Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

Hello Friends!  Surprise, surprise....I am here to write an actual post.
I know it has been a long time. Thanks to my faithful friends who continue to check in on me.  I am doing just fine, just too much to do and too little time.  Something has to give and  recently this little blog is one of those things.  Nothing inspires me more than networking with teachers so I will make the effort to get on here more often. 

Speaking of networking,  I had the awesome opportunity to go to Greenbrier Elementary in Charlottesville City to see the Book Buddies Reading Program in action this past week.  Book Buddies is the brain child of Francine Johnston and Marcia Invernizzi.  These two have contributed so much to the teaching of language arts.  They are the authors of  such books as Words Their Way and the creators of the PALS Program.  I got to hook up with Marcia this past week and observed her tutoring a first grader through the book buddies program. 

The Book Buddies program provides a framework for tutoring that enlists and trains volunteers to provide reading intervention to struggling first graders. Their book outlines the procedures of their framework. 

Front Cover

Greenbrier Elementary is a school with a diverse population of students, 25% of their students speak English as a second language. Yet Greenbrier consistently performs at high levels, having been named a Title 1 Distinguished School for nine consecutive years and has been recognized by the VDOE VIP Awards of Excellence.  

They have named themselves: "The Home of the Reading Stars" and even the secretary answers the phone that way.  They are proud of their accomplishments and should be.  
They set students' reading achievement as a goal over ten years ago and are getting it done. 

Book Buddies may very well be one key to their success.  They have designated a room just for this purpose and have a Book Buddies coordinator who runs the show. 
The volunteer tutors service about 15 first graders, providing one to one tutoring for 45 minutes twice a week.  I got to see it all in action.  

The coordinator is key. She trains the tutors and sets each one up with lesson plans each day. 

Each tutor has a place to work that has been set up with all she needs. 

This is a finely tuned program which focuses in on the individual needs of each student. 

The students who I watched were all engaged and seemed to really love the attention.  The lessons included lots of reading and coaching, word work and plenty of writing. 
 The one to one format is key to the success. 

Each reader has individual goals and is rewarded in different ways when progress is made. 
I was totally impressed with Marcia and her ongoing dedication to this program and to helping these young students become proficient and capable readers. 

"I define founding as having an idea, concept, or vision, taking intentional steps to implement that concept or vision, and working with it and tweaking it until that vision is realized. In this case the idea was that most children who are relatively behind in their early literacy development can catch up if they are identified early and if high quality instructional enhancements are also provided early."

Marcia Invernizzi 
My Sunday's Words for the Week: 
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Book Buddies Programs are being used as part of a reading plan in many schools across Virginia and the country.

Are you working at a Book Buddies school?
Would love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

It feels good to be lost in the right directionI
I hope everyone had a chance to step away from work and get lost.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life…  He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me,  it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.      The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, c...

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life…
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and ego.

The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.” They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”

The Elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I love this message and will focus on feeding the good wolf this week. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

My email inbox has been exploding with emails from teachers who are concerned about the climate crisis. We're not talking about weather here, but rather the school climate crisis. I'm sending words this
week from Ken Robinson.  His message made the Top Ten Ted Talks Education List.  I have followed him for years and so much of what he speaks of has been on my mind lately.  Sir Ken leaves us with a bit of hope as he points out that it CAN rain in Death Valley.

Take a listen.....

Thoughts and comments? ....would love to hear from you!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

And what a challenge it is...I am constantly battling my brain. 
 I took the time for an extra long paddle. 
The silence and stillness just does me a world of good. 

It was a beautiful fall weekend.  

Did you give your soul a chance to heal? 

Email me: 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

This post is dedicated to Kennedy who has been trying to get me to wake ever since my last post about napping.  Thanks for everyone's concern!  I think sometimes the most productive thing you can do is sleep!

 Good news..... Yes, I am back and am recharged and reinspired after our fall 3C Event. 
It was a great time of teachers helping teachers and many fabulous ideas were shared by all. 
Thanks to ALL who participated! 
I love the positive energy of this group and how focused everyone is on our mission. 


 It is easy to get consumed by all the distractions that are thrown at us.
 I needed this reminder from the group to get refocused on the real goal of teaching the children. 

SO,  some of the highlights this time for me were: The Walking Classroom....Wow, loved this idea and think it would be great  to design something similar for third graders. Anyone out there who wants to tackle this with me... you know, in all our free time??? 

I also loved the discussion centered around the 2x10 Strategy. 
I KNOW this strategy works and hope others will try it too. So simplistic-yet so life changing! 
You will be amazed by the result. 
Rick Smith wrote about it in Educational Leadership. 
  Teachers focus on their most difficult student. For two minutes each day, 10 days in a row, teachers have a personal conversation with the student about anything the student is interested in. Wlodkowski found an 85-percent improvement in that one student's behavior. In addition, he found that the behavior of all the other students in the class improved.
You can read the whole article here: 

Thanks for everyone's educated insights on this summer's  New York Times article: 
Why Americans Stink at Math.  I love that as a group we are open minded enough to confront our possible weaknesses and brainstorm solutions.  Look for more blog posts about it soon. 
In the meantime, you can read the whole article here:
It is lengthy-but interesting, and worth the read. 

So here are our group's Words for the Week: 
The number one inhibitor of Zen: #zen #emmamildon #elephantjournal

So this week we said we'd  let go of the junk that is dragging us down and set our eyes on what is really important-
the kids.
Keep your eyes on the prize and have a great week!

Thoughts about 3C or otherwise?  Email me:


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

THANKS for the interest in the Fall 3C Event.
We are full, but will look to add a winter session if there is interest.
Stay tuned...

