Summer PD Planning — Exciting Year Ahead for Reading Teacher Writes

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It’s been an interesting year here at Reading Teacher Writes. I got to live my dream of serving students and spreading book love as a school librarian in my fabulous middle school. The highlights of the year included

  • Kwame Alexander, poet and writer extraordinaire, visited our city and surprised one of our students (and his teachers) during the Rebound Bus Tour. Amazing! I cannot thank him enough — reading DOES change lives, and Kwame made it happen here!
  • Josh Funk gave his time for another wonderful, fun-filled Google Hangout. I always appreciate Josh’s friendship and willingness to entertain and inform our students.
  • Jess Keating sent us “The Curious Creative” magazine (online) each month, with articles, interviews, and activities for the curious science students (and teachers!).
  • I bought the books kids wanted, and I extended my knowledge and support of #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books).
  • I presented my PD series, “Picture Books are Perfect…” (my current passion) and led a PD/Book study at school using Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca’s book, Patterns of Power.
  • I wrote, and stopped writing, and started writing, many times over this year. It’s a daily struggle, but I’m planning to write much more in the near future.
  • My personal professional development is awesome– I am reading, reflecting, learning each day with my online/social PLN (Professional Learning Network)! My friends at #G2Great and #NCTE continue to inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.
  • Ralph Fletcher asked for our students’ contributions to his current writing project (our 6th graders have some great stories!). I thank him for the opportunity.

With just 4 days left of school, I planned my summer. Wow! I have a LOT to do. Number 1: Relax and enjoy my time. Number 2: Attend the most awesome PD ever! Number 3: Present PD more often and extend my offerings to a wider audience. Here are some of this summer’s plans (Who will join me?):

  • The Lead Learners (formerly All Write), Warsaw, IN
  • NErDCampMI, Parma, MI
  • Teachers Write – writing with the Facebook group, led by Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, and Jennifer Vincent
  • Book Love Foundation Summer Book Club – led by Penny Kittle and others

When I looked at my fall calendar, I found that filling up, too! The best year ever is coming! I look forward to many new opportunities:

  • NCTE Annual Convention, Houston, TX in November — I’m a Presenter! I’ll be at the round tables with many other amazing colleagues during the #whymiddlematters session,  “Writing From the Middle Level Classroom: Overcoming the Fear and the Seemingly Impossible.”
  • RSAC (Raising Student Achievement Conference), St. Charles, IL in December — I will spread the book love with a “Picture Books are Perfect” session.

YES, it’s been an interesting year here at Reading Teacher Writes. Thank you for joining me. If you haven’t joined me yet, please consider your upcoming year and include http://www.readingteacherwrites.com. Have a Fantastic Summer!

Thankful for NCTE16 — There Are No Words!

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Just…amazing! #NCTE16 was everything I hoped it would be, and more! Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends, and colleagues! May peace be with you.

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Slice of Life Tuesday: See You in Atlanta, NCTE Friends!

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Slice of Life Small LogoGo to bank. Check. Shop for a carry on bag with wheels. Check.

Feed family dinner (quickly). Check. Pack. Check. Do one more load of laundry for the people staying home. Check.

Check in for flight online. Check. Schedule Shuttle Van service. Check. Go to bed…!

NCTE, here I come!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Lots to Do

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It’s ISTEP week, so I thought I’d try another picture post.

(I think it takes longer to choose pictures than it does to choose words!)

IMG_5326South Bend Cubs baseball — it’s spring!IMG_5325

 

 

 

 

 

Personal PD continues IMG_5296

and author Josh Funk sent us mail at school (!)

 

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Kitchen and dining room remodel — ongoing work continues in the house (Next: roof and driveway/front porch)

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It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. I also look forward to “my” month of May coming up! Anniversary, Mother’s Day, my birthday, and Memorial Day festivities, and this year is very special — my youngest daughter’s high school graduation!

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Currently…

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Currently…

Watching “Royal Pains” season premiere, because after reading George (by Alex Gino), I became more intrigued by some differences between other humans and myself. Then, after listening to the incessant jabbering about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, it seems the media is obsessed  with the topic of transgenders. I just wanted to see how USA Network was using this media storm to gain viewers this summer.

Reading my syllabus/requirements for the EDU 517 Elective Workshop credits after attending the AWESOME All Write Institute last week in Warsaw. I will be blogging about the All Write sessions the rest of this week on my blog here at http://www.readingteacherwrites.com. Check in daily to share in my enthusiasm for continued learning about reading and writing!

Listening to my daughter laugh in the next room. She is so adorable! Even as a teenager, I feel that when she is happy, I can be happy, too.

Making dinner in the microwave. I did not stop today!

