Thursday, December 18, 2008


During this holiday season, I can't help but notice signs of hope in such bleak times. Hope shines bright in the face of a struggling reader that has an "ah ha" moment about the book...taking his thinking to a new level by commenting, "I never thought of it that I get it!!" Hope comes in the form of a story to a 3rd grade writer that hates to write...but finds her voice and tells a small moment story that brings chills to her audience.

Looking at these kids as they strive to reach goals and push themselves, I can help but see these children for the hope they are for the them the tools and courage to face the future.

Barbara Kinglover said, "Hope is a renewable option...if you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over again in the morning." How true that it. It is the hope for the future that keeps me going...tomorrow is another year is another keep challenging our kids to have great conversations about books, to connect their learning and grow their minds. It is what I hope for!!

Happy Reading...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wiki...what a powerful tool to collaborate!

In my ongoing learning quest to use technology to help simplify my life (which so seems to take double the time) I discovered a powerful web tool called a Wiki. I had been using one for a few of the Professional Learning Networks I am in and had that AH HA moment where I might create on for my school. So...I am in the process of creating a Professional Development Wiki. I am excited to develop it as a place where we can all collaborate, share ideas and have some great dialogue. It might take some time getting used to using it...especially those from my generation where we are trying to keep up as fast as we can going from our typing classes back in high school to computer use, web tools, e-mail, etc. But I am hopeful that we might use it to connect.

I have always considered myself to be on an ongoing learning quest as a I look back, each year brings me more experience, yes, but an opportunity to measure my growth as a reflect back on how best to reach kids. Sharing and networking has been such a powerful part of that learning. So...I am taking the plunge...full speed (Internet speed I guess) ahead to keep those conversations grand!!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mind Set

In my quest to read as many professional books to help expand my knowledge, I was introduced to a book called Mind Set by Carol Dweck. Although I haven't had a chance to read the entire book (it is on my "to get" list), I did read a powerful article summarizing her points.

Basically, after years of research on what makes people successful, she maintains that there are two "mind sets". The first being a fixed mind and the second being a growth mind.

The fixed mind set represents those learners that always get it and the answers come easily without much struggle. The growth mind set learners are the ones that work hard at things...struggle a bit even...put forth effort. Carol Dweck found that the growth mind set learners are the ones that succeed...they savor the struggle and become stronger because of it. The fixed mind set group is not able to get past failure or struggle and might just give up.

I was so intrigued by this research as there is so much more (which is why it is on my "to get" list). The more I thought about it, the more connections I was making to my role as a reading consultant...a parent of 2 boys...a wife too!!!

How we praise our kids is something to think we say...great're so smart! Or do we bet you worked hard and put some effort into that (and maybe it wasn't so easy)? Do we provide work that is easy because it is easy to teach or do we differentiate to find areas where effort is needed?

I am really looking forward to exploring more "Mind Set"...and making sure I keep a growth mind set in all of my roles!! It is definitely worth the read!!!

Happy Reading!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Keep reading
Keep learning
Keep questioning
Keep thinking
Keep challenging
Keep sharing
Keep going
Keep writing
Keep pushing on
Keep working
Keep connecting
Keep building
...for the kids sake!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rolling Up My Sleeves

Now that the MEAP is over and life has settled into more of a routine, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work with kids. Lately, that has been the part that I have been craving. I miss working with kids and seeing light bulbs light up all over the place. I miss that great discussion that sends chills up my spine because they "get it".

As I build relationships with staff, students and parents, I look forward to the work. The work that supports students to make them more confident...the work that gives them wings to discover new ideas and have powerful conversations...the work that encourages them to go forth and do great things.

Whether I am taking small groups or "pushing" in to support students learning, this is the most meaningful work! I love it!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Stakes Are High

Ready...Set...MEAP? Just as I was on a roll...the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) was delivered to my room and things went halt for some time. With increasing pressure to perform and meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress...which is in turn tied in to school funding), the three day testing becomes high stakes. As the building testing coordinator, I am feeling the heat for sure!

This summer as I was wrapping my brain around how to get kids ready for the test, my mentor and close friend Jeri, recommended that I read A Teacher's Guide to Standardized Reading Tests by Lucy Calkins. This book connected all the dots (so to speak) for me! The gist is to look at the hight stakes testing as a genre. Just like we teach them to read fiction vs. non-fiction or fairy tales. It encourages teachers to teach about the test... not to the test. By building stamina, being knowledgeable about the test and providing stategies for taking the test, kids have more power! Knowing what the kids are getting into so there are no surprises along the way. That's what we want...we want children to succeed!

So as the MEAP falls upon us next week, I am encouraged that the kids seem ready...they have the knowledge and the, on your mark, get set....MEAP!!

