Back in Action!

I have been MIA for the last week or so, but I am thrilled to rejoin the SOL community today.  I decided to take a real Spring Break this year.  I took a break from work and technology (for the most part), and I just enjoyed some down time with my family.  The last few months have been incredibly challenging (honestly the hardest I have had in a long time), and I needed to refocus myself mentally and physically.  To be honest, I feel as though I have started to climb out of the dark place in which I have been hiding out. I am not ready to write about it, but I will get there. And that knowledge feels good.

I look forward to resuming my slicing tomorrow, and I am always thankful for this community that remains welcoming and supportive. You add a bit of sunshine to my day!





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SOL Day 9…Mommy, I Am A Star

Today I became the mom of a YouTube star…at least that is what he told me.  Evan was beyond excited to find out when you Google Gerful, his video is the first one to come up.

“Mommy, everyone will know who I am now!  I am finally a famous YouTuber! I am going to be the next Stampy or DanTDM!” he exclaimed when I picked him up from school today.  He was beaming from the tip of his toes through the top of his head.  I love to see this level of excitement.

I smiled at him and said, “I am beyond proud of you Evan.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!”

His Gerful has been an important part of the GT Brain unit currently in progress. Evan suggested that I share his video with you all in case you are interested in learning more about the power of a Gerful.

He has started writing scripts for his next set of YouTube movies.  Be on the lookout…Evan is coming to a screen near you!



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SOL Day 8…Strengths Finder





Over the last year, the different leadership teams have done a great deal of work with Strengths Finders.  We have all completed the assessment, looked at the dynamics of our teams, and looked inward to reflect on how we can develop and use our strengths.  One of the fascinating things for me has been the idea of understanding the “balconies” and “basements” of each strength and how working in one or the other impacts our work as individuals as well as a team.  For example, my number one strength is learner.  When I am working in the balcony of this strength, I am pushing myself to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the world around me.  When I am in the basement of this strength, I can be perceived as a know it all or get lost in the learning and become unproductive.  It is important to have others around you that will help to keep you out of the basements!

While I have grown as a person through this work, it is the impact this work has had on my team that has been invaluable.  Understanding the strengths each person has helped our team to work as a more cohesive unit.  We have come to appreciate the aspects of each other that once drove us crazy.  I have also come to appreciate the importance of a well rounded team better than I ever have before.  In fact, a well rounded team is more important than a well rounded indvidual.

I am looking forward to digging into this work a little more.  I guess that is me, a learner, living in my balacony!



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SOL Day 7…Goodbye


Today my heart is heavy, and I simply want to tuck under the covers and cry.  Early this morning, before the sun broke the darkness, one of my Instructional Coaches said goodbye to her husband.  She said goodbye to her best friend, her soulmate, her partner.  She said goodbye to half of her heart.  It is a crippling feeling to know someone you care for in agony and know you can’t take away their pain.  I have been searching and searching for the “right” thing to say, even though I know there are no magic words.  Then I came across this quote Winnie the Pooh, and for a moment, I smiled.

How lucky Melissa has been to share her life with a man she adored and who adored her also.  Where many spend their lives guarded behind walls, Melissa invited Sam into her heart knowing that with love comes sorrow.  And as he fought for his life for the last 77 days, she was by his side loving him more and more each day.  Even though she is heartbroken right now, I think she is one of the lucky ones.   She has loved someone she never wanted to say goodbye to.  What more can a girl ask for?




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SOL Day 6…Football for Dummies

My 13-year-old has become obsessed with football.  He spends hours pouring over his football cards, reading material online, and watching clips of games.  He has become a walking encyclopedia of facts, figures, and stats.  I love to see his passion and enthusiasm, and I love to see his endless quest for knowledge.  I also love that he wants to share this knowledge with me.  He can talk for hours about players, positions, and plays.  However, as hard as I try, I can’t keep it all straight.  I feel like his is speaking to me in Greek.  He quizzes me, draws pictures, and I just can’t make heads or tails of anything he says.  As patient as he is trying to be, most lessons end with him shaking his head at me like I am a lost cause.  And then he made me an offer I could not refuse.

I am forever asking Andrew to be in a mother/son book club with me, and he has ever so politely told me no.  I have even told him he can select the book…and still the answer is always no.  He believes talking about books is not the best use of his time.  Well, you can imagine my surprise when he comes to me with a package from Amazon and tells me he is going to take me up on my offer us to have a mother/son book club. He has even picked out our first book. He hands me the package, and  I rip it open like a kid on Christmas morning.  Standing there with the book in my hand, I can only shake my head and laugh.

Our first book club title will be…

He then pulls a pack of post-it notes from his pocket and says, “Be sure to record your thinking as you read.  You must be prepared to talk about the first two chapters by Wednesday.”  He then turned and walk away.  I could imagine the smirk on his face as he did, and I admit I was a proud mom.



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SOL Day 4…Champions

My 6-year-old Adam helped with today’s post. We were inspired by Evan’s win tonight.


Teamwork, sportsmanship

Dribbling, shooting, scoring

10 boys coming together to become





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SOL Day 3 Inspired by Fran…Since Last March

I was inspired to write this poem by Fran McVeigh.  Fran shared her beautiful post Since Last March today, and I had to write one of my own.  This is Fran’s structure, and I have added some of my own words.  Thank you, Fran for being my writing mentor today!

