#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!).




Summer Learning


#sol19- June 25, 2019

It is no secret that I am a self-professed nerd and LOVE summer PD- I plan it into my summer because truly I feel happier when I have some structure to my summer and I know I do not have as much time to catch up on some PD once school is back in session. I also look forward to time seeing friends and family in the summer (of course), so I search out ways to combine both of these wants.

My younger son is in Washington, DC this summer for an internship, so I looked for PD I could do while visiting with him (last year there was a Scholastic Reading Summit I went to while he was in Chicago). Lo and behold ALA was in DC this summer-so I jumped at the chance and signed up! I have to admit it- I was sold simply by the facts that Jason Reynolds was going to open the event and that friends spoke highly about it in the past.

I was serious about getting a good seat to see him and happily sat in the auditorium and read while waiting (and therefore had a seat in the front row). A few small snippets are below, but let me reassure you if you ever get the chance to hear him speak-go. Later in the conference I got the chance to stand in line to “meet” him and was given an arc of his upcoming book, Look Both Ways as well as Lu, the finale of his Track series, which he signed.



A little more about his speech is here.

Four days later and the conference is over. I have just finished Look Both Ways (it is out in October- preorder it now!) and his words make me feel both hopeful and hopeless at the same time.

I spent lots of the rest of the conference time waiting in lines to see other authors and get books signed-worth every minute to me. My third graders will have lots of new books that the author has actually touched! I learned it costs $101.80 to send a large flat rate priority box to Cambodia (and did that twice) because I want to be able to share so many great, new books with my future students (and the former students who will also borrow books). The conference reminded me again and again of the role of libraries and although I am a teacher, not a librarian, I want our class library to be an important part of our room, so I know that I have to keep adding to it. Last night when I watched more of Jason Renolds’ words in Dear Dreamer, I was struck by his observation that he does not want future generations to necessarily be reading his books, as language has to be constantly evolving, which is a good push for me to make sure I am weeding our library as well as growing it, so the great books have room to shine. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing authors in person and know that their words will speak to kids in 3EV!


A slice from a former student.


The Hidden Hazard of Travel


#sol19-June 18, 2019

I was so smug. Sure I had traveled approximately a zillion miles and 13 time zones, but I was a seasoned pro and “jet lag does not really bother me on this kind of trip”. Sure I had missed almost an entire night’s sleep, but I “made up for it” the first night, successfully staying up until 9 PM and then sleeping through until 11 AM-unheard of! Night two was a little harder- harder to fall asleep, but I slept through until 6:30, so I was “fine”.

Then, there was night three…I was tired, so I headed to bed at about 9 and I fell asleep relatively quickly. I slept for 10 minutes and then I didn’t. I tried all my usual tricks- reading a bit more, counting slow breaths, listening to a sleep story (for the first time I heard one all the way through), then gave up and checked my phone, answered messages, read some more, and… nothing. I heard everything- my mom’s TV, then later her podcasts, her neighbors outside, the noises of the neighborhood, and then finally the birds. At 4:30 I sent her a message; “It is 4:30 and I have not slept yet, so if I finally do fall asleep I will probably sleep late.” A little while later I did fall asleep- and woke up just before 11.

So here I sit, on day three-feeling headachy and groggy and knowing that my body does, in fact, feel the jet lag. Ugh! Being the eternal optimist I am telling myself that now I have cracked it and tonight my sleep will be normal (knowing that all day tomorrow I will be on a train to my next destination and I have a heap of work planned for that time, but the gentle rocking motion of the train may end up being a perfect soporific).

Here’s to jet lag, my old nemesis- the hidden hazard of travel. I can’t complain- this trip is my chance to see family and friends and attend some great PD (including ALA coming up later this week- if you see me “resting my eyes”, you will know why.)


A quick slice from a former student.

Keeping Promises


#sol19- June 11, 2019

It was the last (half) day of school and it felt like the shortest and longest day both at the same time. I had promises to keep, so I made plans. Somehow I lost the plot a bit too early and returned my laptop before morning recess, so that threw off my timing. After assembly, we had about 10 minutes before the last recess of third grade.

“Should we stand on the tables and shout now or wait until just before dismissal?” I asked the students walking back with me.

“Now!” they chorused.

“Yeah, that is what I was thinking too. If anyone gets dismissed early I would hate for them to miss it,” I added.

Word spread as we walked. It was finally time!

Every year for the last five or so years I have shown Colby Sharp’s “I love reading” video on the first day of school. I then start a similar refrain from atop a table in our classroom and shock all my new students.  I do this just before their first recess of third grade because I want them to know right from the start that this is a year of reading. I then always promise them that on the last day of school they will be able to climb up on the tables and shout. This year’s group was impressed on day 1 and told new students as they joined during the year about my rant and promise. So, of course, I kept my promise!

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Our fab TA took the video to prove it:)

As the morning went on the time seemed to fly. We had to read one more picture book to get our #classroombookaday completed (okay, 180 days of school = 190+ picture books read and a bunch of chapter books too).


But as time continued to go too fast we ran out of time to finish our last chapter book, The Wild Robot.

“You know what I will do, guys? I will read it aloud and post the link on our summer Padlet,” I said. “But there is a lot to read, so I will not do it right away, but will get it done this weekend.”

“Are you sending us the link to the Padlet on Gmail?” they asked.

“I already included the link on my letter to you,” I reminded them. “Sure, I will email you the link too.”

So, what did I do Friday night after a great two hour massage and yummy dinner with a friend? I sat in the quiet of my apartment and read the last 80 pages of the book aloud and posted it in three parts on to our Padlet. I then sent the promised email with the link to the Padlet and went to bed.

From messages on our Padlet I know that at least three students have listened already. I am ever hopeful that this will not be the only story they hear read aloud this summer. I know many borrowed books from our class and school library to read, so there are books nearby. These kids have come so far this year, but now it is time to let them go…

This has been a special year, but summer here we are!


A former student (from two years ago) sharing his slice! I hope to get links to slices from some of this year’s group later:)


Keep On Keeping On


#sol19- June 4, 2019

It is the last week of school and we are tired, but keeping busy! Two weeks ago we wrote a list of all the things we wanted to be sure we did (or did again) before the last day of school, so we are concentrating on that.

Yesterday we had a time to “make” summer notebooks and the writers were soooo excited. We started with a fairly plain notebook, but then added on. I pulled out magazines (to add pictures and words), fancy tape, origami paper, a June/July calendar, a “bingo” sheet of writing ideas, and Kathleen Sokolowski’s QR codes for additional writing ideas. All of the supplies were options- the notebook was theirs to decorate/prepare how they liked. Some students started setting up pages (one divided her pages into “diary” and “free write”, another wrote some notes for a story she wants to write this summer. I knew my TA would have fun making her own writing notebook (her poetry notebook from our recent notebook is still be used) and she did!

I heard from one mom today that her son had proudly shown his notebook last night and had talked about his plans for writing over the break- be still my heart! I know they will not all write, but I always figure it is best to plan for what could be. Today I also shared a Padlet where students can share this summer. We talked about the options within Padlet- they can add pictures, video, and more. It will be a place where students can share writing, books read, adventures they have had and more. Again, fingers crossed they do. Next up… our reading plans! I will MISS this group!