Process: Slice of Life

Yesterday was my first “summer” work day back in my classroom. Living so close to my school, I can go in and putter around for a few hours here and there or dedicate entire days to getting specific tasks done. I wandered around the room yesterday transforming it from its fairly tidy end of June state to a complete pulled apart mess.

This is always the beginning for me – making it look much worse before it gets much better. I watered and repotted plants, leaving some stranded on tables waiting for a larger pot or a perfect new spot or both. Some surfaces got wiped down. Unsorted papers were stuffed in a few places waiting for a dedicated day, an empty recycling bin and a very strong coffee. Some furniture was shifted. Needing a second or third look before finding a “new year, new spot”. Again waiting. I need to clear some surfaces and clear out completely for a few days when the building engineers do the summer deep clean. Then I can come back in and again pull things apart before putting them back together.

Every year. The same process. Pulling it apart. Settling on the new. Organization. Systems. Flow. This process needs to happen each year. Shake it up. Smooth it out. Wonder and shift.

It happens with my classroom library as well. Every summer the shake up happens. I take my carefully organized library, turn it on its head and put it back ready for a new group of learners. To honour that writing too is a process, today’s slice is all about these classroom library tasks. Not the details but the beginning of the details. I have been thinking about doing a blog series about the maintenance of the classroom library that needs to happen each year. Today my writing is the skeleton of that series. The very beginning. The just ideas stage. The lists and tasks are both my schedule to follow and the beginning of a series of posts. I think. Process: Slice of Life

How does a blog post or a blog series happen? Just like many pieces of writing. Shaking it out. Sorting and shifting. Making a mess. Lining it up. Flushing it out.

This slice is not a finished piece. It is the beginning of the process. Lists. Ideas. Thinking on the page.

Here we go.

Classroom Library: Summer tasks Maintenance

  1. Returning displaced (why is it where it is) materials: class collection, read aloud collection. What’s changing? Weed as go (not so much weed out but moving to new places) Talk about different collections and reasons for organization (bins, labels, stickers, areas)
  2. Weeding – What goes? (less this year because of major work done last year) What changes? More dramatic this year because of grade level change. Beginning the list of “holes”/what’s missing? How are other titles stored? Can I have a lending library? Where? How? (Are number 1 and 2 two posts or one?)
  3. What gets added? Books not yet labelled (deciding what part of collection they will go into) Reorganizing to make space. How do I store books that don’t immediately get put into the collection. Book talk bins. Bins not yet labelled.
  4. The big organization is full of the little tasks – genre labels, systems, switching out bins and baskets. What materials does this involve? (stickers, labels, etc.) Location, location, location. Big shelves. Little people. Literally accessing the books. Stools?
  5. What is missing? Wish lists. The beginning of the noticing.  Diversity? Who are my readers? Will the books provide windows and mirrors?
  6. Bookstore visits. What am I looking for? What am I purchasing? What remains on the wish list. Priorities (definite gaps, Mock Caldecott titles, expanding nonfiction collection)
  7. Seeking out help. What titles specific to this grade level are must have titles? Importance of reading community. Blogs. Goodreads. Direct questions on twitter. Continued thinking about future readers (this links to #5) #7 and #6 should be switched.
  8. The ongoing piece of things. Is this separate post? Woven within? The lists I keep as I complete all of these tasks. Ideas of books for specific themes? To complement units and inquiry. Possible directions. Art ideas. Read alouds?

My intent with this series is to talk about what’e involved in maintaining a classroom library that meets the needs of its readers. It is work! Fun work but work.

Feedback? If you are reading this post, I would love some feedback. Would this be an interesting series for classroom teachers to read? Should I write it? What would you be particularly interested in reading about? Questions? Ideas?

