Friday, June 23, 2017

Apple vs. Google

I don't consider myself to be especially tech savvy but put a device in front of me, allow me to play around with it for awhile and chances are, I can figure out how to make it useful in my life. 

In my teaching life, I have had very little technology to speak of unless I go get it for myself (I have written grants for iPods and tablets for use in my classroom). This year, with some extra laptops and some tablets from Donor's Choose, I was able to actually integrate technology more than I ever have. (I suppose you can really only integrate technology when you have some, right? :)

We experimented with Google Classroom a bit and I liked the capabilities it provides me, but didn't end up really doing much with it because it was really challenging to try to get the kiddos to remember directions once it was there turn to have the devices/laptops. I still used it some but lamented (often) how much easier it would be to integrate GAFE (Google Apps for Education) if I actually had 1:1 devices.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly....I do have 1:1 devices. (Or I will.) Last week when I popped into my fabulous new space, I got a good look at my new classroom but also at the technology I have. I was given a MacBook and a new iPad mini. All of my students will also have an iPad mini to use. (I even discovered we have some cute little wireless keyboards that go with the iPads.) 

Along with my new teacher devices, they said I needed to get Apple Teacher certified. Basically I need to read up on and practice using the different Apple apps/programs and then take short quizzes on them to become an Apple Teacher. There are 8 badges for iPad and 8 badges for Mac (basically the same applications but for use on the two different devices and they aren't exactly the same going from the tablet to the computer). 

I have already finished the Mac badges. This means that technically I already am Apple Teacher certified. But I will also complete the iPad ones just to ensure I know the differences between using them on each device (because while I have the Macbook, the students do not and our computer lab has PCs so I definitely need to know the nuances of each device). 

That all said, before getting this devices and learning about the Apple training, I was gung-ho about fully integrating Google Classroom into my teaching this year. Now, I'm not so sure I want to do that. The iPads do have Google Classroom and all of the GAFE on them (at least I assume they do since mine does). Before we went on summer vacation, I even made folders for each subject area in Google Classroom for this upcoming year. It would certainly be nice for the kiddos to be able to access their files from the PC when we are in the lab as well (which means GAFE would be the way to go)...but I am learning some pretty neat features of the Apple programs that I didn't know about.

It's kind of embarrassing how little I knew about what the iPad can do since I've had one for many years (although both of mine are old and I'm not sure they can do what this wicked little mini can do since it's almost brand new). 

Perhaps I can use some of the Apple apps/programs for certain things but still integrate GAFE for others. I do definitely want to explore hyperdocs more this year for social studies (it will be the only curriculum I have this year that isn't brand new to me). 

I don't think, at this point anyway, that Apple or GAFE are better than the other. I just think each have features that I really like (love that GAFE will be there on any device, any time!). I will just have to figure out which ones to use when as I navigate the path toward being a 1:1 teacher.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Space

Yesterday I got to pop into my new school and see my new space. All I can say is L-O-V-E. 

The school was renovated between 2007-2009. Some of the old rustic charm has been kept while it has received many modern upgrades. Perfect example...the library used to be an outdoor playground that was in the middle of the school. They put an opaque roof over it and adding flooring and lighting. It is my favorite thing about this school. It is so neat! (Bonus: my classroom is on the perimeter of said library :D)

I can't even say how much I just LOVE this new space I get to spend my days in starting in August. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have a horrible space previously...this is just different. I think, for my purposes, it is different better. One of the things I hated the most about Former School was the shared bump out space. Mostly because it took out room that I could have used for students (especially when I had 30 kids!) and if you have a big mouth like I do, voices carry through that bump out from the other room. One year it was me next to another louder teacher and well...it was kind of a disaster. Neither of us meant to be loud, and it's not like we screamed or anything. We just have voices that really project and it can be a big problem. Or if there is a sub who isn't handling behavior well, it can get super loud and be really distracting and annoying too. By far that was my least favorite thing about Former School. I really came to resent and hate that wasted space.

At any rate, there are also drawbacks to my New School. One is that because of its unique U-shape (which I actually like) there aren't any windows in the hallway area and so it seems dark to me after being in a space where there is a ton of natural light. It's a trade off, I suppose.

Alas, I was able to stop into New School yesterday and get my class list and my Apple devices for the fall (I have some homework to do to become an Apple Teacher). I was able to see my room and check out the school a little better than I did before because there were no kiddos around this time.


This is what you see when you walk into the room. Immediately to the bottom right (so if you're standing here and you looked to the right), you'd see the closet area. Didn't think I needed a picture of that LOL This back space of the room is HUGE and so perfect for the meeting area and circle time in the morning. 

More of the meeting area. LOVE the wall space. Hello anchor charts! Ms. Principal was not sure if this carpet belonged to the room or to the teacher. I'm hoping it stays in here...30 squares means all 25 of my kiddos will have a spot for their little backsides and they are big squares. Plenty of space without drama. AND this space is so big we will be able to have a real circle that isn't all smooshed together. 

The end of the meeting area. You can see the classroom library shelves too. They are blissfully empty and just waiting for me to fill them with all of my fabulous books. I love that I have 3 double sided shelves...believe me, they will all be filled up! You can also see the windows. Natural light here I come :) It's hard to tell but the bottom of the windows are opaque because our room faces the library. 

A longer view of the classroom. I am DEFINITELY not keeping my kiddos in those rows. Not sure how I'm going to rearrange the furniture yet, but it definitely will not include rows of any kind. 

This is standing in the meeting area and looking forward. I love that the teacher left the bulletin boards decorated so I don't have to do it :) You can't see it well but the ELMO is up there along with the kidney table that will be removed so I can use my own awesome table instead with my stools. 

This is immediately to the left of the projector/white board area. The cart on the right holds my class set of iPads. I'm actually thinking this cute little corner would make an excellent classroom library. Or I may make this the "teacher space" since the cabinet is already there. I could move the cabinet against the white wall instead and then have my desk and my student teacher's desk there. We shall see. 

This is the other side of the room across from the windows. The stuff on the top of the shelving will all be gone. She said she'd leave the book tubs but I have my own so I'd prefer they go to someone else who actually needs them. I am not a fan of that flip the card chart but I noticed them in multiple rooms so I will have to ask about that. I much prefer my clip chart where kiddos can clip up for their excellent behavior too. It doesn't mean as much when you're ALWAYS just on green...when you can move up, other kids do pay attention to that and follow suit. Also if you look carefully under the counter you can just see the lap boards. I hope they leave them behind...because that teacher used them for the kiddos to be able to work around the room on their iPads. I LOVE that! 


