Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Friday, July 19, 2019

BLC Brave

#BostonBrave is a hashtag that reeks of resilience of Bostonians in the wake of tragedy.

After attending the BLC (Building Learning Communities) Conference for my sixth (and final) time, I'm thinking of bravery - from Bostonians and others from around the world.

So many educators are much braver than I. Every time I attend, I'm amazed at the travelers that make it here. I'm nervous about making a flight, and they're coming from Australia, South America, and Lebanon...! I met a young lady named "Miracle" and an older gentleman named "Rejoice." Of course, everyone speaks English, and many are fluent in at least one more language. I feel surrounded by educators that are so caring and know so much more than I do.

One instance of my own bravery was the healthy grading session I facilitated. I've done this before (thanks to Matt Miller pushing me out of my tech zone when he asked presenters to do something without tech for his Ditch Conference in 2017), and every time the success of it depends on the participants. This time, teachers were very respectful of each other, played "devil's advocate" with excellent points, and brought up concerns many teachers have. I heard from one participant that "things felt a little hijacked" at one point, so that tells me that I could try to limit participants' responses, as some were using more speaking time than others, for sure. Those that participated were brave - others could disagree with their points at any time. I'm so glad we had as much lively discussion as we had!

Due to Stacey Roshan & Bobby Pollicino's session on staff meetings, I started a Flipgrid of "gems" I've learned at BLC this year. I wanted to do one grand one, but did six smaller ones... If you attended, please add your ideas - adding your two cents not only shows your bravery; your take-aways can affect countless students! If you did not attend, please check out what we've learned.

Caitlin Krause reminded me of my own fears when it comes to being brave once again in her session on storytelling. The reason sharing is brave is because we must be vulnerable and trusting and open to judgment. Remember this - We each have a voice. We each have a story to tell. Our stories - and those of countless others - matter. When you share a part of your story, you're sharing is a gift. Take the risk, and be interested in others' stories, as well.

She shared these fears...
[adapted from Writing for Your Life]
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Good friend and educator in my own district, Carrie Baughcum came to Boston on her own to share her passion for learning mascots and visual thinking.
Seeing her get comfortable reminded me of her bravery. I don't know if I could travel alone to a place I've never been before... My favorite time with her was connecting and sharing stories from our families, yet it's Sylvia Tolisano's quote she brought up that will stay with me for a long time.

It's not simply about running. This quote can be applied to ALL of our learning. It can be applied to our bravery, as well. I'm not sure what chapter I'm on when it comes to bravery; I only know many people will be braver than me, and many people won't be as brave as me. And that's perfectly okay.

Please keep sharing your stories. Please keep listening to other people's stories. Let's learn together.

If you'd like to see other lessons I've learned from this conference, check out the BLC tag I've used through the years. Thanks for the great times, Alan November and all the passionate, caring educators I've been able to learn alongside these six years. I truly appreciate all your conference has done for me and for my students.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

One Shift for 2019-2020

I've been meaning to write about this, and I'm glad this week's (week 6) prompt in the #8weeksofsummer blog challenge has this fitting question:

How are you planning to implement change next school year?

One of my larger changes to make next year is the "Question of the Day" (QoD). For the last few years, my QoD has looked like this, and has been near the front of the room by the door:
"When you eat dinner with your family, do you exude good manners?" - Yes, Sometimes, No.
One student added - "I don't eat with my family."
This was very telling, as I found out the boy who created the column ate by himself in his bedroom each night.

I reused the paper questions from year to year, and students also created their own questions (some of the best we had). My reason WHY for the QoD is in Shift This was originally for attendance and to provide a place for students to share their opinions. Not everyone answers, however, and I found that I loved hearing the chatter around the questions better than using it for attendance anyway. I loved seeing extra columns (such as the one above) that spoke volumes about the students and got me to head over and talk with those students further.

One shift I made last year was another board with more magnets with student names on them. That one looked like this, and was further in to the classroom (near the far wall):

My reason WHY for this SEL component is that the social-emotional status of my kids is not something else that I put on my plate - it IS the plate. Knowing how my students are doing will help me set the tone for the class. If they're not emotionally ready to learn, it doesn't matter what I do in that 80 minutes of my time with them. So... we talked about how to find where your magnet goes for when they walk in the room, and we started sharing ideas as to how they can self-regulate, depending on where they are in the quadrants. This is a simplified "mood meter," thanks to the ideas from Marc Brackett and his RULER approach.

