Back to It #sol

On the commute this morning a few thoughts went through my head.

Why does it feel like one day of work after break erased all the rest and rejuvenation from the winter break?

Yesterday felt like 4 days smashed into one. I travel from building to building and even asked someone a question where I let it slip I thought it was later in the week.

These transitions are not easy for me. I struggle with the weather right now because there is no snow on the ground. I struggle with the abrupt change in schedule from the writing life to the coaching life.

The day even started well:

I had a great morning complete with my coffee ritual.

I wrote even though the words were not flowing easily.

My shower was hot.

I even put on makeup which is not an every day thing.

I picked an outfit I am comfortable in.

I still felt off.

I am exhausted.

Again I think: I’m uncertain how one day of work can unravel 2 weeks of rest.

I know logically this doesn’t make sense and I shouldn’t feel this way.

But I can feel the tears pushing at the backs of my eye and I’m not an emotional person on the drive in.

Yesterday the most energizing part of my day was my creative group ZOOM call.

Tomorrow I will restart again and hope it gets better as the week goes on. Otherwise, just send positive thoughts my way!


5 Education Reflection Questions

I love questions. I love to ask them of others and to reflect on them in my own writing and mind. I have a question collections from reading and also from podcasts. The end of the year is a great time to think about which questions I want to ask more regularly.

Here are 5 Questions I am pondering lately:

  1. What gives me life at work?
  2. What wears me out at work?
  3. Is there anything I can do to eliminate or diminish the effects of #2?
  4. What do I truly want to change?
  5. What do I miss from my teaching life?

Number 5 is the one that is popping out to me the most lately. Being a coach I am often just outside the teaching. I co-teach with others and model lessons but there is something different about having students that are my own day to day.

Student action and reactions to what I plan is exciting to me. I truly look forward to the discussions I have with students.

One thing I did recently was to make the notecatcher for students look like sketchnotes. My model on the large chart paper looks like the student version.

I want my 7th graders to be motivated and I was thinking about how I would like notes to be more fun.

In my own classroom I used to take risks and ask kids in my class all the time to evaluate our practices and reflect. My goal was always to give them strategies they would use forever, not just for the next assignment or test.

I miss the day to day schedule and the micro movements to change students behavior and academic action. I miss family meeting time, the group written chart story and mini-lesson, the independent writing time and conferencing. I miss the many real alouds a day and writing practice time.

I need to incorporate a time blocking schedule to my coaching life. The schedule between 3 offices gets tiresome some weeks. I need to dedicate certain days to certain tasks to keep myself on track and get more focused work completed.

Questions 1, 2, and 3 had me thinking about my first teaching job and a life-changing conversation. A good friend and I in the first building I ever worked in, had a discussion about what I missed about college. She asked me specifically what I missed with the idea that I could incorporate those missed experiences into my life now. The idea was to take the essence of the actions and make it real again. I took that to heart and made some changes that were wonderful.

Question #4 had both a small and large impact on my thinking today. The small impact is a self-editing idea that I learned in high school. A teacher advised reading my piece one sentence at a time, starting at the end. Taking the sentence out of context allowed me to focus on the sentence itself without the content of the story surrounding it. I would be less likely to skip over important details this way.

I would love to be able to work from home a couple days a month but not sure that is possible with the new schedule.

I am always trying to improve my practice!

Please read this piece here.

How to Increase Intentional Student Talk with Protocols

Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on Pexels.com

Protocols are systems used to engage students in intentional talk. The person who is talking is the one who is learning. Using protocols also increases the levels of engagement for every student.

Join me in a workshop to learn how to use protocols with your students.

What is the book that you keep coming back to? What is the text you use in your classroom over and over again no matter what level you teach because it resonates with you and your students?

If you teach a class that isn’t reading or language arts based is there a text that you refer to because it’s just one you love?

I have a friend who loved a book in third grade so much she stole it from her library. She still has it — in fact she ran to her classroom excitedly to come show me the book after workshop at one time.

If you were attending my workshop in real life after you signed in and picked up your workshop point page you would write this text on an index card. We will be using it in just a few minutes.

The secret for some of these actions to work is you must do something with them. Students are more likely to participate and engage if they know their efforts are not wasted.

I’m just not having you arbitrarily write down a book because I want to add it to my Amazon list. We are going to talk about it and make connections.

