Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Power of Poetry- SOL #21

SOLS button 2013

In honor of World Poetry Day, my slice is about the power of poetry. I had originally wanted to write some poetry of my own today, but I’m not quite feeling it. Instead, I find myself pondering the power that poetry plays in our lives. Poetry can excite you, lift you up, move you, tell a story, paint a picture in your mind, or give voice to your feelings.

As soon as I got home today, I immediately reread Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” This poem had been speaking to me on the way home. Even when I couldn’t remember all of the words, the message, the mantra “I rise” kept repeating in my head. Today I rise. I may be beaten down. I may be downtrodden. But still, I rise. No one has power over me. I rise. I am worthy. I rise.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
What power does poetry have for you?

Surprises Are The Best!- SOL #20

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I love planning surprises almost as much as I like getting surprised. Tonight was a night of surprises for Michelle, a good friend of mine who is one of the nicest people around! Tomorrow is her birthday, but since we have a standing “date night” every Wednesday, I knew it would be pretty easy to pull one over on her without her knowing. As far as she knew, I was taking her out for our regular dinner, just the two of us.

Her birthday surprise was a three-parter. First, we went to get foot massages at this uh-mazing place I’ve recently discovered, Subconscious Day Spa. Seriously, when I say this place is nice, that’s a definite understatement. It’s the epitome of relaxation and zen. The energy there is so calming that you can’t help but breathe a little deeper when you step inside. Like I said, Michelle thought it was just the two of us, but boy was she surprised when we walked into the spa and Amy, Melissa, and Linnea jumped out and yelled, “Happy Birthday Michelle!” The grin across her face warmed my heart. After the surprise, we all settled into our comfy, reclining massage chairs where we were pampered for the next hour. This is heaven for your feet!

After our massage, we walked next door to Dr. Wine, one of Michelle’s favorite places to eat and drink, where a table was waiting for us. As soon as we sat down, we immediately ordered three plates of goat cheese bruschetta. The waitress thought she misunderstood us. “Three orders?” she questioned. Yes, we know there are only five people here, but that dish is so amazing we really must have three orders.

IMG_2772All of us girls enjoying our yummy goat cheese bruschetta.

We ordered a bottle of wine (and a coke for me…I still don’t like wine) and our entrees and then dug into the goat cheese. It was gone in less than five minutes! Laughter, conversation, and wine flowed freely.

Linnea, Michelle (the birthday girl), and Amy

Me and Melissa

Following dinner, we proceeded to the photo booth at the back of the restaurant. This photo booth is really meant for one person, so it’s teeny-tiny inside. We had a blast fitting all five of us into one picture! After taking several pictures as mementos of Michelle’s birthday, we headed to our last stop of the night, gelato! I had the strawberry and lemon combo and it was so refreshing! Everyone else got something different, but we all loved it!

IMG_2769I love our photos! These are definitely going into my writer’s notebook!
Don’t you just love the one with Steve Jobs? Only in China! 😉

I had such a nice time tonight celebrating one of my favorite people! Happy Birthday Michelle! Love you!

S-T-U-C-K- SOL #19

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I’m stuck. S-T-U-C-K. Stuck. I’ve been sitting here for over an hour trying to find inspiration for a slice of life. Just a little something that would spark an idea. What I ended up with was nothing. A blank slate. An empty mind.

I know we’ve all been there. That place commonly known as writer’s block. What I normally do when this happens is mine my writer’s notebook for ideas. I’ve done that. Trust me. I’ve looked back at my heart map, perused my neighborhood map, reread my lists, and tried to find inspiration in the quotes scribbled on the pages of my writer’s notebook. But writing a ‘slice of life’ is what’s tripping me up today. I want to find something in my notebook that reminds me of something that happened today. I want my slice to connect to today. The problem with that is that nothing out of the ordinary happened. Nothing happened that I could write a whole entire slice about.

Maybe I’m putting too mush pressure on myself to write this amazing slice. Yeah, that’s probably it. I tend to do that– put too much pressure on myself to get things just right. Writing is a process, right? And part of the process is not knowing exactly what to write. So today, I’m deciding to live in that moment of uncertainty. That imperfect moment. And today, that’s OK.

