The long way-#sol17


I often find myself on the interstate because it’s the quickest way to get from point A to point B.  I can cruise along at 70 miles per hour on the interstate, which is preferable when I need to arrive at a destination within a certain time.  However, sometimes change is good.  On Sunday, when I left home to travel to the Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University, I decided to skip the interstate in favor of a different route.  While this route took a bit longer, it was much more scenic and relaxing.  I cruised through small towns, passed a variety of historic sites, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Shenandoah Valley.  Sometimes, I had to slow to 30 miles per hour and I was occasionally stuck behind slow-moving traffic, but I avoided the stress that typically occurs when traveling on Interstate 81.  I arrived in Winchester relaxed and ready for a great week of learning.  I enjoyed the trip so much that when it’s time to leave on Friday, I think that I’ll just cruise on down Route 11 again.



On Thursday, I attended the George Graham Lecture at UVa.  I missed the last lecture because I was taking my comprehensive exam, so I was excited to be able to attend the lecture this year.  While the lecture and panel discussions were  thought-provoking, I realized something during the lecture that had nothing really to do with the topic (dyslexia), but instead prompted me to think about my use of technology at conferences and workshops.

The lecture was held in an auditorium on the lowest level of Ruffner Hall at UVa.  I didn’t realize, when I first took a seat, that the location of the lecture meant that cell phone service was almost completely non-existent.  I tried to access the wi-fi, but couldn’t get logged on to that, either.  Once, as I retrieved my phone from my purse, I briefly received a signal, but that only lasted for a moment. I’m so used to tweeting during conferences and workshops that I was lost.  I felt so disconnected from the world outside of Ruffner Hall.  While I could still access some things on my phone while offline, I was severely limited in what I could do with either my phone or iPad.

However, I had a notebook and a selection of InkJoy pens in my purse, so I decided to go old-school for the day.  I turned to a blank page and started jotting down notes during the first part of the lecture.  As the day progressed, I noticed something that surprised me.  I felt as though I was more in tune with not only the speakers, but also the other attendees.    While I might have been disconnected from the outside world, I was more connected with my immediate surroundings.  I felt as though I paid more attention to the speaker’s words and had the opportunity to digest those words and relate them to my professional experiences and knowledge.

So, what does this mean? Do I stop tweeting? Do I limit my tweeting? Do I wait and share what I’ve learned or experienced after the session, lecture, or workshop is over? Do I leave my phone (and iPad and laptop) in my bag?  It seems as though that’s something to consider.  I love technology, but maybe I need to re-evaluate how and when I use it during professional development.  Maybe being disconnected is not always such a bad thing, after all.

Inspired to think about the summer slide for teachers-#sol17


If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend that you check out this blog.  I always look forward to reading Adrienne’s posts and today, I was hooked by the first two sentences: “I’m worried about summer slide. MY summer slide.”  Adrienne’s post prompted me to think about my plans for the summer.  What am I doing to prevent my own summer slide?

One way that I’m avoiding a summer slide is by attending Shenandoah University’s Children’s Literature conference at the end of the month. This conference has been at the top of my list for several years, but I’ve never had the opportunity to attend until this year. Some of the authors and illustrators include Jon Scieszka, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lisa Graff, Sophie Blackall, and Melissa Sweet.  Staying on top of children’s literature is important to me.  I read a lot and participate in Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday as much as possible, but I’m always searching for opportunities to build my knowledge of the books that are available.  This conference will help me avoid the slide by providing opportunities to be immersed in children’s literature.

Like Adrienne, I’ve also signed up for Teachers Write.  This year will be the first when I haven’t had graduate school competing with Teachers Write and I am looking forward to spending some quality time with my writer’s notebook.  While I love to write, I also know that if I’m going to be a teacher of writers, then I have to be a writer, too.  How can I teach what I haven’t experienced as a writer? How can I help my students in their writing journeys if I don’t experience the same things that they experience?

Throughout the summer, I’ll also spend time reading journal articles and professional books.  I’m attending the Graham Lecture at UVa and working on a project to extend my dissertation study.  Next month, I am planning to attend the International Literacy Association conference in Orlando and I can’t wait to soak in everything!

So as I think about what I’m doing to prevent a summer slide, I feel energized by my plans.  Like Adrienne, the summer slide will not be happening for this teacher!











I debated a variety of topics today and nothing really clicked, so I searched through the archives at, searching for inspiration.  I discovered a post about bio-poems (click here to read more about bio-poems) and found exactly what I needed!


a resident of Virginia,

is (usually) quiet, shy, and reserved.

An only child who often wished for a sibling,

She loves her family, her friends, and her school family.

Jennifer is a teacher who is passionate about literacy

and enjoys writing, snapping lots of pictures, and anything related to technology.

