Final Days to Register for our online #MakerSpace Camp

Today (or tomorrow) are the last days to register for our The Educator Collaborative MakerSpace Camp in order to guarantee you receive your MakerKits on time!

Cadet and Admiral levels attend the full online camp and, while joining us live, will have a hands-on MakerKit to work along with us.

If you don’t already follow @TheEdCollab or subscribe to our mailing list (

Two nights of making growing  exploring + true STE(A)M learning!





(Streamed Free To Everyone!  Yes!  Free!)


laura newbio

Sunday, March 29

Laura Fleming

Member of The Educator Collaborative Team and author of Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School


Monday, March 30

Troy Hicks


Author of Crafting Digital WritingCreate, Compose, Connect! and The Digital Writing Workshop




Kits designed by The Educator Collaborative and our event partner Table Top Inventing

✧MakerKits For Cadets Only:


Sunday night: Dive into the kit and “make” right along with us!

☼ Monday morning: Try out “making” at your school!

☺︎ Monday day and night: share your “maker” inventions using #TheEdCollabMaker

Kit includes beginner supplies: paper cut templates, aluminum wire, clothes pins, clips, magnets, batteries and a class set of LED “blinkey lights” and more.  The kit is designed for one participant and one “class set” of additional items for use on Monday.  Additional items may be purchased anytime from our event partner Table Top Inventing.

We’ll invite you to supply a few creative items, too. That SECRET MISSION will come in the weeks before the MAKER SPACE CAMP.


✬MakerKits and Advanced Learning For Admirals Only:


✪✪✪✪ In Four, Follow-Up Sessions with Laura Fleming: Dive more deeply into the world of making. Exploring STE(A)M concepts that will take your making and makerspaces into the stratosphere.

Kit includes advanced supplies: LEDs, speakers, an oscillator board, an “Arduino” Board, and more.  The kit is designed for one advanced participant.  Additional items may be purchased anytime from  our event partner Table Top Inventing.

We’ll invite you to supply a few creative items, too. That TOP SECRET MISSION will come before your first FOLLOW-UP MEETING.

✬  Admirals = Extended Learning  ✬

Admirals will join Laura Fleming for 4 additional, online, group learning sessions!

Meeting in an intimate group, limited to only 9 members, Laura will support you in advanced makerspace techniques, structures, and robotics.

Admiral Mission Meeting Dates (a.k.a. Online Additional Sessions):

  • April 17th,
  • April 24th,
  • May 15th,
  • and June 5th

When registering, you will select your Admrial Group:

  • Group Alpha meets online 3-4PM EST/Noon-1PM PST
  • now closed, waitlist available: Group Beta meets online 5-6PM EST/3-4PM PST



In addition to Laura Fleming and Troy Hicks, we are excited to be joined by these special guests!

➢ Making as a Path to­—and Beyond—the CCSS and ISTE Standards

ziemkeChris Lehman Author PhotoChristopher Lehman, Founding Director, author of several popular books include Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Kate Roberts) and Energize Research Reading and Writing

➢ Empowering Teachers and Students as Designers: Game-Making as a Pathway to Deeper Learning

instituteofplay_logo_mainScreen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.10.44 AM




 J84A1180An Institute of Play “Making” Event

➢ “A Scoptti logoe and Sequence of Making”: From Leading Kids, To Giving Them The Lead

  • Steve Kurti, Research Physicist and “Chief Maker and Mad Scientist” at Table Top Inventing


▸▷>>>>REGISTER HERE<<<<◀︎◁

 Three Levels of Registration! ❖


Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 10.02.30 PM

Seats are limited at “Cadet” and “Admiral” levels. Waitlist available once seats are filled.


More information is available on our MakerSpace Camp page (link).


▸▷>>>>REGISTER HERE<<<<◀︎◁

Special Thanks to Our Event Partners:

Table Top Inventing

tti logo


Institute of Play



#Nerdlution15 – More Happy (Less Injury)

Please come with me into a special rocket ship I had built (I know the engineer, old friend) back to the time when we all could actually get all of our goals accomplished and still have time to relax on the beach.

by Joe Schneid, used under Creative Commons

Yea. No. That’s not real and never will be.

