Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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One Little Word 2022 – FOCUS

I learned about One Little Word at many years ago as I found writing inspiration at Two Writing Teachers ( In 2022, I want to get back to the basics with my writing and there’s no better way to start. My #OLW2022 is FOCUS.

What is One Little Word®? (From the website)

In 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January—a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life. These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another—a process I document via simple creative monthly prompts from January to December.

You’re invited to join me in choosing your own One Little Word®.

Why FOCUS? Well, as you know, 2020 and 2021 were unusual years, to say the least. During the pandemic, I read less, wrote less, and worried more. My life was in chaos; my mind was not right. Well, that changes…today! It’s a new year and it’s time for me to FOCUS on little changes that will help me to achieve my reading and writing (and living) goals. It is the perfect word for 2022.

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One Little Word 2020: PURPOSE

PURPOSE: What is my purpose?

As a teacher-librarian, as I continue to grow (my OLW for 2019) and learn more, I find myself wondering why I do what I do. Back in 2009, we studied the “5 Lenses of Powerful Instruction” and the one lens that impacted me most was “Purpose.” We must know why we teach what we do, and pay attention to how that impacts student achievement. Over the years, several mandated activities in schools (my district and others I had read about) really got my blood boiling (as they say) as I saw the purpose of (literacy) instruction — while driving towards student achievement — as skill/drill, mindless keyboard-clicking towards “success.” “Success” meant “students passing the test,” and more specifically, “the state standardized test.” Now of course, I want my students to pass this test. It is of the utmost importance in school. Passing the test means opportunities flow: more recognition, more choices in classes, less nagging by teachers to “read at your level” or “study more,” etc. Failing the test means consequences await: no recognition (or negative attention), assigned remedial classes (where reading levels are strictly monitored), less choice…

I saw creative, happy students turn apathetic towards their learning, their education (at least, their literacy education). If I mentioned that education is a gift, I saw students saying, out loud, “I don’t care.” I witnessed students giving up, because “it doesn’t matter” if they tried; even if they made an effort, they were not test-takers and they were not going to pass the test (at least not the standardized test that mattered).

My purpose is not to watch students fail. I know that, for sure. So I ask again: “what IS my purpose?”

JOYFUL LEARNING. Yep, that’s it. For me and for all people I encounter every day.

This fall I saw students (and teachers!) cheering during an author visit to our city, asking questions, jumping out of their seats to see better, being invited to take the stage, and telling their friends about the experience. I watched those friends ask for his book in the library after the visit, and even spoke to a student who had lost his personal copy of the book and wanted another one. Also recently, I had a conversation with our ELL coordinator who thanked me for giving a young lady Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish, so she could read it with her family. The student was so happy that our library had books she could read; she continues to check out other Spanish titles and practices her reading (in Spanish and English) daily. Right before winter break, I watched students in an art class create — taking care do make their creation the best it could be — and compliment each other on their end products. Many students told the teacher “thank you” for allowing them this time to engage in a meaningful activity. THAT kind of learning is not measured on a standardized test, but THAT kind of learning DOES raise student achievement. “Studies show…” (This is not a research post, so I won’t go into detail here.)

My purpose (as a teacher-librarian) is to light the way for students to read more, to read better, to enjoy reading…and to be successful and happy citizens of our school and community. My purpose is to facilitate joyful learning for students and fellow teachers. My purpose is set.





“One Little Word” Reflection 2019 — GROW

Lean…Dream/Do…Progress…Venture…Grow. This was my 5th anniversary writing “One Little Word.” Time flew by in 2019. I cannot believe it’s over. I had a nice year of growth: more reading, more learning, more writing, and some new projects that turned out to be good moves. As much as 2019 was good for me, I’m looking forward to 2020.

Happy New Year! May 2020 be your best year yet!

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My 2019 One Little Word: Grow

Lean…Dream/Do…Progress…Venture…Grow. This is my 5th anniversary writing “One Little Word.” Time flies!

After leaning towards my dreams, doing what it took to jump-start my new career and lifestyle, progressing/moving towards my goals, venturing out and taking action…I’m ready to grow.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” The traditional interview question. I’d have to say that 5 years ago, I did see myself here — a reader, writer, lifelong learner, school librarian, mom, wife, grandma…Now I’m ready to grow.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a fabulous 2019!




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Reflections: My OLW for 2018 – “Venture”


My “One Little Word” for 2018 was VENTURE. As I look back over the year, I found that I ventured out more than I ever thought I would. I took risks and made mistakes; I laughed and I cried. I spent more time thinking and planning, but also “doing” in 2018. As I acted out each day, I found that “venture” was the perfect word to guide me.

I wrote for some new projects and I read 140 books this year. I was a member of another Kwame Alexander launch team – this time for the book, Swing (a wonderful and heart-wrenching book by Kwame and Mary Rand Hess).  I traveled to Michigan (for NerdCampMI), Texas (for #NCTE18), and Illinois (for RSAC) for professional development that proved (once again) to be highlights of my year. My friends and I created a proposal for #NCTE19, too, and I’m excited to see if we are accepted for a session.

