Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


Slice of Life Tuesday! Honored

Slice of Life Small LogoWhat a wonderful group of colleagues and friends I have! Yesterday I came home to find this book on the kitchen table:


Who’s Doing the Work? by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris

I tore open the cardboard box in my excitement, and plopped down on the couch with my new book to read. As I focused on the Foreward by my Daily 5 mentor, Joan Moser (“The 2 Sisters”), I nodded my head and giggled to myself more than a few times. I then turned to the acknowledgments, and I found many names of teachers and leaders I have followed and who have inspired me for the last several years, and — what? — really? I read my name in the list. Wow! I can’t believe how lucky I am to be part of the Twitter and Voxer groups that inspire so many people to teach better every day. I am truly honored. Thank you Jan and Kim!

While checking my Voxer messages today, I noticed that another Voxer friend, Erica Pecorale, had attached her guest post from the NCTE blog. (Click here to see that fabulous post.) We met in person last fall at the NCTE Annual Conference in Minneapolis. What an amazing experience! I got to hang out with the literacy rock stars I followed via social media for so long. My dreams came true!

These literacy leaders inspire me to read, write, and teach GREAT things each day. Thank you all, my wonderful friends! I can only hope to one day follow in your footsteps.



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Enjoying the Exhaustion

Enjoying the Exhaustion

1) I registered to attend the Scholastic Reading Summit (#readingsummit) in Cincinnati next week, after other commitments will keep me out of St. Louis (for the ILA Annual Conference). This is great news! Adrenaline rush — which I need to get me through July. Keeps away the exhaustion.

2) I am babysitting my almost-3-year-old granddaughter on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a few weeks this summer. She is so beautiful and funny and growing too fast! She’s really persuasive about play time: “Grumma, please play Klip-Klop Horsies with me! Come and sit on the floor with me! C’mon!” (Who can say, “No?”) She’s very well-behaved, and I do get an excuse to take naps on those days. (I have to be with her so she won’t fall off the bed, get scared, etc. LOL) Each day when she goes home, I thank my lucky stars that I’m a grandma and not a mom again. It’s rewarding, but tiring.

3) Today, we took a car ride to Fort Wayne to see GG (my mom). We had granddaughter, daughter, mom, great-grandma together for the day. Girls day in! My sister even came over, since she had the day off work. We played with bears, dolls, and musical toys, talked about family and pictures from the past, and ate the banana cupcakes my mom made. Driving back and forth wore me out, but it was worth it.

4) I missed the Twitter chats (again) tonight due to unpacking the car, cleaning up, and needing to sit down for a while. I’m sorry, but I’m exhausted! I’ll definitely read the Storify and run through the feed to catch up with the awesome answers to questions. After a short break to sit and talk to my husband (who also traveled for work all day), I remember…

5) It’s SLICE OF LIFE day! Whoo hoo! I love Tuesdays and Slicing! But now it’s almost 11:30 p.m. and I am spent! (You know I’ll post, then comment on a bunch of posts, though. It’s time well spent and I love it. I also hear there’s a bunch of new Slicers today. Welcome!)

Ok, that’s IT. I’m done. I’m finished. (Funny, because I tell my students NEVER to finish a story with “I’m done” or “I’m finished.”)

“That’s all I have to say about that.” — Forrest Gump

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“What Did She Say?” — Second Chat This Week!


Twitter chat: ‪#TandCwriters

September 7, 2014 8pm EST

Q1: What do you expect your students to already know as writers?

A1: The writing process is not a one-day or one-period event. The basics. Parts of a story + some text knowledge

Q2: How do you find out what your students know as writers?

A2: “Write about the Bear” fun way to get to know style and learning profiles of writing.

Q3: How do you give and track feedback that shows you believe in writers?

A3: Many ways to write! Not just “my way.” Read and have conversations with Ss

(I favorited a Tweet,

Another A3: I try to spread my feedback and ensure all students hear from me in a positive way.)

Q4: How do you get writers to believe in one another?

A4: Make a point to state out loud what we like about everyone’s work during the sharing sessions.

(I favorited a Tweet here, as well:

Another A4: “each student ends up being an expert about something. Helps to give them each a boost.”)

Q5: What read alouds inspire writers to believe in themselves and others?

A5: So many! Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, If You Were a Writer…

Ruth Ayres (host) said, “Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon”

Another Tweet! Amazing conversations on Twitter tonight!

Another A5: “An Angel for Solomon Singer by Rylant is not about writing, but builds belief that all stories are important, people matter.”

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and others for a second amazing chat this evening. Time for bed now!

