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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2013-2014 Year in Review

My 19th year of teaching - feels like my first, once again!
Since this post is really just for me to use to reflect on the year, I'm using bullet points...

- ICE CAP Mini-Conference - presented on Evernote to a group of teachers who were not on Twitter!
- Genius Hour LiveBinder was voted into the top 10!
     --Tina & Barbara sent me free bookmarks, then 300 more for Parent Night in September!
- Created our class Weebly, thanks to this stellar role model Weebly from Paul Solarz

- #ELAtlap chat! Because of Bernice Homel, we learned how to run a chat and how to archive it!
     --We've since changed the name to #ELAchat!
     --Shameless Plug - Find #ELAchat on the first and last Tuesday of each month, 7pm CST.
- Met F2F - Mindi Rench, Bernice Homel, Katie Hurkles, Megan Ryder, Garnet Hillman
- Facilitated a session for the first ever EdCampHome!
- Created & shared collaboration documents for MS teachers - all in one Google doc folder.
- Notice & Note group through school - nice to read a professional book with teachers I know.
- Reviewed Role Reversal for MiddleWeb

- Presented with Jen Smith on using Twitter to your advantage during Tech Academy for our district
- Facilitated a session on student choice and presented with Paul Solarz on Genius Hour (Passion Projects) on Opening Day for the district.

- My approach to Parent Night was very different this year... See this blog post.
     I think taking this approach really helped start a strong relationship with the parents.

October LOTS OF PICS here
- Presented on "Student Choice in the ELA Classroom" at IATE with Gary Anderson (congrats on your retirement this school year, Gary!), Russ Anderson, Jaclyn Han, and Amy Pine
- Met F2F - Nancie (last name?) & Maggie Vonck while they were in town from Green Bay!
- Helped organize and run EdCampChicago in WoodDale with the best crew ever!
     --Met F2F here - Ben Hartman, Jen Vincent, Jenna Hacker, Steve Wick, Eric Patnoudes, Jeff Zoul, Meg Van Dyke, Tasha Squires, Ben Kuhlman, Kimberly Hurd, Rick Rowe, John Corbett, Brendan Murphy, Kristie Bleers, Jason Hanrahan, & countless others!
We even had Kimberly at the house overnight - only Twitter teachers, right?!?!
The great crew this fall - including my hubby!
- Reviewed Common Core English Language Arts in a PLC at Work: Gr 6-8 for MiddleWeb
- Reviewed Teaching with Tablets for MiddleWeb
- Idea Paint (District Grant received last year) was finally painted on 12 of my 15 classroom tables!

- As a group, the #ELAchat ladies read Whole Novels for the Whole Classroom, and had teacher and author Ariel Sacks moderate the chat.
- Read 78 books in 2013
- Began a quick magnet name poll system for students - thanks to an idea I saw on Twitter, of course...

- Began the Power of Appreciation blog
DG58 Literacy Blizzard Playdate - facilitated a session on genius hour using reading, and got a cake pop for my birthday from Bernice! ;)
   --Met Christopher Bronke, Jodi Piekarz, Samara Silverman, Ed Casey, Elizabeth N., Justin Greene, Theresa Allen, Matt Coaty, Kristen Mattson, Mark White, Dara Kappel, Maggie Maslowski, & met more teachers to add to my PLN.
- EdCamp Madison
   --Met F2F - Ben Brazeau, Principal Joey Sagel & his crew, John Gunnel, Brian Durst, Andrea Kornowski, Melissa Emler, Alex Bocian, Darin Johnston & Melissa Johnston from IA, and countless others!!!!
Three states in the Genius Hour session! (John - WI , me, & Darin - IA)

- Bought 139 books for $37 at AHML sale

SIT Conference - I volunteered at this stellar conference for KIDS in technology!!
     --Met F2F Lynn Szabo, Jill Maraldo and Charlene Chausis
- ICE Conference - Learned about Doctopus and Goobric from Marcie Faust - Invaluable!
     --Met F2F - George Courous, Sue Gorman, Tim Scholze, Lance Fuhrer, Andy Fekete, Akemi Sessler, Joe Robinson, Erin Jackle... and more!

