Monday, January 28, 2013

I'd like to thank TWT, Twitter and Amazon

WonderThe One and Only Ivan

True confessions here:  I read lots of professional books and journals during the school year; however, school vacations are when I do the bulk of my "fun" reading!

Last summer, in my usual fashion, I settled on the porch with a huge glass of iced tea and proceeded to devour RJ Palacio's Wonder.  I thought of all the great ways this text would be included in classroom conversations about diversity and proclaimed it to be the book of the year!  I was still waxing effusively over Wonder as I followed my daily Twitter PD feed and kept hearing again and again references to The One and Only Ivan

To be honest, I still had a STACK of real, paper books on the shelf lined up and more books downloaded on my Kindle than I care to admit, and the signs of summer's end were painfully evident as I went once more to Amazon and did that dastardly deed know as "One Click Ordering."  One of the not so great side effects  of hanging out over at Two Writing Teachers and following my peeps on Twitter is that these people, with great suggestions, "encourage" me (and I willinging follow) to spend lots of money to buy lots and lots of books !

I was planning to head to school to set up the classroom as I opened that box that late August morning; however, I decided to do just a chapter before heading to school.........You know, by now, that I never made it to school that day.  I don't think I ever showered.  I don't think I ever even made iced tea.  I was transformed and moved a year of some pretty great books, it's deserving of all the accolades it is getting! 

So today, I would like to publically thank TWT, Twitter, the Nerdy Book Club and Amazon's One Click Ordering for bringing me Wonder and Ivan and encouraging me to read some pretty amazing books!  I am very grateful to have found you leaders of spending - even if the old bank account is feeling the pain!

2013 Medal Winner

 The 2013 Newbery Medal winner is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, published by HarperCollins Children's Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers

Sunday, January 27, 2013

On the Night Before the Newbery

Every year, including last year, in the days before I joined the 21st Century PD on Twitter, I usually noticed some days after the event that the Newbery Awards were announced by a usually microscopic section of the "National News" page of my local paper! I missed the announcement more than once I am sure and when I did I could always count on some ads in the Reading Teacher Journal to let me know what I had won and what I should read!  It was not a big deal that I did not know because it was never an option to be on the front line! 
This year, it's a brave new wonderful world of PD for me as I have been thinking about the Newbery Awards for several weeks!  I even have my own favorite book of the year that I hope might just have a chance to win....and how cool would that be!  AND, now I know a little more about the whole process!  CHECK THIS OUT!
Monica Edinger suggests some important things to keep in mind:
1. It is not just popularity! 
2. It's the opinions of just 15 people the determine the Newberry! 
3. They are looking at books that span all children's literature! 
4. They consider ALL genre!

So no matter what.....I'll sit here celebrating what I think just might be the best children's book of 2012

.The One and Only Ivan

Lost and Found

I lost last week, in an unplanned and unwelcome "vacation" from:
  • My day role as a literacy specialist
  • My night position as a grad school professor
  • My family's expectation of main dinner chef
  • My home's expectation that I will run the vacuum and dishwasher
  • My mom's expectation that I will stop by to care for her daily
  • My aunt's expectation that I will stop by to encourage and share smiles
  • My normal early morning computer blogging time
  • My life in a vertical position
I found last week, as I was lay on the couch:
  • What Not To Wear, Rachel Ray, and Dr. Oz get old quickly
  • It hurts a lot when you cough and you have pneumonia
  • Airborne, Robitussin, Mucinex, and NyQuil are not always enough
  • A microwave reheatable pad is something everyone should own
  • I miss my students, blogging, and even my treadmill
  • I value people around me and my busy life
  • Good people step in when one of their own is down for the count
  • My normal life is a pretty wonderful thing and I can't wait to get back!

Peter DeWitt On Who Owns Learning..

