Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Funny: I before E, ESPECIALLY after C

There are times when reading online that I just laugh out loud. (LOL for those texting fans!)  This post on the complexity of the English language rules and the integration of data just captured it for me.

Go on - I dare you not to laugh!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tag This: YouPublisher

Publishing student writing is the ultimate goal - and I am really liking this site!!

YouPublisher: Makes PDF documents flippable and quickly loading!!

Imagine your anthology on your school webpage!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Opinion Time: Spelling and Texting

"u wld thnk txting might encourage poor spelling.
according to a study in the uk u wld b wrong."

Texting has been blamed for many things and I am always interested to see what "research" has to say on the topic.  Over at the Core Knowledge blog (quoted above) they link to a BBC report that indicates texting requires the same "phonological awareness" as spelling. 

I encourage you to read the full article and post your thoughts over on Core Knowledge or here.  Participate in the conversation!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wish List Book: How to Clean Your Room

Helping students understand the need to include details in their writing can be tricky.  I have always found it easiest to do with "How To" writing.  C'mon - you all know you have done the peanut butter sandwich lesson at least once - much to the delight of students!!

In teaching writing, I have some favorite "How To" books - How to Lose All Your Friends among them.  But I am dying to get my hands on this one:

Not only will it bring back fond memories of cleaning your room as a child (each thing you picked up had a memory and it was so easy to get lost in the task and never quite finish!) but this book includes pop ups and spinners and fun things to engage the reader!!

Thanks to A Year of Reading for the link!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I received a Kindle for Christmas, after coveting my mom's for a very long time.  It seems I was not alone!!

Lately - we have been discussing the role that eReaders might play in classrooms.  After a recently technology committee meeting, I have been searching for more information on how folks are using them in classrooms and what benefit there is.  (We will put aside the other debate of which eReader for the moment.)
Aside from these sites, I found a lot of questions about how to integrate the use of eReaders.  For me - it still comes down to what do you want to do with them?  I can absolutely see engaging the students in what they are reading by having them annotate text (of course, Post-It note stock might go down!)  I can also see the use of both the dictionary and the audio reading functions for all students.  And of course - the technology itself will, at least initially, engage the students.

But there are many other issues I hear teachers and school districts raising; What happens when one is lost/damaged? How do we pay for the books? etc.  And - with many of the ebooks available via laptops - what is difference between equipping students with a laptop versus an eReader?

I am not sure what to think - but am interested in what you are thinking!! Leave a though or two!

More on eReaders:
If you are thinking about using e-books, this site will tell you how to get free ones for your classroom.  And if you are thinking about purchasing a Kindle and you like audio-books, check out this deal to get $100 off!!

One thing I do know is that I will not be taking my Kindle into the tub or swimming pool anytime soon so this gadget won't appear on my wishlist!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Connecting Classrooms

Last week, a colleague and I hosted an afterschool session on Read Around the Planet and other collaborative opportunities.  We were joined by teachers from two districts, specifically literacy coaches, ELA teachers and a librarian.  What a powerful group of minds - as a result, we are going to attempt a regional collaboration of classrooms for the Spring. 

In the meantime, I thought I would share these resources that we have been using to connect classrooms via video-conferencing.

  • TWICE: A Michigan based site for video-conferencing, it offers many opportunities for educators to connect and use video-conferencing technology to connect and collaborate.  Most of these connections require use of a polycom (which for the readers in my WNY region usually also means participating in Distance Learning through BOCES)  Consider signing up and searching for collaboration ideas.

Happy connecting!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tag This: Games as Poetry

I think a lot about the use of games in education.  Our students now (our teacher as well!) are visual - are bombarded with visuals.

I found this post - and the links within - very interesting as they relate to poetry.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top Writing Blogs

Since it is the awards season and many others are posting their favorite blogs, I thought I would share some of mine as related to reading and writing:

A Year of Reading: "Two teachers who read. A lot." 'Nuff said!

6 Traits Resources: Published sporadically but when they do - great resources!

The Picnic Basket: A great place to learn about, and maybe receive, new books sometimes before they are published!!

Two Writing Teachers: Writing models, notebook ideas AND they love Scaredy Squirrel as much as I do!!

WNY Education Associates:  As a disclaimer, I should note that Angela is both friend and colleague.  However, even if I didn't know her personally, I would be reading her blog which gives amazing tips and reflects her work as a literacy coach.

Writing Tools: Great tips on professional writing!

These are just some of my favorites - and I am always looking for more!! Leave me a few in the comments!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stop Teaching Our Students How to Write: Your Thoughts?

I've been thinking a great deal about this particular blog post.  Even more compelling are the comments - which seem to keep coming and coming. 

While there are some elements I agree with, there are some I am still wrestling with.  In fact, I had some similar musings about cursive two years ago, almost to the day.

So - in the interest of fairness, I am wondering what others think.

Go ahead - post your comments on this blog or on that one.  Either way - weigh in.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tag This: Free Audio Books

Many, many people I know received either an iPod Touch or a Kindle this holiday season.  I also know many districts who are purchasing or have available to them mp3 players of all kinds.  This resource is for free audio books that can be used with all of the above.


Photo credit: Dysartian via Flickr

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is your sentence?

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr - I ask everyone to think about their legacy.

One of my favorite picture books is Martin's Big Words - inspirational and compelling it ends with his now famous speech in which he shares his vision for the world and which became his legacy.

Daniel Pink's new book Drive (which I have not read yet but it awaits me on my Kindle) poses two questions that could change our lives.  Watch the video - think about your answers - and if you are willing, post them in the comments section.

