LV Impact

Lakeview Staff Newsletter - July 6

4th of July

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I thought it was interesting to see how many people purchased their own fireworks this year. Maybe you did this, too? I see this as an act of resilience, trying to find some sense of normalcy. When I was young, my family would spend summers at my grandparent's cottage in Minocqua on the shores of Squirrel Lake. We would buy our fireworks at Trig's supermarket and make a "playlist" for the big show.

Fast forward [I won't say how many] years and, living in Milwaukee county, my kids have never purchased or set off their own fireworks. Trust me ... nothing we set off was anything that exciting, but my daughters were absolutely giddy about the experience of buying the fireworks, making the showlist, and setting them off Saturday night. And I got to relive a favorite part of my childhood through them.

Welcome to our new Special Ed teacher!

On Wednesday night, the school board will be asked to approve the hire of Barb Grossman as our new 2nd/3rd Special Ed teacher. Barb lives in South Milwaukee and her older child is going into 1st grade at Blakewood! Barb is a literacy expert, is great at building relationships, and is a proponent of inclusive communities. I will be setting up times for Barb to start meeting with her teammates after the school board meeting. Welcome, Ms. Grossman!

Teacher's College Institute

Last week, I attended (virtually) the June Institute for Readers Workshop. I can't say enough about the joy and passion that the people at Teacher's College bring to reading and writing - it reminded me of each and every one of you. I have 72 pages of notes (really!) but let me share a few things that really hit me:

• Lucy Calkins opened the conference with a keynote, of course. I expected to hear a call to action about reading and writing. I was wrong. Lucy gave 873 people in a Zoom call a very heartfelt talk about losing her father in January and her husband in March. Here's a Lucy quote: "We just need to do everything with more love and more intensity and more joy than ever."

• I can't tell you the number of times presenters throughout the whole week emphasized Interactive Read Alouds that are planned and executed well. They were described as "the engine that pulls the entire reading workshop". Over and over, presenters flat out said to stop working so much on mini-lesson planning and spend that time on IRA and Small Group planning.

• Incorporating the Bands of Text Complexity into our daily work was a recurring theme. Here was the money quote from Brooke Geller (the main author of the 3rd grade mystery unit): "As teachers, we don’t read books to/with students to look at single characters or plots or anything else. We read them to consider characteristics that are common to a variety of texts that are within the same band." Another presenter said "If you teach to a book, when the book ends, your teaching ends." This is how we keep our focus on teaching readers rather than books. We teach transferrable skills that lead to independence, which means saying things like, "When readers encounter a text like this, they often find ..." or "One thing that readers do when they encounter a text like this is ..." Other suggestions were using Bands of Text Complexity as a conferring tool and to see if our students' writing is as sophisticated as what they are reading. A lot of focus on using Read Aloud books to help pull students across the "gap" between bands of text complexity (purposefully executing meaty read alouds using books at Levels K, N, R, and U).

• A lot of very timely emphasis not just on books that showcase diversity, but on reading as an act of resistance and liberation, connecting mind, heart, and action. Teachers who do this "become the 'armor' that students of various cultural groups need to not just survive, but thrive" (Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul). I have lists of books and I will be placing an order to continue the work that Janet began for us last year to increase our collection of #OwnVoice authors and Black Joy books.

• A reader should be growing one reading level every six weeks. [If you gulped when you read that, you're not alone - I did, too. Read it again and let it sink in.] It makes sense when you think of one year's growth and the growth across K-5.

• Links:

Padlet for transitional series texts - series that are at the lower end of a band of text complexity.

Padlet of high-leverage nonfiction series books

Padlet of ways to keep current on kid literature

• Some other quotes:

"Reading floats on a sea of talk" - a reminder of the importance of partnerships and class discussion.

"The Units of Study grow as teachers grow" - this work gets deeper as we deepen our expertise.

"We have to have real relationships with our kids - several small group and conference interactions per week" (Lucy C.)

"Series readers often become lifelong readers! Getting kids into series is important."

"By the way … every level is an instructional level." (also a Lucy quote)

"Nonfiction helps us figure out who we are. The universe is full of things to care deeply about and nonfiction brings that all to us."

"The banner under which UoS rests is 'Teachers make decisions'."


And ... if you're feeling especially interested in any of the above, here is a link to my entire 72 pages of notes. When I re-read my notes after the conference was over, I made anything that seemed especially important to me into red text.


One last thought - I highly encourage you to go back and re-read chapter one of "A Guide to Reading Workshop". You probably don't have it at home right now. I just looked and I don't even think it's in your online resources, so I scanned it into this file for you (the highlighting is not my own). I re-read it this week and found it incredibly empowering. I'll bet you a China Chef lunch that, knowing all you've learned over the last few years, if you return to this chapter, you will find it equal parts affirming, empowering, renewing, and heartwarming.

Thanks for all the work everyone does to help our students fall in love with reading! We are firmly on the right track together for our students.

Good to Great

After hours of TC Zoom calls each day last week, I needed some printed text of my own. The book I read this week was "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. The book itself is almost 20 years old, but it is quoted and referenced so often that I really wanted to read it. It's about figuring out what took a company from "good" to "great". I think Lakeview matches many of the descriptions in the book (like making sure who comes before what), but there are 3 questions that I think are worth pondering:

1. What are you deeply passionate about doing?

2. What can you be the best in the world at?

3. What drives your economic engine? [sub "achievement engine" for us]

When an organization knows their answers to these 3 questions and is disciplined to stay focused on those answers, breakthrough growth occurs.

New Standards

The State Superintendent of Schools has adopted new standards for ELA, PE, and Financial Literacy. I did some reading in each of them. The very end of the ELA document actually lists some similarities and differences between the 2010 and 2020 standards, which is helpful. Here is a link to the DPI Standards page. [Note: As of this writing, SDSM has not adopted any new standards in these content areas.]