NCTE – Anaheim22

Following 4-days of learning at the NCTE Conference, I headed for a west coast vacation to New Mexico.
While relaxing after a day of hiking in the spectaualr canyons of this beautiful state,
I documented some of what I learned.

I captured my learning with some images on these slides.

If interested, take a look.
Each slide seems like a small slice, capturing a LARGE few days of learning!

Slicers at NCTE

After strolling between tye palm tree-lined ally and entering the ginormeous Anaheim Convention center, I stepped onto an escalator almost as long as the Rosslyn Metro or Tenlyntown stops (my DC-friends get this comparison!). As I ascended, I noticed my first slicer Margaret Simons. She was decending on the opposite side. “Margaret! I’m coming to your session!” I shouted as the distance between us grew due to our moving stairs. And I was. The night before I jotted down a quick draft of sessions to attend using the conferene app. And Margaret was Thursday at 11am. As I glanced at the time on my phone, I confirmed that had just enough to get my lanyard badge from the registration desk and find her session room.

Margaret and her 2 friends’ session gently switch me from cross-country hurried traveler to reflective teacher ready to learn. Their session was all about poetry and very interactive. They modeled and shared poems and then asked us to give it a go. One form shared was an acrostic poem. “Pick a word and write it down. Then fill in the lines and not just with one word per line. That would not be an acrostic poem but simply a list peom. “

I picked NCTE and created this poem:

Necklace lanyard of green holds my name
California sunshine greats me to hear
Teachers generously sharing their success stories
Envigorating and inspiring the many who fill their audience chairs.

For someone who flew all the way across the country and was the only one from my district attending this conference, I was thankful to be a part of the TwoWritingTeachers community. Much more to share….check back next Tuesdays.

Tasks before I Leave for Vacation

“Medium hot chocolate, 2% milk, please” I requested of the Peet’s barista.
Then I sat for an hour, working on my NCTE slides and awaiting for the restaurant to open.

“Eggs with bacon, please” I told the restaurant waitress, “and an unsweeted iced tea.”
Then I sat and ate with my laptop opened next to me, creating six-days of sub plans.
Two days so I can attend the NCTE conference in Anaheim.
Then four more days off before and after the Thanksgiving break
so my husband and I can take our New Mexico trip that didn’t take place last summer.
(Yep, I’m feeling slightly guilty being gone from school all those days.)

I glanced at my phone to see that four hours have passed.
“A bowl of soup and another iced tea,” I asked when the waitress checks on me.
And for another 3 hours, I keep at it.

Sitting in the coffee shop and the restaurant allowed me time to focus.
If I had stayed home, I would have been distracted by
a dish washer to empty, a living room to vacuum, a backyard of leaves to rake.
Sitting plates of food I didn’t have to prepare and with borrowed wifi,
I listed and checked off many tasks.
Now, I am closer to being ready to leave town for 2-weeks.

NCTE, here I come! Then Disneyland. Then New Mexico.

End of Quarter 1

First quarter ends today
and I noticed smiling students
hanging with their school pals
while learning math, science, history,
along with reading and writing stories.

First quarter ends today
and I worry about my thriving students.
I see them reading to create Passsion Projects on a choice topic.
They google articles about drones and pokemon and Bad Bunny.
They skim library books about architecture, Brazil, and Kanya West.
I know they CAN read when they choose a topic.

Yet, my county and state keep making students take standardized reading tests.
My striving students struggle to know how to answer questions after reading a random story.
Is it A, B, C or D?
They ask: Why am I reading about some dude named Mark Twain.
Why am I asked questions about some random blue and green bus schedule?
Why should I care about the farmers in some cafe that some guy named Gary Paulsen is obseving?
I guess I’m not surprised that the highest score on the last test was 58% 😦

Next week I attend NCTE22 in Anaheim!
I will be looking for inspiration with my striving students in mind.
Because I want to engage students, I tried Passion Projects (and see it working!)
But the system makes students jump through their standarized multiple choice assessment hoops.
I hope I can find a way to help my striving readers to be successful in both choice reading
and the reading thrown at them by their county and their state.

