Archive for the ‘My travels’ Category

On a recent trip to Scranton, I stopped in Bethlehem, PA to visit an old friend from college. He is a high school history teacher and showed me many historic sites in and around his hometown. It was fascinating to tour this city and see so many parallels to my hometown of Lititz, PA. Both places were settled in the 1700s by Count Zinzendorf as Moravian communities. Don’t ask how I remember this bit of trivia from elementary school! Probably that unique name!

Here are some of the things I saw and experienced on this springy Saturday:

Lovely park by the river

Unique door handle on the Moravian Church

Beautiful old stained glass church window

Suspension bridge in Riegelsville, PA built by same builders as the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC

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As I drove up to my training site in Indiana, I saw the most unusual site! A large bus from Kokomo Schools had just pulled into the parking lot, and teachers were getting off the bus carrying camp chairs! I had been told that our venue was in an interesting space, but this was a first!

You know that times are tough out there! So, to save money, these dedicated teachers took a bus (rather than driving in their own cars) to drive over an hour. The bus wouldn’t start several times, but they made it (there and home again!). We had to meet in a gym in an old school that no longer has kids there (it was free to meet there!) and there wasn’t enough seating. That’s why these folks brought their camp chairs. We had a wonderful training on math work stations. It was a venue I’ll never forget!

Teachers in camp chairs at training on math stations

Teachers sit at cafeteria tables and camp chairs during training

Kokomo teachers and their bus (that kept breaking down!)

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Last month my Stenhouse editors Philippa Stratton and Toby Gordon took a welcome break from their Maine winter to visit Houston at the start of our spring season! They visited classrooms at Askew Elementary where I’ve been working all year in preparation for filming a video on math work stations in grades 1 and 2 next fall. It was fun watching stations in action, and my editors got their first glance at seeing a Smart Board being used by students, too! After our visit, they had a chance to dine outdoors before heading back to the airport (and the freezing Northeast!). Their visit was a treat for us all!


My math editor, Toby, talks with a pair of 2nd graders at a math station about their work.

My editors, Philippa and Toby check out the Smart Board in Asma's 2nd grade classroom along with Rebecca, our producer.

Philippa, Editorial Director at Stenhouse Publishers, enjoys visiting the classrooms where I am working.



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Waiting for a plane

While lining up to get on a plane last week in Chicago, I began talking to a young woman. Our plane was delayed, and we were wondering how long it would be until our crew arrived and we could board. “You look so familiar,” she said to me. I asked if she was a teacher, and voila! Turns out Lauren teaches at a Jewish day school in Chicago. But she used to teach in Houston at Lovett Elementary, one of the schools where I studied math work stations. Small world! We had fun flying together to Houston and talked all about teaching and books, etc. It was a lovely way to spend the flight back home.


Waiting for our flight with Lauren


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One of my favorite conferences is Reading for the Love of It! This was my 3rd year in a row to speak there. This year one of my session was on “Creating Independent Readers in the Junior Grades.” (That’s grades 4-6 in Canada.) 

I shared ideas from Practice with Purpose, including some for individual independent work (independent reading and response writing) as well as partner independent work (literacy work stations). So many teachers told me about their success with stations after hearing me speak last year. Lisa Donohue, a teacher-author from Canada, who writes for Pembroke Publishers, told me that she began integrating digital literacies into stations with her grade 5 students last year. I picked up her new book, Keepin’ It Real, while at the conference. 

A highlight of my trip was meeting the many university students who attended the conference. And, of course, getting to see my friend, David Booth, who agreed with me that math really matters! 

Signing Math Work Stations at its first conference appearance!

With author Lisa Donohue and her new book, Keepin' It Real

With a group of Canadian university students

Showing Math Work Stations to Canadian author David Booth

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Thanks to all of you who joined us in Nashville in January! We had a great time meeting everyone! And somehow we dodged the snow, too! A big thank you to all the vendors who provided door prizes:

Benchmark Education
Lakeshore Learning
Okapi Books
Really Good Stuff
Scholastic Books
Stenhouse Publishers
Whisper Phones

If you couldn’t join us, we’ll be having our Spring Institute in Richmond, VA at the fabulous, historic Jefferson Hotel on April 7-9, 2011. Register online now at www.debbiediller.com

Teachers engage in meaningful conversations with peers

Bill Eastman from Okapi talks with educators about books

Talking with teachers in Nashville


Happy teachers arriving at the Nashville Convention Center


And here are the lucky door prize winners! One teacher won the new Math Work Stations book – just off the press!

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Gators in Gainesville

University of Florida’s “Gators” are more than just a sports team. While visiting our daugher in Gainesville, we went to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, an amazing site! We saw dozens of real live alligators sunning themselves on the banks and in the brush. There were lots of beautiful birds, and my favorite– wild horses! When Jessica told me we might be lucky enough to see the wild horses, I asked, “You mean like Misty of Chincoteague?” She smiled and said yes! That was a first for me.

Here are some photos of the amazing wildlife we saw.

Tom, Jessica, and Mike pose by the "Beware of Alligators" sign (note that we didn't take Jessica's little dog with us!)

Gators can be seen everywhere!

The lovely park in the fall

See the wild horses hiding by the trees

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