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Showing posts from November, 2015

The Shop Around The Corner

There is a scene in You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan is closing her store for the final time and reminding herself that it is the end of an era. That her store will no longer be the center of growth for children and their parents. That the books which matter to us most, those from our childhood, will not be readily and eagerly talked about on the Upper West Side in NYC anymore.
"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it'll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But t…

Get back what you thought you lost.

Every Tuesday I stop what I'm doing and share a part of my life with my writing community at Two Writing Teachers.

When I met my husband, he was not a reader. People were shocked that I could be so in love with someone who didn't read. What would we talk about? How could we understand each other?

I'll never forget the moment one evening after having read to the kids when he said, "I wonder if I'd be different if someone had read to me like that."

Without skipping a beat I said, "I think you can find out. I think if you read the books you could have read, you can relive that time and change with each book."

The next night I gifted him with a stack of books many by Gary Paulson, an author I knew he would have loved as a 10 year old. He read each one like a drowning person gasps at air. I couldn't talk to him or get him to do anything else. He would simultaneously put one book down and pick up the next.

The way he talked changed. He discussed char…

Writing Professionally

Each Tuesday, I write alongside other teachers who write at Two Writing Teachers because they are my community. I am supported and understood and respected. This matters.

Lately I've been focusing a lot on how teachers can be seen more professionally. When I see decisions that have been made about education (without teacher input) by administrators and school board members and governors, I can't help but wonder where did we go wrong as teachers? Why aren't we perceived as the professionals who should be making these decisions or at least informing them?

I always discover new ideas about myself as I write. I began this piece by thinking about one thing and quickly realized that I need to walk my talk first. I need to be a model for professional behavior before I can ask others to be.

What do I mean by this? I look at all the teachers out there who we look to as models and I wonder--how did they get there? How did Donalyn Miller, Pernille Ripp, Cathy Mere, Lisa Eickholdt, P…

Project Based Learning

I've been running a challenge program for some of the kids in one of the schools I work in. The first one is about Animal Adaptations.

I kicked off the unit by showing this video
They adored this video. The conversations ran much deeper than I thought they were going to. They even started talking about how humans could use what they know about animal adaptation to improve their lives. I love it when they realize why I'm teaching something!

Next, we did some experiments to understand physical adaptations: blubber, camouflage, and claws. I have been training myself to introduce the activity and the general learning goals--then to stand back and let them do the learning. My observation of their understanding and connecting was nothing short of miraculous.

First they put on gloves with spoons taped to the fingers. They had to collect "food" in order to survive the winter. We discussed who would live to have offspring and why.
Next, we created Skittles habitats and dumped…


The Fall

Again, I'm using the random first line generator at

"As he fell, he waited for"


As he fell, he waited for the impact. It was inevitable. All falls come to an end. They would find out sooner or later that he had chosen not to give the standard test in September. He desperately tried to generate rationale which might help his case, but the truth was the kids just seemed so tired...and scared. He couldn't feel good about giving them a test so early in the year when their whole lives had just been turned upside down. First they were 5th graders and at the top of their school. Next they had a summer of freedom where they were learning who they were becoming and why it mattered. Then suddenly--new school, new structure, no recess, and many teachers who shot sarcastic remarks at every gaffe making it more difficult and nerve-wracking to navigate this new world.

So--he s…

Teacher Doubts

I've been thinking a lot about why teachers don't write more and how to help them see that everyone has doubts and how so many teachers are doing amazing things that others could learn from. This is my November 1st DiGiWriMo comix as a way to start the thinking process for myself. I need to understand why so many teachers doubt themselves and how to help dig out the great ideas and find ways to share them for all.
PS Your students really can join NaNoWriMo. Click on the image below to find out how.