WHY I'm shifting this aspect once again...
Not everyone was moving their names under the QoD, and it's a royal pain to set up each morning (I know, I know - it's not crazy bad, just enough to really get under my skin by the end of the year). It also has to be "multiple choice," and I'd love to ask students more open-ended questions. I want to move the SEL "mood meter" to the front of the room. I want that to be more prominent and I would like to take it more seriously. Also, I think I can ask more open-ended questions in a different fashion. My co-worker next door would also like to have discussion questions at the start of every class. Therefore, we're going to use questions students created towards the end of last year, and the questions I've been using. I'll house them all on this document here, and we'll project a different one each day. (As of today, it's only the kids' ideas... some may be deleted, as we only have 173 days with students, and I have my favorites I'd still like to add and use. The questions I've used before are here.)

What I'll do...

1) Move the questions of the day to the projector - to start our day with students discussing the question with each other. After a month, I'll have them use something called a "conversation carousel" of sorts - Everyone gets a list of everyone's names. They cross out their own. They talk with everyone on the list before they talk with them again (there are columns so they can write the date next to the person's name). They can use this to discuss the QoD with lots of different people.

2) Move the SEL mood meter to the front of the room. Some students, I imagine, will not want to move their magnet onto it, and I want to respect their privacy. Thank goodness for Tara Mollo who I happened upon on Twitter - she uses cups and popsicle sticks for her students to share where they are on the "Zones of Regulation" scale. Thanks to Tara, I'm going to put colored cups (to correlate with the mood meter colors) below the grid so students can anonymously add their names there. I can then scoop them up and chat with those kids without anyone else knowing.

This is my one small yet important shift for next year that I'm looking forward to trying. I think it could benefit all of us in the room, and it's something I know I can incorporate without added work on my part or the students' part.

What change(s) are YOU planning on implementing next year, and what are your reasons why? Feel free to comment below, or write your own blog post with an explanation and share that link in the comments! I'll share it with others, of course, so we can all learn from each other and keep the conversations going!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


#WeNeedDiverseBooks is a movement that's been going on since 2014.

I've always thought of this from a children's book point of view, and I started looking through my myriad classroom books. I tossed some, gave away some, bought some, and since I've noticed that I do need more diverse books, I've been READING a ton more - so I can share them with my students.

Then my viewpoint shifted this past week when I engaged in a direct message conversation with a teacher I respect about how many of the educator books out there are written by white authors.

This tweet from a different educator I respect - Mike Mohammad - struck a chord with me...

Although I have written one of those, and read six of them, I noticed that a couple of these above are not written by white authors, and that is a good sign. I do believe, however, when we look at the newest educational books that are being published recently, most are written by white men, with white women starting to chime in, as well. Are BIPOC (Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color) not represented enough? (Are they not represented enough in our schools, as well?) I believe they are not. I believe we need more. Since I have not yet read all of them, I don't know if this is true, but are most of these rooted in what we (as authors of these books) know from experience? I know that Jennifer Casa Todd's had references to research, but do any of the others? Mine has links and names of people where I've learned certain things, yet I'm not sure if any of them (except in the homework and grading chapters) are researchers. So I responded to his tweet in a different way...

Are you the next author of a book that will inspire educators to have the courage to address racial inequalities in our lives? Are you the next person future teachers will look up to because you wrote of what needs to be said and done in this newest time of turmoil? Are you the next one to publish a book with research to back it? If not you, who do you think it could be? Please share this post with them.

The author of the blog challenge I'm in asks this question this week - 
I write lots of posts and keep them in "drafts." When I'm finally ready to share my feelings or thoughts, I go back to the post and click "publish." This post was in my drafts for a bit, then I saw the question today for the #8weeksofsummer blogging challenge. Yes. It's not only my goal for this summer, but it has been for a year now, since reading Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed. 
  • Read more books by authors who are not white. 
  • Share more writing in class by authors who are not white. 
  • Talk about it in class - the races of the authors we read - so students know that they're out there, and we need more of them in our classrooms. 
  • Let our students know that THEY can be the ones to write the next book or poem or narrative - and publish it so others hear their stories.