I lost a job and found a new one — a relief and a dream all rolled up and presented to me as a gift from God. I love being a middle school librarian, and I am working hard to become a literacy leader in my new school. There’s so much more to come! I was able to keep my primary schools (that I oversee) as well, and that was a blessing.

My family encountered many blessings this year, as well: one engaged child, one college graduate, one college-bound child. I’m going to need to eat right and exercise more to keep up with these girls in the future. Health is an issue, always, so I move forward — setting new goals and tweaking my lifestyle just a little more than the year before. Keep moving! That’s the key going into 2019.

So 2018 was a year of adventures, and it was a fabulous year. I wish each of you Happy New Year and best wishes for 2019!

Now…what should my new OLW be?



One Little Word 2018: Venture

My “One Little Word” for 2018 is VENTURE. I found my OLW easily this year; the past 3 words, Progress (2017), Dream (2016), and Lean (2015) led me to this one. The start of 2018 has already been a bumpy one, and there’s nothing I can do but move forward. I embrace the challenges, and I’m ready to make 2018 the best it can be.

My past words served me well, and now that I have a jump-start, I’m ready to tackle new adventures. VENTURE: defined as a noun on Google as 1) “a risky or daring journey or undertaking,” 2) “a business enterprise involving considerable risk.” As a verb, VENTURE means 1) “daring to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant,” 2) “dare, be/make so bold as, presume.” VENTURE is the perfect word for me this year because that’s my plan: VENTURING out there, taking risks and presuming new roles.

I’ll write more specifically about these VENTURES as I move through the year. I look forward to the challenges ahead. Happy New Year!




Slice of Life Tuesday: Reflecting on My OLW for 2017

Progress. My One Little Word for 2017 served me well. My goals to get the house in order, to present more professional development at school, and to travel to my favorite places all got the “Check” off the list.  As I said in January, “That’s me this year — ‘in progress.'”

Highlights included clearing clutter and completing maintenance in the house. Each month gave me a different task and celebration.We had 3 successful garage/yard sales and kept up with the yard using our new sprinkler system. Because the driveway took away part the hill from our side yard, mowing the grass was easier. I even organized the storage closet in November while looking for Christmas decorations.

I gained confidence as a presenter at my school with some interesting literacy professional development, and I even booked my first “gig” out-of-town as a presenter for reading workshop. I love sharing my learning with others. I hope to present much more in the coming year and beyond. My sixth grade students engaged in a Mock Caldecott unit of study, and we read a lot of books and wrote for many purposes. I wrote much more (well, not recently) and I was proud of my book reviews and guest blog posts (I’ll have another guest post tomorrow, in fact. Check out And…I landed my dream job as a librarian! That was the best part of 2017.

I ran around nearby cities to promote Kwame Alexander’s book, SOLO (he wrote with Mary Rand Hess).  I was selected to be on his Solo Launch Team, which was Absolutely Amazing! Although I missed the big party in New York City, I had a great time, and the book is awesome. Read it! (By the way, REBOUND — a companion to THE CROSSOVER —  will be out next year. Put that book on your list, too.)

My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing spring break in Florida, and I also traveled to Warsaw for All Write Institute, Chicago for the Scholastic Reading Summit, Michigan for NerdCampMI, and St. Louis for NCTE’s Annual Convention (where I reunited with my #G2great friends). Wow! What a year. I will keep up that same travel schedule in 2018, and hopefully add some more states to my “visited” list.







What a year of progress! I wonder…what should my One Little Word be for 2018?



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One Little Word 2017: Progress

olw2017progressMy One Little Word for 2017 is PROGRESS. I had a list of 15 words narrowed down to 6 a few days before the new year. On January 1st, I asked the family to vote. We chose from the words Learn, Explore, Journey, Progress, Change, and Purpose. Purpose has been a goal of mine for the last two years at my workplace, as one of the 5 Lenses of Instruction. However, it didn’t seem to fit my whole life. “Progress” is defined as a noun (movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage; advancement), a verb (to go forward; to grow or develop), and an idiom (“in progress” means going on; under way; being done; happening). That’s me this year — “in progress.”

The progress started last year: maintenance and fixes to the house are almost complete; traveling enhanced my teaching and personal life; personal professional development gave me a leap towards future endeavors. Yes, PROGRESS — ongoing work — is the key to my life in 2017.

I indulged in a Facebook “quiz” last week, which assigned me this quote, supposedly defining my year:


I am no longer afraid of what might happen; I’m ready to tackle the future. So many things went right in 2016, and I’m ready to move forward, advance, grow. I will make PROGRESS this year!


Slice of Life Tuesday: OLW Checkpoint

IMG_5345My One Little Word for this year met a fork in the road during the decision-making process, so I have two words: Dream and Do. My checkpoint for the 5 month mark made me marvelously excited!

  1. I dreamed of remodeling my house for years. We were finally able to DO the remodeling: kitchen/dining room paint, bedroom paint, furnace and air mechanics, and we put up a new roof! Progress!
  2. I dreamed of becoming a school librarian. I passed the courses, test, and added School Librarian to my NEW license!
  3. I dreamed of my children succeeding in school, and my youngest daughter graduated from high school last weekend.

I guess I picked the right word(s) this year! Thank you all for supporting me and sharing the joy!Slice of Life Small Logo