Talk Time

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about discourse, oral language, and the amount of talk kids engage in throughout their days at school. Two resources that I share in this post support the importance of providing meaningful, plentiful opportunities for kids to talk for various purposes.

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Learner Agency

I have written quite a big about Learner Agency and enjoyed adding to my knowledge when I read the following article:

Teaching Strategies That Cultivate Learner Agency, by Paul Emerich France.

In this post I want to share key points from the article and ideas that some of my colleagues have synthesized from the article.

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My Love of Writing

“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.”
–Sylvia Plath
Writing gives me Joy and teaching writing is one of my favorite parts of being an educator. So yesterday when my first article was published on Edutopia I was ecstatic; this has been one of my Bucket List items forever and especially since I started writing this, my own blog. The article is Fostering Identity, Joy, and Skill DevelopmentThe most amazing part of being published was the sense of community around me, both colleagues and students, who celebrated my accomplishment. It meant the world for me to go into a second grade class yesterday afternoon and show them my final writing as they were working on their own final edits and revisions. Naturally, this morning I woke up wanting to write about writing! In this post I want to list some of the strategies I’ve used in the teaching of writing to empower our youngest writers!

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Going Deeper: Focus Students

In my last post, I wrote about how to listen to Focus Students to reflect on and improve teaching practices. Who is better to inform teaching than the achievers in front of us, especially the quieter students and students from formerly marginalized groups? This weekend I started reading Liz Kleinrock’s Start Here, Start Now after a colleague recommended the text. I am already seeing many connections to the Focus Student process. I know there is much much more to the text, however, in this post I will briefly address connections to the Focus Student process.

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A First Try: Unit Planning With Cultivating Genius

I’ve been studying the work of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad for several years by watching webinars, reading and re-reading her Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally Responsive and Historically Responsive Literacy, and this year by working alongside her in a year long in-depth study of her work and how to use the Historically Responsive Literacy framework. In the past I’ve integrated the framework into lessons and last week I started my first unit plan using the tool. I’m excited to share some of my thoughts in this post.

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My Why

It’s interesting to me that this, my 50th post, brings me back to my “why.” I’ve written in previous posts about the importance of knowing one’s why, and acting within one’s why.

“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.”
– Simon Sinek


Today I want to delve deeply into my why and the reasons behind my why.

My Why:
“Be a mirror to reflect back to our students their beauty and brilliance
so they feel: belonging, safe, heard, seen, valued, joy, and LOVED.”


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The Opportunity Myth

The Opportunity Myth has been the foundation at several workshops I’ve attended. The past several weeks, my staff has started studying the research findings in connection to priority standards and identity work. I highly recommend reading the report, rereading the report, and connecting the report to other professional learning topics. In this post, I want to summarize some of the themes I’ve gleaned from reading.

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Culturally Responsive Practice and Adult Learners

At a coaching/mentoring workshop this week, we read Constructive Learning Theory to consider principles of learning for adult learners. As I read the article, I saw a number of connections to Culturally Responsive Learning and the Brain. In the book, Zaretta Hammond writes about Cognitive Routines as processes to make learning meaningful and culturally responsive. In this blog I want to use one of the routines, Similarities and Differences, to connect Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) to adult learning.

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Cognitive Routines

In my June 17 post, I wrote about Zaretta Hammond’s Cognitive Routines as a way to support Culturally Responsive Teaching. By introducing a routine and embedding it explicitly into instruction a number of times and coaching into the routine, the process become internalized into an automatic habit; in addition, student metacognition increases as the benefits of the habit becomes evident.

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The Art of Facilitation

Have you ever attended a meeting where you felt like the facilitator was artful with their facilitation moves, so you were engaged and gained a great deal? Have you ever attended a meeting where you felt a pit in your stomach because of how participants weren’t heard or brought into the conversation? I had both experiences this week, in back to back Zoom meetings, and want to write about some of the moves that made the effective facilitation lead to a richer dialogue and sense of community. Both of the meetings took place with participants from across the United States. Participants were educators in Pre-K through college and beyond. We came from a diverse set of roles and cultural backgrounds. 

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