Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm a Struggling Reader

I'm in school - I'm always in school. Right now, I'm taking a course about quantitative research - specifically, advanced quantitative research. And, friends, I can't lie. It's hard. It's crushingly hard.

Every single week (multiple times each week, actually) I am reminded that I am a struggling reader. Scratch that. I'm not just a struggling reader; it's more than that. I'm a struggling learner.

The reading assignments for class go something like this:

Step 1. When I can't possibly delay the reading assignment any longer, I create the perfect conditions for reading. This usually involves a food-related incentive schedule and lots of self-talk ("If I read two pages, I can have a square of chocolate" or "I will treat myself to an afternoon at a coffee shop and a whole milk latte while I read this assignment.")

Step 2. Read two paragraphs and declare that I cannot possibly do this. Go on the internet to review the drop deadline for the course. Remember that I can't drop the course without significant consequences for my checkbook and transcript. Chastise myself for immediately wanting to give up. Remind myself that I'm not a quitter. This step is generally repeated multiple times throughout the reading process.

Step 3. Get serious about reading the assignment. I've noticed this involves a few strategies:

  • Skip many, many words, sentences, and paragraphs while looking for sentences with words (instead of numbers and other symbols) that have main ideas. Underline these even if I don't understand them.
  • Keep a list of terms and symbols that I don't understand. Sometimes I Google these right away; sometimes I just write them down. It depends on how frustrated I am.
  • Resign myself to not understanding much of the text. Be okay with that.
  • Text a friend. Sometimes to bemoan how awful the reading is - sometimes to ask a question. I've even texted pictures of the text to my own personal mathematics coach.
Step 4. Do some work after reading. This usually involves that personal mathematics coach I mentioned earlier. I see him and immediately teach him anything I managed to understand from the reading. He gives me real-life examples and clarifies.

Step 5. Reflect on what would have helped me be successful with the reading assignments. I realized that I really need:
  • Vocabulary lessons. It's all Greek. Seriously. Greek. I don't know what to call any of the symbols (I make up names for them based on what they look like). There isn't a glossary in any of the texts. And that's just the symbols. There are also lots of real words. I don't understand those either.
  • Learning targets. When text is difficult, I need some statements to tell me what I'm supposed to know, understand, and be able to do after I read. I don't just need targets for each text; I need targets for the course, too. I have no idea what the big ideas are and no clue how they fit together.
  • Discussion. Time to talk. Collaborative conversation. I don't need a protocol or a role sheet or teacher-provided text-dependent questions. I just need some time to talk to my peers, hopefully, peers that are knowledgeable about the topic.
Despite the fact that I'm a smart and capable person,  I'm a struggling learner in this environment, this context. 

This experience has reminded me that I don't struggle very often. In fact, I've realized I struggle so little that I don't even know how to do it! I haven't mastered much (or really any!) content of the course, but I've learned a lot about who I am as a reader and learner. 

And, for this reason, I encourage you to struggle. Find a really difficult concept you know nothing about it and study it - not just for a couple of sentences or a quick Google search, really study it. Notice what you do to understand. Notice what supports would have been helpful to you. Notice how you feel. Then, change something - something about yourself or something about how you work with students or adults - because of your experience.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Connecting School with Home Culture

Barb Novak contributed today's post. Barb is a literacy consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and serves as the moderator for this blog.

Confession: Even after spending 10 years working in a variety of Wisconsin public schools, I never felt my bag of tricks for engaging parents and families was quite as full as I wanted/needed it to be. This was especially true for techniques to connect with families who were dramatically different than mine.

So, I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking and talking about what it means to connect school with home culture - especially as it relates to literacy. 

If you're interested in similar ideas, I would recommend Bringing Literacy Home edited by KaiLonnie Dunsmore and Douglas Fisher. This edited volume includes sections about:

  • Supporting Families in School-Based Literacy Practices
  • Connecting School with Home Culture
  • Implications for Family Literacy Research and Scholarship

I found Geneva Gay's chapter ("Teaching Literacy in Cultural Context") particularly helpful. Gay asserts that "underachieving marginalized students of color" (p. 161) need to simultaneously develop academic knowledge and skills and cultural competencies. A teacher's journey to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach litearcy in a cultural context is complicated and on-going. Gay suggests teachers begin by packing a "metaphorical suitcase of things that they will take on their multicultural education journeys" (p. 168). The suitcase can be packed, unpacked, and repacked as a teacher's understanding develops.

