#DigiLit Sunday #NaNoWriMo #clmooc


DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 2, 2014.



 Engaged !

In October, we begin our preparation for our novels, following the helpful curriculum by Young Writers NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.  Notice: Common Core State Standards focus each lesson. That means, YES, you and your students can write a novel in November.

On Friday, we mapped out the days we can write in school and set our writing goals. Teachers write 30,000 words and students choose their own goals. Students are excited and talking about their novels.  Monday, we begin writing. Most will draft in Google Docs, leaving their “inner editor” in a box somewhere on a shelf so that only the flow of their story taps onto the page, one letter, word, sentence, paragraph at time — ideas driven by a character with problem.  That’s all you need to start, but if you need more, the Young Writers Program provides help:

Links to Start

Lesson Plans | NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

NaNoWriMo YWP: Middle School (6-8) Curriculum – Google Docs

Students | NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program


NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

NaNoWriMo in the Classroom – Home

Teacher Stories

NaNoWriMo: An #EduAwesome Project for Your #BestYearEver | Edutopia

Wordsmith Agora – Let them Write !


I’d like to thank my friends at #clmooc for inspiring me again — their 5 image story task set my imagination in motion for my novel; here’s my start.  It helped my students see how to start — with a character, an image in their mind, and a problem.

Are you ready? Are your students writing?  Check out our Virtual Classroom and watch our progress.

#DigiLit Sunday Essentials #ce14 #ccss


DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, October 12, 2014.

DigiLit Sunday  this week is a review of what is essential.  That’s been my focus this weekend as I develop tasks for students that are authentic for readers, writers, and researchers. What does that mean?

essentialquesitonsFortunately, I read in my Kindle App the book Essential Questions.

It’s great review for those of us who focus on projects because, no matter what, it’s student learning that is important. Grant Wiggins also wrote a great post on inquiry, PBL, and UbD — provides this gem:

“And that gradual release idea is the essence of backward design in UbD – and a great place to reflect this weekend. How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value? Viewed this way, there is no dichotomy at all between UbD and inquiry-based pedagogy.”

“How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value?”

If my students are to become independent, they need to have choice in doing the work of readers, writers, and researchers. They now need to develop from our work in previous years their own projects that present their work. They work to be collaborative and authentic.

Essential Questions as overarching and transferable elements of language arts are key. So I looked at the verbs and nouns in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and developed a set of questions to start the year — and will add to them as our projects dictate. Because I teach Language Arts, students have some options in content, and so I am releasing some questioning responsibility to students as we follow the Right Question strategy.

I realize that essential questions can be the guiding work of our coarse and also the specific questions of content.  So we consider Essential Questions, and a guiding rubric scale that includes more specific questions and criteria for the language arts content. But what does that mean? If I’m teaching and releasing responsibility, I need even more. The Two Writing Teachers reminded me of writing checklists, so with our new standards, we need new checklists, which I created for each of the essential components that guide our work: collaboration, investigation, content, design, and language. These are our beginning.

And how do we bring this all together for students? A ThingLink:

As we change our task — to choice or teacher driven, we have a basic set of essentials to guide our learning. It’s not perfect yet, but we are moving in the right direction, together.

So, in our work together, students and I are guided by essential questions, focused questions, scales, and checklists. Our work is open in ThingLink [Kidblog for students] and Google Apps.

How do you keep your projects open for students, including the essentials of learning?

#CCSSBlog Think Integrative Think Interactive

Common Core: What Works?

Common Core Cognitive Verbs

On a field trip with my sixth grade students, we stopped at a park across the street from an ice cream parlor. As I walked back from the store to the park with the last group of kids, one of them looked down at the crosswalk markings and asked, “What are those white lines for anyway?

Crosswalk. That’s a pretty important word for city kids for safety. It’s doubly important for a rural kid visiting the big city. But until we were there, walking in the crosswalk, the whole implication for its meaning was just a blur, a word we said without real understanding.

Vocabulary. The Common Core State Standards has plenty. Robert Marzano pulled from the CCSS a list of the common core cognitive verbs representing the thinking strategies students must do when accomplishing the standards. His ASCD article explains six steps to teach these cognitive verbs.

However, like the word crosswalk, like any word or concept, we must “Experience first; live in the world that the language is about,” says James Paul Gee in this Vialogue on Learning and Literacy  He adds, “If you have lived in the world the language is about, if you have an image and actions and practices with other people to associate the words, then it’s easy.”

