Monthly Archives: July 2013

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013


This week I read: some great books! I am still behind in #bookaday and I definitely will not make my goal for #summerthrowdown, but I am hopeful I will get back on track to get  #bookaday going!

I read:

The Joy of Planning: Designing Minilesson Cycles in Grades 3-6

9781601550378_p0_v1_s260x420by Franki Sibberson 5/5 stars and just what I needed to start thinking about planning new units!

One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson

5/5 stars 10388718

Thanks to @loveofxena for the recommendation!

Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm 5/5 stars


6418815Otis by Loren Long

4/5 stars

A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith

4/5 stars197444

Captain Awesome and the New Kid by Stan Kirby and illustrated by George O’Connor

4/5 stars13259774

Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser 4/5 stars



This week I plan to read : Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman and at least six more books!

Happy reading!

Don’t forget to look at and for more great reads!



What’s Popular, Right, Kind

This morning I am thinking about what’s popular and what’s right (and how often these can be in opposition, but that this doesn’t have to be).  Within social media I watch some topics get very hot, reposted multiple times and these are often not the important posts that are really making me think. Often these are quite negative.

I struggle with popularity, perhaps because I have never been popular myself and always wonder what the “magic formula” is. Over and over I tell myself (and I tell my own children and those I teach) that being popular is not always being right, and being kind is what matters even more. Some of these popular posts rip into people in a way that seems very personal. I am okay with people disagreeing, but there seems to almost always be a way to disagree respectfully. I love to hear new ideas, even if I do not always agree with them. I love to think.

I am not a sweet person (as anyone who knows me will tell you), but I am trying to make this blog a place to reflect the me I want to be and that does not mean I will shy away from controversial issues. I have learned so much from people I probably will never meet and I appreciate the open dialogue that social media can enable. I appreciate being a part of the linked world we live in today.

Secretly I want to be kind, right, and popular.

Positive things to focus on  this week include:

Change- so many teachers are talking about the changes they will make in their classrooms this year- together we are better- it is great to think with you!

The How to Learn Math free online course offered through Stanford and taught by Jo Boaler has had me thinking again about fixed mindsets- it is amazing what the brain can do!

Building community- thinking about how to do this locally and globally and glad to have the chance to do this with others- I love the collaboration.

Time- time is so nebulous- sometimes it goes so quickly because we are fully engaged, other times it crawls by when we are not in the moment.

Windows and mirrors- I love this term and how we often look for things that reflect our beliefs and allow us to see ourselves differently (or the same).

This post is the most random I have written (or read) and I am sure it will not make sense to others. It is my 5 minute write this morning.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013


This week I read: Uh, oh! I have really hit a reading slump! Only my time spent in a book store saved my week.

I read:

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle

4/5 stars10585755

Who Owns the Learning by Alan November


4/45 stars for #cyberpd- I loved the discussions this book promoted- big thanks to the hosts(@LauraKomos @jillfisch and @CathyMere for coordination this!


The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

4/5 stars

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

161010185/5 stars

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

160743394/5 stars

Duke by Kirby Larson

5/5 stars


This week I plan to read : One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson (recommended by @Loveofxena, so I am sure it will be great! I will also work on at least one of the professional books waiting for me in my pile!

Happy reading!

Don’t forget to look at and for more great reads!



#Cyber PD Part 3- Who Owns the Learning?

Today Laura Komos‘s blog is the place to be as we share our reflections on the end of the book Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November.

I read the final chapters in a comfortable chair at a canal side bar in sunny Berlin so my reflections may not be as thorough as they should be, but I know I will come back to this book as there are many details I still need to digest!

Chapter 5- The Student as Global Communicator and Collaborator

I was so interested to see how empathy is valued world wide. It is a trait we try hard to teach and I think it is one that needs continued experiences. So many of students I teach struggle to put themselves in somebody else’s position. It is definitely something we talk about a lot. t was interesting to see that in general Europeans are good at valuing multiple perspectives, as I live in the heart of Europe. I wonder how this is measured, because I do not always feel it here.

I was really surprised to see that less than 25% of EPals interactions are US based. I must admit that although I signed up for EPals two years ago I have not really made good use of all of the resources and connections available there, but I have found many other ways to connect globally.

