Being Vintage at a Tech Conference


This past week I had the opportunity to attend KySTE.  The theme this year V2V  Vintage to Virtual.  I chose the Vintage sticker for my name tag.  Afterall – I went through high school and college without the internet, much less Google.  My favorite game in the early 80s was River Raid on my Atari 2600.  I learned to type on a dinosaur computer – that had to be booted with a 5 1/2 floppy each class.  I remember the very first email I ever sent.  It was my 2nd year in the classroom.  I bought my first desktop – with a CDRom when I graduated college.  My 1st phone was a Motorola Flip in 1997 – I had 30 minutes of talk for $29.95 a month.  I still have my iPod Nano.

There were plenty of other vintage teachers there – one had been in education for 42 years!  Wow. –  but I can actually say, it was the first time at a conference I looked around and saw the age differences.  Though I still have a few years left – I pride myself on trying to stay abreast of new ideas – reading, research and planning new tasks to keep my classroom fresh with up to date learning opportunities for my learners.

One thing I really learned at KySTE – that I must write my notes.  It is unbelievable when I pause and try to remember the things from each session.  It actually bothers me.  I made the choice to type my notes – it was a tech conference after all.  And I regret it.  Even looking at my typed notes – there are details that I missed.  Lesson learned.  Never again.  I will drag out my trusty graph paper composition notebook and write all that I want to remember.

I had 3 goals before attending:

  • Literacy – being a part of our ALM Team this year made me want to bring home some ideas to build on those strategies;  maybe find some tools to impact my efforts in developing better opportunities.
  • Google Classroom – I have been utilizing Classroom for about 1 1/2 years now – but I felt that I could learn more – to become more effective and efficient with it.
  • Math – always my top priority of course, but only a handful of sessions with a secondary math focus.  There were actually 2 sessions on Desmos, but one was a beginners level and the other was using for 3D printing – which I do not have.

I plan to post a summary of the resources and sessions I took away.  But my big idea – I wanted to get into a post – as a reminder to myself – why not create generic forms utilizing my most used Literacy Strategies, exit tickets, reflection prompts?  I could quickly push these to the students in their classroom as needed during the class and access their responses quickly as time allowed.  Maybe even share their responses with the class somehow.

However, part of my is hesitant – after the realization that my written notes are not as effective for me.  Will the same be true if my students are creating their responses typed into a form as opposed to a written post-it or other physical form?

Supporting Students During Instruction #eduread


Several years ago – in the beginning of discussions / learning of RTI,  I remember a curriculum supervisor making a statement – that we need a file of several resources – addressing goal concepts at different levels of understanding – that we can pull from as we have need to address intervention needs of our students.

With recent reading, this statement comes to front of my thinking.  The reading supports the idea of formative assessment – to catch students during the learning cycle and address their immediate needs.  This book date was 2010 – just the beginning of my own learning cycle and implementation of true formative assessment.


There are five steps outlined in Chapter 2

How to Develop and Deliver an Intervention Plan

  1. Identify mastery thresholds.
  2. Establish “red flags.”
  3. Develop on-going assessment measures to identify red flags.
  4. Select appropriate interventions.
  5. Monitor the effectiveness of each intervention.

I found a statement interesting as we were asked to think about “What are some of your current mastery thresholds?  How can you tell when students have moved from “almost got it” to “got it”?  The statement was to look beyond mastery thresholds tied strictly to academic achievement, but also as related student behaviors implied by the curriculum – such as participation, note taking, study habits and work completion. ( page 36)  I see this as the behavior may actual cover-up the understanding, if I am not carefully seeing beyond the behavior.

The establishment of red flags is helpful – after all, its human nature to cover up what we don’t know – so as a teacher, we have thought about/anticipated student actions, behaviors to help us gather data and making decisions on next steps during instruction.  Red flags are objective – intervention based on data rather than my opinion of who low-performing, gives students who are not prepared or embarrassed to ask for help.  Students may seem to be getting it by their behaviors but miss the mark on an assessment.  The red-flag system provides a safety net, per se’.

Four rules for establishing red flags:

  • unambiguous
  • hard to ignore
  • trigger an action
  • focused on academic concerns not behaviors.

