NYC Half Marathon 2017

NYC Half Marathon 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Writing Strategies Book GOAL 8: CONVENTIONS

I am so excited to be taking part in an on line book discussion.  We are discussing The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo ,  organized by Kelly Malloy.  This book is divided into ten goals and each week another blogger is discussing the goal for the week.  
You can find previous posts here:

Writing Strategies Goal 8: Conventions Spelling and Letter Formation 

Why this goal is important?

According to Jen Serravallo, we teach students to consider purpose and audience as they write, so it stands to reason that someday someone will read their work.  Daily reading and interaction with language will expose them to and equip them with a larger vocabulary of words they can spell conventionally.  This will help them feel more comfortable applying and generalizing spelling rules (spelling by analogy) and will help fine-tune their sense of 'it doesn't look right" when they write a word.  

How do I know if this goal is right for my students?

Always consider completing a spelling inventory with your students to see what they need help with as a speller.  Simply looking their writing will also give you a glimpse into what they know and what they still need support with as writers.   Be mindful to not introduce too-complex spelling strategies too soon.  Keep in mind the developmental stage children are in as writers and teach them with their zone of approximal development.  As teachers, we do not want to squash their creativity and ability to write fluidly. 

Strategy 8.2 Talk Like a Turtle

Jen Serravallo includes a simple poster to enhance this age-old strategy that is a visual masterpiece.  It is so simple and gets the point across for our beginning spellers.  Like most of the strategies in this book and The Reading Strategies book, she includes visuals that are straightforward and easy to replicate.  In this strategy, students are reminded to say it s-l-o-w-l-y in order to hear all of the sounds.

Strategy 8.12 Chin Drops

This is a trustworthy strategy for teaching your students.  Put a flat hand under your chin, palm down, and say the word you're trying to spell.  Each time your chin drops is a new syllable.  Go back and say the first syllable.  Write the syllable, making sure there is at least one vowel or y in each syllable.  I have found as a first-grade teacher, the rule of there is a vowel or y in each syllable so important to teach your writers.  I constantly ingrained this mantra into my teaching of spelling to help the students ensure that they have included enough letters in longer words.  

Strategy  8.18 Turn to Spell-Check

Welcome to the 21st Century!  After students have written their pieces consider having them use a computer or a device to check their spelling.  Identify the words on your page that don't look right.  Type the words into a computer document and check the spelling.  

Just like The Reading Strategies Book this new resource The Writing Strategies Book by Jen Serravallo is just as easy to use.  It is a great resource for every classroom teacher!

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of going to the Long Island Connect Educators' Summit in Farmingdale. #CELI17  What an amazing experience!  It is a learning and collaborating experience that I look forward to each year.  The event is the brainchild of Dr. Bill Brennan, an innovator who welcomes creativity!  The opportunities in Farmingdale for the students and teachers are boundless!   I am fortunate that I work in this district.

One of my former students was on the welcoming panel.  Mia is now in middle school and was poised and well spoken.  She is a learner who has been given the opportunity to create and think outside the box because of her experiences in the Farmingdale Schools.

The day is set up in breakout sessions.  There are three sessions.  The first two sessions are scheduled before the event.  Attendees can choose what they want to learn about.  I attended: 

Building Cultural Competency in Our Schools
Denise Toscano, Principal, Elwood School District
Michelle Ottley, Teacher, Elwood School District
Marsha McLeod, Teacher, Elwood School District
Maureen Hull, Asst. Superintendent, Elwood School District
Room: 601
This workshop will cover how to include community leaders and activities in your schools to promote acceptance and respect for all cultures in your school.  Based on the work of Doc Sheila and Don Gately.

These forward-thinking educators shared their experiences and led the conversation about race in our schools.

For sessions two I attended:

HOPE® Skills: 5 essential skills for a competitive edge in life!
Bob Wolf, Founder, HOPE® Skills Presentations & HOPE® the Student's Bridge To Business
Room: 609
These skills prepare you to meet, earn support from and work effectively with people, the one constant in every job and career. Every student can learn and apply them! They complement the academic curriculum schools teach and help build self-confidence & self-esteem. And, as a student grows, the skills grow with them becoming more refined over time. Students with these skills will: Interview Successfully, Network Effectively, Build Supportive Relationships, Be a Productive Team Player & Be a Confident Leader.

Bob Wolf discussed life skills that we need to ensure our students have.

Session three is an open forum that is determined as the day unfolds. Attendees create a conversation they want to lead. As the day progresses, you sign up for what interests you. The choices were vast.
It was another great day for collaboration and learning! Thank you, Dr. Brennan, for leading the way!

Friday, March 24, 2017

My First Post

I am very excited to be entering the blogging world!  Thanks to my friend and esteemed colleague, Kathleen Sokolowski.  Kathleen is a motivator of writing and technology!  I am lucky to work with her.

I am the Literacy Coach at Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School in Farmingdale.  I am a wife, mother, marathon runner and lover of learning.  I am blessed to work in a district that supports my love of learning; even more blessed to work in a building of teachers who are the kindest people I know!

Every day I get to work with amazing teachers who want to get better at their craft.  My room is a think tank for learning!  Today was one such day...

We had a follow-up learning day to a Learning Walk.  A Learning Walk is a particular type of professional development day that we participate in here in Farmingdale.  Learning Walks are opportunities for the teachers to learn from each other.  We visit each other's classrooms looking at student learning and teacher lessons.  The teachers develop a focus question - something that they want to study together.  For example, What evidence is there that the students are writing with stamina, engagement, and volume?  This idea came from a teacher who wanted to study Writing Workshop.  I shared her idea with our colleagues, and others quickly wanted to be a part of our walk.  A Learning Walk consists of no more than five teachers, and we follow specific protocols as we visit each other's classrooms.

After we share our 'noticings' and 'wonderings' about what we saw in each other's rooms, we decide upon a topic to study further.  These teachers decided they wanted to read DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts and create demonstration notebooks.  We spent the day watching the DIY Literacy videos and diving into their book.  It was such a great day of sharing ideas and learning from each other.