Children's Books

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reflecting on 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I want to share some of my professional highlights from the year. (Make sure you check out the links that will take you to previous posts and additional information.)

  • Google for Education Certification- In the winter, I used my weekly free time during my son's basketball practices to study for the Google for Education Level 1 Certification. While I was studying I learned a lot about YouTube, Calendar, Mail, and Blogger. This free training empowered me in my use of technology. I encourage everyone who uses Google products to check out this training. 
  • Donalyn Miller and Reading in the Wild- In March, I had the opportunity read Donalyn's book and hear her talk about guiding and supporting students and their independent reading. To say that this book changed my thinking and teaching would be an understatement. I would say it has transformed my thinking and teaching. It charged me to empower students and teachers. 
  • EdCamp- In February, I attended my first EdCampSTL. I was amazed by the energy and learning that was shared by dedicated educators. I saw the learning that was taking place, and I wanted to share it with other educators in St. Charles. The next week I had the privilege to hear one of the EdCamp co-founders, Kristen Swanson. She showed us how to use the EdCamp model for professional development. I went back and talked with my principal, and she agreed to let me use the EdCamp model at our next building professional development time.  
    The teachers loved it, and it spread across the district. I also found myself helping with the planning of our district's first EdCamp in June. I'll be attending EdCampSTL on Feb. 11, 2017. I hope you can join me.
  • Twitter- During the summer, I continued to use Twitter to connect with educators from across the globe. I entered a contest over Twitter and won a school visit from Donalyn Miller. In October I moderated my first Twitter chat for #OrEdChat.
    This chat keeps me up late each Sunday night as I chat with educators from Oregon and the northwest. 
  • Staff Book Study- To prepare for our November school visit by Donalyn Miller, we held a voluntary book study. It stretched our thinking and led us to join together as a community of readers. We offered another staff book study in December, and several teachers read The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. We'll be starting our 3rd book club in January.
  • School Visit with Donalyn Miller- Do you see the common thread through many of my 2016 highlights? The school visit with Donalyn Miller was an event that will have a positive impact on myself, our teachers, and our students for years to come. 
Each of these events have changed me. I've learned things that have impacted the learning in my classroom. Most importantly, it's made me aware of my own learning. It's inspired me to share with my students that I am a learner just like they are. We are all learning together. 

As I look ahead to 2017, I can't wait to see what's in store.  I will:
  • Blog- Blogging has helped me reflect on my learning and my students' learning. I'm going to be leading a blogging professional development session in just a couple weeks. I can't wait to see what other educators want to blog about.
  • Read- Our staff book clubs are on a roll. I am excited to hear what other teachers read during Winter Break, and our next book club title will be announced soon.
  • EdCamp- EdCampSTL is not far away, and we're planning the second #EdCampSCSD.
  • Grow- This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching. I still have a lot to learn. My students deserve it.
All of this would not have been possible without the support of my administrator and colleagues. My administrator supports my risk-taking, and she trusts me as an educator. I am blessed to be in a school that is willing to do what's best for kids. My colleagues are supportive and willing to try new ideas that will positively impact our students. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Crossover Book Club Part 2

The Crossover book club met for the last time this week. It was fun to hear teachers talk about how much they enjoyed reading the book, and how they might not have picked this on their own. Book Clubs are a great opportunity to branch out and try genres outside of their usual picks.

We also used a shared Google Doc to record our thoughts and wonders regarding the book.  I love how  The Crossover gave the teachers an avenue to think about the lives of our students.  Here are just a couple comments from our book club.

  • " I thought about how much of his identity was in basketball and wondered about myself and our students who might not “know” themselves outside of one skill, talent, hobby, etc they possess. I want to help my students really see and know themselves each day as many things - learners, friends, siblings, students, great at whatever their talents are, explorers, and so much more!"
  • "Towards the end of Part 1 we see a change in Josh due to his brother being occupied. This makes me wonder how many of our students are thinking this way when compared to siblings."
  • "As the story unfolds and reaches the end, there is such a sense of loneliness in Josh, feeling as though all that filled him is gone. I wonder if we all feel that way sometimes about losses in our lives, not only of people, but of dreams, abilities, goals, and more. I wonder how our students carry this day to day as well."
The book club will start reading our next book in January. I can't wait for more opportunities to grow as readers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Crossover Book Club

Round 2 of the Lincoln Elementary Staff Book Club starts tomorrow. We will be discussing the first half of The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. I read the book already, and I am sure my colleagues will love it as much as I do.  We've had the books for about a week, and two people told me, "I just couldn't stop reading. I kept going and finished the book." I knew this would happen. The Crossover is that kind of book.

There are so many things I absolutely LOVE about our book clubs:

  • There is a sense of community around the shared experience of reading the same book. We get to experience the same characters together. We are able to experience the victories and heartbreaks our characters encounter.
  • Kids are watching. They are noticing. When kids see the books sitting on our desks they are curious. They want to know what the book is about. They think it's cool that I am reading the same book as their teacher.
  • Sharing in a book club helps keep me accountable for my reading. I want to be able to talk with my friends about the book, so I make sure my reading is completed.
  • Book clubs give us a chance to take a risk and experience books that might be different from our normal choices.
I want to say, "Thank You",  to our local public library and library foundation. They fund book club kits that are available to check out. This kit made our book club happen in a snap. 

Lastly, I appreciate the support and participation from our building principal.  Everyone loves a jeans day!