Well.  I had to stop after reading this.  I needed to reflect on the next Think About…

What methods do I currently use to determine that a students is struggling?  What signals let me know they are falling below mastery?  Or signals that I missed in the past?

How do I tell they are no longer struggling?  Or even bored and ready to move on?

These are questions I really have not considered.  However, I do feel that I am a responsive teacher in the classroom.  I began really listening and paying attention to student behavior, actions about the time this book was published.  I started listening to my students rather than for the answers (Thanks, Max!)

Pausing during instruction – noticing their actions – how long do they take to engage in the problem/task?  The looks on their faces.  The conversations at tables – really listening to what they are saying – when I ask them to turn and talk.  I walk around the room and truly listen.  Ask questions specifically to their conversations – to dig deeper and see if they are getting it.

I search for common misconceptions as I walk around the room.  And I like to share – using Leah Alcala’s “favorite no” structure.  Ask, “What do you think this student was thinking?”  But I love to also use the Two Stars and a Wish/a Question.  What does this student know?  What question could we ask them to help adjust their thinking and see their mistake?

I initially thought I did not have a red flag list.  But pondering my teaching – I feel that the sequence and choice of examples I present during a lesson allows for a large portion of my red-flags.  I anticipate their mistakes and even give them some “wrong” work to analyze the mistakes as part of the learning task.  I realize this may not be enough, but it is a beginning.

Step 3 is an area I worked on with a colleague in Algebra I with intention last school year.  We took our units and planned at least one formative assessment for every learning target in the unit.  We tried to plan a variety of tasks.  We have some planned followup for some of the FAs, however, this is work to continue and build upon each time it is taught.  Having planning FA is so helpful.  Ensuring those FA are also connected to a specific red flag is even more powerful.  Giving an example that is often missed during a feedback quiz, allows us the opportunity to see where the group may be.  IF a large number have issues, we can address with the entire class.  IF only a handful have issues, its an opportunity to sit one=on=one and have a quality conversation.

Step 4 on selecting appropriate interventions is an area that challenges me.  Thinking of support and interventions differently – I am still not confident in this thinking.  But this statement seems to help – The most effective interventions provide a temporary learning support, are available to students on an as-needed basis and are removed when they are no longer needed.  So intervention provides the support. (?)

I honestly stressed reading this section.  It felt overwhelming and not doable.  I wanted to give up and quit reading.  Then I continued and the following list confirmed I was doing some things right.

Types of interventions discussed:

  • Student Conferences
  • Feedback
  • Concrete Examples
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Cheat Sheets & Cues
  • Memory Strategies
  • Summarizing
  • “Break Glass” Strategies – this was new to me
  • Tiered HW Assignments
  • Modeling Thinking Strategies
  • Task Breakdowns
  • Mandatory Extra Help (not punitive)
  • Peer Tutoring (we do a lot of “buddy checks” at our tables, allows students to ask a peer a question they may not be comfortable asking to the entire class)

But note these are not things I just did.  These are strategies suggested by colleagues, gathered at conferences, read from a blog post or found during a book chat reading.  These things did not just happen.  I purposefully planned them along the way.  Some worked initially.  Some failed miserably.  But most are in my toolbox and ready to pick up at any given time when I recognize a red flag.

I believe this merits a reminder from Steve Leinwand – It is unreasonable to ask a professional to change much more than 10 percent a year, but it is unprofessional to change by much less than 10 percent a year. {MT, page 582, may 2007

We cannot possibly learn and change everything all at once.  But it is a disservice to our students if we do not change at all.  Pick a new strategy or change up a lesson with an new approach.  What is it you want to do/accomplish?  What do you want to learn?  How might you apply it to your classroom instruction?  Research. Plan. Action. Reflect.  Adapt.  This is how you build a vast toolbox of quality resources and strategies.

Interventions should…

  • be designed to get students quickly back on track, addressing immediate needs but also keeping up with current learning taking place.
  • NOT be punitive, even if students are struggling because of their irresponsible behavior (not lying, I struggle here.  but I must find ways for students to recognize their choices led them to this point, discuss possible choices and the outcomes of each, help remind them the next time they are at a place to make a choice.  behavior interventions and academic interventions are not the same – although as teachers we see how some behavior leads to the need of the academic intervention.  this in my opinion is where relationships trump everything else – knowing your students, having conversations with them can lead to my understanding of why they chose the way they did.  and hopefully those conversations will continue to grow trust between us and allow me to help direct them to choices that will lead to a greater outcome.)
  • seamless and unobtrusive
  • systematic
  • temporary
  • minimal
  • specific
  • not be labor intensive (let me know when you figure this one out!)

