Sunday, April 20, 2014

If Not for Franki...

First of all, a huge apology that I hit "Publish" on Friday, and ended up showing up on people's Feedly, possibly ruining this amazing surprise, even though I immediately took it off the blog as soon as I realized my mistake.
That aside, I love that, on her birthday, we are celebrating all the ways Franki has made a difference in our lives.  For more posts, head on over to A Year of Reading to read all the posts about how Franki has made a difference in so many people's lives.   Make sure to follow Twitter and Facebook feeds as well today since people without blogs will be chiming in there.  What a fun day!!  Happy birthday, Franki!


My reading workshop would look much different.  I understood and employed the workshop concept in my classroom, but the book she and Karen wrote, Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop, was a game changer for me.  Long before people were talking about formative assessment, these ladies had me understanding that I continually needed to be looking at new information about students so that I could best plan how to strategically meet with them.  Does the information show that it is an entire class need, a small strategy group need, or an individual need?  The planning sheet from their book has become the way I plan instruction every single week.


I would not have discovered hot yoga and realized how much I hated it. :)  However, the experience did make me realize I liked the concept of yoga, and it has become a staple in my life since then.  Though we don't get our schedules to sync often, I love when we are in regular yoga classes together.


I would not be a contributor at Choice Literacy.  It began with a nudge from her when Brenda Power was looking for an intermediate classroom where she could tape an entire block of workshops - read aloud, reading workshop, word study, and writing workshop.  Brenda wanted to make a DVD where educators could see a workshop block from beginning to end.   I was fortunate enough to become that classroom, and it has continued to open up so many doors for me.  In addition to the DVD, I have written for Choice Literacy, presented in workshops for them, and had segments in my classroom taped again.


I would be a wealthy woman.  Shopping for books with her can be a dangerous undertaking if you love books and have no willpower.  She loves to put books in not only students' hands, but in adults' hands as well.  My students thank her; my credit card, not so much.


Many other professional opportunities would not have come my way.  Opportunities such as doing PD in Birmingham, Alabama with Ann Marie Corgill to working with Samantha Bennett of That Workshop Book in my classroom as a Literacy Connection workshop to becoming a Curricular Support Teacher in my district, just to name a few - these were all possible because of a nudge from our friend, Franki.


I would not be connected to people in the ways that I am.  She is incredible about introducing her NCTE friends to her Dublin friends, to her AllWrite friends, to her Choice Literacy friends, to her NerdyBookClub friends, to her author friends, and so forth until all these groups begin to blend into one big group.  I am so fortunate to call people friends from all over the United States, and the initial connection to many of them was Franki.  The game, "Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon" is old and passé'.  "Seven Degrees of Franki Sibberson" -- now that's something I can wrap my head around!

So on this day that is Franki's 50th birthday, I would like to say thank you to her.  If not for Franki, I would not be the professional I am today, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.  

Happy birthday, Franki!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


It's Saturday, and a great one at that!  Here is what I am celebrating today:

1) Tomorrow is my 29th wedding anniversary.  Tonight, my husband and I celebrated those 29 years by eating at one of our favorite restaurants.  Fabulous company and fabulous food made for a lovely evening.

2) After spending over 100 days at a rehab facility for physical therapy after an infected hip, followed by a hip replacement, my mom went home this week.  My niece stopped by to see her today, and sent a great picture of Mom sitting in her favorite place at home, their patio enclosure.  She looks incredibly happy to be home, a place she hasn't seen since December 19.

3) The amazing weather of this weekend.  It is hard to believe we were driving in snow all the way to Youngstown on Tuesday on our way to a funeral, yet today was blessed with sunshine and lovely blossoms everywhere.

I hope you are celebrating something today as well.  Have a wonderful weekend, and check out other celebrations at Ruth's blog.  Thanks Ruth for hosting us each week.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Want to Visit Tupelo Landing

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  I loved it and all of the characters living in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina.  I couldn't wait for the follow up book, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing.  I wasn't disappointed, it made me want to plan a trip to Tupelo Landing.

I want to stop in at the cafe to see what classic Hollywood star Miss Lana is today.  I want to sit at the counter with Mayor Little and eat one of The Colonel's delicious plates of pancakes or whatever the special of the day is.

I want to sit close enough to the Azelea Ladies to hear what the current gossip is and then go sit on Grandmother Miss Lacy's porch, eat cookies, drink lemonade and hear her take on the stories.

I want to visit the school and share teaching strategies with Miss Retzyl.  She certainly has her hands full with the class of rising sixth graders, I'm pretty sure I could learn a thing or two from her!