Taking the Scenic Route- SOL #18

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Living abroad has it’s challenges. Living in a country where you don’t (really) speak the language is one of those challenges. Taxis are another.

Tonight, after having a quiet dinner by myself at Pizza Marzano where I was able to indulge in all-you-can-drink sweet tea and a goat cheese salad while getting some much needed work done, I decided to take a taxi home. I could have walked. The mall where I was isn’t not too far from my apartment. It was (finally) a nice night in terms of the weather. But I chose to taxi instead because I needed to get home quickly. I had a slice to write. And more importantly, I had to pee! All-you-can-drink sweet tea can do that to you, you know? I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I just use the bathroom at the mall before I left? Have you seen a Chinese bathroom lately? I rest my case.

Anyhow, I make my way to the taxi queue and I’m pleasantly surprised that there is no line and a few green light taxis are eagerly awaiting passengers. I hop into a “dead red” (as my friend Quinne called them) taxi. This should have been a sign that I was in for an interesting night.

“Ni qu nali?” the taxi driver asked. (Where are you going?)

“Ni hao. Wo qu Xinhua Lu, Dingxi Lu,” I reply. (Hello. I’m going to Xinhua Road and Dingxi Road.)

We pull out onto the road and are forced to make a right. The quickest way home is to make a left, but the recently added barricade makes that impossible. Ok, I think. No biggie. He’ll just make a right and go around the block. I know my way home (finally) after living here nearly three years. As we approach the light, I realize we’re in the straight-only lane.

“Uh…shifu…Xinhua Lu?” (Uh…master(That’s what we call taxi drivers here. I know, it’s strange.) Xinhua Lu?)

“Wo zhi dao. Wo zhi dao.” (I know. I know.)

“Bu yao yi zhi zou. XINHUA LU,” I say in a sure of myself tone of voice. (I don’t want to go straight. XINHUA Road.)

“Wo qu Panyu Lu. Panyu Lu you guai. Xinhua Lu zou guai,” my taxi driver replies. I detect a smugness in his voice. (I’m going to Panyu Road. Turn right on Panyu Road. Turn left on Xinhua Road.)

“Zheli you guai,” I command, knowing that if he turns right on Hong Qiao Lu I can direct him to my house. He isn’t the best listener, so he continues straight ahead. (Turn right here.)

Fine, I think to myself. I know that Panyu Lu crosses Xinhua Lu, so we’ll just go a little out of the way, but I’ll still be home relatively soon.

We keep driving. No sign of Panyu Lu. “You really have no idea where you’re going do you? I told you this was the wrong way. Now I’m going to have to pay a lot more money AND I still have to pee!” I grumble in English. I know he can’t understand me, but he gets my tone of voice. He knows I’m irritated. He grumbles something back in Chinese that I don’t understand.

“Bu hao!” (Bad!) I say to him, which is the only way I know to express my disgust with his lack of direction. We are now at Ikea, which is in the completely opposite direction from my house. Feeling my frustration radiating from the back seat, he turns off the meter. He knows he went the wrong way. Assuming the “I’m lost, so I’m going to put my hands at ten and two and sit up straighter” position, we begin taking the scenic route to my apartment. I got to see parts of Shanghai I haven’t ever seen before. On a normal day, I’d be excited by the spontaneous tour of the city, but my bladder was not a happy camper.

Once he got on the Yan’an Elevated Road, I thought “How far out of the way did he take me?!?” “How much longer? How much longer?” kept replaying in my head. As we approached the exit for Xinhua Lu, I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost home.

As we neared the corner, I said, “Ting zai zheli.” (Stop here.)

After handing over the money for the ride (14 kuai since he stopped the meter), he turns to me and, with a toothless grin, says “Dui bu qi. Solly! Solly!” How could I be mad at that?!? (Sorry in Chinese and then an attempt to say it in English.)

Taking the change, I smile and reply, “Mei guanxi.” (No worries.)

Conferences that Nudge Writers Forward- SOL #17

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Here’s yet another post where I share what I learned from “The Art of Teaching Literacy” workshop in Hong Kong. This session was presented by Matt Glover and it was called “Conferences that Nudge Writers Forward.” Matt Glover is an author and presenter who focuses primarily on teaching our youngest writers, grades preschool to first grade, how to write. If you missed the other posts, you can check them out here and here.