At this point in the reading – there is a worksheet to help you in the process of planning red flags and interventions.

Step 5 Evaluate the interventions for effectiveness.  Again – reflection, analysis, adapt, action.

A suggestion made I want to make note of for my own reminder – is weaning them off of the interventions.  For example – if we allow students to use notes on a test, if we continue to do this the entire year, they become dependent on their notes and may not learn the concepts as deeply as we like.  One suggestion was to gradually withdraw.  An idea – Test 1, all notes allowed, Test 2 notes allowed during last half of the test,  Test 3 notes allowed during last five minutes of testing period.  Test 4 no notes.  OR  T1 all notes, T2 one sheet of paper, T3 5 x 7 index card, T4 no notes.  Either one shows a need for good note taking but students cannot be totally dependent.

A final statement made – is that interventions assume students want help.  When they refuse help, we need to know the way.  This falls back to knowing our students.  Relationships matter.

Thanks for allowing me to muddle through my thinking on this reading!  Have an amazing day.



Supporting Students Before Instruction #eduread #literacy


Getting back into the swing of the semester sort of bumped my reading to the back burner.  I am super excited about the opportunity to teach a section of digital literacy this semester, but I am busy planning and learning to stay a step ahead of my students!

Last night, @druinok and I were finally able to connect paths and chat on Chapter 1 of Robyn Jackson’s Supporting Struggling Students.  As I posted last month – this book and the ALM literacy training I have been a part of this school year emphasize the importance of planning.



The big ideas in our chat last night were –

Anticipating Confusion – there is a worksheet provided in the book which asks you to what concepts, content/processes or context you will utilize to present the lessons.  Then it asks you what common misunderstandings;  what prior knowledge and vocabulary will be needed for students to be successful and finally skills, thinking and organizational strategies the context will require.

I think back to my first years of teaching – I planned a lesson, examples to present in notes, practice problems and a mini quiz to assess where students were.  I cannot say for sure that I put this much thought into planning the lesson.  All great points to consider when I sit down to plan a lesson with the learner in mind.

Maybe this next idea arose in a chat – or did I blog about it already?  Activating or creating prior knowledge  – presented the idea that learning is like hook and loop tap – in order for it to stick, students need hooks in their brains on which they can loop new information.  When gaps occur – whether it be experiences, prior knowledge, lack of vocabulary, students do not have the hooks to hang the new information to.  The author suggested acceleration.  What?  I thought that was allowing learning to work ahead / condense information and let them work at a faster pace as in enrichment.  Same idea – except, there is simply not enough time to teach all of the gaps sometimes, so we must choose what is most important and find ways to help learners accelerate through what is missing, giving them enough to round out their background knowledge.

This is where I began seeing such a huge overlap between this book and my literacy team work with the ALM.

Strategies to activate prior knowledge – KWL outlines, Anticipation guides, Pre-reading plan, directed reading activities, word splashes, carousel brainstorming, statement strategy, paired verbal fluency, semantic mapping.  Several of these seemed familiar.  During our chat, @druinok shared that paired verbal fluency was essential pair-share or talk with shoulder partner;  the word splashes sort of like brain dump or generating a list but then making connections/showing relationships between the words.

Anticipation Guides – in math class?  What about offering 3-5 big ideas at then beginning of a unit / lesson in the form of Always, Sometimes, Never statements and allowing them to respond, share their claim and reasoning.  At the end of the lesson, revisiting the statements to see if they agree/disagree with initial claim and supporting with mathematical evidence from their learning.

I suppose the directed reading and pre-reading plan would be to offer “Look fors” as they begin the lesson / reading/activity.

