The year 2016 was a whopper! Each day I read the news and comments on social media, and each day I think to myself, “It couldn’t have been that bad.” No, it wasn’t that bad at all.
1. My close family relatives are alive. This is a big deal to me. Hardships with disease and sickness have become standard in our family, but this year we are all still kicking!
2. My work situation improved and I still have exciting options for the year ahead. My classes of students are the best, my work team is awesome, and I love being a teacher AND PD teacher leader/facilitator. I added School Librarian to my teaching credentials, which I hope to use in the next year, as well.
3. My writing life and professional PLN is fantastic! I attended NeRdCampMI this summer and met so many more authors and illustrators, and now I’m “real” friends (instead of virtual friends) with amazing people. I wrote for the Nerdy Book Club and this blog, which makes me feel like I’m finally a writer. I followed my favorite authors, researchers, and educational speakers around the country again, ending up at NCTE’s Annual Conference with so many friends I didn’t even get to spend time with them all! (Seriously, I need longer than 3 days at NCTE — most amazing conference ever!) And last but certainly not least, I had an amazing journey with my wonderful friends/colleagues at #G2Great (Twitter) — My Good-to-Great team is my teaching hope for the future, focusing on KIDS and LITERACY and LEARNING! All my favorite things!
So as I wrap up 2016, I wish you and yours HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I will see you in 2017, strong as ever!
Last week I traveled to Parma, Michigan for my first Nerd Camp. Nerd Camp (#nErDcampMI) is an event sponsored by Colby Sharp and his amazing wife, Alaina, with the help of the Nerdy Book Club members. The two-day un-conference featuring authors, illustrators, and expert educators was awesome, and I’m still on Cloud 9! The main reason I signed up for Nerd Camp MI was to finally meet Josh Funk, author of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast (and the upcoming Pirasaurs! and Dear Dragon). I used this wonderful picture book in my 6th grade classroom last year, and some of my students got to know Josh through email. The kids were thrilled that an author would actually write back to them, and in May he even joined our class for a Google hangout, which was the major talk of the sixth grade class! Thank you, Josh!
My Twitter friend, Kelly Vorhis, knew of a place to eat dinner the night before camp, but she didn’t tell me that the Olive Garden would be the meeting place for tons of Twitter friends I’ve followed for so long! I met Lesley Burnap face-to-face and she even gave me a handmade book necklace — she’s so talented. Thank you, Lesley! As I sat there, talking to author Jess Keating and her husband Justin, I started to feel like I was living in a fiction book. How could a teacher from Indiana sit with all of these famous people and feel so comfortable? I’m a book nerd. I fit in here. This was my “tribe.” I’m so glad they all let me in.
Nerd Camp itself was full of surprises. I had no idea that I lived just a few miles away from Kathy Burnette, librarian-extraordinaire! She was an inspiring keynote speaker and all-around beautiful soul. I am so lucky to now call her “friend.” Other speakers included Raina Telgemeier, Donalyn Miller, Teri Lesesne, and Pernille Ripp, who also told inspiring stories (and made me cry!). Then…surprise! Kate DiCamillo came to speak to us! What a wonderful opening! I don’t know how Mr. Sharp pulled that one off. I’m still reeling!
I met Debbie Ridpath Ohi, author of Where Are My Books? — she was so nice to me! She offered me Mitzi Tulane cookies and conversation, which I loved. (The cookies were delicious, and the book is the cutest!) I spent time with some of my favorite lit-world friends, Donalyn, Katherine Sokolowski, and many others. I ate lunch with Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin, authors of books about 9/11 that I will definitely use in my classroom this year. The fun did not end there! I saw Cardboard Schu in the lobby with the real John Schumacher (@mrschureads). I just had to get a picture.
On Day 2, after adult learning sessions ended, the children came to Nerd Camp Jr. The evening was filled with mini-classes in writing for students of all ages. I signed up to help an author in a classroom, and I met Aimee Carter. Wow — She’s so cool! She told the kids about her book, Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den, and how she develops characters and plot in her series. Thank you for spending time with me, Aimee!
Nerd Camp is over, but I still have so many ideas to mull over and books to read. My summer is going to fly by now, thanks to my nerdy friends. I will attend this event again — #nErDcampMI definitely lives up to the hype!
“Slice of Life” writing is sponsored by Two Writing Teachers blog each Tuesday and every day each March during the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I love that I get to write weekly for my blog. It keeps me going, and I also get to read many great stories from my blogging buddies, too.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. You are inspirational women who keep the writing alive, not just on Tuesdays, but all year ’round!
Check out my Slice of Life stories on Tuesdays at http://www.readingteacherwrites.com.
Welcome to ReadingTeacherWrites.org. This is my professional site where I share information about literacy learning, my own research-based reflections, and lessons I’ve learned while teaching.
You can also use this page to contact me regarding your reading and writing classroom needs. “Collaboration is key.” I would love to collaborate with you on your next classroom project or professional development event.
Lucy Calkins, the Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, said, “Passion is powerful.” I am passionate about teaching and learning; I want to share my passion with you.
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I waited and waited. Yesterday was the “book birthday” for Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin. My friends previewed the book (lucky them!) and recommended it as one of the best books of the year so far. So, of course, I ran to the bookstore to purchase it and started reading.
Wow! My friends were right! I didn’t live in New York City on that tragic September 11th morning, but I know people who were there. I was teaching at the time in Indiana, and I had just walked my 5th grade class to the gym for specials. I heard my neighbor teacher running down the hallway, yelling into classrooms, “Turn on your tv! Something big is happening!” I didn’t know the impact of her words until several hours later. Tragedy. Loss. Pain. Togetherness. Hope. Love.
I loved the different perspectives in this story that starts a few days before September 11th–each person going about his/her own daily business. Just like me. It seems like we never think about the bigger world, until something happens that personally affects us. This book is filled with meaningful stories.
Add Nine, Ten to your reading list. You’ll be glad you did.