One Little Thing #sol19

downloadOne Little Thing #sol19

January 22, 2019

January is a busy school month for me.  Benchmark assessments, curriculum shifts, data analysis, professional development, and district commitments all seem to converge.  You would think I would be rested after a three day weekend.  However, with our recent bitter cold temperatures came an accumulation of ice.  Ice that threatened my ability to navigate my very steep drive.  Navigations that was critical to my arriving at school.  Arrival that was crucial on the first benchmarking day.  A benchmarking day that could not be rescheduled to accommodate other schedules.

I tipped over my morning coffee across the end table.  All of my worries piling up, tripping over each other to rise to the surface.  The weight of them feels daunting.  I think of this sign that I have on my desk… People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.  This attitude definitely needs adjusting.

How do we adjust when the pile gets heavy?  I knew a secretary once that had a sign on her desk also.  The sign said, the people that get things done are the ones who do one thing at a time.  One thing at a time.  Be present in this moment and let the rest of the moments find their own way to the present.

So up the driveway I went.  The heat’s working at home after a visit from the furnace repairman yesterday.  I spent the morning listening to children read aloud.  Learn to rest, not quit.  Just one thing at a time.

Perhaps this is the reason I’m a list maker.  The ability to scratch off that first thing and then the second thing.  As in that Frog and Toad story where Toad makes himself a list that begins with wake up.  He’s happy because he can already cross that off the list.  I have a few more things.  I woke up.  I made lunches.  I drove to work.  I assessed 100 or so students with the team.  I saw my 10:20 student appointment.  Now I’m smiling.  That immense list is still mentally there, but it doesn’t feel like a pile up anymore.  Refueling courtesy of elementary students.  That always works for me.

Just one thing at a time.  Be present.  

I hope this a reflective mantra that I can continue when the next glitch comes along.  In my mind, I feel more tired lately.  That this year, month, week, day seems more difficult than ones before.  Today, I’m shaking that reflection off and changing it to my screensaver’s mantra for the day. Go forth and make awesomeness.  

I just might.

5f9e283f-67af-4f49-b354-801430caeed6Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating this slicing community.  Read some positive uplifting reflections at



Expanding Horizons #ReadYourWorld #IMWAYR

Expanding Horizons #ReadYourWorld #IMWAYR

January 21, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 9.32.29 AM.png What a pleasure to read Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers by Vilyvanh Bender.  This book is a charming offshoot of what I hope is beautiful conversations between the author and her own daughter, Mahlee.  Through simple text and illustration,  Mahlee tells us the differences between her daily life and the life of her mother while growing up in Laos.

Topics that will interest all children are discussed including snack foods,  play time, breakfast,  school, and even New Year’s Celebrations.  It would be wonderful to read this book during Laos New Year’s (Pi Mai, April 14th).  Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 9.32.52 AM.png

Nor Sanavongsay’s illustrations cheerfully compare the similarities of life experiences that would be relevant to children not of Southest Asian descent.

The author and illustrator include a glossary of Laos words at the end of the story.  I carefully googled all of the pronunciations so that I might approximate accuracy when reading this aloud.  Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 9.33.02 AM.png

This beautiful book celebrates our ‘sameness’ as well as our fascinating differences. I won’t reveal the ending here, but Mommy gives Mahlee plenty of time to come around to trying fried grasshoppers.  I immediately wished I could try them myself.

I remember having my relative painstakingly show me the beautiful steps in her making of sticky rice including the amazing pot and basket she uses to make this.  (Note to author: as a dietician, there are so many food related things you could write about).  I hope Ms. Bender will write many more books about her cultural heritage.  I am imagining stick puppets,  how to make sticky rice, and even more about fried grasshoppers.

The author, Vilayvanh Bender shared this book with me as a part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day , celebrated this year on January 25, 2019.

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LaDonna Plays Hoops is a book for basketball lovers.  Full of playground hoops jargon, this tales celebrates growing up enough to hold your own and definitely ‘girl-power’.  Kimberley Gordon Biddle adds many details to this young character including her cousin’s names, frog pet, and obstacles along the way. Set in the backdrop of her family reunion,  An African-American girl, LaDonna, returns to give one on one another go with her older more experienced cousin. This book is clearly a celebration of a first time author making her dream come true.  I hope all of those characters are her real life cousins.

This book was shared with me by the author,  Kimberley Gordon Biddle.



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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here:
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here:

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana andA Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesDescendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.



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Meetings #sol19

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Meetings #sol19

January 15, 2019


Wikipedia says that a meeting is a gathering of two or more people that has been convened for the purpose of achieving a common goal through verbal interaction, such as sharing information or reaching agreement.  As a literacy specialist or an educator or an actual human, I go to a LOT of meetings. Meetings that have varying attendees, varying purposes, and a wide variety of outcomes, some successful. Other than the amazing time I have conferring with students, reading aloud, and facilitating minilessons,  it’s the most frequent activity of my day.


