Monthly Archives: January 2014


Stacey Shubitz wrote about the Gradual Release Model on the Two Writing Teachers Blog this week.  She described the process of teaching her mother to use her new iPhone using the I-do, We-do, and You-do method.  First, she showed her how to use it, then she watched her and finally she let her do it on her own. The visual (see above) in her post is exactly what I needed to think about my own teaching in the Media Center.

The Media Specialists in my district spent many hours this year reinventing ourselves.  We met after school with representatives from Teaching and Learning and Technology to talk about what a Media Center should look like in 2014.   We created a document  we are proud of that describes our plan for teaching Technology in Grades 1-3.

During this process, there were many discussions about “teaching” technology. We talked about the benefits of letting students “figure things out” and giving them time to explore.  We concluded that the big advantage is that learning “how to figure out new technology” is a skill that they will need in this ephemeral field. On the other hand often little first grade fingers are still trying to find letters, figure out how to put spaces between words and make a “big L.”  We agreed that there are basic skills that students need to be explicitly taught.

The Gradual Release Model diagram gives me a visual as I think about how to implement technology teaching in the Media Center. For example, for students in Grade 1, it might look like this:

I do– I show them how to sign on, type, and publish on Kidblog.  I show them where the space bar is, how to make a capital letter and where the period key is.

We do– Students create and publish a blog post with me walking around and answering questions.

You do– Students create their own posts.

The Gradual Release model also helps me think about how the Media Center can best support students and teachers in the classroom. In the Media Center, I will focus more on the “I do” and “We do” and less on the “You do.” The classroom teachers will focus more on projects and less on teaching students to use technology.

This actually happened in my school last Friday.  I have been “teaching” students in Grades 3-5 to use iMovie in the Media Center.  A very creative fourth grade teacher came in to pick up her class and saw what they were doing. This sparked an idea for students to create an iMovie about their quest to find equivalent fractions around our school.  Later that day they were working on a very exciting classroom project that not only solidifies their content learning, but can be used as a tool to teach the concepts to other students.  Mrs. L. did not let the fact that she had never used the application before stop her.  She knew that student could seek help from me if needed. I was thrilled because they were applying what they learned in the Media Center to the classroom. A Win-Win.

The Gradual Release Model will guide me as the Media Center continually evolves into a place that supports our students, as well as, school and district goals in the 21st century.



I have been struggling a little bit with my last two posts.  The title of our blog after all is Rethinking Media Centers and one post was about how I haven’t been writing and the other was about a doctor’s appointment.  I am not sure I am writing what I should be writing.

Shouldn’t I have started by introducing myself as a Media Specialist, who has had many careers that include, corporate trainer, manager, educational toy store owner, and office assistant? Shouldn’t I have mentioned that I am married and my husband and I have 4 grown children and 3 tiny dogs.  Shouldn’t I have mentioned that about 5 years ago I when my youngest was off to college, I went back and got my Master’s in Library Media. Shouldn’t I have talked about my goals for the media center?

I think the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” but that is not what was in my heart to write about at the time. There is no doubt that I was influenced by Ruth Ayres’ blog posts. She writes about what is in her heart. I wanted to express myself that way, too. And I think I am okay with that for 2 reasons.  One reason is that I want to talk about what is real and authentic with people through the blog and sharing this way is a better way to connect with people.

The other reason is more pragmatic. Second graders at my school started blogging, using KidBlog, in the Media Center last week.  We talked about rules and how they need to show their best selves and  be careful about word choice. I tried to guide them to write only about school related topics, but they had other ideas.  On our snow day, Kaia figured out how to post a picture of a painting (see above) that she made by filling egg shells with paint and throwing them on the canvas. Virkram and Cooper wrote a blog titled, Mechanics Down to the Bare Bones.  Lucas wrote about a measuring project that they were doing in class.  Eli wrote about his favorite NBA team. There was so much more. This was in the first week that they were on the blog.