As language arts teachers, we understand this. Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey remind us that:

 “In particular, students need to use target vocabulary in their spoken language before they can be  expected to use it in more formal written language. As Bromley (2007) reminds us, Language proficiency grows from oral  competence to written competence. All  students benefit from purposeful use of new vocabulary within the context of meaningful and engaging activities. This is even more  critical for adolescent English language  learners who are simultaneously learning English while learning in English (Fisher,  Frey, & Rothenberg, 2008). “p. 4 [emphasis added]

Therefore, we and the students need to be doing these thinking activities and using the language, talking about them before we expect students to understand them and apply them in their reflections on “I can….”

With so many words and concepts to learn, and so many standards, how do we accomplish this?

Think Integrative. Think Interactive.


Integrate the standards into projects that promote interactive teamwork and discussion to create a product. During the discussions and conferences, use, define, and act on the concepts, strategies, and vocabulary relevant to that integrated goal. Live the experience of the goal.

For example, last February as Digital Literacy Day approached, many of our language arts students wondered these questions:

How do we share our information in a more interesting way, like a website does?

How can images add to and make more clear [complement] information?

On our topic, what information should be backed with media and how will we choose?

So we adapted an activity suggested by Digital Literacy Day at: Paper Cut Outs to live those ideas and decisions. See the activity in the embedded document at the end of this post (or here), which includes the integrated standards and the interactive team components [ “Team Discussions”].

At each step, students are collaborating to analyze the information and media in their research and their own decisions for media that matches their topic for their blogs.  As facilitator to the groups, I pop into their discussions to guide them in vocabulary, collaboration, strategies, concepts, decision-making, etc. This is where students “live in the world that the language is about.” This is the “context of meaningful and engaging activities.

As Fisher and Frey explain:

“Effective vocabulary instruction requires that words are taught within context, that definitional and contrastive meanings are provided, and that students have multiple, authentic experiences with using words in their spoken and written language (Beck, McKeown, &Kucan, 2002; Blachowicz & Fisher, 2000;   Graves, 2006.)” p. 9 [emphasis added]

With each team, questions are asked that include content, vocabulary, and processes; students discuss using the vocabulary:

How did you gather relevant information?

How did you analyze the information from the text to determine the central idea?

What in the text helped you see how this idea developed?

How did you paraphrase the conclusion?

How did you compose an objective summary?

How did you create visual displays that demonstrated the salient points?

How do you explain how the ideas and visual displays clarify your topic?

How did you build on each others’ ideas?

How did you cite your sources?

 It is during these intentional conversations that the concepts of content, vocabulary, and process come alive for the student, a crosswalk, a safe and guided path to understanding. We want to them to engage in a crosswalk, not just tell them or provide one model.

So, in teams and with frequent feedback and discussion with each team, the students who chose this goal completed their integrated project. The model and prompt provided guidance for students to plan, design, and publish their information in Kidblog. Other students chose other integrated goals.

Fisher and Frey explain an effective vocabulary program is one that:

 “offers carefully selected words that are presented in context and modeled by the teacher; associative experiences that emphasize both the definitional and contrastive meanings of words, accompanied by student interaction with words and one another; and generative experiences that allow students to make it their vocabulary. p. 9” [emphasis added]

But consider this part of the larger picture of the Common Core State Standards. If we want students to dig deeper and think critically, then they need to live this in authentic interactions and experiences, to verbalize with each other the concepts and processes to make them theirs.

Let them live in the language to understand it, whether it is a process, a strategy, a concept, a behavior, or vocabulary. Give them a crosswalk to understanding.

Common Core: What works?

Think integrative. Think interactive. Think living in the language.



Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. “The value of intentional vocabulary instruction in the middle grades.” Professional Development Series 16 (2010): p.4, 9.

“Vialogues : James Paul Gee and Embedded/embodied Literacy.” Vialogues. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2014 (about 06:20-30).


Digital Literacy Day Project


Whose image is it?

burroughsI love poster images and inspirational quotes. Sometimes they just make my day or encourage me to keep going. Images create emotional responses and so are a powerful addition to our communications. But whose images do we use?

I favorited an inspirational image this morning on Twitter, and it led me on a journey:

  • Image Search
  • Copyright and Creative Commons
  • Citations
  • So

Image Search

Twitter is a wonderful place to share, and of course we Tweet, reTweet and Favorite to share back to our Personal Learning Network [PLN]. But what if I want to use that image in a post? Do I have permission? First, as I usually do, I asked my peep if she had created the image. She didn’t know the source, which is common in Twitterverse because we like to share a good thing. But I really did like the image and wanted to know if I could use it.  Fortunately, Google provides an image search:

googleimageIn the Google Search page, chose “images” to open the image search. I downloaded the image and dragged it into the search bar.



firstmoungsearch Here you see the results, including a name “eric moung,” which is a first clue. I clicked on the first unannoted image hoping it would take me to the original image, but that site did not know the source.