– “Conferences are in the moment teaching.” ~Matt Glover

-Nudge vs. Push

  • It’s your job to find out what they can already do to determine the next small step.
  • A nudge is something they can do that is within their zone of proximal development.

-Writing Conference Structure

  • Research– ask questions to figure out what you need to teach, this is where you decide what the student needs, allows you to differentiate
  • Name Strength– identify what they are doing well as a writer
  • Decide on ONE Teaching Point
    • You many see many things that the writer needs to improve upon, but it’s important to narrow it down to just one teaching point.
    • Choose between a focus on composition or conventions, not both.
    • Teach
      • “What can I teach you that will help you down the road?”
      • Teaching means I’m going to show you how to do something that you don’t know how to do.
      • Don’t confuse reminders, telling, or correcting with teaching.
      • Tools to have with you during your conferences:
        • Mentor texts (picture books mainly)
        • Your own writing
        • Another child’s writing
        • Matt carries around mentor texts and notes in a folder to make it easier to confer.

-Conference Viewing Form: A form to use when observing a conference or watching a video of a conference.

  • Conference length- suggested time 5-7 min, increase efficiency
  • Research- Look at types of questions asked (open-ended, filler, shifting ownership, positive presupposition, questions I already know the answer to), how many questions
  • Strengths- identify and name students’ strengths
  • Decisions- teach to their strengths or areas of need
  • Teaching Point
    • Generating a teaching point
    • Narrowing down to a teaching point
    • Sticking to a teaching point
    • Generate both composition and conventions teaching points
    • Which mentor texts to use and why
    • Do I teach to the minilesson or something else?
    • Invitational or directional teaching point?
    • Tone, language, and word choice in a conference

– Conference Tips:

  • Say “book” not “story” because when you call their writing a “story” you are implying that they are writing a story when they may be writing an informational text, list book, etc.
  • Need more time to decide on a teaching point? It’s helpful to slow down the conference by asking more questions to figure out more information.
  • Use writing samples and videos to improve skills at conferring.
  • Conferring notes should include:
    • Name/Date
    • Strengths
    • Teaching point
    • Next steps
    • Take notes AFTER the conference so the kids aren’t distracted during the conference.
    • You’ll never know if your teaching point was the best one to teach or not. You only have once chance to teach. Then you can reflect and get better next time. So don’t beat yourself up about it.

-Book recommendation- Sit Down and Teach Up by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover- an ebook that contains videos of 15 conferences with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students as well as notes, charts, and explanations of their thinking. You can purchase it on iBooks or download a PDF version from Heinemann’s website.

I love learning from Matt Glover. Even though he makes conferring seem effortless, when he’s presenting, he slows down the process for us, revealing his thoughts and reasoning behind the choices he made. If you haven’t read his work, you should definitely check it out! Engaging Young Writers and Already Ready (co-written with Katie Wood Ray) are great reads for teachers of young writers. And if you ever get the chance to see him present, jump at the opportunity! You will not be disappointed!


Matt and I at the conference. I was a little starstruck! 

Searching for Balance- SOL #16

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Lately the word ‘balance’ has been weighing on my mind. The past few months have been extremely busy for me and an increase in responsibilities and commitments have resulted in an imbalance in my life. Currently I am the literacy coach at my school, but beginning in August, I will move into the role of vice principal. While this impending change is exciting, it brings increased responsibilities as I not only fulfill my current duties, but begin the transition into leadership and begin taking on additional meetings and projects. I have become aware that I have been neglecting other aspects of my life as a result of this change.

This weekend, within a span of 24 hours, two of my friends told me that they thought the lack of communication from me was because they did something to upset me. Not at all! How could they think that? They’re wonderful people and I love them. Upon reflection, I realized that I have been neglecting my friendships. I think deep down I knew this was happening, but I decided not to think about it. I do that sometimes. If there’s something going on that’s too much to handle, or if I don’t want to face it at the moment, I’ll avoid it. Not the best tactic, I know, but I do it.