I loved the ideas of all the jobs that could be delegated related to Skypes. We Skype a lot and it would be great to get all of these perspectives involved regularly. I have primarily used Skype in the classroom to connect with authors and illustrators but look forward to using it more broadly. We have used Skype to connect with other classes about certain collaborative events, such as International Dot Day.

Using root zones for research was something I first learned about this spring, but I have not yet explored it much.

Being at an international school I really try to make use of the global perspectives the students in the class and their families can offer. It has been great to have parents and students offer their perspectives as part of our learning.


Chapter 6- Joining Forces in Purposeful Work: The Legacy of Student Contribution

This is something I need to think about more. I like the idea of legacies being left behind and for work to be continually built upon. I have not yet figured out how I will incorporate this into my class.


I look forward to reading about other people’s thinking on Laura’s blog today. The #cyperpd experience has been a great example of many of the points the author made in Who Owns the Learning? I have really benefited from hearing multiple perspectives! I hope that we can connect our classes in the coming year as we explore these ideas further in our classrooms!





July 15, 2013

I have to admit that the last week I have not read as much as I would have liked to, but it is because I have been having so much fun with friends, so that has been good for me too! The books I have read have been awesome! I look forward to sharing them all with my new class in August.

This week I read:


Sidekicks by Dan Santat (in preparation for the upcoming #SharpSchu book club chat).

A digital ARC of The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes.

Keeper by Kathi Appelt.

The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder (Goofballs #1) by Tony Abbott.

Gone Fishing A novel in verse by Tamera Will Wissinger and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Be sure to check out Mentor Texts to see more great books you may want to read!

What Will You Stand Up For?

I am so lucky to live in a time when I can connect to people far away to learn from them. This morning  got some of my daily news from my Facebook feed- so it is filtered through friends’ eyes- which on this day was enough to let me know a few stories needed more of my time.

I spent a lot of time today with friends exploring Mauer Park, in Berlin, which used to be a part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip, but on Sundays is a busy flea market with stands of new and used items of every description, food from many lands and music, both staged and informal coming at you from all sides. Chris Lehman’s blog post, made me reflect on my day. I am lucky enough to be living in a free and undivided Berlin, but in many ways it struggles with many of the same issues that his post brings up. I need to find more ways for my students, who are in an international school to connect with the world outside our bubble – it will be good for all of us.

Once home I reread Donalyn Miller’s Nerdy Book Club post. She reminds us how great it is to be nerdy about something. While walking around the market today I told my friend that I love the way people who know me identify me as someone who reads (a lot!), but that I wanted it to be more evident to people who do not know me well. Well, as often happens, when you look for something you see it everywhere. I found a great t-shirt with a picture of Max and the wild things on it. I wonder what kind of messages people will take away when they see me in that shirt?! I also bought cool earrings  that are made from the sharpened end of purple colored pencils. It made me think of Donalyn reminding us that when we read a book we are looking at art. The earrings also reminded me of International Dot Day  and the importance of knowing that we can and should make our own mark on the world.

This brought me back to thinking about Chris Lehman’s post and the reasons behind it. Our children are growing up in such confusing times. It is so important to be able to give them anchors that they can come back to again and again. We do this in discussions, we do this in shared literature, we do this in valuing their voices, we do this in allowing them time to pursue their own passions.

Thank you to so many people who give children these roots- it really does take us all. I am so glad to have so many smart people in my PLN who help me to to think about what I will stand up for.

Jealous versus Thankful

I have to admit that this summer I have been suffering from some serious conference envy! People I follow on Twitter (some of whom I even know in real life) have been at some amazing events this summer (All Write, ALA2013, nErDcampbc, TCRWP, and others). I have not.  I have decided that I have a choice. I can be jealous and begrudge these people their time at these events, or I can be thankful. Today I finally made my peace with thankful. At #nErDcampbc today people are tweeting like crazy, Google docs are being shared, and there was even a live stream of one of the sessions! I am so grateful that thousands of miles away I can glean a little bit of this excitement and learning. I KNOW that being there virtually can not replace being there in person, but geography and finances do not allow me to attend these conferences, but I am so grateful to the people who are going out of their way to share their learning. I am so grateful for the amazing people in my PLN who help me learn. I am so glad that in this age of technology people still value making connections.

Thank you #nerdybookclub today and every day and thank you to everyone ho shares what they know. Together we really are better!

