Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday and I'm joining It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This weekly blog meme is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.  Here's what I've been reading...

For class this week I read...

I really think these two publish a new book each week- there are so many! They're always packed with great information.  This one has been a fantastic resource as the literacy coaches I work with and I have been wrapping our brains around Language Workshop.

I'm reading a lot of books to find the perfect Language Workshop mentor texts for a unit of study on Relationships I'm working on.  Here are some highlights from what I've read this week!
Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Fox by Margaret Wild
The Raft by Jim LaMarche

And for a bit of pleasure reading...

I'd love to hear what you've been reading this week in the comments!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Brave Teachers- Conferring Fishbowl!

In a professional development session on conferring I led today, I asked teachers to take a risk.  I asked them to activate their growth mindsets, put themselves out there, and open themselves up to feedback.  Because they were willing to take this risk, the power of the professional development was magnified. 

Since the professional development was during the school day, we decided to put our refined conferring skills into action and fishbowl confer!  Six brave teachers volunteered to confer live in front of the teachers from their grade band.  The observers used a protocol to record their thinking.  After the students returned to the classroom the teachers debriefed with one another.

I put them at ease, I shared my story of teaching live for Linda Dorn a few weeks ago.  I told them how even though I am a strong believer in growth mindset and I strive to embody it, it was still really hard to be that vulnerable.  However, once I really embraced it as a learning opportunity, it was incredibly powerful.

Teachers are passionate about what we do for kids.  We do the very best we can.  We tend to expect ourselves to be perfect, right away, every time. Teaching is such a personal craft, it is hard to put yourself out there in front of your colleagues.

But it is so very important!  This is how we will grow.  This is how we will strengthen our teams.  This is how we will continue to learn.  Too often professional development is disconnected from the classroom.  At best, there is time embedded to plan for application or a follow up coaching cycle.  While these are vital pieces, I've really been thinking about the power of watching each other teach and getting feedback from one another.  Imagine the way your conferring would change if every member of your team shared a video of one of their conferences with a reader that was puzzling them.  Imagine the power in the collective problem solving you could do.

I've always made sure to engage teachers critiquing videos of the teachers demonstrating what we're talking about.  I always include time to discuss and plan for application in the classroom.  Today felt different though.  They weren't watching an unknown teacher with students that may not reflect the students in their classrooms.  They were watching teachers they knew and students they knew.

After today I'm puzzling around how I can replicate this authenticity whenever possible.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Next Challenge: Quieting My Mind!

To continue my mini challenges in 2015, this weekend I decided to try my hand at Oprah's 21 Day Meditation Experience.  I've tried meditating a few times before and I know many people who rave about the power of meditation.  As I watched the introduction video yesterday I was pondering when I'd have time to do this each day.  Just then the woman they were interview said, "If you don't think you have time to meditate, you need to meditate even more."  So...I decided to jump right in.  My slice is from my experience meditating this morning and my consistent attempts to quiet my brain.

"Today's Sanskrit Mantra is Har Haray Haree.  Creative forces flow through me.  Silently repeat the manta to yourself and breath deeply."

Har Haray Haree

Har Haray Haree

Har Haray Haree

Am I doing this right?  Oops, I probably was doing it right, but now I'm thinking about other things.

Har Haray Haree

I wonder if the neighbors can see me through the front window.  They're probably wondering what I'm doing.

Har Haray Haree

Oh!  I need lemons and limes too.  I should add that to the grocery list.

Har Haray Haree

Har Haray Haree

Do I feel more centered?  What does feeling centered even mean or feel like?  

Har Haray Haree

Hmm...I should blog about this.  It'd make a good slice.  Look at me, living like a writer!  Unfortunately, I'm supposed to be living like a centered meditator right now.  Darn it. 

Har Haray Haree

I can't wait for the Badger game tonight.  What do I need to make sure I get done ahead of time?  Laundry, finishing touches on tomorrow's PD, grocery- oops- you're wandering again.

Har Haray Haree

Har Haray Haree

I'm trusting the process and hoping that in 20 days I am able to report back that I've experienced feeling centered and learned to quiet my mind!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Turn Your Thinking Into Teaching

This post has been in my drafts for awhile.  I've dipped in and out of it, adding thinking here and there.  I've been part of many conversations lately that revolve around this I'm attempting to jump fully in and synthesize my thinking.