Which is why my friends Franki Sibberson, Colby Sharp, Kristi Mraz and I—and tons of you—are in the midst of another #NERDLUTION!

To be clear. I think many of you have already started your nerdultions and have been posting about it.  I, on the other hand, am still waiting for that rocket ship delivery.  

So here is my day to catch up.


For the uninitiated, a “nerdlution” is a resolution that we nerdy educators make to better ourselves, or our community, or each other. Or to just simply do something fun. Or strange. Or really anything at all that you want to commit to.

Here is a post from last year where I explain the birth of the movement and give more specific rules on forming your own nerdlution (hint: there are none).

(And when I say there are none, I mean none. Example: Franki ate apples last year.)

(Well, sort of).

Last year my nerdlution was to do 100 push-ups per day. That lasted for longer than I thought. I felt great. And only led to 3 months of physical therapy for my rotator cuff.  Hahaaaaabutreally.

On to #Nerdlution15!

by Kristi Mraz

This year I am equally workout focused, but in a more controlled and less shoulder failure way.

My goal is to workout at least 3 times per week (but bonus points if I do more) using a new app that I really love, “Strong,” which basically is a 2.0 way to record weight lifted per rep/set.

I see a trainer… sometimes a lot, sometimes a little… and really want to get better at working out on my own so when I see him I don’t embarrass myself.

What I love about the app, aside from it keeping me focused on completing exercises, is that it totals everything at the end of each workout session.  Meaning, even if the amount I lifted each rep was pitiful, at the end I can lie to myself because it says I lifted, for example—true story—SIXTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS.

FullSizeRender 6
Proof. Clearly.

Which I thiiink makes me the strongest man in the world.

No? No? That’s not how it really works?

So my #Nerdlution15 is to keep a steady gym routine using my app.

You Can Too

Just pick something to commit to. Then tweet and blog about it using the hashtag #Nerdlution15.

Or don’t tweet or blog and just do it.

Or invite your whole class to pick something. Anything. And join in.

Reading a great poem everyday, giving a compliment, running, cooking, spending more time with your kids.

If it will make you happy, do it.


Happy #nerdlution15!

Bring your edu-friends: #TheEdCollabGathering

There are many kinds of tired.

Grumpy tired, new baby tired (hi Kate and Maggie), but-its-THE-WEEKEND tired, and the rest. (Pun intended.)

Right now, though, I’m feeling awesome-tired. The kind where your eye balls are crossing and your every thought includes a blanket and yet you feel like you’ve accomplished something big.

While I won’t really rest until Saturday, at about 5PM, a first big accomplishment of this upcoming weekend is finished and ready to share:






Come check out the agenda, the presenters, the sessions – and while I’m totally biased, I can’t help myself but be oo’ed and ah’ed by the line up.

Saturday, September 20th

9:30AM – 4:00PM EST

Donalyn Miller is keynoting, and there are just too many others (Jen Serravallo) to mention here (Rafranz Davis), you’ll really have to go (Kristin Ziemke) check it out (Kathy Collins) for yourself (Luis Perez) and start making (Sara Ahmed) plans for what you’ll watch live (Kristi Mraz) that day.

The best part, is that—if the internet behaves—all sessions will be archived. So you could actually watch all of the sessions, even the ones you miss the first time!

We will keep the site and archives live for as long as you’d like to keep click, click, clicking on em.

We are so excited to share this with all of you!  Thanks for all you do.

Thanks on This Back-To-School-Eve

For all your end-of-summer blues, “why do I have to set my alarm clock again?” shock, and your endless prepping and planning for this first day of school, know that your efforts matter.


In just our home, you have a soon-to-be second grader and a brand-new kindergartner feeling excited for a new year to begin. They are anxious, yet just can’t wait to get to know their teachers.


When you step into your classroom this year, as some of you already have, you will profoundly and forever impact the lives of children.


You are a hero. Really, truly, we should hold a ticker-tape parade in your honor tomorrow. As the sun rises in the morning we should usher you down your nearest main street in an open top cadillac. We should line the streets, waving signs, celebrating the great gifts you will give this year.