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Mock Caldecott 2017

This year is Year 3 for me of doing a Mock Caldecott unit with my class. Every year I have worked with a different grade. I taught a Grade 3 & 4 class in 2014/2015, a Grade 2 & 3 class in 2015/2016 and this year I have a Grade 4 & 5 class. So each year I have had to switch things up a little bit. Tomorrow we begin our unit and will be deep in reading and discussion for the next 2 weeks. On January 23rd, the actual Caldecott awards (honor and medal) will be announced!

mock-caldecott-2017

I read a LOT of picture books each year and start selecting Mock Caldecott possibilities early on. In making this list, I do pay attention to Caldecott buzz but I also think about a few other things in compiling the ideal list for my students. I try to choose a collection of titles where there will be some nonfiction as well as fiction. I want the stories we share to be entertaining and inspiring. I want students to encounter illustration styles they might not have seen before. I hope that we will continue to be able to talk about genre – so this list contains a fantasy story, a biography, narrative nonfiction, poetry and a wordless book. First, yes, I have to have been impressed by the illustrations but I usually narrow a list of 20  plus titles down to 10 to 12 so I can also think of these other things in making my choices.

I am very excited about this list of twelve titles on our Mock Caldecott 2017 list.

Listed alphabetically by illustrator.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem

Return by Aaron Becker

Return

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

adas-violin

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

The Night Gardener

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

the-sound-of-silence

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

Maybe Something Beautiful

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

giant-squid

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

the-princess-and-the-warrior-a-tale-of-two-volcanoes

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

the-storyteller-by-evan-turk

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

they-all-saw-a-cat

In thinking about how I would do this unit with an older class, I was thrilled to come across Jess Lif‘s blog post about her Mock Caldecott unit. Jess is one of the most inspirational, insightful and generous educators I know. The work Jess did with her students is helping me think about how I am going to work with my students this year in terms of discussion, analysis and the voting aspects of the unit.

For the first few days we will be talking all things Caldecott and exploring some of the previous winners. Within a few days, we will be diving headfirst into all of these books! Can’t wait! Stay tuned!

 

 

Celebration: Readers happened here

Little things and big things happen every day in our classrooms. The huge things, of course, we can’t help but notice. An amazing interactive lesson where everyone was engaged. A performance where we showcase the songs we have been singing. An incredible art project hung up and celebrated. The little things are just sized down huge. They don’t shout and march about to gather attention. They just quietly happen. Finding them in the every day busy is like finding the first leaves unfurl on a favourite tree. Not there one day and beautifully present the next.

I love finding the little things. The little things with big meaning. Big meaning and big potential.

Little moments like listening to a child read and realizing that she is suddenly fully a reader. It didn’t happen suddenly of course. Little things happen everyday and seemingly out of nowhere, you are at a place you weren’t sure you would land. Like a dripping faucet fills up a bowl when an hour ago it was empty. Steady drops over time. Repeated actions + space + time = definitely something. Daily reading practice in a classroom community over months and months and yes, definitely something. A reader gets made. A reader happens. A reader arrives.

Slowly, certainly, with determination a little one who told me in September, “I can’t really read any of these books.” sits at a table reading in May. When I ask her this question, “Do you know how far you have come?” she answers with conviction, “I wasn’t really reading much and now I am reading so much. I am a rockstar!”

I watch her over our Reading Workshop session. After reading aloud to me, she sits and continues with her book bag, practicing the stories we selected for her to read at the beginning of the week. Occasionally, she gets to the end of the page and looks around for a minute. I imagine she is thinking, “Whoa, I just read that whole page.” When students have “free choice” reading time after independent practice, they can continue reading on their own, read with a buddy or draw and write about their stories. She leaps up when the timer goes and grabs a pile of recently read aloud picture books and lies on the carpet with a classmate and they read aloud together. When I peek at her as I sit with another child, I see her reading carefully and with animation or talking about the illustrations with her classmate. Just before recess, she bustles about replacing books where she found them on various display shelves around the room.

Repeated actions + space + time = definitely something.

I could tell you about which level she is reading at – how she went from reading ___ books and is now reading ____ books. I do have that data. But that’s not really the point here. She was not reading even close to where she should be and now she is in the realm of grade level proficiency. This matters not for those levels that I can record next to her name. This matters because she can now be in this classroom full of books that all felt out of reach for her in the fall and know that she is a reader here.