She needs books, sweet tea, and family (not necessarily in that order)

and fears mornings without caffeine, blinking cursors, and writer’s block.

She dreams of one day publishing a book

and feels joy when she shares her writing with others




Currently I am…

listening to…the whirring of the ceiling fan.

watching…the blinking cursor on the computer screen-I should have drafted today’s post in my notebook.  Sometimes that blinking cursor is just too much.

drinking…sweet tea and crunching the ice.

eating…chocolate from the stash in my office at home:)

needing to…straighten up and organize my office at home.

thinking about…what to write.

wanting to…try out a new idea for a piece of writing, but questioning whether or not I have the words to say.

feeling…rested but…

missing…my school family during this first week of vacation.

anticipating…spending two Amazon gift cards once I finish this post:)




For nearly a week I’ve been celebrating and crying a lot of tears of joy.  Although I formally completed my doctoral degree in August 2017 and received my degree in December, the University of Virginia doesn’t have a December graduation.  After reflecting on the long journey that led to my degree, I decided to participate in the May ceremonies.  On Thursday, my school surprised me with “Dr. Floyd Day” to celebrate my graduation and I can’t express how much this meant to me.  My principal, the faculty and staff, and students collaborated to provide such a memorable day.  Students performed reader’s theater for me, read poems about reading, and sang songs about reading while we all enjoyed cake.  I cried a lot:)

cake 2017



singing 2017


readers theater 2017


On Saturday, I participated in the doctoral hooding ceremony.  Sitting in the auditorium, listening to the speakers, hearing the words that my advisor had written about me, wearing the robe and hat made everything seem real for the first time.  Following the ceremony, those of us who pursued reading education gathered together with the professors who guided our journeys.  Marcia Invernizzi and Mary Abouzeid are two of my heroes and being able to learn from them was an incredible experience.Hooding

The excitement and celebrations continued.  After the hooding ceremony, I was honored to be installed as the Vice President of the Virginia State Reading Association (via Facebook video chat).  Being a part of VSRA and my local council, SVRC, has meant a lot to me both professionally and personally.  I’ve met so many incredible people and I have learned so much from them all.  However, my VSRA friends had more than installation planned for me.  They surprised me with the Nancy King Leadership award.  Again, I cried:) I’m still so overwhelmed by this!

Sunday brought another road trip to Charlottesville for the Lawn and Curry ceremonies, reminding me of the many trips I made over the years.  I remembered those late nights, navigating the interstate, sometimes with the radio blaring, while other times, the car was quiet when I was lost in my thoughts.  While those days were demanding, they were also some of the best days because I learned so much from both my professors and my classmates.


The Lawn ceremony was amazing and I’m not sure that I have the words to describe it.  I had goosebumps as I stepped onto the Lawn with the Rotunda behind me.  The picture above shows the view behind me (I was lucky enough to be among the first in line).  Watching the graduates from all of the different schools was a breathtaking sight.  One of my favorite moments from the ceremony involved the newly-minted MDs.  When Dr. Sullivan conferred the degrees on the nursing students, the doctors stood and applauded them.  That made me tear-up again!

The Curry School of Education’s ceremony followed the Lawn ceremony.  After a mad dash from the Lawn to the John Paul Jones arena, I took my place in line and attempted to catch my breath and get my mind off of my aching feet.  However, I got my second wind and forgot my feet when we walked into the arena and before I knew it, I walked across the stage and received my ceremonial scroll (the actual diploma has been on my wall since the end of January).

Although I was exhausted at the end of the day, it was an experience that I will never forget.  It was definitely worth the wait!


Training students in the art of pen selection-#sol17


Today I realized that I have trained my kids well…in the selection of the best pen for the job!

Like many of my fellow slicers, I love Papermate’s InkJoy gel pens.  I love the way the pens glide over the paper and all of the bright colors that are available.  I have stockpiled InkJoy gel pens-they’re in my purse, on my desk at home, on my desk at school, on the horseshoe-shaped table where I work with students.  These pens are basically everywhere and I’ve discovered that whenever I leave InkJoy pens unattended on the table for any length of time, my kids seize the opportunity to use them on their assignments and projects, even when the caddy is full of pencils, Sharpies, highlighters, and other (lesser quality) pens.  Yesterday, during my fourth grade group, one of my students spied a green InkJoy pen on the table.  “Are you using that?” she asked politely.  When I shook my head, a smile spread over her face as she claimed the pen and happily started writing.  Moments later, I noticed that one of the boys had commandeered a blue InkJoy pen and was also working intently on his paper.  As I picked up my own InkJoy pen to make a note, I realized that in addition to teaching reading, writing, and spelling, I also taught my students about choosing the best writing tool for the task.