- Went to a workshop through our district to hear Rick Wormeli!
     This caused a few discussions at my school, for sure. It was a good push for me, at the right time.

- Reviewed arc of If Only by Amy Pine!
- Skyped with Nancy Wahl's class to help out with Genius Hour
- EdCamp Iowa
     --Met F2F here - Jimmy Casas, Matt Degner, Becky Ince, Tim Hadley, Aaron Mauer, Aaron Becker, Bill Porter, Gail LeGrand, Julie Bauer, Sarah Nelson... This was the most fun (and the most learning, I believe) I've had at an EdCamp, for sure.

- Met & was able to eat dinner with Amy Smith and her daughter on Spring Break in Nashville, TN!
- Skyped with one of Dean Shareski's students
- Students received shoes to test during Genius Hour from UnderArmour Women & Asics
- CNN Schools interviewed me and some of my students for this article about Genius Hour!
- I put in proposal for "PD in Your PJs" to IATE - I'm in!
- Reviewed arc of THRIVE, by Meenoo Rami - My first time participating in a blog tour!
- Completed a photo-a-day challenge, thanks to inspiration from the ICE conference

- A student taught me how to fly - by using

- Created a Poet Tree thanks to Kimberly Hurd sharing the idea via Google+
One of my favorite distractions this year!

Some poems were found discarded...

Some poems told of heartache...

Some poems were fun to find!

- Received a copy of Dash from the author (and local teacher) Greg Armamentos for my students to read and review
- Enjoyed a lunchtime author visit from Tim Shoemaker to our Genius Hour writers' club
- Was enticed by passionate teacher Nancy Wahl to write a proposal for the annual ASCD conference
     --Still waiting to hear! ;)

- At Taft (our three-day, two-night outdoor ed. trip), I was reminded that 7th grade boys are still babies in ways, and I learned that I can keep it together when a rock makes a child's head bleed profusely.
- I was nominated for a Bammy ??
- I was interviewed for a Talks with Teachers podcast about... you guessed it... Genius Hour.
- A student set up his own Shutterfly site for every 7th grader on our team to share their Taft photos
- EdcampChicago at Palatine High School - I could get used to this!
- Our class was featured in this Imagination Foundation article about why we do the Cardboard Challenge
- Tried the Whole Novels approach for The Outsiders
- A student made a Little Free Library for the community!
- Received a copy a novel written by a student this year
- Just keep tweaking, just keep tweaking...

What will my 20th year bring...?? BRING IT ON!


  1. Wow! Joy...I'm speechless!! You've accomplished so much this year. I have to ask, how did you do this?!?! Reread blog posts? Calendars? I'm thinking that this is an excellent post for me to write too. Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on an amazing year! :)

    1. Michelle, I was keeping notes in my Evernote, but I think for next year I'll just put it in a blog post that I keep saved. It will be so much easier to write next year! ;) This year what really got to me was my relationship with the kids, and I don't think it comes out in what I've "accomplished." It was truly special!

  2. Wow, Joy!!! What an amazing year! I just love your year in review!! You are an inspiration!

  3. :bowing in the presence of greatness:

    What a year, Joy! Thank you for sharing all the awesome things you've done and inspiring us to do better each year! It was a pleasure to have the chance to meet you! My wife asked, "Does she hug everyone" and apparently, yes you do! :)

    Have a great summer and enjoy the tweeking! :)


    1. Darin - I think I hug everyone because I can't keep the happiness inside! :) So glad to have met you both - at such a great place to meet new people, as well. I love learning with everyone at Edcamps! You enjoy the heck out of your summer, too!

  4. What an invredible year. Have to check out more of the links. So glad that we connected through Twitter. #geniushour has added so much to my "toolkit" ��

    1. Same here, Faige! Genius Hour has changed my whole way of thinking, and each week I know the students more and more - what a difference! :D Here's to more learning together!

  5. YOU are awesome and makes me reflect how much I have learned from YOU this past year. I value OUR friendship and connection. Keep tweaking...keep learning. Keep smiling. @jillgrafton Jill Barnes