Planning to get some work done in this SHORT summer we have! Today I babysat my granddaughter (who is a pleasure), and I will see her again Thursday. Tonight I mowed the long grass. Tomorrow I will take the dog to be groomed — a long-past-needed chore! After that, we need to complete some odd/handyman jobs at home, and I HAVE to find time (when it’s not raining) to have a garage sale. I will take some more time for professional leaning at the ILA Conference in St. Louis next month. I cannot wait! Then it’s back to work (so soon?).

Loving that I do have some time off this summer to do these other tasks and activities, as well as get some rest.

Summer Reading: Where Should I Start?

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Summer Reading: Where Should I Start?

In the last week, I have read no less than 14 (that’s where I stopped counting) book lists and recommendations for summer reading. I am overwhelmed at the sheer number of LISTS out there, and I wonder how I will ever be able to choose, start, and finish all the books on all the lists! Which list is best? Should I read a series? Should I stick with a certain genre or author? Will I be more satisfied with adult books, or should I stay with the YA bunch and prepare for the next year of teaching middle school? Maybe I could read all the picture books with my granddaughter and decide with her which ones stand out.

So many lists! So many questions! Then, it hit me. It’s summer, right? I should heed the call to read my choice of books! So simple! Then I panicked again. Where should I start?

Like a Mack Truck…smack! A friend’s blog post not only mirrored my thinking (thank you, Tara Smith), her words cemented my decision. I will start at the top of my own pile and read whatever I want, all summer long! That’s what we recommend to our students; that’s what the research says: Summer reading should be choice reading. Summer reading should be enjoyable. Just do it! So I am…reading what I find intriguing and loving every minute of it. And you should read, too. Whatever you want. Whenever you have time.

Just do it!

My students talked about these titles quite a bit. Maybe you’ll want to check these out:

Wonder (Palacio), Out of My Mind (Draper), Crossover (Alexander), The Impossible Knife of Memory (Anderson), Number the Stars (Lowry) , Divergent (series)(Roth), Percy Jackson (series) (Riordan), The Tiger Rising (DiCamillo), Big Nate (series) (Peirce), Michael Vey (series) (Evans), Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series)(Kinney), and El Deafo (Bell).

My YA favorites this year (in addition to the books above): Brown Girl Dreaming (Woodson), The One and Only Ivan (Applegate), The Fault in Our Stars (Green), When You Reach Me (Stead), Home of the Brave (Applegate), Fish in a Tree (Hunt), Counting by 7s (Sloan). There are so many others  – you don’t want to read my list…read the books!

My Starting Line Up of Summer Picks (Adult titles, not for school): Every Day I Fight (Scott), All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr), Summer Rental (Andrews), Zeitoun (Eggers), Gray Mountain (Grisham).

Picture Books we shared and loved: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Barnett), Blackout (Rocco), Fossil (Thomson), It’s a Book (Smith), Flotsam (Wiesner), I Don’t Want to be a Frog (Petty).

Professional Development titles (that already won me over!): The Unstoppable Writing Teacher (Cruz), Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age (Serafini), The Reading Strategies Book (Serravallo), and Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading (Beers/Probst) (which I used all year and have marked up well).

Summer Reading: Where will you start? Now…go find your happy place and read!

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: What a Find!

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I looked at http://www.indianayoungwriters.org with a student yesterday, and I found a picture that was familiar. Author Ralph Fletcher, and a teaching colleague from my school were together on the site’s thumbnail pictures. As I scrolled through, looking for the information I wanted, my student stopped me and said, “Hey, isn’t that Mr. Y from upstairs?” I gasped. It was!

I remembered that day. We traveled to Indianapolis together to attend Ralph’s writing workshop for teachers.  I replied, “Yes, it is, and I was standing right there.” (I pointed to the blank part of the screen to the right of my buddy.)

Another student heard me, and jumped up from her desk. “What? Where were you?” I showed her the space on the screen where my body should have been. The young lady said, “You were with Mr. Y? What for?” The young man said, “Wow. That’s cool. You met Ralph Fletcher?” I told the story of how teachers want to learn, too. The advantage is that teachers get to learn from the real published authors sometimes, when organizations like the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers support our learning!

I abandoned my original search on the site and started clicking through the icons. How cool, indeed! Then I saw it — a slide show on the next page — and there, right where I described, was…ME! My girl student yelled out, “There you are! You’re right!” The boy yelled, “Mrs. Sniadecki’s on here!” We shared the find with the class. I couldn’t believe it! I felt famous.

Then I thought of that movie title, “Almost Famous.” I remembered that day, and how exciting it was to watch Ralph speak. The opportunity to rub shoulders with one of the best writers out there made for a fabulous day, but this! Sharing this experience with my students — now a year “plus” later — was amazing!

 

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