IRC Reflections

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

     Here are my reflections on Illinois Reading Council 2015!  

     This year, I used the Paper 53 app to take notes during the sessions.  A few years ago, the Cognitive Coaching instructor had us do a single page mind map at the end of the PD, in the same way that our Apple PD provider had us make a One Sheet.  I remembered this strategy, and how effective it is for me as a learner, this summer at a PD session with +Lucy Carrera and +Stacy Rammer.  The result?  Digital mind maps from IRC!

Day 1

     Our first session of the year was breakfast with Maria Walther and Jan Richardson.  We got to hear their fantastic literacy ideas about both whole group and small group instruction.  What a great start to our conference!  

     I have been waiting to see +Christopher Lehman at IRC since last fall at IRC 2014.  He was listed in the preview for this year, and I have had it on my calendar ever since.  Legos, bitmoji, references to great literature, and a mindset for #edujoy and collaboration.  He is one of my favorite eduheroes for many reasons, and he did not disappoint.  

An hour about writing from sources + an hour on primary close reading = 2 sessions in a row of inspiration. 

     For lunch, we got to listen and watch Dave Burgess perform.  I have been following his energetic and passionate style of teaching on Twitter with the #tlap hashtag, and with Paul Solarz and #LearnLAP as well.  Check them both out and redefine yourself as a teacher.

     Back to Jan Richardson... 

     Our whole school is trying to follow her Guided Reading structure, so I had to hear her talk about the top 5 strategies to use.  She even gave us an extra strategy as a plus one!  She is one amazing educator.  

     For my next session, I couldn't take notes because I was actually presenting it with Jeremy Majeski.   We were presenting on using 1:1 tech, literacy, and assessment.  Thanks, +Jeremy Majeski, for giving me the push to present.  Now that it is over, I am grateful for the challenge.  We made quite the bitmoji pair.  :)

If you would like to see our presentation, here it is:

     Day 1 ended with a table full of blessings.  All the #bsd100 staff who attended the conference from Emerson, Pershing, Hiawatha, Irving, Komensky, and Heritage all got together and shared a meal with a shared spirit of collaboration and growth mindset.  Our extremely talented literacy coach at Komensky, +Felicia Frazier, made all my literacy dreams come true and invited +Christopher Lehman to join us.  I might have screamed in a restaurant when I found that out a day before...  After getting over the embarrassment of telling my #eduhero that he is indeed my #eduhero, I managed to eat my meal.  Thanks, Felicia.  I hope someday to be half the literacy coach that you are, but even more important half as thoughtful as you are.  

#grateful #thankful #blessed #inspired 


Day 2

     We started the day off with listening to Dav Pilkey talk about his experiences as a child with ADHD and dyslexia, and how he created his first books in a hallway because he got in trouble in class.  He shared parts of his newest book with us, this time in an auditorium filled with educators and  as a very successful author.  What a great story of triumph to remind us as educators that all our students are individuals.  Sadly, I was not able to take notes with Paper 53, because the auditorium was dark, but I did snap a picture.  

     Donalyn Miller.  The Book Whisper.  Oh. My. Goodness.  

     I love her.

     Penny Kittle is also a new #eduhero of mine.  I saw her for the first time at the online EdCollab Gathering a few weeks ago, and I have been thinking about her words ever since.  So, even though her session started while I was still at the breakfast with Donalyn Miller, I snuck into the second half of her session to get inspired.   And I did.  

     My goal of Day 2 was to go to sessions about writing, because I am actively trying to improve myself as a writing teacher and coach.  Georgia Heard knows her stuff.  I wrote fast and furious in that session.  I have a lot to learn, and she put me on that path.  

     This is where there should be a session with Tanny McGregor, but sadly we ended up leaving the conference before her 2 sessions in the afternoon.  SO sad.  But, I certainly couldn't get stranded in Peoria.  My family would have missed me.  So, instead I virtually attended +Michelle Brezek and +Colleen Noffsinger's session on PLNs on Twitter during the ride home.  They introduced the #mytimePD hashtag to the IRC world.  So, if you find yourself learning on your own time or in your own way, tweet about it with their hashtag. 


     So, here's a secret...  I'm a literacy guru fangirl.  

     After almost every session, for the last few years, the lit coaches and I (and sometimes I by myself) try to get a picture with the presenter.  It's a fun (yet apparently odd) way to say thank you to the presenters for their influence and time.  Here is the post from our first year at IRC as lit coaches, with some pretty awesome people.  Why not embrace our deep respect and admiration for those who make a difference on our teaching?

     Here are some #litguruselfies from IRC 2015.  These educators have all made an impact on my students and my professional self.  This year, I have a picture of my son's first grade teacher in the mix!  Thanks, Mrs. Hartmann, for being such a dedicated teacher.  It was such a surreal experience, sitting next to you while listening to Jan Richardson and Maria Walther, having such deep respect for them as educators, but at the same time being a thankful parent.

     IRC is such a special place.

I'll end with a little #hiawathapride.  Thanks for a great trip, ladies.


  1. Thank YOU for a great trip AND for attending our IRC session virtually! You are too funny and brilliant. I loved seeing your responses using our #mytimePD hashtag throughout our session. I'm already looking forward to #IRC2016 trip with you and hope we get to rub elbows with the literacy stars again next year!:)
    Literacy Loving Gals

  2. I will travel with you anywhere, Colleen. :) So glad to have you in my PLN, in both the virtual and #bsd100 worlds!!!