So I clicked on the second unannotated image which brought me to a post on aDigitalBoom which provided the information about the original image. The original image is a copyrighted avatar created by Soul Division Studies for the singer Eric Moung, who is credited as the “Voice of Soul Division.”

But what about the annotated image? Had the message creator received permission and created a Creative Commons image I could use? For this I went back to my original search results and clicked “All Sizes” to find all the images like the one for which I had searched.



There were many. So I started a “time” search —


I searched by year and then my month in 2014 until I found the first instance, May 1,2014-Jun 1, 2014 (see second menu in image).







I found the image on Facebook where Global Peace and Unity had shared Fractal Enlightenment‘s photo, dated April 28,  in which the post credited the artist Eric Moung. I also found a pin image on Pinterest uploaded about the same time by clicking on one of the searched images leading to weheartit.  None of those links shared who created to annotated image.

Copyright and Creative Commons

So does the annotated image represent Copyright Fair Use ?  That’s not for me to say, but without permission, I will honor the artist’s copyright.

According to Copyright Basics, a publication of the United States Copyright Office:

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­
ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship
immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­
ated the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights
through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

I have many images online with a Creative Commons license, but many that are personal are copyrighted, and some are licensed as re-useable, but not re-mixable or adaptable. That’s the beauty of a Creative Commons license: choose what fits, and honor those licenses. According to the Creative Commons mission:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Be sure to learn about the Open Policy Network  and how it works. Begin to choose and use Creative Commons licenses. And educate your students and families about copyright and creative commons.


I teach sixth through eighth grades, and although my students don’t often carry the expectation through to their personal online presence, at school, my students know to credit the source, and to use only Creative Commons or Public Domain images. If students find an image or chart/diagram whose license they are unsure of or is copyrighted, we visit WikiMedia Commons or Search.CreativeCommons using keywords to find alternative images. And we still cite these sources. This year we began using EasyBib or Citation Machine as a citation maker for our work. There are others. Previously, we simply linked to the URL; that is a starting point — but we are learning to be more precise and professional.


Edudemic’s Guides

Edutopia Posts

Copyright Resources [Electronic Frontier Foundation]

Kathy Schrock’s RIP: Respect Intellectual Property List

Get CC Saavy [P2PU]

ReadWriteThink: Students as Creators/Exploring Copyright

Copyright / Copyleft Wikispaces


Whether images or content, cite your sources. Use image search to discover the original artist and their permissions. Find an alternative image that allows reuse.

My husband says this will be the most boring, unread post I’ll write because no one pays attention. Perhaps he’s right, but I’ve discovered my next year’s homework assignments. I don’t usually assign homework — my student’s have lives and chores and sports to worry about. However, sharing citizenship responsibilities about the use of content and images is something worth sharing with families. And students will learn more by teaching them to someone else.

I’d like to thank @bethhill2829 Bethany Hill for leading me on this journey today. I’ve found resources and lessons to share with my PLN and students as I refine my fair use of intellectual property.

What are your favorite resources on copyright, copyleft, and Creative Commons, and how do you teach these to students and their families? And remember to ask: Whose image is it?

Burroughs Quote Source:

“Nothing_exists_until_or_unless_it_is_observed.” Columbia World of Quotations. Columbia University Press, 1996. 07 Jun. 2014. <Dictionary.comhttp://quotes.dictionary.com/Nothing_exists_until_or_unless_it_is_observed>.

Image created with Visual Poetry and posted on Instagram using original photography.

Other images: Screenshots of search.


#napowrimo14 is what?

April is National Poetry Month

sponsored by the Academy of American Poets

What is poetry? What is a poem?

#napowrimo is National Poetry Writing Month!

started by poet Maureen Thorson

a challenge to write a poem a day

that’s write: 30 poems in 30 days 


Let it bloom !

Ready ? Set? Write !

Writer’s block?  Not sure what to do?

Try these:  Online Interactives from Read/Write/Think: Theme PoemsAcrostic PoemsDiamante Poems

or learn from poets how:

Instant Poetry Forms

Kinds of Poems by Kathi Mitchell

Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry4Kids

Giggle Poetry How To

Which kind fits you? Why did you chose it? Why is it poetry?

Write it up !

Draft your poem on your Kidblog  and edit. Let us know:

Which kind fits you? Why did you chose it? Why is it poetry?



Read it up!

Not sure you want to write a poem every day? How about reading one every day. Find one you like. Link to it in your Kidblog and let us know:

Which kind fits you? Why did you chose it? Why is it poetry?

A Poem a Day by GottaBook

Children’s Poetry Archive — hear poets read 

What do you notice?

