Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year Mash Up: NCTE15, #OLW, #Mustreadin2016


Where has the time gone? One minute it was Halloween, the next I was at NCTE15, followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years..and suddenly..I am in the throes of the first week of the 2016 school year! Because I want to compose three blog posts: 1. NCTE15 reflection 2. One Little Word & 3. Mustreadin2016, I figured why not mash the three together! 

NCTE15 was a fantastic experience. Once again, I presented with an amazing group of educators and authors- Justin Stygles, Cheryl Mizerny, Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Lisa Graff. Although we had 4 o'clock time slot on Friday afternoon, the room was filled with reflective and passionate educators. Our presentation, "I hate reading! Pedagogy and adaptations in Shame-Resilient Classrooms," ignited discussions about how to create a love of reading, while still having to adhere to reading intervention programs and guidelines. It was wonderful to observe educators support each other and problem solve issues that put the needs of students front and center.

I attended mind blowing sessions with Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Pam Allyn, Kwame Alexander, Jennifer Serravallo, Kate Roberts, Maggie Roberts, Colleen Cruz, Donalyn Miller, Teri Lesene, Cynthia Lord, Gigi McAllister, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Alyson Beecher..just to name a few. I was ignited by their passion, drive and love for children and education. The theme that floated from each presentation to the next was the need for independent reading. If students are not independently reading, they are not going to achieve. Students need time to read. We, as teachers, need to show the students that we are life long readers and ignite a love of reading within them. Each and every presenter talked about supporting students and meeting them where they are. Their words spoke directly to my heart and soul as a teacher, Instructional Coach and parent.
Here are their words:

Colleen Cruz: 
"When a kid is lazy- means they are afraid of something
no one is lazy- don’t call kids lazy!! 
"Can we see the books the students want to read as a sense of inspiration? Even if they don’t match the curriculum…"
"Create a library that matches your students- but also put in things that they might not be interested in..stretch the students.."

Jennifer Serravallo:
"Get to know your readers- instead of see kids as a label
scratch the surface- the stuff that is in the students' messy desk tells about the student"
"Figure out a goal for each reader- a goal that is honoring a strength."

“We want our students to take on challenges with zeal.”-Kristi Mraz & Christine Hertz
Rigor without relevance is simply hard- Kylene Beers
“Becoming is better than being.”- Carol Dweck
“A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.” - Carol Ann Tomlinson

Kylene Beers, Kwame Alexander, Pam Allyn, Ernest Morrell
"If we don’t put Joy back in reading, if we don’t change the ways we are looking at reading- we are losing a nation of readers."
"If you tell a child they are marginalized, if you do not expect greatness from your student- then that is what you are going to get."
"Reading is like breathing and eating"- Ernest Morrell

I hope you take these words of wisdom with you each and everyday that you enter your classroom. Let each and every student in your classroom sparkle with their differences, commonalities, strengths and struggles.


Last year, for the first time, I linked up with One Little Word. I brought up my post from last year in preparing to choose my word for 2016.  Here is what I wrote in 2015:
I am looking forward to the year 2015. I have read several other  posts where authors are choosing one little word for the year 2015.  For me that one little word is acceptance. Throughout my life I have always strived for perfection in everything I do. Since becoming a working mom, I have tried harder than ever to keep a sense of control and perfection in my professional and personal life. And in turn, definitely  caused  unneeded stress and anxiety. Over the course of 2014, I took more risks and chances than I ever have.  As a result, I learned to accept the fact I can be messy, I can make mistakes, and not everyone is going to like me or agree with me. It is ok to have disagreements with friends and colleagues just like it is ok to leave the dishes in the sink and laundry piled up. By focusing on the one little word acceptance, I hope to find balance in my life. 

For 2016, it only seems fitting for my one little word to be "balance." In 2015, I worked hard to destress my life. I worked hard had accepting that I did not always need to be perfect and that I didn't always need to be in control. Because of my constant personal and professional reflection, I believe I became a better educator, wife and mother in 2015. Now, I just need to find that balance and maintain it! On New Years Eve, I read the following blog post i forgot how to be the happy mom. Rachel, the author of the blog, started her post in the following way, "The other day a friend of mine told me to have fun with my kids.
I said in reply – I don’t know if I know how to do that anymore. 
I read those words and felt my stomach drop. I continued to read, and felt like Rachel was in my mind! Her post was a wake up call to me. I want to remember how to have fun- How to have fun with my kids and family. I can do that through balance. 
 I saw myself through Rachel's words: " I know how to be the busy mom – moving from one urgent to another urgent to another there’s no toilet paper and the toilet’s overflowing and the kids are fighting and the smoke detector is going off and I can’t find my math sheet that was due three days ago urgency.  I’ve mastered the art of building lunches with almost bare pantries and finding last minute presents and helping with homework that was to be done the night before but now it is 7:11 and we need to leave at 7:18 kind of days." 
In 2016, I want to balance my life so I can enjoy those moments with my kids. I want to make time for my husband, my friends and my family. But most of all,  it is important for me to remember, " 
"And yes, you’re doing unbelievable things. Even if it feels ordinary and exasperating and tiring.
With love. Hope. And the words I’m proud of you to all of you today.
Happy can be there. We didn’t forget. We just got busy.
Smile." ~ Rachel

My list for #MustReadin2016- An exciting mix up children's literature and professional books. But like last year, I am not limiting myself to the list below. I have set a personal goal to read 60 books in 2016! Let's see if I can pull it off! It's all about balance, right?

1. Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg
2. Milo Speck by Linda Urban
3. Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Wood
4. Sunday's on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly
5. Sunny Side Up by Jenni and Matt Holm
6. The Ranger in Time Series by Kate Messner 
7. Dumplin by Julie Murphy
8. Stella and Starlight by Sharon Draper
9. The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Bradley
10. Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
11. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson 
12. Jack by Liesel Shurtliff
13. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
14. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman 
15.Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
16. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
17.The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Professional Books

The Teacher You Want to Be Edited by Keene and Glover
Good to Great Teaching by Mary Howard
Notice and Note: Nonfiction Signposts by Beers and Probst 
The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar 

I have feeling this list of professional books is going to grow and grow....

What about you? What are your MUST READS in 2016? 

Happy New Year! 




  1. I have been hearing a lot about Dumplin lately. Must add that to my list too!

  2. Great post, Kara. I loved catching up, thanks for the extra NCTE notes!
    Wonderful reading lies ahead of you, great titles!

  3. You have some of my favorites on this list - Brown Girl Dreaming, Sunny Side Up, Hilo, The War That Saved My Life, The Marvels and Circus Mirandus. I hope you enjoy them also.

  4. This post is chock full of everything! Wow! So pleased you are joining us! Happy Reading!