The need for balance in my life has led me to reflect on all of my responsibilities- those related to relationships and work and personal commitments. First and foremost, relationships are important to me. I want to cultivate friendships here in Shanghai with my friends, many of whom have become my family. Cultivating these friendships means spending time together. I have relationships with family and friends abroad that require my love and attention, and all too often are the first to be neglected. You know the saying ‘Out of sight, out of mind’? Well, it’s not really true that they are out of my mind, but the relationships with people you directly interact with tend to take priority even when you try to make a concerted effort to spread yourself evenly amongst all of your friends, no matter their location. The fact that I live in a completely different time zone only complicates matters.

I also have other commitments that fill my schedule. Work responsibilities take a lot of my time, and more and more I am finding that I have less time at work to complete tasks so I am taking things home more often, resulting in less time to devote to my relationships. There are also personal goals that I would like to achieve such as writing, reading, exercise, and cooking. I can’t tell you the last time I cooked myself a meal. It’s much easier to just order in and eat while I’m working on something else. I also realize I’m the worst at responding to emails or other correspondence. I used to be really good at emailing people back in a timely manner or even initiating contact, but lately, I find myself drowning in a sea of communication and I can’t devote the necessary time to respond to everyone. Work emails are always responded to in a prompt manner, but personal ones, not so much. If I haven’t responded right away and it’s been a few days, I feel bad, and therefore, sometimes avoid responding altogether. Why do I do this?

How can I find a balance between maintaining relationships and fulfilling my work and personal responsibilities? I feel like this is preparation for next year, when life is going to be even more busy, and I hope I can figure it all out by then. In the meantime, I hope that everyone can bear with me while I try to navigate the waters of this newfound “busyness.” I’m confident that I’ll figure it out somehow, but I’m just not sure when. I cannot imagine what it would be like if I had a family of my own. I am in awe of anyone who manages a job, kids, and other life responsibilities. I don’t know how you do it!

Reconnecting- SOL #15

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Tonight was so much fun! I was able to reconnect with some friends that I had not seen in a while. I met Vic and Judy last October on a cruise from Shanghai to Japan, and they happen to live near Shanghai. We haven’t seen each other in a while, and so it was really nice to catch up, have a drink (or two), swap book recommendations, and dance at a new local bar on their grand opening night. We also watched several people juggle in the street. All in all, it was a great night. Tonight’s slice is short because I just got home and it’s midnight in a few minutes.

Inquiry-Based Learning: Content Vs. Coverage- SOL #14

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Here’s another installment of sharing from “The Art of Teaching Literacy” workshop in Hong Kong. I attended one of Stephanie Harvey’s sessions entitled “Inquiry-Based Learning: Content Vs. Coverage” and learned quite a bit! As a literacy coach at a PYP school, I think a lot about teaching through inquiry, especially teaching reading and writing through inquiry. Here are my notes from the session.

Comprehension is Core!

  • Students need strategies for comprehension in order to inquire.
  • Students need to learn how to collaborate in order to inquire.
  • Students are born thinkers. They come to us already doing it.
  • We need to teach them ABOUT their thinking.
  • We want to know what the text makes them think about, rather than just have them retell the story.
  • Live a curious life- keep a wonder/research notebook to model inquiry
  • One question leads to another and another…inquiry is never-ending
  • “About 75% of reading for EAL learners should be nonfiction.” Stephanie Harvey
    • We teach kids:
      • to be aware of their thinking
      • to think strategically and above all…
      • to recognize the power of their thinking- they have power to do a lot; don’t marginalize their thinking
      • to have a sense of agency- read Choice Words & Opening Minds by Peter Johnston- Stephanie says these are great reads!
      • learning is a consequence of thinking
      • that we use comprehension strategies so we can acquire and use knowledge
      • that we can turn information into knowledge by thinking about it
      • Information in—> then thinking—> and out comes knowledge! Without thinking, it’s information in, information out. Empower them to realize they have to do the thinking on their own in order to gain knowledge; gives sense of agency.
        • “Today’s new knowledge is tomorrow’s background knowledge.”
        • Use a common language about literacy and strategies.
        • Comprehension is at the CORE!- use inquiry in ALL subject areas, not just language arts
        • “The more worksheets the kids fill out, the lower the students achieve.” Zero studies link worksheets to high achievement! They require no thinking and they don’t allow for differentiation.
        • Alternatives: Think Sheets, graphic organizers, diagrams, post its; there should be nothing there until kids work on it. Kids are working out their thinking when they do this type of work. You know what they’ve learned and what they haven’t when you’ve read their Think Sheets, so it’s an authentic assessment.