I start most days with a quick meeting with my dog.  Seriously, we have a common goal, we share information, while you might not speak her language, I do.  She always speaks mine. We affirm our friendship, we greet the day. I highly recommend it as your first meeting of the day.


Most school days,  I begin with a 7:30 collaboration meeting with a classroom teacher. These are half an hour meeting structured by the teacher.  Usually we speak about curriculum plans, challenges, assessments, and individual student needs. I take notes and sometimes follow up with a book or a resource.  They are a varied as the participants. Some have ideas that the want to discuss in a neat list in their own notebooks. Some wait for my inquiries and then are sparked into fascinating dialogues.  Occasionally we dream about future plans. Sometimes we fret about past situations. Mostly we live in the present. If I had to give you one secret to my modest success, this is it. It’s not the cookies, though some have said otherwise.  It’s not my hustle, though ask me to do something, it will be done quickly. It’s this small act of convening for a common goal with verbal interaction. A miracle, so easy to achieve.


A couple of mornings a week after this meeting,  I meet with our child study team. The child study team themselves are my support system honed from problem solving over years, we know each other’s strengths and trust our process.  A teacher is invited to present a student and we spend forty five minutes listening, brainstorming, and planning with that teacher. The model is an old one, but it works so well. The method is basically four steps, simple in its delivery.  The person presents the problem. The team generates possibilities. The person evaluates those possibilities. A plan is formulated. The secret sauce so to speak is that we ask clarifying questions, the teacher listens and doesn’t contribute to the idea generation.  The teacher responds to what was said that is new to the situation. Following the meeting, one of the team members follows up with the teacher to formulate goals, provide support, or whatever is needed.


I also have a great many meeting that I attend that have many participants and difficult agendas.  They relate to assessment, curriculum, and generally supporting a school community and a larger district community in literacy.  While necessary, the sheer scope of the work and the number of voices can make this much less simple that those collaborative meetings over coffee.  


I wonder if viewing these meetings with so many people and such a complicated agenda  more like those intimate, personal meetings would change my perspective. Such begins my year of reflection.  

One Little Word #sol19

img_0254One Little Word #sol19

January 8, 2019

I began choosing one little word the year my physical world got shaken like a snow globe and suddenly almost everything about my every day changed.  That one little word in 2010, possible,  helped me remember my inherent optimism.  It helped me persevere, another year’s word,  in the midst of enormous change.  So I stuck to this little word idea for all these years mostly in silence.  Then I began to blog and my little word became a thread through my blogs. Last year’s word, notice, centered my practice and guided me like a mentor through the questions and the work.

As many have said, choosing a one word can be dicey.  Many pop up and roll around on your tongue and through your consciousness. They are like a beautiful dress on a mannequin, striking, but when I try them on, just not right for me, right now.  Some I’ve come back to in a different year where they fit more perfectly,  others I’ve left behind.

This year’s struggle was the same.  Quite a few came through in December, but grief and struggle pushed them aside this year.  Until I saw one picture.  The picture wasn’t necessarily connected to my work, though it did have a school bus, but the idea it represented, that idea wrapped around me like the perfect sweater, reflection.

unnamedI began to research my idea of reflection.  As a blogger, I consider myself to be fairly reflective or is it just thoughtful?  And I saw this quote.  We do not learn from experience… We learn from reflecting on experience.  So many experiences, so many attempts, so much noticing, but what we really learn from is reflection.

So this year, I’m going to carve out time to reflect. One definition of reflect says to throw back without absorbing it in the way that the puddles on the road reflect the sun.  I wish to reflect others’ amazing work, drawing attention to its strength, innovation, and thoughtfulness.  Showing them their amazing feats, be it students or colleagues or passersby.  That’s what last year’s word, noticing, taught me, the act of noticing gives things power.

I also want to be personal in my reflection, think deeply and carefully about things.  I’m often in a rush, think quickly and act quickly.  It’s a big school and a busy day.  Reflection works at both ends of an act.  To reflect prior to acting gives space.  Space for others and moments for the ideas to form more fully. Reflection after can be a celebration of all that was.  Reflection can be space to contemplate what comes next.   Reflection can be a consideration of change, adapting, or enhancing.

So here’s to a year of careful consideration, reflection.


Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 8.32.28 AMThank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this amazing space for careful considerations,  read so many more one little words and reflections here.

