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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Personalized PD- #IMWAYR

Personalized PD- #IMWAYR


The main road and gateway to civilization!

4 days of being cooped up due to record-breaking snowfall has provided ample time to dive into the pile of books that has been accumulating since winter break!

My first choice- Personalized PD: flipping your professional development

If there is ever a time for personalized professional development, the time is now. Teachers and support staff are working under increased expectations with limited time to learn and grow as professionals.  We cannot afford to waste the time of any educator with one-size fits all professional development when we have the tools to personalize the learning experience, just as we do when we differentiate for our students.

I “met” Jason Bretzmann in a personalized PD session during EdCampVoxer in December.  When I learned that the Maryland State Department of Education had chosen this book for a book study spanning over the next few months, I immediately added it to my #MustReadin2016 list. EdCampVoxer was the prime example of personalized learning- sessions created the first day of the event by the participants, choice, collaboration, differentiation, and the flexibility to come and go as needed. I was living the principles that underlie the movement toward personalized PD and that are described in this book.

Jason’s group assembled an outstanding group of leaders in education to create this guide, including Kenny Bosch, Brad Gustafson, Brad Currie, Kristen Daniels, Salome Thomas-El, Dave Burgess and more.  You’ll also find vignettes by Kristen Swanson, Kristen Ziemke, Todd Nesloney, Joe Mazza, and many others. This group of educators has been using educational technology to accomplish the goals of personalized PD by flipping staff meetings, hosting EdCamps, and creating asynchronous learning communities.

You will read about both the strategies and the tools used to personalize professional learning by starting where each educator is and helping them to move forward.  As Jason writes, “The bottom line is they can’t end up where they started.” This concept is something that I have been wrestling with, and the examples provided here have helped me to refine my vision of how I can make the most of the face to face time we have with educators.

I hope you take the time to check out this resource! The book is in your court…

Personalized PD.jpg

#MustReadin2016 is a personal challenge to commit to reading books of your choice.  Visit creator Carrie Gelson’s site here for more information and for links to other #MustReadin2016 book lists. Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the #IMWAYR community.





#MustReadin2016 is a personal challenge to commit to reading books of your choice.  Visit creator Carrie Gelson’s site here for more information and for links to other #MustReadin2016 book lists. 

“Teachers who read are more effective in engaging children with reading, more likely to use recommended literacy practices in the classroom, and more likely to provide students authentic opportunities to share book recommendations and responses with each other (Morrison, Jacobs, and Swinyard, 1999; Nathanson, Pruslow and Levitt 2008; McKool & Gespass, 2009).” (Donalyn Miller, 2016)

When I read these words in a recent post by Donalyn Miller, it reaffirmed my commitment to sharing my reading life.  How can we be literacy leaders if we don’t maintain the habits that we try to cultivate in our students?  As I put together my Must Read in 2016 list, I reflected on the ways in which these books rose to the top of the list. Three influences emerged and frame the recommendations below.

Recommendations from my Colleagues:


Recommendations from my PLN:

Recommendations from my Reading Community: 

 At the end of her post, Donalyn Miller presents the question, “Beyond what works in our own classrooms and libraries, how can we engage our colleagues in meaningful dialogue and professional learning?”

The company we keep can empower us as readers. The books on my Must Read in 2016 list all came from recommendations from my local colleagues, my PLN on Twitter & Voxer, or my larger reading community (Goodreads, #IMWAYR).  I encourage you to help your students find their reading communities this year!

The book is in your court…

IMG_4918Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the #IMWAYR community.

Must Read in 2015- Update

Must Read in 2015- Update


#MustReadin2015 is a personal challenge to commit to reading books of your choice.  Visit creator Carrie Gelson’s site here for more information and for links to other #MustReadin2015 book lists. 

Many of my favorite professional authors have written about the power of sharing your reading life.  It is critical that teachers know their students and their books well enough to put the right book in the right hand at the right time.  I grew up hooked on Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys books. While these characters and topics were enough to hook me, not every child will become a reader by reading the books that I enjoyed.  Children’s literature today is far more diverse and exciting than I could have imagined back when I was helping Nancy solve the next mystery.

This year, I set a goal of reading a minimum of 100 books, which I was able to surpass.  My #MustReadin2015 list included 19 titles.  While I didn’t get to read all of the 19 books on my list this year, I will be sure to complete them in 2016.


Jack by Liesl Shurtliff made me wish I was back in the classroom.  This is a perfect lighthearted read aloud for younger students, and older students will benefit from analyzing the author’s craft.  Liesl merges two classic tales to create an original version of Jack’s story.  Readers also meet familiar characters such as Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. Even the old woman who lived in a shoe makes an appearance.

red pencil

When 12-year-old Amira’s village in Sudan is attacked, life as she knows it is changed forever. Amira’s broken family travels to a refugee camp, where she must learn how to adjust to a world ravaged by war. Amira receives a red pencil, which signifies the return of her voice and her desire to pursue an education.  Andrea Davis Pinkney shares an important message through this novel in verse.

Reading Nonfiction

The most powerful professional book I read this year was Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  This book is a must-read for ALL teachers, including those explicitly teaching reading and those teaching students to read in the content areas. I can’t do this book justice in one paragraph, but expect a full review soon.

Many of my #MustReadin2015 titles have their own blog posts.  You can find them here:

I’m currently making my #MustReadin2016 list, and I’d love to hear your suggestions!  The book is in your court…


(Thank you Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee & Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting It’s Monday! What are you Reading? Readers across the blogging community connect their latest reading experiences, opening new possibilities for sharing the impact of books on our lives. )

Crawling Out of the Classroom

In everything that my students and I do together, we strive to find ways to use reading and writing to make the world outside of our classroom a better place for all of us to be

Literacy Lenses

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Katherine Bomer

The Journey is Everything: Writing & Teaching to Discover, to Essay, to Live Wide Awake

EdTech Bytes with Bormann

Ideas for integrating technology into a 21st-century classroom.

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Reflections on my life as a teacher.

Teachers for Teachers

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Ethical ELA

Reflections on Teaching English


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Teachers As Innovators

Two teachers bringing research into classroom practice