Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do I Dream?

This saying was posted in a classroom of a colleague today: "If your dreams don't scare you, maybe you're not dreaming big enough."

I believe there is a bit of truth to this.  Moving forward, looking at change, thinking big...they all require a fearlessness of facing down fears.  Not only a fear of failure, but often a fear of "can I handle it if I actually succeed?"

There are many days when I forget to dream, though, and that's a new direction that holds the possibilities of positive and passionate spirit and energy.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day

It is December 31st, the last day of this year.  I face it with a measure of hope and disappointment. 

I love New Year's Day; it's my favorite holiday.  I love the anticipation and the possibilities and promise of 365 brand new unexplored units of time.  There is excitement in the thought of living without boundaries, if even for a little while.

Yet, a stirring of disappointment as I look back on a very difficult year and know that I could have done better.  I wanted so much more.  I let many spinning plates fall.

Man-ing up and reflecting now.  I have not carried my weight as secretary of a professional organization.  Too many things I've let slide there and yet these are relationships that I value and the organization supports literacy, a cause I value.

This blog has slid by the wayside - this is my first posting since June!!  I think of ideas all the time and don't follow through.  Technology, overall, has not been as purposeful and integrated in my classroom as I'd like either BTW.

Finally, I've allowed too many other people to push their priorities on to my plate.  How do so many "crisis du jour" literally shove my great work to the side?

I don't like the term resolutions. I try to think in terms of commitments.  And so I re-commit to my professional colleagues, to my writing (both digital & not), and to focus on living more purposefully and mindfully, focusing on my priorities.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grading Your Behavior

I hate doing report cards. I just want to make that clear up front. I can't get over the judgmental nature of assigning a 1, 2, 3, or 4 to students in 40 (yes 40!) categories three times per year. Some of the worst of these grades are behavior grades. I am required to assess students on behavior ranging from goal setting to respect to cooperation to effort and neatness.

I teach 4th grade. Nine and ten-year olds. 29 of them. In a 33' x 35' foot room. For 6 hrs & 40 minutes. 5 days per week. 176 days per year. Next year, it will be 32 students.

Now I contend that you could put 29 (or 32) adults in this room, for this length of time, and not one of us could 'exceed the standards' in ANYTHING that is listed on a report card under learning behavior. Truth be told, I can sometimes barely make it through an hour long staff meeting once a week without breaking some rule of propriety. Yet, we expect more of children then we ourselves are able to accomplish.

I always thought I was required to give these grades. Then I realized the reality is that I am required to RECORD these grades. So, this year, the kids are going to give themselves behavior grades. We will conference together, and I will record the grades that we determine are appropriate TOGETHER.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Positive of Purpose

It's been a while since I've posted to this blog. I've had lots of ideas, I even started keeping a writer's notebook for blogging. As others can sympathize, life got in the way.
Or maybe I'm in a desert of positive professional energy lately.

That changed last night and I'm awake at 4 a.m. reflecting on the why.

Why did a 3 hour(ish) meeting in an unfamiliar role with strangers leave me energized, filled, and my brain hopping with ideas?

Several thoughts:

  • All members inherently acknowledged the value of multiple opinions, viewpoints, and ideas of the entire group. There were no formal "norms", we didn't have the "7P's of Collaboration" posted anywhere, we didn't "acknowledge & advocate". We just recognized that we were teachers all moving toward a purpose.

  • We had an agenda (not complicated - only 7 lines) that kept us focused, on-track, and purposeful.

  • We affirmed the gifts and talents of others as we divvied up/and volunteered for tasks to get the job done.

  • We were clear about deadlines for specific tasks. We just expected that each person would step up, but I also knew everyone in the group had my back if I need it.

  • The experienced members helped the newbies, answered questions with compassion, and supported others with "just send me an email & I'll help you with that."

There's positive energy in purposeful work. I am energized by working, thinking, learning, doing. I walked away with a "ready-to-go" attitude which is rare after meetings.

So, I want to say "thank you" to the Board members of JCIRA.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What I Believe

I recently attended CCIRA 2011 and was in sessions with both Regie Routman and Katie Wood Ray. In a word - awesome and inspiring (okay, that's two words). One thing that stuck with me was when Regie said we must align our practices and resources with our beliefs. I've spent some time this week trying to articulate my beliefs about my profession. I'm not sure why I separated beliefs about literacy from the others, but that's what made sense to me.
What I Believe
About teaching literacy and communication:
  • Students learn best with authentic tasks that are purposeful and begin with choice.
  • Lots of time is required for learning to be expert readers, writers, and communicators.
  • Reading, writing, and communication skills are grounded in good literature, not in prescribed programs.
  • Literacy and communication are essential to our collective futures and therefore, cross content areas.
  • People around the world communicate through technology and this must be modeled and taught in my classroom.
  • Literacy and communication are tools for peace.

About teaching and learning:

  • Learning is the foundation for a fulfilling human existence.
  • Each person has inside them, a creative and expressive spirit. Each person has the ability to learn.
  • We learn from ourselves, we learn from others. Therefore, I value both self-reflection and collaboration.
  • I believe I can be a model for joy, curiosity, excellence and honoring others. I can make a difference.
  • When we study science and social studies, we learn about how the world works on all its different levels.
  • I believe that learning is so complex, and so integrated that it no longer serves a purpose to compartmentalize subject areas.
  • I believe that standardized tests are my political reality, but good teaching - not test prep - will lead to high scores.
  • I believe assessment is daily, integrated, purposeful, and guides our learning and achievement. Learning is not measured by one test.
  • I believe I am a facilitator of knowledge, not the owner.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Prezi for Literacy & Technology

Here is the prezi that is the overview of my presentation for the JeffcoTechShareFair.
I will also include info on these websites: and

The prezi:

If you would like to view my digital homework blog:

Best wishes,

Friday, December 31, 2010

Handout for Presentation(s)

Here is the first draft of a handout for my presentation at CCIRA (Colorado Council of International Reading Association) conference on Feb 3 - 5.

This is my first presentation and I'm assuming my audience is just beginning to explore integrating technology with literacy. Any critique is welcomed since I'm a newbie at all of this.

To be honest, I'm even uncertain about having a handout...shouldn't we be doing this paperless?

I'm working on a prezi which will incorporate the same information as the handout and will post it here in the next week or so.
Thanks for your feedback.