Saturday, February 17, 2018

Learning about a Person's Reading History

Shared by one of our wonderful presenters
Kim Haskins

Last week, I attended a wonderful 2.5 day IB (International Baccalaureate) Workshop on Inquiry Reading and Writing.  On our last day, we were encouraged to write an action plan to say how we would take our new learning and put it in place.  I wrote that I would share some of my new learning with the world!

So, I want to begin by walking through one of the first activities we did as a group-mapping our reading and writing lives...

Our presenters broke us up into two groups-one to write about our journey of reading and the other our journey of writing.

They got us started by playing beautiful, peaceful background music from the piano guys...I made a youtube playlist of their relaxing and wonderful to write to as I journeyed through these memories...
Here's my playlist:

Play it as you write about your reading and writing journey...if you need questions to jog your memory, check out this list of questions:  Reading History

Here's collage pic of what some of how some of our pieces turned out...

and here's how mine turned out...

A common theme among the group who shared around me was the influence of their mothers on their literacy development.  I thought it important to note how parents influence literacy development...and I read facts from this site:  50 Top Literacy Statistics
Here's Stat 6 which talks about a mom's influence in terms of vocabulary development.

Stat # 6  Researchers found that when mother frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by age 2 than did their peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them. Huttenlocher et al., 1991. Early vocabulary growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27, 236-248.

I remember how my mom would read to me from my "I Can Read" books.  She influenced my literacy development and I moved from the bottom to the top reading groups as I moved through the primary grades.  I developed and evolved even more as a reader once I reached fourth grade and to this day can still remember how my fourth grade teacher read aloud.  Love you still Mrs. Hunter.

So I end  this blog post-curious to know your reading and writing history-share it with the world.

What does it look like?  Who's influenced you?  How will you influence others in the world?

Share your story...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The One Little Word Found Me

Today, I wanted to celebrate by writing about how my One Little Word found me.  I started off the new year wondering about my word...

others found theirs
shared them
and yet, I wondered more...





still no ideas...

I gave it up.  to.  God.

I prayed that I would find my word and just got going with things I needed to accomplish.  One of the first things on my professional 2018 to do list was achieving Google Level 1 Certification.  I did it!  You can read more about that here.

Then I realized-(trumpet blast)!

I felt like I had laser focus on achieving this goal.  And then it hit me, "focus" played a role in achieving the goal.  And that's how "Focus" found me.

Hello Focus!  My One Little Word for 2018.  I've had OLWs in the past (like, Listen, Balance and Believe).  These were all helpful.  I hope that Focus will serve me well for 2018.

Here's more about my One Little Word that's firmly planted in my brain:


  • visual thesaurus

where you can plug in a word and see how it connects

  • defined

via google omnibox

  • word clouded
created using

I pray that this word can help guide me like a compass and be my true north for 2018.  I am grateful for it finding me.  I will use it to:

  • grow my relationships, nurturing them just like the flowers I see in my garden, adding what I believe to be the right ingredients to flourish

  • inspire me professionally as a leader, teacher, and learner

  • help my path of positivity and help me avoid distractions

I know I have room to grow in the process of staying focused and I believe in my heart I can make this happen.

What have you chosen for your OLW this year?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Focus and Let the Celebrating Begin

This week I am celebrating learning, focusing and meeting goals.   I'm celebrating accomplishment.  I'm celebrating being Google Certified Level 1!

My journey began awhile back.  I considered going for the Google Trainer Certification but then had to scale back because personal life took priority over professional life.  So last summer, I restarted with going for Level 1 since I joined up with a district team of teachers who were part of the Keys to Successful Technology Integration.  At that time, I worked on completing the first 8 units...personal life took priority again as I was dealing with my dad's hospitalization, my mom's dementia and then my dad passing away.