All suggestions appreciated.

Also going to NCTE22 in Anaheim?!!
Looking forward to the Slicer Meet-up on Friday!!
And I get to present on Saturday!!

I’m Going to Self-Publish!

My daughter gave me a subscription to STORYWORTH for my birthday.
Within the year, I can add my stories onto my subcription site.
Then they will print all into a hard-bound book (maxium 400 pages).
And it even supports including photos.
I’m kinda excited because I’ll be able to bind and hold my chosen stories that tell about my life.
I’m especially grateful to this community which has nudged me to write my stories since 2014.
My Tuesdays and eights years of the Slice of Life Challenge created 539 small moment stories.
And it is SO easy to cut and paste a story from my blog into the Storyworth subscription site!

Last week, I started to review all my blog posts, starting with the most recent.
When I read one that sounds worthy of being published, I add the title to my running list.
Today over breakfast, I reread the March, 2015 entries.

Just one more year of blog entries to review.
Then I plan to categorize my list.
Already I notice some reaccurring topics.
Some are childhood memories.
Some are memories of my grandparents.
Some are holiday stories.
Some are teaching stories.
Some are vacation stories.
All are stories only I can tell.

With the STORYWORTH subcription, I will self-publish!!
With a new grandbaby arriving in February, I am especially excited to publish this first volume of stories.
Inspired by my friends who are already grandparents (especially Fran in DC and Fran in Iowa and Barb and Joanne)
I know I will be writing my small moment stories spent with this new little one. Maybe that’s Volume Two’s topic!!

Will YOU consider self-publishing your slices?!!

TCRWP 10/22/22 Saturday Reunion

Sometimes you don’t know what you need.

Saturday I needed to hear author Peter Reynolds share about how he craves human connection. He explained it is probably because he is a twin and from the very start had a human connection, right there in the womb. Then he simply said, “FInd your twin.” And immediately I thought of those humans I crave and carve out time to spend moments with, every though I do not have a biological twin.

Saturday, I needed to be reminded by Mary how I can use the video Joy and Heron to teach vocabulary. I especially liked how she showed ways to use this work in book clubs. “Math is not the only place for manipulatives,” she said as she moved small 1×2 inches post-its around on the change-over-time story arc.

Saturday, I needed to reflect on my assessment timeline with Laurie (I’ve done such a timeline for my reading life and my writing life but never for assessments). I found it powerful to think about the times I took and/or have given assessments. I needed to be reminded of rituals, structures and tips to ensure assessments are paired with meaning feedback to grow students.

Saturday, I needed to be reminded by Katie of Shared Reading and how it can include nonfiction text. And how it can include ways to teach word solving strategies and fluency, two skills my current students need to practice.

Saturday, I needed to be inspired by Lucy. I needed to hear again, “You are who you spend time teaching with. Learn together.” I also found it inspiring to be encouraged to “talk less” and “watch & coach” more. The students need to do the work and I need to simply set them up to do it. She ended by reminding us to Be A Mr. Jenson.

Here are my padlet notes and images from the day. Of course, I share, as you may not realize it and you may need a little inspiration, too. Clearly, TCRWP is one of my “twins”, a group I crave to interact with as a human. So grateful TCRWP shared on Saturday and that I zoomed in to be inspired.


October…month to celebrate my birth (59 years ago)

October…month to remember my dad’s passing (34 years ago)

October…month to celebrate my daughter’s birth (34 years ago)

October…month of my brother’s wedding (30 years ago)

Ocotber…month of his son / my nephew’s wedding (4 days ago)

October…a colorful time

Orange and red and yellows appear

Greens and blues fade as the cool breeze blows

October…month of transitions

from womb to birth

from single life to married life

from life well-lived here on earth to death

October…a colorful changing time

And now my October birthday baby is expecting!!!