This is what I celebrate today. That readers happened here this year. I have been worried. So very worried. A few months ago, I celebrated growth. Now I celebrate that I have been a part of making readers. I will always be part of these children – the year many of them learned to be a reader. Not just learned to read but became readers. They have skills to grow, books to read, thoughts to think about stories and the world. There is a big reading future ahead. And they are on their way. I watched this happen. One word, one page, one smile, one book at a time.

I celebrate all of it.

Celebration: Readers happened here

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Books, books, books, everywhere you look: Celebration and Slice of Life #19

Books, books, books, everywhere you look

My classroom is a library. You can’t miss this from the moment you step in the door. There are books everywhere. One child observed the other day, “No matter where I am sitting, I can see books.” This is intentional. I want our classroom to be a place where students immerse themselves in stories, in information, in any text that is going to enrich their learning and their thinking.

If you are a student in our classroom, you are a part of our reading community and you really know what all of these books mean. These books are yours. You have complete access. Everywhere you look, you see possibilities, opportunities, stories you love and stories you want to love. “It’s pretty easy to be a reader in this room,” a student told me recently. Yes. The books are here. The time to read them is made. The excitement is consistent. But it doesn’t happen by pure osmosis. We work on being readers. And sometimes the work is hard. But we become readers, surrounded by books.

I read Pernille Ripp‘s recent post about classroom libraries this morning: On the Need for Classroom Libraries for All Ages. She makes excellent points about the difference a classroom library makes for her Grade 7 students. It made me want to celebrate my classroom library because I believe pretty passionately in its existence. But some of the comments also compelled me to want to address how vital classroom libraries are – not in place of a school library, but as a complement. I wish, really, that the conversation wasn’t necessary but I know from comments I have heard over the years that some people believe that classroom libraries aren’t overly important. Or that they actually interfere or compete with a school library. The arguments include statements like these: classroom libraries are not all that well stocked, the books aren’t selected by a qualified Teacher Librarian, teachers don’t know how to weed, there isn’t enough diversity. Or the big concern: classroom libraries will mean less interest in the school library making school libraries unnecessary.

Books, books, books, everywhere you look

I would argue that the very people who have extensive, well-loved classroom libraries, are the very people who know there are never enough books and never enough expertise. We are the champions of well-funded school libraries. We revere our Teacher Librarians and seek out their recommendations and knowledge often, We ensure that our students get frequent time in the school library. We take out bins and bins of books and bring them into our classroom collections. We can’t imagine a school without a library. Just like we can’t imagine a classroom without a library. Just like we can’t imagine a reader without a book.

Classroom libraries mean each child is steps away from a book at all times. These libraries mean that we can get up when our mood switches – put down our novel and pick up a book of poems. We can immerse ourselves in a nonfiction text and come up for air five minutes before the bell rings to read a picture book. We can pass the book to the child next to us without any signing in, signing out time spent.

Classroom libraries are like a living, breathing, ever-changing creature. They reflect the interests, the questions and the passions of the readers in the room. Highlighted books will include favourite authors or illustrators, themes of study, books to inspire writing on a particular theme. In my classroom, we have a recently read shelf for both fiction and nonfiction books. If we read it, they can find it and quick. Often children want to visit those stories we have shared together again and again. A classroom library is an extension of its readers. It is their mirror. The bright shiny button on their favourite jacket. The delicious cookie in the jar almost, but not quite, out of reach.

There is an intimacy to a classroom. As teachers, we know our students. If we also know our books and have plenty to choose from, we can make those essential matches happen. My daughter wisely pointed out: “The teacher who owns the books knows you and so they know which book to recommend to you.” Of course, librarians know students too. Often very well. But remember this is not an argument for one library over the other. We are celebrating readers and access to books here.