Finally over break, I revisited the Google Training Center.  I love the first quote you see on that page:
It's really true for me-learning never stops.  I worked on completing the last five units for Level 1 Certification and then signed up to take the exam.  It truly took almost the whole three hours to complete and consisted of two parts.  One part contains the twenty multiple choice questions-not just a,b, c, d-like but hard multiple correct selections as well as drag and drop sorts.  The other part is eleven multi-step scenarios where actual use of Google's tools are put in place.

As I readied to submit my exam for grading, I sucked in a huge breath and hit submit.  I prayed to God at that moment that all of the hard work and energy I put into completing the task would pay off.


Seconds and then minutes passed as I waited for the email to announce whether I'd passed.


You've got mail...

I opened the email and SURPRISE!

The notice that I passed!  YAY!

Now, on to Level 2.

Some advice for others who decide to go for it...

Studying helped.
Going through the quizzes at the end of each unit helped.
Reading the scenarios and working them out on my own helped.
Using Google Tools regularly helps (our district is a Google Apps for Education district).

Celebrate with me!  So happy to have met this goal.  I think this experience helped me find my One Little Word for the year...Focus.  However, that is another post for here in the cafe.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Celebrating a Writing Superhero!

#celebratelu this week too, join in over at Ruth's blog

I'm now afforded new amounts of time.  So, I am joyfully writing on a Saturday!

At this blog, I intend to share new learning and leading.  My celebration relates to Ruth and the superhero's response to questions regarding how to reach struggling writers who just don't care.  I'm learning...

Another coach posed the question, "How do we reach students who just don't care?"

I immediately thought of seeking help from Ruth-she's one of my writing Super Heroes!  Cue the trumpets!

I really had no idea that Ruth has just launched her new book, Enticing Hard to Reach Writers.

Thankfully, Ruth quickly responded and offered recommendations from a few of the chapters to help us as we work diligently to reach and teach all writers.

From Chapter 5-think about how behaviors mask needs!  You'll need markers, a jar and masking tape for this one.

From Chapter 1-the importance of understanding how brains work (neuroplasticity-The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.)

From pages 79-80 a chart which outlines moves to make with hard to reach writers.  As I perused the list, I zeroed in on ways to simplify conferring (Chapter 18) for students who are having a difficult time talking about their writing or writing process, "Increase students' energy for writing by asking open-ended questions while conferring"  and  "Name strengths students have as writers."  Consideration for this advice assumes writing and conferring happen daily-a must.

I hope you'll consider reading this book...

So I must thank my writing superhero and celebrate her help.
What a Writing Superhero looks like.
By Natalie

I appreciate Ruth's tenacity and capacity to see this work through to publishing in the name of helping so many more teachers of writers and writers themselves to grow through life's challenges and CELEBRATE!

By the way, Ruth didn't ask me do write this, I just knew I had to!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Problem Solve and Pause

Thanks to Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for encouraging us to share what we are thinking around the topic of Problem Solving for this Digilit Sunday!  I am happy to be heading into Summer with another school year in the rear view mirror.

I was thinking about the idea of problem solving and contemplating what it really looks like to be a problem solver when in full blown reading mode.  I wanted to share how the process of listening to a reader without taking snap corrective action to tell the right words actually helps them grow as the problem solving decision-maker.
We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub

I sat back watching, listening and deciding not to be pushy or pokey as Natalie read the story, "We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub" by  .  She read and cross-checked the pictures, slowed down and figured things out when they didn't make sense.  She was afforded the opportunity of a pause at the point of error before someone jumped in to correct.  I am grateful for the pause--because it's helping her make sense of what she's read and problem solve on her own to fix it when it didn't look right, sound right or make sense.

Rather than tell her the word, she was prompted to go back and try again.  This encouraged her to do more work and figure out the part that didn't make sense and didn't add to the story in a meaningful way.  She problem-solved for meaning on her own.  As teachers and parents, we should encourage students to do this more often rather than just tell them the answer.  Volley through the thought process sending it back to their side of the court, helping them learn how to get it done.