Now let’s come to the back of the room and form a circle — it may be more of an oval because of how the class is arranged. Please bring your index card with you. We are going to do something called CrewWe are all crew, not passengers. Everyone has a job. We stand in a circle because everyone is equal, there are no sides, and everyone can see each other.

We will introduce ourselves and tell everyone where we teach and then the rest of the group will greet us by name. When you do this with students it is important to use names. There are several students I am sure you can think of that never hear their names in a positive tone throughout the day. Crew builds the culture and the shared accountability in the classroom. It’s important for them to hear their name in a loving supportive way from the teacher and from their fellow crew members..


Crew is made up of three parts — greeting, reading, and closing. Now we are ready for the reading part.

Can someone please give voice to the quote on the screen —

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” — Jim Rohn

Can someone else please give voice to the quote?

For our crew today everyone brought their index card with them which is your Admit Ticket. Now I’m going to have you combine your work from the Admit Ticket protocol with a protocol called Back-to-Back Face-to-Face.

You’re going to share what you wrote on your card and make a connection to the quote we just read about reading.

Back-to-Back Face-to-Face is a protocol where two students find a partner and stand back-to-back. This allows students to have thinking time for what they’re going to say when it is time to share with their partner. Teachers can have students put a thumb up on their chest when they are done thinking so the teacher has a visual clue that everyone is ready. Then the teacher says “face-to-face” and students turn and share. This can be a one-time share or you can have students find another partner and go back to back and face to face and share again to get another perspective.


Tea Party

The next protocol we’re going to move to is called Tea Party. This protocol was created by Kylene Beers. It takes a little more preparation than the protocols we have practiced so far.

I selected an article for you to read. It was cut apart in an intentional way.

Each student gets a piece of the article and independently reads it. On the back of their excerpt or on a separate piece of paper the student writes a prediction of what they think the article is about in a complete sentence.

Then students get in groups. Today I chose groups of three. Within the group share and compare text and predictions.

Then each student receives a copy of the article and reads it independently. Here annotation can be helpful.

Now each individual student finishes the sentence stem of

I used to think ….now I know….

using their first written predictions and their new information learned from the reading.

Back to the same groups and share these statement and formulate a group statement using the same sentence stem. Share out will be the group statement of predictions and new learning.

I particularly like the tea party protocol because it allows students to practice the idea of predicting and then changing their prediction based on new information.

It also allows for individual accountability for the reading and then a group accountability because the group works on writing their own statement


Boxing

The next protocol we’re going to use as one of my new favorites. You will receive a large poster paper for each group. Please draw the boxes to prepare.

You will read the first page only of the article you just received. As a group please log your thoughts about what you already know about the topic and what you want to learn.


Now as a group decide how you want to read the rest of the article — everyone reads it all, or you may chunk it up. After reading, log quotes and new learning in the middle box on your poster.


After your new learning then log a summary within the center box. It can be a picture, a phrase or just one word.

This protocol is one where there’s lots of room for variation for digging in deeper to a worthy text. You can use it for poetry analysis where each group does a chunk of the poetry and digs in deeper to each stanza.

A gallery walk can then be done where each group moves from poster to poster reading their classmates work to learn of everyone’s insights.

Closing

Let’s circle up again in the back of the room. We are going to go around one last time. I would like you to share one word from today that sums up how you are feeling, what you learned, or maybe what your next action is.

Thanks for attending the workshop today!

Tammy L. Breitweiser is a curriculum coach in Northwest Indiana where she is currently dedicated to impacting student achievement in grades 3–6. With more than 24 years of experience, she is a reading advocate who believes reading is the gateway. She is working on a collection of short stories. You can connect with Tammy on Twitter (@tlbreit)or You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Just Breathe #SOL

Yesterday I spent time on a video call with some of my creative companions. We were discussing how we can get overwhelmed by fear. One of the other people said we just have to remember to not look at the big picture all the time and we just need to focus on the next right thing. It reminded me Emily P. Freeman’s book and podcast of the same name.

Yesterday was a frustrating day of work. It was the day of unhappy morning meetings, lost orders, wrong orders, and classroom visits being cancelled. It was one of those days where you wonder why you got into your profession. It’s the day you fantasize about a job where you don’t have to think. I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with a job like that, but my mind went there.

Yesterday I had to assist with a standardized test given to a young third grade class. A group that had never seen scan-tron and didn’t understand the importance of filling in a bubble.