Usually, I suggest that something is a very good read.....
This one is a must read.....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sharing Ideas for Data
Another good read where the author draws a parallel between the flu and data collection!  Now this is a connection I can really make this week!  The autho suggests using grids like these to see emerging data pattersn :) Brilliant! 

photo (25)
with the grid filled in, you can see patterns emerging

From Eleana Aguilar: Some thoughts on student engagement
More sharing from my own reading files this week:     | Elena Aguilar
 Aguilar writes of the dangers of teaching the way things were back "When I was a kid..."  She reminds us that what worked for us, individually as kids, may not necessarily work for the group of kids we're standing in front of right now. It's a good read :)

How to write a narrative story - perspectives

One of the advantages of being down and out is that I am reading....lots and lots! 

powerful librarians

Friday, January 25, 2013

Memoir: The Power of Audience (Revised)

Parents are always asking, "How can I get my child to write?" I used to tell them to create an environment where kids were free to take risks and buy lots of special notebooks and pens.  Now, I have an even better answer!
I grew up recording bits and pieces of my life and dreams on crumpled yellow legal pads tucked into the nightstand.  Most of the time, I wrote so I could organize my own thinking.  I wrote more when I was upset or trying to work through challenging times. I certainly never considered myself to be a writer.  Writing was always messy.  I would write the first paragraph again to get it just right!  When I went back to grad school, I dreaded those 300-500 word reader responses because I knew it would take many drafts to get it right.  The one advantage was that I was by then, beginning to draft in Word, which allowed for more efficient revising and editing.  I remember thinking that it probably took me a lot longer than my classmates!   
Last year, something happened that changed my view on writing.  In February, I made a pledge to myself to try to write every day in March as part of the Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life Challenge.  I'd followed the TWT for a while and some of my blogging heroes posted there regularly so I figured, "Give it a try."  I'd already had this blog for quite a while and I planned to reflect on the process. 
I set up lots of "seed" posts on my blog so that I would have ideas for tough mornings and dedicated time for reading other's posts and penning my own.  Things plugged along slowly for the first few days, and the writing was pretty arduous.  I wondered if those in the SOL challenge would consider me worthy of posting on their "boards."  I worried that my writing was boring.  I worried I would run out of ideas.
Day 3 of the challenge was a Saturday, but I set my alarm anyway to be sure I would have time to write early and post near the beginning of the "pack."  I literally ran down the stairs to write!  The thoughts were coming fast and furiously!  I hit attach and send before heading off to make a cup of tea and checking my email.....

And when I came back, it was of my teacher-blog heroes had responded to MY post! Who would have thought that would ever happen! I think I was actually shaking with excitement as I hurriedly opened the browser ....and there were other comments....WOW...... There I was an experienced teacher with a PhD in Literacy, Language and Learning shaking with excitement like a preteen who just got an email from Lady Gaga! 

So now I know (and you know) what the real answer to the age old question really is.  To get kids to write, they do have to write a lot; however, writing, like talking, is a social activity that requires an audience who will provide specific feedback, challenges, guidance, encouragement and reflective listening.  Kids need to hear not just "I like this entry," or "Good," but rather "I like the way you made me understand how you character was feeling right here when you said she was so mad her hair hurt!"   Like Johnston says, our words have powerful impacts on our students. 
If we want kids to write more, they have to know that we genuinely want to read and respond to their writing. They have to know we care. We have to provide them with comfortable ways to write. We have to embrace technology. They have to have feedback that comes right away...and we have to make sure they are not penalized for taking risks with their writing.  We also have to make sure they can have feedback from their peers!  Sharing an "ah-ha" moment means making another one! 
If we give kids feedback through our verbal and written responses to their writing and if we tell them we really care ...they will feel like they hit the jackpot....that much I know for sure...cause it still happens to me....every single time someone responds to anything I write!    

Memoirs: What are they?

Last week, my Great Grad Writing Project Team write personal narrative texts that blew me away with their creativity and craftful writing.  This week, they are challenged to do it again with a bit of a memoir!