I also think that those not in full support of classroom libraries, may not understand how workshop classrooms work. They may assume that reading happens during a silent reading block and then again in a reading period where the teacher supplies the material – a novel, an article, a reader. During silent reading, it is assumed, that students can easily be reading a book that they have taken out from a school library. During the reading lesson, students will be provided with reading material. While yes, this might be the case in some classrooms, it is not the way a Reading Workshop classroom works. During reading conferences, we leap up and make book recommendations, we help students select titles, we provide time to “book shop” in the collection. Peers recommend books to each other. We book talk titles and students make lists of what to read in the future. There is time to buddy read. There is permission to get up and abandon a book. All of this means books need to be available and organized – accessible in the moment for readers on an important reading journey.

This is hardly the first time I have talked about classroom libraries and it is unlikely to be the last. My classroom library is always changing because it needs to meet the needs of the students who use it. I keep writing about it and reading avidly all the while, because I want to offer my students the very best literacy experiences I can provide.

Today, I celebrate classroom libraries. I celebrate teachers who invest time, money and love into creating reading environments for the readers in their rooms. I know these teachers know books, know kids and keep reading and learning so that they can always learn more.  I celebrate those that invest in classroom libraries because they know how important that one book might be for that one child and that means many books for the many children who will pass through a room. I also celebrate the children who have classrooms that honour them as readers. Classroom libraries mean something. Something big.

If you, like me, are in the mood to celebrate classroom libraries, I include links to some of these other posts here.

Talking Classroom Libraries

How to Organize a Classroom Library: 20 points to consider

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, ten important features

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction

Literary Nest Building 101

 

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

This is also a celebration post.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Today I am celebrating another successful #MockCaldecott experience with my class! There is much joy in watching children become so excited about books!

This year we had 12 contenders. In the 2 weeks leading up to the holiday break, we read a book each day, sometimes two. We appreciated the story for the story’s sake. These are fantastic stories! But we also paid attention to everything about the illustrations. We talked book jackets, surprises under the covers, end pages, spotlight pages, use of colour, mood, details, style, etc. We talked about preferences. We wondered why illustrators chose the colours that they did. We talked about wow pages that made us gasp. Lots of reading. Lots of talking. Lots of looking closely.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Voting was a careful process. We picture walked each book again and answered 3 questions on a 5 point scale.

This book is a book kids will really like. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations in this book are excellent. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations are a great fit for the story.  1  2  3  4  5

After the holidays, we revisited our ratings over a morning of looking carefully through the books again. Some ratings were adjusted. Other students held fast to their initial decisions. At this point students were asked to choose their 2 favourites. Not easy!

These boys revisited the illustrations in Emmanuel’s Dream

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Looking at tiny details in The Whisper

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Rereading Wolfie the Bunny together

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Recreating a favourite illustration from The Skunk

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Choosing favourites and adding detailed comments.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

I tabulated all of the scores and determined final winners. Top pick choices from each student were also a part of the final tabulations.

Our winners were:

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Our #MockCaldecott medal went to

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach 

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Honor titles:

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market StreetCelebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Wolfie the Bunnie written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Wolfie the Bunny 2015 Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Lenny and Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Lenny & Lucy Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

We were pretty excited to hear the winners announced!

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Although some students were pretty sure other titles should have been honoured.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Special Delivery was one of the first titles we read and it remained a favourite all the way through for this student!

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

It is wonderful when the authors and illustrators respond!

Some comments from my students:

About The Bear Ate Your Sandwich:

“Kids like finding the bear in all of the different spots on some of the pages.”

“There is lots to watch about ears.”

About Lenny & Lucy

“I liked that some pages were not busy and others were. Sometimes it was just small colours. The forest was grey and each page grows more colours.”

“I loved when a little boy made a guard. He wasn’t good enough so he made two.”

 

About Last Stop on Market Street:

“The pictures show the taking care of people who have no homes and I realize that’s caring. I like the page with the sun and the birds. It is so big and beautiful.”

“Kids will love these pictures because you know . . . the tattoo man!”

About Special Delivery:

“The artist paints outside the lines, all squiggly. I liked that.”

About The Night World:

“It has stars on the end pages.”

“The stars look snowy.”

“I like all of that dark!”

