As we get started with our Laura Robb book study group, please take a few moments to introduce yourself and share something you love about your current teaching position.
As you all know, my name is Laurie Henry and I'm an Assistant Professor of Early Adolescent Literacy at the University of Kentucky. I am a former middle school teacher from Connecticut. Most of my classroom experience is with 7th graders (aka "hormones with feet") teaching Literature, English, and Math. I now train new middle school teachers at UK and enjoy this role tremendously. I also teach graduate level courses in literacy across the disciplines and provide lots of PD for teachers here in KY and nationwide in my role as a member of NCTE's National Consulting Network. I'm also a long-term member of the ReadWriteThink (RWT) Advisory Board for IRA. RWT is a partner site here on Thinkfinity. Make certain you check it out! You can look up my many lesson plans by going to the "About Us" and "About Our Authors" tab on the site.
One thing I love about my current position is that it provides many opportunities for me to be in middle school classrooms. In fact, I will be teaching one of my classes on location at Winburn Middle School in Lexington this semester. Those of you in our group who are teaching at Winburn, make certain to stop by and say hello! I'll be there on Mondays and Wednesdays (11:00-12:30). Please don't be afraid to interrupt. This helps demonstrate to our new students that teaching middle school requires you to be flexible! ;-)
Last fall I helped some 7th grade LA teachers at North Middle School in Hardin County teach a unit on argumentative writing. This was great fun! I also have lots of opportunities to work with schools in other countries, including Brazil and China. I spent 7 weeks in Xi'an, China last semester with 6 student teachers placed in elementary and high school classrooms there. I had great pleasure in teaching a group of 5th graders, 62 of them in one classroom! I was demonstrating "Learning Stations" (shown in attached photo) for the Chinese teachers following a PD session I did with them to explain the concept and introduce them to more student-centered activities in the classroom, which was a totally new concept for them.
I have a group of undergraduate students in a writing methods course this semester who will join our online discussions as I'm using the Laura Robb text with them. I hope the experience will be beneficial for them as they gain knowledge about teaching writing at the middle level from all of you as experts in the field. I hope you will all share your experiences, highs and lows, hurdles and successes with them as we move forward.
Hi to all! My name is Myria Denniston and I teach 7th grade Reading/LA at Mason County Middle School in Maysville, Ky. I love my "walking hormones with feet" as they teach me something new each day about life. (I am on my second career in life as manufacturing was my first.) I try to change things every year that I know can be better in my instruction and as Reading is my favorite sometimes I think I fall short on the writing end of it. I am hoping with all of your help, advice, and encouragement I can become better at teaching writing. Of course, the book will help us all as I know Laura Robb as "one of the greats" in my book. Thanks in advance for your help
My name is Michelle Tanner and I teach 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Reading and Language Arts at Deming School. I am starting my 11th year there. I started my teaching career by teaching two years of high school math. Deming is a K-12 school. We have less than 400 enrolled this year. I have tried to do things that will allow me to be more creative when it comes to teaching and to help the students become more creative in their writing. I am always looking for someone to give me advice. I have a hard time covering the writing with little time. I want to be able to smoothly incorporate writing with my reading. I love that we will be getting a new school in a few months.
My name is Anissa Davis and I am an 8th grade language arts teacher at Anderson County Middle School in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. I love the reading part of my job and work hard to try to love the writing part. Like Michelle, I'd like to better incorporate the writing with the reading.
Good morning! I am Jennifer Warford and am thrilled to be a part of this exciting group. I serve as Vice Principal at Conner Middle School in Boone County. Prior to that I worked as an instructional coach at both the middle and high school level and have an extensive background in adolescent literacy. In May of 2011, I finished my Doctorate in Educational Leadership. This is my 19th year in education and have taught language arts/English in grade 7-12. I look forward to learning from each of you as we explore the book together.
Hello everyone! My name is Bethany Sharpe. I am currently a graduate student at the University of Kentucky in the Department of History. As a graduate student I also teach one of UK's Academic Preparation Programs in Reading for freshmen. I am very interested in incorporating more writing into my reading course and hope that this book club can give me insight into how to best accomplish this!
Hi, everyone! My name is Jill McDonnell and I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade Communications plus reading interventions. I love hearing kids tell me that a book I suggested was the first book they have ever finished. Even more, I love when they brag that they've never finished a book because I will get them by the end of the year!
As a former journalist, I love to write, but find that most schools don't have a writing curriculum or are all over the map as to how to teach writing. I am SO tired of seeing the five-paragraph essay and hope to discover other ways to teach kids to love writing as much as I do.
