Double Numbers

I’ve always liked double numbers.

Probably because my birthday is on the 11th of a month. Seeing a double number calms me. I think of repeated numbers as thumbs-up encouragement to me from a greater being. As I type this now, I know it may sound silly. You may be laughing at me. It may seem completely irrational. But it is something you now know about me. Double numbers calm me.

Yesterday, I was equally excited and nervous. I was at a State Reading Conference, slotted to present with another colleague from my district at 2:45pm (not a calming number).

The night before, as we checked in, we were given the hotel room number 2020.  Calming.

As we checked out and checked our bags during the conference morning break, I glanced at my phone. It showed 10:10am. Calming.

As we sat and reviewed our presentation over lunch, I glanced at my phone again. It showed 12:12. Calming.

I’ve always been the kind of person who shares. If I learn something that works, I naturally want others to know. This attribute served me well as a Reading Coach. Yesterday, it gave me the opportunity to share with other Reading teachers in my state. But I won’t deny it. I do get nervous before presenting. I rehearse it over and over in my head. I want it to go well. But I am nervous.
Yesterday, when I glanced and saw double numbers around me, I was able to breathe. I was able to feel a calmness from above. I was able to smile and confidently start the presentation: by saying, “Welcome! Thanks for coming to hear about how we use Reading Notebooks with our students. I am excited to share some tips with you that I hope you can take back home to help when working with your students.”

NOTE: All the resources for our presentation are on this Padlet:

If you scroll over to the LAST column, you can view the powerpoint that Katlyn and I followed during our presentation. All the other columns on the padlet are resources we use with our students as we helped them make their invisible thinking they have while they read and make it VISIBLE in their reading notebook.


Not in Kansas Anymore

I handed my car key to the hotel valet driver and entered the three-story high hotel atrium space.  The escalator to the 2nd-floor registration desk seemed to float in front of me. As I ascended, I had that Dorothy-not-in-Kansas-anymore-feeling, as my eyes spanned up and around.

After checking in and settling into my room for the night,  I shared this with my virtual world:

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 5.56.31 AM

After registering, I settled into a comfy seat at the wine bar, sipped a glass of red and found my name in print:

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 5.56.55 AM

Before retiring for a good night sleep before it became Thursday, my co-presentor and I found the presentation room and snapped this selfie in front of the room’s agenda board:


If you are in VA Beach for the 2019 VSRA Conference, come find me in the Fusion Room today at 2:45pm. If not, check back here tomorrow and I’ll tell you how my presentation went. I’m excited to share how I help my students use their Reading Notebooks to make their invisible thinking visible. I’m excited to be in another part of the world.


Social Issue Fair


The date and the time was upon us.
Would anyone come??

At 5:45pm, they began to arrive. 6th grade ELA/Reading students and their supportive family members in toe. All were eager to see all the Social Issue Projects at the Fair! Many dropped dollar bills into handmade donation boxes. Many purchased dessert treats and jewelry and slime. All knew the money raised would be donated to a variety of causes, hand-picked by the Fair Vendors, the 107 Sailor students!

“I have a question. How do I get this money to the Cancer Society?” a student honestly asked. I assured her that a parent or me could use our credit card to make an online donation in the amount collected and then we’d keep the cash. “Oh, I get it!” and she returned to her desk with a smile on her face, knowing she was making a small difference tonight for her cause.

The Project on Display at the Fair
The only requirement was that each student pick an ISSUE, any issue of their choice. (The had spent the last month reading short stories, video clips and novels dealing with social issues). Then the issue have to be defined and ways others might help with the issue explained (all discovered through reading research). Students could choose to work alone or with others. They could choose to make a pamphlet, a poster, a podcast, a slideshow, or a student’s choice. The goal: To raise awareness and/or raise money and donate to a cause. Through CHOICE, my 6th grade readers TOOK ACTION, acted as UPSTANDERS and put on a SUPER SOCIAL ISSUE FAIR!!! I am SO SO PROUD OF ALL THESE UPSTANDERS!!