Growing readers. Honouring books. Sharing in our community. This is certainly something to celebrate!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015)

I have been writing and planning numerous posts on the blog all about best and favourites of the year. Looking back through blog posts is such an interesting process – whether it is searching for books or searching for moments. I find the summarizing strangely comforting. So, I am going to do it again. This time? I am capturing a year of literacy thinking in the posts that highlight my passion: all things literacy connected to all things children. 🙂

Today, I celebrate what I feel are the ten “best of the year” posts on this blog related to reading, readers and #booklove.

In no particular order . . .

# 1 All author visits are all kinds of amazing. This one, from Calef Brown, was particularly out of this world. We were as excited to share the land we had created in his honour as Calef was eager to share his new book of poems with us. Read more here: Celebration: Calef Brown Land

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#2 Camp Read – a day when everything is about reading and books. The absolute best! I highlighted this amazing day at my school here: Celebration: Camp Read Meeting author Dan Bar-el was an absolute highlight of the day!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#3 My first #MockCaldecott was in January of 2015. What a beautiful, literacy rich experience! I shared it here: Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#4 I believe so strongly in the importance of sharing nonfiction titles in our classrooms. Part of that is exposing students to titles they want to read on their own and expanding their knowledge of the huge variety of nonfiction titles out there. I blogged about this here: Nonfiction conversations: Book sharing circles – What nonfiction titles are we drawn to and why?

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#5 And while we are still talking nonfiction books? A nonfiction tour of my classroom: A room full of nonfiction

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Talking about classroom libraries has been a bit of an obsession this year. I have it right for about twenty-two seconds before I change things again. All through the process, I share.

#6 My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features I believe in a room full of books and time to read them. I also celebrate lots of book displays, incredible illustrations, an organization system that makes sense and a place for student voice. Reader statements from my students are an important part of our learning.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#7  I began this post, explaining that my classroom is a library: How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider Through various images and some brief thoughts, I tried to capture some essential parts of building, organizing, maintaining and using a classroom library. Labels are key!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#8 In this post Talking Classroom Libraries, I shared a list of questions we might begin with when thinking about how our classroom libraries work for our students.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#9 What are the goals for my readers? I started with some questions. Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#10 Literary Nest Building 101: in this post, I expressed my goals for growing passionate readers during this 2015/2016 year

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Today, I celebrate all of my literacy learning and thinking in 2015. Sharing it here means I learn from my own reflections and the readers who join in the conversations.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

A year of thinking (2015)

Yesterday, I published a list of favourite book lists I have posted on this blog in 2015. I said it in the post and I will say it again here: I make a lot of lists.

But here and there, I do some thinking.

Sometimes it is reflective. Some of it is not quite clear. Writing it down means I figure some of it out. Some of it has “rantish” leanings. But all of it captures my journey as a teacher, a reader, a human.

Today, I honour the posts that best capture my year . . . in thoughts. Putting this together was an interesting process. A healthy, emotional process.

In January, I gave voice to the not so wonderful Monday: Monday leads to Friday Sometimes it is all about hanging in!

From this post:

On some Mondays, I question whether I have it together at all. A lot seems to not be yet “in synch” and the previous week feels very long ago. Monday often feels like a warm up, remind ourselves, get it together day. I don’t often say TGIF. But I often think TGMIO. TGMIO = Thank Goodness Monday is Over. Monday is the day when we don’t have the cushion of success immediately behind us. Anxiety is higher. Stamina is lower. Energy is inconsistent. When Monday is under our belt, it’s like the clouds part. The sun creeps in or sometimes it lights up the week bright and strong on Tuesday and holds fast.

A year of thinking (2015)

In March I fully celebrated all things book nerdy: Nerding Out I attended not one, but two literacy conferences and the first EVER nErDCamp Bellingham. 

From this post:

And yes, I love all of this – the authors, the illustrators and the literacy love. But why do I love it so much? Because I can share it with my students.

Their book love is my book love.

Our passion for literacy is always, I hope, transformative.