Writing memoirs means writing about parts of your life as a means to reflect on those experiences.  There are endless types of memoirs ranging from those that describe places, Eat, Pray, Love to those that talk about a person, Thank You Mr. Falkner., to those that talk about an event, Fireflies.  

* A memoir is a story about one event that happened to the writer. 
* There is emotion: happy, sad, mad, etc. 
* The author reflects on how the event was important / it impacted their life. 
* Looking through old photos and family artifacts is a good way to begin/

Reader's Digest

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kate Messner: Stand Up For Teachers

I've had some time to read this week, the only good thing about having a cough that racks my ribs and makes me guzzle Robitussin.  I am still weak as dishwater but together enough to know that Kate Messner takes a pretty strong stance against the APPR teacher evaluation linked to scores in NYS.

While we all share many of Kate's concerns especially the potential to use "numbers" to evaluate teachers, I want to hope that increased administrator presence in classrooms might have some positives for teachers AND for administrators!  We're all in this together, we do not teach in vacuums, and we all care about the kids!  Putting a number or a grade on a teacher at a moment in time, however, is very, very, hard to do based on the kinds of rubrics we have available today.  It's very hard,  perhaps impossible, to fully capture the caring of the teacher who kneels over to a student before the lesson to say, "I hope you will raise your hand and share the lead you wrote today in a few minutes." It's very hard, perhaps impossible, to measure student engagement in a lesson when the pay off comes two days later as a student explains, "I decided to try the graphic organizer before writing today and wow it worked."  It's very hard, perhaps impossible, to measure the compassion of a teacher who offers a gentle hug around the shoulders and a "I'm right here to help you get through today," of a student whose mom passed away. 

While I am not opposed to having my own teaching put under a microscope, it's hard to think that so many people think teachers "play all day, hang out in the teachers' room, and leave at 3:05.  Heavens' knows, we do not!   

You should read her whole post!
An excerpt is here: "The epidemic of teacher-bashing in our society – in our newspaper editorials and Tweets and blogs and status updates –needs to end." ....."There are many people – teachers and principals and parents alike – who are taking up the fight against APPR-style evaluations that rely on unreliable tests to evaluate teachers....Teachers are the good guys. They’ve proven it over and over again – giving up lunch hours to work with struggling students, buying books with their own limited paychecks to share with emerging readers, and yes…shielding students from violence. How very quickly we forget."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Not feeling particularly anything today

I'm home sick, really sick, from school today for the first time in many, many years.  Moms just don't get sick enough to stay home very often.  Women who care for elderly parents are needed on that front, too.  Teachers who teach grad school in the evening do not dare to miss a class unless they are in the hospital! 

I'm feeling like I let my guard down just enough for the sickies to move in!  Yes, I had that old flu shot and, yes, I take massive Vitamin C every single day, and yes I disinfect the table and my hands many times during the day. 

Usually, I am able to beat off the colds and flu with heavy doses on Airborne and some extra Vitamin C.  Usually, I am able to wish it away or sweat away that nagging cough that disrupts sleep and scares those around me!  Usually, I will myself to stay healthy by keeping a distance from the sickies. 

All in all, it is just a bad cold - virus - perhaps the flu that has brought me to spend the day in my bathrobe on the couch.  All in all, I've caught up on What Not To Wear, Devine Design and even caught glimpses of Honey Boo Boo (don't bother with that one).  I've read everything on my Kindle and tried to do some grad school work; however, my focus is warped by the sickness that has ravaged my body. 

All in all, I've consumed my volume in tea and my weight in fruit while popping Tylenol and Mucinex around the clock. I guess it is just a lost day and perhaps we all need one of them every decade?  Hope it is a while before I'm back in this seat! 

Monday, January 21, 2013


Modus operandi

"He ran off.  Grab the keys," said with an urgency that belied the early morning glow of scoffee.  With six little words he was off, down the driveway with the sad, empty leash dangling.
I first headed off on foot assuming he would not be far while they cried out pleas to the wayward pooch from the car windows. "Come," they begged, "come on boy." It was brisk and the wind was already blowing that morning.  None of us were dressed for an early morning walk and the wind made it hard to discern the rustle of brush from the scuffle of a runaway dog, so I headed back for my coat and car keys. 

