Monthly Archives: July 2019

A New Start!


#sol19- July 30, 2019

The new school year always feels like a fresh start and I love that. This year that feeling is compounded because I was moving apartments. I arrived back in town late Tuesday (hence my lack of slice last week) and bright and early Friday I was set to move. Thursday afternoon I got to pick up the keys and did a quick walkthrough with the manager. I was so excited! I knew when I moved into my previous apartment that I would probably only stay there for a year, but I felt I really lucked out in the new one. Here are pictures from before the move in.

Of course, moving day was a flurry of activity, but that night I looked out over my neighborhood and was filled with positive energy. Five days later here are my top five favorite things about the new place:

  • I am so close to so much (I love cities, particularly this one and I love being able to access things easily).
  • The apartment is so quiet- the windows actually keep out almost all sound- in the previous apartment I was plagued by barking dogs outside and loud KTV music (karaoke) from places blocks away.
  • The air conditioner works so well- it is quick and cool!
  • There is a lovely pool and a gym (and am determined to use them both.
  • The management is so good- they are eager to help.

My number one positive is that it really feels like home already- it is so comfortable (and because it is smaller than the last apartment it has forced me to purge a bit-always a bonus!). It is a great start to a new year!


A former student slicing.




#cyberpd Week 3- Chapters 8-10

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Chapter 8- Small-Group Instruction-this is definitely an area I have lots of scope to improve- I tend to focus on individual conferences and I know I can get more done if I use small groups more purposefully and one way is via planning a short course of study- a goal for the first semester!

Chapter 9- Share Sessions- I loved thinking about sharing as falling into one of their four categories: craft, process, progress, or reflection. I had never considered it that clearly. I also appreciated the stems on p. 145.

Chapter 10- Strategic Instruction in Grammar, Conventions, and Spelling- This is something I have tried to include more in recent years (although last year my spelling instruction was poor, so I appreciated the spelling strategies on page 155 and the self-assessment on page 157. This chapter is one I feel my current school could spend some time on to build some more cohesion.

Friends in France


#sol19- July 16, 2019

Friday night I began the last part of my summer travels- I will spare you that saga but focus today on one of the perks of being in France- the morning trek to the bakery. We are staying in a very large, very old, country home in Central France, 15 kilometers from the “city” of Chateau Chinon. At the moment there are ten of us here, with many more to come on Friday. Four of us are sleeping in the library and it is very nearly perfect. We stay up too late laughing and one by one wake up. Usually, I stay in bed reading(I say that after having only two other mornings here), but today, when L. got up she asked if I wanted to walk to the bakery, so I leaped up!

Our walk to the bakery started with a steep hill and I huffed and puffed, but luckily it wasn’t all uphill. We stopped at the bakery, made our choices for others(neither of us would be eating the treats) and walked a complete circle back to the house. The views are so bucolic. Life is good here!

Later in the day, we will be entertained by all the sheep and cows grazing nearby, but for now, it is breakfast time and I am enjoying the quiet time here.



A former student keeps slicing.


#cyberpd Week 2 (late…)

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Chapters 5-7

Reminders that helped me in Chapter 5- Whole-Class Instruction:

Be explicit- make sure students and teachers are clear at the outset of their roles during minilessons, about the different types of minilessons, how to use minilessons (as an aside, Stacey’s book has really helped me “mine” texts to use).

in Chapter 6- Independent Writing Time:

5-10 minutes at the start being a silent time (for the teacher and the students (teacher kidwatches and makes notes, students work independently). This would be a great habit for me!

In Chapter 7- Conferring:

I loved the cheat sheet on p. 98 as a way to have some ready questions to get teachers started. Sticky note conferences are also new to me (and I can definitely see their use). I realize I can do more to teach into peer conferring, again have to be more explicit in roles, always struggle with “best” documentation forms, and now have some more ideas for toolkits.

This book is proving to be a great one to help me get my head around some of the bigger ideas in workshop that I want to share with colleagues in August.

Breathing In


#sol19- July 2, 2019

Summer breathing is different. I am in different homes, with different routines, and although it does not always feel peaceful, it does give me more time to reflect. A few weeks ago when I looked at my summer ahead it looked a little too packed, and so keeping in mind my OLW, intentional, I made some adjustments- eliminated one online course and added a few online book studies… so now as we have just passed the halfway mark of 2019 I am taking some time to reflect on that word- intentionally.