Some (white) people will overlook this post and not share it with the world. I used to understand that; I kind of still do. I am learning that my silence means I'm okay with it. I'm not okay with ALL voices not being heard equally. I try to make sure this happens in my classroom, and I am now trying to make sure this happens in my life outside the classroom. My BHAG? For summer? Nope. For life? Yes. 
Spread kindness. Stand up for equality. Get kids reading. Get kids thinking. 
They're all linked together.

Note: This post does NOT mean that if you ARE white, you should not write. Nonononono. In fact, if you are a teacher and teach writing, you should be writing. We can all be awesome role models for our students through reading and writing - ALL KINDS of books and articles and blog posts. I'm sorry if this post reads otherwise. That was not my intent.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

"She's like I would be in the future had I not met you."

Grocery shopping. Bob (Hubby) and I are walking the aisles, and he ends up next to an elderly woman and starts talking with her about something he'd just seen or heard. She kept walking, either not hearing him or ignoring him. He smiled, said, "Have a nice day," and then we got the butter.

Bob will talk with ANYone. ANYwhere. About ANYthing (except politics and religion). Earlier in this shopping trip, he asked an employee how his fourth of July had been, and they were engaged in a lively discussion for about a minute before they parted ways. Bob and I have been together for about ten years, and he's had this affect on me. I can now conjure up the courage to strike up a quick conversation with someone, whereas I would have hesitated or walked away ten years prior. He's shown me how. He's shown me that people like to talk about themselves - just ask a question.

That was yesterday morning. Today he said something to me about the woman ignoring him, and I replied, "It's okay, Love. She's like I would be in the future had I not met you."

It struck me then. I needed to write this down. How might I be (unwillingly and willingly) affecting the people around me at school, students and peers alike? I've got a fairly new team of teachers to work with this year, so I'm going to think about how I act in the classroom.

Burst out in song (and dance, at times) - I LOVE to sing. When we play music in class (as students are walking in or during some other activity), I'll be singing my heart out if I know the words. I'd love it if, when they left me, they considered bursting out in song when they hear their favorite tunes, too.

Calm - in the face of chaos. I'm not always calm - like when we're celebrating - yet I am calm when there's an emergency, blood, a scream, a spider, etc. I can be calm when I need to be. Most of my seventh graders are working on this; some have no desire yet.

Considerate - of their ideas. I love to ask students what they think, how they would change something we're doing, and then when the tides turn and they simply tell me without even being asked, I love to take the time to take their ideas into consideration in front of the class. I ask, "How would this benefit us? What might be a problem we encounter? Other ideas? What does everyone think?" I actually push this idea and ask my students to practice it when I have an idea I'd like to try. If they poo-poo it early, I ask them to ask the class those questions, as well, to consider the idea before they judge it so quickly.

Honest - I never lie to my students (unless you count lying by omission - for their and my benefit). I tell them that up front, along with a story of how I used to lie all the time from when I was about 12 until maybe 22 or so. (Feel free to judge - I was bad.) This also helps me tell them that I'll spot a lie a mile away, so just be up front and truthful with me. I respect honesty and will be more upset if they lie than if they tell it to me straight. I have no need for lies in my life, and I hope they do respect my honesty.

Kind - Of course. Right? Is this a given? I hope so. And I believe all teachers are trying to help their students be kind to one another, as well. Big time. At every grade level.

Life-long Learner - I am always seeking more information. Reading, blogging with questions for others, YouTube how-to videos, asking my students for more information and their stories...  This summer I'm doing a 30-day challenge (hopefully it will last all 67 days of my summer) so I can learn how to play my banjo. I hope my students see this drive in me to continue learning, no matter how old I get. I hope I can inspire them to follow their own interests and goals IN class, and then take that OUT of class once they leave me.

We don't have a crystal ball to see the future... We do have the choice to be the role model we believe our students need. I will choose my words and actions carefully.

How might your students change a teeny bit after they have met YOU?
What is your hope for them?

Comments welcomed and appreciated, as always. Let's keep the conversation going!