Although Natalie is just a beginning reader, I clearly see how pausing and prompting for problem solving will help her to develop future skills as the books she reads become increasingly complex.  How do you encourage readers to work through problems?  How do you provide scaffolding without rescuing?

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Celebrating Donuts and Decking

Today, I'm I reflect on my professional development opportunity day with teachers in my building! 

All the stars were aligned.

Our date for the session was rescheduled for yesterday.

I heard testimonials about trying out Pear Deck from other educators and coaches in our district.  It's an interactive presentation tool that allows for audience participation and sharing results in realtime as participants answer/respond.  I kept thinking, 'try it out' 'take a chance' 'be brave'. 

So on the way to work, I picked up Krispy Kreme glazed donuts for our day.  The donuts were still warm and my car smelled like a donut shop.  Something about the smell of warm donuts just makes brings on a smile.  Thank goodness my children were so willing to get ready early enough so I could run an early morning errand.  I also heard the song, "Brave", on the radio...a subliminal reminder.

The donuts and Peardeck were a hit. 

Marching in the learner line showed others that being willing to take risks helps us grow.  It helps our students see that too.  I look forward to more opportunities to become more proficient in using Pear Deck and learning with the teacher teams at the Schu!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Power-Reflection on Chapter 1, 2 and Bonus DIY Literacy

Week of July 3rd: Ch 1&2 Bonus 

I'm celebrating and reflecting after reading the Foreword by Franki Sibberson, Acknowledgements (Leigh Anne Eck), Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and the Bonus of the professional text, DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts.  I've learned so many things just from the beginning section of the book.  The biggest take-away I'm thinking over repeatedly is that I feel empowered.  I connected with the idea of keeping the Good Witch's mantra in my head.  I realize that every teacher has the power to mine their own strategies-we just have to believe in it.  We are the magic that makes the difference for each and every student we touch.

You've always had the power, my dear.  You had to learn it for yourself.

I look forward to trying the suggestions authors Kate and Maggie have shared.  I appreciate how they have explained the step by step processes for how to use all four of the tools shared within the text:  

  • the charts (repertoire and process)
  • the demo notebooks
  • the micro-progression of skills
  • and the bookmarks 
I look forward to trying all of them but I am most interested in trying the demo notebook and the bookmarks right now.  Maybe I'll change my thinking after reading more from the next few chapters of the book...

As I reflect on my learning, one of the other things I am trying is to Sketchnote each of the chapters in my own notebook.  I felt very excited to share my first attempt via twitter and the google+ cyberpd community.
While reading about the Bookmark Tool, I connected with this quote:  "...research shows the physical act of writing activates the part of our brains that brings desired information to the forefront, triggering us to focus and set intention." (pg. 19).  I think the sketchnoting is helping me to better remember what I'm learning and connecting with as I read.  Consequently, I'm as excited as ever to also share the concept with other teachers too.  I'd also like to have students give it a go!

Samples from the other chapters
I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book.  I'm also hoping to learn with others in the #cyberpd community during the tweet chats.  If you haven't picked up this book to read yet, please do.  You'll read the text feeling empowered and inspired by the way the authors share their thinking.  Thank you to Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts for writing DIY Literacy.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Jumping In...with DIY Literacy

I'm so excited about learning this summer.  I look forward to feeding my professional development brain during the summer months as I call on this learning throughout the year to fan the flames that spark and ignite future coaching conversations.  During July, I'll be participating the #cyberpd book study for the book, DIY Literacy.

Michelle Nero, one of the #cyberpd hostesses (also Cathy Mere and Laura Komos) shared this tweet about the learning opportunity:

I am looking forward to participating in this event.  I ordered my book from Amazon but it has not yet arrived (feeling nervous about this).  I am excited to jump in and get reading.

The #cyberpd team also shared some additional web links that contain further resources connected with the book.  They added a Weebly, a Pinterest Board, and a Twitter account to follow if you're interested in learning more.  You can also join the Google+ Community as well.