Inquiry Circles in Primary Grades: Kids Want to Know!

  • Collaboration- research says you should have 3-5 students per collaboration group (3 up to 1st, 4-5 in 2nd and up), 6 is too many
  • “Wisdom begins in wonder.” ~Socrates
  • Inquiry should permeate the day, not be in just a few projects.
  • Inquiry Circles in Action by Harvey & Daniels- Great Book!
  • Powerful Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond- highly recommended by Stephanie
  • Why is the Sky Blue? By Sally Grindley & Susan Varley- great book to teach kids about inquiry
  • Stephanie likes books that have a title as a question.


Inquiry Approach Vs. Coverage Approach:

  • Cover- synonym is “bury”
  • Schools should fit kids, not the other way around.
  • Inquiry circles- don’t require kids to be on the same level, unlike Literature Circles

Small Group Inquiry Model– not linear, cyclical, can go between phases

  • Immerse- Flood them with texts, maps, online sources, images, DVDs, etc on topic.
  • Investigate- Begin to have enough information to ask good questions. You can’t ask a good question about something you don’t know about.
  • Coalesce- Pull together information to synthesize and address what you’ve learned.
  • Go Public- Presenting information

Four Types of Inquiry Circles:

  • Mini-Inquiry– takes a student question to investigate a student’s question; Rationale- authentic, relevant, answers questions fast, teaches research process, prepares students for more in depth inquiry, engaging, honor students’ thinking
  • Curriculum Inquiry– linked to subject or Unit of Inquiry
  • Literature Circle Inquiry– takes a regular literature circle, and then the students ask questions about the books, and then those morph into mini-inquiry circles
  • Open Inquiry– kids studying something they are fascinated in that doesn’t have anything to do with what they’re learning; if you only do it once/year, do it early in the year; research and reading standards can be taught easily


Inquiry in Pre-K/Kindergarten:

  • All about images (large photo calendars offer one of the best opportunities to find great images; use last year’s calendars for cheap)
  • Students ask questions about images
  • Collaborative-model how to work together/how not to work together
  • Give prompts to inquire
  • Responding to images by drawing and writing
  • Confer to find out what they wonder and think
  • Differentiate through responses and text levels, not the instruction
  • Don’t answer questions, always have them turn and talk first
  • Art is synergistic!
    • Highly engaged in art in class
    • Not just in art
    • Teachers don’t do it, they facilitate students’ work
    • Use the content to learn how to inquire, research, and answer questions
    • Essential questions are transferrable
    • It naturally reoccurs creating opportunities to transfer to other situations and subjects
    • Provokes deep thought, lively discussion, new understanding
    • Sparks meaningful connections


Four Phases of Inquiry:

  • Immersion– Learners construct knowledge as they go; Visual word walls help students make connections and gain understanding with the words’ meanings (use google images)
  • Investigate– When we learn something new, our thinking changes; Our questions lead to a line of thinking.
  • Coalesce– Response- “I learned, I wonder, Wow!”; Use literature to synthesize ideas; Begin to infer the big ideas
  • Take Public– Demonstrate understanding; Come to care about the subject; Share with others; Put learning into action; Audience interacts by writing new learning and questions based on their classmates’ presentations

Thinking and Curiosity Matter- SOL #13

SOLS button 2013


Three weeks ago I attended a truly inspirational workshop, The Art of Teaching Literacy, in Hong Kong. I had the privilege of learning from greats in the field of literacy such as Stephanie Harvey, Matt Glover, Sara Holbrook, and Michael Salinger. There was so much learning packed into two short day. Now that I’m back at work, trying some of the strategies out, and reflecting on all I’ve learned, I thought it was time to share some of my learning. Today’s post will focus on what I learned during Stephanie Harvey’s keynote entitled “Passion and Wonder Are Contagious: Why Thinking and Curiosity Matter in the 21st Century.”