This blog post goes out to all those fabulous educators that constantly influence me... THANK YOU for the kind word, the nudge, the ideas, the conversations, and the kindness you have shown. You are true role models and I have grown because of you. I still have much more growing to do, so thank you for staying near! Hugs!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Optimal Conditions for Learning

I'm taking on an eight-week blogging challenge, and the question this week was...

"What are optimal conditions in which to learn, for you, and for students?"

Immediately I had two students in mind. I'll call them Ava and Alvin.

Ava's optimal conditions for learning would include a quiet space on her own, a pencil and paper, in a typical classroom chair at a desk. Ava seems willing to learn anything, any day.

Alvin's optimal conditions for learning would include his music flowing from his earbuds, his computer, on a rolling chair anywhere in the room. Knowing why the learning is important will help Alvin stay motivated to focus.

My own conditions change based on where I am. Right this instant it's in a favorite chair with a pillow on my lap and laptop on top, drink by my side, fuzzy socks on my feet, and quiet throughout the house. I also need a REASON to learn, as that helps with my motivation to continue learning.

I don't know if this question can be answered, except individually. What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below as to your thoughts and YOUR optimal learning conditions.

This post is week 4 of 8 in the 8 Weeks Summer Blog Challenge for educators

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Teaching with Transparency

I was asked to present at the first ever USQ Conference - practically in my backyard in Schaumburg, IL. USQ stands for "Unhinging the Status Quo." What a great concept! Here's what the website said:

In order to present, however, I needed to present with students. OKAY! First names that popped into my husband's head were Robert and Rosann - our niece and nephew, going into 8th grade. Hmmm... this might actually be a great idea.

I composed and sent an email to them - asking them to answer without talking to the other one until they were finished with their thoughts. I asked this question: How would you change school (reasonably), and why? They both wrote about different things - homework and tests, bullying and isolation... and yet there was a theme that wove through them both. Teachers need to be more transparent. Here's our opening slide that the kids created:

The day prior to the conference, Rosann told Grandma (my mom) that this is going to be the most important thing she's ever done. That's pressure. I hoped and prayed that she felt the same when we were finished.

After the day we had, this may have been the most important thing I, myself, have ever done for these two young learners / leaders. They were on cloud nine that they could share their message. Other students were able to present and share their ideas, as well. There may have been as many as 20 students from various schools (Michigan, Illinois, and Jack McConnell's family came from Georgia - that's a whole 'nother post) attending and presenting. There were multiple times throughout the day that "non voters" were asked for their opinions, and they often took the microphone and added their ideas to the conversation. I don't know if I've ever seen them so empowered. Oh, I hope they keep this feeling with them as they grow further.

Some valuable tweets I'd love to keep here forever...
Next steps?
  • Keep finding ways to open the lines (be more transparent!) of communication among educators and students.
  • Keep providing opportunities for student input when making decisions related to education.
  • Keep providing opportunities for students to share their ideas and teach us.
  • Provide the venue (microphone included!), listen to ideas, follow through using their ideas, and students will learn to trust us and will want to help where they can.

We're working towards providing students with more and more say in school matters. Their voice matters, and their ideas are incredible. Let's keep moving towards providing them with the opportunities to make a difference in their own education.

What are your plans for providing more opportunities for students to provide input and lead?

Many many thanks to Sara WilkeDale Truding, and Nancy Wagner for this chance to help these two students (and so many others!) blossom and lead. Many thanks to Megan Hacholski and Michael Abramczyk - the volunteer social media ambassadors who shared our learning so we the rest of us could be truly present. BONUS: Here is USQ's post about Robert & Rosann's message.

This post is week 3 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators. I went off-prompt for this one. It does relate, as it shows how I can be a leader and follower all in one day - just like at school... đŸ˜‰

Monday, June 17, 2019

What has contributed to the educator you are today?

What has contributed to the educator you are today?
This is this week's question in the "8 Weeks of Summer" blog challenge.

