Tag Archives: Kate DiCamillo

This Digital Immigrant is Changing

I woke up this morning mid-dream and had a small “a-ha” moment.  My dream was toggling back and forth with thoughts and images like a multiple tabs open on a computer.  I’ve had dreams about work where this has happened, but I don’t recall non-work images ‘formatted’ in this way before.  I realized, the way I think and process information is truly being changed and shaped by the digital world I am living in.

Perhaps that’s not a great revelation to many, but it got me wondering more about how the brain works for those digital natives we are teaching each day. Can I appreciate how they process concepts, organize schema, and recall information? Does my teaching support that way of thinking?

Now I will never abandon actual books, paper, and pencils to become a digital teacher, but I certainly need to learn more about how our kids brains work if I want to use the best practices to tap into that.

I’ll share a few of the places I’m starting.  This is a series of videos from The Open University called “Childhood In the Digital Age that explore technology, socializing, thinking, and learning.  Each are only a few minutes long.


I also want to explore a new book by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke called Amplify. Their goals in this Heinemann offering are : 9780325074733

  • explicitly teaching kids how to be effective digital readers and thinkers
  • giving students practice with closely reading images, infographics, and video
  • emphasizing student ownership and creativity

I know many teachers are reluctant to embrace digital learning, it can feel like a repudiation of the way they learned and the way they’ve been teaching for so long. But our job is to meet our students where they are in their learning and lead them forward.  We can’t adequately do this if we don’t have a good understanding of where they are! So I suggest we take it one step at a time and begin to explore.  Let’s look for ways to support one another and be nonjudgmental.

Our world is changing. Our brains are changing. Our teaching is changing.  “Be the change!”

What’s on My Book Radar?

raymie-nightingaleI have been waiting so long for this book!  When I met Kate DiCamillo last fall at NCTE I was captivated by her. I’ve always loved her writing, and you can see how naturally it springs from her ability to talk and tell a story.

This story will break your heart and then heal it with warmth. Raymie’s father has run away with a dental hygienist and she devises a plan to get his attention and win him back. While working on her plan she meets Beverly Tapinski -whose tough exterior masks some incredible pain, and Louisiana Elefante who needs their help to get back her cat and stay out of the county home. Together they are the three Rancheros-and together their friendship might just rescue them all.  These characters will stick with you the way India Opal Buloni did in Because of Winn Dixie, you’ll want to wrap your arms around them and give them the love they need and deserve.

You DON’T want to miss this one!  Thanks, Kate. I’m in love with this book.

Happy Reading!

Beyond Thankful

Since it is the eve of Thanksgiving and there are so many other tasks demanding my attention, my blog this week will be a simple gratitude journal.  I cannot possibly list all that I am thankful for, so I will focus on my time at NCTE in Minneapolis this past week.

I am thankful…


…That I could bring a colleague.  Andrea made this experience so rich and meaningful.  I am lucky that I have such great teachers to collaborate with. I love my job, and the teachers who make it so rewarding.



…That I had a “dream team” for my panel presentation on Close Writing.

They each brought incredible insights to their close writing process and showed us that there is no “ONE RIGHT WAY” to be a writer.  Thank you to Sarah Albee, Linda Urban, Lester Laminack, Kate Messner, and Selene Castrovilla.  Andrea and I learned so much from you all.

…That I got to meet the authors who have touched my life so profoundly.

Katherine Applegate brought me to tears with the story of The One and Only Ivan and her latest incredible book Crenshaw. Kate DiCamillo has brought a bit of magic to every story she’s written. I have been a fan since Because of Winn Dixie and haven’t stopped loving her work.  Lynda Mullaly Hunt is the most compassionate author I know and can call friend. Her books One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree are must-reads for every teacher.  They allow us to see our students in profound ways -and now that I know how much they reflect the heart of this author, they are even more special. And Cynthia Lord is a true gift to kid lit lovers.  Her books Rules, Touch Blue, Half a Chance and  A Handful of Stars bring the stories of ordinary children with very real problems to life for our students in ways that help them know they are not alone-that someone understands.


…That I got a chance to connect with those Nerdy Book Club peeps

that feed my soul (and my Amazon cart!) with their passion for kid lit.  Colby Sharp, John Schumacher (Mr. Schu), and Donalyn Miller (the Book Whisperer) have so much energy and knowledge.  It was truly infectious!

…That I learned from some amazing authors and educators at panels and

roundtables.  I tried to take photos, and notes, and sketches as fast and furious as I could at times, and at other times I just ‘absorbed’ the experience and savored the moment.

…and finally I am incredibly thankful for the people at Stenhouse who helped me put my ideas into a book that will be out next month.

To say it was a surreal experience would be the understatement of my life. When I saw the lineup of authors to meet and chat at the Stenhouse booth I was blown away.   I am mindful of the quote,

“To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

I will strive to give back to the degree that I am given, to be humbled and grateful by the experiences I am fortunate to have, and to remember to thank those who have been a light in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

What’s On My Book Radar?



I was able to get the most recent “True Story” fairy tale adventure from Liesl Shurtliff.  RED: The True Story of Red Riding Hood.  This fantastical tale was my companion for the plane ride home.  I love the twists and turns of re-imagined fairy tales-Liesl has a wonderful way of bringing fresh insights to old and familiar tales.  Look for this book April of 2016!