"Do you think he ran after a deer?" I implored?
"I don't think he would do that."  
"Let's check down by the pond, just in case he ran after a deer," I muttered, half hoping but really knowing we would not see him in the pre dawn darkness.

Admittedly, there was a moment when I was remembering a collie who loved to run and who, many years ago, was found after many sleepless night, at the pound.  Admittedly, I thought, for a moment, that if we didn't find him, he could end up at a pound.   

"He's probably sitting on somebody's back step, scratching at their door now," she said softly, half wishing and hoping and half knowing her pup's modus opereadi. "There was a missed call," she murmured breathlessly.  "Do you have my dog?"

Just two driveways away, he was happily engaged in an early morning "play date" with the little white pooch at the house.  "Yes," they said, "he was scratching at our door and begging to come in.  We gave him a dog treat because he looked hungry and we worried he might have been out in the cold all night."

Ah, yes, early morning lessons*
* If you run away, you get loving when you return home.
* If you run away, you get dog treats.
* If you want a playdate, scratch at a nearby door!

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Modus operandi (plural modi operandi) is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as "method of operation".[1] The term is used to describe someone's habits or manner of working, particularly in the context of business or criminal investigations. In English, it is often shortened to M.O.
The expression is often used in police work when discussing a crime and addressing the methods employed by the perpetrators. It is also used in criminal profiling,[2] where it can help in finding clues to the offender's psychology.[3] It largely consists of examining the actions used by the individual(s) to execute the crime, prevent its detection and/or facilitate escape.[1] A suspect's modus operandi can assist in his identification, apprehension or repression, and can also be used to determine links between crimes.[4]

Just saying

                                                    Just saying,
                                             I DID have a flu shot!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stenhouse: Gradual Release of Responsibility

I didn't do as much early morning reading as usual for a Sunday morning as the dog got away from my son....and we had to go look for the dog....and then we found the dog......that would be the personal narrative part of my morning....but now...before church...I am catching up...

SO, on  this morning's Twitter feed, there is an interesting podcast from Debbie Miller who is rethinking just HOW much modeling we do for kids.....

She notes,"Instead of modeling and modeling and modeling, now I’m thinking that we don’t want to go overboard—we model a little bit, send kids off to try it, and then through conferring and what we ask them to make and do, we can have a clear picture of exactly where they are."

Check it out....

I must admit that I too think we sometimes spend TOO much time modeling (teaching) and not enough time doing guided practice for reading AND for writing....

Thanks for making me think and for sharing the link amy rudd@aruddteacher100

A Gift

This was a morning PD message today - from a colleague :)
I need this for bookmarks for my students - all of them! 
Thanks, made my day! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I almost forgot PD on PINTEREST!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is just around the corner and we want to help you and your students commemorate it! Inside our new guide, you’ll find a few of our favorite lesson plans and craft ideas.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is just around the corner and we want to help you and your students commemorate it! Inside our new guide, you’ll find a few of our favorite lesson plans and craft ideas.
1 like 14 repins

Stay Connected With Real Life

PD 21st Century Style?

I'm not sure if I would have become as passionate about life-long learning if I had stayed at my very first teaching job for my entire career.  It's possible, I would have become complacent and lost in the day to day minutiae of teaching what I knew.  It's possible that I would have been "dismissive" of those 21st Century literacy trends such as balanced literacy, CCS, and teacher evaluations. 
I'll never know what "might have been" but I do know that "being excised" early in my career, moving to accommodate my husband's career, and some inspiring colleagues (Mary Lynn, Mary Ellen, AC) who dragged me to New York State Reading Association conferences (back in the day when my own children were very young) adjusted the trajectory of my career and assured I never felt "I knew it all." 
This morning, as I prepared mentally for a busy day of caregiving, chores, and living, I enjoyed the quiet of an early Saturday and reflected on the power of Professional Development in a new form that I could never have imagined back in my early days of my teaching. 