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“What Did She Say?” — My Answers to Twitter Chat Questions This Week


What Did She Say? My responses to the Twitter chat, #titletalk

Hosted by Donalyn Miller and others on Twitter

September 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm EST

Q1: What is your definition of “uninspired reader?”

(A1: T.S. said, “ An “uninspired reader” is one who hasn’t had the chance to form a reading identity, feels no sense of ownership.)

My A1: Agree! Many students/people don’t have a chance yet to be inspired.

Q2: Considering your definitions of uninspired readers, what can we do to help Ss find reading personally inspiring?

A2: I make sure I allow my students to like and dislike – and share my likes and dislikes. Opens a door.

Q3: How can we negotiate academic and personal reading goals with our students, so they find reading personally inspiring?

A3: It’s hard to find time for everything. Reading is a non-negotiable. Even 15 minutes a day. Do it for you.

Q4. How can we engage a school/home community in the goal of inspiring more readers?

A4: Many families don’t have books or other reading in the home. Ss and P-T conferences help. Also ads for book clubs.

(E. S. said, “I have a future NBC post on this topic. My own children became uninspired readers because of AR.”)

I replied, “My 2nd daughter hated AR! Wouldn’t read at school. Is a wild reader at home!”

Q5. What books, series, authors have sparked uninspired young readers who you know?

A5: Scieszka’s KNUCKLEHEAD had the whole class rolling! Wild reading of wild stories! Also:

So many! Percy Jackson, Divergent, and 39 Clues, as well as Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Just starting…

(K said, “Several mentions of read aloud as powerful. It really helps level playing field for those who can’t quite access certain texts.”)

Q6. I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Intriguing connections to Plath’s Bell Jar.

(I didn’t respond here. I lost the conversation for a bit.)

Q7: Last minute BONUS question: What are you reading your students this week? 

(W.C. said, “Whatever they want!”)

A7: I agree. I said, “I agree with W. They choose. Class reading is The Tiger Rising. Studying setting etc.”

Thank you so much to Donalyn Miller and others who host these amazing Twitter chats! I had a great time becoming part of the conversation!

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“What Did She Say?” — My answers to chat questions from the past week

I want to remember and reflect on my participation in social media chats. Chatting with others is a wonderful PD-on-my-own-time opportunity, and I am learning so much from my time with new-to-me technology. I thought it would be fun to creatively record my answers to Twitter chat questions, so I dreamed up this blog column, “What Did She Say?”  — I will share my answers to some important Twitter chat questions and opinions about current educational issues each Monday evening.  Here’s the first one!

From “Teach and Celebrate Writing” First Sundays, August 3, 2014 (#TandCwriters):

Q1: What routines and procedures do you put into place to help students be organized as writers?  A1: Set up workshop routines the first week. Keep a consistent plan/schedule. We have notebooks and 3-ring binders. Never tear out pages of notebooks!

Q2: What are routines and procedures for conferring with writers? A2: I love Carl Anderson’s work, and attended his workshop on conferring in June. I love that you compliment the writer first. I found out about Penny Kittle’s “Bless (compliment), Press (research), Address (teach)” plan for conferring. I’m stealing it!

Q3: What are routines and procedures for helping students to revise/edit? A3: Read the piece aloud! (great help) Peer editing groups, circling parts to check, highlighting. I need to look up “Express Lane Edit” by @writeguyjeff (Jeff Anderson). I also learned that long-term writing partners give support.

Q4: What routines and procedures do you have for students to share? A4: Penny Kittle’s “Symphony Share”; writing alongside a mentor text to show comparisons. I want to review the book, Write Beside Them again. There was a YouTube video, “Austin’s Butterfly critique” I want to see again. The message from the chat group was that students need more audience — more forms of sharing. I loved the idea of “Best Lines of the Week” — students each share one great line from notebook.

Q5: What writing routines of your own do you share with students? A5: I share my mentor texts, my blog, my ideas list, and my past (college) assignments. I also show risk-taking — things I tried. The chat group repeated the “BIC” way of writing: “Butt in Chair.” Just do it!

Q6: What is something new to try this coming school year? A6: I want my students to blog at school, maybe using KidBlog. I joined a writing group already, and I want to have students get together in writing groups often. I loved the idea of going to a bookstore (field trip!) for a publishing party!

Q7: What are you celebrating as a writer? A7: I am writing more, and more often; I have carved out times in my week to write. I have writing buddies now. Writing is so much fun!

Thank you for taking time to find out, “What Did She Say?” I hope this outlet will help all of us to remember to be great readers, writers, and teachers. See you next week.