being a teacher, global, Reading

Audience Needed – Silly Poetry Videos

Tomorrow my amazing 7th graders will start practicing their speaking skills through silly poetry performances.  In 7th grade we take speaking pretty seriously, after all, being able to  communicate well and with intent is something you will need to be successful in life.

While I give my students feedback, while they perform in front of each other, while they rate themselves, it just doesn’t add a lot of punch to their performances.  This is where you maybe come in.  Would your class or kids  like to be our audience and leave us some feedback?

It is really quite simple; sign up below by filling in the form and wait for an email from me next week.  You will be given a link to a class’ video and also a survey.  We will ask you to tell us how we did, how our eye contact was and whether we have things to work on.  That’s it.  The feedback you give will help my students grow as public speakers.

Be the change, being a teacher, books, global, Literacy

Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration

Since 2010, my students and I have been bringing the world in.  We have asked others to be our teachers, whether authors, experts, children.  We have asked others to share more of their world with us so that we could make more sense of our own.  We have created, we have become experts.  We have made the world smaller by becoming a moving piece of the world, and we have grown.  In our literacy collaborations and creations, we have become authors, poets, performers, and teachers.  We have become more than what we started as.

So when I was asked what I would propose to make school different, the answer came quickly; besides empowering students, I feel an urgent need to infuse global collaboration throughout our literacy instruction (or any subject matter for that sake).  That in a world that seems so divided at times, where we seem to be hellbent on finding each others differences and using them to distance ourselves, we need to actually know our similarities.  We need to bring the world in to make the world smaller, kinder, more empathetic.  Have students create so that they can become the person they envision rather than just pretend.

I have written this book three times over.  Starting over every single time because it was not good enough.  Within the span of sixty pages I get to plead my case for why doing global collaboration is an urgent endeavor.  For why it is easier than you think to bring the world in.  For why it should be at the top of our lists when we plan our literacy instruction. And the how.  How can you do it, what are ideas, what does it look like.  By opening up my own classroom practices, as well as other educators, I hope to inspire those that need ideas or a boost to jump in.   To create another consideration as we plan our school year and our learning adventures.  And now, it is ready for the world.  My newest book Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration is out for pre-order with a birthdate of January 20th, 2017.  I cannot believe it is almost here.


I hope you find it useful, that is truly my biggest dream for this book.  That you will learn something, that it will inspire you to try and to change in ways that are meaningful to you.  It may have been a long process to write this book, sometimes that is how it goes, but the words are genuine.  We need to create classrooms where students learn with others, for others, and through others.  And our literacy instruction time gives us the perfect conduit for just that.  Welcome to the world.

To see the book on Amazon, go here.To see the book on Amazon, go here.To see the book on Amazon, go here.

I am currently working on a new literacy book.  While the task is daunting and intimidating, it is incredible to once again get to share the phenomenal words of my students as they push me to be a better teacher.  The book, which I am still writing, is tentatively Passionate Readers and will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge.  So until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.


Be the change, being a teacher, global, global read aloud

On Global Collaboration and Projects You Can Join

I started the Global Read Aloud in 2010 not knowing what it would become, not knowing how it would truly make the world smaller, connect many children and change my own life.  I started it with a simple need in mind; more global collaboration and connections for the students I was teaching.  I knew that the power of a great read aloud could not be disputed, I knew what a read aloud could do to to foster community.  I knew what the right read aloud would do for us as readers, as thinkers, as human beings.  And so I started a small project that since 2010 has taken on a life of its own.

This Monday we kicked off the 7th annual Global Read Aloud.  It was the day that I gave up on my Twitter account pretty much.  There simply was no way for me to keep up.  With more than 937,000 students participating this year, give or take a few, I do believe we may be one of the largest, if not the largest, globally collaborative multi-day student project in the world.  I cannot help but stand in awe of the number.  Stand in awe of this little idea that grew into something more than I could imagine.  But not just for the sheer number of children involved, but more for the lives that it is changing.  For the experiences it is creating.  I stand in awe of the invisible lines stretching around the globe as students connect, discuss, and share who they are with others who happen to be reading the same book as them.  Imagine a world that is truly becoming more connected and you have the vision of what the Global Read Aloud is doing for the world.  And my project is not alone.  Other dreamers and thinkers are seeing the need for projects to unify children around the world, for better learning opportunities that include bringing the world in and the students out.  We can certainly create our own, I do all of the time for the sake of my students, or we can join in on these pre-existing projects to make the world smaller.  To make the world kinder.  To make the world more empathetic.

Global collaboration and the way it shapes student learning experiences should not be something we just do once in a while, it should be often, it should be meaningful.  It should be something our students come to expect not as something new and flashy but as something necessary for them to discover who they are as learners.  Our students have a voice, they have a need to learn about others, they have the right to not just experience our differences but to know what makes us all so similar.  Global collaboration provides us with our starting point, these projects become our starting point as we try to bring the world in.