Through my Personal Learning Network as I logged onto "Facebook" and Twitter.  There was SO much I wanted to read! Among this mornings offerings were this link from JoEllen McCarthy over at the Nerdy Book Club.  JoeEllen shared the late Donald Graves quote, "If you have even one colleague with whom you can share ideas, readings, and questions, you can draw from that enough energy to maintain your motivation and ability to grow professionally.”
I thenk linked over to @professornana’s blog thread
and was reminded that professional reading and sharing is not just in the hours we accumulate and "log" for our state and district mandated PD.

Then, I headed over to the Two Writing Teachers's suggested link (thanks to Facebook again).  they said, " A friend shared this on Facebook last night. Thought it was important for all educators to read re: test prep and how too much diminishes students' reading levels." 

Thank you for making my day Mr. Gabriel Feldberg.
I spent a while catching up on reading over at the TWT - after all it had been a busy week - first week of the semesters are like that!
I then headed over to Choice Literacy!/ChoiceLiteracy
and wondered how I could share this link on Tuesday.....

I needed a cup of coffee at that point, but I returned to Twitter  AJF@anitaferreri  where Peter DeWitt, Colby Sharp, the ASCD, Keven Hodgsen and Education Week can always get me thinking and downloading (or ordering) a book or two.

I really would like to have more REAL conversations with colleagues about all of this.....but meanwhile....I have so much to read and so much laundry to do!  How about you? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Personal Narrative Writing: Some Guidelines

"Personal narratives allow you to share your life with others and vicariously experience the things that happen around you. Your job as a writer is to put the reader in the midst of the action letting him or her live through an experience. Although a great deal of writing has a thesis, stories are different. A good story creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. A story has done its job if we can say, "Yes, that captures what living with my father feels like," or "Yes, that’s what being cut from the football team felt like."

From this site:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mommy Wars Today, Teacher Wars Tomorrow?

I first met Kristen when she was wearing pinafores and pigtails; later on, our paths crossed when she, a bubbly coed, traveled in the same "circle" as one of my own children.  Still later, she invited me to be a "Facebook" friend in order to see picture of her then newborn son.  In fact, truth be told, that is why I joined Facebook initially! 

I guess I always knew she was "one smart cookie" but she certainly went into some "treacherous waters" when she wrote her post on the Mommy Wars today.   BRAVO to you, Kristen for going there!  Just for the record, the "battle" was going on when YOU were in diapers and those of us who tried to balance motherhood and careers walked a tight line fearing the wrath of both sides of the debate!  Yet, I hear your concerns loud and clear! 

One of Kristen's conclusions is that these "Mommy Wars" are stronger than ever "because there is a lot of pressure the be the BEST!"  On that point, you might just be right.....

Which really made me wonder if we have some parallels happening in our school communities right now.   In an age of high stakes testing driven teacher assessment, are we (or will be) quicker to turn into the "mean girls" and "mean guys" in our own striving to be "perfect" (or as the assessment protocol in NYS calls it, HIGHLY EFFECTIVE.  If we are not careful, and do not learn to embrace diversity towards common goals of all children learning to be effective citizens, some we might just start to think that If MY way is TO BE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE, then your differing way must be wrong? 

Just wondering.....thanks Kristen for making me think....and wonder....and plan to write about becoming a community of teachers, who embrace diveristy towards a common goal.