Hi Everybody My name is Shauna Murrey and i teach 8th grade Language Arts at Estill County Middle School. This is my 7th year in middle school. I started my career with four years at Whitefield Academy in Louisville teaching American Literature and Drama. I love middle school even though it is DRAMA all day everyday. I love teaching literature and I love to see what my kids come up with when we write, but I know that my writing instruction isn't as strong as my literature. I hope that this book club can help me with that!
Hello, everyone. I am back to teaching 6th grade ELA after a long stint teaching 7th graders. How did I forget how sweet 6th graders are? Like several other participants, I feel that my strength is Reading and Literature. Writing...not so much. I am looking forward to reading our book and putting what we learn into practice. All advice cheerfully accepted,
Garrard Middle School
Message was edited by: Vicki Gibson
Hi! My name is Dorie Raybuck and I am the library media specialist (LMS) at East Jessamine Middle School. I LOVE being the library media specialist because I have the opportunity to positively influence all 900 of our students daily. Reading and middle school students are my passion. I taught high school English for 4 years at a private school before I moved to EJMS as a 6th grade language arts teacher...and oh how sweet those 6th graders are! When I moved to the LMS position 7 years ago, I learned so much about how those hormonal 7th and 8th graders can be just as loving and sweet with gentle love and care given to them. I also love writing and have used Ralph Flether's A Writer's Notebook and Nancy Atwell's ideas as well as other writing guru's ideas in the classroom. Middle school students really can love to write! I know we've all seen it, but who couldn't use more help and ideas? So...here I am, a forever student. Let's start learning!
Dorie, It's good to see you here. You may not remember me, but if my mind is working correctly you brought me a blueberry muffin to my 8 o'clock presentation one time and your kindness has never been forgotten. I have moved this year from the position of library media specialist to 7th grade teacher. I work in Wayne County and our district closed my building. I am really enjoying this end of things again though I miss the craziness of media center life.
Hi everyone! My name is Tonia Parker. I teach 6th grade Language Arts and 9th grade English at Fairview High School in Ashland, KY.
My current teaching position allows me to have the best of both worlds; middle school students and high school students. I know that may sound crazy, but it makes the day interesting and fun for me! My 6th graders have a separate reading class, so I focus on grammar, spelling, and writing in there, but I get to focus on my love of literature with my 9th graders.
After trying to teach writing successfully last year, I realize I need help. I hope to learn and grow in the area of writing, in order to improve the writing of my students.
My name is Ashley Gomez. I started my career teaching Spanish in Fayette County. After a few years teaching Spanish, I went back to school for a Masters degree in ESL and English Language Arts. I now teach ESL/Language Arts at Leestown Middle. I struggle to find ways to teach small group instruction to students who are just beginning to learn English and also meet the needs of the students that have been in the United States for a long period of time, needing to perfect their skills for ESL program exit. Writing is the most difficult skill for my students.
Hello, everyone! My name is Connie McKinley-Galdos. This is my fifteenth year working in Jefferson County already! Time flies when you are having fun. I taught sixth grade for seven years at Farnsley Middle School, then accepted a position as a school based literacy coach at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, where I managed a Comprehensive School Reform Grant and worked with the Louisville Writing Project to support professional development in writing across the content areas. I was overstaffed as a coach after four years, so I switched to elementary, where I taught fifth grade, second grade, and served as a literacy special area teacher. I received my National Board Certification in Literacy ages 3-12 in 2010. In 2012, I began my journey toward my PhD in Education and Social Change at Bellarmine University. Social justice has always been my passion. Next summer, our doctoral cohort will be traveling out of the country to work with populations in poverty from Great Britain, South Africa, Peurto Rico, and Belize.
This year, I returned to middle school, my true love. I am teaching seventh grade at Highland Middle School, and feel like I have come home where I belong. Highland Middle is an International Baccalaurate School that focuses on whole child learning, cultivating cultural awareness, and respecting differences. Since this is my first time teaching seventh grade, I look forward to learning from you and my students.
My greatest influence as a professional has been my experience as a teacher consultant with the Louisville Writing Project. LWP greatly impacted my love for the teaching profession and my love for writing. I have conducted professional development workshops for the Louisville Writing Project, Kentucky Reading Project, Kentucky Writing Project, and served on a National Writing Project Urban Sites committee to plan a conference focused on resiliency. In 2007, I was accepted to attend a NWP writing retreat in Santa Fe, NM, where I began an article detailing Thomas Jefferson Middle's school reform efforts that was later published in the Kentucky English Bulletin. I serve as an advisory board member for LWP and as past president of Greater Louisville Reading Council, so I know and appreciate all the hard work KRA and KWP does to advocate for literacy in our state and in our country. I am looking forward to presenting reading, writing, and resiliency strategies at a round table session this year at the NCTE conference in Las Vegas. I love to write personally and professionally, and especially love to learn from my students and other teachers. I look forward to meeting all of you.