This year

you will be someone’s champion

you will forever change someone’s self-esteem

you will touch a family in a profound way

you will help a colleague more than you will know

you will heal a heart

you will grow a mind

you will change another small part of the world for the better.


Here’s to an amazing school year.

Thank you for the gifts you share, the struggles you surmount, and the belief you hold.


Happy 2014-15!

image in public domain




When There’s No White Horse: Being our Best Advocates

A few days ago several people forwarded a blog post to me titled “An Obituary for Close Reading.” They sent it along not because they thought talk of the death of close reading would worry me (life will go on), but because there are some less than glowing comments made about Kate and my book in both that post and a follow up one.

Some close friends felt badly for me, some others wondered if I should respond, still others said to brush it off.  I’ve had my share of good and bad reviews for all sorts of stuff, so it’s nothing new.

I did feel compelled to write a post today because, bruises aside, I actually agree with the author.

Well, okay, I’m human I don’t completely agree. I, like all parents, think my babies are the sweetest, brightest, most beautiful ones on the block.

I more specifically agree with the conceit that we need to be careful of buzz words and advocate for our own learning and practice.

To go a step farther, I think advocating needs to go well beyond shunning buzz words. Once something has become edubabble it is almost too late.

We, as a profession, need to advocate earlier and often for the policies that come our way. We need to shape the decisions that are made in our districts. We need to be active with our administrators. We need to offer our professional expertise so by the time something gets to the babble stage, it’s actually worth babbling about.

That was our hope with our tongue-in-cheek titled, Falling in Love With Close Reading, that we could restore best practices to a term which, at the time, was buzzing with nonsense.


We Can’t Wait for Advocates, We Need to BE Advocates

In their book Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan argue that while the teaching profession can hold onto hope that an advocate in government or the public will arrive, we must instead become our own best advocates right now.

public domain image
altered public domain image


The reality is, when questionable things intended to “help education” trickle down to us — either from the federal, state, or district level — they are questionable to us now because they truly were questionable when they were decided.  Or more accurately, they were questioned during the process of decision making.

I was watching a documentary on the Cold War recently and I was struck by one meeting in particular.  Russian ships were on their way to Cuba and no one in the US military was certain why. Could they be carrying missiles? Were they empty and only coming to posture? Around the table, most of Kennedy’s advisors were pushing for a preemptive attack against Russia. Striking first, before the ships arrived, could scare them away. There was much debate, a lot of uncertainty, and for whatever reason Kennedy continued to say no, we should wait. Wait to see what they do first. No one knew the “right” move, it was all discussion, it was all conversation.

History revealed that choosing to wait was the right choice. Of course it could have not been.

Watching that documentary, I was so struck by my naiveté regarding history. For me, it always seemed so linear: pilgrims came, then colonies, then the Revolutionary War, and so on. Seeing the people, hearing their perspectives, I was shaken to realize (and embarrassed this had not clicked for me until now) that every decision that has been made and will continue to be is, quite literally, a room full of people talking about possibilities.

The same holds true for decisions that come our way in education. Though textbooks can seem to rain from the sky and standards are zapped into being through bolts of lightening, those initiatives were made by people and their best guesses.

So first, it’s important to realize that in all cases, decisions are drawn from experience and information (or lack thereof). When your district says “this textbook will help our students succeed.” You can be certain that no one who made that decision is 100% sure of that statement.

Which is where we, as professionals, come in. Before edubabble ever gets to the point of edubabble, we can advocate in small and big ways. We can help bring our expertise, experience, and knowledge to the table.

altered public domain image
altered public domain image


Small Steps to Advocate

There are small step ways to advocate for our students, our work, and the right improvements to education:

  • Take back edubabble: In some cases the babble may come with a good intentions that may have become muddle in practice or the telephone line of implementation. If what you are hearing doesn’t match what you know to be best practices, change the word or revise the definition.
  • Don’t malign district decisions, get in there are help to make them: Decisions that are made are almost always made to help kids. It is just that often people making those decisions do not read research and work with kids enough to really know what works best. You are the expertise they need. Volunteer for curriculum review committees (even if they don’t exist yet, volunteer yourself!).
  • Connect with other passionate educators: Around your district and across the world there are people as engaged, active, and inspiring as you. Find them. Start a book club or lesson planning circle in your community, join a twitter chat, or sign-up for a summer course.