Many issues on display were related to animals: Save the giraffes, elephants, pandas, otters, sea turtles, sting-rays, all endangered animals; against animal puppy mills, against animal abuse and for animal welfare leagues.

Many related to health: Finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Leukemia, and Liver Cancer.

Many related to dealing with living in the world: pollution in national parks, racism, anti-semitism, global warming, violence in the Congo, cyberbullying, women’s rights, gun violence, homelessness, suicide, asthma, drugs, alcoholism, and peer pressure.

I’m inspired by my students Upstanders!!

What issues do YOU stand up for? 


Time Change

The microwave clock.
The stove clock.
The bedroom alarm clock.
The clock in the car.
All changed now except for the car….can’t recall how to adjust the digits.
I’ll look it up in the manuel later.

Not sure why we move the clocks back and forth.
May have made sense when we spent our lives outside farming.
But now, in a 24/7 kind of world
It seems more of a nuisance.

Yet, I shouldn’t complain.
I no longer have very many clocks in my life.
And my iPhone magically autocorrected for me.


Shower Doors

I love my house. I wrote about it last March when slicing about My Top 10 Favorite Spaces. (It’s listed 10th!). This morning as I showered, I was wishing I was better at cleaning my house. (Maybe I need a “Cleaning Challenge” to help me set a routine! )

This morning, despite losing an hour and having many errands to run to be ready for the upcoming week, I decided it was time to clean the glass walls of my bathroom shower. It is a corner shower with tile on 2 walls, a glass wall on the 3rd side and the glass door on the 4th side.

I grabbed the mildew cleaner, the windex bottle, the scrub brush, the scrubbing bubbles bottle and the roll of paper towels. As I cleaned, I thought maybe I can write about this mundane task….not sure where it will go….

As I scrubbed the inside glass of the back wall, it started to clear. The water drops and hard water stains disappeared. It started to look Hotel clean. Except for that streak. But it was on the outside. I moved to the other side of the glass and got to work. Every story (or glass shower wall) has 2 sides, I thought. Both sides need attention.

Feeling proud of the glistening glass, I was happy and wanted to be done. But the door. It had a dull tone to it still, duller now that the glass wall glistened. I grabbed the Scrubbing Bubbles and the windex and sprayed and wiped and wiped and with added elbow grease, it started to look like it belonged in this bathrom again. As I placed the cleaning products under the sink cabinet, I was glad I had products to help. Big tasks require help.

As my busy week begins tomorrow, I’m going to try to see both sides. I’m going to accept help from others. All so I can shine!

Worktime Photos

I’m pressed for time today but remembering “a picture is worth a 1000 words”, I’m going to quickly share a few photos I snapped this week.  On March 5th and March 8th, I sliced about my students’ worktime during my Reading 6 Reading Workshop. Today, take a peek at some of the photos showing my students working.


This student’s poster will raise awareness about the work of the American Cancer Society. Another poster will raise awaeness about Climate Change.


This poster will hang behind a table giving away leaf-shapped cookies with a donation jar.           All $ collected will be donated to an environmental organization.


These 3 hundle to map out their big plans to sell things, including slime, to raise money to support animal rights.


We overflowed into the hallway to work.


These 2 are working on a poster to raise awarement about how Sting Rays are being harmed.


One student is helping another make his slideshow which provides info about how to deal with the rising rents in our town.


This student works on adding information to his slideshow about animal abuses.

I’m proud of all the efforts by my students during Reading Workshop this week.
Be sure to check back on March 13th, when I’ll share photos
from our March 12th Social Issue Fair.

