Monday, May 31, 2010

SLP...Yah...You Know Me!

"A synthesis of the research on summer learning loss that integrated 39 studies (including three Canadian studies) revealed that, when students’ standardized test scores from the fall are compared to their scores from the previous spring, summer learning loss is equivalent, on average, to at least one month of instruction."
-Canadian Council of Learning.

The Lit Maven read this and thought, "What about educators?"

DO you have a Summer Learning Plan?

How are you going to keep yourself limber for the fall?

Here is The Lit Maven's Summer Learning Plan

1. Read YA novels.
2. Blog, at least, five times a week.
3. Tweet awesome google reader finds.
4. Read teacher resources on Adolescent writing.
5. Write a novel...

Yes, the Lit Maven sets the bar high.

SO what are your Summer Learning Plans?

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Friday, May 28, 2010

No Previews in the Classroom!

Time wastage in the classroom is a huge issue.

"When stuff dominates instructional time, warning flags
should go up. This is true even when the activity, in some
form, has been shown to be useful." -Richard Allington

I went to a movie yesterday and previews got me thinking, why do we waste so much time on the "non" essentials before the main event?

What if students came into the classroom and started to learn?

What is with the announcements, broadcasts and collecting forms?

We need to take back the day. Get rid of those previews!

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dancing With the Stars in the Classroom?

Ok...Lit Maven...are you joking? Where would we find the dancefloor? Would we have to use local celebrities? Could we fly the dancers in?

No...not literally of course.


Dancing with the Stars is successful for a number of reasons. But when you look at the dancing development of the's amazing! even Kate...
An eager to learn star is paired with an expert (mentor). Both of the partners put in long hours for a 5 minute presentation. It works because:

1. The mentor is passionate about what they do.

2. The mentor is aware of ZPD and knows that they have to meet the learner where they are at, to bring them up.

3. The learning is supported by a predicatable framework (Tango, Mamba...etc)

4. There is a gradual release of responsibility to the learner.

5. There is a sense of audience for the final product.

Lit Maven, you amaze me...

Thank you...but there is more.

This is how I apply this concept to my blog writiing.

1. Seek out blog mentors. My favorites are Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and ThoughtWrestling. I chose these for their content and process.

2. Seek out books on writing. My favorite authors are Brenda Ueland, Ralph Fletcher, and Donald H. Graves.

3. Read books written in the style you hope to emmulate. My current favorites are Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman and The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

4. WRITE EVERYDAY! Those dancers...even Kate...practiced everyday. You can't wish yourself a better writer, you have to write...shocker! I know!

5. Support each other. You are a mentor and teacher throughout your whole life...embrace it!

Until Next time...
Lit Maven Out!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If I Ate Dirt Would I Be Less Anxious


According to this article If You Want Smart Youngsters Let Them Dig in the Dirt , digging in the dirt provides contact with a natural anixety reducing drug.

"The researchers say we've become so urbanized we risk losing a connection with an organism in nature that may actually be beneficial to humans."

So does what does this mean for us. It means, instead of reading this post at your desk, perhpas kick off those pumps, shoes and socks and enjoy the post running your toes through the dirt. Turn all Shrek like and roll in it...if you must...or check out this book.

I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature By Jennifer Ward (Author),

Monday, May 24, 2010

5 Ways to Use Shrek in the Classroom

1. In the new movie, Shrek wished his royalty status away. Have your students pick a turning point in their lives and write about what would have happened if they had gone the other way. (Use Wallwisher)

2. Write a backstory for Donkey. What "story" does he come from? How did he end up in that forest? (Use whatever you want to create this one!)

3. Make character trading cards on

4. Create a movie trailer for Shrek using scanned student drawings or thematic symbols and ANIMOTO.

5. Use glogster as medium to reflect on one of the fairytales mentioned in the movie. Include history of the story, possible audio retellings and images.

Or make up your own idea. I promise not to stalk your classroom and check what you do.

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Damn! Remember When You Used to Get Change From a Dollar


Clearly, being a Lit Maven, I notice signs.

I notice cute signs.

I notice loud signs.


I notice signs that misrepresent info. (Or at least I hope it is wrong!)

Check out the above.

Would it have killed them to include a decimal?

A decimal makes a huge difference.

Would you rather get paid $1000.00 for a job or $100.00?

All I know... is that suddenly... I have to create an account for fast food.

I hope smiles are still free.

Until Next Time
Lit Maven Out!
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Look no Hands! Look no Feet! Look no......BOOKS!

Here's a new one...

Stanford is moving towards a bookless library.

I was thinking...ok...makes sense... grownups like books online...

Then I thought...ok but what if it trickles down?... as things often do.

Until next time...
Lit Maven Out!

What will happen to our librarians?

What if they replaced all libraries in our schools with a bookless version?
This is where the problem lies. Can you imagine the digital divide then?

Watch this one carefully...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Do Grades Matter?

It's standardized testing season in our district. You know those tests that don't mean anything but mean everything..

While planning with a teacher she mentioned the book
Report Card by Andrew Clements
The basic synopsis: a gifted child, hides her "giftedness" at school and at home to prove that grades don't matter.

Last night I dreamt I was taking a course where the marks were given online...not just mine but everyone else's, was there to see and compare.

Grades did matter in my dream.

In my dream, it mattered that the highest mark was not my own.

It mattered who got the lowest.

It mattered how many other students did better than me.

BUT...Grades don't matter in the way we would like to think.

They don't make us learn something better.

They don't always reflect what we know.

