Fox Valley Reading Council

Fall 2018 Newsletter

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A letter from your Co-Presidents

Letter from the Presidents-Camille Lutz (pronounced "Lootz") and Dawn Lutz (pronounced "Luhtz")

Welcome back to an exciting new year! The" Lutzes" (no, we are not related) are excited to offer you a unified presidency in 2018-19. Camille just started her 20th year in special education at Conant High School and Dawn is a third grade teacher in Geneva with fourteen years here and another seventeen in 2nd grade in Wisconsin. We aim to personalize the Fox Valley Reading Council a bit more so it becomes a group of people you want to spend time with professionally and personally. It is so important to continue to grow professionally, even though we get bogged down by our great responsibilities and the very important work we need to do. We know you are all dedicated and need to have like minds with which to empathize. So, let's get to know you each a bit better!

Join us at our Back-to-School book talk with Anderson's Book Store from Naperville and Bert Crossland from Heinemann Publishing to ramp up our excitement for new books and new learning! All grade levels will benefit from this presentation and there will be books to buy as well! Bring your school's tax exempt number and your wallet. This year it will be held at Williamsburg Elementary in Geneva on Sept. 22! You won't want to miss it! Please register below. Please drop us a note if you have any suggestions to help us personalize our group or want to get involved yourself: (Camille) or (Dawn). Have a great year!

Fox Valley Wants You! Volunteer- it feels good!

Here at Fox Valley we are always looking for anyone interested in helping out. Are you interested in getting more involved? We need help with our community service projects- Books for Babies, where we collect new and gently used books and donate them to local hospitals, and The Global Pencil Project, where we collect pencils and send them off to orphanages in Africa. You can volunteer as little or as much as you would like! Or maybe you would like to help us out at one of our events? Contact us below today!

Back To School Event! And it's FREE!

Saturday, Sep. 22nd, 8:30-11:30am

1812 Williamsburg Avenue

Geneva, IL

Kathleen March from Anderson's Bookstore will share the latest children's books for your classroom. Teachers will receive 20% off. Bring your tax exempt form to save even more money. Bert Crossland from Heinemann books will share the latest Professional Development Books for teachers. This is a free event! So you will have more money to spend! Bring a non-member for more chances to win prizes.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Got Tech?

If you are like me, I love to have most teacher apps right on my phone or tablet so that I have portable, easy access. The apps for Kagan are no exception! The Kagan Timer Tools app is one of my favorites. Even if you do not regularly use Kagan Structures in your classroom, this app is extremely helpful. It allows the teacher to use a variety of timer options such as: count down, stop watch, turn taker, etc. These are also available on your computer/projector enabling a whole class to have visual support. At $2.99 in the App Store it's a steal! -Beth Herrig

Empower Your Writers

Welcome back! My third grade students have written about their summer after I read aloud Mark Teague's, How I Spent My Summer Vacation. I read, they turned and talked to their desk partner, I modeled my writing, and they were off and writing. Cute unedited stories about themselves on vacation helps me have an understanding of what they can do, yet, where do I go from here? Our district has a boxed curriculum, which I must teach, but I want more.

I have been thinking about how I want my Writer's Workshop to lead my students. Luckily for me, Brian Kissel and his book, When Writers Drive the Workshop, is helping me figure it out! It's not where Writer's Workshop takes my students, but where the writers lead my workshop! This was the last book I picked up as a new professional development book this summer, and I'm so glad I did. It is reminding me to use what I learned in my Masters of Literacy (MLIT 4) program at Judson University and change the way I approach Writer's Workshop this year.

The foreward in Teague's book, written by writing guru Aimee Buckner, reminds me that years ago, "Don Graves told us to listen to the children. Teach the writer. Live the way writers do" (p. 1.) It is my goal this year to do just that, yet I recognize that it will be difficult for me. I need to write with my students, even though I am uncomfortable with that idea, and listen to students to see what they need to be taught next. Teachers like to be in control and know what is coming next. That's why this is a challenge to me-I will not know exactly what is next; it is what my students need. I feel my year of experience as a teacher will help me, more than I know, to put myself out there and use that knowledge to lead my way, while concentrating on listening to students.

Brian Kissel's book "focuses on what happens when empowered writers direct the writer's workshop" (p. 7.) I specifically like the first chapter about conferring because it helps me with, what I feel is the most difficult part and most important part of workshop for me. Brian reminds us that responses to student work do not have to be in a certain order. A compliment does not have to come first. He encourages an "authentic human response" (p. 12.) He encourages teachers to ask questions and students to be reflective, and gives examples of how to start:

  • "Who is your audience?"

  • "How might I help?" (p.17.)

The other chapters of When Writers Drive the Workshop, are: The Author's Chair, Reflection, Mini-Lessons, and Conditions. All worth the time to help you find your way. I challenge you to empower your students this year and use Brian Kissel's book to guide you on your journey!

-Dawn Lutz

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Book Recomendation

The Unlearning Leader - Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today

Written By: Michael Lubelfeld & Nick Polyak

Pop Quiz - What 2 colors color are yield signs? You might be thinking yellow & black, however yield signs have been red and white since 1971!! We learned different “facts” growing up that were indeed true then, but are no longer true as the world changes around us. This notion of change applies to education as well. What have we learned early in our career that is no longer applicable in education?

In an ever changing world we, as educational leaders, must adapt and unlearn our ways of the past to prepare student for THEIR futures, not the future of OUR childhood. In the book, The Unlearning Leader - Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today authors, Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Polyak challenge us to think about what we need to unlearn and do differently in education.

Dr. Polyak and Dr. Lubelfeld challenge us to think about the connections we make and our professional learning networks, they challenge us to unlearn connections and create an action plan to expand our connections in a global society, including but not limiting ourselves to unlearning the fear of social media!

It is often hard to move the pendulum in education, we get stuck in the planning stages of change or the reflection phase. Often the best school improvement plans fall flat when it comes to implementation. Throughout the “Unlearning Leader”, we are taught how to unlearn the planning and change process and move away from the “That’s the Way We Have Always Done It” mentality!

Many feel that education is a top-down organization, however that is just not true, nor should it be. After reading this text you will learn how to unlearn leadership, what it means to be a leader and how to be an effective leader….anyone can be a leader, a title does not make you a leader. What you do, how you treat people, your actions make you a leader. Additionally, you will unlearn professional development. It is no longer acceptable to attend sit & get trainings and consider that quality professional development. We need meaningful, ongoing job-embedded professional learning opportunities throughout our career!

I would highly recommend “The Unlearning Leader” to anyone in education who wants to make an impact, it is a great read with suggestions and examples you can use to implement change immediately into your classroom, building, or district. We need to be proactive, not reactive to help students succeed, with the only constant in education being change, we can’t wait, we must unlearn our old practices and start leading tomorrow’s schools today!! -Katie Algrim

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