Teachers are experts of their content.  You're an expert reader or writer, mathematician or historian, scientist or musician.  More likely than not, you teach what you teach because you love it, you're passionate about it, and you'd love to pass that fascination on to your students.

If you teach science, chances are, thinking like a scientist, comes much more naturally to you than it does for me.  Or for your students.  The same is true for all content areas (ELA included!). The way a scientist reads an article about genetics is different than the way you read a novel to prepare for a book club, and it's different than the way a historian reads a primary source.

The challenge for experts is to realize the thinking they are doing, even though it is second nature to them.  As teachers, we must first notice our thinking processes when we are accessing text so that we can turn our THINKING into TEACHING.

Too often we put a historical document in front of kids and TELL them to annotate it.  Or we hand students a science text book and TELL them to take notes.  Instead, imagine the power in SHOWING them how to do it.  And not only showing, but making your thinking visible to students as you are doing it.  Let students in on what you are thinking about as you are annotating.  Let them see how you puzzle around pieces of the text, how you struggle at times to make meaning, and let them see how you problem solve these issues.

Too often we just assign a task to students or we show them an exemplar.  The problem with only showing an exemplar is that it doesn't show the PROCESS.  Without showing the process we can unintentionally give students the impression that their work should automatically be the quality of the exemplar, without the puzzling, struggling, revising, etc.

Modeling is different than assigning.  Thinking aloud is different than telling.  Modeling and thinking aloud turn your thinking into teaching and make the process accessible for students.  And isn't the process really what it's all about?  The process is what will enable them to continue to become passionate and fascinated by your subject area, long after they leave your classroom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lit Nerd Heaven

I'm a proud lit nerd.  When I get to see literacy "celebrities" at conferences, I am overjoyed.  When Lucy Calkins asked to skip me in the lunch line and then Carl Anderson stepped on my foot at NCTE, I was beside myself with excitement.  Today I was in lit nerd heaven.

I got to spend the day with Stephanie Harvey!!!

Not just spend the day listening to her at a conference, but I got to spend the day walking through classrooms in our district with her.  I got to spend the day reflecting on practices, picking her brain, and attempting to soak in every word she said.

Unfortunately, my only picture with Steph Harvey
and I just barely squeezed in the edge of it!
It was almost too much for this lit nerd to handle!

Monday, March 16, 2015

I'm a Reader....But am I Reading Enough?

I'm a reader.  I read everyday, as much as possible.  And still I don't feel like I am reading enough.

I read to grow professionally...
...books for my training, Twitter, writing by my favorite teacher bloggers, books by my favorite educational writers.

Art of Changing the Brain- Connects brain research and learning, read for our Comprehensive Literacy training.
Nurturing Independent Learners- Great read on scaffolding theory, another read from our CLM training.
Pernille Ripp's fantastic blog.
I can't wait to read Kelly Gallagher's newest book!
My Twitter feed is always full of fantastic thinking and resources.

I (try) read for pleasure...
...books for my book club, the latest recommendations from friends, and my ever growing Good Reads To Read list.

Just finished Me Before You and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for book club.
The Girl on the Train is up next for book club.
My Good Reads To Read list grows much more rapidly than my Read list!

I want to also be an avid reader of the books the students in the classrooms I work with are reading.  I work in classrooms kindergarten through 8th grade and I want to be that person who has the perfect book for every reader I talk to.  I try to stay on top of Nerdy Book Club posts and follow #TitleTalk and @MrSchuReads.

Just a sampling of the wonderful children's books I've read lately or am hoping to read soon!

I have more books waiting to be read than I have time to read.  I'd love to curl up for a week straight and lose myself in the adventures tucked into these texts.

How do you balance your professional growth reading, your reading for pleasure, and your reading for students?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Am Not // I Am

Today's post inspired by this piece I Am Not (I Am) which was inspired by This Is Me.

I am NOT....

I am not simply defined.

I am not hard to make laugh.

I am not quick to take a risk.

I am not easily angered.

I am not the person I used to be.

I AM...

I am complex, tangled and layered.

I am a caretaker, genuine, and kind.

I am curious.

I am a learner.

I am an extreme rule follower.

I am easily overwhelmed.

I am quick to forgive.

I am closer than ever to my authentic self.