Saturday Reading!

A blue sky with the bright sun, lower in the sky, dabbling through the newly red, yellow and orange painted leaves. Suddently it looks like fall. As I step out onto the back deck, it feels like fall and I am glad I chose to pull on socks, sneakers and a fleece. I head to my favorite chair and spend the next few hours in a laboratory meeting smart scientist who wirite code. And their creations, the robots, two who make it all the way to Mars. This genre isn’t my go-to but today I can’t put A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Wargas down. She’s crafted a story that I finished in one sitting. And as my week begins, the story is still with me. Still figuring out all the many take-aways from meeting Sophie, Rania, Xander, Res, Journey, Fly and Guardian. I took time to write down a few of the things I love about this book. #AuthorsAreRockStars

P.S. So glad that my Covid-eyes stopped watering so I could focus on reading again.
(Feeling much better! I continue to be grateful for scientist – maybe another reason I like the characters in this book so much…such smart, dedicated scientists!

Covid…by the numbers

934….days since 3/13/2020, when my town & school shut down due to Covid

2…sick days I just took because I tested positive for Covid using a home test

3…medical products taken to deal with the cold-like symptoms (Halls cough drops, Advil, Robitussin)

4…movies watched on PrimeVideo while resting at home
(Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, Breakfast at TIffany’s, Love Story & Autumn in New York)

11…season number I binged on Netflix of Call of the Midwife

1…grande hot chocolate ordered at the Starbuck’s drive-thru window on Saturday (when I got tired of staying inside my house)

$5.99…price I paid to view Downtown Abbey, a New Era movie on my laptop

$9.99…price I paid to read Kwame Alexander’s newest book, The Door of No Return on my kindle

2…number of weekend days I stayed home (missing Kwame Alexander Politics & Prose)

1…number of signed books my friend got for me at the Kwame Alexander book signing!!

2…number of people I just discovered who have Covid now, too (my daughter in Amsterdam and my across-the-hall staff member)

1…number of vaccines against Covid I got

2…numbe of boosters against Covid I got

1,000,000….number of thank yous I want to share with the scientists who invented the Covid vaccine and booster shots

Stay safe, my friends. Covid isn’t over….yet.

I write ….to understand!

As I mixed the panko witht he parsley, salt and pepper and added the olive oil, I thought about what my friend said when I met her Thursday after school to catch up. “When I read or listen to a lecture, I have to take notes. It helps me to understand and remember it.” As she shared, I smiled and recalled the many reading and writing notebooks I have on my shelf.

As I smeared mustard onto each salmon fillet, sprinkled on salt and pepper, and topped with the panko mixture, I noticed the book I finished reading over the weekend. What did I want to remember after meeting Ravami and Virginia and the other six “midnight children”?

After cooking the fillets on the stove for 4 minutes in a hot iron skillet, I slid it into the preheated oven and set the timers for 7 minutes. Then I grabbed the Advanced Readers copy I borrowed from my colleague and my notebook and a pencil. As I skimmed pages of the book, I added stick figures for the characters that stuck with me. I added quotes that stuck with me. I added what I especially liked about this book and listed the other books I had already read and loved my this author, Daan Gemeinhart. All in pencil. Fofr now. Once at school on Tuesday, I can use my flairs to pretty it up!

Once the oven timer sounded, I fitted my hands with oven mitts and carefully pulled the heavy skillet from the oven and sat it on the stove. As I covered the skillet with aluminum foil, I thought again about my friend’s comment and about my notebook. She is so right. Because I made this page, I will remember this well-written book. Because I added sketches and quotes, the story of friendship and belonging will stay with me longer. Because I read and then wrote about it, I understand this book better.

As I added a salmon fillet and a scoop of salad to my plate, I smiled. What a great job I have. I get to read great books and jot down my thinking, all to understand better. I am grateful I got into the habit of writing about reading from attending workshops at TCRWP.

Salmon Recipe