Gay suggests several key messages (p. 180 - 181):

  • Acquire cultural knowledge about your students (including "cultures, histories, and contributions of ethnic groups")
  • Use diverse "examples, materials, experiences, and perspectives"
  • "Apply academic literacies in the process of teaching and learning about cultural diversity" (p. 181)
  • Access students' "cultural literacies, or funds of knowledge" to scaffold academic, school-based literacy

Monday, February 23, 2015

Leading a Balanced Literacy Assessment System

Barb Novak contributed today's post. Barb is a literacy consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and serves as the moderator of this blog.

A big part of my job - a favorite part - is talking to Wisconsin's students, parents, educators, and leaders. What seems to be on everyone's mind lately? 


What are we assessing? How long does it take? How much money does it cost? To what extent is students' privacy protected? What assessments are required? Who analyzes the data? Does the data actually make a difference? How can I access the data? What assessments exist for special populations? Why are certain data sources valued more than others? Who makes decisions about assessments? 

Laura Adams, fellow literacy consultant, and I answer all of these questions and more in the 2014 - 15 season of Literacy Live!, a pre-recorded webinar series for Wisconsin's literacy leaders.

"Leading a Balanced Assessment System" will include about 10 sessions. Each session includes a recording (generally 25 - 30 minutes) about a specific topic related to literacy assessment. Supporting resources accompany each session. New sessions are posted about every three weeks.  The episodes can be viewed at any time. While the sessions can be viewed independently, we do suggest watching with colleagues to take advantage of opportunities for discussion and application.

Introductory episodes include:

Contact me via email ( or phone (608-266-5181) with questions.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What Is Our Role?

Jaimie Howe contributed today's post.

I recently read an article from The Reading Teacher titled “Leader, Teacher, Diagnostician, Colleague, and Change Agent: A Synthesis of the Research on the Role of the Reading Specialist in This Era of RtI-Based Literacy Reform,” by Emily Phillips Galloway and Nonie K. Lesaux. What a mouthful, I know. However, isn’t that truly what our jobs, as literacy coaches/reading specialists, are?  A smorgasbord of responsibilities. We have so many roles and our roles look so different across the state, within districts, and even across schools within the same district.  This article helped me to truly reflect on what my role as “Literacy Coach” entails and how it has evolved.  

In the past, I was always frustrated at the idea of our roles being so inconsistent; however, the more I reflect I understand why that is and why it may be “okay”.  Every building, every district, is at a different point in their journey.  The literacy coach needs to meet the needs of their current situation to move their building/district forward. As I've said before in my posts, we need to differentiate in all that we do, not just with our children.  It doesn't pay to move too fast, putting teachers/staff in a position they’re not ready for (frustration); however, we can’t  move too slow either. A  little push into the discomfort zone is how change happens. Think Vygotsky . . . Zone of Proximal Development.  The idea holds true in all that we do. Change does not happen overnight.  It takes time.

The charts and quotes below are from the article.  I used them to help me reflect on where my current reality is as a literacy coach in my building/district.  I looked at the first chart (Figure 1: The Roles Filled by Reading Specialists Today) and said, “Yep, I do all of these things.”  However, the most meaningful to me was looking at the second chart (TAKE ACTION!) and filling in what my role looked like for each of the 4 years I’ve been a literacy coach.  It is amazing to see how it has evolved. I’ve really done all of these jobs each year, but the percentage spent in each area has completely changed. I challenge you to take a look at your role and reflect on where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to go.

“The role of today’s reading specialist is highly influenced by school type (elementary or secondary), school performance, and the professional culture in the building.”

“Assuming the role of reading specialist in an era of school reform, requires skill
in managing uncertainty and in seeing the possibilities that exist.”

“If this review suggests anything, it is that reading specialists in an era of RtI-based reform,
remain dedicated to supporting students to become readers.”

Galloway, Emily P. & Lesaux, Nonie, K. (2014)  Leader, teacher, diagnostician, colleague, and change agent: A synthesis of the research on the role of the reading specialist in this era of RtI-based literacy reform.  The Reading Teacher, 67(8).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coaching Prompts

Diane Jenquin contributed today's post.

