Saturday, September 13, 2014

This is a wonderfully thoughtful post by The Nerdy Book Club. Check it out. It makes you really rethink your book choices. Unless your district takes book choices out of your hands that is. Information is always good to have but let teachers take the information and make decisions that best meet their students needs I say. This is full of thoughtful info to help you make some good book choices!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thank you!

I am so excited to say that my Donors Choose project was fully funded today. Thanks to all the donors my students will be able to use 2 Ipads in my reading groups.  You guys are awesome! I will use this blog to update how we will be using them. Google gave the final big donation to make it happen. Thank you Google! You Rock!  Here are two emails, I got from Donors Choose explaining what Google did for my students and Kansas City Teachers.  #Google #DonorsChoose


Once upon a time, in a city not so far away called Kansas City, Ms. Boltz's students were asking for science centers so that they could learn about insects and plants. Just a little ways up the road, Mr. Pohlman's students would like to explore the world of printmaking with a rotary screen printing press. One state over, Mrs. Belden's students are requesting drums to explore diverse cultures.

A few weeks ago, our partners at Google asked us what we thought was a hypothetical question: would it be possible to support every project in the Kansas City area?

They were so moved by the work of local teachers like you that they decided to fully fund every currently live project, donating more than $200,000 to classrooms in need.

Happy, happy back to school from us and our friends at Google, and thank you for inspiring us and our partners every day.

The Team


Hooray! Google Kansas City from Kansas City, MO just gave to Read, Write and Think and wrote:

"You go out of your way every single day to give Kansas City students the education they need and deserve. From all of your friends at Google Kansas City, we?re proud to support you, this great city and all its local teachers. Today, to say thanks for everything you do, we?re funding your project and all projects in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. We hope this helps kick off an amazing 2014 - 2015 school year full of creativity and new learning experiences for your students."

I am so excited!

Ellin Keene Visit

Here are some notes that were put together from a visit by Ellin Keene to my school. She is very good. She is easy to follow and very down to earth, but direct and to the point as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Take part in the Picture Book 10 For 10  Event sponsored through: Reflect & Refine: Building A Learning Community, a blog from Cathy Merely.
This can help generate stacks of books for your reading and writing workshops!

My 10 Picture books center around a theme of seeing yourself within books and being able to relate to a book on a personal level. These books reflect the population of students I have had over the years.

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth 

I only have 34 days left. Help me fund my project. Check it out below and please consider donating. 

Very cool website and series called Meet the Author. Check it out.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Deep Thinking from pictures to text

Teaching inferring can be challenging. I love using graphic novels and picture books for it. Kids will really get into looking closely and studying a picture. They notice things I miss sometimes, from the shading of the light, to a characters eye color being off due to something. If they can notice these details in pictures then we can transfer it to noticing things in the text, from mood, to the different connotations words can have, to inferring, using clues from the text and our own experiences and experiences from others. They think very deeply when looking at pictures but forget to do that when looking a words, sentences and then paragraphs and chapters. Reading is thinking, it does not matter if it is pictures or words. Teaching kids to tap into the pictures and feelings an authors words create is as important as pronouncing them correctly. There has been a lot push from lately for using short pieces of text,  mostly Non Fiction and justifiably so, but we also need to be working on building the stamina of readers to make it through chapter books. To make it through them with the ability to change their thinking and justify why, they have to have the ability to synthesize through longer texts as well.
This is from the book Amulet: Book One: The StoneKeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. My struggling readers love it, and it helps get them to transfer there deep thinking from pictures to the text.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Everything You do & say means something

I have seen this before, but it is just as meaningful each time a read it. Read and please pass it on. Pass it on the teacher that you know yells too much at their students. Ask your kids who the teachers who yell are in their school, they know! Everything we say and do our students read and pick up on and remember.
  Read this and share it

The Friend List
Author Unknown
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.
Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.
That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.
On Monday, she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments.
No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on...
Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.
The church was packed with his friends. One by one, those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.
As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."
After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.
"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.
“Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."
All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."
Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."
"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."
That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.
The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be.
So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A bright idea for responding when kids say “I don’t know”

Great idea on what to do when kids say I don't know from the minds of many great educators.

