All Aboard – Next Stop TCRWP Digital and Media Institute!!

I’m on the train!!

It’s taking me from Union Station in DC to Penn Station in NYC.

Then I’ll take the 1 Uptown and get off at 116th/Columbia University stop

Where I’ll head 5 blocks to TC’s Guest housing.

Wednesday I’m observing reading and writing workshop at PS158.

Then Thursday-Saturday from 9-3pm I will  happily learned from Colleen Cruz in a large group and Lindsay Mann in a small group and have an option to attend a closing workshop each day. I’m also being encouraged to try to present Ignite-style during Saturday’s closing.

I’m on the train!!

I’m excited to learn from the best all at the 2nd Annual TCRWP Digital and Media Institute!!

Be sure to check out my tweets (@sally.donnelly1)

and I promise to take good notes and share what I learn!!


Celebrating – Connections to Smart Educators

Saturday, I celebrated connecting to smart educators by posting to Ruth Ayer’s Celebration blog. (If you are looking for another place/day to post your writing, I recommend this!!) Today I am posting my expanded revision of this same post! 

Maggie Beatty was my small group staff developer at TCRWP in 2010. I learned so much from her that summer and I stayed connected to her brilliance through #TCRWP and then when Kate and her began their Indent blog.

When they posted asking for real problems writing teachers experience, I thought why not. I’ll send them one or two.

How fun that this week, they posted their first video sharing a practical way to solve a problem by making and using a DIY (do-it-yourself) Literacy toolkit page with a small group or during a conference.

Why so fun?

Take a minute and watch their brilliance HERE!!

Immediately after watching the video, I sent it to many of my literacy teacher friends who wrote back, just as excited as I was!!

And then of course, this video inspired me to use my Michael’s coupon  on Sunday to purchase MY TOOLS.

My first page is written!!

Next update – my reflection on using it with students!

I continue to celebrate connecting to smart educators!!!
I can’t wait for the DIY Literacy book to come out.
You can pre-order it HERE

"Come have fun playing here while your learn."

Today the architects of my new school are visiting. They hope to capture through interviews and just watching, what we think about the space they designed for us.

What do I think? What should I say during my interview?

The building they created is quite unique. Along with just being brand new, it screams “Come have fun playing here while your learn.” This is loudly shouted when you leave my 2nd floor classroom and walk to the center of the 2nd floor and see THE SLIDE!

When I bring friends to see my school, they ask right away, “When do you use it?” And my reply is, “We just do.” The slide is just another way to get from the 2nd to the 1st floor. My class knows that it does take a little more time to wait your turn to go down. So it is a choice. Those that really want to get outside for recess to play tag, usually take the stairs. Others say it is worth the wait. All understand that the slide is just another fun way to move in our very unique building called our school. I have come to realize that the beauty of having this feature as a permanent part of the building is that it isn’t a reward. It just gets used because it screams, “Come have fun playing here while your learn.”

The building also is designed to allow for tons of natural light in the classrooms and the hallways. I’ve worked in other schools where I’ve had no windows at all in my classroom or just a few. Here the outside is brought in throughout the entire building. I can’t quote the science of why this is important but I can anecdotally share that I feel better in this building. I feel better because the building allows me to see the sky regularly as I have fun learning inside.

Finally, the building is designed with lots of open gathering spaces. I will admit that this is still something I am learning to figure out how to use well. As a teacher, I’m used to planning lessons and teaching them WITHIN the four walls given to me called my classroom. But this school is different. Now my students regularly spill-out into the hallway. Since the wall to the hallway of my classroom is glass, I can see them as they learn outside the four walls of my classroom. Fun chairs and stools dot the hallways, providing fun places to sit and work. Other spaces throughout the building provide spots to gather and collaborate. Many spaces, I will admit, I still need to explore with my students. And I will, as my mindset of what “my classroom” is, broadens. Really, my classroom at Discovery Elementary is THE ENTIRE school building, a building designed in my opinion as a place to PLAY while learning.

My new school, Discovery ES, truly screams, “Come have fun playing here while your learn.”
Thank you, VMDO Architects!!