Isn't this space fabulous? I am totally in love...and very glad only one wall is green because otherwise I think I would die LOL It's just not my favorite color.

I am going to take my well needed and deserved summer break but once August hits...that's it. I'll be in here playing with my new space. I'm super duper excited for this fresh start. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The End

Today was my last day as a teacher at a school that has held deep meaning for me since I was 8 years old (thirty years if you're keeping track). 

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be to say goodbye. In fact, if we're being totally honest, I didn't even bother to say goodbye to most of my colleagues. I have known for quite some time that I do not belong there...well before The Husband told me last fall that I had outgrown the school. I didn't really understand what he meant when he said that, but over the course of this school year, I came to really see and believe that he was correct.

I have always been an anomaly. I don't fit anyone's mold. I don't conform. I don't do things just because someone else told me to. I don't believe I am better than anyone else (believe me, I still screw up, a lot, and in huge ways). I just try to face every day with the goal of being a better me than I was the day before. That's all. 

Yet there are many adults I work with who think I believe I am better than they are. I MUST be full of myself because I dared pursue National Board Certification. I MUST think I'm better than others because I'm working on my doctorate. There has been no such thing as genuine praise...it all comes at a cost. All of it.

So, it was time to go. I really thought today would be harder. I did. Several years ago when I got moved erroneously, it was SO HARD to pack up on the last day. It was unfair and I was not happy about it at all. I cried. The kids cried....but this time, perhaps because I left on my own terms...there were no tears, no sadness. I mean, I AM sad to leave a school that has meant so much to be. But I'm also not sad...because I know I am needed elsewhere. The promises of a fresh start and a bright future are amazing and I think that's enough to buoy me forward. 

Has it all been terrible? No, of course not. I have told people the only person I am leaving that school because of is me. I see my (now former) school going in a direction I don't agree with. Does it mean that direction is bad? No. It's just not what I think it should be. That's fine. It doesn't make me right and them wrong. It doesn't make them right and me wrong. It just means our goals and our vision are no longer aligned...and I'm smart enough to go before things go even further in a direction I don't want to be part of. 

I have learned a lot there. I have, without a doubt, literally saved lives. I have made a difference. That is what I set out to do...and I did it. Now it is time to take my talents, my passion and my tenacity somewhere else and make a difference there. 

I have always believed God would tell me when it was time for me to go. The stars would align and things would happen as they were meant to...and not only did I get my first choice school, I also really hit it off with my new principal (and I am EXCITED to work with her because I think she sees that I have so much to offer) and my new school is five minutes from The Oldest's new house. This means I will get to see my grandson multiple times per week....a luxury I currently do not have due to schedules and her place being in an inconvenient location. 

It will all work out. Things will be fine. Former School will move on with its bad self and continue to do amazing and great things for kids. And my New School will welcome me, embrace me and help me to find a new and better purpose and direction for the passion I have for children. The only way to go from here is up. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Day of Lasts

Today was the last full day of 3rd grade for the 2016-2017 school year. How is this possible?? I think this year just FLEW by. 

It was a day full of lasts: the last full day of school (we have 3 half days next week), the last day we had art, the last day we had computer lab, the last day of our YMCA presenter,  the last big test of 3rd grade, the last brag tag celebration, the last Fun Friday, the last big writing assignment for the year.

It was a bittersweet day for sure. 

Because I am transferring to a new school, I have to clean out everything from my classroom. This means files, organizers and much more. (So.Much.Stuff.) As I was cleaning out my cabinet this morning, I came across this gem and it gave me a huge chuckle. 

During our last YMCA presentation, we made fruit and veggie bugs for snack. Here is mine :) 


And of course, it wouldn't be the last full day of 3rd grade without a Super Ultra Mega Brag Tag day :) The kids were SO EXCITED to get their last big set of brag tags today. (They will get one on the last day too but this was the last big celebration for this year.) 


We ended the day with a Staff vs. 5th Graders kick ball game. It was a super fun last full day of school. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

And 3rd it is!

If you have realized nothing else as a follower of this blog, I hope you have realized nothing in my life is simple. Nothing! Not even moving to a new position.

I applied for and was offered a position as a 4th/5th grade split teacher. And I was ecstatic because 4th is my favorite! Today my new principal asked me if I would consider keeping 3rd grade. It wasn't my first choice but after discussing it with her, I accepted it.

Firstly because I am SO not making waves the second I go to a new school and secondly because her reason for asking me was very valid and she was honest and upfront. I respect that and it won't kill me to keep 3rd grade. I know when I'm totally honest my biggest issue with 3rd grade is that I do not currently have a real team. That will not be the case at my new school so we will make a go of it. Plus she said she was open to considering a looping situation with the person who is moving into 4th. I could be down with that. 

I am excited because even with the grade switch, I'll still get to have my 1:1 technology. The school is beautiful (it was newly renovated in 2009) and in a unique U shape. The library is gorgeous (it used to be an outdoor play space that they covered with an opaque roof and all of the brick is still there). The playground is cool with a soccer area green space, a large cement surface area for four-square and hop scotch and then the equipment area. 

I really like the school because it's unique and fun. Plus lots of windows which I like a lot. Additionally my new principal is awesome. She is already including me in so many things and I'm not even technically part of her staff yet. :) 

Despite the unexpected grade change, it will all work out. I think this move is going to be incredible for me and the smartest thing I've probably ever done. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Next Year Changes

It has been a long month (30 days exactly!) from my interviews to finding out today where and what I will be teaching this fall.

I am beyond excited and pleased to announce that I will be teaching 4th/5th grade again next year but in a new school building. Anyone who knows me knows how much my current school means to me. I went to school there, student taught there and have spent more than half of my career there (7 of my 11 years). Alas, I have been increasingly unhappy and restless and this year I decided to just put my money where my mouth is and see what else is out there.

This 4th/5th position was my first choice and I am honored that the principal felt like I was a good match for her school. I felt such a connection with her during my interview but didn't want to count my chickens until they were hatching so I have been on pins and needles for weeks waiting to officially find out. 

It hasn't been easy to wait. I am not the most patient person in the world as it is. Alas, it's finally out there. It won't be an easy end of the year. First of all, the kids at my school have my heart and they know it...it will be difficult to tell them. It will also be SO WEIRD to pack up my things and know I won't be returning to this particular building again as a classroom teacher (I will be there a few times next year as I am using the site for my dissertation but it won't be the same). 