The word splashes reminded me of a structure I have failed at using, but after revisiting our ALM resources and notes from training, I feel like I see a way to implement Interactive Word Walls.  When I tried them in the past, it simply became a stagnant display of text.  I am now wondering if I have students create an illustration the word  / expression makes them think of and hanging those on the wall.  Later, after some work, allow students to write the definitions in their own words and tape to the back of the illustrations.  As a class opener, review or even few minutes at end of class – Call on a student to go to the IWW, have them explain the meaning of a term.  The book suggested students at the desks should be reviewing their resources with the vocabulary.  The next student who goes to the IWW will choose a term and tell how it is related to the prior person’s word, then give a brief definition of the term.  And so on.  This accomplishes several things – students need to know the term, be able to show how it is related to other terms, it gives them a moment to review their vocabulary and listen to how others are making connections.

Strategies for creating background knowledge may be tricky.  There is simply not enough time to teach what we are supposed do, so how/when do I fill in the missing pieces?

Ideas:  movie clip, children’s book on the topic, link to website focused on information needed, analogies and mini lessons specific to skills and concepts needed.  This requires time and planning, but my thinking is – once I find a resource that helps, I add it to my toolbox and will have a set to choose from in the future.

Again – thinking what strategies and how to present the activation will need to be a part of the planning cycle.  Creating a list of background knowledge needed and how I plan to present those ideas to activate their thinking.

Often times students struggle due to lack of soft skills like organizing their learning, note taking, etc.  If I can provide them with a structure to help them organize their thinking – the author suggests explaining how this structure works in advance, previewing it and using it prior to the lesson you actually want them to use it with in order to help them develop an understanding of it and become confident in the process.

Chapter 1 ends discussing the vocabulary planning worksheet – what words will be used frequently, similarities between the terms, grouping and prioritizing ones of most importance.  Have a few different strategies planned to help students develop a basic understanding.

Only posting to help myself digest what I have been reading / chatting about – in hopes it will finally make connections for my math class and I can find ways to improve what I am planning for my students.


It Has Been a While… #eduread #MTBoS #literacy


Four and a half months, actually.

There is no excuse, except the season of life I am in.  My teenager is very involved with band and July – November is all consuming marching band.  And I will never apologize for making her time and activities a priority.  In just a few short years, she will be gone to college.

As for fall semester – it was a good one.  There were some new challenges I had never faced in the classroom and definitely a learning experience.  I did my best to be present for my students – to have conversations with them, to get to know them, to laugh with them.

My professional growth goal for this school year focuses on purposeful planning and implementation of research based vocabulary and literacy strategies in my Algebra I classes.  Being part of our districts Literacy Team using the adolescent literacy model from CTL lead to this focus.

I attempted an #educhat with the Robyn Jackson’s How to Support Struggling Students book.  Again, it seemed our family calendar and in person priorities stepped in.  However, I am still in the book.  As I read, I see so many connections to what we have heard in our ALM trainings this past semester.  The book compliments our training really well.

The introduction and chapter 1 emphasized what I already knew – planning and reflection are key.  Just a few take-a-ways from my reading and minimal chats:

4 Questions up front in the intro ~ Who are your struggling students this year?  How or why do they seem to struggle?  What have you tried so far?  What support strategies seem to work best?  First couple of times I read these, I brushed them off – not wanting to think on them, because then it was my responsibility to do something.  But wait, it is my responsibility.  And the sooner I address these, the sooner I can offer better support.

Why do students struggle in school?  …they lack either background knowledge or the soft skills needed to acquire and retain new information.  Wow.  This means I have to teach the content, fill in prior gaps AND  help them develop skills to help in their learning.  I’m not sure I am cut out for this teaching gig.  Anticipating their struggles, planning for strategies and lessons to help them overcome their struggles, a pre-assessment and time to reflect on who has gaps / what those gaps are and just exactly how and which ones we can fill-in – that will most benefit their learning during the lesson/unit.

One a-ha moment was using acceleration prior to the learning to develop foundational work, allowing the students to have some of the missing prior-knowledge.  The 3 key components suggested in the book for acceleration are:  activate / create background knowledge, provide / preview organizing strategies and teaching vocabulary.  Considering these, I have some ideas I am considering for my planning this semester.