Dorothy Barnhouse‘s introduction to her new book, Readers Front and Center, is a master class in advocating. Written with passion and practicality, she helps us to rethink some of the edubabble in the Common Core reading standards and the constellation of “aligned” (and often not) initiatives. One highlight is the way she reframes the “Text Complexity Triangle” that every CCSS states’ educators have seen one-thousand-and-one-times (see my tweet for the visual, color added). That graphic, stunning in it’s simplicity, is a whole new way to talk about the same work described in the standards. I can picture school board members having those concentric circles in their hands and school leadership teams posting it on the wall of their meeting room, all saying “did we start with students with this decision?” and consulting the image again.


Big Steps to Advocate

The big step ways involve supporting our colleagues in having the vision, passion, and guts to bring classroom experience to leadership and policy levels:

  • More career educators need to move into policy and government roles: school boards, local, state and federal governments
  • More career educators need to move into school leadership roles: administration and central offices
  • More career educators need to move into research and teacher training roles: higher education, authors, consultants
  • More career educators need to remain in the classroom and also become more politically and socially active: writing, voting, speaking

A piece of this is reflecting on our own careers. Have you ever entertained the thought of an education life beyond your classroom or school building? You do not need to have one, but it’s a question worth considering. Your gifts may be able to impact many students and educators in more positive and purposeful ways then we are often experiencing now.

A larger key is being inspiration for others, for our fellow educators. When I began as a teacher I assumed I would always be in the classroom, I loved my students and found the job both impossibly difficult and incredibly fulfilling. It was a high school literacy coach who said, “maybe you should consider coaching. I think you’d be good at it.” It was my first step out of full time classroom teaching. The rest is history.  You can help shape the future of our profession by inviting a talented colleague to dream: “I think your passion and voice could help a lot of teachers and kids, have you ever thought of applying to policy program? We need more educators out there.”


We Are Our Profession

You are already an advocate. Every day you walk into your school, every child you believe in, every family you connect with, you are advocating.

We need your voice and talents even more. There are many improvements ahead for our profession, if you are not a part of making them then someone else will.

Your voice matters.

Thanks for all you do.


#TeacherPoets – THANK YOU!


Hi TeacherPoets.

Thank you from the very bottoms of my feet up through the top of my head for joining in this fun four weeks of reading, writing, and rejuvenating.  Selfishly, you gave me an excuse to write poetry for a whole month, to laugh, be moved to near tears, and in general marvel at what an amazing community of educators we have.

A huge thanks to our live on-air poets:

Betsy, Michelle, Laurie, Markette, Audra, Crista, and Margaret (and from afar, Jason, who needed to attend to family).  Your generosity of time, risk taking, and collaboration means so much. Plus, you’re pretty great writers to boot!

And a tip of the hat to my friends at Booksource who are donating books of poetry to this great group of educators in thanks to them for giving up Saturday mornings to write together. Booksource has also put together these lists of poetry books (Elementary, Middle, and High School) to support you in filling your classrooms with poetry.

Thanks as well to all of you who have joined our online Community Page or tweeted live, along with us, each week. Your energy and contributions were felt for miles, they certainly reached me.


Watch Old Episodes Anytime

The magic of the internet means all four episodes of the live series are available, in a full Youtube playlist, for viewing anytime (up to nearly 600 views!).

It’s a Poetry DVR:



Recap of Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we moved from little to big. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we talked about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept.  Through this we also talked about the essential need in revision to “let go” of a first draft and pick up a whole new one.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

We then workshopped original poems from our final two TeacherPoets, Laurie and Audra.


Thanks again for these fun four weeks.  And thanks for all you do for children and for one another.



#TeacherPoets – Week 4 “Assignment”


Hi TeacherPoets.

