Children's Books

Friday, October 28, 2016

Growing as a Community of Learners

  Lincoln teachers are halfway through our book club discussions on Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.  It's fun to see our teachers post on social media as they read their chapter each week in order to be ready for the Wednesday discussions.  So far we've had some thoughtful conversations  regarding:

  • Book Logs- Are the book logs we're currently using helping our students grown into kids who love to read?  Several grade levels changed their logs to make them more meaningful for kids This was not a discussion we were ready to have at the beginning of the year.
  • Reading Levels- There is a time and place for using book levels, and we're still trying to decide how to balance the use of levels.  We all agree that kids are NOT LEVELS. They are readers who are learning and growing as they experience different books. You can find a link to another post from about book levels here.
  • Sharing Book Recommendations- This past week we talked a lot about how we can share book titles with our students. We discussed having the teacher on morning assembly duty give a quick book commercial.  We also talked about different ways we can display our book titles with each other and with the kids. I'll post some pictures after we start implementing our ideas.
  • Classroom Libraries- We've also had some of our current practices validated. Reading in the Wild reminded us that we are fortunate to have an administrator that provides funds for classrooms to have well stocked classroom libraries. Every classroom in our school has bookshelf after bookshelf filled with books. 
  All in all, it's encouraging to see educators having honest and courageous conversations around the practices we are currently using.  Are they working for us and the kids?  What kind of changes are we needing to make?  We have two more weeks of book club left, and I can't wait.  We are definitely growing as a community of learners.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Preparing for Donalyn Miller (or It's Amazing What People Will Do for Jeans Day!)

     Donalyn Miller, educational leader and author, will be visiting my school in exactly one month.  A couple weeks ago the instructional coach and I were brainstorming ways we could encourage the teachers to read one of Donalyn's books before her visit.  We came up with a plan to ask the teachers to voluntarily have a book club discussion in the lounge during their lunch times each Wednesday for the next month.  What incentive could we offer the teachers that would entice them to put one more thing on their plates?  JEANS DAY!!!
     We went to our principal with the idea, and of course she was supportive.  I sent out an email letting people know about the plan and how they could sign-up.  It is encouraging to know that all 11 classroom teachers are participating along with the librarian, ELL teacher, speech and language teacher, art teacher, and instructional coach.  I get it that not everybody has the extra time to take on one more thing.  I also get it that some people might be participating just to get jeans days. However, our kids will really be the winners.  They're the winners because our teachers will be discussing, learning, and reflecting on classroom practices.  It's great to see teachers posting on social media about reading for our book club.  It's cool to hear teachers already discussing what they have been reading.
     I can't wait until lunch time tomorrow!  We'll be wearing our comfy jeans, and we'll be learning from Donalyn Miller and each other.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Last weekend I had the AMAZING opportunity to attend EdcampSummitKC.  It was a totally free event in Kansas City where I was able to meet and learn from Edcamp organizers from various states. On Saturday we participated in sessions about edcamp best practices and challenges.  I sat in the sessions with the organizers of some of the largest edcamps around.  There were times that I felt really inadequate.  My inner critic was whispering, "Why are you sitting at the table with these people who have been to 20 or more edcamps?  You went to one, and then you helped with the planning with the Edcamp in St. Charles.  You don't have any expertise to share"  I might not have a ton of expertise to share, but I have the experience of seeing educators share and learn from each other in edcamps.

Here are a couple of the ideas that were really exciting:

  • The Edcamp Foundation awarded 30 impact grants, and 2 of these $1,000 grants were awarded to teachers who attended EdcampSCSD. I felt like a proud mama.  One of the $1,000 grants was awarded to Shelly Trauterman, fellow teacher in my building.  I can't wait to see the kids when they start using their flexible seating options when we go back to school on Tuesday.  You can check out Shelly's blog at .
  • The Edcamp Foundation is going to fund opportunities that will allow Edcampers to get together after Edcamps in order to follow up and implement ideas they gained from Edcamp.  I'm excited to see how the Edcamp Labs will take the learning to the next level.
  • I had the priviledge of learning about hosting a Twitter chat.  I learned from Tim Vesco (@mrvesco), Barb Gilman (@BarbInNebraska), Monika King (@ksedleader), Debbie Fucoloro (@debbiefuco), and Patrick Donovan (@donovanscience).  They shared resources with me, gave me encouragement, and gave me some great tips for hosting a Twitter chat.  Once I got home I took a leap and asked a friend at #OrEdChat if she still needed a guest moderator for Sunday.  I worked all day getting ready for the chat on Sunday.
I am very thankful for this opportunity to grow as a learner and leader.  The weekend helped me refocus my thoughts on leadership. I can't wait to get started planning #EdcampSCSD.