Since vocabulary is part of my PGP focus, this section particularly grabbed my attention.  Marzano, Pickering, Pollock (2001) states effective vocabulary instruction has been show to increase student achievement by 33 percentile points.  These 6 steps are suggested in the book and I intend to consider these as I begin planning/updating my units and lessons:

  • preview vocabulary prior to the lesson in order for students to develop familiarity; this will be brief, informal explanation or description
  • share an imagery based representation of the new term
  • students describe or explain the term in their own words
  • students create their own imagery based representation of the term
  • students elaborate on the term, making connections to other terms
  • ask students to add new information to their understanding, delete or alter erroneous information

(Marzano, 2003)

I see utilizing quizlet, flashcards, google slides, LINCing vocabulary, frayer model, even etymology / connections with common roots during my planning this semester.  Something I feel is important here – introducing them prior to needing them, allowing them to become familiar and work with the terms before we actually need them.

Allowing them to make connections with words they already know, maybe not use the textbook definition on the Frayer models until after they are comfortable working with the terms.

Jackson’s book offers some nice organizers to use in the planning phases, along with examples to consider.  I feel the reading can be a bit overwhelming at first – like “I can never do all of this!”  But now, after stepping away for a couple of weeks, I have gone back and skimmed the reading, considered my notes and feel I can start with baby steps.

Planning is key. This quote –  If we want our students to succeed, we cannot afford to leave to chance what happens when they do not learn.

But taking the time to reflect and make purposeful adjustments is also key.

I am looking forward to a few more days of rest before returning to my classroom with a new group of learners.  But I am also excited about better planning and how it will lend itself to better learning opportunities.

Recap of Desmos Pre-Conference #MTBoSBlaugust Post 14


I sat down this past weekend to review my notes feom TMC18.

None of this will be enligtening to most, but again, this is where I can reflect, record and return to later when I can ponder.

I knew going in I needed to spend some time in Computation Layer while having real life, in person help. Parts of me now wishes I had spent 2 sessions in CL. I am better than I was last year, but still much further to go. My goal this year is to complete the scavenger challenges.

My other a.m. session was with Christopher Danielson, Principles of Design… where he teased us with snapshots! Listening to ideas around the room, watching him model the 5 Practices for Orchestraring Mathematical Discussions helped remind me to consider these structures when building future tasks.

Dr. Robert Berry shared some excellent thinking points and reminders. He suggested Catalyzing Change from NCTM. On my to read list, but why do books have to be so expensive?!?

Another take a way…

Solutions finders =/= Problem Solvers and

at the end… questions. Comments & compliments. What a great eay to end a lesson!

Lastly, that afternoon, I attended Shelley & Jenny’s Design Great Digital Activities. Essentially they walked us quickly through their thinking processes

1. Define the goal.

2. Crazy 8s on ONE key part of your goal.

3. Pair share.

4. Storyboard with 3 post-its.

5. Pair Share again.

Three key features to consider for student input when designing rhe flow and interactions……

1) access and build on prior knowledge

2) make a prediction.

3) reflection on learning/the task.

I see this as such a helpful tool that reduces how overwhelmed I often felt as I would sit down and attempt to create a task.

Hopefully, I can link back to this pist soon with a finished product.

Open House #mtbosblaugust post 13


What feels like nearly a 12 hour day…

Got to school about 7:30 this morning… we had district day with all the stuff… a tteat for supper just before ooen house… and we walked in the door just before 8:00 pm.

So many smiles and new faces at open house tonight!

Afterward the halls had cleared, a crew came through leaving cards in every locker and classroom…

Better an oops than what if…

Simple, encouraging words and quotes. What a great service to their school community.


Gonna be a great year.

Speak Life… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 12


In discussions about our upcoming home remodeling show, @cheesemonkeysf shared a picture with a plant placed in her entry way. It reminded me of one my granny j. had when I was younger.

The next time I was out I found the plant and bought it for my house…just a bit of green, some life to add in a room. But she was a bit small. So now, I have decided to take Sansa to school.

Sansa means to charm, praise. So I am hoping this plant will remind me that my words can give life.

Sansa will join my pothos plant, who is nameless, but given to me by a dear friend 2 years ago as we began school.

I splurged last night, wanting a little more greenery in my room…

Meet Ingrid – beloved, beautiful. I hope my students realize their self worth…

Anne – a form of grace, may I offer grace to both others and myself this school year.

And D.T. -may my words be seasoned with salt.

