Monday, October 16, 2017

Pam Allyn with The Literacy Connection

This past Saturday was a magical day here in Central Ohio.  The Literacy Connection brought Pam Allyn (co-author of Every Child a Super Reader) out of New York City to the Midwest to inspire and reaffirm what students need.  As I sat with colleagues from my district, I realized she wasn't only guiding us in our work with students she was filling our hearts and buckets to get back in the trenches and fight the good fight.  She urged us to stay true to our beliefs and was thrilled so many teachers had taken a Saturday to learn and grow.  While it's hard to give up a Saturday, if it's the right season for you I'd encourage you to do it.  It's more relaxing than taking a week day during the school year and builds relationships.  There's time to talk and listen.  There's time to catch up with old friends and make new.  I'm so glad I got to share this experience with so many teachers.




Ten thoughts from Pam Allyn that will guide me through the year - 


- "teaching is scientific about what works and then there’s also the love", so true we can't forget to love what we do, love the students we are with, and find moments of love.

- "we are in the world of ticket tape and it's scary but literacy gives us a safe space." 

- "have students read 20 minutes a day, independently."  

- instead of struggling readers, she recommends shifting our mindset with striving readers and reminded us reading levels have their place but students are not a reading level

- "our striving readers are our most fragmented readers, no more pulling during read aloud or independent reading"

- "we are micro-managing reading levels", she urged us over and over again, this isn't necessary.  

- "Books are just books until you put a relationship into them and they become different.", foster relationships with books

- "main thing we want to know about our kids - are they happy?"

- "let’s create a super reader community with our parents.  There's plenty parents can do around the social emotional and engagement piece.  They don't know what to do, get them involved."

- "illustrations also show 7 strengths of the Super Reader."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My #pb10for10 list about Relationships

I'm so excited to be part of a new collaborative blog, Classroom Communities!  I hope you've had a chance to read the launch month of post by some fantastic educators!  There are tidbits to help you reflect, try something new and some personal stories that will tug at your heart.

When I was asked to join this project I decided to do a little digging to help my thinking about our focus.  Our byline is - Building Relationships, Empowering Learners.  I am a word nerd sometimes and headed right to dictionary.com.  What do these four words mean?

Building - anything built or constructed

Relationships - an emotional or other connection between people

Empowering - to give power or authority to;to enable or permit

Learners - a person who is learning;the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill

I have my favorite books for launching reading workshop, writing workshop, math workshop and routines/behaviors.  I began to wonder if I had books to help support building relationships and this is what I discovered...in not particular order.  Instead of telling a summary of each book, I tried to highlight aspects of relationships in each.  It's my intent to use these books in launching conversations that help build relationships for my new learners in an effort to empower them while spending our year together.  

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio begins with two friends who love many things the same except their lunch.  Their lunch differences cause quite a stir and divide between the girls.  They have the courage to try different lunches and realize autonomy is a positive thing.


Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett is a story about a duck family with ducklings on the way.  Four strong and able ducklings are born with one, Ruby taking her time to join the world.  Once Ruby joins the world she takes that same pace to grow and learn and succeeds.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson takes a look at physical and emotional barriers  and how a simple question can open doors.  The girls find a way to spend time with each other and respect those barriers.


Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy.


The Monster Next Door by David Soman begins with two characters copying each other by doing and saying silly things.  However, those silly things get a bit carried away and feelings are hurt.  You'll want to read this one to see how things get mended between a boy and a monster.


Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C Jones is another story that starts out with friends doing everything together but then they get tired of each other.  I think it's important we model this as a part of relationships.  Matthew and Tilly play independently but realize it isn't as joyful.  

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler creates a story where a king and queen each take over the school playground.  The playground gets divided and there are things to be conquered which leads to an empty playground.  The king and queen step down returning the playground to a happy ever after place to be.


Boy Plus Bot by Ame Dyckman begins with an injured character and the care provided by another based on what he would want done to him.  These things don't necessarily work until some guidance is offered for what is best for someone who is different.  Readers will enjoy how the two characters find common ground.


Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard is a story about support and efforts to help.  It's a story that builds upon itself with each new character and idea of support.  The characters are full of cooperation and willingness.


The Girl Who Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is about a girl who is focused and successful until one day she makes her first mistake.  With care and support and acceptance she and her community are able to be healthier.







