Monday, July 17, 2017

Blog expansion?

 Hey friends!  I know... almost a year of absence.  But I heard it makes the heart grow fonder???  

I hope this post finds you well and that life in the last year has been fruitful and nourishing to your body and soul.  It sure has been for mine!

I am wanting to expand the blog.  I have it, its been dormant and I could be using it to really reach people.  

There has been so much that has happened in my life in the last year and I want to share that with you all...but there are so many things I am gonna have to break it down into small chunks.  Its a whole big bunch to digest and a lot for me to relive (parts of it anyway).  

So stay tuned and I will be back to share.  But know this, my aim to regularly post and prayerfully what I post will impact you in a positive way!  


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Who’s Doing The Work in Mrs. Sadler’s 2nd Grade?

Things are changing in my classroom this year.  The main instructional format for literacy is changing and it is all from reading the book Who’s Doing the Work by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris.
The concept is one that's easy enough to grasp…kids should be doing most of the reading, thinking and responding in reading…true.  But they don’t, not in my case anyway.   I feel such a sense of urgency to get through a curriculum map that I don’t wait long enough, I give TOO much support and kids just don’t know what to do when they are on their own.    I am doing the most of the work you see...In order for my students to become efficient readers, who make good use print and meaning strategies, things have to change.  
Enter Next Generation Literacy.  

There are a few hallmarks of next generation literacy I want to highlight
1.  Student Agency
2.  Gradual Release of Responsibility
3.  Beginning with the end in mind.
Understanding these hallmarks will prepare you to embark on a professional path for growing proficient and independent readers and children who learn to love reading in a way I never imagined.  

-Student Agency-  When students become agentive readers, they are reading for a particular result, in this case being independent and proficient readers.  It is our end game, it is the students end game.  No child wakes up and says “Hey!  I want to have a hard time with the what I am reading today in Mrs. Sadler’s class!”  

-The gradual release of responsibility- Are  the instructional contexts with which children engage.  The gradual release goes form Read Aloud, Shared Reading (at all levels) Guided Reading (which will truly surprise you!), all the way to independent reading.  It becomes a beauty of a dance indeed!

-Beginning with the end in mind- Goes back to agency, our end game of moving readers to an independent place, reading proficiently so we can guide them to more challenging texts and the process begins again!  

Students have been programmed to depend on the teacher for so much when we are teaching them to read.  And that is fine for them to do this…we are their teachers after all…But when I think of just how much reading instruction my second graders have had coming in, I know they have strategies, they need to allowed to use them without my interference!  I think of it more as coaching...Burkins and Yaris compare Next Generation Literacy with learning to dance. 

Where do you begin?
In order to move into Next Generation Literacy, I feel like you need TWO things to GET STARTED. 
1.  An analyzed running record
2.  Access to a good quality, engaging children’s literature.  

“I know what level my students are on, I should be able to jump right in!” was my first thought.  But then I read this line from Who’s Doing The Work…”Next Generation thinking considers HOW students read as much as WHERE in the text gradient they read.  The fact is, the Guided Reading Level tells us very little about what each student DOES when they read, it just tells us where the student should be given instruction.  But even then, it doesn’t really tell us how to instruct those students.  Only the student can tell us that and that information can only be uncovered by listening to students read and analyzing what they do.  Fountas and Pinnell even say that we need to move beyond just the level and focus on the process.  (J. Burkins, K.Yaris, WDTW 2016)

This is my daughter’s running record
. Riley's running record
I already know this text is a frustrational level text for her due to her accuracy rate.  Lots of errors, but what I am loving about this running record is although she isn’t self correcting/self monitoring often, its there.  She is heavily reliant on print strategies to get her through a text.  I know she  will need to fill her tool box with an arsenal of print strategies but then she is going to have to work on USING them more often.  You won’t find me prompting her all the way through a guided reading lesson, no way. When she stops and says nothing and looks to me, I will simply ask her, “what are you going to do?  When she says “I don’t know”, and she does, I'll simply remind her to think about what she knows and remind her she has a notebook of strategies to help her out.  I will create a group of students who have similar instructional needs and within a few levels on the text gradient.  