Hi everyone, I said "hello" a couple of weeks ago but, apparently, I wasn't in the right place I am the literacy specialist for Clark County Schools and my job changes with the tide so to speak. The past couple of years have been spent largely deconstructing standards and helping teachers revise lessons to fit those new standards. A lot of that work having now been done, I am looking forward to helping teachers make their new units come to life. I am a great fan of Laura Robb and am looking forward to sharing with our ELA teachers what I learn through this study with you.
My name is Sharon Hill. You might call me a misplaced librarian. In the past I have taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Then I spent 12 years as a media specialist. After the closing of my building I have been placed, by choice, in a 7th grade language arts classroom. I had to add to my certifications in order to move up to the middle school world and so far I am loving it.
It has been a summer of learning and growth for me professionally, but I have enjoyed the journey. I don't want to be "the lady who has never taught middle school language arts before." I want to be "the lady who is willing to stop at nothing to learn how to successfully teach her 7th graders." And that's why I'm here.
Thus far I have loved so many things about this new teaching assignment. I love that I am getting to know the students more personally than I did as their librarian. I love that I am able to share my love of reading and writing. And I love the new school where I have been placed. Wayne County Middle School is a school that is going places!
Hello! My name is Kacie Browning and I teach at Southgate Independent School in Northern KY. We are a small K-8 school of about 200 students and I teach one class of class each of grades 5-8. I love my school but it can be challenging at times as I am the only middle school LA teacher. I am currently in my sixth year of teaching and love learning new ways to engage my students and challenge myself as a teacher. I try to stay "active" in my profession by attending conferences, participating in webinars, reading current publications and participating in communities such as this. I am a member of the Kentucky Content Leadership Network and love the opportunity it allows me to network with other teachers in my area while learning how to help my staff effectively implement the Common Core Standards.
I love Laura Robb and am excited about the chance to study this particular book with input from other professionals.
I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to join this study group. I have had the pleasure of hearing Mrs. Robb speak at a previous KRA conference in Louisville, and I traveled with my CRA to a conference in Chicago where Mrs. Robb was scheduled to speak (but had to cancel at the last minute) several summers ago. So the opportunity to become a part of a learning community that is focused on her work is marvelous!
I am Regina Sandberg, and I am a sixth grade Language Arts teacher at East Jessamine Middle School in Nicholasville. I am starting my twenty-first year as a middle school educator. After working as a substitute teacher for four years, I got my "foot in the door" and started my teaching career in an "overflow" position at the sixth grade level where I taught a different subject each class period and had a KTIP teacher at an elementary school in a different town. I then taught sixth grade science for nine years prior to moving into a Literacy/Reading position. In 2006, I become a Literacy Coach for the federally funded Striving Readers's grant and worked in that position as an intervention teacher/coach at East Jessamine Middle School until the grant ended after four years. I then returned to the sixth grade Language Arts classroom full time until Christmas 2010, at which time I received a telephone call from Central Office asking me to return to a Literacy Coach position to finish out the school year at West Jessamine Middle School. Last fall, I returned to East Jessamine Middle School full time as a sixth grade Language Arts Teacher which is where I am currently assigned again this school year.
The thing I love the most about my job is knowing that I can impact students for a lifetime (which can also be really scary when you realize that the impact can be positive, negative, or worst case scenario, even neutral). I am currently starting to teach what I call "G2" or Generation 2 students. It is quite fun to be able to say to a student - "Do you want me to call your momma/daddy? I know they know my expectations for how you should behave in my classroom." But the passage of time also makes me much more aware that I have students for such a short amount of time and every lesson needs to be meaningful and RED (rigorous, engaging, and differentiated).
As a life long learner, I know that I can become more effective in how I select and present the material to my students, and I can always learn new ideas and techniques from others. So let the learning and sharing continue....
Hi my name is Elizabeth Powell and I teach 8th grade Language Arts at Winburn Middle. I might stop by Laurie to see the future middle school teachers. I am blessed to have two observing on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. I've taught at Winburn 10 of the 11 years I have been a teacher. My first year of teaching was at Conkwright Middle in Winchester. So far I've gotten a lot of valuable information and gained a renewed insight into writing through reading the first few chapters of the Laura Robb book. I'm excited about the opportunity to meet her in person. This book study is getting me to take a whole new look at writing. For so many years, I've focused on reading as the reading end of language arts and for the last two, I've been working with both reading and writing.