Looking forward to the unleashing of some new thinking!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

We are gearing up for the next 3C event and are super excited to welcome
two new committed educators,
Mark Lenz and Leslie Myers from Fairfax County, to our line up!  
We can't wait to Connect-Collaborate-Create!

Photo: What are you committing to?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

I met 25 new students last week. I am wondering what they will teach me,  I am their teacher yet every year my kids bring with them lessons for me to learn. My most important lesson from the last school year came from a boy who taught me the true meaning of perserverence. Philippians 3-14 refers to perserverence as "pressing on". I love that.   Learning didn't come easy for this young boy and I'm guessing school often represented a place of struggle and hardship for him. Yet, day after day after day he would come into the room with a smile on his face, ready and willing to attempt anything I put in front of him.  Every day he would try and every day he would struggle. I was amazed by him and his ability to continuously "press on". He only cried once. After failing a test he let the tears of frustration fall. I held him and he held me and I asked him not to give up on me, that I would keep trying to figure out a way to teach him. We made a pact...I wouldn't give up on him and he wouldn't give up on me.  He ended up passing the BIG test at the end of the year. It was my turn to cry then.  Now when I get tired and feel like I'm ready to give up, I think of this boy and the big important lesson he taught me. What will I learn this year? Can't wait to find out.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

Let's go change the world teachers.
Wishing you a great first day of school!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Extended Learning: A Maps and Globes Discovery Bag

Thanks SO much to all of you who sent encouragement and advice about how to keep it together when your kids move away.  Many of you suggest staying busy...well, no problem there! I'm in over my head with all sorts of school and home projects. I'm bound and determined to finish things up before school begins in two weeks. 
Yikes, it is going fast!

I need to apologize for not getting back to some of you who asked about the Discovery Bags. 
My plan is to first put together bags that go along with my social studies and science units.  If you are thinking you want one on a specific topic, you can email me and I can add it to my list. I'll try to complete as many as I can and will post them when I am done. Keep checking back. 

Here is another bag that I finished recently. I enjoy putting these together and easily found some inexpensive and fun store bought materials from the One Spot at Target.  This is a great time to be on the look out for flashcards, puzzles or games that fit with your topics. 
We do a unit on Maps early in the year.  I will use this bag during extension time to give kids background before I teach it or as a review afterwards. 

A vocabulary matching game will give students another exposure to key words related to geography. 
I have included an answer key so it will be self checking. 

For just two dollars, I was able to add a puzzle and United States Flash Cards that give information about all 50 states. 
I'm including a journal so that kids can write or draw something they know about this topic on a page. 

I am including some sort of examination item in most bags.  This one will include compasses that the kids can handle and experiment with.  I found a little booklet that explains what a compass does and how it works. I'm going to add that in too.  Of course, actual maps would be great to add in here as well.  Think of all the different types of maps that you could add include...street or state maps, or maps of amusement parks or even your school map would be great. 

I've got these all on hangers.  I'm thinking kids will enjoy using these at centers.  All kids would benefit, but I'm thinking they will be ideal to use with those who need to be challenged. 

If you are interested, check out this listing in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week

 This is funny, but the real truth is that I cried a river today.  
My son left for his freshman year of college this afternoon. 

I am still in disbelief. Where have the years gone? 
How is it possible that we have already gone from this....

To this....

to this????

It doesn't seem possible. 
I am so excited for him and this next adventure.  What has come as a surprise to me is just how much it hurts my heart to see him go. I will miss seeing, talking and laughing with him every day.
 I know I will adjust and this ache will subside...right?  
Words of advice?  Missing him tonight.

Here are my Sunday's Words: 

Lord, please surround my kids with friends and adults who point them toward You, and in ways that complement my own deficits in parenting.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

America Is....A Trip to NYC

 Hello All! I hope everyone is enjoying every remaining second of this summer!
 I took my kids back to my old stomping grounds in New York City last week. We had a blast wandering the city and taking in all the sights and sounds. 

We went to the World Trade Center Memorial. They have created a touching tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in that tragedy.  There are now waterfalls outlining the perimeter of both buildings. The water then collects and falls through an inside square area. Names are engraved all along the walls of the structures. Just beautiful but also so sad!

We saw the Statue of Liberty.  She is such a powerful presence standing there in the harbor. I remember my mom talking about seeing her for the first time as she came by boat as an immigrant so many years ago. We are so lucky to be living in this country. 

We hung out at the South Street Seaport and checked out the ships, boats and shops. Definitely one of my favorite places in the city.

The Manhattan Sailing School....

We strolled down Wall Street and past the New York Stock Exchange.

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with about a hundred other people. Boy was it crowded!

Of course we headed to Rockefeller Plaza.  

 Such a pretty spot with the fountains and the greenery! 

We went into Trinity Church while we were there. My dad owned an Iron Works Company in Manhattan and was hired to do all the ornamental iron for this church  back in the 1960's.  It was great getting a chance to visit the church and see all he his work. He may not be around any longer but he has left his mark. 

It was fun checking out the NBC Studios and places like the Trump Tower. 

A highlight of the trip was seeing Wicked at the Gershwin. What a fantastic show! The acting, music, costumes and special effects were all amazing.  We had a great time!!

The most peaceful place in the city for me has always been Central Park.  I just love the statues that greet you when you enter. How beautiful!

I wish I could bottle all the energy of that city! There really is no place like New York. 

My trip reminded me of this really great book I found recently.  
It is called, America Is...  by author, Louise Borden.  

Through poetic text, Louise Borden highlights the wonders of our incredible country. 
Each page begins with the two words: "America is..." 
Through reading this book, children will get a sense of how diverse America's land and people are. 
Borden wrote this book as a response to a question posed to her by a group of school children in Birmingham, England.  They asked, "What's it like to live in America?"  This book was her answer. 
I plan on using it with my third graders this year. Check it out, I think you and your students will love it!