This series has been such fun–uplifting, inspiring, and just great to steal some time from busy schedules to write.  It is also shocking how quickly time flies! It feels like it was just moments ago when our first session was starting online, now we’re already in our fourth and final week together!

If you have missed any of the series or care to catch up, you’ll find the full video playlist here (our sessions have been viewed almost 500 times to date):


Recap of Week 3: Idea are Puzzle Pieces

During this past Saturday’s session we talked about specificity and zooming in, but this time looked at how poets often string together these little moments to tell a larger story or share a bigger idea.  I showed how we can study mentor poems by drawing boxes around moments–to see where their pieces are.  Then shared a draft of a poem piecing together different puzzle pieces (in my case: my daughter chewing the noses off her toys when she was little as one piece and Geppetto and Pinocchio as the other piece).

We read:

We also workshopped three more original poems from the TeacherPoets live group and through that experience touched on a few more tips for ourselves: don’t shy away from telling more of the “who” (our readers seemed to really want to know that each week), and consider how you control time or give more clues about time shifts (another comment that often has come up).

Assignment for Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we’ll go even larger. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we will talk about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept: “I want to try and represent…” or “I have been thinking a lot about…”.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have our final two TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Four Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 5/3 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:


Thanks for all you do!  Happy writing!


#TeacherPoets – Week 3 “Assignment”


Hi TeacherPoets.

Thanks for another great Saturday session!  The highlight for me was Betsy and Michelle sharing their poems with us, and the caring, thoughtful responses from all of you. It was inspirational to have we, educators, come together over a love of writing.  Thanks for that gift.

I want to make sure I mention the great contributions many of you are also making to our TeacherPoets community page. Links to original poems, published poets, even whole conversations are popping up even in comments you are leaving each other.

If you haven’t looked around recently, I highly suggest getting lost in there for awhile (shout outs to many of you, including Jennifer’s supportive comments, Catherine and Fran’s recent revisions they both posted, Sheri’s holy-cow-you-took-notes-as-poems(!!), and Kevin’s always-coolness in combining great writing and awesome tools).

Everyone is welcome, no prior poetry writing experience necessary to join in the fun.


Recap of Week 2:

During the second Saturday session we talked about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. We looked at how evocative poems can actually be quite literal in the way they detail objects. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these things, that brings them to life. So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

The archive of our first and second live Hangout on Air is here (the videos have already been viewed more than 300 times!):



As I mentioned at the start, we also workshopped two original poem from TeacherPoets. What I love about these conversations is that we not only help to improve one poem, we also learn more about how readers receive our written words.  It’s a process of helping others while also helping ourselves grow as writers. Betsy and Michelle were our brave first time sharers, and the community – including those of you on twitter – did a terrific job with specific, caring feedback. It was an awesome experience.

Assignment for Week 3: Ideas are Puzzle Pieces

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Pick an object, a photo, or something else to observe.
    • Then, describe the small details. Aim to not be mysterious, instead say exactly what you see (see the video).
    • As you write, try to capture surprising details others might miss. Play with language, but again be clear. Don’t leave your reader confused about what you are describing.
    • Write a new poem (or revise an old one) with this strategy.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Three”.

Mentor poems to read:

  • Mosquitoes by Aimee Nezukumatathil (second poem on this page), for how she connects a few concrete experiences to tell of a larger experience
  • It Took All My Energy by Tony Wallace, for how he leaves some mystery for us as readers but grounds this in a series of very clearly described events
  • Also, share links to other poems you love that dive deeply into specific descriptions.  Add them to our TeacherPoets Community Page.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have a three more TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Three Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 4/26 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:




See you Saturday! Happy writing!



#TeacherPoets – Week 2 “Assignment”


Hi TeacherPoets.

Saturday was a lot of fun! Every moment of our conversation, the tweets coming in, most of all the passion and joy of everyone participating.  Thanks for helping me rise up out of the blues of March into this great new spring. It was much needed inspiration for me and I hope for you, too.

Recap of Week 1:

During this first session we talked about the power of condensing time and emotion into manageable bites. That taking on huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad. Finding the smaller the pieces – almost like finding focus in a research topic – helps our writing become more specific. The more specific our writing the more universal the feelings and ideas really can become.