If you did know, what would you say?

Variations on this include:
  • I understand you don’t know. What would you say if you did know?
  • What part do you know for sure?
  • Pretend you had a choice of answers: which one would you pick?
  • What would be your best guess if you did know?
  • What are the possibilities?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This was a thought provoking tweet, I found on Twitter.
Avoiding the Trap of "Q & A Teaching" | Edutopia

It makes sense to make model quick and to the point, with a clear purpose. There is a time and place for asking questions and clarifying. The asking of questions should often be done by the students with you clarify after the modeling is done and the skill has been practiced or when conferring with a small group or individual student. When you are modeling a skill you are often exposing kids to it for the first time and they need it modeled. A good use of the teacher asking questions would be when you give the whole class a problem to solve in any subject where you want them thinking and using creativity and problem solving skills. You can Q & A after giving them time to work on it and the skills needed to solve it have been modeled. Or if you are using the problem as a way to check and see what they know before introducing a new lesson. Q & A has it time and place, don't forget that. There are many places to use it and to avoid it. I am sure lots of you have examples. This was a good concept the think about and they gave some good ideas!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This post from the Crazy Reading Ladies made me think of my youngest daughter. She decided to do karate this year. I have been wanting this for a while. She does it through Young Champions and her school. It is a very laid back approach to karate and they do not really make you work as hard as they should or could. They are not really pushing practice, hard work and focus. She enjoys it, but gets frustrated with all the above mentioned from time to time. I can tell she would like to be pushed hard and challenged more.  They gave out information for a karate tournament last month making a big deal about everyone getting a trophy just for showing up.  I did not want to pay $30 for her just to get a plastic trophy. she admitted to me that she just wanted to go for the trophy. Ugh! I want her to earn what she get and know the value of hard work and what it feels like when it pays off, and when it doesn't.

Crazy Reading Ladies: The Agony (and Ecstasy) of Defeat

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Here are a few quotes from the Divergence book series that relate to teaching!
“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
“But I will find new habits, new thoughts, new rules. I will become something else.”
“A brave (person) acknowledges the strength of others.”
“Politeness is deception in pretty packaging.”
“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
“Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Shopping for Students?

Check out this blog post:  Wedding Band Shopping

This is an interesting take on helping kids find the right books for them. I would defiantly go with the employee that took the time to let me find the right fit. The reality in our classrooms is different when you are being hounded by administrators to get everything in that you are suppose to, and when you want to make sure kids are reading not wasting time. I do believe their is a happy medium where you can be the employee who takes the time, but with a little help from the other students in your classroom and other staff members. Start having students and staff create book recommendation lists and book trailers and get the whole school to really invest in the idea and remember if kids find the right books they will read, at least for a while.

Most Banned Books of 2014

What books would you keep out of kids hands?

Monday, April 28, 2014

IPAD use

As a reading teacher pulling small groups, how could you see yourself using an iPad?

Literacy, Creativity, & Play: 12 Apps That Should Be On Elementary School iPad via @teachthought
32 Habits That Make Thinkers
by Terry Heick
The difference between students and learners is something we’ve discussed before. On the surface it’s a matter of tone and compliance, but it also has to do with purpose–why are they learning? How much of themselves are invested in the process? And does it lead to personal change, or mere performance?
So below are 32 habits–or strategies, actions, or behaviors–that can lead to that critical shift that moves students from mere students to learners who are able to think critically for themselves. Key themes? Patience, scale, and perspective.
32 Habits That Make Thinkers
1. Doesn’t always seek to please others
2. Are charismatic listeners
3. Can learn from anything
4. Ask “Why?”
5. Are comfortable with uncertainty
6. Write for their own understanding, not performance
7. Value questions over answers
8. Think laterally, endlessly connecting this to that, here to there
9. Use divergent thinking
10. Can move back and forth from micro to macro thinking
11. Read for pleasure
12. Look for patterns
13. Study the nuance of things
14. See every situation as something new, because it is
15. Ask what they’re missing or haven’t considered
16. Playfully reframe and/or improve questions
17. Relate humility to learning
18. Can instantly separate fact from opinion
19. Resist confirmation bias (analyze then draw conclusion)
20. Don’t follow crowds
21. Articulate their own thinking without prompting (often creatively)
22. Design learning pathways effortlessly–they just go
23. Socialize thinking for collaboration rather than approval
24. See learning as inseparable from living
25. Reflect for analysis rather than judgment
26. Use emotion to catalyze their intellect
27. See situations from multiple perspectives
28. Play with ideas–and the complexity within the mundane
29. Think with simplicity about simple ideas, and simply about complex ideas
30. Demonstrate insatiable curiosity for something
31. Seek to be both rational and ridiculous in their thinking
32. Show patience (by “dwelling with” questions, texts, or problems)
Adapted Image attribution flickr user nasagoddardspaceflightcenter; 32 Habits That Make Thinkers