Help document: Stuck on the questions: Which kind fits you? Why did you chose it? Why is it poetry?  review author craft in the help document.  Make two copies as directed and fill it out for a poem  your connect with.

Let’s discover:

What is poetry? What is a poem?


Teacher Resources


Close your eyes and think of somebody who is really influential in your life and/or who matters to you. Why is this person so important?


Who matters to me ?


Scott Hunter



Why is this person so important?

We live in a small town, actually we live in a community of five small towns, each with their own identities and government. As small town America began to crumble, my husband, Scott, stepped up to be part of solutions. He’s been President of Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce (sometimes at the same time) more times than I can remember. Years ago our hospital almost became defunct, but due to Scott’s diligence and research, the situation turned around, and in later years the community worked together to build one of the best small medical centers around. He’s been part of finding ways to build a new school, organizing and helping at the community festivals, maintaining the fish hatchery, building the fishing ramp for those with disabilities, and trying to bring a new community center here. As Publisher of the local paper, The Star, he keeps the community informed on the issues that affect our small towns and our lives. He’s not the only one, because we have many outstanding, active citizens; but I am inspired by the fact that he stepped up and became a leader for the community, always focusing on bringing all of our towns and people together. He amazes me with all he does.

Between the two of us, we have four children and ten grandchildren, and everyone of them would say, Grampa is the best ever. Scott is a sensible person, not a sensitive person. By that I mean, you can bet he’ll find a way to let you know the truth; he’ll give you the facts straight up. All of our family depends on this, a caring father and grandfather who’ll be honest about the problems expressed, or the politics, or any drama he is sure to squelch. “What do you think about…” is a question he gets often, by phone, email, or in person because our family respects his ideas, and the loving and logical way he presents them. He’s always reading everything on every topic from politics to economics to religion to history to black holes. I do believe he’s related to Leonardo da Vinci, although we do hire out any for any repairs. Storytelling, boating, walking the dog, visiting the bat cave, searching for dragons, discussing God: these are the things Scott brings to our family. We are so inspired by his wisdom, humor, and the fun times he gives us. Who wouldn’t be inspired?

And me. Throughout our years of marriage, we two have enjoyed each other’s company in love and respect. He has supported my time, all the extra time, devoted to my teaching career. People don’t realize how much time most teachers give to create a positive and challenging experience to their students. Scott has always supported those times, and even written a few poems about it. Yes, Scott is also a poet; his words wrap images onto the paper and into your mind; they are safely tucked inside a folder, treasured, too personal and powerful to share, but ever uplifting to pull out and remember. He gently picks on his guitar and creates melodies that invite you into new worlds that swirl in music in your mind. And when he sings, his resonant voice fills you with awe. So, I don’t think I have to tell you how easy it was to fall in love with him; so much romance and music, consideration and conversation. With our kids, he’s always made time (see above) to create a home, a family, for our blended crew.  We spend more of our time in intellectual conversations than planted in front of the tube; you’ll find us immersed in our iPads researching on a topic of interest and then discussing what we discovered, often on a hike or walk with our dog, Pooka. And as my teaching world crumbles around me, he is there reminding me to stay the course and do what’s best for my students. Scott fuels my fire, and, by his example and through his wisdom and humor, inspires me daily. I am amazed at all his talents.

So. My husband Scott is ever present and a steadfast supporter of our community. His wisdom gained from continual learning provides a foundation for our family. And I am every day blessed with his consideration and conversation, his prose and poetry, and his love.

He is inspiration.


Thanks, Scott!

You’re my inspiration!

Post is a suggestion by Larry Ferlazzo for Thanksgiving

#nablopomo #nablopomoed This week I considered…


Over the past week I considered my three classes, each as a community of learners. How will I meet their needs? differentiate? create a student-centered focus? include tech tools as appropriate? What projects will inspire them? motivate them? engage them? show their learning? This will be my main consideration.

Over the past week I considered several projects that accomplish meeting the needs of two demands: 1) coaches expectations and most importantly 2) student engagement.

I hope to begin two projects.

For one, we will begin a wiki for sharing “The Six Traits of Writing — You Can Too” [or whatever title the students design]. Our first focus will be Sentence Fluency, which is my part of the collaboration with my colleague who will teach Conventions.

The other is a news project for student journalists focusing on both reading and writing goals. In my mind I see literary and prose — reviews and news. I’m not sure how it will play out — I would like teams on Edmodo to plan , drafts in our Google Docs, and publish in a blog. I may start with reading news, as in this News and You idea. I will revise an old project: News Project.

Over the past week I considered my novel for #NaNoWriMo. November is hectic because I have so much in my personal life to accomplish and so much expected for school. I took a deep breath and planned out the month to meet what I need to do.

And that’s an overview of Day 10: Over the past week I considered…