The positives of the move:
  • I get to go back to my most favorite grade ever: 4th grade
  • I will have 1:1 iPads which is beyond amazing
  • I will have a classroom that does not have any "shared" space (meaning four corners and a door that when it is shut and locked, no one can get in) 

I have already purchased a couple of books to help me make the transition to the 1:1 technology. It is seriously like a dream come true. Oh what I have wanted to do for YEARS that I haven't been able to do because I don't have the technology to make it happen. 

This also means there will be some changes to the blog. I think I am going to try to do a few vlog series as well...especially to showcase the reality of moving out of a school I have spent SO MANY years in. I dunno, we shall see how that goes. 

I do know that much of this summer will be spent either writing the dissertation or working on electronic documents for my new tech enabled classroom. I can't wait to do some blended learning videos and focus on how to really create a student-centered environment where I am more of a facilitator than anything else. It will be an exciting journey and I'm so ready to get started!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Interviews

Today I had the opportunity to interview for some internal transfer positions within my school district. The process has changed since I transferred to my current school. It used to all happen behind the scenes (you bid on jobs, ranked the jobs by preference and then were awarded based upon certification and/or seniority). These days they do the interviews with a short demo lesson. A few years ago, to be totally honest, I thought that was weird....why do I need to interview for a job I already do?!

But I was young(er) and dumb then. Now that I've gone through the majority of a leadership program, I absolutely appreciate this process. First because it really allows principals to try to select an internal candidate that is a good fit for the position they need to fill but also because the way the transfers worked before, neither the candidate nor the principal really had any idea about each other. What if you bid into a school and got along with no one?? That could be horrible. At least this way you have an opportunity to meet the principal and ask and answer questions. 

Today I had an opportunity to interview for a 4th grade ESL position and a 4th/5th split position. The latter is not an ESL position but it is in an ESL school. They are also 1:1 ipads and my first choice. 

Full disclosure: I think I am a terrible interviewer. I have never really had to interview for a teaching job before. I got my first job as a teacher through a recommendation and an email! I was a long term sub. It was supposed to be a 4 week long assignment, basically from the Monday after Thanksgiving to winter break. It lasted the rest of the year. :) The following fall I did another long-term job and then had a pseudo interview for my first contract job...but the principal later told me I was hired before I walked in the door, it was all a formality.

Thus to go into a real interview like this was intimidating, even for me with 11 years of teaching. Fortunately I shared my nerves with the first interview team and they put me at ease. They asked me some good questions and then I presented a demo lesson (I used this lesson - I found the story with the book on youtube and then we did the close read and interactive notebook part).

My first choice school was my second interview and I think it went really well. I really liked the principal a lot, and I think she liked me. She seemed to. She was very affirming and they asked me several good follow up questions too. I don't know if it was because I had already had one interview (and the questions weren't identical for both), but I was so much more at ease. I'm kind of glad my first choice school was the second interview. I basically had a practice run first :) 

I would LOVE to be a part of that school. First of all because they are 1:1 ipads which would be a dream come true, second because there is so much I could do being back to what I know best (I've taught 4th grade most of my career). There are so many programs I have used before or am using now that they use at that school too. I have to admit the longer we talked, the more drawn I was to this position. It doesn't mean I will get it, but I am hopeful because I think this is the type of school where I could really shine....shine in a way I feel I can't do where I currently am.

There was no information on how long it would take them to tell us whether or not we are awarded one of the positions we interviewed for, but I'm hoping it won't be too long. I truly think transferring to this school would reignite my creativity and passion in a way that I haven't felt in several years. I would also have a large team (three 4th grade colleagues and three 5th grade colleagues). A real team is such an appeal to me since I really haven't had one in many years.

I'm excited and hopeful and nervous all at once. I'm praying that this is the one for me. I really think just talking with the principal and how at ease she made me feel, I would fit in very well with her and the staff at her school.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

As the World Turns (Upcoming Changes)

Just so you know, I am not talking about the daytime soap opera :)

I did some cleaning up on the blog today. I reverted almost 90% of my blog posts to "draft" status. I went from 1059 published posts down to 135. I kept pretty much everything from last school year to now along with my most popular posts (like Words Their Way--which has an unbelievable 83,000+ views!-- and Navigating Reading Street) active so you will still be able to see those.

Why did I decide to do this? Partly because some of my earliest posts were written by someone I no longer identify with. I have changed and grown so much over the life of this blog and while I didn't delete anything I have written, I have just chosen to keep them just for myself. There is enough negativity in the world and my 6-7 year old rantings do not need to add to that :)

Another reason is because I am planning to make some changes. I have been with my current school for 7 years. I went to school there as a kid, I student taught there. I have a ton of history and memories with the neighborhood and the families. I LOVE my students--even the challenging ones!--but I have been increasingly unhappy there and it is time for me to move on. I'm not sure what "moving on" will mean but I have applied for an internal transfer and several principal jobs.

Yes, I did just say I applied for a principal job. If you had asked me a month ago if I wanted to be a principal, I would have scoffed and given you a resounding NO as an answer.

Alas, I wonder if this is why I am so increasingly restless. Maybe I need to sit on the other side of the table. Maybe I need to have a broader perspective in the educational field to truly appreciate the path I am trying to take. I don't really know. It could be as simple as changing schools. That might be all I need. Again, I really don't know. I just know that I am not happy where I am and life is too short to be unhappy. With that said, I know how important and impactful a digital footprint can be and thus, I have elected to hide posts I do not believe represent me appropriately with where I am currently in my professional career. 

I have always been forthright, honest and vulnerable on this blog, even when I was more or less anonymous. Since I no longer am and I have people all over the country I am connected with, I do not want my former self to be aligned with who I feel I am today. I am SO not the same person I was when I began this blog nearly 7 years ago. I have changed so much personally and professionally and I didn't feel it was in my best interest to hold on to that former self that started this blog.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

MACUL 2017

On March 16, I attended my first MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning) Conference. I only attended the one day but man...I left with my head and heart jam-packed with awesomeness.

Keynote

First and foremost, the keynote speaker on Thursday was Sir Ken Robinson. Who doesn't love a man with a British accent?? Not only is he incredibly smart and has the right ideas about education, but he is also incredibly witty. I don't think I have laughed so hard so early in the morning ever. Not to mention the man got a standing ovation before he ever opened his mouth. The thousands of educators who flocked to Detroit for that conference knew that they were in the presence of greatness.

