Saturday, November 17, 2018

Literacy Conference x 46

For the past several months, the Conference Committee has spent numerous hours preparing for two days for the 46th Annual Arkansas Literacy Association's Literacy Conference...that flew by in the wink of an eye.

The long story?  This was to be the last literacy conference. Declining registrants. Exorbitant overhead costs.  Little (if any) profit.

The short story?  The people showed up.  Registrant numbers increased.  An energy exuded from all.  Not one negative comment. True!

The end result:  "This just can't be our last conference."  "These people love getting together face-to-face."  "Let's talk about how we can make this happen..again."

So chat we will!

Why did this change happen?

Penny Kittle was the General Session keynote.  They loved her.  Her love of literacy and books was just contagious.  Oh!  I do remember a complaint...they wished she had talked longer.   :)

I traveled to the conference with a bit of dread in my heart, knowing this would be the last.  Then, I heard the numbers and hope arose....and continued to rise.  Yay!

There's this thing about hope.  Hope keeps one going when all seems hopeless.

This thing called hope...feels good!

Looking forward to what the future holds for this conference...for what number 47 will entail.

On a sub-note...just a slight switch of topics:  If you are not involved in a professional organization, please consider doing so.  I listened to one of our board members chat and reminisce about how this group was the reason she became a literacy leader and how she had watched this organization develop such skills in other leaders, including our current president, who planned and organized, who stood and spoke, who has grown into a tremendous literacy leader.

This group of ladies inspire me, motivate me, challenge me, change me.

In all we do, we work as a team, empowering one another.  Just a precious thing.  Truly.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Gillmore Tech Tips in 30

This year, every student in grades 6-12 has his/her own Chromebook.  Just.  So. Sweet.    I am so enjoying how much time we are saving as they open up this tech tool, and we instantly go to work.  Yes!

In one class's time, we may use Google Classroom, Forms (and the charts displaying their responses), Slides, Docs, Blogger, and our class website hosted on a Google Site.    No time to get bored!

Now, that routines are more established, beginning tomorrow, I am going to begin hosting Gillmore's Tuesday Tech Tips to share what I do know...and learn more along the way.  My concern remains that our teachers were not prepped enough for this 1-to-1 journey we are taking year, so I offered to host a 30-minute session for teachers after schools on Tuesday (just have to love the alliteration...Tuesday's Tech Tips...:).

Schedule of Topics
  • Week 1:  How to Drive Google Drive - Go...Slow Down...Stop!
  • Week 2:  How to Control Your Drive = Folders!  Adding to...deleting...taking away...moving around...
  • Week 3:  Google Forms...how to use that data attached...how to use as a formative assessment...and...
  • Week 4:  TBA! 
This share time begins tomorrow.  We shall see if the teachers are interested!

Now, to begin building a resource or two...:)


Friday, August 31, 2018

The "Write" Epiphany

Only 28 years later...and the idea struck...start with the writing jargon...and build from there.

This lesson was affirmed last year when midway through the year, I was STILL reviewing what they had NOT learned the first time around when I told them more instead of showed them.  This year, I began the year with a series of sample paragraphs from previously modeled assignments on which they have annotated...and annotated...and...yes, for four days, until light bulbs are turning on...and burning brighter!

This year, I stay up late...and wake up early...planning and preparing.  Love that excitement of pulling lessons together that just work.

Hummm...I am the only one in my department choosing to switch the order and teach and assess (formatives and summatives) the writing jargon and format before diving into the language skills.  Could I be wrong...after all these years? 

I don't think so.

Besides myself, epiphanies are occurring within the minds of those sitting around me within my classroom.  Soon I will know, for I will assess later next week.  Soon. 

What epiphanies are you having about the sequencing and scaffolding of skills?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Sometimes, the Light Bulb Shines Brighter

"Mrs. Gillmore, why haven't we been taught to write like this before now?" asks a tenth grade male student, as we view teacher-modeled paragraphs and review this same format again.

"Maybe your teachers were not taught writing format this way?" I reply.

I was not, or I forgot.  What?!

This Gillmore-Style Writing Format came from two "programs" and personal epiphanies over my years of teaching many hundreds...several thousands...of students how to write paragraphs of any depth or breadth, from visuals and the use of colors and jargon that will remain consistent throughout this entire academic year.

I attribute Step up to Writing and the works of Jane Schaffer...and my merging their jargon with mine.  The result is just a method that clicks with students.  HINT...see first question above.

Also, I am continually evolving.  Last year, I taught and taught and taught...and failed to slow down and assess their knowledge of this writing jargon.  This year, this is a must, this slowing down, this mastering of the terminology within the first couple weeks of school, from which I am already witnessing results.  HINT...see first question above.

That tenth grade student validated, patted me on my professional back, when he asked me that question.

Today was a good day.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

The New...and My New Best Friend

New classes...new faces...new energies...and 2018-2019 is off to a great start!

This year, I will teach/lead four sections of English 10, one of English 11 (have not taught this level in several years), and one of Teacher Cadets.

NEW!  Each student has his/her own Chromebook.  Sweet that the bell rings...they open up the computer...and to work we go.  No removing computers from the cart, signing in...and so on. 

So far...in my room...bandwidth has been my friend.  This has been quite the problem as we placed all students and teachers (and their phones!) on at one time...approximately 2000 connections (hummm...with phones...probably many more).  Yes, life has been interesting!

My newest best tech tool friend is the app Hapara, which connects to my students screens via their connection with the teacher's Google Classroom.  So.  Powerful.  So helpful in combating a student's addictions to games.  How do you spell Fortnite?! 