  • Buzz words- 21st century skills, college-readiness, career-readiness
  • We are currently going through the fastest change in history.
  • Did you know…Google began in 1994? Facebook is only 5 years old? Twitter is only 28 months old? ‘Friend’ is a verb in the dictionary (2010)? ‘Unfriend’ is too (2012)?
  • We, as educators, have no idea what careers there will be in the future. We are preparing our students for careers that haven’t been invented yet.
  • For future careers, we know students that will have to be thoughtful, strategic, wonder/be curious, and work together/collaborate, so we need to prepare children for this.
  • STEM- science, technology, engineering, math; STEM is the area most careers in the future will be centered around.
  • Small group work- should comprise 70% of the day; Large group- 30% of the day
  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google says, “Teaching will be learning how to ask the right questions. I was taught to memorize facts. Why remember them? Now you just need to learn how to search for information and sort through the burgeoning data available on computers.”
  • Eric Schmidt also says, “Instantaneous access really changes your life. What never changes is the need for curiosity. What you really need to do is teach people to be curious.”
  • Kids are naturally curious in kindergarten, but by fifth they aren’t. Conventional schooling drives curiosity out of them.
  • The more you learn, the more you wonder, therefore, you should have more questions in fifth and twelfth grades than you did when you were younger.
  • “I have no special talent. I’m only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
  • We really need to be having lots of fun with our kids. The most direct link to learning is engagement, thus fun.
  • Inquiry-based learning is learning in a way that the kids’ questions matter.
  • “Interaction is at the core of engagement.” ~Harvey and Goudvis
  • Students need to constantly turn and talk; kids shouldn’t have to listen for more than 5 minutes without stopping to process and talk.
  • How do you foster and nurture curiosity in your kids’ learning and get them to ask more and more questions? (examples: post questions up around the room, wonder wall, provocations)
  • We need to live a curious life ourselves! How can we do that?
    • Model
    • Ask questions
    • Care about finding the answers (online, books, interviews)
    • Be awake to new information and revise thinking in light of new evidence
    • Confer with others
    • Construct meaning through drawing and writing (notebooks)
    • Be skeptical
  • “The questions a student asks after reading a text are a better assessment than the questions that a student can answer about a text.” ~P. David Pearson
  • Always ask “What are you still wondering?” because this allows you to gather loads of information from their questions.
  • Kids need plenty of time to just plain read! Why is it that the kids who need the most time to read get the least? We OVER-instruct them! We pull them for this or that and don’t let them just read. Every child who is a year behind needs twice as much reading as on-grade level kids. Give them class time to read. Make sure to give kids what they want to read to ignite their passion.
  • Four principles of reading achievement and learning:
    • Volume– the more kids read the better they read (texts they can and want to read; “she reads, therefore she’s smart”)
    • Response– the more kids interact, the more they learn and understand (authentic response, talking about books, taking action, writing a letter)
    • Explicit Instruction– kids need both teacher modeling and time to practice (they don’t need phonics instruction if they can read, they need time to read; modeling and giving them time to practice, it’s different than direct instruction)
    • Purpose– readers must see reading as a meaningful experience (avid readers already have an intrinsic purpose; we need to help our reluctant readers with finding a purpose, focusing on their interests)

Stephanie ended her keynote with, “Smart is not something you are, smart is something you get. And you get smart by reading, writing, drawing, talking, listening and investigating.” I believe it is imperative that we offer our students opportunities everyday to inquire, collaborate, read, write, use technology, speak, listen, experiment, play, ask questions, find the answers, and have fun. Stephanie is such a phenomenal person to learn from; she is incredibly passionate about what she does and it is evident that she truly loves children and wants them to succeed. I hope that you learned a little something today. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to clarify them for you.

Books in my stack- SOL #12

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Readers always have books in their stacks. Waiting to be read. Calling to us. Scrambling to move higher up the list. Begging to be the next one we read. My stack is brimming with possibilities. Here’s what’s in my current stack. I’m always open to adding to it, so please leave a comment with a suggestion or two for books that I just have to add to my stack.

Young Adult Fiction

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Panic by Sharon Draper

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Professional Texts

What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher

Comprehension & Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action by Stephanie Harvey & Harvey Daniels

The Daily Five by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser

Smarter Charts K-2 by Margorie Martinelli & Kristine Mraz

Sit Down and Teach Up by Matt Glover & Katie Wood Ray

Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo


The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank (want to reread)

Finding Fish: A Memoir by Antwone Quenton Fisher

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (want to reread)

1984 by George Orwell (want to reread)