The next need I had to address what my embarrassing lack of engaging children’s literature and of what is most current for kids.  I have been a teacher for 16 years.  I have been a teacher mom for 7 of those years.  I used a basal.  Basals are not the enemy.  But kids cannot learn to read by a basal alone Smile  My basal houses a WEALTH of resources that I can and do access. I am a busy teacher mom with no desire to reinvent any wheels Winking smile  And to the credit of the publishing companies, they have done a great job of including quality, engaging texts for students.  Its a great way to get multiple copies for students to put eyes on for shared, guided and independent reading.  However, not all texts are created equal and you have to use your professional judgment and your knowledge of your students to discern if what you are selecting from your basal is of quality in craft and content as well as engaging for your students.  Will it make them think?  Will it move them?  Will it cause them to question?  Can you glean instructional content to teach your standards or to create teaching points?
I can’t do these things with every single story in my basal each week.  Likely, no teacher can.  I have to beef up my classroom library with different genres and formats.  I will reach out to our library/media specialist and ask her to find great titles, I have already reached out to our children’s librarian at the public library to pull together some current titles that are browsed and checked out often to kids and other teachers.  We have a university near by (I am alumni!!  Go Colonels!) which I can also utilize this as they garner the best reviewed and most current children’s literature!  I am going to really utilize my scholastic teacher bonus points this year.  I will ask for books when I am asked by parents “what do you need for your classroom?”  We have a growing book room at my school that I know is underutilized.  The bookroom and I are going to become close friends!  (In an effort not to make this the longest post in history, I am putting together a companion post on some of my favorite to teach with books and hopefully, you all will add to my list!)

In order to focus on students’ reading processes and engage them to keep reading, these are great first steps in Next Generation Literacy.  I feel like I am seeing my reading life through new and refreshed lenses and will finally be making a more profound impact on the reading lives of my students.  And that is exciting stuff!  

Check back in a month when I will be highlighting Read Aloud...the first rung on the ladder of gradual release of responsibility.  
Until then!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Social Media and Solid Evidence Based Professional Development…Who Knew???