Two years ago, we read his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative for one of my doctoral classes and I was just blown away by how much I speak the same language in terms of how we "fix" education. As soon as I saw that he was the keynote, I knew I had to go, even if it was just for one day. My time was surely not wasted. This man knows that American public education is not going downhill...we have systems issues. Big ones. He also pointed out, however, that when we, as classroom teachers shut our doors and do what WE know is right, despite what we are being told to do, we ARE changing the system. I loved that. It is very true.

Incidentally, Sir Ken has a new book out called Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education which you can believe went immediately on my wish list. Pretty much everything that man says, I totally agree with.

If Sir Ken had been the only session I went to the entire day, it still would have been worth the 3 hours of travel and the money I spent to go. He was so inspiring and a great way to begin the day. Fortunately, he was not the only goodness I experienced.

BreakoutEDU

I went to a session on BreakoutEdu next. I have to admit, I have heard many people speak about BreakoutEDU in my PLN on Voxer but I hadn't ever really paid that much attention. to be totally honest, I found myself thinking "what is the big deal with this breakout stuff?? It can't be all that they claim it is." Well, believe me, once I saw it happening, I was hooked and realized that I had been missing out by not paying more attention!

If you've been living under a rock, like I apparently was, and don't know already, BreakoutEDU is an interactive games platform that allows students to work in groups to solve a series of clues in order to open a locked box. Once all of the locks are unlocked, the students have "broken out" and achieved the mission. The presenter demonstrated for us by putting us into four groups and having us complete a Breakout session ourselves. I went to the Minecraft group because my own kids play it and I figured it wouldn't hurt me to get involved in what they care about. My group actually finished our breakout first (in about 15-16 minutes I believe) and it definitely required teamwork and the ability to listen to the ideas of everyone in the group.

The best part is, once you purchase a kit (or make your own, which is only about $20 cheaper to do), you can sign up on the website to get access to tons of games for free. The games are all standards based too which is even better. I love it for team building, cooperative learning and critical thinking because, at least in my group, you had to solve the puzzle to open the smaller box in order to get the materials needed to solve the last two puzzles. We would have never completed the challenge if we hadn't realized we needed what was in the smaller box to open the other locks.

It was great fun and I am definitely planning to purchase a kit of my own and try it out with my class. I think it would make a great Fun Friday team building activity. In the future, of course, I could absolutely see using some of the games in the games library to enhance curriculum by having students solve problems based upon a learning unit to complete the breakout.

'Appy Hour

I went to another session called 'Appy Hour where we learned about a bunch of different apps that are useful for teaching and learning. About half of them I had already heard of (such as Remind and SeeSaw) but there were some other ones I learned about that I hadn't ever heard of. The best part of this session was that they shared the presentation with us so that we were able to follow along and click on the links to the various apps so we can try them out on our own.

I am definitely going to give EdPuzzle a try. I think it will be super helpful and engaging for the kiddos as review for concepts they are struggling with.

HyperDocs

The last session I attended was on HyperDocs. Holy cow. I have been missing out on this goodness! I had heard someone speak about them in my PLN awhile ago but didn't know what they were. This session definitely gave me a lot of food for thought.

Basically, HyperDocs are Google docs that are embedded with hyperlinks. The hyperlinks can link to videos, pictures or articles for the students to read. They use the information contained in the links to learn and complete an assignment about a topic. The topic can be about anything: you can have HyperDocs that are grammar focused or HyperDocs that are about tornados.

I think the best part about learning about HyperDocs is that the folks who are creating/using them are so willing to share their docs with others. There are TONS of already created HyperDocs that folks will let you use/adapt for free. How awesome is that??

You can learn more about HyperDocs by visiting the HyperDocs website or buying the The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps book.


All in all I am so glad I went and also sad that I have never gone before! Fortunately, next year it will be hosted right in my hometown so I will definitely be able to attend it again. Useful and relatively cheap for a conference of its size.

I enjoyed it so much and am grateful to have so many takeaways to bring back to my classroom that I can use almost immediately. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Restorative Practices/Restorative Justice

Something that has been on my heart for a long time is the concept of Restorative Practices. I work with challenging students. That simply means, these little guys (and girls) have a lot stacked against them before they ever walk in the door: poverty, parents who forthrightly tell us they don't have much education, etc. It's HARD to be those kiddos.

But you know what, there is a reason why my heart belongs to my school. I was them once upon a time. Seeing them grow, learn and become amazing citizens is truly the most amazing thing I could have ever done with my life. 

About two years ago, I learned about Restorative Practices (also referred to as Restorative Justice) from a colleague. She had gone to a training and talked so highly of the idea that when a mini-session came along, I knew I had to go. And boy did it change everything about my teaching life! 

Especially last year with my largest class ever and some extremely challenging students, I am absolutely convinced that Restorative Practices is what kept me sane and allowed me do still do good work with my students. 

This past winter break, we had another installment of Edcamp Voice on Voxer and one of the groups was on Restorative Justice. We have since renamed ourselves the Restorative Justice League and it has spawned a twitter chat on Sunday nights and a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheRestorativeJusticeLeague/). It is also, by far, one of the most active groups I have on Voxer. We are a group of educators and trainers who are that passionate about this topic and helping to restore relationships between students, students and teachers, and teachers and teachers when things don't go well (which in life...things are gonna happen, right?).

The reason this is on my mind so much right now is that my 15 year old (often referred to here on the blog as "Middle Child") got suspended from her high school yesterday. Before I share this, let me point out that I am not complaining about her suspension because I think she shouldn't have been punished. (Believe me, she has not had a stellar weekend because we do NOT play that way in our family. No way.) I am complaining about it because I do not think the punishment fits the crime. At all. I would bet you will probably agree with me by the end.


I have been plagued by this illness for months. Thursday night, it was diagnosed as another sinus infection (I believe this is the third or fourth one since my grandson was born last April). Thus while I really wanted to stay home on Friday to rest, I went to school because a) I had already been out of my room for 2.5 days that week due to WIDA testing and a meeting and b) Fridays are so easy it wasn't going to be too hard to suffer through it. But let's be honest: I felt horrible. I probably also looked horrible. As I was taking my class to art, we stopped for a restroom break and I leaned my head against the wall and closed my eyes; I was so drained I could have literally fallen asleep right there, propped up against the wall. So yeah, I felt like I'd been run over by a bus and then tossed over a cliff for good measure.

So imagine my surprise when I check my email during our Junior Achievement presentation and find an email with the subject line that reads [name of child] OSS. I already felt like death and then I get this email telling me my child has out of school suspension. A kid who has never been suspended in her life. What the actual horse hay is up with that??