Picture Book 10 for 10 is Here with How To



It's going to be a great day, friends and incase you forgot how to participate in sharing your current top 10, must have picture books..
  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning

A few years ago I took a week long course on project based learning and had the opportunity to hear Dana Laur speak.  When I saw she had a new book out; Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning focusing on K - 2, I knew I wanted to hear more from her.  If you are trying to find something to anchor your work with students to their interests, their passions, and their wonderings then this book is for you.  I'm afraid we've gotten away from listening to student's voices first and jump right to content units of study using standards.  Some other great features in this text are the five stages for finding solutions; authentic challenge and purpose, information and prototyping, perspective and point of view, actions and consequences, and considerations and conclusions.  There's a great deal of information guiding the reader through these stages to always include the child and foster their growth. Bloom's taxonomy is heavily discussed and modeled through the book.  There's a whole chapter devoted to authentic reading and writing opportunities to support project learning.  Yes, skills are taught but not in isolation and with a purpose.  

This book did take me a bit of time to get through.  It's small in size and font with lots of text.  There are some examples to help you visualize what the content could look like in a classroom.  



These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- spend time asking students what they want to learn, I use to do this

- look for local connections to share our learning with

- allow moments of play to listen for the students natural curiosities

- weave projects throughout the day

- take each stage of the planning one step at a time



Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"This approach moves us from a standards-based curriculum for passive learners to a standards-based curriculum for problem-solvers, question-askers, and active participants in their real world."

"Authentic challenges tap into what is relevant to our children in their present world and what intrinsically motivates them."

"Authentic projects end with final products that are designed for use somewhere other than the classroom."

"The classroom community supports the creativity and innovation promoted in an authentic project approach."

"If you view your entire teaching day as one full opportunity to extend a learning experience, rather than as a segmented one, it increases the depth in which your learners delve into an authentic learning experience."

"Our young learners flourish in environments that foster their natural curiosity and build their skills while giving them autonomy, safety, and flexibility."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Dreamer

Happy Dreamer
Author and Illustrator Peter H Reynolds
review copy from public library

I know this book has been talked about a lot but I thought just in case someone didn't know about it, I would share it today.  When we want to embrace being ourselves, accepting differences, and trying out best then readers can count on Peter H Reynolds.  Happy Dreamer brings all those concepts together in one text.  As, I read the text I found myself thinking of different people I know.  I have a creative child and the text on these two pages should be framed in our house for me to remember to understand.

"I have so many dreams it can get messy.  CREATIVE CHAOS.

Cleaning up hides my treasurers.

If you make me, I will put my things way.  But then there is less ME to show."


The book begins with acknowledging we all have lots of things going on inside our head.  He describes different kinds of dreamers and when people can dream in the beginning.  Then my heart sank when this dreamer of a character feels boxed in and alone.  I don't want to box others in.  There's a two page spread that opens up to four pages with 48 different kinds of dreamers.  I love all the possibilities shared!  Are you a sunny dreamer, nature happy, or move happy dreamer?

I think this will be a great opening to discuss learning styles and preferences.  I also think, I might read it midway through my Parent Information Night as I talk about different learners and how parents will see different levels of work within our classroom.  



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Marta! Big and Small

Marta! Big and Small 
Author Jen Arena
Illustrated by Angela Dominquez
review copy from public library

What a delightful book and I was learning so many things!  Marta! Big and Small is listed as a bilingual read aloud in the blurb on the book jacket.  This is my first bilingual book to read that put learning Spanish words within the context of a story.  I've read books that included words from another language but in a format where in this case the Spanish word and immediately followed with text to show what that means in English is wonderful.  For example; "To an elephant, Marta is pequena.  Small, very small."  Marta has lots of animal friends and sometimes acts like her animal friends.  I love the last page where she has a sketchbook with drawings of her friends.  I personally learned a lot by reading this book and think students will really enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Life is but a...Dream

Life is but a...Dream
author and illustrator Matthew Cordell
review copy from local library

At first I thought Life is but a ... Dream would be the perfect gift to give to new parents and it is but half way through the book I began pondering reading it at my Parent Information Night.  The book begins with questions and the wonder of a new life; the hopes parents, family, and friends think of.  That line of thinking continues but the world gets bigger and this is where I think teachers fit in, "I dream you were away from us, exploring unknown places."  The book continues with opportunities, worries, and growth we think about when we raise or work with little ones.  As the dream ends and the book ends the reader is presented with three wondering questions.  Questions that make us realize while we can guide and help they have their own journey to follow.