In my initial post, I talked about intentionally choosing pd to help me grow- I have continued on this path. Already this summer I have finished up an online course for math (which helps me recertify too- win!) and been reading like mad (both professionally and personally-both feed me!). I am really excited about the way that some of these online book studies really push me- join me in #cyberpd (where we are reading Welcome to the Writing Workshop), Math Running Records in Action (on the Build Math Minds Facebook group), Literacy Essentials (on the Stenhouse Book Study Group page on Facebook), or any one of a great bunch of books on the Book Love Summer Book Club 2019 Facebook page. I also had lost of fun at ALA last week and look forward to nErDcampMI next week. I need to push myself to do more writing this summer…

Then there is another part of my intentionality. I am trying to be more social… Next weekend I fly to France for 12 days for a get together with a group of great friends for 12 lovely days! While in the US with friends and family I am trying to be more intentional with my time- last night saw me at a Japanese animation film my mom really wanted to see (and I enjoyed it). I am getting some of my shopping done online so that I do not need to have my mom go all over time with me for things that she does not enjoy (we both hate shopping, so a win for us both). I am trying to combine more things, so there is more time to sloooow down! She is not a great walker, so this gives us more time to sit and chat too (or read next to each other-ha!). With my dad, I arranged to travel with him from DC to Boston so we would have 8 hours together in addition to a day at museums and dinner out (more time than I usually get with him in the summer). I am trying to get together with a few friends here (something I enjoy once it happens, but sometimes I hesitate to reach out).

I am taking more steps to live (a bit) more sustainably (both of my parents have complained a bit about my “gentle” nudges to move them along too… I love the refill station near my apartment in Phnom Penh.

Being part of The Ed Collab’s Global Kind Project again this spring was great to intentionally lean into more kindness. I loved seeing what the kids came up with and look forward to more learning with the Spreading Kindness Club that a few of them started and want to continue in August.

My major fail so far is that I really planned to buy a ukulele and start learning it- luckily there are still six months left to the year, so I am not giving up on that yet.

Now, after taking this look back I am looking forward to continuing with this word!


Slice from a former student still slicing.



#cyberpd- Week 1 2019

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Each spring I pester poor Cathy and Michelle way before they are ready to think about another summer of #cyberpd because I want to make sure I get the book involved and my summer plans are always a little frenetic. They are ever patient with me and I am always excited when the choice is FINALLY revealed on June 1:)

This year’s choice of Welcome to Writing Workshop by Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman is another great pick. It is another example of just in time teaching for me, as I am about to start my second year at a school where a workshop model is not (yet) the norm, but I am hopeful it will be soon. In addition to reinforcing and extending my thinking, it gives me great talking points, references, videos to share, and many other resources as well.

Reflections on Chapters 1-4- my favorite parts

Chapter 1- What Is Writing Workshop?

I like that the authors reinforce that we need to be teachers of writers who write. This is something I finally came to about five years ago and it has made all the difference for me. I appreciate:

  • The definitions of terminology- some of these terms are not so easy to define on the spot.
  • I love the idea of next steps in conferences being an offering of a “polish”
  • The writing processes are detailed here with a reminder that it is not linear.
  • A chart to compare traditional and workshop- great for teachers making a shift to see!

Chapter 2- The “Write” Environment

  • Last year (maybe for the first time?!) we created a discussion guidelines chart as a class and it was so helpful- the chart on page 28 had good reminders
  • I loved the pictures of the classrooms!

Chapter 3- A Community of Writers

  • My favorite part in this chapter was the ideas for share sessions and it reminded me to look back to Jennifer Serravallo’s Writing Strategies book because I remember it had lots of ideas too- I need to do a better job of celebrations!
  • I love engagement inventories.

Chapter 4- Classroom Management

  • The chart on page 64 with ideas about what students can do during writing workshop is one I need to create with my students because I so often have students asking, “Can I…?” My answer is always “It is your writing time, so your choice.” The chart will help students be more independent with their decision making.
  • I liked the reminder to have groups come up with agreements for group work- I do this during book clubs, why haven’t I for group writing work?

Now I look forward to reading the rest of the book (and figuring out how I can share/push these ideas with colleagues who are at various stages of interest in workshop- would love your ideas with that!).