Over the last few years I have been accumulating prompts, and questions to promote reflection that promotes inquiry and to alter the thinking and behaving  that occurs afterward. I do have to admit I do not know where some of these prompts came from, but the important idea is that they are coaching conversation starters.  I have put 2 questions from each on a bookmark to help prompt myself as a coach along with teaching and practicing with others.

My hope for you is to take what you need out of this and run with it.  Happy Coaching, Diane

Asking Open Questions:
  • What might be the best possible ways to…?
  • If you taught this lesson perfectly how would it look?
  • How do you think the lesson went? What happened that caused it to go that way?
  • When you think about what you had planned and what actually happened, what were the similarities and what were the differences?
  • As you think about the results you got, what were some of the ways you designed the lesson to cause them to happen?
  • When you reflect back on the lesson, what might you do differently?
  • What were the strengths of the lesson? What did not work?

Statement of  Ability/. Attitude:
  • I know you have been thinking a lot about this, and I am curious about ….
  • Its obvious you're committed to this.  What are some things you have been doing?
  • As you’ve been thinking about this you probably anticipated…
  • As you test your insights where do you think you start?
  • I don’t have the answer and I’m curious about your...

Paraphrasing Language:
  • Recode and repeat back to the teacher creates conditions for active listening and promotes metacognition.
  • So you're feeling…
  • In other words…
  • Hmm, you're suggesting that…
  • Let me see if I understand: You said…
  • I want to make sure I got all the points ; you said...your noticing that…

Summarize and Organize:

  • So there seems to be 2 key issues here...and…
  • On one hand there is… and on the other hand…

Monday, February 16, 2015

Comprehension Focus Groups: Using Leveled Texts

Heather Zimmerman contributed today's post. All of Heather's posts about implementing comprehension focus groups with middle school readers who are struggling can be found here.

As I have been talking with others about my experiences this year with implementing Comprehension Focus Groups at the middle school level, one question that comes up is about leveling texts.  This was one challenge that I encountered early on in the school year.  I wanted to share with you how I tackled this challenge.  On a side note, the way I approached this is not “by the books” necessarily, but it is practical and what needed to be done to make CFGs work for me.

In my CFG, I have anywhere from five to nine students.  (The way we work our intervention time is there cannot be more than 10 students in an intervention.)  At the beginning of the year I had students ranging from a level R to a level V.  I started asking myself how the CFG would run and look if I split them all by level into different CFGs.  I also wondered how my 50 minutes of time would look.  When I met with one CFG, what would the other students do that was effective?  I was told a CFG is supposed to last at a minimum 30 minutes to keep 80% fidelity, I could not meet with two group in one 50-minute period.  So would I only meet with a group two to three times a week?  What would be the most beneficial for students?  And what could I make work?  (All while keeping in mind the three phases, and wanting to keep them all meaningful.)

As I searched for texts, as many of us who search for middle and high school texts know, many of the middle school appropriate texts are not leveled.  I decided to meet my students in the middle...I chose a range of levels for the three independent texts my students would work with.  By doing this though, I make sure to scaffold for those students who needed it and challenge students who are ready to dig to a different level in a text.  

As I reflect on my work with CFGs and have a frame for a few groups, next year, I will continue to add different levels of texts to my library.  I wanted to have a range, but knew that as I started the year, I might not have all that I need in place.  But even though not all the texts are perfectly leveled, teacher expertise is just as important.  I think my students have had just as powerful experience in CFGs as I help meet their needs as individual learners looking at the same text.

Friday, February 13, 2015

What’s it like to be in a session with Diane Sweeney?

Bobbi Campbell contributed today's posts. Bobbi's recent posts focus on her learning around student centered coaching (facilitated by Diane Sweeney).

This blog entry is an example of a full-day professional development opportunity with Diane Sweeney, including coaching reflections and notes in response to the content. essential questions for the session were:
  • EQ1: How can a coach guide goal setting towards culturally and linguistically responsive instructional practices?
  • EQ2: What are some coaching skills that bring about culturally and linguistically responsive instructional practices?
  • EQ3: How might learning labs create opportunities for teacher collaboration in MMSD?
Read about the content of the session and Bobbi's notes (shared in PDF using GoogleDrive).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Centering Curriculum Conversations Around Learning Targets

Carrie Sand contributed today's post. Her other recent posts about planning professional learning can be found here.