I click on the email and discover that she got suspended because she was caught trying to steal from the cafe during lunch. Needless to say I was completely dumbfounded. I couldn't call the school back at that moment because I was with my own students still and had to wait until last recess. I also discovered I had two voicemail messages: one from the dean who sent the email and one from Middle Child's social worker. After getting the entire story, and being told this sort of offense would normally result in a 2-3 day suspension (!!!), I was just dumbfounded. 

I am 100% behind the idea that stealing is NOT okay. Ever. Especially not when you have the money to pay for the item you tried to swipe. BUT I also think 2-3 DAYS out of school for trying to steal a treat that cost less than $1.50 is the most asinine thing I have ever heard of. 

This is where the school could have employed Restorative Justice instead. Here is a nice article that can break down how to deal with things "the old way" versus the "Restorative Justice" way. Personally, I am a huge fan of the Restorative Questions:

What happened? • What were you thinking about at the time? • What have your thoughts been since? • Who has been affected by what you did? • In what way have they been affected? • What do you think you need to do to make things right? 

Had my child's school used these questions and really gotten to the bottom of the motivation behind the attempted theft, there would have been no reason for a suspension. Especially because I was told the reason it was only 1 day was because she is a special education student. Regardless, suspending a child, putting them out of school for 1-3 DAYS over an item that is less than $2 in value is not going to teach the child a lesson. What it is going to teach them is that if they do something bad, they will be at home. What middle class teenager whose parents are not emotionally screwed up doesn't want a 'free vacation' from school?! 

If she was from a home with parents who yelled and screamed all day and parented with violence, the suspension would probably scare her silly, but it would still be the wrong punishment. How does sitting at home for a day (and believe you me, she won't be sitting at home enjoying an extra day off), teach a person not to steal? IT DOESN'T. 

What should have happened? First, a thorough discussion and reflection using the questions above. Second, an apology to the person she harmed (in this case the cafeteria staff and the school administration). Third, mandatory community service at lunch for a week: cleaning tables, picking up trash, sweeping or whatever else needed to be done. That community service would be way more impactful than being sent home. 

I think this bothers me so much (aside from the fact that the punishment does not fit the crime) because there are so many parents I know who wouldn't do anything to the kid at home. It would truly just be an extra day of the weekend to screw around and be away from school. For a child like mine who has severe anxiety, its not a punishment to have another day off. Since I am an educator and don't condone the idea of taking things that don't belong to you, I think having the student serve community service is much more effective. First of all, they won't miss out on instruction and second, they have to be at the scene of the crime and working off their debt until it has been rectified. That, to me, is what would "teach her a lesson" rather than having a day at home. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How to be a Marigold

I listen to a lot of podcasts and do a ton of reading in the educational sphere. In today's age of social media and technology, there is really no excuse for not bettering yourself professionally because so much information is at your fingertips at all times.

Awhile back, I heard about the concept of being a Marigold. I swear I heard Jen Gonzalez talk about it on her Cult of Pedagogy podcast, but I can't find the actual episode that I heard it in (short of going back and listening to them all to find it). 

In short, she notes that marigolds are the perfect garden companion plant because "If you plant a marigold beside most any garden vegetable, that vegetable will grow big and strong and healthy, protected and encouraged by its marigold. Marigolds exist in our schools as well – encouraging, supporting and nurturing growing teachers on their way to maturity" (Jen Gonzalez, 2013). 

This past week, my TA (teacher's assistant...one step down from student teaching) told me that in their seminar class, which helps them unpack and process what they are learning in the classroom with their cooperating teacher (CT), their university supervisor was talking about finding your marigold. She said the supervisor asked the group (of about 12-14 TAs) to raise their hand if they thought their CT was a marigold. There are 5 TAs in my school and she said she was the only one who raised her hand :)

Now, I am not knocking my colleagues at all. Everyone approaches the mentoring role in their own way. I had three CTs of my own and none of them were stellar. I mean, they weren't horrible (well, one was) but I learned what not do to from them as well. So I have vowed that whenever I have hosted a student teacher, I would be sure to be as nurturing and uplifting as possible while also sharing the realities of what it means to be a teacher in today's world.

And let's be honest...it isn't always cupcakes and flowers. Sometimes it is downright crappy. Long hours, little pay, total disrespect from most of society. It can get old sometimes. But then, you have those moments when you FINALLY reach that tough-to-reach kid and it makes it all worth it. Or a parent thanks you for being your tenacious self because she knows you are fighting for HER child in a way she doesn't know how to do. Those are the moments that keep me in the profession...because I know that despite the downs that come with the job, the ups are so much more powerful. 

Teaching is truly a calling. It is not "a job" and should not be gone into without a solid understanding of the battles you will face politically (especially now). 

To me...that makes being a marigold even more important. I am realistic with my interns. I tell them that sometimes teaching is really kind of horrible. But mostly, it is awesome. You get to do something different every day, every year because the kids are different, the parents are different. It is never the same from day-to-day and the opportunity you have to grow and make a difference changes too. That's pretty powerful. 

How do you get to be a marigold? Be positive. Be affirming. Be genuine. Most of all, be honest. Some days are hard and that is not only normal but it is also okay. No one is perfect. Everyone (even veterans like myself) still have room to grow. Nurture those new teachers; give them an uplifting boost when they are struggling, give them guidance when a strategy they tried didn't work, suggest a new technique if you think it will help them. Don't tell them they are doing everything wrong, that will help no one. Be a listening ear. Be supportive. Most of all, be a friend. Don't talk about them behind their backs, don't stick your nose in their business if it doesn't concern you. Sometimes just being there, being real and honest is all that those upcoming teachers need.

Be a marigold, not a walnut tree.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Are you Listening?

Back in the fall of 2013, just before I earned my National Board Certification, I became a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts. As a teacher it was just natural to sell the bags that I had found so much use for. Very quickly I promoted up to senior consultant with two girls selling under me and I earned my way to their National Conference in July of 2014.

While I ultimately decided that selling bags wasn't for me (mostly due to the fact that I began my doctorate and had zero time--or real interest--in holding parties to sell the product required to stay active), there is something that has stuck with me since that conference. Surprisingly, it keeps coming back up. 

There were many speakers during the event. I can't remember most of them (although LeAnn Touhy of The Blind Side fame sticks out as does Lisa Harper), but many of their words stuck with me. One of them said the most important question to ask yourself every day is 

Are you listening?

Doesn't seem that profound, does it? But it is.