I just toppled head first into social media a couple years ago.  I have been blogging for three years on and off but just got into social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter within the last two years.  Since Disney Junior is on ALL of my television sets nearly all of the hours we are at home and awake…I keep up with the daily world through my social media outlets.  it works for me.  The kids are happy, I am happy.  Win Win.  This is all through the mom standpoint.  Begin teacher standpoint…PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!  I got involved in a book study on Facebook last summer but it was just a few gals…the #theguidedreadinggals was our hashtag.  I was able to glean much from that study about the mechanics of guided reading and it helped me pace myself and read almost entirely through the book.  The title of that text was The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.  Great read for someone new to readers workshop approach and the nuts and bolts of how to set and run guided reading in the classroom (or even in the homeschool model.)  It was a framework book and had solid structures. I needed a how to book because I felt like I had been spinning my wheels for a number of years and was really just tired of making too little progress for all the work I was putting in.  I don’t gain anything from posting the Amazon link to the book but it is worth having in your professional library.
next steps in guided reading
Fast forward a school year…I wanted and needed more for my professional growth plan.  The previous study gave me roots in accomplishing differentiated learning in my classroom…a place from which to grow. I had different levels for each of my students, we were all reading different things in our groups, we were doing slightly different activities in each of those groups and students book baskets contained instructional level texts…I thought I was good to go.  But I didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be with this process. 
I found my next book, my most teacher mom life changing book on a SmartBrief emailing I get as a national board certified teacher. 
whos doing the work
It looked like a nice cover (I might have judged the book by its cover) and was written by some authors,whose blog I follow, Maybe you might have heard of Burkins and Yaris? Smile  I purchased it and then about a month later…Magic.
I am in a couple of Facebook groups for teachers of reading and one of them is The Literacy Teachers Book Club
A book study was beginning for Who’s Doing The Work and what do you know, that just happened to be the title I had purchased a month prior.  So I dove right in, about two week late.  The book study was a 6 week process by which the group administrator posted discussions for participants each week and ideally, you read the chapter and shared your insights into the discussion posts, questions you might have had and in this case, classroom application and implications.  I am not sure if the administrator used the published study guided or not, but in many Facebook book studies they do.  But here is what I LOVE about the process…I came in two weeks late AND was able to catch up at a pace which worked with my teacher mom schedule!  I was also afforded a window into how teachers across the country were using this material and how I can make it work in my classroom, in my district, with my students.  A GIANT plus, there were not just teachers in the group.  There were professors of literacy, published authors and the authors of the book themselves.  Yep!  I was able to study the book with the authors who wrote the book.  AND was able to get feedback on my ideas for application in my classroom from the Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris themselves.  I was able to stay here at my house with my kids, take care of their needs and wants, I didn't have to dress for work and nor did have to get up early on my summer vacation.  Another win win!
The second professional development avenue I was able to explore for the very first time was Twitter.  I have had a Twitter account for a while,(you can follow me here!)  but I never really understood how to use it.  I was turned on to a twitter chat through this same Facebook group.  The name of of the twitter chat is #G2Great and Dr. Mary Howard brought me into it.  You can follow her here and let me tell you…you want to feel good about your teaching practice, tweet with her once and she will build you up!!  She is the author of the book Good to Great Teaching and co moderator of the twitter chat of the same name.  She was even so kind to inform me of how it worked and what I needed to do.  She turned me onto a very important website for participating in twitter chats…
tweet deck
Tweet Deck  Twitter chats are fast paced and allow you to think about the content in smaller chunks which even though its fast, the information  you get is in such small pieces, its pretty easy to digest.  Tweet Deck keeps it all organized and easy to follow.   (At the time of this post, Tweet deck is only available in the app store and google chrome.) 
This platform connected me to so many other literacy professionals who have some new and innovative approaches to how children learn to read and the newest and best classroom tested, evidenced based practices
Whether or not your building administration will grant you professional development credit, this social platform is growing in its ability to deliver evidenced based content to teachers and others in the educational community.  This was the development I needed at this time in my teaching career and I just had to go for it.  Credit or no credit, Its a responsibility to my students and to my profession to keep on learning for the sake of learning itself.  
Ssssssssoooooo,,,Finally social media that is worth my time as a a teacher and a mom. 
Thanks for stopping in and see you soon!!
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Teacher Appreciation!

 Being a teacher mom...I love me some teacher appreciation!  I don't usually get it much on the mom side of things.  When I do, I am over the moon!  As a teacher, I get it a little more often...parents are sweethearts and really pat you on the back often.  The kids read you like a book and know when to give the kind words you need to get to the end of the, I want to give you a little teacher appreciation too...My TPT store will be on sale for the next few days and then I want to leave you with a little freebie...from me to you.  My little blog is chugging right along because you read it, you might even talk about it to your friends, you might even share the blogpost somewhere in the blogosphere.  So, thanks so much for that...I appreciate it and I appreciate you!  

1200 × 628
Here is my freebie for you because, I appreciate you!

Much love to you all!  

Monday, April 25, 2016

APP life-teacher apps

 I love things that make my life easy.  I am busy, I am on the go alot. I need to be able to do things on the run.  So imagine my suprise today to find my favorite online planning software has an app and even better, I could get it on google play! 
I finished my plans today while I was waiting for a parent to pick up student afterschool while sitting out in front of the school on the steps.  No laptop, not cords, no notebook, just me and my phone! 

 I love from my computer.  I am able to quickly write plans and be able to include learning targets and keep track of the standards I have been teaching.  There are so many features on planbook that I use often such as extending lessons so that I don't have to retype everything, everyday.  For example, I do morning work every single morning, without fail (except on Ipad day).  So, I typed in morning work left a place to write in the number I am on.  I also keyed in ELA and a blank space to write down the standard we practiced that morning.  Then I hit extend and It extends to all the days of the week and all I have to do is write in the numbers.  Now, back to the app...nearly all the features I use from the web are available on my phone, and extend is one of them.  I think I am gonna go ahead and write next weeks plans tonight after dinner, in my jammies, when I put the kids to bed.  I know it sounds crazy but if it makes me that happy and makes my teacher mom life that much easier, then why the heck not.  It is hard to imagine that I might be able to plan for the next 3.5 weeks that we have left of school but I can see it happening.  This app just turned this type B do class by the seat of my pants on certain days teacher into a type A planning machine!  Seriously!
What apps make your teacher life easier?  Inquiring minds want to know, and if they don't, I do.  Really.  I love an app that makes me a more productive teacher so that I can be a happier mommy!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Using MyFitnessPal to track 21 Day Fix containers