I love the fact that my principal loves professional resources as much as I do. I love the fact that my principal orders professional resources and then puts them in my mailbox with a note that says “Add this to your shelves when you’re done.” I love that one of his favorite resources is the magazine “Educational Leadership” from ASCD. And what does my principal love from all of this.….he loves the fact that every time I find a wonderful idea to implement from my freebie, he technically gets the ‘shout-out’ for the great find!! It really is a small price to pay for a free subscription to a great resource and, in the end, we’ve both agreed that it’s a win-win.

NOTE: Wisconsin educators can access the article Carrie mentions in this post completely free using BadgerLink.

So it was in the October 2014 issue where I found the article titled “Learning Targets on Parade” by Susan M. Brookhart and Connie M. Moss that got me thinking more about my work as a coach and the many hours a coach puts into fostering, supporting, implementing, writing, leading, revising, vetting (and many other “-ings”) curriculum. I like working with curriculum and I think most coaches would agree that they value the importance of building a strong universal instructional system; and, when you work with really great teams, the conversations about rigor and expectations and scope and sequence really feel like a true work of collaboration. My problem is that these deeply collaborative discussions about curriculum are too few and far between. In fact, much too often, the curriculum meetings I am part of become groups of people working next to one another on independent tasks: one person finding a great website, one an electronic tool or graphic organizer, another creating a google doc or form. The rich collaborative discussions that really drive great curriculum are missing.

As a coach, I began to wonder how I could hone in on a specific focus point to help spark these discussions. As I read further into the article, I realized that learning targets were the place to go to accomplish this goal.  As outlined in the article by Brookhart and Moss, learning targets should go beyond rewording the language of the standards into the basic “I can…” statement many teachers have implemented in their classrooms. Instead, learning targets need to tell the students “exactly what they’re suppose to learn and what their work will look like when they learn it.” As I read more in the article, I learned that the authors claim that in order to write a good learning target (or objective statement)  a teacher must: write the learning, not the activity as the learning target; write a new learning target each day so students get the sense of how lessons build on one another; and embody the learning target within the performance task of the day so the activity feels meaningful, important, and essential to the learning.

With learning targets more clearly defined and having a specific protocol for writing them, I continued on into my October issue of EL. Next, I encountered the article “The Quest for Mastery: What practices do high-performing urban schools have in common?” by Joseph F. Johnson Jr, Cynthia L. Uline, and Lynne G. Perez. Now, my small, rural Wisconsin school might be the exact opposite of the definition of “urban,” but if an author sticks the words “high performing” in their title, you can bet that I’m reading on! It was here again that I read about the practice of creating objective-driven lessons, and how teachers can use learning targets, or objective statements, as conversation focal points in team meetings to plan curriculum that focuses on a depth of understanding, and ultimately mastery, of content and standards. As outlined in the article, teachers benefit from conversations with colleagues centered around writing strong objectives, as well as purposeful planning for academic vocabulary, avoiding and pointing out common misconceptions, and connecting the knowledge to prior learning.

In the past few months, I have worked to refocus curriculum meetings based on these considerations. I have followed an informal protocol that involves beginning curriculum work by initiating discussions centered around writing strong objective statements, and then considering the vocabulary, misconceptions, and connection to prior learning each lesson entails. As a result, our curriculum work has sparked conversations that are deep and meaningful. These conversations have also moved beyond curriculum meetings to team meetings and PLC time. When teachers take ownership and implement the process on their own, I know my work as a coach has been successful.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back to Basics Part 3 - Principal Support

Julie Schwartzbauer contributed today's post. All of Julie's posts about her district's "Back to Basics" plan can be accessed here.

In my last “Back to Basics” post, I wrote about how our coaches are using Mary Catherine Moran’s coaching continuum.  The coaching continuum is allowing our coaches the opportunity to differentiate for the teachers in their building.

The Literacy Coaching Continuum (Moran, 2007)

As our coaches continue to explore the various coaching formats, it is becoming apparent that they need the support of their building principal. If we want to build consistency across the district in best practices, then our principals must be seen as leaders in literacy. Teachers must see that the building principal is committed to the district goals and will play a role in supporting them.