Hi, my name is Lisa Reinhardt and I am definitely a late bloomer. I went to work as an assistant when my children went back to school full-time. I liked it so much that I went back to school to become a teacher. My oldest son had such a hard time during middle school I wanted to try and be there for students that needed extra support and motivation through the toughest years. My oldest daughter is a freshman at Western and I am just now starting my Masters at IUS. My first two years teaching was at Olmsted North Middle in Jefferson County. I taught Social Studies. Now I am at Moore Middle and I teaching Language Arts and Social Studies. I knew I wanted to help children in the years they were the most confused to succeed but I was starting to rethink my decision of teaching until I began teaching literature and the love of reading. I love the challenge of finding a book that will interest them and lead to a love of reading. I am so psyched to learn many ways to engage my students from Laura Robb and so many other experienced teachers. I learn from them every day and I want to make sure that I have a positive impact on their lives in some way.
Hi, I'm Lara Beard. I teach at James T. Alton Middle School in Vine Grove, KY, quite near North Middle, where you did the Argumentative Writing workshop, Laurie. I wish our school had been part of that! I currently teach students with Autism and Mild Mental Disabilities in the MMD unit, so writing is a real challenge. Most of my students, much like students in regular ed., hate to write!! I'm trying to change their perception of seeing writing as a chore to seeing it as an opportunity to express their feelings. Over the 14 years I've been in education, I have taught in various settings, usually with students that had emotional, behavioral, or learning disabilities. (My undergraduate degree is in English, and my Master's is in LBD K-12.)
I have some amazing proof that students with disabilities can and will write if motivated, and hope to motivate my current group to become writers. Like I tell myself, because I enjoy writing, to be a writer you just have to WRITE!! I think that Laura Robb's book will give me some great new ideas to implement, so that my kiddos will be writing away eagerly every day. I also enjoy teaching reading and integrating reading and writing, but my duties include teaching Math, Social Studies, and Science as well as Language Arts, so I have four opportunities a day to work in that writing!
Sorry my post has not posted until now--I thought I was posting earlier on, but I guess it didn't go through!
Great to hear about everyone and look forward to being in the group!
My name is Laryssa Cybriwsky, and I am so utterly unaccomplished compared to all of you! I am still just a student at the University of Kentucky, and obviously Dr. Henry is my professor this semester because I'm enrolled in this book discussion. Even though I am here partially for a grade, I'm excited to be reading Robb's Teaching Middle School Writers with all of you!
I am originally from Eastern Kentucky, but I live in Lexington now. My major is Middle School Education with concentrations in Language Arts and Science. My job is primarily to do (almost) anything that will pay the rent, and that somehow led to me being a college Algebra and Elementary Calculus tutor. I enjoy my job in a lot of ways, but probably the best part is when my students tell me they think I'm going to be a great teacher. Never mind the fact I don't intend to teach math .
I look forward to learning from all of you-I am sure all of you have so much to share. I'm so lucky and happy to be here!
I am Liana Hensley. I also teach "hormones with feet". (I love that description) I have always taught Language Arts at one grade level or another. This is my 16th year of teaching. I love to teach literature, writing, not so much. My favorite part of my job is finding a book that a kid loves! When I can turn a student on to reading, I feel so accomplished. I look forward to working with this group.
Good morning! I am Iva Woods. After teaching language arts for 19 years at Henry County Middle School I participated in The Adolescent Coaching Project at U of L. Through this project I received training on being a literacy coach and how to work directly with teachers in the classroom. For the last six years I have been the literacy/instructional coach at this same school. I strongly believe without literacy skills, students can not reach their full potential and will miss many opportunities. I am looking forward to learning from all of you as we read Teaching Middle School Writers.
Hello! My name is Lauren Coffey, and I am an instructional specialist at Bluegrass Middle School in Hardin County. Previously, I worked as a reading coach and reading teacher. The favorite part of my job is when I co-teach with my colleagues. I love implementing academic conversations in the classroom as a "transition to writing" strategy. Listening to students discuss in small groups and Socratic Circles is so much fun! The insight they offer into a text never fails to amaze me. I love listening to them passionately defend their ideas with textual evidence.
I fell in love with Laura Robb while reading Teaching Reading in Middle School. It transformed the way I approached full-class reading instruction, as well as interventions. Reading chapters one and two of Teaching Middle School Writers has been equally rewarding. Our ELA department is currently in its first year of reading and writing workshop implementation. Teaching Middle School Writers is a perfect book accompaniment to our PLC discussions.