Reflect #sol19

0Reflect #sol19

January 1, 2019

My one little word from 2018 was notice.  I take this last look at what I noticed in 2018 and reflect on what I’ve taken away.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed in this last 365 days is the power of the struggle.  I read once that the broken places are where the light gets in and also that the person doing the work is the one doing the learning.  But honestly, when you get down to it, it’s always about giving power to individuals, allowing students, teachers, co-workers, and ourselves the room, the tools, and the time to figure it out.  It’s a fine line the struggle, but so often it results in break-through learning, self-reflection, and growth.  Letting others see their own strengths is where positive mindset really comes from. This idea is the strongest thing I took to my bones this past year.  I hope it’s the strongest coaching I did as well.

One of the reasons that this struggle resonated so fiercely with me is the commitment I made to read the Calkins Units of Study from cover to cover. The cover to cover approach strengthens the global view of the units and allows for flexibility to match student needs and experiences.   I haven’t made it through all of them yet, it’s my commitment for this school year.  Seeing the units vertically facilitates closing the gaps, strengthening outcomes, and envisioning the purpose.  Each one I read gives me a deeper understanding of the verticality of literacy skill development, the connections between the learning progressions, the reading and writing processes, and the logic of helping students see what is essential in reading and writing.

Some simpler things resonated this year when I took the time to notice.  Tools can be simple and flexible.  I can travel with some stickies, a composition book, my phone, and a few go-to books.  Along with tools, visuals can explain a lot!  I used so many drawing this year to show connections, steps, big ideas broken down, and planning.  Traveling lighter seems to facilitate flexibility in thinking on my part.

In human interactions, I noticed that partnering strengthens us.  When we reach out, listen, give great wait time, and talk regularly,  our work is stronger and more consistent.  Nothing takes the place of scheduled talk time or taking unscheduled time to talk.  While visuals and tools can be electronic,  I have found more than ever that emails are limited and limiting.  I’m still prone to using picture books, drawings, read-alouds and cookies to smooth, explain, and develop ideas.

The final reflections that I have for 2018 right now are that giving yourself some quiet time to think over problems, situations, and plans is essential.  Nothing replaces time in working things out.  I’ve written many a blog when I first wake up in the morning or sitting in the quiet literacy center before or after school.

Here’s to the partners that helped me learn those lessons this year.  Some were in books like Debbie Miller, Jennifer Serravallo, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan,  Ralph Fletcher.  Their books published this year were eye-opening and practice changing.  Here’s to the blog writing practitioners that encouraged me through difficulties in writing and practicing, my instagram troop, twitter pals, and facebook groups that shared so much of what works for them. Here’s to my morning partners, each day of the week I learn from you and with you.  Here’s to my day partners mostly under 10 who make me a better learner, explainer, and experimenter.  In 2019,  I’ll be reflecting on what you teach me.


Noticing #sol18


December 25, 2018

Here’s to noticing more. To taking the time to listen and see and most importantly enjoy all of the laughter and the wisdom, the joy, and the beauty around us every day.

I wish you peace and joy and love…and amazing things to. Or ice and wonder about in the new year.

Routine #sol18

IMG_3194Routine #sol18

December 18, 2018

I haven’t been in my regular routine for weeks now.  In the last weeks, everything about my everyday was disrupted and I found myself suspended, timeless and placeless for a number of days.  I moved forward, but the movement was unfamiliar.  I breathed in and out, but the air itself seemed somehow different.  I was amid very familiar people but every action we took was far from familiar.

I returned after this week feeling unsettled.  My day to day routines seemed unfamiliar and returning to them seemed like that turbulent bump when the plane wheels hit the tarmac, the jostling bounce, the rush of air, being thrown backward.

I entered the soft glow of the school early morning light.  You know it.  Silent halls, familiar hums, shiny floors.  Still tenuous in my entry,  i walked down the hall to the literacy center just as I left it,  The pregame ritual rushed back and enveloped me like a warm sweater.  Preparing for 2nd grade student work.  Meeting with a first grade teacher. Emails.  Mail sort.  the hum of the heater in the light of my desk lamp.  

Then the real comfort began.  Wrapped in the favorite comfy sweater of my colleagues support and routine, I began my day.  Strategizing about the game plan for this week before vacation, transitioning from a unit to an upcoming one in third grade. Goal wording for an upcoming literacy plan.  Discussing vowel work in first grade in the happy confines of a teacher’s classroom before school.  Drawing little maps of ideas and pouring over student writing.  Asking questions for ideas.   Moving on to reading over writing projects with seven and eight year olds, hearing what they’ve learned about dogs and spiders.  Enjoying partner reading about cat and dog negotiations.  Having a listen to third grade reading as we think about what next in instruction.

And in between, gentle smiles, an arm rub, a kind word.  Cards and flowers and genuine caring.  This is what it means to belong to a teaching and learning community.  Connections lingered. Cookies on the counter.  Routines cherished.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 7.22.13 AM.png    I write in the company of my fellow travelers within the Slice of Life Community.  Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for forming this group.