I was actually thinking of this very thing yesterday morning. We (Hubby and I) were headed to Milwaukee for #USMSpark (Hubby golfs there), and the venue and people are familiar to me. I'd be seeing a few new faces, and I was really looking forward to it. I've been fortunate to be a "featured speaker" in the past, and this year I've only got one presentation, so I could relax and enjoy learning more from others instead of talking. Our keynote speaker Monday morning was Angela Maiers. If you don't yet know her, she's all about helping children do what they WANT to do - what matters to them. Knowing I'd learn from her once again, it took me back to when things started really changing in my teaching life.

In the fall of 2011, I was the one chosen to "volunteer" to pilot curriculum with iPads (I'd never even touched one!), and four weeks later, I'd learned a TON. (I believe I wrote about this story in Shift This.) In February of that same school year, someone in my district thought it would be good if I attended a workshop in Michigan where we worked on a problem - "What's a problem in your school?" was the question Ewan McIntosh asked us, and then he gave us the rest of the day to work on this problem. This jaunt got me started on what was to be called "genius hour," although at that time it was "independent reading" - IN class (wha?! - that wasn't even considered in our school in 2012)!

That summer of 2012, leaders in my district sent me to Boston to attend the Building Learning Communities conference put out by Alan November. It was there that I first heard Angela Maiers. She put me out of my comfort zone not five minutes into her presentation when we had to introduce ourselves to the person next to us and state what our "genius" was. What was my genius? I'd never thought of this before, as I'd never been asked. I remember sitting next to JoAnn Jacobs (she'd come all the way from Hawaii!), and she seemed much more confident than I was. I went with "optimistic," as when I wake to see a new day, I see new starts, new chances, and new opportunities to do what's right. The rest of that hour was invigorating and inspiring. (Today's hour was about how teachers need to know that WE matter, too.)

In fact, that entire school year was transformative. Granted, it was my 16th or so year teaching, but it was only my third year with a classroom. Since then, I've been asking, "What's a problem, and what are you going to do about it?" Since then, I've gotten connected to thousands of educators on Twitter. Since then, I've blogged to reflect on my learning. Since then, I've read so many professional books to help with my teaching. Since then, I've been attending and presenting at many conferences - using some of my district's money, and some of my own and on my own time. Since then, I've been offering as much choice as I can (within the parameters I have) to students. Since then, I've been conferring 1:1 with students every day, and THAT has made all the difference.

Tag - you're it. What has contributed to the educator you are today?

By the way, YOU are a genius... and the world NEEDS your contribution! ~Angela Maiers

This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators. Check out #8weeksofsummer for more inspiration for YOU to write... #nudgenudge

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Duolingo Lessons Learned

I'm on a 170-day streak on my free version of Duolingo. And I'm excited about it.

Let me backtrack - I took four years of French (7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grade). Then it got difficult, and I wanted an easy life. So... I started Spanish in 11th, and continued it in 12th. My senior year I added a year of German. In between, I took a week of Russian offered through our library, and two American Sign Language classes in the summers offered through the community college. I went on to teach students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, so the sign language helped, obviously. The rest of the languages helped when reading or watching some movies, but that was about it.

During the 2017-2018 school year, I had a student who, when he started at our middle school, did not speak any English. We had another one this year. They both spoke Spanish at home. We've also had students who only speak Russian or Polish or any number of languages... and then they are immersed in our culture and become assimilated fairly quickly. I'm always amazed at all the English they know when they graduate 8th grade! I'm amazed that they become fluent in (at least) two languages so quickly.

This year, just before winter break (?), I thought it was time to brush up on my Spanish. Duolingo was the way I decided to refresh myself. I currently complete at least three lessons every morning, and I LOVE it. When I have extra time, I add another quick lesson. I wondered why there was such a draw for me to this app. I'm toying with the idea of buying a year's worth of the PRO version, as I have iTunes gift cards from my parents that I haven't used yet. It's pricy, but who knows? It may give me the help I need to feel comfortable speaking with someone (who is very patient!) in Spanish.