Cyber PD Chapters 3 and 4

Another late  comer here! I saw all the tweets about #cyberpd, but to be honest the book did not look too interesting to me… until I read a blog post by Mary Lee

that really got me thinking! So, I was hooked- thanks to Amazon I could one click and read it on my Kindle. I got caught up last week, but talked through my reflections with a friend and did not write them down.

Chapter 3 The Student as Scribe

This chapter made me think about how I would like to incorporate this into my third grade classroom. At this point I am not sure it fits into my classroom, as we are an inquiry based class and each person’s notes would by definition be different.

Chapter 4 The Student as Researcher

I have done a bit of this in the past, but have to turn over more of the responsibility to the students. I have generally sat down with them when they were doing this. I think I have to teach online research more thoroughly and then let them take the reins. I liked the idea of looking at information in terms of purpose, author, and place. This helps to give students a more global perspective.


Looking back on Chapters 1 and 2 I will definitely use more time to have students be tutorial designers. I have seen the power of students teaching each other in person and creating screen casts sill multiply that influence. We will definitely ramp up our class blog for the coming year and a student (or group) will be responsible for blogging each day- using text, images, video, etc. Everything is possible!


See Jill Fisch’s site for more reflections

Like a Phoenix

It seems that each break I begin again with my goal of blogging! After several starts (all kept private) this time I have decided to go public. Donalyn Miller recently wrote for Teachers Write  

That post really spoke to me as I have held off blogging publicly because I do not feel like I have anything to contribute to others, so I have thought of my blogging as a digital writers notebook of sorts (really just a digital diary). Her post made me think that this is okay. I do not need to think of my audience as being anyone beyond me. By the way, if you are a teacher have a look at Teachers Write there is so much to learn there! This is the second summer that the fabulous Kate Messner et al have led this free online community and it is a great resource!

This is the third week of my summer break (oh my goodness, the time is flying by!), so I thought that I would share three highlights.

In week one I finally requested a DRC (digital review copy) on Edelweiss. I have been crazily jealous of many of the bloggers I follow who get to read ARCs before the book is out. As I live in Germany this is just not going to happen for me, but I learned that some books are published digitally and that you can request a DRC via Well, that was an exciting discovery and I am thrilled to report that I have now read three 5 star books that way! Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy still has me thinking about friendship, what is real, choices parents make for their children, and many other topics! Kevin Henkes is beloved in my class as a picture book authstrator, but his new book The Year of Billy Miller, will appeal to many of my transitional readers. The voice of Billy is so genuine and expresses so many of the worries kids that age have! The final book, Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, showed yet again that she is a master storyteller. A couple find a young boy on their porch one day and take him in. This book has made me think about the many ways we find home, how miraculous small conversations can be, and how the heart is an amazing thing- there is always room for more love.

Reading these DRCs has made me sure that I want these books in their final form in my classroom and has allowed me to participate in some of the pre book birthday celebratory buzz.

In the second week of break I saw a tweet from Fablevision requesting people to sign up to be ambassadors from a few US states. This led me to explore their website more fully and I saw that they also have a few ambassadors outside the US. As a fan of Fablevision and what they represent I was intrigued and sent in my application. Now I am proud to say that I am a Fablevision Ambassador and I look forward to learning more about the products that I do not not know yet and the opportunities to share what I know with others. I know my school will enthusiastically celebrate International Dot Day again in September and I can’t wait to make more connections this way.

Now, it is week three. Just a few days ago I saw another tweet that caught my eye. Somebody was asking for the link to apply to be a SimpleK12 ambassador. This community offers what they call “PD in your PJs.” They have an abundance of webinars, forums, and other resources that teachers can access at any time. The most amazing thing to me is how much is available for free! I have participated in may webinars offered by big name presenters in the comfort of my living room. Well, off I went to fill in another application form, and I am happy to report that I am now a SimpleK12 ambassador. As I told them I was already unofficially in this position as I have promoted SimpleK12 throughout my school community.

If you have not yet explored these great resources check them out! Tell them I sent you!

I am excited to see what the rest of summer vacation will bring. Happily it has been a tie of some rest and renewal. I have enjoyed the slower pace and the time spent with great friends and great books!

What have been your summer highlights so far? What new opportunities have you found? What books should I read next?

Have a great day!