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In April, there were some rocky weeks. But I fuelled up on what was always around me: Fuel

From this post:

Every so often though, I need to gather fuel. Fuel to recharge when there are lots of hard moments. This week, I celebrate that thanks to some sunshine, some impressive and supportive colleagues and the laughter and smiles of the children I work with, I found the energy to go looking for that fuel. And of course, I found it. Right there. Where it always is. All around me. Waiting to be noticed. Ready to shine the light.

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In April, I also began the process of letting go: Three Years Only a few months left of sharing a classroom everyday with a group of children (many for a full 3 years).

From this post:

It has been a very special gift to teach so many children for so long. I may never have this opportunity again and I know it. All children teach me so much. These children have been particularly influential. This is my 20th year at this school and I don’t think I have ever been so full of change and possibility. Wanting the room to be full of learning and security for these children has pushed me to risk take and shift and reassess constantly. My learning has been perhaps the most rich.

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When school was really over in June, we were all ready: Goodbyes

From this post:

Yes, we had some tears. Yes, there were lots of hugs. But most of all there was security. When you build something great together, it still stands when you step away. Somehow, quietly, we all knew this.

And so . . . our goodbyes were full of gratitude, of smiles, of honouring what we have built. And of knowing that it is in each of us.

I am so lucky to be a teacher. So lucky to work with such wonderful children. Today, I celebrate that.

Big breath.

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In July, I shared Sunday Morning Perspective all about knowing what is really important in the classroom: community.

From this post:

Our classroom is its own community. What we build is ours. The learning environment is a safe haven and that is powerful and necessary for many children.

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In August, I was thinking full steam ahead – all about my new to me readers and reminding myself to go slow: Literacy Nest Building 101

From this post:

I need to dust off my patient self and approach this new group with more experience, deeper commitment and careful and best intentions. I want to do it right. Wrap them in book love and let them settle. Not squeeze too tight. Let the books do their thing. Build a literary nest in which to nurture these new readers. When we fly, we will soar. But first there is going to be a little bit of bumbling about. Some falls. Some reading journeys that need more lift off. The right wind. Smoother landings. We will get there. One book at a time. Shared together. Shared between us.

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I was also getting all bothered by the prospect of evaluation overkill and wrote this in my head and in scratchy scrawls (stopping at bus stop benches as I shopped for vegetables, to write down my thoughts in a notebook): The Power of Observation My “rant” about all that we can know by watching.

From this post:

The wonderful thing about observation? I can gather information all day, every day as we continue to engage in our daily learning. The power of observation. Over time. In many different activities. With children we know and have relationships with. It gives us so much more than any paper and pencil task will ever do.

We don’t need to fill our first weeks with students with assessments. We need to let the learning begin. Everything we need to know is happening right in front of us if we just pay attention.

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September brought a new class. New needs. Some of them surprising. Deeper literacy needs than I was initially prepared for . . . But I found a way to celebrate the challenge: Celebration: From Here

From this post:

I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

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A Sunday Reflection in November: Honest Truths, Metaphorical Whales and the “in between” place Meeting Marla Frazee “steadied my boat” on a rainy November morning and helped me back to a steady shore.

From this post:

I am a teacher. A teacher who believes firmly in the gift of literacy.  I am a conduit between authors and illustrators who have magic to give and the children who need to receive it. And when I can, I reflect it back. I love nothing more than to share how very beloved stories are in a community of little readers. I am blessed to sit “in between“- in the middle of the book makers and the readers and listeners who they make these books for.

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In December, after one sleep into the holiday break I wrote (Brief) Ramblings and the Happiness Train. Sometimes, we need to embrace our inner silly and capture the energy of childhood.

From this post:

There is something freeing about leaping about and laughing with a bunch of five to eight year olds along for the ride. Freeing and needed.

Finally, one of my little guys leaped in front of us. “This is the terminus! Last stop!” he shouted. And, we all agreed. The children ran off, lighter, ready for the last ten minutes of playtime. I walked inside, lighter, but loaded down with connection, calm and the feeling of “just right.”

 A year of Thinking (2015)

A year of thoughts. What a year.  So happy to be a teacher, a learner and a thinker who still has much to figure out.

Best to everyone who reads this blog – I also learn so much from each of you!