In her book Read, Write, Lead, Regie Routman writes about how a principal can become an outstanding leader when they have a deep understanding of literacy.  We want our principals to know what’s most important to look for and listen for in the literacy classroom, as well as how to give feedback and support teachers.  

When we started with our “Back to Basics” plan our vision was that principals would be part of developing shared beliefs through our coaching PLCs. They would partake in classroom visits with building coaches.  They would work with teachers and coaches through ongoing professional collaboration.   

This sort of collaboration takes time; however, our principals have been part of developing our shared beliefs.  As our coaches continue to meet twice per month, the principals are invited to be part of the PLC.  With knowing how busy principals are and respecting the fact that they are needed in their building, we have asked that if possible, they attend the Shared Beliefs PLC with their coaches.  During this PLC, coaches and principals pour through resource upon resource, focussing on one component of balanced literacy.  As a group of 25+, they develop shared beliefs surrounding that component.  These beliefs are then put into a document that is later rolled out to teaching staff.

In my next post, I will talk about how coaches are rolling out the “Back to Basics” components in their buildings.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Book Review: Having Hard Conversations

Andrea Reichenberger contributed today's post.

Earlier this month we posted what we were reading and I shared that I was reading:

Having Hard Conversations
Jennifer Abrams. (2009).
Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

No matter how many coaching workshops I attend or how many books I read, one skill I believe I have never gotten enough practice with is having those hard conversations.  The opportunities to have them are in abundance, but I often avoid them for fear that I might not handle them appropriately.  I’m sure all coaches would agree that It is difficult to have conversations with our peers whom we work with about their behaviors. However, as I begin to read this book, a quote on page 6 captivated me:  “We can suffocate under the status quo, and our students will not get the education they deserve because we are not courageous enough to speak up and ask each other how to be our best selves. To be more authentic and more truthful in schools every day will allow us not only to survive, but to thrive.” This is important as I reflect on behaviors that I see my colleagues display. I want to ask, is this the best you can do?  And if so, what are you modeling for our students? By not speaking out, it might look to an outsider as if we condone the other person’s behavior and make it possible for him or her to believe that the behavior is OK.

When addressing another argument I often use against myself:  I have no authority, so who am I to address certain behaviors and situations? I took special note when the author quoted Marianne Williamson on page 18.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

The book has a simple lay out and at 99 pages in length (less the resources) is a fairly quick read.  Abrams begins by emphasizing  the need for having hard conversations and then addresses all of the reasons why we hesitate to have them. With each excuse she offers a thoughtful question for reflection that  For example, one excuse I often use myself is that I’m “Waiting for the Perfect Moment.”  The authors suggests to not over-think (which I often do), develop a time limit for planning the conversation as well as creating a deadline for conducting it.  She asks the poignant question, “ we have the luxury of waiting until next year to focus on an instructional weakness that is not serving students?” (p.15). The answer is, no, we don’t.  

Additional questions that guide the rest of the chapters include asking what is the real problem?, finding the professional language to name it, and making a plan that includes scripting your initial comments.  She also includes a chapter about other important elements to consider when having the hard conversations as well as several resources including an extended list of professional teacher behaviors, school savvy etiquette, and sample scripts. This book helps guide the reader through conversations with teachers as a colleague, a coach, a supervisor, or an administrator. In addition to your collection of coaching titles by Jim Knight, Cathy Toll, and Diane Sweeney, I highly recommend adding Having Hard Conversations by Ms. Abrams.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sharing with Department Heads (continued from December)

Lisa Weiss contributed today's post. For more information, read Lisa's other posts about her district's "laser-like focus on the intentional use of literacy in the service of our contents." This post is a continuation of "Sharing with Department Heads."

The discussion of the bulleted items from November, with the department heads was fascinating, and after we defined what we meant by disciplinary literacy, I transitioned into the why behind the focus of writing as a 6-12 school improvement goal, and what it meant for all departments/teachers as we considered writing SLO’s.

I “sold” this 15 minute time to the department heads as a mini-keynote. I talked through how, by focusing on writing, and specifically writing standard 9, we are all pulling in the same direction. I suggested that they consider using writing as an SLO for two reasons: we have data from social studies and English as established data points, and all the 6-12 professional development this year is focused on writing. An SLO, quite naturally, is determined by a teacher, and while we want them to write an SLO that makes sense to them, we wanted to encourage them to write one based on the professional learning that was to take place.