Check out Kristen's post here

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I often think of my father's "word-of-advice" as I listen to those 
1) seeking a relationship;
2) enjoying the passion of new love;
3) or in the throes of difficult times in relationships.  
He had just been admitted for heart failure, when a doctor, finding that my father had been married nearly 60 years, asked him sincerely, "How did you do that?"  My father, known for succinct verbal retorts replied, "Endurance. You have to stick with it."  
It's a word I am thinking of today, as I acknowledge my own "milestone" anniversary. I was young, really young, and naive and my life was full of promise and excitement when on a cold January morning, I promised to "love, honor, and cherish for better or for worse."  I really had no idea at all what I was "signing on for" when I eagerly grinned as I said, "I do."  
We've eaten, together, on a wobbly flea market table and on a solid mahogany one on a breathtakingly beautiful porch.  We've slept, together, on cold basement floors and in a bedroom with a cathedral ceiling.  We've each agreed to do many things we did not really want to do, in order to be together.  We've put personal goals aside, at times, for each other.  Together, we've worked through the challenge of balancing two careers, two kids, and numerous personal and professional "crises." 
One "memorable" anniversary we "celebrated" with CYO hot dogs and there were several when we didn't even have dinner together!  It's been an amazing, interesting, balancing act and at times, a bumpy ride, through my own many years of marriage.  There were days, weeks, months of pure joy and great passion and yet there have also been days, weeks, and months when we endured through very difficult times.  My father's words of advice ring clearly this morning as I reflect on the unimaginable love experience and joy in sharing this journey through the years.  While I could never have imagined the depth of love I know today back when I made that promise in St. Patrick's Church, it is with sincere appreciation, gratitude for God's grace, and great happiness that I reflect, "Looks like we made it."       


  1. The fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
  2. The capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.
                                    stamina - durability - patience - staying power

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oh How I Long For Slice of Biscotti

It's been 10 days now that I have totally stuck to the plan to change the ecosystem that lurks in my arteries and send those lab numbers down so others say, "Wow!"  I still long for those post Christmas mornings when a slice or two (or three) of cranberry, cornmeal or chocolate biscotti dipped in hot coffee was my SOL (slice of life).  I still dream of the days when bruscetta covered pita chips were my evening SOL.  I still dream of bits of panacea in my Saturday morning omelet and lobster dipped in melted butter on hot summer nights; however, these days, my new obsession, thanks to the ad people at Quaker Oats and ol' Walter Brennan, is a gluey, glob of oatmeal. I'm not losing weight over this dietary change, perhaps because I need to smother that gluey glob in dried cranberries, raisins, blueberries and cinnamon sugar; however, I am focusing on the medicinal value of a time honored breakfast treat to work it's magic and lower the effects of years of breakfast bars in the car and vacations spent with biscotti dipped in coffee.

Most mornings, I find myself quoting Theodore Gisele, as I say my

Ode to Oatmeal
I do not like it in my dish
It tastes like a glob of day old fish,
It's a little better with lots of Craisins,
It's a little better with tons of raisins.
I can swallow it with heaps of blueberries,
I like it a wee bit with expensive dried cherries. 
I will eat it because it is good for me.
I will swallow it even if it tastes a bit nasty to me! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Got Role Models?

Yes Peter,  you have me thinking again....

In his Edweek post, Peter DeWitt talked about reflecting on the people who influence us as we travel through this journey of life.  We all have such people; family, friends, teachers, and acquaintances who inspire us through their words, their actions, their responses to us and to the world around them. 

I've had quite a few people who have inspired me in my professional and personal lives. There was my Grandmother whose treasured book collection in her dining room most likely inspired my own. There was my aunt, the teacher and a professor, Burton Blatt, who showed me that all people had potential to lead inspiring lives. There were colleagues who took me around NYSRA conferences and showed me that teachers who thought "outside the box" had the potential to reach all children and assure learning for all. I've had students who struggled to learn to read and yet achieved great success in life becoming doctors, lawyers, police, moms and dads.  They have inspired me with their tenacity and resilience.  My sister-in-law showed me, by her example, how to raise strong and independent children. My own children inspire me to think about learning, living and loving in a far greater perspective than ever before. 