They don't tell us how to do better.

They don't really tell us what we do well. grades matter?..they matter to some.
But...should grades matter?...depends who you ask.
Who is the sheriff of grades? and Where can I get a hold of him?

Until Next Time,

Lit Maven out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cancer and Literacy?

This title caught my attention today How Literacy is Like Leukemia"WOW...where was this going?" I thought... as a cancer survior.

This article speaks a lot to what is true but not said...There is no Magic Bullet in solving literacy problems.

Students are wholistic beings that require wholistic measures.

Filling in bubbles provides data but not the data that is actually helpful.

What do we know about the rest of these students' lives?

Lots to think about.

Until next time...
Lit Maven Out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Need a Writing Prompt? Use a TV Synopsis

One day I was checking out Supernatural on TV. I have never seen a full episode although I am sure I would like it. What struck me the most was the synopsis.(The brief episode blurb you find when you hit info on the remote control)
Here is a recent one:
"Crowley (guest star Mark Sheppard) tells Bobby (Jim Beaver) he will give him the location of Death (guest star Julian Richings), the fourth horseman, in exchange for his soul. Knowing Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) need that fourth ring to stop the Apocalypse, Bobby reluctantly agrees. Sam and Dean confront Pestilence (guest star Matt Frewer), but he unleashes a deadly virus upon them, so Castiel (Misha Collins) must intervene on their behalf. Dean has a meeting with Death to discuss Lucifer, and an unholy alliance is formed at a very high price for Dean"
WOW! And I thought I had rough days!
Truly having not seen this show, I could use this prompt as a writing exercise.
1. Focus on the prequel...what happened before these Shenanigans?
2. Create a characterization...
3. Doodle a picture of the ring and write a story of its origins.
4. Write the dialogue between Death and Dean...or another character of choice.
5. Explain the possible significance of the title..
If you have any others, please leave them in the comment box below.

SO...on days when you are stuck..."What should I write about today?"

Just flick on your TV or search the internet for episode guide. Be sure to pick a show that you have "no clue" about.

Have fun!
Jus stay out of the way of Pestilence!

Until next time..

Lit Maven Out!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What Lady Gaga Taught Me About Writing

1. Start with a catchy lead.....

Ra-Ra-Uh UH Ahhhh

2. Create vivid images.

3. Be a shoulder above the rest.

4. Find a mentor...pick the old guy...not a candle in the wind.

5. Stand out! Highlight what you do well.

I am not suggesting that I am now without any writing issues. It's safe to say that I do feel slightly better about myself...or is that my Poker face?

Until Next Time...

Lit Maven Out!

Friday, May 7, 2010

5 Ways to Put Language Arts on Stage

Sorry I have been away a couple of days...

I had the opportunity to help out at our Districts' Celebration of the Arts (Music, Drams, Art). Amazing does not even touch the surface of the talent in our district. It got me to do we celebrate language we do this enough?

5 Ways to Put Language Arts on Stage

1. Have students create a reader's theatre and perform it in front of other classrooms.

2. Students can write the school plays for the yearly concerts.

3. Many schools in our district have a morning broadcast. Have students create persuasive ads or commercials celebrating upcoming events.

4. Have a section of the school newsletter where students have a place to add their voices.

5. Think outside the "book". Stretch yourself as an educator. There are many forms of writing, presenting and speaking.

Here are some ideas to start with...maybe you have some others to share.

Lit Maven Out!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mean Girls Meets Mother's Day Tea

Yesterday I was blessed to be honored at my son's Mother's Day was lovely...but something still bugs of the moms!

Wit a movie with Emma Thompson, is about a doctor with cancer. She experiences first hand what it is like to be a patient.

As an educator for 10 plus years, I am now experiencing life on the otherside of the classroom door a parent.

SO what was the problem Lit Maven?

Well, at first it was lovely..the tableclothes, the goodies...All Good!

Then finding your nametag on a table...All Good!

Another parent coming in behind...finding her nametage on another table and announcing..."I got the good table!"...Not Good!

Really!!! Thought the Lit Maven..."good" as in your other cronies are with you! (Okay that was dramatic)

She proceeded to chat with the moms at an adjoining table, while the rest of us sat quietly waiting for our children to come in and sing.

SO when did junior high end for these people?

No..The Lit not at school everyday to hang out...but is she still fun to be with!

I can make a "good" table.

I thought the feeling of working versus stay at home mom was over...guess not!

SO what did this teach the Lit Maven...what did I learn?

If I had a do-over?

Well you can't go back, but I would have introduced myself and chatted with the other quiet moms..I would have led by example...

Have a great day!
Lit Maven Out

Monday, May 3, 2010

You can Pick Your Friends....and You Can Pick Your Nose...

But you can't pick your friend's nose! Another week and another motivational speech from Rock Thomas. This week's messgage is Peer Group. How do we get better at anything? By surrounding ourselves with teachers/leaders who are better-smarter-more knowledgeable than we are, we can expect some change. When we are the most knowledgeable we can help others and bring them up but who brings us up? Think about it...if the Karate Kid had relied on his friends he would still be encased in a shower curtain. Instead he sought out the help of Mr. Miyagi and real change started to happen. So whenever you are up to learning something new, seek out some new peers. Not just the ones in your city, but reach out on Twitter, join a Ning...You can do can pick your friends...but not their nose!

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

The Secret to Getting Things Done

I came across this phrase yesterday..."half the battle". Here are some definitions of Half the Battle. 1. to be the most ...