Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Poem for You

Good friends
are a bowl of soup
Reaching places
you didn’t know
needed warming
Good friends
are jelly beans
The flavor you look for first
The one you save 
for last
Good friends
are your morning coffee
They make you better
Keep your secrets
And help you live your story
~j brittin


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Follow that Blog!


When I joined Twitter last year, my eyes were immediately opened to the world of educational blogging. While staring at my daily news feed, I felt overwhelmed with the possibilities of so many promising blogs to read and follow. One year later,  I have some carefully selected favorites that usually speak to my specific needs as an educator.  And although I try to read at least one or two new blogs each day, I always save time for the ones that have proven purposeful and meaningful again and again.

Over the next few months (or maybe longer), I’d like to highlight some of the blogs that I follow in a series of posts entitled Follow that Blog! One of the most frequently occuring responses that I hear when I invite someone to join Twitter or become part of the educational blogging community is, “I wouldn’t know where to start.” So, start here. Often one blog will lead you to another and another. If the first one isn’t right for you, chances are you will quickly find one that is.

In this series, I will mostly feature blogs that are whole heartedly embraced by the community of connected educators that I am fortunate to call my personal learning network. I hope that in reading these posts, you will connect with at least one educator who is writing what you need to read.  This community is far reaching, evidence that educators truly desire and need to be connected, as the same will be expected of our students.




The first blog I would like to feature is practical, purposeful, and powerful. Assessment in Perspective is the official website of Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan.   Tammy and Clare are staff developers who offer professional development services for many schools and districts under the name Teachers for Teachers.  They are also frequent contributors for Choice Literacy.  Their blog: Perspectives, is just one resource for educators that you will find when you visit their site.

clare and tammy

Tammy and Clare post frequently.  As a teacher and a mom of three active children who is short on time, I appreciate that their posts are brief, but full of important and actionable ideas that challenge me to clarify my thoughts as an educator.  They also often highlight current books that they are enjoying or seeing work well in the classroom environment.

When I contacted them for this post, they graciously answered a few questions about their blog and professional development.

As you write each post for your blog, what purpose do you have in mind? What topics do you tend to write about most frequently?

“Our purpose is to communicate with the teachers, coaches and administrators we collaborate with each year.  We don’t get to see them every day or even every week, so we hope our blog keeps our dialogue going between our sessions.

Our posts do not all fall into one category.  We tend to write about assessment, best practices, coaching, change process, and elementary literacy.  We always try to think about multiple perspectives when we write our posts.  The key to professional collaboration and learning for us is understanding the point of view of our students and colleagues.  We hope our posts inspire dialogue, new ideas, and reflection.”

How has blogging and being apart of the online educational community improved your own craft and professional life?

Teaching is a learning profession.  We believe we need to model inquiry and the power of learning for our students.  Blogging and social media is a new professional learning modality for us.  We just joined this community in July of 2013.  We cannot believe how much we have learned and the quality of professional resources on the internet.  We feel more connected nationally than we ever have before.  We have met new professional contacts and participated in many opportunities for shared learning through the edublogging community.”

What advice can you offer teachers who feel like they don’t have enough time to create and pursue professional development on their own?

“There is never enough time, but how we choose to use the time we have is up to us.  We have found that setting professional learning goals for ourselves is helpful.  We create new goals each year and this helps us stay focused and not feel overwhelmed.  It is important to set real but achievable goals and set an action plan for meeting these goals.  We believe having a personal learning network is essential.  We collaborate, reflect and plan with each other all the time.  When we are working with others who have the same goals it is motivates us to find the time.”


Clare and Tammy have definitely inspired dialogue, new ideas, and reflection in my professional life.  I hope that you will follow their work and be inspired as well.

You can follow them on Twitter @TeachersforTeachers

Note: After entering your email address to follow a blog, you will usually need to open and follow directions given in a confirmation email. Until you confirm, you will not receive updates on new posts.


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Celebrating Real


This week I’m celebrating with Ruth Ayres. Please take a look at all of this week’s celebrations on her blog.

 Real Writing

This week we had some excitement in my class when one of my fourth grade students, Charlotte, had her review of Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur featured on Nerdy Book Club. I happened to be on Twitter at the right time when Colby tweeted out a request for a retro review.  Although I couldn’t remember if student work was ever featured on Nerdy, I put it out there, and he graciously accepted.


You can read her post here. What I loved about this experience was that it was a perfect way to show my students that writing is real. It’s not about the essays you hand in to your teacher (because we do that), and it’s not about the thirty minute timed prompt on the state assessment (we’re about to have to do that too).  It’s about purpose and passion AND audience. My students have had some chances to connect with a larger audience through blogging this year, but no experience came close to seeing all of the comments on Charlotte’s Nerdy post this week. And we had celebration on top of celebration when one of her favorite authors, Cynthia Lord, commented on her review mid-morning.

Charlotte got a taste of what it can be like when your writing has an impact. She had students in the hallway asking her for her autograph, supervisors stopping by, teachers and prinicipals calling and emailing to congratulate. And the impact was felt by all of the students in my class. Requests to publish a review on our class blog skyrocketted, and I am celebrating my students’ renewed sense of this writing thing is for real.

Real Friendship

I’m also celebrating my colleagues past and present who have become some of my closest friends. I’m celebrating the support, the feedback, the willingness to understand me. You know who you are.  You know what you’ve done. I love you. Thank you.



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Celebrating New


I’m celebrating this week with Ruth Ayers and all of the other educators who make a difference in the lives of children every day.

Celebrating New

This week I wrote a poem. That’s new for me.  More to follow on this in a future post, but all I can say is that it was hard work.  My students are going to be writing poems to or about characters in their books, so I knew that I needed to try as well. I decided that I would write my poem to the title character of our most recent read aloud, Rump. After about an hour of redoes and start overs, I was somewhat happy with the result, and even got some very kind feedback from the author, Liesl Shurtliff.


I am also celebrating the launch of my class’s book review blog. Several students worked hard this week to write the first reviews that would be sent out into the online universe. We are excited about the response we’ve already gotten, and hoping that other Saturday celebrators will give us even more feedback with follows, comments, and shares!



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