Especially in our current politically divided time, listening is even more important. You should, at the very least, believe that children are listening. They are probably better listeners than adults are because they do not have as many things distracting them on a daily basis. Children absolutely listen to things we say to them, to each other and to what they see on television.

Last weekend, I was in Los Angeles, California attending the 2nd Teacher Powered Schools Conference. It had been raining cats and dogs before I got there but was beautiful while I was there. Sunny and between 70-75 degrees the days I was there. It was fabulous for a teacher from the midwest to experience that in the middle of January! 

I'm also very fortunate that my cousin, known affectionately as SuperDan (because, well, he IS super), lives in LA, not even 5 minutes from the hotel the conference was at. He was very kind and showed me around the city while I wasn't immersed in the conference. (It isn't very often a Michigan girl can claim to have had a dissertation committee meeting from Malibu beach, huh? But I did it!)

On Friday, January 27, we were at his apartment getting ready to head to Malibu when I called the teenagers back home. Middle Child has Asperger's and worries incessantly, especially about me. (It probably doesn't help that I have traveled more in the past three years than I have in her entire life.) So I sat at the dining table and called home and had a few minute conversation with both teens separately and then hung up to get ready for the beach. SuperDan commented that he could tell that I actually talk to my kids. 

I was kind of taken aback by that at first and asked what he meant. He doesn't have children but says he pays a lot of attention to people who do and how those kids interact with other adults. He said the fact that I had a two-way conversation with both of my teens, where it was obvious they were also responding and asking me questions too, was refreshing because so often he sees kids/teens who do not know how to really hold their own in a conversation.

I hadn't really considered that perspective before. I suppose, as a teacher, who gets paid who talk all the time, it is natural for me to have conversations with children. But, the more I have thought on our conversation, the more I have paid attention to what is going on around me. I have noticed my own words more as I speak to my students, but also how they speak to each other. 

Naturally this brought me back to those profound words: Are you listening? 

Today the words came back again. I was at the grocery store. Terrible place to be on Super Bowl Sunday, right after the church hour. (What was I thinking??) It was very busy and crowded. I was in no hurry though so I didn't mind much. As I was pushing my way up and down the aisles, I noticed a little boy, probably between 14-18 months old standing up in the basket of the cart being pushed by--I assume--his dad. As children this age are prone to do, he let loose a string of adorable non-words as he gazed out at the store around him. Had this been my child, or my grandson, I would have talked back to him, perhaps replying with something like "Really? What are you talking about?" or even "Goodness, tell me more!" to let him know that his practice talk is a good thing.

What I heard instead was "hey, no one is talking to you, be quiet." I'm sure you have figured out if you've read this blog for any length of time (or you know me personally), that it is pretty difficult to render me speechless. But this statement did. Now, let me be very clear: my intent here is not to shame this father or act like I am somehow superior to him. I just believe I am in a position to notice these things and in light of recent conversations and experiences am more sensitive to someone speaking to a child like this.

Have you ever reflected on a lesson or an interaction with a student and wished you hadn't said something that you did? Maybe you were unintentionally sarcastic or what you meant to say came out sounding so much ruder than it did in your head. We have all experienced those things before. And I would bet that you could name several occasions where someone's careless speech has made you feel bad. You probably wouldn't even have to think very hard about it. Words cut deep a lot of the time. (So much for that childhood saying of "words will never hurt me"....all lies. Words DO hurt.)

As it stands, this interaction with the little boy and his father that I observed from afar just brought this all back to the front of my mind. How often do we say things to our children--or each other--that we really don't mean because we aren't present in the moment? Because we are distracted by whatever we are doing? Because we are too caught up in whatever frivolous thing has caught our attention? 

I go back to my previous point. You should, at the very least, believe that children are listening. They are probably better listeners than adults are because they do not have as many things distracting them on a daily basis. Children absolutely listen to things we say to them, to each other and to what they see on television. 

While this little boy has likely already forgotten this exchange, what if he was four? Five? Seven? Twelve? Whether we like it or not, kids are listening. They are learning how to be good human beings by the examples they see around them. If they are always shushed or admonished for speaking, they will remember. They will suffer for that.

As I think back on my career, I can readily recall the children who are obviously spoken to like people and those who are spoken down to. It is very obvious by their interactions with their peers and the adults around them. 

Perhaps if we adults stopped being distracted, lived more fully present in the moment and were a bit more careful with our words toward our children, they would all grow up to be better people. Chances are...so would we. 

Are you listening? 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

STEM Goodness {Video}

Hi friends! Happy February!

The past month has been a whirlwind to say the very least. We have been keeping ourselves pretty busy in 3rd grade. I have enjoyed a weekend away in Los Angeles for the 2nd Teacher Powered Schools Conference and not enjoyed a cold both before AND after the conference (fortunately it was gone while I was away--must've been the sunshine and warm weather!). 

At any rate, recently I had a Donor's Choose grant fully funded and we got our materials just before I went on my trip to LA. I asked for a STEM bundle that includes 8 different kits from Lakeshore Learning. 

This past Friday we did our first STEM challenge as part of our Fun Friday (it was still fun but they were also learning -- win/win!). The kids are adorably hilarious as they test their design. They literally cheer when it doesn't fall down after the required 20 seconds. (I was surprised it held up because if you look carefully it does almost topple when they put the last figure on.)

Check it out:




Monday, January 2, 2017

Running Records Interventions

The long-awaited (or not?) post about my running record intervention program is here! 

This summer my grade level team and I got together just before school started so we could share resources. One colleague is a second year teacher (she was my student teacher once!) and hadn't taught 3rd before and the other taught with my last year but hadn't had elementary school in awhile so it was clearly skewed my way in terms of the amount of resources I have. We got them hooked up with licenses for all of the fabulous products I tested out last year and knew worked well with our curriculum and to get the kiddos up to speed with the skills they needed.

Out of desperation I was searching around for some leveled reading passages that I could use and found this file by Jen Bengel. The cost made me cringe at first because that is a lot of money...but then I read that because it's a bundle file, she would let up to 5 people use the file on a single license. SOLD! So my team and I split the cost three ways and for the love of everything holy...am I ever glad I found this file. I do not believe that either of my colleagues are actually using it at this point but I made this my instructional goal for this year so I WOULD use it...and it is amazing!

We have to make an instructional goal for improvement every school year as part of our evaluation. Not that I think I am perfect or anything but I was like what the heck am I going to try to improve upon?! I've spent many years of my career really honing in on areas where I feel like I was weak and I was kind of running out of ideas. My K-2 colleagues use running records and I thought that I would try that...and let me tell ya...it has been a game changer. I know so much more about every single one of my students because of these records/interventions. 