To see the global projects I know of and that others have graciously shared, please access this padlet.  If you know of others that should be on here, please add them.  At least this is a start for what is out there.


being a student, being a teacher, global

Audience Needed for Elephant & Piggie Performances

The students have been hard at work figuring out how to be better speakers and they are now ready to show the world.  Tomorrow my students will be performing Elephant & Piggie stories to their peers while I record them. We are looking for other classrooms to view some of these recorded performances and rate them using a simple form.  Classroom audiences can be any grade as these are picture books being performed so we would especially love K-3.  While students appreciate the feedback I give them, they really need a bigger audience than just their classmates and me to grow as real speakers.

If you are interested in perhaps viewing a few, please fill out the form below.  You can view just one or as many as you want, what matters is the feedback!  I will email you further details once the videos go live.  Thank you so much for considering helping out these amazing 7th graders.

Be the change, being a teacher, challenge, global, Student

1 School 1 World – What Did We Learn #1S1W

Sometimes my crazy ideas get ahead of my own brain in all of the best of ways, such was the case of 1 School 1 World , a social media initiative that was meant to showcase schools around the world using a common hashtag #1S1W.  I wanted my students to see not just how we are different, but more so how we are all the same.  And so  I shared the idea with the world and today, February 22nd,schools around the world participated.

As I showed my students the stream of pictures throughout the day, we couldn’t help but marvel at so much.  The sun in New Zealand, the sheep in Australia, the gym in Denmark, the wooden tables of Serbia.  We saw the differences, sure, but we also saw so much of the same.  It turns out that many of our classrooms look like they could be in the same school.

Yet, as the day went on, we started to notice not just how alike we were but also the incredible differences there were in school buildings, activities done, and even technology showcased.  As we tweeted out asking people to show us pictures of their libraries, one person responded that their school did not have one due to money.  That was a sobering notion for many kids.

And this is what stopped my heart today and what continues to run through my head tonight.  While this day was meant to share our learning environments, it also inherently shared our privileges; schools that have the tools to share in the first place.  Teachers that have the ability to show off their environments without the fear of being in trouble with administration or school boards.  Buildings that were mostly well kept and learning environments that were inviting to students.  Yet, we all know that this is not what learning looks like for many students, not just across the world, but right here in the USA.

There were voices missing, which I expected, but I did not expect how hard it would hit me once again just how lucky I am to teach in a district that is well-funded and community supported in many ways.  There are so many teachers that do not have that privilege.  There are so many kids that do not have that reality.

So as I digest the many images together with my students, I plan to ask them to look at how we are similar, how we are different, but then I also plan on asking them to look for the missing images.  For the schools that are not represented in these pictures.  For the kids that are not represented.  To see if they can figure it out. To see what they will come up with.   This will be the seed for further exploration.  This will be the seed that somehow will carry us forward.  To what I am not sure, but we know that a change in society can start with us, but not if we don’t start the conversations.

And if you joined today; thank you.  Sometimes all it takes for us to get to know each other is a simple hashtag.  Keep connecting.  Keep sharing.  Keep discussing and then do something about what you see.  We teach the future of the world, let’s never forget that.

To see the Storify of all of the pictures I could find, go here.

Thank you Ben Wilkoff for pulling 400 or so pictures and putting them in Google photo.

aha moment, Be the change, being a teacher, challenge, global, Mieexpert

Join the 1 School 1 World Challenge Feb. 22nd #1S1W

Last year, my 7th graders did the “Day in the life of a student” challenge and asked students around the world to join them by showcasing pictures of their typical school day.  The conversation that it sparked as far as how similar our days could be or how very different they were was profound, while also leading to some great discussions at our school about the experience students have.

Today, I shared some of the images coming out of Detroit Public Schools  and my students had a hard time understanding that this is the reality for students only 6 hours away from us.  As we sit in our heated classrooms with nice carpet, books surrounding us, and a beautiful view of a prairie, the notion that other children even in our same state may have a different school experience is one that my students do not give much thought to.

So I propose a challenge to enlighten us all.  On Monday, February 22nd take a picture, or a few, of your classroom (you don’t need to have students in the pictures), write your location and your age group and share it on Twitter using the hashtag #1S1W (it stands for 1school1world).  That day or the next start a conversation with your students about the images you see shared.  That’s it.  Think of the images we can share to start a conversation with the very children we teach about the education that surround us here in the US and in the world.

A hashtag may not make a difference but it can start a conversation.  So sign up to stay in the loop, or just join in on February 22nd as we hopefully start a global conversation about our school, our classrooms, and our future.