I want to go hang out in Lavendar's garage while he works on his car.  I don't have single mechanical bone in me, but I do like to watch an artist at work.

I want to take a walk past Red's house.  I'll be sure to keep a safe distance, but I want to see if I can smell his moonshine still, if he has one.

After all of that, I'll spend a day with the Deperado Detective Agency looking for ghosts at The Inn.  I'm pretty sure Mo, Dale and I will find one and when we do, I have some questions.  I want to know the history of The Inn and the town around it.  I already know a lot about the people, thanks to author Sheila Turnage.  She is a master of character creation, so good that I really feel like the good folks of Tupelo Landing are real and I really could plan a vacation there to meet all of them

She takes a haunted turn in this amazing follow up to Three Times Lucky.  Kids are going to love the story and the ghosts and it will appeal to a much larger audience.  I'm recommending it to my good 3rd grade readers and up. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Natalie Lloyd Visit Was More Than Just a "Snicker" of Awesome!

I love it when I'm in the right place at the right time!  It doesn't happen often, but when it does the pay off is almost always perfect.  Shortly after I posted about A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, I was at the Dublin Literacy Conference.  Our main book seller at the conference is Fundamentals Book Store in Delaware, OH.  The owner, Tami and I were having a conversation about Snicker and I noticed that Natalie Lloyd would be coming to the public library in Delaware and I commented that I would have to put that on my calendar.  That's when the kiddie lit gods smiled on me!

Tami said, "You know, she would like to visit and elementary school, are you interested?"


 So Tuesday, we welcomed author Natalie Lloyd to Bailey.  What a treat!  We crowded, and I mean crowded, all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders into the library with kids sitting on tables and standing in the aisles.  She presented for 15 or 20 minutes and then opened the floor to questions.  The kids were awesome and their un-coached questions were very well thought out.  It was obvious that they had either read the book closely or their amazing classroom teachers shared it with them.

I was fascinated with how much of the book actually mirrors Natalie's life.  Family and friends were the  inspiration for many of the characters.  She share photos of her grandparent, parents and pet dog, Biscuit.  The musical piece in the story was inspired by her grandfather and the photo of his well loved guitar and banjo was beautiful.  It really drove home the fact that if you write about what you know, you will never lack for ideas or authenticity.   She admitted to me that she was nervous to be in front of such a large group, it was only her fourth presentation, but I told her not to worry, the kids would love her because she wrote a great book that they love.  As expected, she was a natural and warm in front of them, and they loved her.

She signed autographs carrying on smooth conversations with the kids as the stood at the table and many of them commented on how much they liked listening to her Tennessee accent.  I'll admit, I did too!  She finished a whirl wind visit by signing the wall in THE PIT and that was it.

I love that we get these opportunities to host authors sort of last minute and quick, and what a memory for our kids.  Thank you Natalie Lloyd and Tami for making this happen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrate! - April 5

I haven't been a regular attendee on Saturdays for quite some time, but after being fortunate enough to hear Ruth speak today at central Ohio's Literacy Connection workshop, that is going to change right now.

Things I am celebrating this beautiful Saturday:

1) The gorgeous sunshine blessing us.  There is something about a sunny spring day that just puts an extra spring in my step (pun intended).

2) Lunch with colleagues.  A normal work week would find me trying to finish lunch in either 25 or 40 minutes, depending on whether or not I had recess duty.  Today, at the workshop, we had a leisurely hour and a half, so many of us headed out to nearby restaurant and had the opportunity to enjoy a more relaxing lunch than on a typical day.

3) Colleagues and my PLNs.  Today, I was surrounded my people I consider colleagues and also people who are part of my personal learning networks.  Educators from a variety of districts and states were present, and I learned much from many of them.  How fortunate I am to have found people near and far that help me grow as an educator.

4) Ruth.  In my world, Ruth is a one-name moniker much the same way that Oprah is to others.  Ruth inspires me with her faith, her love of family, her dedication to our profession, and her love of children.  Her passion for writing and conversing about how to celebrate writing are even more reasons she is so special.  Spending the day listening to, and learning from, Ruth was both humbling and joyful.

5) My mom was a bit better when I visited her in rehab after the workshop.  She unfortunately developed a case of C. diff while recuperating from her latest hip replacement, and it was quite horrible for her.  It probably set back her recovery a few days.  She was looking much better today, and the antibiotics seem to be doing their work.

So yes, this is a celebration Saturday!  For more celebrations, head over to Ruth's blog to gather joy.