During my formal observation this fall, my principal saw me do a couple and during my post observation she said how amazing she thought they were...but then she said "how in the world do you manage to do this with all of your students?!" Great question and definitely one that needs to be addressed.

First of all, I have 21 students. 3 of these students are essentially monolingual and thus the program is not appropriate for them, thus I do not use it with them at all. That leaves me with 18 students. I have a chart at school that gives me a basic idea of where the kiddos "should" be reading to provide me with a rough estimate of whether or not they are on grade level. Since this system is leveled in a range (i.e. A-D, E-G, etc), any students who tested in at level L or above were considered to be "on grade level" and thus I really only progress monitor them (think DIBELS language here) so they only read with me once a month. That cuts down on how many records I have to do. The other kiddos read with me twice per month until they move up to the "on grade level" range. (I have already had two students move up into this range that were not there before so I only have 10 students that have to be read with twice a month.) 

We began the program in November. November and December were tough months because we had so many non-instructional days due to the election (we had that Monday and Tuesday with no students), plus 3 days off for Thanksgiving and then the holiday break. Plus I do not do records on Mondays because of library and Fridays because our schedule is so weird. So basing this program on how well I managed it in November/December would be unfair because there were so many days that were not available. 

So back to her question...how did I manage to do all of those records? I got creative! I started using some of our computer lab time on Tuesdays to pull kiddos. Since this lab time is not for testing (they use IXL.com or Lexia Core 5), I didn't feel guilty pulling them for 10 minutes to read with me. And let's be honest...the kids LOVE reading to me. They often ask me when it will be their turn again, because who doesn't love 1:1 time with their teacher?? 

I also got a brain midway through November and made myself a calendar. Here is January's. 

Sorry for the boxes but I didn't feel comfortable blasting my kiddos' names all over the internet. At any rate, you can see that I have crossed out every Monday and Friday plus this coming Thursday. That is because I won't be at school and I don't let anyone else do these but me. The good news is, you can see that the 26th and 31st are blank so if I do get behind (snow days, I'm out sick, a meeting or whatnot), I can move kids and still get them in. That is also why I will absolutely use those Tuesday computer labs too...and I have many times in order to get caught up. 

You can't see it because I boxed over the names but all of my students who I only have to read with once are highlighted so that I know once I do a record with them, they can go into the back of the bin I keep these in because they won't have to read again until the next month. It's quite handy if I get behind also because the once-a-month kids are the ones I'll skip first as I know I can easily make those kids up at the end of the month or during those computer times. (But there aren't any more months, except April due to Spring Break, that are as short as November and December were so I don't anticipate this being a problem from here on out.)

I used the data from last spring to place the kiddos. Most of the kids fell right back into the spot they were in, thank goodness, but I did have a student I had to move back a level because she just couldn't do it. Alas, she hated being moved backward so it also serves as motivation...and since only the students themselves and I know their level, it's not something they need to feel shame over or anything like that.  

This is how I put them together and use them. First each student got a folder and I stapled the tracker sheet to the inside. I sorted the kids by the level they had at the end of 2nd grade and put them into that range. I figured out how  many kids were in each range and made copies accordingly. Each student got 3 running records/intervention sheets put into their folder initially as I knew that would be long enough for me to determine if the level was too high or too low and then I could adjust without having a ton of wasted sheets. 

This is what the tracking sheet looks like as of the end of December. This particular student joined our class in late November so he only has one record for November. He is in my lowest level (A-D). All of the information on here comes directly from the intervention sheets and is perfect for at-a-glance progress monitoring.

Here is one of his running records. What I love about this program is they read to you three times. I have them read the three times in the same sitting. You just use the one paper and you can tell the errors apart because you use a different color pen (red for the first read, blue for the second and black for the last, although you could certainly use other colors if you wanted). I love this because I can absolutely see the difference in their fluency and accuracy from the cold read (red) to the hot read (black) because they have read it before. Plus it allows me to see if they are transferring information such as if I have to tell or pronounce a word. I can easily see on the form if they transferred that to the other two readings. At the bottom of the sheet I record the middle score of the reads (again think DIBELS style).

After the third read, there are comprehension questions on the back. There isn't a ton of room to write their responses so I have learned to really limit my notes to key words that tell me whether or not they got the gist of the story. There is a scoring guide to help you track their level of comprehension (and 98% of my class scores roughly 15/20 almost every time because they just aren't quite providing *enough* detail overall to score that last bit...but that also tells me that this is an area I can hone in on during direct whole-class instruction since pretty much my entire class needs some support with it....something I might not otherwise know without this system).  At the very bottom is a place to score the student sheet which is the next picture.

I don't know if this is how these were intended to be used, but this is how I do it.  After the child has read with me and answered the comprehension questions, I send them to their seat with this paper. They have one week to complete it and give it back. They complete them during silent reading time. You might gasp at that and think it is horrible, but believe me...I think this is very authentic reading and it gives me SO MUCH INFORMATION. And generally, unless the student is the last one I read with that day and doesn't have time to work on it, they use one SSR time to complete it before they give it back to me. I'm willing to sacrifice that because the data these sheets provide me is invaluable. They have some comprehension questions on the far right (not graded but very good for helping me to see if they got it), and then some vocabulary where they have to define the bold words and word work which is all of the coloring you see. Depending upon the level they might be hunting short vowel words or parts of speech. Once they give this back to me, I grade this part and add the information to the sheet above as well as on the tracking sheet. This way, at a glance, I can see if they are progressing in all of the areas of the intervention.

It's a powerful tool because I have one student (not shown here) who does very well with the readings. He is very fluent and his comprehension is fabulous when he answers the questions. But I have noticed that on the last three (out of four!) sheets he has done, he has not gotten a single part of the word work correct. The first time I let it slide because I wasn't sure if it was just a bad day, but after the second one, I did some work with him on it. On the next one, however, they are all still incorrect. He is not able to identify things like contractions, adjectives and some short vowels. So this means that when we come back to school tomorrow, I will be pulling him aside and helping him to make some reference cards so he will remember the terms so when he is asked to find contractions, he will have a visual reminder to help him be successful. Guarantee I would never have known he was struggling with it without these records because I do not have any other systematic system that provides reinforcement on these things the way this system does. (Yes they are taught in my curriculum but a lot of the independent work is done in stations where they have a partner and thus it's impossible for me to know how much help they get...these are done 100% independently though so I can absolutely see who is struggling and who isn't.) 