The archive of our first live Hangout on Air is here:


Assignment for Week 2: The Magical Specifics of Things

During this Saturday’s session we will talk about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. How deeply evocative poems can actually be quite literal in their descriptions. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these objects, that brings them to life.

So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Think of a big topic or emotion in your life.
    • Then, locate a sliver. You could use the concentric circles exercise or make a timeline or other strategy (see the video).
    • Write a poem about that sliver. Carry your big emotions with you, but write through a small, specific experience.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Two”.

Mentor poems to read:

Workshopping This Week:

Last week we practiced “workshopping” Dorianne Laux’s On the Back Porch (if you missed it, check out the video to see how).

Starting this Saturday, we will workshop 2-3 of our TeacherPoet’s original poems each week! Please download each of these poems, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.


Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop.

While you may want to strike up a conversation with any of our poets, it is best to wait until we’re all in the safe, sharing space together and collecting feedback as a group.  So keep good notes, but wait to share them until we’re live again on Saturday.

Session Two Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Two’s live streaming session on 4/19 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:


I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing profession with all of you.  Happy writing!



Yay #TeacherPoets! (Archived Video of Session One)

teacher-poetsHere’s a quick post to first just thank all of the Live teachers poets and the ton of you viewing online and tweeting along with us. If you could have seen the screen that I saw, it was a rush of tweets and Google Q&A comments.

This experience was the caffeine I needed. I’m leaving today’s session feeling joyful and energized, my hope is that we collectively gave that give to you as well.  Thanks all.

Here is the archived video of our first session.

  • We introduced our group.
  • I led a writing strategy and shared some of my own revision process.
  • We then “workshopped” a published poem.
  • Finally, I set up our work for next week.



Feel free to share the video with your TeacherPoet friends. Then, join us live (or recorded) the next three Saturdays from 11-noon EST.

Until then, join our Google+ TeacherPoets Community to share with fellow educators.

Also, on Wednesdays the new “Assignment” will officially post. I shared this upcoming week’s assignments at the end of our session (see the video), but the official post is Wednesday when the EXCITING addition will be the original work of a few of our TeacherPoets, which you can read and prepare to “workshop” on Saturday along with us.

Thanks for all you do, all you give, and all you believe in.  Happy Writing!

#TeacherPoets – Assignment Week 1

teacher-poets Hi TeacherPoets. We’re gearing up for our first live session, this Saturday (4/12) from 11:00-noon EST. Join our community page to join in the conversation that has already started, to catch the live stream from that page (or the direct stream below), and to catch weekly “writing assignments.”


Each week on Wednesday, I’ll post a reading and writing “assignment” for the week.  These are invitations to engaging with poetry and our work together.  Take on as much or as little as you’re able.

Assignment for Week 1: Slivers Are Big

During our first live streaming session we will talk about the power of taking on manageable bites.

Our lives often interact with huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) but trying to take them on can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad for a reader.

The smaller the piece – almost like finding focus in a research topic – the more specific our writing becomes. Then, the more specific our writing becomes, the more universal the feelings and ideas can come across to readers of our poems.

 A Writing Invitation:

  • Starting next week these invitations will be specifically about writing poems. For this week your invitation is to respond to this question: “Why Poetry?”  A few sentences, a poem maybe, or a quick comment. Please leave your response on our TeacherPoets Community page.

Mentor poems to read:

  1. The Summer I Was Sixteen by Geraldine Connolly, for the one moment in time she uses to reflect on the huge topic of adolescence and growing older
  2. Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye, who takes a universal fear and packages it in a tiny scene and an even smaller movement of the body
  3. You’re invited to post on our TeacherPoets Community page links to other poems that take on a large topic through a small, specific time or action

Workshopping This Week:

Starting next week, original poem’s from our Live Group educators (the folks on camera with me) will be posted in this section. As practice, this Saturday we will “workshop” this poem by a professional poet.