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wow chuch service seems to drag by at a snails pace when you are in a hurry to get home to watch the Kansas Jayhawks play their next game.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SOL Day 21 Random Thought

Spring Break reading for my adult self
Dr. Sleep and SK causing insomnia
or is it the stress?
wanting a new house, owe too much
upside down.
overcoming addictions
2nd grade teacher my kids school kills gf and self
close to home
this is the splatter of life
fishing, calmness, small town living
feeling ok
really getting to know and care for and love your students
can males teachers do this without fear
taking time to stop & reflect and think about life means slowing down
slowing down, slowing down.
Testing today does not allow this
daughter feeling stress with homework over spring break,
super admitted it's a game he doesn't like, but has to play
so is he admitting kids best interests being pushed aside
find the happy medium?
laughing is angelic, small things are superb
zooming in to the heart of the matter,
looking at every minute details, taking in the splatter of life.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Slice of Life Day 3

I was reviewing my notes from my reading groups this morning to send out my weekly reports to classroom teachers and  became quiet concerned about the number of errors students are making on High Frequency words. The totality of words they do not seem to know when reading aloud in the mist of a sentence or paragraph is astounding. They can often reread the word correctly if I tap on it or ask them to reread the whole sentence. When rereading the whole sentence they do not appear to even notice that they made the error before. A majority will read the word correctly in isolation. This I feel could be caused by teaching so many words using flashcards or as spelling words in isolation. Kids need to be immersed in real reading more, and errors need to be correctly instantly whenever possible. Also kids need to be held accountable for listening to their reading. They have to be actively aware of what they are saying and be able to notice and self correct errors. I wonder how much of this problem is caused by the erosion of correct grammar, and use of different types of slangs, and specialty language. Oral language has always been slightly different from written, but with the use of social media and texting correct grammar and the structure has been lost. Students have to be able to read with accuracy, academic language texts especially with the implementation of the Common Core. The strategy of listening for the correct structure of language is being eroded when kids are not held accountable with what some call the small errors that do not effect comprehension, or that some feel are not that significant. They are left to grow bigger if never corrected and become a habit. Kids do notice them on some level and have to work twice as hard when trying to comprehend the text when these are left uncorrected(unless it has become a habit). The structure of language does matter.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Slice of Life
I am thinking I will have to start wearing some kind of body armor when driving with the family now. They have discovered the joys of Slug Bugging, and Cruiser Bruisering when spotting a VW Beetle or PT Cruiser. It has gotten very violent. Once in a while my youngest will end up in tears because her older sister hits to hard. Although I suspect she could handle it when she wants to.  If you are not familiar with this childhood ritual which sometimes follows you into adulthood, it is wear you lightly tap anyone within reach when spotting the above mentioned vehicles saying "Slug Bug Black No Bug Back" or "Cruiser Bruiser Red No Bruiser Back" before anyone else smacks you. It gets very intense when you trying to drive and avoid being hit and hit everyone else.  I tried stay out of this drama, but you can easily be sucked in. I guess the competitive spirit in me was just to much to resist, bruises or not. A little Family competition is always fun!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Old Strategies with the New Buzz Words "Close Reading"
The free posters are really neat!
Dear Troy,

Our new teacher poster and our classroom posterwill help you understand what close reading looks like in the elementary and middle school classroom, and give you practical strategies for incorporating close reading practices.

Download the teacher poster and classroom poster today, and feel free to share them with your colleagues!

WeAreTeachers & Pearson ReadyGEN