After sharing this information, I had the department heads talk to a partner, reconstructing my messages about why we were moving to a writing goal, how W9 was chosen, how W9 still relates to our reading goals from last year, how the professional development calendar focuses on writing, and how all of this ties to SLO’s. As pairs of department heads verbally processed the information, I walked around, clarifying questions. I did this for two reasons. I needed them to understand all of this information so they could articulate it to their colleagues in their departments, and I needed the opportunity to address any misunderstandings.

Although people were kind, I knew this was unexpected information, and it was clear that  they were considering the ideas, as well as anticipating the outcomes. I wanted to share some examples of high schools where teachers pulled in the same direction and saw astonishing results. I went to an old favorite, Mike Schmoker. In Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, Schmoker gives examples of high schools where teachers systematically and consistently engaged kids in close reading, and/or monthly formal writing assignments, and/or Socratic discussions, for example, and then reported what that did for student learning--at Tempe Preparatory Academy, 100% of students passed their state examinations in reading, writing, and math! I wanted to show the department heads the results of all of us speaking the same language, and pulling in the same direction!

I pulled an excerpt from the text, “Simple, Redundant Literacy,” for the group to read and discuss, and I ended by sharing my simple, redundant literacy professional development plan for the district. Here’s the gist of what I shared:
  • I promise to keep it simple!
  • I promise to share one, maybe two reading strategies.
  • I promise to model how to model the writing you require of your students.
  • I promise to teach you how to assess the writing as a content teacher. I promise to keep it simple!
  • I promise that we will follow a learning progression like this: learn a new strategy, then have time to plan for the use of it, implement it, and then return to the student work to analyze. Whenever we learn something new, we are going to take the time each week at collaboration to think more and plan for the intentional use of it!
  • I promise to slow down if you’re not ready to move on, and I promise to differentiate for those buildings that need something different.

It was a great day, and I think the words of one teacher sums up how the day went for most of the department heads. Afterward, a teacher I met for the first time that day, one who taught a content where the idea of writing could be tricky, approached me to say: Nobody, absolutely nobody, was excited about coming here today to hear about literacy, but you made it okay, and I think I can do this because I think your plan is simple, makes sense, and I feel like you are going to support us.

Not a bad first impression!

Monday, February 2, 2015

What Are You Reading: February 2015

1. Barb read Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang. She says, "I picked this one up because it is a Read On Wisconsin! selection. It's a set of two graphic novels depicting China's Boxer Rebellion (a part of history I embarrassingly knew nothing about) from two points of view. My discussion of the book with colleagues included a lot of talk about text complexity, which is interesting to consider with a graphic novel."

2. Lisa is reading Five Levers to Improve Learning by Tony Frontier and James Rickabaugh (two expert Wisconsin educators!!)

3. Heather is reading Choice Words by Peter Johnston. She describes the book as having many "ideas on how to best use language for effective learning outcomes" and also says, "I know everyone has read this before... I missed the boat. I am checking it out finally."

4. Carrie describes the The Writing Thief by Ruth Culham as ". . . a book that continues to remind us of the importance of modeling and mentor texts. Essays from influential writers included in the text stress this same idea or can be used as mentor texts themselves."

5. Carrie is also reading Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America's Classrooms by Steven Zemelman, Harvey Daniels, and Arthur Hyde. She says, "This book is about excellent teaching and powerful learning.  This book defines best practice for young teachers, principals, administrators, instructional coaches, parents and school board members."

6. Jaimie is reading the Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larsson which begins with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for personal reading. She describes it as a "great mystery with lots of twists" and says, "It definitely keeps you thinking."

7. Bobbi is reading Coaching Conversations by Linda Cheliotes and Marceta Reilly. She says, "This coaching book provides a myriad of questioning strategies to help facilitate a change in practice in order to improve student learning."

8. Bobbi is also reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein. Bobbi explains, "This piece of historical fiction takes place during World War II (1943). A British spy plane flown by a young female pilot and her best friend passenger crashes into Nazi occupied France. The passenger, 'Queenie,' is captured and interrogated by the Gestapo."

Use the comments to continue the conversation by telling us what you're reading.