Monday, October 17, 2016

Daily Blog  10/15/16

Opening: Chris opened by projecting an abstract image and asking “What is this?  Or, What could this be?  What does it remind you of?”
The notion that recognizing is a thinking skill.  It opens the mind, frees our thinking allowing us to see new possibilities.

Writing Time 9:10- 10:10

Photo%20on%2010-15-16%20at%2011.19%20AM%20(1).jpg        Revitalizing Revision
             Bobby Livingston’s workshop

Bobby provided recommendations for how to motivate students to revise their writing including: Teach them to ask questions.  Encourage them to write expressively.  Seek ways to help students find authentic purposes so they become attached to their message.  Write small scale low-stakes writing exercises, write with students, etc.

He provided a good number of practical activities and strategies for teachers to use with students.

Creative Problem Solving Strategies
Chris Newcomb’s workshop

Chris presented on Creative Problem Solving Strategies and how we can use them to help ourselves and our students create new ideas and solutions.

In what ways might we…?

Chris encouraged us to think in terms of many possible ways to solve problems, find answers, and create ideas. He shared an acronym that provides strategies for creative thinking called CREATIVE WAYS. Chris shared a variety of activities that could be used to encourage divergent or creative thinking. We all read a Frog and Toad book, A List, and applied the strategies to creating an activity for students to complete using the story.

Leveled Annotation
Courtney McCann’s workshop

Courtney taught us about annotation, a structured way to markup text and dig deeper through multiple readings. Specifically, she taught us about leveled annotation, which allows students to focus on different kinds of thinking/responses to their reading.

We looked at some amazing examples of student annotation - and noted how the students were making their thinking visible. We discussed what they understood and what they were puzzled by.

We all spent some trying out leveled annotation ourselves. We read parts of “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. It was quite a challenge for some of us!

You can see Courtney’s presentation here:

Student Driven Blogs
Darren Choate’s workshop

Darren presented on using blogs in the classroom. He focused on having students generate their own content by focusing on a particular topic. The focus was on building engagement and pushing kids gently forward through coaching, peer feedback, and praise of skills. The class provided a lot of great ideas about how to guide students forward and how to get even more out of blogging in the future.

The closing moment was a poem called “I Care and I’m Willing to Serve” by Marian Wright Edelman.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Afternoon Fall 9.24.16

After lunch Bridgette started us off with a wonderful writing outdoors workshop as a practice to engage students in observation and creating questions. Twenty minutes of observation and writing time outside on a blustery, crispy, yet warm fall day revealed twelve different perspectives  and questions.    Below are the questions we asked.

Darren - How complex is a little beetle and what organs for they have?

Rebecca- Whether the drought would affect the inside of the milkweed pod/

Bridgette- Why is the dandelion stem called a clock?

Shawn- What is your obsession with personification in nature?

Bobby- Where did I associate and reflect and where did I observe?

Shawne- What words can be used to describe the different ways wind moves?

Kim - Why is writing easier for me right now, is it because I am outside?

Susan- Is there a word for a group of crickets?

Courtney- Why doesn’t the air move like this in Ohio?

Chris- Why was the building that houses all the gardening tools be so ugly?

Patricia - Where does this wind go?

Jane - Does the sun hear the elder pine’s pleas for rain?

Last portion of the day we discussed Teaching the Neglected R in small groups using Save the Last Word protocol Patricia introduced.

Shawne’s closing moment spoke to the importance of art, specifically  music in “the need to decompress and pull oneself back together”.  It was lovely.  Perfect. As a final closing we read each other’s mindful moments throughout the day, connecting end to beginning!


Praise for Kim - Conferring with Writers
Your presentation included all the important point: content, examples, demonstration, active engagement. Each piece was clearly tied to your goals and could easily be incorporated right away in a classroom.
I like your several practices you gave us and the opportunity to try it out.
Wow! That was fabulous! You did a great job keeping your presentation varied, engaging and hands-on.
Super job connecting the different points you made with personal experiences.
Love the easy to follow organization!
Extensively organized with materials and effective visual aids!!
Your presentation was engaging and valuable. There is so much I can take from it into my classroom right now!!
Well researched, great videos.
Wonderfully useful tools for conferring!
Your workshop was chock-full with really useful take-aways, without feeling rushed.
I loved the open nature of your style. It allowed us to be engaged and ask questions.

