Category Archives: Passion

But How Do You Really Teach With Picture Books?


2 days into the year and already we have shared 5 picture books.  Today I read How to Read A Story by the amazing Kate Messner 5 times as we discussed what we love and hate about reading.  As we discussed what makes a great reading experience.  As I invited my students to come on over, one boy clapped his hands, “Story time!” he said.  And not in a sarcastic 7th grade too-cool-for-school kind of way, but in the way that little kids say  it; excited to hear the story.  … Visit the author's original post

The Fish Tank


I sat there watching the fish swim in place, barely noticing Augustine’s excited screams.  Amazing that a 19th month old toddler pointing, yelling, and even wanting so badly to hit the glass did not shake the fish.  They barely moved.  And Augustine stood in total awe, oblivious to the world around her.

The fish seemed content.  They had clean water, a few rocks, a few fish friends and obviously enough to eat.  And yet, they were clearly too large for their tank.  … Visit the author's original post

6 Simple Ideas to Get Kids to Read


Loving reading, loving books, being a reader, and finding your own books to share are central goals in our 7th grade English classroom.  And I spend every waking moment at times it seems trying to find ways for students to find that special book that will make them feel like they are a reader.  I spend hours planning, prepping, buying books, and yes, reading them to make sure that I am the best teacher possible for all of my many students. … Visit the author's original post

This Is For the Kids

This is for the kids who made me cry.  Who wore me out, who tore me down.  This is for the kids who wondered why.   Who dared to speak, who dared to question.  This is for the kids that didn’t give up, that saw something in me I would have never seen myself.  Who questioned persistently, who had the audacity to say they were bored.  And who never ever thought that school should be about the teachers and not about the kids.… Visit the author's original post


My love of reading never had to survive my childhood.  My love of reading never had to survive well-meaning teachers, at least not when I was young.  When I grew up, teachers weren’t really that bothered with what we read, or how much we read every night, just that we read.  That we grew.  That we became better.  They didn’t ask us to keep logs, to record minutes, to stick post-it notes whenever we had a thought.  They didn’t tell us which box to pick from or give us a label.  … Visit the author's original post

So It Turns Out I Am a Terrible Teacher

It turns out I owe everyone an apology.  Or at least a great big “I am sorry” to all of the people who have ever been inspired by this blog to change the way they teach.  It turns out I don’t know what I am doing, at least not if you look at our test scores.  You see, my students took our district standardized test, the one they take three times a year, and it turns out that at least for some all of my crazy ideas have apparently ruined their English skills.  … Visit the author's original post

To the One Teacher Who Shaped Me the Most

It is national teacher appreciation week here in the United States. and all through the blog world I have seen the incredible letters of appreciation being shared.  I have seen the words that praise, the words that show once again just how much of an influence a great teacher can have.  And I am grateful because I too have had amazing teachers in my life, who believed that i had worth and who believed that I could make the world a better place. … Visit the author's original post

Five Words For You

For five weeks, I have tried to find just the right words to preface the following message.  For five weeks, I have carried a tattered post-it around, waiting for just the right angle to present it to the world.  For the past 35 days, I have waited for inspiration to strike, for the moment to come where I could finally unleash the words and let them resonate with others as they have resonated within me.  For 35 days I have waited for an opportunity but that opportunity has not come.  … Visit the author's original post

Why Do We Hold Students to Higher Expectations Than Adults?

I told one class today that I was not there for their sheer entertainment.  I didn’t raise my voice, nor did I yell.  I simply stated it and asked them to step it up, to show engagement, to show me that what we were doing mattered to them because I could tell they were checked out and it made me unhappy.  And then we continued on with what we were doing.  Just another moment teaching 7th grade.

Yet, as it popped back into my mind, a seemingly insignificant moment from my day, I now see what a missed opportunity it was.  … Visit the author's original post

The Power of Appreciation – Reflections from #TCEA15

Sometimes, as teachers, we forget the impact that we have on others.  Sometimes we also forget how much others impact us. And, sometimes we forget to tell people how important they are to us.

Over the past four days at TCEA in Austin Texas, I have been reminded of all three of those facts. As I hurtle through the air at 600 miles per hour 30,000 feet in the air on my way home, I want to take this post to remind those who impacted me so much in the past few days how appreciative I am.Visit the author's original post

Why Book Clubs Suck And We Need to Talk About

image from icanread

I had meticulously made my lists.  I had thoughts of habits, tastes, personalities, reading preferences, pace and yes, even their assessment data.  I had scoured the book room, gone book shopping spending my own money and used most of my Scholastic points.  More than 50 choices awaited my students, I couldn’t wait to start book clubs.

So when I announced that today was the day they would know their book club groups, I had not planned for the groan of disapproval that met me.  … Visit the author's original post

9 Barriers to Personalized Learning And How We May Work Around Them

image from icanread

I didn’t know I was doing personalized learning when I first changed the way I taught.  It wasn’t until I wrote about it in a blog post and someone gave me the name and description that it clicked.  It made sense really; I wanted students to have a voice, have choice, and to be re-ignited passionate learners within my classroom, all tenets of the personalized learning philosophy.  For me it was a no brainer; why not teach in a such a way that students would want to be part of the learning?  … Visit the author's original post

5 Ideas For Diffusing the Negative People At Your Work

We have all been in the situation it seems; surrounded by negative people whose only joy in life seems to be finding something to complain about.  Those teachers that cannot wait to share how terribly a child did, those teachers that cannot wait to discuss how awful a new initiative will be, or even just how overwhelmed they feel.  And you know what, at some point we have probably all been one of those teachers, I know I was!  And we usually don’t even know it.… Visit the author's original post

5 + 1 Simple Ideas to Make Writing Fun Again

Over and over their comments come.

“…I hate writing…”

“…Please don’t make me write…”

“…Writing is soooo boring…”

And with each comment, I am grateful for my 7th graders honesty and also very, very challenged.  How do you make writing fun again when all of the joy has disappeared for some?  How do you make writing something students want to do, or at the very least don’t hate, when you have a curriculum to get through?  How do we continue to inspire students to become writers, even when facing so many old writing demons?  … Visit the author's original post

If You Could Change Just One Thing

“So if you have one piece of advice for anyone looking to change the way they teach, what would it be?”

I cannot count how many times I have been asked this important question or the myriad of ways.  In podcasts, webinars, face to face, workshops, and even in lunch time conversations.  What would you change?  What would you do?  What should we do?

It makes sense really.  There is so much we could change, there is so much we could do.… Visit the author's original post

Our Epic Nonfiction Project

I don’t share specific lessons on here often but this time I have to because this one has just made the last 6 weeks, yes 6 weeks, fly by.  Not just for me either, most of my students that reported on their survey that they hate writing but love this project.  So without further ado, let me tell you all about our rather epic nonfiction picture book project.

The goal of the project is rather simple; create a 30 to 50 page nonfiction picture book meant for a K or 1st grade audience on anything you wish.  … Visit the author's original post

Am I the Barrier to My Students’ Full Tech Integration?

I have been integrating meaningful technology into my classrooms since 2010, trying my hardest to find tools that would help my students find an audience, spark their passion, and find their voice.  I wouldn’t call us tech infused, I don’t use a lot of tools, but the ones we do, I love.  And yet…I cannot help but feel that sometimes I stand in the way of my students and the technology they use.  That sometimes the parameters I set up hinder rather than grow.… Visit the author's original post