Since Last March

Since last March, I have been to the beach.11061943_10207095303759429_2021288096116916251_n

Beach for sand crabs,

beach for laughing, splashing, surfing, 

beach for waves gentling lapping at my feet and a good book in hand,

beach in three countries.

Since last March, I have become mom to a teenager.

Teenager and shaving,

teenager and playing football,

teenager becoming a young man,

teenager that still calls me mommy.



Since last March, I’ve said good-bye.

Good-bye to sweet friends moving far away,

good-bye to baby teeth,

good-bye to negativity.




Since last March, I’ve said hello.

hello to new adventures,11822448_10207287078913688_581437647310368652_n

hello to new friends,

hello to the amazing people my boys are becoming,

hello to possibilities.




Hello, March.

It’s time to write!




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Just a Slice

I have spent the last week or so thinking about my “topic” for this post. Last night it hit me.  My problem is not what to write about.  I have endless ideas rolling around in my head. My problem is serving a slice not the entire pie.   I started going through the folder I have on my desktop titled Under Construction, and I found over 26 “pies” waiting for me.  Here is a taste:

  • The Power of No
  • What Do You Stand For?
  • Congeniality or Collegiately?
  • Coaching to Independence
  • Uncovering the  Genius Within
  • Has Parallel Teaching Become the Norm?
  • Cycles of Professional Development
  • A New Way to PD
  • Talk Matters
  • Growing Leaders
  • Teachers Matter

My goal this month is to slice up the pies waiting patiently and serve up one slice a day.  While the thought of publishing a slice a day still brings on a small panic attack, I am getting excited about starting SOL16.  I think it is going to be a great month in the kitchen!




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An Old Puzzle Piece

One picture puzzle piece
Lyin’ on the sidewalk,
One picture puzzle piece
Soakin’ in the rain.
It might be a button of blue
On the coat of the woman
Who lived in a shoe.
It might be a magical bean,
Or a fold in the red
Velvet robe of a queen.
It might be the one little bite
Of the apple her stepmother
Gave to Snow White.
It might be the veil of a bride
Or a bottle with some evil genie inside.
It might be a small tuft of hair
On the big bouncy belly
Of Bobo the Bear.
It might be a bit of the cloak
Of the Witch of the West
As she melted to smoke.
It might be a shadowy trace
Of a tear that runs down an angel’s face.
Nothing has more possibilities
Than one old wet picture puzzle piece.

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This is one of my favorite poems, and I thought it was appropriate to share on this rainy Meet the Teacher day.  A friend shared this poem with me the day before I welcomed my first class of kindergarteners 19 years ago, and I have read it every first day of school since.

You never know the potential of one wet old picture puzzle piece…the possibilities are truly endless.  May all your pieces become masterpieces!

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In Review…The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Strategy book

Have you been in this situation?

I’m looking at my engagement inventory on students during independent reading time.  Several of my readers are not engaged and are doing everything possible NOT to read.  I know the readers and text are matched.  I see the students get to their reading spots quickly with book bags in hand, but they just can’t get started.  So what do I do?

Ok, I know that until readers engage during independent reading time, they will not grow as readers.  I can pull this group of students and teach them a few strategies to get started.  I know who needs support, and I know what support is needed.  Digging into my vast reading toolbox, I attempt to identify the tools I need to help these students get started.  Going through each item:  done that, used it, tried that one twice…ahhh, panic sets in!  I’ve tried all the tools in my toolbox…what do I do now?

Every teacher has been in this situation, until now. The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo provides the wide range of strategies that will build vast and diverse toolboxes strategic readers need. This book is the ribbon that ties all of Jen’s work together.  To use Jennifer’s own words, it is “the cookbook” of strategies that all teachers need.

Never one to disappoint, Jen has provided an easy-to-access, research-based resource that will grow readers as well as build teacher capacity.  The Reading Strategies Book is organized into 13 goals (think chapters) that readers in K-8 typically need. Underneath each goal are at least 20 specific strategies, leveled to match readers based on levstrategy book 2el, to support the goal. Each strategy page identifies the strategy, provides teaching tips or language, prompts, and sample anchor chart to make your teaching visible. Wait, there’s more!  She also provides the readers targeted genres or text types, and a place to go for on-demand Professional Development. This one book provides teachers with tools they need, while empowering them to open the door to discover and create more.

Gone are the days of whole class teaching where grade level standards, resources, and activities drive instruction.  This method of teaching is easier to plan but neglects the needs of the majority of students in the room.  Standards are still important; however, teachers must now understand the standards as well as the strengths and needs of each unique reader in their classroom and provide instruction that ensures every reader can successfully meet the standard.  Believing this is one thing…putting into practice is another. Every decision a teacher makes must bring students closer to becoming independent strategic readers.  To accomplish this, the decisions must be data-driven, targeted, transferable, and relevant to the work the reader is doing now.

This work is hard and can be overwhelming, but teachers are not alone.  They have the tools needed to be the strategic teacher that strategic readers require.  While this book alone is invaluable, I encourage you to take a journey with Jen and explore all of her work including: Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Conferring with Readers, Literacy Teacher’s Playbook, The Independent Reading Assessment, and now The Reading Strategies Book.

You and, more importantly, your readers will never be the same!  Happy Reading!

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