The Gift of Literacy

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Part of my role includes the training and coaching of teachers in the implementation of Reading and Writing Workshop. This past week marked the kickoff for cohort 2, and was spent defining “Workshop”, modeling components, and preparing teachers for the first weeks of school. Learning will continue throughout the year, accompanied by weekly coaching meetings.

During the final day of the training, we invited cohort 1 teachers to sit on a panel and share their insights to the flood of questions the new implementors had on their minds. After the panel concluded, a cohort 1 teacher stopped me and shared a “Magical Moment” that she experienced in her own classroom. The workshop framework shifts focus from the content to the child and provides differentiation to move every reader forward! This is her story…

(all names have been changed)

Sarah started 4th grade with a reading level of a 2nd grader. She was identified as a struggling student in kindergarten and had an IEP which outlined support in the areas of literacy. As a teacher new to workshop, Ms. F was unaware of the profound impact her classroom would have on Sarah.

Sarah’s love for reading blossomed through intentional instruction, scaffolded application, and reader’s choice in the classroom. At an “Open House” a few months after the start of school, Ms. F met Sarah’s mom and was eager to share her growth. Ellen, Sarah’s mom who had a 3rd grade reading level herself, spoke about the changes she saw in Sarah at home. “She was always reading or had a book in her hand.” Ellen was pleased with her daughter’s progress and the teaching of Ms. F.

At Christmas break, Ms. F bumped into Sarah and her mother at the supermarket. After a brief conversation with Sarah about the series she was currently reading, Ellen shared with Ms. F that “We” had been reading over Christmas break together, and that every night, “We” would talk about our books.

At the end of 4th grade, Sarah had the reading level of a 3rd grader and was on her way to closing the large gap that was once there. Ms F, Sarah, and the rest of the students ended the year celebrating their favorite books and sharing their most prized writing with classmates, parents, and others.

During the summer, Ms. F again ran into Sarah and her mother in the supermarket. Ellen spoke to Ms. F about Sarah’s growth in reading and her new goal of entering the 5th grade at the 4th grade reading level. She then quietly continued to share her own personal goal. She had always wanted to read the Little House on the Prairie series and was already on book three. And although she found the next book more challenging, she had set a goal for herself and planned to meet it before Sarah started back to school in the summer!  

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As the teacher finished sharing this moving story, we both stood with tears in our eyes and I had goosebumps on my arms. Not only was Ms. F able to impact the life of a child, providing a new path in life, one filled with opportunities and the tools necessary to be a literate student and adult; but this gift, the gift of literacy, opened new doors of learning and understanding for Ellen as well, and perhaps, breaking the cycle that accompanies illiteracy!

One of the most powerful gifts we can give our students is the gift of literacy!

Enjoy your school year!

-S

In 2015, Be “That One”

As 2014 comes to a close, I look back through the events speckled on my instagram and smile. It was a great year, filled with family, friends, goals, and learning. And so I thought I would share with all of you highlights from my year, as well as offer you some considerations while you set goals for 2015.

Family: We purchased our “Forever Home” PhotoGrid_1420045612137
Friends: Connected, conversed, and laughed PhotoGrid_1420046571551
Goals: Applied (again) and was accepted to GTA  PhotoGrid_1420047627509
 Learning: Attended TCRWP in NY     PhotoGrid_1420047224464

But the moment I am most proud of rarely gets shared with many, until now. I have always been one to struggle with my weight, and complications during pregnancy led to my waistline expanding and the numbers on the scale skyrocketing. before:aftermeProudly, 2014 marks the year that I have lost 100 pounds from the weight I initially started at. I tell you this for two reasons:

1. I was successful because my little sister believed in me!

2. To reach my goal, I had to decide what to let go of first! 

While we reflect on our year and make goals for 2015 I hope you keep in mind the 2 keys to my success. Sometimes it is the support, kind words, and belief from just one person that changes the course of their path. For me it was my sister. From day one she had unwavering belief in my potential. When things were tough, she was the constant that pushed me through. We celebrated successes and attacked obstacles. 100 pounds seemed like an impossible feet, to me….. but my sister knew better! I am healthier, happier and a better person, I even involved my husband so he start to take better care of himselfPhotoGrid_1420050294382

As an educator, it is important to always remember this! I challenge you to be “That One” for your students. Offer the support, the opportunity, the belief in them as a person to change their life path! Uncover passions and potentials in your students, and foster the “what ifs” in their lives. Make valiant efforts, give second-chances, and Never, Ever, Give Up on a Kid! 

Finally, shedding the things from our lives that hinder, not help our journey. Personally, I had to give up my love affair with food, my daily routine, and my priorities in life when I first began my journey. One does not loose that much weight by doing the same thing.

“Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

2014 was a great year, but for me, I’m like fine wine and get better with age! 2015 is my year, and I can’t wait to jump in!

Christmas 2013: Tis’ the Season to Give Technology

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Technology tops most Christmas lists, but with so many options available, choosing the perfect gift is daunting. Considerations in price, use, and longevity will help one narrow down their search. The following are three questions I ask myself before purchasing technology for others:

1. What do they want to use it for? Educational purposes? Personal uses? Both?

2. What is the price range?

3. How often will they use it and what is the life expectancy?

Below is a list of popular technology gifts for 2013 and priced to fit any budget. Many times there are comparable alternatives to the name-brands, so it is important to be informed. Do your research before making a purchase. (Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the product)

Children:Ages 3-8

  • Learning Tablets: The most popular is LeapPad. Options/accessories, learning games, parental controls.

  • VTech Challenger Laptop: Preloaded curriculum, educational, mimics the “look” of a laptop.

  • VTech Kidizoom Twist Plus Camera: Durable, digital camera.

Tweens and Teens:

  • Tablets: Popular devices include iPads, Kindle, and Google Nexus. Tablets are portable and functional. Used primarily for photos, videos, ereading and surfing the web.

  • Laptops: Popular devices include MacBooks, Chromebooks,and PCs. Laptops are portable and available at a variety of price ranges. The keyboard and functionality for creation and gaming make laptops a perfect choice.

  • Phones: A new phone or an upgrade on an existing one is a popular “want” for many teens. The cellular phone has become a pocket computer for most people. Internet access, apps for photos, videos, music and social media; a new phone this Christmas would be a perfect choice.

  • Beats: High-end, high-powered headphones that provide listeners with the ultimate music experience. Pricey and popular with today’s youth.

Adults:

For those techie adults in your life that already have devices, here is a short list of possibilities:

  • Chromecast: An inexpensive gadget that hooks up to your HDMI television and allows users to stream their device to the screen.

  • Amazon Prime: This upgrade in membership provides fast delivery on items purchased, unlimited streaming of movies and television programs, and access to thousands of titles.

  • Bluetooth Speaker or Keyboard: Accessories that have bluetooth capability pairs with a smartdevice and allows users to stream music from their phone, ipod, etc. The Bluetooth keyboard is wireless and a nice alternative to the touch-screen keyboards on devices.

  • Netflix Subscription: Movies and television shows available on-demand. From an iPad to the Xbox360, Netflix allows users to stream their selection on many devices.

  • Gift Cards: iTunes, Microsoft Points, and Gamestop allows those hard to buy for people choice in their purchases.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you successful Technology Gift Giving!