Not only will our plants help clean our air, but offer some extra beauty and hooefully serve as some good reminders…

Literacy Day 3 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 11

Literacy Day 3 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 11

Day 3 – my brain was on overload.  This was definitely the heavier writing of the 3 days of training.  I am honest in saying, I struggled to see how to use several of todays tasks in my own classroom when compared to Days 1 & 2…

What has been most affirming to me this week – I have been searching for literacy strategies close to 10 years now.  From Kagan, to our current Springboard to all of the articles, books I have read.  And for 3 days I have seen so many things I have already implemented into my teaching.

But these 3 days have also challenged me.  I have see ways of doing some things better.  I have become very aware of how much more intentional I should be in my planning.  I have realized the real benefits and goals of specific strategies.  It has been good.

LETTER (I would call it PEN PAL)

As I was pulling out my INB, an index card fell out from Day 2.  After a particular reading, we had 3 reflection questions to write in our workbooks.  We were then asked to lock eyes with a person in the room, but not at our table.  Our task- to write that person a letter, sharing from our reflections.  When time was up, we exchanged letters, read them and replied back in letter form as well.

Our focus for this task was how we use writing – in our personal lives, but also how it can help us when learning  / trying to understand text we read.  It was fun getting to hear from a former student, now colleague who is rocking the ELA classroom!


We began our Day 3, asked to choose a text from our Literary Timelines the day before.

On an index card, describe a literary memory from the text you chose.

Go to a table, filled with postcards and choose a postcard that somehow connects, symbolizes your memory.

Now, pair up with someone and share your memory, postcard and how it represents your memory.   (great conversation).

We then talked about ways we could get many postcards collected in order to use the metaphor/analogy in class.

  • order online
  • ask family & friends to send when they visit museums, etc.
  • tweet a group of online colleagues and ask them to send
  • pair up with another class and do an exchange/penpal
  • Let students cut out pictures from old magazines and create their own postcards, laminate
  • Cut apart old calendars


We were given a copied version, but you could very easily ask students to draw a line and split notebook paper into 2 columns.

From the text – can be concepts, facts, information, quotes

From the reader – questions, ideas, opinions (in response to the reading)

In our groups we were asked to highlight one thing, then share out from the text and from the reader for that highlight.


We had 3 tables we rotated through.  Each table had chart paper with a prompt reflecting on our reading.  Only using visuals/drawings, we had to respond to the prompt.

After time was called, we rotated to the next table and repeated.

  • prompt
  • respond
  • rotate
  • repeat
  • back to original
  • observe / sythesize

When we returned to our initial table, it was interesting to see what people had added to it.  We were given time to ask questions/clarifications of pictures.

Observe / Synthesize – 1 sentence to synthesize the big idea to answer and respond to the initial prompt.

There was discussion about how to ensure all students were participating.  One teacher suggested allowing students to go to one of their pictures and claim it by writing their name next to it.

Another then said to Claim & Explain.  Which made me think – have them claim their picture on the poster paper, but then use their exit slip to explain their thinking.  As far as that goes, you could allow them to claim anyones pictures then infer what they thought as the exit slip.

Thinking on how I could use the @seesaw app I have learned about this summer – Have them snap a picture with the prompt and submit, then share their thinking in written or video.



Our presenters were very good about modeling what they thought we may not be familiar with.  Ashley used one of the charts from the previous task to model STW.  We were then asked to use pictures they had shared of student sample work and practice STW.  When we completed the task, we had to move to another table and find someone with the same sample work and compare our STW.

What I appreciate about this task – See is to look and simply state facts.  Think is when you get to give your opinion of what you think might be happening.  Wonder is your chance to ask clarifying questions or infer more into what you are seeing.


At this point we had seen many, many strategies and asked to consider a few that might be doable and productive in our units of study.  The planning sheet offered space for 2 options on ways to implement the task.  The WHY? HOW? WHEN? WHO? were all addressed in the planning.

This piece helped me realized the value of our text/workbook.  Each strategy is outline with intentions and what information can be derived from its use.

This was more or less a moment to begin brainstorming, thinking about which tasks we might commit to implementing this fall.


Our final reading prior to lunch break was to read text and code simply with Q – a quote that resonated with us.

We shared the quote on construction paper and taped to the walls around the room.

WE were given post-its and asked to GALLERY WALK responding by placing notes on the quotes with agree/disagree including our evidence and reasoning.

