Tuesday, September 8, 2015


As we head into a new school year, setting goals is a common classroom activity.  Fall is a great time set student goals, set your teacher goals, or reset personal goals.  We often lose sight of how long it takes to establish the habits and routines that will lead us to actually reaching our goals.  We also often don't have clear markers to demonstrate that we are indeed making progress toward the goal, no matter how small.  We also neglect to remember that we will have setbacks on our journey toward our goal.

I was reminded of all of this when I finally met a goal today that I had established over a year and a half ago with my doctor.  I finally reached the sevens.  She wanted me to do it by her birthday in June. I fell a tenth of a point short then.  It took me three months longer.  Seeking Six is the name of this blog because the number six is the elusive A1C number that I was initially told to strive toward in 2008 when I received my diagnosis of LADA.  Seven years later I now know that a more accurate title would be Seeking Seven, but I digress!  I reached the upper sevens today. I am happy. To reach that goal, my progress was monitored every three months officially and I inched closer to the goal.  I also had a part in monitoring my progress daily.  I had a strategy in place that I set up with my doctor. I had the resources I needed. I also had the desire. Despite the supports, it still took time.  We often forget how much time it takes to reach goals, especially with our students, because we live in a world that responds in an instant.  I personally have something to work on for the next three months to get into the mid-sevens.  I professionally have goals for my students and teachers too.

As I work with my students this year, as I work on myself and within my teacher teams, I want to remember to be patient. Everything I want to cultivate in teachers, in students, and in myself takes time.  Having seamless transitions with small group rotations takes time.  Bringing new members into a PLC and getting everyone moving on the same page takes time.  Getting students to recognize the sustained effort it takes to grow as a reader.  Reaching the low sevens. It will take hard work, it will take hand-holding and it will take small shifts.  As my mentor, Janet Allen, said, "We are all works-in-progress."  Allowing time for students and teachers to bloom, grow and work toward progress, that's my job. That's also what I am doing for myself.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Slicing Means 2 Me From A to Z!

A challenging work day  today for me by far and not one that I am ready to share.  I have been thinking about my last slice post. It is most fitting on the last day of the month-long Slice of Life Story Challenge to reflect and for that I use the .A to Z list! 

Audience-The SOLSC participants who post comments and those who just stop provide valuable feedback and sometimes just the acknowledgement that I hear you.  Even the larger community of friends who stop by and perhaps don't comment, but hit like on Facebook, thanks for listening. I didn't know it mattered.  

Brave-It takes courage to put your writing in a public space for other to read.

Challenge Writing is hard work and we most often demonstrate and realized the truth of it by pushing ourselves to write every day this month.  

Dedication-Demonstrated daily to ourselves, to our slice community,and to our students.

Exercise-Writing is an exercise of the mind and you get better by doing it every day, especially on the days you don't think you can.  

Friends- Virtual ones you make through your words and blog visits.

Gift- No one is paid for participating.  Thank you for the gift of your time. It is the most valuable gift you can give.  

Habit- You can find time every day to do what you value and that is what cultivates habits.

Introspection- The daily thinking required by daily writing practice.  

Juggle our lives and its demands of it, but still finding time to write.

Know- the lessons you have learned about the teaching of writing just by the practice of writing.

Labor-Writing takes work and one just never sits down and is done in the 15 minutes that you only have that day.  

Medium- I played with different mediums this SOLSC. I crafted a weekly infographic on Fridays and integrated pictures on my Eye-Spy Wednesdays.  

Novel-The ideas that I have gained from others as well as the stories! The brain seeks patterns and responds to novelty! Thanks for adding novelty to my life and my teaching practice. 

Observe-Writers check out their world. They listen. They see.  This year I added pictures.  It made me look hard for interesting images in my daily world.

Peers-My face-to-face teacher friends, Erin, Lee, LeeAnn, and Krystin who write alongside with me, I learn so much from you! Those who will write with me in the future! I can't wait for you to join. 

Quiet- The place I go to in my head when I write.  Writing isn't all collaboration. It is just the tapping of your keys and the words pouring through your fingers.  Even in a room of chaos, I can find the quiet and the words.

Routine- Open posts were hard and sometimes the routines of writing specifically about certain topics on different days lead to more freedom.  I enjoyed having a Sunday Seven, Eye-Spy, Infographic, and In the Wild posts for four of the seven days.  