Students also, responded to posts by me. But to be honest, responses to these posts were not as well developed or exciting. I am not sure if they just need more practice responding or if they felt like they had more important things to talk about. Maybe they were trying to get through my “made-up” prompt, so they could write about what they wanted to write about.  I am excited that the classroom teachers are starting to use this tool for classwork.  I think that if we give them an authentic purpose,  they will respond in ways that we never expected.

I came up with 3 goals for the Second Grade Blog:

  1. To give students a chance to practice writing and keyboarding skills.
  2. To have a safe place to practice being good Digital Citizens.
  3. To provide a platform to introduce them to the 4C’s – Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

If week 1 is any indication, these goals are more likely to be reached by giving them choice. I’ll keep you posted!


He’s running late again.  That’s okay, though. I always appreciated the extra few minutes he took with me to address all of my concerns. He likes to take his time when he talks to people. It is 22 minutes past my appointment time. I’m sitting in the same chair I always find in this waiting room…so many memories in this place.

To kill time, I decide to read Ruth Ayres’ “celebration” link-up.  Her definition of  “celebration” is fresh.  To me this word has always been a loud word. When Ruth uses it, it is quiet. It makes me want to pause and reflect. What should I write about?  What is my celebration?

So many of the things I am grateful for are obvious:

My hair has grown back.

My doctors are caring, smart and good communicators.

No more cancer.

All of the above are worthy of celebration, but something in Ruth’s message made me want to dig deeper to find my celebration.

A man and woman just walked down the hall hand-in-hand, probably on the way to the infusion room. Just a little over two years ago my husband and I walked down the same hall. He was so good to me during the whole ordeal. It occurs to me in some ways I am grateful for having cancer. Well maybe not grateful for cancer, but for some of the experiences that came with it. This chapter in my life gave me an opportunity to be on the receiving end of incredible expressions of love and caring from my husband, family, friends and even people I hardly knew.

I wonder if this is what Ruth meant when she said she was choosing to position herself to find joy? Needless to say if given the choice, I would not want my life or anyone else’s life to include this horrible disease. However, I realize that as I look back at this experience, I have a choice about how I think about it.  I can choose joy.


I haven’t been writing. There, I confessed. Last summer, I agreed to co-author this blog, Rethinking Media Centers, with my friend and colleague, Jamie Riley, but I have not done my part.  This morning I hesitantly looked at the calendar to see how many weeks I had left to complete the 8-blog-posts requirement for the Literacy Connection course that I am taking.  8 weeks. Whew! It almost felt like I planned it that way. Almost.

The strange thing is I eagerly read the text for the course, Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres in one sitting. Loved it!  I may have even cheered when I read her journal entry that said, “If you are going to teach people to write, you need to write yourself.” So, why has it been so difficult for me to make time to write?

My defensive side would be able to provide a long list of excuses including: start of school, holidays, and out-of- town guests…the usual stuff.  But the truth is writing is not high on my priority list.  Why should it be?  What is the payback for tapping a keyboard and putting a few words on a page?  Wouldn’t my time be better spent working on lesson plans, getting organized, exercising…you know, thing that give me something to show for my time.

Then, this morning I read a blog post on  The post refers to a picture of a board game that she posted on social media with the caption, ”Better than TV.” On her blog she confessed that in reality this family time wasn’t perfect and included spilled drinks, arguments and other interruptions. By the end of the game they managed to turn it into a pleasant experience. She concluded that the game actually “was better than TV …not because it was easier, but because it helped to transform us into the kind of family we want to be.”

Writing about this moment in time helped Ruth to see beyond the chaos and see this event and her family differently. I have to wonder if she would have been able to put this positive spin on the event, if she didn’t write about it.

So, why should I pick up a pen? What is the payback of writing? Maybe it will help me be honest with myself. Maybe it will help me reframe my view of an event or person in a more positive way. Maybe it will help me understand what is important and set priorities. Maybe it will help me to know who I am and who I can become.

I devoured Ruth’s book and plan to implement many of her suggestions in the Media Center this year. Yet, her brutally honest description about an everyday event is what gave me the energy and motivation to turn on the computer and give writing a chance.

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