Here's what I've learned about why I'm so excited to use this app. Of course, reflecting on my own lessons learned brings up questions as to how I can provide this type of learning in my own class:
  • I don't receive a grade. I simply am told if I'm right or if I'm wrong. If I'm wrong, they provide the answer, and then they give me the same question again at the end of the lesson. Knowing I'll be asked again helps me focus on the feedback they provide. No grades - feedback only. THIS I know how to do (after four years of practice)!
  • I'm now listening without looking at the words. I'm trying to figure out what they're saying before I look at the words. I feel I need this challenge, and I can choose to challenge myself one day and take it "easy" the next. How can I include different modalities for my students to learn?
  • Now that I know how the words are spelled, I can focus on the accent marks. I didn't care about them before, because I'd still get the answer "right" even though I didn't include the accent marks. I feel like I can handle them now, and feel proud when it doesn't give me any suggestions about them. How much does me "picking on" students' grammar in their writing affect their desire to write more?
  • When I'm doing well, it becomes addicting. How many lessons can I get in this morning? Can I do just one more before I leave the house for school? Can I do another easier one before we head out for the day? When I'm doing well, I run the batteries down on my phone. How can I encourage my students to try more lessons on their own?
  • When I'm busy in the mornings, I can choose easier lessons. When I have time during my day, I go back to longer lessons and feel proud when I move up a level on those. When do I let my students choose an easier vs. a more difficult lesson?
  • Since I begin my day with it, I find I practice it for the next half hour in my head, often unknowingly. My husband will ask me a question, and I'll try to answer in Spanish. I find myself thinking in Spanish when the topic is familiar. How can I get my students thinking about reading and writing throughout the rest of their day?
  • When I see my other team ELA teacher (who used to teach Spanish!), I know I can practice with her. I can also practice with my students. How can I provide more time for my students to "practice" reading and writing with master readers and writers?
Reflecting on my use of Duolingo reminds me of a quote I have kept from George Couros - Are we simply aiming to engage students, or genuinely empower them? 

I feel empowered after more lessons on this app.
I want to learn. 
I want to be able to communicate with new students who feel isolated.
This type of learning is relevant to me, because I'll be able to USE it and feel good about myself.
What are more ways I can do this for the students in my own care?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Reading - My Plans

I always want to read MORE. As much as I read over the summer, it's never ENOUGH.

This summer, I have a plan. (I don't usually!)

I'm going to read from two lists, for sure:

     Our SD25 Middle School Summer Reading list - "Reach for the Stars"
          (Kind of not fair, as I've read eight of the twelve already...)

     #ProjectLITBookClub 2019-2020 selections (Follow them on Twitter here!)

When I want something different, I'm either going to choose a book that is on a list of some sort, or an award-winning book - by authors who are not white. Yup. It's time for more diversity. It's time I truly focused on it this time, instead of just being "lucky" coming across a book by an author of color. That being said, I just received a book in the mail from a fellow white educator... I'll be reading that one, as well.

For my students, I shared with them (once again) this page on our classroom Weebly - it's got lots of ideas for summer reading!

Do you have a favorite resource for good books? What are your summer reading plans? Thanks for sharing and reading!

This post was a few weeks in the making. The inspiration to post it comes from this challenge:
This post is week 1 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Monday, June 10, 2019

2018-2019 Digital Scrapbook

- The day after school gets out... I found myself at Edcampd13 in Bloomingdale, IL. Got to hang out with Kim Darche and a teacher from my own school - Sue Klarner!
- Remast conference - hosted a two-hour healthy grading workshop and then gave my very first keynote presentation! (No evidence that I was there except for this photo of all of us - LOVED working with pre-service and new teachers!) Gooooo Jackrabbits!
- ISTE - downtown Chicago. Mixed feelings about this one - the application process was INSANE, the cost was OVERPRICED for educators (even presenters), and getting there was a hassle. I can't imagine how those that came from out of town felt. With all that being said... I was able to meet (some old friends) these passionate educators (one of the best things about such a large conference):






- For some reason, there was one week in July when I was asked to do podcasts...
   I Wish I Knew EDU - Teachers on Fire - Shawesome Education
- BLC18 - Building Learning Communities - now THIS is a conference I LOVE. EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Olivia, Pana, Aaron, Alan, Caitlin...  just a few of the MANY MANY passionate educators who were there to support each other and our messages. So very grateful for this first larger audience Keynote opportunity, as well! Shift the Language!!
Thanks, Paul Bogush, for this photo of the Grand Ballroom at the Park Plaza!
- I "attended" three online summits! #StrobelSummit, #DitchSummit, and #HiveSummit

- I was able to be in on the ground floor when Teachers Connect hosted it's first "chat!"
- Hooray! I was accepted into our middle school committee that's discussing standards-based grading!
- EdCampML (middle level - their first!) was held at Concordia University just north of Milwaukee. Beautiful campus, and passionate teachers attending. I came home with a bottle of wine for my raffle prize... another first!