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Round-Up

  • Seth Godin on the future of libraries made me think - how could we innovate a new use for libraries in a digital world?
  • Story Sleuths - a new blog I have added to my feed.  The authors blog about what they are reading from the perspective of a writer.  Great stuff!
  • A Year of Reading blog tries their hand at predicting the Newbury and Caldecott award winners - sadly, I have read none of the books they mention.
  • An oldy but a goody - reading Will Richardson't thoughts on Aggregator as Textbook and thinking (again) about 21st century literacy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry Friday

Many blogs host "Poetry Friday" where the authors share a favorite poem or poetry resource. (Just Google "poetry Friday" and I am sure you find some great links!!)  I am not very good at that kind of regular posting so I have not (yet) disciplined myself to do a similar thing.  However, via A Year of Reading blog I did find this great resource that I just had to share.  The Tree That Time Built is a collection of poetery with a science focus - a great resource to integrate multiple curricula.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Need My Teachers to Learn

You may have already seen this video but I think it speaks volumes to what we hope for all educators - whether it is embracing technology, learning about the newest research on reading/writing or simply trying new things to engage the students in their classroom all teachers are learners.  Or are they?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tag This: ReFrame It

I teach online courses and my team has also been developing workshops for teachers and librarians on using web-based resources for research.  I like the description of ReFrame It here (thanks to Free Technology for Teachers blog!) and especially like the social networking aspect of the site.

Another video on using ReFrame It can be found here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

They say it's your birthday....

Anyone who has attended one of my writing workshops has probably read the short-story "Eleven" with me.  Sandra Cisneros is an amazingly vivid writer and this story from Woman Hollering Creek is one of my favorites.

As a result, I often see companion writing that could be used with this story - whether similar in style or topic.  And, thanks to my ever growing RSS feed, I found this one: 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass.  It looks like a great storyline (and also reminds me of one of my favorite movies: Groundhog Day!!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who doesn't love a good metaphor?

I was going to make a great metaphor joke here - but honestly, being Monday, I couldn't really think of one!!

So instead - check out this link to Stenhouse, read about the contest, and think about picking up Rick's new book (it's on my wishlist!) or browse it online.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tag This: 20 Most Common Errors in Writing

As a follow up to yesterday's Tag This! post on misspelling!

Easy Writer: 20 Most Common Errors in Writing: Interactive and visual tutorial on the most common mistakes in writing.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What Does it Mean to be Literate in the 21st Century?

This question has been bubbling in my brain for almost a year now - and I am not sure that I have the definitive answer yet.  I do know that the definition of literacy has expanded as technology becomes a larger part of our lives.

I am hopeful as I anxiously await what my state (NY) will be doing with the revision of our ELA standards.  Hopeful that some of the "new literacies" will be embedded or at least referenced.  (It seems that we don't hold ourselves accountable for teaching things unless they are in a standards document or assessment lately!)

I am anxious to hear what others think as we participate in a book talk over on the English Companion Ning on William Kist's The Socially Networked Classroom(There is a discount of 20% for EC Ning members!)  

And I hope to make these thoughts a bit more public in this space - with some feedback from readers of course! (I'll use literacy21 as the tag for those posts.)

This video gives the perspectives of some educators in the UK (seemingly ahead of the US in the work with literacy and technology) - give it a look and share what you think!!

NOTE: I found a new tool called SynchTube that allows people to watch videos and chat about them at the same time.  You can comment on the video and share inspiration and connections at the same time!  There is a current limit of four participants but this literacy vido seems like a great one to try it out with!! (And if you do - please let me know how it went!)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tag This: Writing Paragraphs

Yesterday was about two word sentences - today about the power of paragraphs!

Use the Paragraph to Mortar Sentences into a Building Block"I've come to praise the paragraph, not to bury it. Such appreciation was not always my thing. The early instruction I received made construction of a paragraph seem so mechanical, so formulaic, so detached from my writerly instincts that I rebelled."

The author goes on to share several examples of paragraphs and the role that length and variety can play in writing.  Also included are some great Writer's Notebook tips!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tag This: Two Word Sentence Smack Down!

Love this idea for writer's notebooks and for truly understanding sentences!!

Two Word Sentence Smack Down: In this week’s Quick Tip, Jeff Anderson demonstrates how his two-word sentence smack down activity helps students identify what is a sentence and what isn’t. This tip comes from Jeff’s book Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer’s Workshop.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Risk Taking

My eldest niece Amelia is trying out for her school play this afternoon.  This is a big step for her - she is extrememly talented but at the same time extremely shy.  She wrote her own musical this summer (aptly named "Amelia: The Musical") but will only sing it for family members.  She giggles and tells jokes with the best of them - but strangers often wonder if she is capable of speech when they meet her.  You get the picture.

Taking risks can be scary - particularly when we are writing.  I have found this to be especially true with adults and teachers of writing.  When I ask teachers the last time they wrote something with and in front of their students to model for them - they often look at me as if I had four heads.  But the safest place to take risks, in my opinion, is in our writing.  We can write and revise and re-write and edit - we can experiment with voice and word choice - we can tear it up and start all over again from one line if we want.  The beauty of writing lies not so much in the finished product as in the process.

To honor that - I found this video snippet interesting:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tag This! Writing Point of View

I love this site on using the 6 Traits - there aren't regular posts but the ones that do appear make keeping them in your RSS feed worth while.

The most recent post on writing for point of view really caught my eye - point of view can be something difficult to teach/understand but this lesson really nails it!

In honor of the post and going back to school after the holiday break - try one of the two prompts for this photo (taken by my friend Mike).

Prompt #1: You are a student/teacher on the Sunday before returning to school from winter break.  Explain how you feel about the picture below.

Prompt #2: You are the Superintendent of a school district that will be returning tomorrow after a holiday break.  Explain how you feel about the picture below.

Original photo posted here.