All of us have the potential to inspire or to squash those in our paths by what we say and do every day.  Wealth, education, and sports achievements do not assure that someone will be an inspiration to others.  As Peter DeWitt notes, a child who is not at the top of his/her class in first, eighth or even during their senior year of high school may still lead a successful life and serve his family, peers and country as a productive citizen and perhaps even as an inspiration to many.  We all have the potential to inspire. 

Those of us who are teachers, parents, granparents, treasured auntie and uncles, coaches, leaders...often note: A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of home I lived in, or the kind of car I drove; What will matter is that the world will be different because I was important in the life of a child.

We might all hold onto a parallel perspective: A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of home I lived in, or the kind of car I drove; What will matter is that the world will be different because I was important to others.

Who are your role model?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

How do you decide which books to use?

Is it just me or are others focusing on text choices this weekend? 

I've known the power of books for a long time now and still marvel at the way a willing reader can connect with a well written text.  The other morning, I was sharing Max's Words with two little friends and of course it led to a discussion of our personal collections.  They recounted their collections (band aids, stickers, pencils, stuffed animals) and mine (books and those little red coffee stirrers).  To be honest, I do not collect those stirrers but there were quite a few in my car! 

So, I was certainly focusing on making "smart" text choices after a Friday afternoon call from the Scholastic representative about a "new" Common Core aligned text set.  We stayed late at school looking at the text sets "experts" say best meet the needs of our students.  We found classics and some not-before-known texts among the collection and appreciate the work of those in the publishing world who are working full-time to assure we have resources and frameworks to explore more complex texts more deeply.   

Then, last night, there was this wonderful link from Heather Rader over at Choice Literacy about books focusing on bullying.  As I expected, R. J  Palacio's  fabulous book about disfigurement and acceptance, Wonder,  was included along with many other new-to-me texts such as
My Secret Bully, Confessions of a Former Bully, Confessions,and Patricia Polacco’s new book Bully.  Heather also talked about using  Thank You, Mr. Falker,  and How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson and The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes! her well research list of books exploring complex issues with rich language was pretty compelling and made me "wonder" how I might include such a unit of study in my own realistic fiction.  Heater, a wise woman indeed, also links to many other people's links, such as the Children's Literature Network,

Then, thanks to a PLN Twitter reminder, I hopped over to the Nerdy Book Club and read Alyson Beecher's post about biographical picture books.  I knew some of the texts like Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport but never thought of connecting it to  Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko to explain who Eleanor Roosevelt was!  yes I knew The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with Chimps by Jeanette Winter but never thought to pair it with  Marty McGuire by Kate Messner.

WonderComprehension Clubs Grade 2 Theme Set: Search & SurviveMax's WordsPinky and Rex and the Bully


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just one word?

Gee whiz, Stacey, participating in your weekly SOL has been a wonderful part of this past year and has challenged me to notice the details of life more closely, reflect on all the moments more deeply and write from my heart more effectively.  Yet, choosing just one word for the year full of potential is really, really, really hard! 

I have been thinking about what my word might be for a while.  I thought about it months ago when I heard someone say, "I can't wait for this year to be over."  That was even before smaller stresses like new teacher evaluations and huge life changing event stresses.  It was long before the sadness December's days evoked for teachers, friends, and family.  I thought about my hopes and wishes for the new year last night as I reflected on the "old" year, indeed filled with darkness and sadness; yet, I also remember that there have been many bright wonderful moments filled with joy, wonder and hope.  I thought about my "word" as I sat reflecting on the potential for the new year; I thought about my hopes for wonderful happy memories even though I am assured there will be some sad moments, too. 

What I realized is that whatever word I chose would best be understood if embedded in the context of the moment rather than stand in isolation, just like the written words we share each week.  So, until "a single word" jumps out for me for this new year, I will try to embrace the positive side of life's continuum and try to:
Make healther choices more often,
Be more generous and less selfish
Find the good rather than the not-so-good in those around me
Embrace the moments, rather than wishing
Seek more peace than discord,
Have more hope than despair,
Make more happy memories than sad ones,
Be more joyful, more thankful, and more grateful.