Children's Books

Sunday, January 29, 2017


"Edcamps are organic, participant-driven professional learning experiences for educators across the country and worldwide!"

I'm really a newbie in the world of Edcamp. I attended my first Edcamp last February at EdcampSTL, and I was hooked! I've attended several more Edcamps, and I helped plan the first Edcamp sponsored by our district.

Here are a few reasons #WhyIEdcamp:
  1. Learning-  The heart of Edcamp is professional learning. Education is constantly changing and improving. Edcamps are opportunities to learn from other educators. I've learned about flexible seating, moderating Twitter chats, Makerspace, and BreakoutEDU just to name a few from Edcamp sessions.
  2. Choice-
    • Self-directed-Edcamp participants create the topic sessions that are discussed. Participants also choose the sessions they want to attend. These decisions are not made by district administrators, professional development committees, state, or others. Edcamp sessions are created to meet the needs of the campers in attendance.
    • Opportunities for curiosity- When I attend Edcamp I choose sessions for several reasons. Sometimes I choose topics for areas that I need more help with. Sometimes I choose sessions for new topics that I am curious about. Other times I just want to explore. 
  3. People- The people who attend Edcamps want to learn and share. They have energy that is contagious and invigorating. They are in attendance to learn. Edcampers are the forward thinkers who are willing to give up time on their weekends or summer in order to share and learn. These are the kind of people you want to connect with. 
You want to sign up for Edcamp..don't you?

  1. Find a date and location of an Edcamp nearby. Check out to find an Edcamp near you.
  2. Sign up to attend. Put it on your calendar and make it happen.
  3. Invite a friend to go with you.
  4. Attend and make connections while you are there. 
I'll be attending #EdCampSTL on Feb. 11th. I'd love to see you there.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Strengthen Staff Relationships with Book Clubs

Working in education can be a difficult job. Wouldn’t it be great to have opportunities to share with other staff members in ways that are positive and build community? Hosting a staff book club is one way to build community and strengthen relationships.

This year our teachers started participating in voluntary book clubs. We were fortunate to have a visit from Donalyn Miller scheduled, and we wanted to be ready for her visit. We started with Reading in the Wild. Teachers read chapters during the week, and they eagerly discussed their thoughts in the teacher’s lounge during lunch. This experience of sharing thoughts, analyzing our instructional practices, and working together to improve instruction allowed us to grow as a team.

Book club members enjoyed the club discussions. They wanted to keep the book clubs going.  We couldn’t find enough copies of other professional books, so we moved our book clubs to children’s books. By choosing titles from different genres we are able to expose teachers to new literature.  Students have noticed that different teachers are reading the same book. They see our example of developing and sharing our reading lives with others.
Starting a staff book club is not difficult. Below you will find 10 basic steps for establishing a book club.

1.       Support staff choice- In order for book clubs to have a positive impact on staff relationships and school climate, staff choice must be supported. Allowing staff members to choose their levels of participation in book clubs is vital. Be supportive of the staff members who choose to participate in book clubs, and support staff who choose not to participate. Book clubs aren’t for everyone. It’s OK.
2.       Gain support from administration- Talk with your administrator or supervisor about starting the book club. Having the support of the administrator gives the book club legitimacy. We made it very clear to staff members that participation in book clubs is voluntary.  It didn’t hurt that my administrator agreed to allow book club participants a free jeans day on book club meeting days.
3.       Choose a book- The book doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but pick one that will appeal to many of the club members.  Choose a title and go for it.
4.       Find copies- Gain access to as many copies of the book as possible. Make it as easy as possible for book club members to locate and borrow the title. My local library has book discussion kits available to check out.  I check out the discussion kit, and staff members borrow the books from me. This allows all staff members who are interested to participate in the book club. Contact your local public library to see if they have book club kits available.
5.       Make a schedule- Choose the time and dates for your book club.  Think outside the box, and schedule times that will be available for book club members.  Here are a few questions to consider.
·         Will book clubs meet before school, after school, during lunch, during plan times, or will your club meet online? 
·         Will the club talk about the book during one session or over several meetings?
·         What is a reasonable reading schedule for busy educators?
6.       Advertise the book club- This can be done through flyers, email, or video.
7.       Read- Enjoy reading the book along with the other club members.
8.       Discuss- Participate in the book club discussions. Facilitate the book club meeting without dominating the discussion.  Here are a few websites for facilitating book club discussions.

9.       Share- Provide the book club members a place they can record thoughts or comments about the book. This can be as easy as a place to put sticky notes or more technical like a shared digital document  such as Google Docs or Padlet.
10.   Celebrate- Celebrate the experience of book clubs. Celebrate the community that is being created. Celebrate the growth.

You can read more about our journey by visiting .

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Staff Book Club #3 "Rain Reign"

The Lincoln Staff Book Club is currently reading Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.
We have over 15 staff members reading this book about Rose Howard,a 12 year-old girl with Asperberger's Syndrome, and how she navigates her world.  I hadn't read this book until now, so I am experiencing Rose's take on her world for the first time. My heart aches for Rose when she doesn't understand the difficulties she is having at home and school. I am looking forward to the discussions we'll have as a staff on Tuesday when we talk about the first half of the book. I am loving our Staff Book Club.

  • Yesterday I was sent this text, "I finished the book club book 😭😭😭".
  • We were iced in yesterday and a teacher posted, "luckily I remembered my book club book!"
  • One of our first grade teachers recommended the book and wrote about it on her blog
  • This was posted on my Facebook page,"I've been reading Rain Reign, but just realized I'll be out on Tuesday at Stem training when you meet 😫!

Book clubs are a great way to build community. How could you promote a book club at your school? How could you introduce staff members to books? How do you share your reading life in your school community?

Saturday, January 7, 2017



Shine verb
  • give out a bright light:
  • be very talented or perform very well:

I don’t do resolutions. I made plenty of them each January, and I never kept them. This year I decided to join many others and pick one word to help guide my intentionality and decision making this year. I’ve chosen the word shine.

Several years ago I was going through a really difficult time in my life with lots of  challenging decisions to make. I was feeling very insecure and unsure about myself. My sister gave me a ring with an inscription that says, “Shine. The world needs more of your beautiful light.” Just wearing the ring and remembering to shine gave me the inspiration I needed to face those decisions.

So this year I’m coming back to shine. My intent is to shine and encourage others to shine. I want to give out a bright light. I have the Light in my life, and I want it to have an impact on others. I work with some amazing colleagues, and I want to encourage them to shine. The students in my life have strengths and voices that need to shine. My desire is to encourage others in a way that will help them feel safe enough to shine and share with others.

Here are the questions I am pondering:
  • What makes people feel safe enough to take risks? How can I facilitate this risk taking?
  • How do I highlight and encourage the work of others?

I would love to hear your comments about these questions. Also, what is your #OneWord2017?