Sunday, October 27, 2013


What did you learn at SAGE this year?

Some of you have already shared your learning with me, but I would really like to hear from more of you. Add a comment below and tell us what you took away from the session you attended or presented. You can learn in either situation. I always do. I learn something everywhere I go. I make a point of it.

This year I co-presented at MeLit, Manitoba Early Literacy Intervention Teachers, with Krista Bracken and Tom Code from Harold Hatcher. Our topic was Kindergarten: What is Possible? with a focus on writing in Kindergarten.

I learned many things and was reminded of things I know but do not think of often enough:

Collaborating with people who are passionate about what they do is wonderful.

Passion and excitement are infectious.

Great books are always a good place to start.

Kindergarteners can do BIG things.

Beginning writing can be joyful.

In the beginning, when writing can look look like focussing on conventions, it is up to us as teachers to keep the focus on the message and the reader. (first learned from Nancy McLean, associate of Regie Routman, in a K writing residency at John de Graff School, RETSD)

It is very fine for the principal to know what goes on in Kindergarten... good for the principal and good for Kindergarten!

When the principal is an instructional leader, great things happen in a school.

When we work on writing, we are also working on reading.

Sharing our practice as teachers enhances the practice of others and our own. It is WIN WIN.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Internet Research Made Simpler

Lifelong learners.

Professional Learning Communities.


Teacher ownership of professional learning.


Teachers teaching teachers.

These are phrases that we hear and say all the time. Last week I was involved with a group that provided a powerful example of it in action. This has happened many times before, the difference being that this time, I have a few moments to write about it.

I was at Radisson School working with the Grade 3-5 PLC. We were discussing the approach Regie Routman takes toward classroom libraries, as many of you have over the past couple of years. After viewing the video clips of Regie talking with teachers about setting their classroom libraries up in a way that supports and encourages students to take ownership and use the library independently, we got to talking about Richard Allington and his research that speaks to students needing access all day long to material they CAN read. And this led to the problem of accessing non-fiction text that kids can understand, especially online.

At this point, one of the teachers shared something she had learned through her use of Twitter as a means of professional learning. It was a revelation to me and some of the others in the group. So much so, that I was compelled to share it with you, just in case you had not come across this either.

You can search on Google, looking for text written at a basic reading level.

Type in your topic. Let's try polar bears.

On the results page, click on Search Tools, then on All results and then on Reading level.

Now choose Basic and you will get a list of sites written for kids, in language and format they can more easily understand.

Thank you to Laura Steinhoff (Follow her on Twitter @L_Steinhoff or read her blog ) for this invaluable tip.

Access to non-fiction text suitable for research into Science, Social Studies or Health topics just got easier.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Passionate about Picture Books

Seventeen of us came together for the inaugural meeting of the Passionate about Picture Books Club.  Others expressed interest and will always be welcome.  So far we are a group of elementary educators, with K- 5 represented by classroom teachers and K-6 by teacher librarians.  In bold font below, you will find the books shared at that first meeting:

Katz, Karen. The Colors of Us. New York: H. Holt and, 2012. 
         Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Boston: Houghton Mifflin for Children, 2009.
Parr, Todd. FEELINGS FLASH CARDS: A Great Way for Kids to Share and Learn About All Kinds of Emotions. Chronicle Llc, 2010. 
Jeffers, Oliver. Stuck. London: HarperCollins Children's, 2012. 
Beaty, Andrea, and Pascal Lemaître. Dr. Ted. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 2008. 

Tullet, Hervé, and Christopher Franceschelli. Press Here. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2011.  
Daywalt, Drew, and Oliver Jeffers. The Day the Crayons Quit. 2013
Polacco, Patricia. The Bee Tree. New York: Philomel, 1993. 
Fleischman, Paul, and Bagram Ibatoulline. The Matchbox Diary. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2013. 
Highway, Tomson, and John Rombough. Caribou Song. Markham, Ont.: Fifth House, 2013. 
Manceau, Édouard, and Sarah Quinn. Windblown. Toronto, Ontario: Owlkids, 2013. 
Berne, Jennifer, and Vladimir Radunsky. On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
Prats, Joan De Déu., and Francesc Rovira. Sebastian's Roller Skates. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller, 2005. 
Base, Graeme. Jungle Drums. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2004. 
Ternovetsky, Pat, and Zane Belton. Who Wants This Puppy? Winnipeg: Peanut Butter, 2008. 
Belloni, Giulia, and Marco Trevisan. Anything Is Possible
Hout, Mies Van. Happy. New York: Lemniscaat, 2012. 
Button, Lana, and Tania Howells. Willow Finds a Way. Toronto, ON: Kids Can, 2013. 
Dodd, Lynley. Slinky Malinki. Mallinson Rendel, 1992. 
Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Toronto: Scholastic, 2004. 

The bibliography was created by Easy bib, an app that scans the bar code of a book and gathers the bibliographical data.  There is no app that I know of that could recreate the magic of the hour and a half that followed.  Book-loving teachers sharing a favourite picture book and how they like to introduce it to students.

For me, it doesn't get any better than that.

Wait, yes it does.

We are going to repeat the experience. :)

4:30 - 6:00 p.m. at the ERC.

 Thursdays on:

December 5

February 6

April 10

June 5

Choose a picture book (or a stack!) and come to chat.  All picture book lovers welcome...