Words came back to me from my years of giving ISTEP+: Fill in the circle completely and make your mark dark. If you need to change an answer, erase your mark completely and make your new mark .

In between each of these 10-minute tests I led them in a breathing exercise as a brain drainer. I had them inhale, fill their lungs and hold the breath. Then we exhaled without any sound. We did three rounds and were all calmer. I’m a yoga teacher and I used to say many times “I need my own yoga today” at the beginning of class.

Yesterday was a day I needed my own breathing exercise. It took a group of young third graders help me along the way. It was the next right thing I needed to do to heal myself.

aerial photo of pine trees


What do you need to heal today?

Writing Voice

Writing With Possibility, Power, and Voice

Yesterday was a district e-learning day. Students were at home with assignments on Google Classroom and teachers were in various buildings all over the district in professional development workshops.

The session I was in charge of was about Cornelius Minor’s writing workshop I attended this summer.

One of the main points is verbalization – the talking before the writing. Minor suggest using visuals that are interesting and relevant to students. Students needs practice with concepts 9-10 times before they have to produce written products that exemplify the concepts.

One of the activities we did was to find a meaningful picture on their phone. Then teachers paired up with someone they did not know and share the story of the picture. It build community and gave everyone practice telling a story they could later writer.

The teachers did quickwrites and sharing protocols. My intent was to have 2 hours of interaction and conversation about writing. I am happy to say – it worked!

I was impressed with the participation and work from these teachers. It made me proud to be part of this profession.

Weekend Coffee Share

Join me for coffee and conversation!

It is Sunday again and the temps are a little cooler here. There is supposed to be a heat wave this week here in the Midwest later this week. I hope it stays away.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this weekend is the anniversary of me moving into the house I am living in now. It is not my forever home and I feel it. The birds do great us every morning as do the bunnies and the baby squirrels. There is lots of green which I adore.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a productive and busy week at work. Lots of conversation and planning which was positive.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am in week 5 of the Artist’s Way program. I am doing my morning pages every day which are three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind. It clears the way for the creative juice to flow. On Thursday night the ideas kept coming for articles and stories and I really wish I could have taken a writing day ALL DAY Friday to massage and nurture those words into pieces but alas the day job and other responsibilities called.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Storyaday is going strong. I have been writing to the prompts everyday and it has been going well. I enjoy the challenge and use it to try different techniques to foster my writing skills. I tried a new genre this week — cyberpunk. It was out of my comfort zone but a fun experiment. I wrote a 100ish word story and still do not like them! hahaha I have met some new writers through the group as well and that has been interesting. The Zoom call was Tuesday night. We did a lot of writing sprints — where we set the time and write all together — but there was some talking. I write in the morning on my own so I show up more for the conversation then the word count. It does get me some extra words. This week I worked on nonfiction during the call.

You can read the whole post here.

Weekend Coffee Share

Thank you for joining me for coffee today on this hot hot summer day! I am so glad you are here with me and it is to be a day full of sunshine.

I am having my regular strong black coffee. What would you like today? I have some iced tea if you like, or do you want something stronger today?

To read the rest of this post please click here. Please comment and clap (I believe you can clap up to 30 times).

Birthday Weekend Coffee Share

I am excited you have joined me for coffee today. It is Father’s day in the US and my birthday. I think we will have some birthday cupcakes this morning to celebrate but no singing.

I am having a Butter Brew coffee with a shot of espresso for the occasion. What would you like today?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week has been full of ups and downs.

To read the rest of this post please click here. Please comment and clap (I believe you can clap up to 30 times).

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday June 9

I am so glad you are joining me for coffee today! This post is inspired by Eclectic Alli. My summer has officially started and I am feeling amazing! Let’s take our coffee and go for a little walk and then we can sit under the trees as the time stretches on.

You can read the rest of the post here. Please clap and comments if you enjoy what you read!

What will you tell me as we are having coffee?

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday June 2

I am so glad you are joining me for coffee today! Today feels special today because it is my second day of summer vacation. This does not mean that I am out of work completely. There are some workshops and training I will be going to but I do not have to drive into work every day. To be home is glorious. I appreciate this schedule change. It usually takes me a week to recalibrate myself but I do not think I will have that issue this year.

You can read the rest of the post here.

Please clap and comments if you enjoy what you read!

Happy Sunday! If you would like to support me additionally you are welcome to buy me a cup of coffee: http://ko-fi.com/tammybreitweiser

What will you tell me while we have coffee?