- EdCampWalkersPoint (their first!) was held at their newest middle school in Milwaukee, and had the BEST edcamp lunch EVER! Maybe half or more of the participants had never been to an edcamp before, so there were some quiet sessions at first, but each teacher seemed very passionate about what they do.
- Educators Grow Podcast with John Wawczak

- My district sent me to the Secondary Reading League's 42nd Day of Reading - with Cris Tovani!
- Teach Better Podcast with Rae Hughart and Jeff Gargas

- 10-Min Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis
- The cold did not stop us from heading to #EdCampMadWI. I brought homemade cards and blank cards and proposed a letter-writing session! I'm hoping to do this at every edcamp I go to from now on. It was very valuable for the six of us that were there. Afterwards, Bob tried his first Wisconsin cheese curds!
- P3 Podcast with Noa Daniels - I've GOT to try this with my students!

- I was able to visit Dunlap CUSD #323 (#323Learns) to be their keynote speaker and facilitate two sessions on healthy grading and one on personalized learning. Look who I was fortunate to see - and they sat in the front rows to support with smiles and nods! If I could've changed anything, it would be that I could learn from THEM in their sessions! Stefanie Pitzer, Stefanie Crawford, and Jodi Gordon, Don Sturm, and Mandy Ellis!
- I was able to "attend" ICE19 "after-hours" three days the last week in February! I was able to meet "old" friends once again, see a pal from Boston, and meet new people! 
Boston pal Matt Joseph BOWLING at the PearDeck party at the Punch Bowl, "Tech Rabbi" Michael Cohen and Shawn McCusker, & beautiful Mandy Froelicher!

- I was fortunate to head to Prospect High School (down the street from my own school) to meet with readers of Shift This and try to help answer questions. I shared stories of resistance that were not included in the book, and was able to provide some resources to help with their questions.
- EdCamp Chicago came back! This one was right near me at Lake Park High School on 4/13.

- Video conference with Meagan Parrish's peers regarding Shift This
- Video conference with Niki Monkul's peers regarding Shift This

- The end of my 24th year teaching... More summer fun this month that will be in next year's year-in-review!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Book Giveaways

Here's the scoop. I was near the end of reading The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico, and thought of an idea... Clean off that shelf - at least somewhat.

I quickly rounded up books I'd already taken notes on in my Google Docs, and then started typing in the notes from the ones I had highlighted and written in but not taken digital notes yet. Once I stacked them up, it was a pretty tall list. It made a lot of room on my shelf. I did NOT round up the books I like to take with me when I present (I have a duplicate copy of Pure Genius I'm keeping), the books I still use for reference, the books my district provided for a book study (those will stay in our school), or the books that I just love dearly and can't let go.

I accumulated the following books in various ways...
  • I won some at EdCamps. 
  • I won some through raffles, or by answering questions in presentations.
  • I was sent some to review on this blog.
  • I was sent some because my work or a quote was in them.
  • I was given a couple because I'm loved.
  • I traded Shift This for a couple of them.
  • I actually purchased some.
  • I'm a connected educator. You aren't yet? It's time to become connected.
  • None of them were purchased by my district or school to use for the classroom (one was for a book study outside the ELA curriculum).

I read them in various ways...
  • I highlighted some.
  • I wrote notes in some.
  • I wrote a chapter of one.
  • I used sticky notes in some.
  • I took digital notes for some.
  • I highlighted, wrote in, and took digital notes for some.
  • I used some to help me with Genius Hour or going without points/marks.
  • I actually didn't read some of these, or started them and realized they were not for me (and I'm not telling you which ones). Reading is so very personal - we all have our own tastes and needs when it comes to books. I hope you win one and it helps you on your educational journey!

They're in various conditions...
  • Some are in perfectly new condition.
  • Some are written in.
  • Some are highlighted.
  • Some are signed by the author(s).
  • Some have sticky notes (although I tried to clear most out).
  • Some pages are dog-eared.
  • Some bindings are broken.

