Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#SOL15 4/28/15 Ed Collab Gathering Notes

I find that the more PD I receive and seek out, the pickier I become! I've had some amazing PD opportunities lately through Teachers College, Twitter, and just recently this weekend's Educator Collaborative Gathering. I will share a little bit of my "take-away," however it will just be a small portion of the AMAZING PD that went on this weekend. I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't participated to go and check it out here. Too many folks to mention but Chris Lehman, Kristin Ziemke, Chad Everett, Katharine Hale completely inspired me and the list goes on! I'm so thankful for this type of PD--right at my fingertips and in the comfort of my PJ's at home.

The first session provided two workshops that I simultaneously wanted to participate in, so I chose one and then went back later to catch the second. The first workshop I chose was on Culturally Responsive Literacy Practices with Dana Stachowiak, Jeanette Alarcon, and Silvia Bettez.  They helped us stop to remember that some parts of culture are visible (food, crafts, clothes, etc.) while others are invisible (values, beliefs, feelings, perspectives, assumptions, etc.) We have to adjust our teaching based on cultures and values of the students in front of us. Later, while watching Kristin and Chad's workshop on Finding Empathy and Humanity Through Books and Beyond, they discussed the concept of using windows and mirrors. Windows represent our view of others while mirrors refer to how we view ourselves. My favorite part of their session was what Kristin mentioned in relation to the texts we have in our classrooms. She said that the "titles we bring into our classrooms tell a story" and I wonder what story we are presenting to our students? Does each child have access to text that represents their story? Do characters in the story remind them of their family? Culture? Are characters and events in stories perpetuating stereotypes?

Another great topic these two sessions discussed was how we can't confuse race/ethnicity with culture. Dana, Jeanette and Silvia did a fine job reminding us that being "culturally responsive" educators does NOT mean we expose our students to just holidays and celebrations from various cultures. These fine ladies also shared a wonderful chart that helped us see the progression from old school teaching, to multi-cultural teaching, to culturally responsive teaching.

In Kristin and Chad's workshop that I viewed later, they did an awesome job detailing the importance of building identity in students. They introduced identity webs, poetry, and other neat ideas such as "blog on a wall" to help students see themselves in their learning. 

I had so many take-aways from these workshops and they were free!! I hope you get a moment to check one (or more!!) of them out. 

I could go on and on, but I'm on my way out the door to finish up scoring ELA exams at our middle school :-)

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life writing community for providing this opportunity to share our "slices." Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work. Check out the other slices and join in the fun!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CELEBRATE: It's All About That Joy, 'Bout That Joy- 4/18/15

Ruth Ayers invites us to participate in a Celebrate Link-Up on Saturdays. Click here to see what others are celebrating and maybe join in yourself, too! 
                            Discover. Play. Build.

Today I celebrate tricks of the trade. While on a recent trip to NYC, I stumbled across a really neat tool to help with our multi-sensory instruction. I just love all the possibilities it brings!

if you drag that stylus across the holes, it pulls up one little magnetic ball at a time. Once you make your letter, number, shape, picture, etc. you will see it appear. Then, you can push the magnets down with your finger for extra multi-sensory reinforcement. I used it this week with a super cute kindergartener who is struggling to recall letter formations and letter names. My heart breaks for her because she works so hard. When we meet at
team meetings for her we brainstorm and always look for the next strategy. So, who knows...maybe this will help her! 

I'd love to buy these different variations as well:


I guess sometimes it is the small things in life that we celebrate because they can make big a difference.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#SOL15 New to Testing, But Cookies Help

Testing Testing Testing

Well, our NYS testing has begun. 

3 days of ELA
3 days of Math
2 days of Science
Field testing
District K-2 testing

For the last 14 years I've been nestled all snug in my first and second grade classroom world. Now with my new position, I'm finding out all I ever needed to know about testing AND THEN SOME! Calgon take me away!

I'm happy to report day 1 went smooth. It is kind of ridiculous to say this out loud, but I knew today was off to a great start because the first four songs I heard on the radio were my favorites. First up was P!nk, then Sam Hunt's new song, The Script and Sara Bareilles' Brave. What an anthem to belt out on test day. Just an absolutely great drive into work. 

We were organized and ready this morning so we got started right away. We sorted, counted, organized, delivered, waited, and counted some more. After testing, the most amazing thing happened. A parent delivered a MASSIVE amount of chocolate chip walnut cookies to school. Now, these aren't just any cookies...they were DoubleTree cookies. Anyone know what I'm talking about? If you do, then you know the amount of deliciousness can't even be described in words. Crunchy outside, warm and appropriately soft in the middle. None of that too soft, mushy center stuff. It was cooked-all-way, warm, yet gooey inside...perfection. The "back" story is that every time I'm
headed to NYC, I stay at the same DoubleTree. I must admit, it is mostly due to those cookies (and really good rates). So, not only were the cookies amazing, but the whole entire concept of these cookies showing up on the first test day--- when I've never even seen such a delivery as a "DoubleTree" hotel cookie delivery---was just AH-mazing.   

I just hope tomorrow is a nice little repeat of today. But, tomorrow has a lot to live up to.  

Every time I think about complaining of all this testing, I think of these poor kiddos stuck in hours and hours of testing. And, let's be real, I'm thinking about those cookies.