Finally, we used a whole group share.  There were many quotes repeated – which said it seemed to be something important to consider or a point of further discussion.  Some of the BIG ideas from our walk:

  • Sharing learning intentions / rubric / expectations up front with students
  • Having student sample work as models
  • offering feedback
  • Tough to write good, quality prompts
  • Should extended writing projects be in every classroom, in every unit?


Following lunch we were asked to think about our classrooms this past year.  We had a poster we divided into three columns – Argumentative, Informational/Explanatory, Narrative.

We were asked to share the writing to demonstrate learning we had actually used in class – making sure we included the form, purpose and audience of the piece.  As you looked around the tables (by subject areas) – it was somewhat obvious where the gaps were in our writing.

We tended to struggle just a bit in our math and science table, as most of our writing falls into the writing to learn category.  However we had at least one item in each of the categories.

The big take away for me was to ensure the assignments I am making have these key components considered before asking students to do them.

Marshmallow Towers

As I mentioned, our presenters were very intune with their audience.  They strategically had interactive, brain break like tasks planned for afternoon dips.  After completing the challenge, we were then asked to outline what parts of the literacy model we had actually used to complete the task.  Read Write Speak Listen…

Next we completed a similar reflection after watching a viral music video utilizing Rube-Goldberg Machines.

Our day ended with more planning / reflection documents as we thought about our next steps…

I will wait a couple of days, then do an actual reflection of our training.  I simply wanted to get down the big ideas from it – so I would have a quick go to of tools when I need them.

It was 3 days full of tools.  For me, my biggest take-a-way was that I need to continue what I am currently doing.  There is value in the several years of research and reading…  the ALM confirms I am moving in the right direction.

Literacy Day 2 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 10


How is it already August 10?!?  Yesterday was another day full of literacy!

Lots of notes. Lots of thoughts.  Lots of valuable discussions.


We created a word wall at the end of Day 1.  I will grab a picture today to share.  Teachers were asked to grab a term from our focused reading Day 1, and create a symbol with the word on it.

A question from Day 1 was how to make a word wall interactive?  Also, what if I have multiple sections of the same class, how to make it effective?  And with limited wall space, but different courses throughout the day…how can I make it work?

Day 2, we began –

  • Choose a word from the word wall.
  • Write a meaty question that has this word as the answer.

My word was barrier – What things do our students face that we must consider when planning effective literacy strategies for our classrooms?

Options for creating word walls in our classrooms:

  • a trifold that can be quickly folded and put away when next class enters.
  • personal size – give students a file folder
  • mobiles from the ceiling
  • with smartboards, maybe we have a magnetic whiteboard that could be used

This is definitely something I want to consider when planning for this fall’s units.


We were given some time to brainstorm a list of 10 texts that have impacted us.  Yes, I have more than 10.  Sorry. Not Sorry.

I began my timeline about 9 years ago, when my husband and daughter bought me a Kindle.  The first book I downloaded and read was Unbroken, L. Hillenbrand.  It is when I started reading again.  Somewhere along the way, I read a blog post that basically said – if we want our students to become readers, we must model that for them.  I started posting my “currently reading” outside my room and in my signature on emails.

You can tell from my timeline that non-fiction impacts me more…but now,  I always have a light, fiction read on my bedstand…  to end my day with a few minutes of escape.  However, my focus was how professional growth has been impacted through reading.


Next we were asked to stand and find a partner to share our timelines with.  My partner is my age and and ELA teacher – much of her titles, I had read either in childhood or throughout school.  She even included some poetry.  I loved the discussions between partners and at our tables – some new titles added to my reading list.

Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension

Strategies for when we struggle.  How can we use these when our students struggle?



If you’ve never used one, we’ll you’ve likely never worked with @joyinlearning.  🙂

  • Basically, you are given a few statements and asked to mark whether you agree or disagree prior to reading.
  • As you read assigned article, look for textual evidence to support or refute the statement and record.
  • Post reading – mark whether you now agree or disagree.

I see anticipation guides as priming my thinking about what I am getting ready to read.

The next task was looking at statements to determine if they were good / not so good ones to use on an A.G.  We then discussed characteristics of a good statement and brainstormed some for each subject area.

In the afternoon, we restructured and were asked to sit with like content area.  Our table was now Math and Science.


