Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Shout

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.

“Never underestimate 
the power of a great book 
in the hands of a teacher 
who knows how to use it” 
~Steven L. Layne

Any good reading teacher knows the power of a book.

A great teacher knows how to use it.

I believe in these words by Steven Layne with all of my heart.  His words are in my email signature line because I want my world to know I live, breathe and believe in the power of these words.

Many of us have the opportunity to talk about books in our classrooms.  Many of these book talks are extensions from our online communities.  We know that when teachers read kid lit and talk books with our students, 

we share our passion,  

we foster a love of reading.

we create readers.

Wednesday, I have the wonderful opportunity to take book talks to a new level.  I start a new segment on our morning show which is written, produced, and broadcasted by students.  

My segment is called "CMS Book Shout," and I will be sharing books with over 600 students each week.  That is a reading teacher's dream.

Below is part of my script for the first show.

Many people ask me why I read kid lit.  Although I have many answers, I would like to share one of those with you today.  

I read kid lit because it helps me to be a better teacher.  Now you may be wondering just how that happens.  

You see, when I read a book about a kid whose parents are going through a divorce, I understand you better.

When I read a book about a kid who feels different, I understand you better.

or when a kid is bullied

or when a kid’s parent is dealing with addiction or is in jail

or when a kid loses someone they love, 

I understand you better.

When I read a book about a kid who accomplishes a goal, 

or makes the team

or overcomes a fear

I get to celebrate with you because I understand what it took for you to get to that point.

But this understanding doesn’t just work for me as a reading teacher.  It works for ALL teachers, including math and science and health and PE teachers, and even principals and counselors and cafeteria workers and custodians.  When we read books with kids as the main characters, we understand all of you and what you are going through just a little bit better.

But here is the best part - this level of understanding can even work for YOU.

Just imagine what could happen if we took the time to read a book and learn what other students are going through.  If we create a culture of understanding and acceptance by reading,

we could become a better school.

a better community,

a better world.

That, my friends, is the power of books.  And that is something worth shouting about.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Little Note - Celebrate #16

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

Last week I celebrated being unplugged for an extended time.  I thought maybe writing about it would bring me back.

It didn't.

You know how it feels when you have not seen or been around someone, and you feel that you can't go back because it won't be the same?  Like their life continued without you?  When you do, you stumble on your words because everything feels "uncomfortable."

It did.

I feel scared to write again.  I see my communities of online friends continuing with their writing and reading lives, and because I have been absent for so long, I no longer feel "comfortable" being a part of them.

I don't.

Just now, I had my computer open, begging for the words to come.  Wanting to write a celebration post, to reconnect with those people who have meant so much to me.

They didn't.

Just now, I received a direct message on Twitter that said, "Hi! I was thinking about you." It was from Loralee from This and That.  When she first started blogging, I sent her the Sunshine Award to encourage her and to welcome her to the blogging community.  I knew what it felt like to be a part of something much bigger than myself, and I wanted to share that.

I did.

If she only knew how much I needed this small message at this exact moment.  I don't think it was a coincidence that she sent me that note, and I don't think it was a coincidence that these are the words on her last post:

A simple little note can lighten
someone's load and lift a heart!
- Renee Swope

It did.

Thank you Loralee!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Unplugged - Celebrate #15

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

Today I feel as if I am a stranger in a place that once was so familiar.  A place where I could share and celebrate and think and wonder and laugh and cry.

But it also became a place where I felt over-committed and tired and empty.  I took a much needed break and abandoned my routine of blogging and writing.  My small writing break stretched into days and weeks and now months, something which wasn't intentional, but much needed.  

I tried to come back but I just wasn't ready yet.  I still needed more time to figure out why I write, where I wanted my writing to go and who I am as a writer.

Then school started two weeks ago, and as I began to plan my writing lessons, I felt like an impostor, a phony.   I became someone who says she writes but has rarely opened a notebook or picked up a pen in two months.

I strongly believe that in order to teach writing effectively, one must write.  Realizing the day had come when I needed to begin writing again, I picked up my pen.  I opened my notebook.  And the words and ideas flowed onto the page as if no time had passed.  

During these two months, I learned that sometimes we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and unplug ourselves.  And that is perfectly OK.

Realizing I "still work" gives me reason to celebrate today.

Have a wonderful week 
and may you find many celebrations along the way!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Introduce Yourself" with Google Slides

Digilit Sunday

Today I am participating in Digital Learning Sunday with Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche.  This week Margaret has encouraged us to write about preparing for a new school year.

Last Thursday I began my 10th year of teaching, and I still get excited to greet a new group of students and wonder about all the magic that the new year holds.  

This year's students have a special label - "the students I abandoned."  

Two years ago I moved from the elementary level to the middle school level, and these are the students I would have had, had I stayed in 4th grade.  That spring I invited all of the third graders up to my classroom, and we had a wax museum where my current students became the person they read in a biography.  We talked about what it was like in 4th grade, and I told them all how excited I was to have them next year.

And then I left.

I look forward to finally being their teacher this year.  

I have spent a lot of time this summer learning about Google Classroom and all the amazing things I can do with this technology.  After attending a conference in June, I wrote a post and had teachers share their summer learning on Google Slides.  It was a fun way for me to try it out and connect with others.

This week I am using Google Slides with my students to introduce themselves to the class.  They will all have a slide in a presentation where they will tell three things about themselves and take and post a picture.  I will then play it for parents during our Back to School Night in a couple of weeks. 

If you use Google Classroom and have never been to Alice Keeler's website, I highly urge you to go.  Here is a link which will take you to the Google Slide template I used.  The best part is that it is all set up for you.  Just copy it, and you are ready to start your own Google Slides presentation with your students.

I am so excited to get back to school, to get back to blogging after taking the month of July off, and to get back to reading, writing, and teaching.

Let the school year begin.