Celebrate: I Can’t Wait!

I come to celebrate a little late.

I thought I’d skip it, but after reading a few posts, I had to show up.

This week, I want to sit back and admire (my OLW) a few things.

ONE: A message left by a student before the break.   TWO: My post it plans for the next few weeks. Planning makes me feel organized. At least for the moment. It’s a moveable feast; acknowledging the reality of probable changes. I accept the slippery nature of best-made plans. THREE: My new book bins.  Aren’t they perfect? A Christmas gift to my classroom. FOUR: Books.  In each of those colorful bins are baggies (text sets) filled with non-fiction books, magazines, and poetry.  All are waiting to be devoured and discussed by book clubs.  One of the benefits of staying at one grade level is the collection of books amassed over time. 
 FIVE: A sneak peak at coming attractions –more books I love. I can’t wait!  Here’s me looking forward to Monday.

Thank you, Ruth, for Celebrating This Week link up. Find more celebrations here.




Poetry Friday: Reading Reclaimed

I found my reading self in a book, and I’m grateful.

The book that took me there was Stoner by John Williams. First published in 1965, it sold only 2,000 copies. It’s an Everyman story written to perfection.

Much like the protagonist in the book, Williams was a teacher, a professor of literature.

In a 1985 interview, Williams criticized the direction of the teaching of literature and the growing attitude toward text “as if a novel or poem is something to be studied and understood rather than experienced.” And in response to the question, “And, literature is written to be entertaining?” he said,

 “Absolutely. My God, to read without joy is stupid.”

Reading Reclaimed

To find joy in the journey, to shed a tear or laugh out loud.

But also,

joy in words.

How they line up

on the page

and sing

all by themselves.

When I can’t help but say,

oh, my.

I’ve missed it.

poetry friday logo

Thank you to Tabatha Yeatrs at the Opposite of Indifference for hosting Poetry Friday.

Slice of Life: Where Admiring Starts and Ends

Students enter my classroom with a skill set and an attitude toward reading and writing. More often than not, the two are linked.

We begin the year by finding joy in story. No matter where a student is as a reader or a writer, if we find funny, sad, dramatic, suspenseful, shocking moments in books; the attitude barriers come down and make room for growth. Finding the whatever that fills students with the desire for more is my number one goal because high interest brings volume and agency. Students’ desire to learn, to know, to be entertained by reading provides the engine necessary to move them toward meeting measured skill goals.

The trouble is, as the year progresses and pressures mount to reach benchmark goals, that joyful attitude toward literacy can wane. Anxiety can break my build-from-where-you-are stance. And that matters. I’m not saying moving students up the ladder of skill and text complexity is not the goal. Quite the contrary.  The thing is, when I focus on what students aren’t doing, I derail growth.

That’s the reason I chose my One Little Word:


 “Admire” roots me in productive soil, and Gravity Goldberg’s Mindsets and Moves gives explicit advice that helps tend to the readers and writers in my classroom.

My students need affirming feedback grounded in what they are doing. Rather than let me correct you, it’s let me hold up a mirror and show you what you are doing.  The following sentence stems I pulled from a conference highlighted in Chapter Six: Be a Mirror. All the comments go to what the reading is doing and how she is doing it.

  • You just________
  • Then you_________
  • Which helped you_______
  • You noticed________
  • You know that by doing ______ you can figure out_______
  • By doing_______ you can ________and it helps you understand_____________
  • From now on when you are reading you can _______________

Here are a few points I’ll  hold on to when coaching and conferring with my students.

  1. Be specific
  2. Name what is
  3. Focus on the process
  4. Make sure it can transfer
  5. Take yourself out of it

I especially love #5.  I know the potential power of my words, but I want students to own the results. It’s not because I said it, it’s because they do it. It’s about them, not me. That’s what draws me to the word admire. It starts and ends with the student.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers Slice of LIfe Tuesday. I’m looking forward to another year and another hashtag (#sol16) with this wonderful community. Find more slices here.

DigiLit Sunday: One Little Word

Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday link up inspired me to craft a One Little Word slideshow for my kiddos.

You will find some similarities to Julie Johnson’s and Margaret’s posts.  There’s nothing like having great mentors to help!

Find the slide show by clicking one little word 2016. The  google link is hereThe link to the hard copy of One Little Word possibilities can be found here.

The venture is different every year, just like our OLWs. Hope you can use a little bit of what I’ve shared.

Happy 2016!


Celebrate: One Little Word

This week I celebrate my One Little Words for the past few years. Each one has opened me up to opportunity and change.

I didn’t set goals or make plans. No check in points. I didn’t measure the impact scientifically. My words set a tone. They create a lens. A way to see the world.

Need and discovery triggered each word.


You know when you read a book and think, This is what I’ve been thinking but couldn’t put into words!

That’s what happened when I read What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton.  Little did I know that read would lead to personal and professional relationships with the authors and educators like Fran McVeigh, Allison Jackson, Ryan Scala, Mary Lee Hahn and Steve Peterson. My life as a teacher changed. Completely. The power of wonder continues to fuel my passion for education, reading,  writing and my OLWs.


 If I learned anything in my year of wonder, it was that talking at them resulted in the less. Listening could find so much more.

I found it essential to avoid listening for the answer. I needed to listen for the genesis of the answer or why that answer made sense to that student. To be able to listen with a better hear for student thinking, I found my OLW for this year.


To hear and see a person for all they have to offer, I need to admire who they are; what they bring to their work and the world. Katherine Bomer introduced me to this idea years ago during a TCRWP’s Summer Institute. It was a model. A how to admire a child’s writing.  I’ve carried this with me, and this year I need to highlight it.

Gravity Goldberg’s new book Mindsets and Moves couldn’t have come at a better time. In it, Gravity develops the concept of admiration as a way to view our students and ourselves through a lens of possible.

When we focus on possibilty instead of limitations, we have space to be who we are and move toward who we want to become as readers and as people. When we let an admiring tone settle in to our every moment, students feel safe enough to risk-take with thier ideas about books and life.

2016 offers promise and challenge. With the start of the year, I bring wonder and listen forward as I look to admire those around me.

Admiration brings possibility that our expectations can bury. Rather than look at how we haven’t, this year I want to consider what we have and stand on the shoulders of the possible. I enter 2016 with admiration for my students, my friends, my family, and myself.

  •  wonder
  • What if…
  • let go
  • and answers appear
  • listen
  • say less
  • take in
  • and words adjust
  • admire
  • the shiny gem
  • a promise for
  • the learner and me.

Celebrate This Week with others at Ruth Ayers blog Discover, Play, Build.

celebrate link up