Because I love all my teacher moms here I had to share this!  I am doing 21dayfix before our disney trip and I have time to do exactly two rounds.  I love my fitbit and I love being able to have everything at my fingertips.  This is what I needed!  I am going to set up my fitness pal to do this right now!  This is not my video...the link to follow this youtube channel is on her youtube page.  But this was too good not to share!

I am going to do a Teacher Mom Fitness Linky so we can be fit teacher moms for the upcoming school year!  And don't forget, you don't have to be a teacher mom to be part of the fun!  You can be a teacher dad, a teacher pet mom, a teacher pet dad, a teacher grandmom or granddad, a teacher or a teacher mom to doesn't matter really!  Its about sharing, caring, lifting each other up and taking care of one another.  Good luck in your health and fitness journey if you are on one...if you aren't, I hope you will come on my journey with me!
Love and hugs to you all!

UPDATE!  The Next Day...I set up my fitness pal with my containers.  There are not enough places to do this.  I had to have a place to record any junk I might eat.  I am a visual person and being able to see how much junk goes into my mouth!  So, Since I rarely eat what is in the blue container (too many cheeses and I am not really much of a nut eater, I chose to combine blue and junk...And I combined orange and teaspoons.  This way I can see all I want to see and all I need to see in one place.  I am telling you people!  My mind is blown.  I have been tracking all day and I see how easy this can be the use these two programs together.  Don't be too caught up in the food description.  I think if you use your best judgement and the eating is clean, just choose the generic option unless you know it was Hillshire farms lunch meat you ate from your red container and you know exactly how many slices you put in there!  Here's to making things easy and doing it smarter and not harder! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sometimes changing everything is a good thing...

 Yes, I have changed it all...I have changed the URL, I have changed the name of the blog.  I have changed the look of the blog (I did this myself and while I don't love it yet, I am going to have someone who knows what they are doing really make it POP, but that is a post for another day!)
I have a really good reason for doing these changes.  
My life is different now, then it was when this blog was born 3 years ago.  
I can't believe this blog is 3. 
I have a little boy who is almost 4.  I have two girls ages 7 and 5, but he is mentioned as a frame of reference here really.  
I have been teaching second grade for 2 (which is about how long I have neglected this blog.)  I have grown so much as a professional these past two years...
BUT...the ball game is different for me now.  
The babies are getting older and they are in so much more that it makes it hard for all my content to be educational without having a piece or a part of the rest of my world sneaking into the text of my blog posts.  Will it turn some of my followers away...maybe.  (I hope it doesn't really!)
Will it bring new readers to the teacher mom blog...I hope.  
This blog is for me.  My journey as the teacher-mom.  Also....
I write this blog now for all my teacher friends who are moms.  
I write it for the ones who are still moms and who have been handling la vida loca for a whole heck of a lot longer than I have and...
I write for the teachers who want to be a teacher-mom too one day but might be terrified of how it will all fit together.  We all stick together and help each other will be ok and to tell you the raw, bare bones, honest truth...being a mom makes you a better teacher.  It did me.  A. Much. Better. Teacher. 
I write too for the people who think us teacher moms are nuts and for the people who look at us as saints :)  
I write for all teachers so that our profession might continue to be lifted up, refined and moved into the caliber and importance it so deserves.  We are the shapers of tomorrow and whether we are moms, dads or otherwise, we must stick together and learn from one another!
There is still going to be educational content.  That is why this blog started in the first place.  But, as I have grown in both of these professions, they have influenced one another in extremely profound ways.  
I hope you will continue to follow my journey and I hope you will invite some friends to read along.  I hope you comment, I hope you gain something from this crazy teacher moms life.  I hope if this blog and my experiences and opinions are not for you that you be kind and still be the light in the world that you are.  

Thanks for everything and I will see you soon!