Worktime Sounds

I was exhausted yesterday after a day of WORKTIME. My 107 middle-schoolers are on a deadline. Tuesday night they will showcase an issue of their choosing at our Social Issue Fair. They spent 40 minutes working yesterday. I spent 40 minutes times 5 periods overseeing and offering support. It sounded like this:

  • “The tape dispenser’s out. Is there more?” Sure. Here you go.
  • “Can I print these images for my poster?” Sure. Airdrop them to Sally’s Macbook…OK, they are at the library printer. Go get them.
  • “It printed too big  and won’t fit on the poster.” No worries. Let’s print a smaller one.
  • “Do you have a box we can use to collect donations? Would this work (showing an unopened box of tissues)? Yes, but it is full of tissues.  Just pull out the tissues – you can put them in this bin and then use the box.
  • What do you need for your display?
    • Just a wall to hang this poster on. (I jotted this down on my spreadsheet)
    • A table near a wall – We need a place to hold the leaf cookies we are selling to raise money for the environment and we want our poster behind the table on the wall. (I jotted this down on my spreadsheet)
    • Just a table so my iPad can sit on it and people can sit and view it. (I jotted this down on my spreadsheet)
  • “Is this enough? Let’s see – Did you name your issue? Did you explain why it is an issue? Did you suggest ways the reader can help? Did you add book titles related to the issue? You will know it is enough when you have answered these questions. You need to decide.
  • “Where’s the tape?” In a loud voice, “Who has the tape?”

My students were doing all the work yesterday. I was just offering support and encouragement. I was gathering information so by Tuesday all 107 students’ project can be on displayed. We all were ona deadline. We all pushed to keep going. No wonder I was exhausted.

Since Last March

Inspired by a poetry form, Since Last March… written by Fran yesterday, I’m going to give it a try today. This will be my quick draft. I know it can be better once I really research all I did since last March. By here goes, off the top of my head….

Since last March,  I’ve been all over.
France to see Anne
Brooklyn to see Bridgit.
Louisville to see extended family.
The Upper West Side to see my educational family.
and La Jolla to see the sunset.

Since last March, I’ve said good-bye.
Good-bye to my dear friend, taken too soon by Alzheimer’s.
Good-bye to waiting for approval or invites.
Good-bye to practical and predictables.

Since last March, I’ve said hello.
Hello to a finished modern home.
Hello to the new mantle, rug and sectional sofa.
Hello to new sod and shrubs and 2 new trees.
Hello to the entire family visiting over the holidays.

Hello March!

Where have YOU been since last March?
What have you said good-bye to since last March?
What have you said hello to since last March?


Place Matters

I don’t even drink coffee.
Instead I declare,
“Venti Black Iced-tea, no sweetener
or Grande No-whip Hot Chocolate”
when it’s my turn.

Once seated and computer plugged in
I sit at the high-top counter
facing a windowed wall
revealing a sky beginning to brighten
and listen to the upbeat music playing in the background.

My favorite place to write – my neighborhood coffee shop

How about you?
WHERE are you writing?


I’ve spent much time learning about Reading and Writing Workshop and I’m sold that this is the best learning structure to have in a classroom. I explicitly teach for about ten minutes. Then ALL work. Students read or write. I watch, listen and confer, confering more explicit teaching specific to each student based on what they are showing they can do during worktime. Currently, I’m in a district cohort studying Personalized Learning. My focus has been on giving my students choice and offering them authentic experiences.


I took these photos after worktime began yesterday. The girls on the right are passionate about saving the tiger. They are drafting a brochure. Then on March 12th, it will be on display to help raise awareness about this issue during our Social Issue Fair.

The photo on the top right shows a pair making images for their homeless display. Then asked if they could use origami and cut out images they draw to create what the homeless park in our county looks like. They help at the food bank near this park and want to teach others how to help this group in our town.

The photo on the bottom right shows another pair. They are researching asthma, a health issue they realized they both suffer from and could teach others about.

My favorite part of worktime is how it sounds. It starts with the room erupting. Voices chatting. Questions pondered fill the air. Opiinions shares. Chair legs scrape the floor as one moves to collect markers and scissors. Then the sounds change. Each settles into worktime and a quiet hush hangs over the room. All have entered the learning zone and are thinking so quietly.

I whisper to a pair of students, “How’s it going?” as I begin to confer with them. Softly one replies. We confer quietly among ourselves, not wanting to break the sound of worktime in the room.