Monday, September 29, 2008


I found this quote...for lack of some time I thought I would just post really got me thinking about our job!

"The only way to help kids become generous, responsible people and lifelong learners is to work with them to solve problems and make decisions. But that takes time. It also takes care, skill, and in some cases, courage because we have to reconsider the validity of our requests. We need to begin by thinking hard about what we're asking kids to do: Who benefits from our requests? Is there another way?" -----Alfie Kohn

Happy Reading!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is on the menu?

Well...after 4 weeks of meeting new faces, adjusting to the layout of the new building (who would have thought that would take awhile) and gearing up for the MEAP test (AYP pressure there), I am trying to brainstorm how to best help my fellow teachers. I decided there were a lot of going out to eat and browsing through the menu. It only made sense then to offer a menu of here is the menu. Like all fabulous restaurants, it is subject to change and feedback to the chef is always welcome! Happy reading...

Menu of Ways I Can Help

· Finding materials
· Gathering books
· Discussions to brainstorm ideas

Main Course
· Teach side by side with you
· Plan with you
· Teach whole group with you
· One of us teach/Other assess students and their learning
· Divide the class into groups and teach the same concept
· Differentiate the concepts for groups
· Conference with students during Reader's Workshop
· Work with students having difficulty

· Try to find ways to fund books and ideas
· Lend an ear for support
· Have a good laugh

Saturday, September 13, 2008

And We're Off...

Wow...what a whirlwind these last two weeks of school! I was most excited by meeting with each grade level of teachers! What talent and energy each person brings to the team! I can't wait to share my love of literacy with them as well as learn more from each of them. I am really excited to work with my new friends! Students at the school are so lucky to have such warm and committed teachers. Every morning as the students arrive, teachers are out in the halls greeting them and shaking hands. Smiles on the kids faces prove that they feel welcome to come and learn!!!

I am excited to continue to get to know the teachers and students! What a great start!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Suggestion Box

As I was organizing my books these last few weeks, I noticed that my library is rich with what I will call picture books. I was also aware that my library lacks a variety of chapter books. I have tons of Beverly Cleary, My Father's Dragon Trilogy (my favorite by the way)...but not much else. That is when I got to thinking I would put it out there and see if my readers (if there are any in the first place) could suggest some chapter books to enrich my library for a building that has students up to 4th grade. Let me know about those old favorites or maybe some new exciting books. Thanks for your help!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's Talk!

When I taught second grade, one of my favorite units of study in the Reading Workshop was all about dialogue! We discussed what it was, how to read it and apply it to really comprehending the text. My husband would agree with me that dialouge can be one of my favorite things to do! Then I got to thinking...what about teacher dialogue? Could we get the conversations going? Could we turn little snippets of talk in the workroom or lounge into meaningful discussions that would improve and enhance our teaching? That is how Think Tank was born. We set up a casual time to come together and discuss literacy. It was a great way to continue those conversations. With PLCs (Professional Learning Communities), PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) and Think Tanks, our ideas can take flight and our teaching can get stronger. So, let's get out there and talk. Who knows where it can lead us?!?

Friday, August 8, 2008


With July flying by so quickly and August sailing on, I am gearing up for my new challenge. All teachers have that feeling of excitement as the back to school catalogs begin to come out. It's that feeling of a new adventure getting underway. This year, it feels different. I am reminded of my first year teaching when I went about getting the room ready, but had not fully braced myself for the whirlwind that would come next.
As I am beginning to move things into my room, I am trying to be careful to set up a welcoming environment loaded with inviting books. My love for reading is genuine and I want nothing more than students to feel the same. I'm setting up book nooks and brightly colored displays to send out the invitation that the room is a safe place to read and more importantly take risks. I am trying to keep in mind that, as teachers, we need to work to change our culture that says mistakes are bad. Kids need to feel safe and able to make mistakes to learn. When they can have meaningful discussions about their learning, that is what it is all about! My wise mom maintained throughout her life that many times, we learn more from our mistakes in true!
Anyway, with the room getting ready and my high hopes for the year, this is my invitation to come along on my learning journey. And, if I make some mistakes along the way...the more learning for me too!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New at this!

After 14 years in the classroom teaching 1st and 2nd graders, I decided it was time to shake it up a bit. So, I applied for the position of Reading Consultant. After interviewing and sweating it out, I got the great news that I am officially "it"! What a thrill...and an awesome responsibility. After all, being responsible for every child's! I am hoping to use this blog as a learning opportunity and as a resource for anyone interested in teaching or discussing reading. Stay tuned this summer as I prepare for my new adventure! I am excited, overwhelmed and humbled at the chance to grow, teach and learn.

Happy Reading!!