Stacey-This is my fourth year participating, but the SOLSC has been alive since 2008..  Many people have vision, but few act and do and sustain!  Thanks Stacey for keeping the writing live.

Team-What it takes to pull this challenge off!  There is the SOLSC with adult writers, I think with over 260 writers and then there are the student writers in the Classroom SOLSC.  You have the site team and then the people who rose to commenting challenges, writers who helped people navigate new to them tech or slice experience and the welcome wagon as well as other organizations that provided prizes. Then there are the participants too.  The team works because we each add to the community.  

Understanding-Understanding of your writing self, your student writers, and others' experiences.

Voice-what emerges through  routine practice.

Whispers-Words that percolate in your mind throughout the day as you figure out what you want to post next.

XOXO- hugs and kisses to my readers and commenters!

Yahoo- Yeah we made it! We're done!  What will you write next?  Will you participate weekly?  How will you move forward in your writing life?

Zen- The knowing that you did it! You accomplished it!  You can write more than you thought possible!  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Want Ad:

The mentor text that inspired my writing tonight is from Kathleen Cushman's Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers From High School Students. There is a Want Ad for teachers in there crafted by student writers. I've written about many different topics. Here is mine about the learners I want! Each year when the slicing gets tough, this want ad writing is an easy way to come up with a quick piece.


Must have sense of humor; must not make other learners feel bad by cutting them down; must understand that teachers are human and make mistakes; must take responsibility for actions; must not disguise the fact that they like learning; must be tenacious when encountering “mental blocks”; must choose honesty over escapism; must not scream; must learn to tolerate others; must ask for help and recognize that the teacher is not a mind reader; must try to come to school on every day, on time and prepared; must not leave garbage for others to pick up; must be patient;  must have respect for people’s belongings; must get to know teachers and let teachers get to know them; must know that grades aren’t the only thing, but are a reflection of your academic achievement; must be flexible; must be hardworking; must not run with scissors; must play well with others; 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Seven

7. A wonderful week hanging out with my daughter. Her strength, curiosity, and spirit spur me to do better each day.

6. A husband who saves every receipt, which is really helpful come tax time.  This detail is the attention that he applies to work refinishing furniture and his art.  It is a detail lost upon me. I prefer the big picture.

5. Reading time this past week.  Many books were finished this week for my work on the Elizabeth Amelia Walden committee.  By summer I will get back to my regularly scheduled reading list.

4. Lingering at lunch and breakfast with friends and family during break. Rather than a 20 minute quick bite at the desk or table near the window (sometimes).  The company was a welcome respite from my daily lunch regime.

3. Being okay forgetting to post yesterday.  This is my fourth year slicing and I haven't posted with the urgency that I felt year 1 and 2.  I had my post for Saturday. I just didn't upload. It slipped my mind.  I remembered once.  It slipped my mind.  I know I can write and post every day if needed.  It's ok not too!

2. The season finale of The Walking Dead.  My husband and child, mostly my child, are obsessed.  He introduced her to the comics when she was in 2nd grade and then they started watching together.  Her favorite books are the two compendiums, $60 dollar books.  I started watching briefly with them and enjoyed zombies for what the show was about...to me the question, what makes us human and civilized?    I love the show, but despite my daughters urging have not read the comics.  I decided to let them watch it together this season knowing that they can share the moments and I can catch the reruns.

1. Going back to work and colleagues that I love.  I do love the break, but the routines and rhythm of work is good for me!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tarpon Springs

Last Sunday, I had an opportunity to continue to explore Florida's west coast.  I grew up on the east coast of Florida and prefer the cold Atlantic ocean and the waves it brings.  The Gulf of Mexico feels like bath water in the summer and it's too hot to enjoy!  I have, however, always wanted to go see Tarpon Springs, the Greek isle of Florida.  So after camping in the Withlacoochie and floating down the Weeki Wachee River, we headed to Tarpon Springs for the day.

Immediately we were inundated with the blaring of Greek music and the blue and white flag of Greece.  We happened upon the parade to celebrate Greek independence.  I felt a little conspicuous in my Rick Riordan purple and gold Camp Jupiter shirt with my SPQR blatantly displayed. I wouldn't know if I was being disparaged as the streets were filled with Greek.  Everyone young and old was speaking it.  I was awash in the language. I don't know if that would happen on any other day in Tarpon Springs, but that glorious spring afternoon, the streets were filled with the language, songs, and costumes of  Greece.