  • Please follow the link and print out this poem (or download a mark-up-able copy to your device):
  • Read and write all over it, prepare comments as if you were talking to this poet:
    • Compliments: Which parts were particularly strong to you? Why? How did it effect you as a reader? Where were you delighted? Happily surprised? Moved? And so on.
    • Questions: Where did you find yourself confused? Lost? Where did your reading become choppy or confused? Which points did you want a little bit more? A little less?
    • ConsiderationsWe can’t write the poem, that is the poet’s task, however we can raise considerations: I wonder if there are actually two poems here…  I wonder if we could hear more from… I wonder if the second stanza could… I wonder…
  • On Saturday we will then practice “workshopping” this poem, so bring your written-all-over copy.

If you would like to read an example of responding to a poem through “workshopping,” then read (or listen to) Workshop by Billy Collins (in which he workshops his own poem as he’s writing/reading it… it’s pretty funny stuff.).

Happy reading, writing, reflecting, and rejuvenating!

Join Us Live! Session One of #TeacherPoets this Week!

Here we are – yes in the midst of standardized testing season, yes in still pretty rainy and still somewhat cool April, but also yes in Poetry Month!

To pull ourselves out of the doldrums and return to our enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning, join me and some fellow educators for #TeacherPoets! We’re an online community/course/experience/cheering-crowd-of-enthusiasm that is joining together for four weeks this month to write, reflect and rejuvenate.


Each week for 4 weeks we will meet online on Saturdays from 11-noon EST to do a little poetry reading, writing, and then work together in a poetry workshop, giving feedback to our fellow TeacherPoets.  April 12, 19, 26, May 3.


How to Join

Super simple!  We will stream live on YouTube. (I told you it was simple.)

Grab your pen, paper then watch and write along with us. On Saturday you can come back to this post and click the little play button on the video down there (try it now!):



During the broadcast tweet us at #TeacherPoets to share your insights and ideas.

Want to Get More Involved?

You can join our TeacherPoets community page.  There you can join in on posted “writing assignments” and interact with fellow educators. Each Wednesday the new “assignment” will be posted.

You can also ask questions and leave comments each week before live broadcasts, by going to the Session announcement and clicking the little “Q&A” on the video screen: here’s Session One.

If you applied to the Live Writing Group (on camera!) those confirmations have started going out, you will receive an email today or tomorrow at the latest.

If you registered for the streaming video (or didn’t but still want to attend) you are all welcome! Just join the TeacherPoets community page or simply watch the live stream on Saturday.


Looking forward to joining together! Happy Poetry Month! Happy Writing!

Apply Now: TeacherPoets Workshop Series


 Wondering what this is?  Here’s the flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement and a previous post.

Here are the links you’ve been waiting for!  Be sure to select the ONE you are interested in.  If you run into any trouble, no worries.  They will stay live until Saturday at noon:

Live Group application

To apply for one of the limited seats in the Live Group: click here.

If chosen, you will interact live with me and other participants! Additionally, during one week you will submit a poem in advance and receive live feedback on air!

Q&A: What will your technology experience be like?

Visit the Google+ Hangouts on Air page to get acquainted

And here’s a way-too-in-depth, but none the less really helpful video on being a “guest” on a Hangout On Air.

Q&A: Will my technology work? I’m nervous.

If you are selected we’ll find a time to test out your technology with you before our first meeting. And at the first session plan to arrive 30 minutes early so we can “green room” before we go live.  No worries!

Viewing the Streaming Video (without Talking Live) Register your Interest

To register your interest in viewing the live Streaming Video: click here.

We will use your contact info to connect you with our TeacherPoets Google+ Community and send you invites to each session.

Alternatively, you can forego sharing your personal information and simply check for the Hangout url which will be posted on the community page and on my blog. (be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates – click the “subscribe” button on the right sidebar).

The week of April 7th all of the how and where info will be posted.

I’m so excited!

Thanks for all of your interest and enthusiasm. I’ve had lots of tweets and hundreds of readers of the initial invitation post.

I can’t wait to write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Join! Let’s Rejuvenate with a Poetry Workshop

I tweeted yesterday that I stumbled upon inspiration. Deep in the murky weather, just as schools across the country are marching towards standardized testing season (here in New York the first round begins on Monday), I – like I’m sure many of us – have been feeling a bit gloomy.