I'm celebrating...
  • life
  • my 40s (I'm loving my 40s and there are 40 books here)
  • our profession
  • being so fortunate to have owned and read (most of) these books,
  • being so fortunate to have learned from them, and used the authors' words to transform my thinking (and teaching, in many cases),
  • books, in general, and...
  • the fact that WORD SHIFT comes out this summer! 

  • You must provide an address in the United States. (It costs the price of the book for me to send it elsewhere - I'm so sorry to my friends on other parts of the globe!)
  • You must look at the book descriptions online to find out what they're about if you don't already know.
  • You must fill in the Google form below.
  • You may fill in the form multiple times.
  • You must wait patiently for the month to be over.
  • All winners will be announced and contacted by July 1st.

I understand, once these books are out of my hands, they are yours to do with as you please. I only ask that you do not sell them. If you don't want the book after you read it, please give it away. Please do the research to see which you can benefit from, and which to leave to someone else. Winners' names will be added to this post after the contest is complete. The books are in order here by title:

Assessment 3.0 by Mark Barnes -- WINNER: ANDREW BROERE
The Best Lesson Series: Literature - 15 Master Teachers Share What Works edited by Brian Sztabnik -- WINNER: SANDRA HENDERSON
Book Love by Penny Kittle -- WINNER: KERRY HANNING
Code Breaker by Brian Aspinall -- WINNER: KAREN BURKE
Common Core English Language Arts in a PLC at Work Grades 6-8 by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey -- WINNER: BRITTANY SCHMIDT
Digital Citizenship in Action by Kristen Mattson -- WINNER: JOSHUA BODEN
Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller -- WINNER: KRISTEN WILTON 
Eight Myths of Student Disengagement by Jennifer A. Fredricks -- WINNER: JENNA MOLLER
The Element by Sir Ken Robinson -- WINNER: KIMBERLY ISHAM
Escaping the School Leader's Dunk Tank by Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter -- WINNER: MIKE STEIN
Falling in Love with Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts -- WINNER: CONNIE HAMILTON
The Flexible ELA Classroom by Amber Chandler -- WINNER: MEGAN LEE
Flipping 2.0 compiled by Jason Bretzmann -- WINNER: DAVID ISBELL
Flipping Your English Class to Reach All Learners by Troy Cockrum
Hacking Assessment by Starr Sackstein -- WINNER: TRACY MAILLOUX 
Hacking the Common Core by Michael Fisher
Hacking Education by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez
The Human Side of School Change by Robert Evans
Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran -- WINNER: MEGHAN KESTNER 
It's Like Riding a Bike by David M. Schmittou
Kids Deserve It! by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome -- WINNER: JULIA GALVAN
Make Writing by Angela Stockman -- WINNER: VICKI STUCZYNSKI 
The Passion-Driven Classroom by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold -- WINNER: AMY BROWN
Pure Genius by Don Wettrick -- WINNER: MARIE BOWERS
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller -- WINNER: ELIZABETH GONSALVES
Reclaiming Our Calling by Brad Gusftason -- WINNER: TRACY MITCHELL 
ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes -- WINNER: AMANDA DAUPHINAIS 
Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth by Aaron Hogan -- WINNER: TJ RAINES 
Spark Learning by Ramsey Musallam -- WINNER: LAURA VON STADEN
Steal the Show by Michael Port
Stories in EDU compiled by Jason Bretzmann and Kenny Bosch
Teaching with Tablets by Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher, Alex Gonzalez
Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami -- WINNER: MARLA DUNCAN
Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard -- WINNER: LISA GAEDE
Well Spoken by Erik Palmer
What Color Is Your Brain? by Sheila N. Glazov -- WINNER: MORGAN BOLES 
What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas -- WINNER: TRACIE ROBERSON
Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November -- WINNER: KATHRYN FINCH
The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico -- WINNER: KAREN FIELD

Update 6/30/19:
I am NOT looking forward to only one person winning each book! I've got to get over the guilt of not being able to send one to everyone, and instead, be happy that I AM able to afford to send these off to good homes.
Winners will be announced TOMORROW!