AND...did I mention I have the capability/power to take a pic of the student's screen?   With this empowerment comes my complete support of a 1-to-1 environment.  My classroom has had computers for each student for nearly a decade...and this struggle to maintain control of their fingers switching screens before my body and eyes could view their screens before they shut down the not-needed site...has been real!  So very real.  BUT.  No more!  Yay!  Life is just so good!

Sidenote:  I have no problem with a student playing a game...now and then.  Just.  NOT.  During. My.  Class.  Seriously, I am paid to work their brains from bell to bell...we have much thinking and typing...and reading and thinking...to do in my 80 minutes with them!

Theory 1:  I have to repeat as much as I do because students' brains have been in the game world.  Just a thought.  Will gather data...and return with an update at some point!  :)

What is your favorite tech tool this year?  Please share!

My next adventure will be to utilize Flipgrid...more about that coming soon! 

Happy new school year!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Year 28...in 2018

Three days into this school year already!  My, time does fly when one is having fun...and when the days are just full!

Welcome to 2018-2019 in Cafe 16...where CAFE stands for Collaborating, Analyzing, Facilitating, Elaborating, all of which we shall engage much this upcoming year.

Yes, this is my 28th year in education.  Wow!  Time really has flown!  May I share not 28...not 18...just eight of the expectations I have for this year?

  1. To recover the joy of my career I had the first 14 years.
  2. To ever better prepare my students to think.
  3. To ever better prepare my students to know how to learn.
  4. To ever learn what inspires my students.
  5. To ever encourage reading...and reading...and reading.
  6. To empower my students to write more, reflect more.
  7. To encourage all my students to become involved within our high school community.
  8. To be the best teacher I have ever been.
There.

Not be be dramatic, but my years inside the classroom are numbered.  I am asked often when I will retire.  I will retire when I have accomplished numbers 1 and 8...and dread 2-7.  That year is not this year.  This is going to be the best one yet!

Welcome back!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tammy's Travels - Summer 2018

For twelve days, I traveled from one professional development experience to another.  What a blessing!  So much fun.

Want to tag along?

The first stop on this journey was the Arkansas Reading Association's summer Council Leadership Institute.  A very busy two and half days!

Here, the Board invited local council leaders in for two days of plotting and planning to ensure 2018-2019 is quite the success.  Besides being actively involved in the Board, I again will serve as President of my local council.  I have a dream...that more of our teachers will be involved within our local council this upcoming year.

May I encourage you to become involved in your local or state literacy organization?  Nothing more inspiring than planning events with other literacy leaders!  Yes, more to come as we plan our 46th Annual Fall Literacy Conference and our 2nd Annual Online Conference.  Fun!

From these two and half days, I flew to Orlando, Florida, to spend three days with fellow National Board Teacher and Arkansas Teachers for National Board Certification Board member at the National Board Academy, an event where the NB Networks meet and plan for the upcoming year.  From the moment I arrived, I knew this year would be different as my friend was inspired, engaged, and motivated to re-energize our ATNBC.  This began quite the intense several days of birthing a vision.  Ever given birth?  It's work!  But so rewarding.  I look forward to seeing this plan come to fruition.

Then, we played.  Our last evening there, we visited the Magic Kingdom, my first visit in 25+ years.  Fun, indeed! 

May I encourage you to become a National Board Certified Teacher?  Without a doubt, some of the best personal growth and reflection in which I have ever engaged.    Plus, what a group with whom to connect!  Powerful!  #NBCTstrong!

Following these days, I spent one (of the three offered...but on a very tight schedule) at the Digital Ed Alliance Google Summit, hosted annually in Trumann, AR.  There, I presented a session on Collaboration...using Docs, Slides, Classroom.  There, I attended sessions and fell further in love with Google Sites (I have moved my website to a Google Site and purchased my own domain name...may check it out here:  CafeGillmore).

I had intended to complete Level 1 and 2 of Google Educator in June...hummm...yes, well, where has this summer gone?!  Still committed to completing this goal!

May I encourage you to complete this goal with me?  This year, we continue further implementing a 1-to-1 endeavor in grades 6-12, so staying abreast of all-things-Google is my goal!

The next morning...way before the break of dawn, I arrived at the airport by 4:00 AM to fly to Austin, TX, to attend the International Literacy Association's annual conference.  Friday was a workday for state affiliates...Sat/Sun were conference days...with Monday's being the first annual Children's Literature Day.  I soooo enjoyed all days.  Attending sessions with the greats...Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher...and then attending their sessions...and many others I admire...that was just the cherry on the top of this very delicious cake of continual professional development days.

Children's Literature Day...what a day!  Three keynotes (had to miss the last one to catch my flight home...and was I ready...remember, this was Day 12 on the road!)...Author Meetups (seven authors...and seven new books!)...a delicious lunch...and then a meeting with two authors and Jacqueline Stallworth (Twitter:  @thebigseablog...she is amazing!). 

During this last session, the books presented further inspired two units I want to create and lead/teach with my English 11 class (first time I have taught this grade level in some time...!...)  More about this later in the year...as these units will be hosted second semester.

I attended this conference with four others from the Arkansas Reading Association.  We accomplished much by networking during much of our time there.  Confirmed our January book club with author Michael Shoulders!  Yay!

May I encourage you to be a Changemaker?  This I want to continue to be this year...with my students, with my peers...for myself.  Won't you join me?

Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Please share!  What was the best professional development of your summer?