One piece of inspiration was when my friend Monique tweeted with the hashtag #testprepdetox.



Test Prep Detox!



The other is that I opened my subscription to a professional magazine and right in the center was a fold out poster about poetry month.





Writing Poetry in the Company of Others

A little known fact about me is that I was a few credits shy of double majoring in creative writing, poetry to be exact. I studied with incredible poets – Quan Barry, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and others (I’ve even been in the same room as MacArthur Fellow–“Genius Award” recipient–Alice Fulton. Amazing.).

While this English major eventually turned, instead, to education. The process of being in adult writing workshops, in the company of other writers, to this day inspires my work.

“Workshopping” a poem, story, or play is similar to, but not exactly the same as, a school-based “writing workshop.” It does, however, shares similar threads.

It’s a representation of what the writer-reader relationship really is… you write but then turn over everything to your readers, they now make their own ideas. When workshopping a poem you get the unique opportunity of being able to hear your readers (other members of your workshop) and then make revisions with those voices in mind. You learn so much about how your words are received and how to make your purpose and voice clearer.

I found those times were inspiration packed, soul-filling, and reflective. I think it’s a big reason why I love writing and studying responsive writing instruction with educators.


An Invitation to Our Own Poetry Workshop

This April, in honor of #testprepdetox and Poetry Month, I’m organizing a four-session, online, adult poetry workshop I’m calling TeacherPoets.

Here is a downloadable flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement

Who Should Join? Educators and authors involved in K-12+ education interested in writing and talking about your own poetry.

Be ready to write poems, share them openly with others, revise with feedback, and share your passions and talents with fellow educators.

We’ll use the hashtag #TeacherPoets and here’s a button you’re welcome to add to your social media:


What We’ll Do

From 11:00AM-Noon EST on 4 Saturdays:

  • April 12,
  • April 19,
  • April 26,
  • and May 3

we’ll join together in an online poetry workshop.

We will not be focusing on the teaching of poetry to students, per se.

Instead, our focus will be on fostering our own adult writing lives through weekly writing exercises, sharing of our work, and the hallmark of our sessions—interactive feedback conversations called “workshops.”

These sessions are designed to keep us actively writing, exploring, reflecting, and, above all, inspired.

We’ll be using Google’s Hangouts on Air – their newest incarnation of Hangouts. It’s like a Skype call only on steroids. As in Oprah has done one.


How to Join

Involvement is free. I’m donating my time because I love the power of poetry to help us reflect and connect and because I need this battery recharge as much as you do!

There are two ways to join:

  • Watch the video streams live and tweet along with us. I’ll post how during the week of April 7.


  • Apply to be in the Live Group. You’ll be broadcasting live (from the comfort of your laptop or device) with me and fellow TeacherPoets! During one of the 4-weeks a poem you submit will be workshopped live, receiving feedback both from our Live Group and online viewers. (Did I say how excited I am!)

Google has strict limits on the number of on-camera participants, so to be a Live Group member please apply.

The application will go live THIS WEDNESDAY AT 10AM EST on my blog and will remain live for just a few days. Application reviews will be done on a first come basis.

Here is the downloadable flyer once again: TeacherPoets Announcement


I can’t wait! Let’s write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Co-hosting #NCTEchat w Meenoo Rami on 3/16 8pmET

March 2014 chat

I’m looking forward to joining Meenoo Rami on March 16 when we co-host NCTE’s #nctechat!  We will be facilitating a discussion on professional collaboration (one of my favorite topics!). These group twitter discussions are always loads of fun and incredibly inspirational.

New to tweet chats? Here is my how-to post.

So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat

Also, if you missed Kate Roberts and I co-hosting #nyedchat this past week, the archive can be found here. We led a conversation on teaching reading in NYS, where we are now and where we could be. Tons of educators (not only from New York) joined in to talk about the opportunities and challenges of state level initiatives around reading. Kate and I spoke right after about how energizing the conversation felt, how inspired we felt by the ideas being shared.

Hope to see you online Sunday night!