Cheers to Amazing professional learning opportunities and teacher leaders who organize them-let's jump in!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Planning and Organizing for a Conference

A week ago at this time, I was a nervous wreck as we prepared to launch our first ever district literacy conference.  I am so happy to share today that it was "Mission Accomplished".  We hosted the conference with two keynote speakers, Tim Rasinski and Carol Jago.  We also had seven different presentation sessions to pick from for each of the four time blocks.  As the exit surveys slowly trickle in, we are proud that our conference was met with a high degree of success.

One of the sessions I was able to present on was an "Ignite Style" session.  If you are interested in reading more about the ignite style, you can go here.  It's a challenging format and took a lot of practice and advance prep to get it right but I think it was a beneficial way of getting a lot of information across in a little time.  My session was about using Twitter to grow a professional learning network.  I think it went well but my animations made some of my slides not work.  Two strategies that our lead organizer, Kristi Sacha, did for our panel added was a turn and talk half way through and a note sheet with our names down the left column, contact info and a place for notes for each one and then how it could be applied in the classroom.

Another fun part of the conference was tweeting to the #APSIgnite2016.  I am so happy that we decided to add this element.  I think it was a great way to get more people thinking about how to use Twitter to grow professionally.  Hopefully we will have even more tweeters tweeting when we have our conference next year.

Here is the Storify I made of our conference:

Many teachers and administrators came together.  Tons of collegial sharing occurred throughout the conference.

One of the tools we relied on heavily was a shared folder within the Google Drive.  This allowed the six of us to collaborate on shared documents.  We began with a timeline to help us organize our plan for the conference.  I highly recommend doing this to determine the dates of when things should be stepped out.  We then used the folder to share our google form for inviting presenters,  We also shared a brochure and save the date bookmarks (originally published in Microsoft Publisher).   The next tool we added was the summary of the conference sessions once the presentations were selected.  We also added a registration form and an exit ticket via google forms.

Overall, I love the way we could collaborate and edit together as we worked through the conference planning process thanks to Google Drive.  If I have the chance to work on organizing the event again next year, I will investigate using Guidebook as well to make the sessions available online so that more people can plan digitally for their session selections.

I feel privileged to have been through this learning experience.  I look forward to future events.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Changing My View

Today's #Digilit Sunday is all about perspective..."Changing My View"
"Perspective has a Latin root meaning "look through" or "perceive," and all the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking. If you observe the world from a dog's perspective, you see through the dog's eyes. In drawing, perspective gives your drawing the appearance of depth or distance. If we say someone "has perspective," we mean she has a sensible outlook on life."     Source:

I wanted to spend today sharing about how what I learned from the #educoach tweet chat on Thursday changed my view.

The chat was focused on responding to questions from Chapters 8 and 9 from the book, Better Conversations by Jim Knight.  I haven't read the book, yet.  So, I mostly lurked during the chat.  There were some resources shared that helped me to learn about having "Better Conversations".

The first is the idea of this short digital text on "Empathy" and I'll see you on the other side:

The big takeaway from this video for me is that "empathy fuels connection" and by being connected, I can make a situation better.  As I build relationships with the teams of teachers, I aim to better my connections.  One of the quotes I really related to was "I know what it's like and you're not alone."  I will also be more cognizant of trying not to "silver-line" things.  

The other source of learning I connected with from the chat was the video Kathy Perret shared in her tweet about body language that she learned from Elena Aguilar, author of The Art of Coaching which is officially on my TBR pile.
Take the time to watch this Ted Talk...body language has an amazing impact on perception!

I have realized that my body language is doing a lot of non-verbal speaking.  The way others see my body responding and the way I see myself has a lot to do with how I'm communicating.  If I want to have better conversations and a more emphatic perspective, my body language must be considered in the conversations.

I connect this to #digilit Sunday as I change my views to better understand others while living, learning and leading in my role as an instructional coach.

A special thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting #digilit Sunday and inviting me to write on the topic to share with others.  Head there now and check out other responses to "Perspective".