon cart and library holds are going to be busy bees!!
If you have the chance to hear her speak, do it! She is inspiring and heartwarming.
Who is a professional you would love to hear speak?
Do you know author Jason Reynolds? Not only is he an amazing writer, but an inspirational speaker as well. If you have not listened to his commencement speech for Lesley University, take 10 minutes out of your day and click play.
If you only have a couple minutes start at 7:20. This timestamp is where Jason talks about how some of us cannot fly and change the world because our wings have been clipped. He talks about how instead of flying high above everyone beyond the common understanding, to look around and Share Your Feathers so everyone is lifted up to a new consciousness.
I am grateful to the teachers I was surrounded with at the end of July who were totally absorbed in this speech. Not only did we listen and watch the video but we had the text in front of us and used it as a reference to write a response in various forms. There are parts of this speech that are heartbreaking and that will stay with you.
For my writing that day, I wrote a poem that I was able to share with a partner as a read aloud. I am still revising it. I wrote it to be so specific for that day’s activities so it wouldn’t make much sense to anyone that didn’t attend the meeting right now!
This is the first week of school and the year is already filled with abundant amounts of adventure and confusion!
This is the email I sent to my teachers 2 weeks before school started:
Good summer to you!
I am sharing a Google Doc with each of you individually with some questions to answer. I will be sharing a separate doc with my own answers as well.
One of my goals is for us to have the most powerful and dynamic working relationship. In order to respect everyone’s learning styles, I am sending this doc this week. I know some of you like to marinate a little longer than others.
I will send it again closer to starting school! I want to meet with everyone for about a minimum of 10 min to talk about the year either through tech or face to face. I will be sending a schedule Aug 13th.
Have a great rest of the summer and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running.