Is a Kagan strategy I maybe learned from @druinok.

  • Jot down 3 strategies we can use with Writing for Learn
  • Find a partner and share the lists – give one to them, get one from them – explaining how the strategy works.
  • Find a new partner.  Repeat.
  • Continue until your list has 6 strategies.

It was quite interesting to me to see the variety between different contents.

Here is a partial list of our whole class discussion…



This felt a bit like Talking Points I have used.  Each person did a reader response to a given quote.  We formed a circle and read our response.  The rule was – no response to each person…no agreeing, non-verbals, etc.  It was tough, we did giggle on a few of them.  The big idea, like Talking Points is it gives the learner a chance for their voice to be heard, without judgement.


We had 3 reflection questions we were given to complete at our tables, individually.  When complete, we formed inner and outer circles.  We then shared our responses to Q1, and our partner did the same.  The inner circle rotated – shared responses to Q2.  The outer circle rotated another direction before we shared responses to Q3.


Our final reading for the day was on Academic Dialogue, we were asked to Code our Text with

  • A antagonizing
  • W wonder about
  • M matches my thinking
  • ❤ love it.

When finished, we were given poster paper.  Each person had a different color marker and asked to record the a statement from the text for our codes.  We rotated to the next code, recorded and continued until each person had shared 4 statements.


We took some time to see what others had shared.  Then as a group, we were asked to choose the big idea and create a summary sentence.

So today, Day 3 is the last of our summer training…

Yes, many of the strategies shared I am familiar with – either through reading about Kagan, using Springboard Curriclum, Making thinking Visible and other reading.  But it has been very beneficial listening to how others implement and their ideas.

I look forward to working with our presenters / coaches.  They have been a difference maker in setting the tone for these experiences.

#TMC18 Memories… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 9


We come to TMC for the Math…  with leave with the Memories…

Its about relationships.  Some of the people I’ve met through TMC I have known longer than some of my collegaues.  While at TMC18, a fb memory popped up from the morning of 2012…  I had no clue the level of respect, love, friendship, laughter and encouragement that would come from this adventure.


I’m not sure where to begin – so many I adore I failed to get a picture with.  Sadly, I still feel awkward asking for a selfie – especially if I’m a new math buddy with you.  But I am grateful we met in real life  and now I can hear your voice as I read your tweets and posts.

I won’t lie, TMC overwhelms me – in a good way.  Every single moment is filled with math and people.  My morning session was filled with the best of both…


I texted my friend at some point on day 3 for me… a bit on overload, a little homesick  and she replied, take a break, go for a walk.  I literally have to unplug from big crowds to keep myself leveled – in any situation, not just TMC.  I am the teacher who needs 10 minutes of quiet time after a pep rally at school.  Weird, huh?

Each evening, my awesome roomie and I would go for a walk, one evening we actually had to drive to find the sand beach where we could dip our toes in Lake Erie!  But the lake was about a mile from the hotel, perfect distance.  And the views.

The lake on different evenings.  Something about water is so calming.


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Sitting alongside the water with new and old friends…just chatting about life and math and adventures for hours.


with Elissa, Mary and Cori

Cleveland was a pleasant place to visit.  I had no idea.  But I very much enjoyed.  At the water park, we watched an adult kickball league…it was the championship game.  There were many people getting their pictures in the Cleveland signs.  The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was such a treat.  As you walked the city, there were many things to see.  A nice little street with many restaurants to enjoy.


From cheering our foiled-travel plans friends on (Jenny!), to sharing a moment while signing Casey’s book, hanging out in St. Ignatius mall, learning about Pokemon Go!, finding the coolest math tshirts, admiring the work of our talented Justin Aion, and the amazing works shared by others…



Your first year at TMC can be a bit weird, trying to find your groove, meet people in real life, or even just meeting people during their first year, new friendships begin to form.  Your second year it truly is like getting to see old friends from camp the previous summer.  Year three…  you’ve developed strong bonds with some of these folks, they’ve become more than just colleagues.

I will never be able to name everyone that had an impact on me at TMC, but I am grateful our paths have crossed…


May we lift one another on difficult days, laugh with one another in hilarious moments and celebrate goodness and joy that comes each day…  I ❤ you friends!