Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Professional Learning Focus: Reading and Writing. I Just Can’t Get Enough April 5, 2009

Having had the opportunity to hear Carl Anderson speak about conferring and assessing young writers yesterday just 2 weeks after attending a Lucy Calkins Literacy Institute, I am in professional learning and reflection rapture.

A blogging friend ran into me yesterday at the workshop and remarked, “You’re at everything”.

While I don’t attend “everything”, I would agree with her that I do attend everything that I possibly can that is professionally valuable.  I do draw the line and know that I can’t focus on everything. For instance, several years ago when I had first started using Lucy Calkins Units of Study, my principal got a little annoyed with me when I refused to attend a workshop on 6 + 1 Traits of Writing.  He could not understand why I would prefer (and insist) on going to a workshop about new literature at the Columbus Public Library when I had the opportunity to hear a presenter from Texas in my own school.

“My brain can’t handle any different information at this point. It is really hard work getting Units of Study up and running and I can’t afford any distractions from it if I am going to give it the attention it needs to be successful.”  I tried to explain to him.

I even went so far as encouraging him to cancel the speaker. After all, we were all supposed to be working within the parameters of Calkins Writing Workshop, and I truly believed that all the session with that Texan would do would get people excited about something that they really shouldn’t be doing that year and frustrated that they couldn’t go try out what they had just sat through a whole day session about. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. 

I also have learned that I have to go out and find what I am looking for in the area of professional development. Being a teacher in the community I live in, has so many positives, I can’t even begin to name them. Unfortunately on-site professional development is not one of them.

Bigger districts have had the opportunity to bring in renowned experts to talk and work with their teachers for years and years.

“What!? Ralph Fletcher was in your room teaching writing workshop!” I would drool hearing this year after year while talking to teaching friends at the Dublin Literacy Conference.

I, on the other hand, have had the opportunity to read their books and try things out with a couple of like-minded individuals.  Really good, but not in the same league. Rec league basketball instead of the NBAs.

Fortunately, it has gotten easier over the years with opportunities such as the fifth annual Lakota Literacy VIEW , The Literacy Connection, as well as the annual Dublin Literacy Conference, on-line resources such as Choice Literacy, blogs (see my sidebar for my favorites) such as Two Writing Teachers or Reading Zone and nings with like-minded teachers.  For now, I am still a learner and need to soak in everything I can in order to best help the teachers and students I work with. My excitement over the possibilities leaves me recharged and ready to learn more!


Dublin Literacy Conference -Ruth Culham February 22, 2009

Filed under: 6 traits,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:48 am
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Ruth Culham, “The Trait Lady”, was the kick-off keynote yesterday.  Her presentation was interesting and was based on her article that had first come to my attention this fall, “The Trait Lady Speaks Up: Dispelling Myths About the Traits of Writing”. Here is a summary of the 5 myths:

Myth #1 The Traits are a Writing Curriculum

Myth #2 The Writing Process and the Traits are Two Different Things

Myth #3 You Adopt the Traits

Myth #4 You Teach the Traits

Myth #5 The Traits Are Not Part of Writing Workshop

You can read the whole article here.  

I had shared the article with the staff in one of the buildings with which I work. One of the building’s goals for the year was to have instruction in writing thirty minutes a day. Some people were conflicted by thinking that the 6 Traits materials that were embedded in the reading series were a writing curriculum. 

It can’t be more powerful than to hear from the author herself that the 6 Traits are NOT a writing curriculum. Nor are they in competition with a writing process. 

I highly recommend reading the article and reflect on what the author has to say. It’s easy to read and helped clear up confusion that I had about the 6 Traits intentions.


First Inservice Under my Belt September 3, 2008

Ahh! Five o’clock and home from my first in-service for the elementary school. Blue Moon in an iced glass, bare feet, and fresh shirt. So glad to have the first one done. Our focus for the year is writing instruction based on staff feedback from last year as part of their continuous improvement plan.  The next post is what I sent them ahead of time (although I was up at 3 in the morning trying to decide if I should scrap it and start over again). If they want …, maybe I should just give them… I can do that really well!” , then up again at 4:30 a.m.  counter arguing the 3 a.m. argument)

On a similar, yet completely different note, If you have never seen Beth Newingham’s website in Michigan, you should check it out. She has recently had a baby and is job sharing (how many of us are jealous that her district is smart enough to know a good thing when they have it). She has amazing and useful photos and ideas. Reading and writing workshop mini lessons are great. She also does a star student and mystery reader program that I used a version of last year with great success!