Praise for Susan - Reading through a Writer’s Lens
I REALLY appreciated the specificity of your instruction and the practice opportunities - useful materials too.
Wonderful, helpful, amazing presentation. Your books are great.
Thank you for sharing your collection of beautiful books. The process for “gathering craft from literature” was effective.
This presentation touches what I believe is most important for literacy teachers.
Loved the work you built into your presentation. It was very fruitful and important.
I loved having time to read picture books!! And the emphasis on slowing down.
Great presentation - loaded with practical information, just enough info to satisfy but not overwhelm.
Thank you! Excellent! Brought home the importance of really showing what showing means!
The activities provided tons of inspiration. Chock full of great info and lists of ideas for all grades levels.
Craft vs. message - so much of the separation of these 2 things aligns with my own workshop! You did an excellent job and I love your passion for this; it’s infectious.
Your workshop was so engaging, interactive and informative!

Wonderful, helpful, amazing presentation. Your books are great!


Here's the video about my college roommate who won one of the MacArthur genius awards.

Her videos are jam-packed with word play, literary allusions and historical references.

Padlet Link

Image result for padlet
Click this link to access the Padlet for today's Conferring with Writers presentation.  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Susan opened the morning with some book talks featuring picture books that are perfect for launching Writer's Workshop. They included Mr. Zinger's Hat by Cary Fagan, One Day. The End.:Short, Very Short, Shorter Than Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and My Pen by Christopher Myers .  

Patricia and Brigid reviewed the portfolio expectations for the fall session. They reminded us that we don't have to create an whole portfolio but can add the fall requirements to the portfolio we created this summer. You can access all of the course requirements here

Brigid led us in a team building activity that included pairing up with a partner, playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors". The loser then became the cheerleader for their partner, who moved on to a new partner. In the end it came down to a dual between Bobby and Patricia! The cheering was boisterous! The competition intense...requiring several rounds. In the end Patricia came out victorious and we all had a great laugh! Together we created a document of ideas that can be used in our classrooms to offer students (and ourselves) brain and body breaks. You can access the document here

After some time for independent writing, we broke up into book groups to discuss our professional reading related to "Rethinking Teaching Practice". Small groups shared out central ideas from their texts, along with a 3-5 minutes lesson idea.  

A working lunch allowed us time to meet with our mentors to talk out (and hopefully firm up) our plans our upcoming workshops or action research projects. Time was provided to writing a blurb for the presentations and a schedule was created. You can access the blurbs here and the remaining Saturday schedule here

Tim Lynch, USM Research Librarian, came to teach us how to use the USM Databases to search for peer reviewed articles.  His interactive presentation included how to navigate the new USM website, find the Library Databases, tips for narrowing searches by topic to find peer reviewed articles, and how to create a bibliography. The time was very helpful! 

After meeting with our Writing Groups, Susan shared several websites that are helpful resources for teaching in general. Both The Nerdy Book Club blog and The Educator Collaborative blog are also great places to publish work related to teaching and learning.

The Two Writing Teachers Blog
The Nerdy Book Club

The Educator Collaborative 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday, July1, 2016

Wow!  It's July and the last day of the Summer Institute!

Brigid shared a heartwarming video from Story Corps that tells a tale of how a book mobile transformed a young girl's life.

During Teach Me Tech, Chris introduced us to, a free online video downloading program.  If a school, home, or other venue's network is unreliable, having the video downloaded on a device is a handy way to avoid having to go to Plan B.  Keepvid is another platform that will also allow users to import a video into iMovie for editing.

Rebecca, Denise, and Tim met with groups to share options for life after ISFI.  Monthly writing groups, led by Leah Siviski, meet at a variety of places on different days of the week.  They require no commitment and feed our writing souls.  Professional Development opportunities include the annual fall conference, ISFI presentations, and professional learning groups, to name a few.  The Young Authors Camps are a great way to experiment new teaching ideas or work with students who represent different grade levels from the students you typically work with.  Of course, it is a treasure to work with YAC campers, students who chose to join a writing camp!

Our final mentor meeting of the summer focussed on discussing each Fellow's idea for the path he/she is leaning toward.   Several Fellows have already signed up for the fall workshop presentation slots.

After an outstanding pizza selection from Otto's, everyone shared a passage, poem, or piece of prose to read aloud followed by a quiet reading of the portfolios.  The variety of genres, voices, humor, surprises, and emotions revealed were heartening.  Your passion and talent are absolutely inspiring, and it is exciting to have you in the SMWP family.

Closing Moment:  Happy People Dancing On Planet Earth