Here is another student example, this one a level higher than the previous one. Again because this student is not at least at an L level, he has four records because he will read with me twice a month until he hits benchmark.

This student is just about ready to move up a level because he is reading accurately and fluently. 

As you can also see here, his comprehension is good (15/20 is not terrible because a 3 is satisfactory) and he scored 100% on both the word work and the vocabulary section on this particular task (and the one before it also). If he has another record at this level that is this good, he will bump up to the next level. 

Here is the student sheet that accompanies the above running record. This particular student is not the strongest reader (he is very distracted and can't focus) but he begs me to read with him. Sometimes I have to show him the calendar so he'll quit bugging me about when it will be his turn again :) 

As I mentioned, I'm almost positive my colleagues are not using this system. Bummer on them, I say. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it takes a lot of paper. But man, oh man...the information I am gathering about every single student that I read with is absolutely invaluable. This allows me to better focus my small reading groups to the kids' needs as well as create better support materials for them (such as the visual aids for the student mentioned above who I am positive is messing up on the word word just because he can't remember what the words mean). I wouldn't have this information without these records. (And no, the seller is not paying me to tell anyone how awesome this product is either *wink*)

If you're looking for something to help you get to know your readers better, I'd suggest you buy this. I know it is pricey but see if you can split the cost with a colleague or two. Honestly I'd have paid full price for it if my team hadn't agreed to go in with me...and especially now that I know how amazing and useful it is. It has every level from A-Z so I have something for every reader in my class. You can't really beat that.

And I'd bet that by the time that standardized testing comes around in April/May, I'm going to have a class full of kids who are very ready for that test simply because they have had strategic and personalized instruction at their level because their teacher knows so much about them as a reader due to this fabulous product.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017 + OLW 2017 + 2016 Reflections

Happy New Year! I for one was very glad to say goodbye to 2016. It was such a crazy year in so many respects. Onward and upward!

This post will be sort of a hodge-podge. Clearly I am not the sort of blogger who has ever felt the need to conform and make my posts all cutesy. I'm just real and honest and that's all I can guarantee with each and every post...even when they come few and far between. (And for the love of lemonade, I promise that Interventions post is coming! More on why that is delayed in a bit.) **Can I point out how much I miss Currently because it at least made sure I was posting every month?**

First I'd like to reflect on 2016. I'm not sure I can honesty remember another year that had so many huge ups and downs. Some truly amazing things happened for me in 2016, but also some sad things and some downright scary things happened too.

Arguably the biggest thing that happened to me was also life changing. I became a grandma. Yeah, I'm young (not even 40!) but I also had The Oldest young so there is that :) I have all daughters, no sons of my own...so to be blessed with this beautiful baby boy as my grandson has just been amazing. For many years, I have had on-again, off-again baby fever (likely due to my young age when I had all of my kiddos)...this way I get to enjoy some of the spoils of baby but not the 24/7 all consumingness that comes with a new baby. I was so very blessed to stay home for two weeks and help The Oldest adjust to her new role as a momma and I will be forever grateful that I had that time. It was magical for us both.

It's hard to believe that in just 10 days that little guy will be 9 months old! He certainly has stolen his grandma's heart. And since his momma doesn't plan to have another child for awhile (she would like to finish school) and my other kids are only 14 and 15...chances are this little guy will be the only grandbaby for many years. So spoil him we shall :)

I just love this pic collage I made. That's him and I on Christmas Day on the right. The absolute and pure joy on his face when he looks up at me just melts my heart, every single time. The left was taken today. He sure looks mad huh? But he wasn't...he was alternately yelling, laughing, and leaning back like this. (His mom told me its because no one was holding him upside down LOL) He stayed over for New Years Eve and it was amazing for me (but reinforced I am waaaay beyond having a baby at this point). 

This winter break was shorter for us this year and I didn't do a single school related thing. Not one! I had the best of intentions...and you better believe I have a pile at my feet that does need to get done before I go to bed tomorrow...but it was SO NICE to not worry about anything to do with school or grad school. So it'll get done but I'm so, so glad I took the time to just relax and enjoy my own kids and my grandbaby. It was worth it.

The only things I sort of did that could possibly be related to school was catch up on some reading. Below is a short list of the books I finished up over this break:

I read this book as some research for my Ed.D. I am currently in the research phase and will be focusing upon self-regulation with elementary students. This book was recommended by a friend and will become a cornerstone of some of the work I do for my dissertation. It's a fast read and probably would have saved my sanity many times as my own kids were growing up!

This one was recommended to me by someone in my PLN. It's a great book, especially if you're a leader in any educational capacity (including teacher leaders). It really shows you how you can stop being an accidental diminisher and start being a Multiplier.

Okay, okay this one totally isn't related to education...but we saw the movie and I had to order this for my collection (plus The Youngest snagged the screenplay for her birthday sooo....)

Up Next
This one is definitely next on my reading list. I have skimmed it a bit but I want to at least get through the front matter where she explains how she put the book together and such before I head back to school on Tuesday. I just ordered the Writing Strategies book and can't wait to get my hands on that one as well!


This is another one that will be devoured here shortly (grad school doesn't resume until January 9 so that's about all the time I have HAHA). I participated in some EdCamp Voxer chats about Growth Mindset both this summer and over winter break and I'm excited to dive into this one, especially since I think it will relate quite nicely to the self-regulation work I plan to do for the dissertation.

I'd say, by far, my biggest professional achievement this year was being a co-author of the first #EduMatch Snapshot in Education book. (You can snag a free copy of the ebook at this link or check out the Kindle and paperback versions [EduMatch: Snapshot in Education (2016)] at Amazon.com.) My chapter focuses on student centered assessment. A co-author and I co-moderated an EdCampVoxer chat on the topic in July, then I wrote the chapter and originally that was going to be my dissertation topic...still kind of is except I'm focusing more now on whether or not kiddos can learn to be better self-regulators in order to have more authentic student assessment and ownership.  Kind of nerdy but definitely fun for me.

That leads me to my #onelittleword for 2017. I have done OLW before but honestly haven't put much stock into it beyond the first few months of the year. This year, I think, will be different. Partly because I have plastered it all over my Life Planner but also because I have ordered a graphic to put on my phone where I will see it every single day of 2017 to remind me. My word this year is Inspire...because I have been so inspired by others throughout my journey as a connected educator and I want every move I make in 2017 to be with the intention to inspire someone else.

And on that note, I will leave you with wonderful blessings for 2017. It can only get better from here, right? :)