You can enjoy the many Greek dishes as cafes line the main street, but what I always want when I am on the coast is fresh fish.  We skipped the many restaurants for one on the docks.  We sat outside and watched the ships sail into the tiny port.  After a delicious meal, we wandered like tourists and purchased some sponges as that is what the city was settled for in the early 1800s. To learn more about how Tarpon Springs was settled, learn more in this Florida Frontiers story here: Greek Culture Flourishes

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Writing Journey

This week I used Piktochart to document my instructional writing journey.  The titles I shared last week about my teaching reading instructional journey helped me uncover how to become a better teacher of reading.  Thinking about my instructional journey as a teacher of writing, I figured out that writing more was one of the ways that I became a better teacher of writing and my infographic this week is reflective of that journey. Yes, there were more books that I could have included, but piktochart limits the number of images that you can upload for your free account!  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

So You Want to Run an edCamp?

Attended an edCamp and want to run one yourself?  Yes, you can! I thought that I would share some ideas and tools that helped our team co-organize edCamp Orange this past winter! Know this for sure...You can't do it alone!  Give yourself at least four-six months out to plan, organize, and advertise with a team of 2-6 people.  You need people with all types of talents.  They just need to be willing to donate the time! (If you have no idea what an edCamp is, check out my post earlier this year  edCamp edspiration!)

1. Location! Location! Location!  Find a location! One that is big enough to grow in case your camp does.  Your school site is best!  It can be readily available and affordable, most often free. Be sure to check to see if you need some type of insurance.  You will need a large meeting room to convene in the am, at lunch, and at the end of the day.  You will need classrooms.  It helps if they are tech enhanced with a projector and computer, but that isn't a necessity.

2. Be Smart about Choosing a Date!  Honestly people go away for three day weekends!  We are pooped at the end of a marking period.  We deliberately tagged our event at the end of a tech conference, but you want to be sure that there are no looming holidays and people are fresh.  I suggest 1-2 weeks in from the beginning of a grading period. The beginning of the school year is hard and rushed for many people.

2. Amplify with Tech Tools: Start with the wonderful resources at The edCamp Foundation.   .  I actually got to phone conference with Kristie Swanson the founder.  She said the key is that you have a place and time to meet and to  not worry about the frills. Next steps use google. Also you can check out  the edCamp Wikispaces. Create an event email and use google drive to share documents to co-create with your committee and check over letters sent out and to keep track of what's going on and who is doing what.  Google Hangouts is also an amazing tool to plan virtually rather than face to face.  Use eventbrite as a tool for registration. Later you will find this handy to communicate to your participants, help them sign-in, and create name badges. It is free and easy to learn.  Even if it is a paid event, you will be able to use this tool.

3.  People-Power;  You need a crew for set-up the day before.  You need a crew for morning sign-in and room check.  You need someone(s) available all day in the main room.  Tasks like checking in late arrivals, picking up garbage, setting up food, breaking down food, or just answering questions, or being a host to people who take a break for sessions are reasons that the main room should be manned.  It should be manned in a way that each organizer\volunteer gets to enjoy or present sessions.  You need a crew to stay after and clean up.  You need a crew the day or days after to return items to their proper places, especially if you are at a school site.

4.  Food\Beverage Power:  Do you need it? No!  Is it nice to have? Yes! Food and beverages aren't a must, but it is nice to linger over lunch and continue the learning.    At the very least a coffee service in the am is nice.  Even athletic coolers filled with water and ice are nice!  At the edCamp I attended and the edCamp I co-organized lunch was provided for teachers.  It was quite simply pizza and a salad.  You just need to let people know...should they brown bag it?

5. Other Thoughts:  The rule of thumb is that you will have half the number of people who register actually show up!  Things happen. Prizes or swag! It is nice and it doesn't hurt to ask!  You never know who might be happy to donate to your cause.  It is a worthy one, grassroots participant driven teacher professional learning.  Use social media! Schedule tweets and write blogs and tap into your learning community.

Maybe you just want to attend one first?  Check out what's happening here: http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/