Close Reading

So let's be honest here.  I do have a fundamental understanding of what close reading is but I have been avoiding speaking the words out loud in conversations for a reason.  I don't know if it's because I'm from the south, or because I got it confused with cloze reading in the beginning, but I didn't know if it was pronounced close (as in - close the door) or close (looking at something closely).  Well now I know for sure.  Look at that reading closely! 
Kelly Hohne

Kelly Hohne helped refine my thinking to seeing close reading as a way to see more in text than you did before to help you grow new thinking about it.  Use different lenses to do this.  Then they take these lenses to new texts.  It’s not about understanding the text only.  It's about learning to do something that you can do again on your own later.

When to do close reading?  You don’t want to do it all the time or you will never finish reading!  Do it purposefully.  Maybe look across the introduction of texts, or maybe kids in book clubs might make a decision to do a close reading of this part where they think it is really an important part.  Or maybe if there is a passage of text they think is not important, then why would the author choose to add it?

Think about why, what will kids get out of it, and how will this help my kids with other texts reading independently. 

Stop at the part you want to look at closely and talk about why that part is powerful. Point out which part they can look at to support their thinking about that part.  With informational text the author chooses illustrations, headings, subheadings and possibly even a word bank for a reason.  Does that support your thinking about this important part you are looking at closely? Is the word choice helping make this part important? 

Lenses to Use with Close Reading:

point of view - What is the perspective of the author on this topic?  What perspectives are included in this text?  Missing?
language author used - How has the author used language?  (Non-fiction - How have experts quoted in article used word choice?)  What words stand out?  Why jight the author have chosen these words?  What do they show?  Are the words creating a positive or negative tone?
text structure - How has the author organized the text?  Why might he/she have made these choices?
Go close with very small portions of text
You could do close reading with an except from an article using the lens: what does the author want you to think, then show them an opposing article or text.

As a teacher read the passage as a reader.  Stop  and then reread it and think what part do you want them to look at closely.  What part do I want them to see more in....look at the standards and see what they need to work on.  That’s the part you base the lesson on. 

You may have the students take that portion of reading and write a response connecting their new thinking with evidence from the text. 

Close reading can be used in a mini lesson, while conferring with students, in the closing of a workshop and during book clubs.  When do you use close reading?

Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Ramping Up Readers' Workshop

Most of us who are elementary teachers know we are going to have to teach readers to grapple with complex text in order to help them meet the more speedy growth that common core requires but we don't know yet what exactly that will look like in our classrooms.  We can't go faster or squeeze in more lessons so we need to be very prescriptive about what strategies we use to move our students through text levels and help them respond critically writing about what they read. 

Kathleen Tolan
On Day 2 of Teachers College Reading Institute, Kathleen Tolan reminded us about not forgetting to use the important metacognitive strategies in our lessons but showed us ideas to help students dig deeper for more complex work. 

*  Visualization and Envisionment help students be more engaged in their reading because they see it in their minds eye.  What you envision may be wrong until the text corrects you.  As a reader, you adjust to what the author is showing you with their words.  This is why reading fantasy can be so hard because you don’t have a schema for what something may look like.  You can practice this with kids by reading aloud and having them close their eyes while you read something.  They can sketch what they are see in their mind movie.  This is a whole part of reading that can be lost to some students.  Build the world of the story.  When you can do this and you really understand the character you can better make predictions.  Prediction engages students.  It makes them want to find out if they are right.  Kids can be unspecific about what they think “I think she will be able to do it”  Make them predict the steps that leads to their prediction.  When the prediction is wrong, then you have some work to do about why they predicted wrong. 

* Character work is important because it helps us understand why characters do the things they do.  What are the traits of this character?  Help kids understand which traits might be positive or negative, what happened in the story that might change the character’s traits.  Find text evidence to support it or things that are evidence to the contrary.  Read over your jottings during reading and find out how they go together.  Group your jottings together to make new ideas.  Look at your jots through the eyes of another character.

*Theme in a book is not looking at what book is about.  It is about the aspect of that topic.  Example:  Book is about Friendship.  Theme is how friends can be there for you when you are going through a hard time.  Don't let kids get away with broad statements.  They should be used to you saying, "Say more...".

*Make a chart of sentence starters for students to dig deeper and tell more about their noticings and judgements after reading.
To add on...
This makes me realize...
My other theory is....
The bigger idea I am having now is....
In other words...

Digging Deeper
How do we help our children know that there is hard work that will have to be done for a book?  Tell them.  When you are modeling for your students you need to point out what you are doing specifically, because this is hard work and they need to know exactly the steps to do.  It is possible to over-scaffold or over-coach but you need to be honest about the hard work they are doing so they expect to struggle and reach for the answer.

Because reading is invisible, we have to make it more tangible for kids. There is not a reading skill that we don’t use in life.  Watch their actions and point out when they predict and infer and make connections when they are just living their lives as readers.

Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Interactive Read Aloud

Alexis Czeterko
This week at the Teachers College Reading Institute I've had a School Leaders Group Session with Alexis Czerterko, staff developer for upper grades for TCRWP each day of the week.

Alexis has really pushed my thinking about things I thought I already knew how to do.  Some of those things I will share here on this blog and others I will share on my personal blog after I have had a chance to do the activities with you (Chets Creek Elementary School teachers) in person! 

One interesting thing about these sessions with Alexis each day is that we took the role of students in a Readers' Workshop.  Do you know how hard that is to do?  Let me tell you, as she goes conferring around the room your heartbeat starts going a little faster thinking, "Is she going to ask me a question?  Aaaccckkk!  What if I don't know the answer?"  You may be laughing but really it made me think about how students feel when they know they are going to be talking with a teacher about something they are not sure about.  So I guess what that taught me is I have confidence in my reading, but I don't have confidence that I am thinking deeply enough about my reading.  So what do I need to work on?  Because if I am not living my life as a growing reader than how can I teach my readers to grow?  More about that later...

The first important thing to do with an interactive read aloud is to choose a book carefully that aligns to the unit of study you are working on and the teaching points in that unit.  When Alexis modeled the interactive read aloud during our "Readers' Workshop" she had prepared the book ahead of time with sticky notes all through it to remind herself as a teacher the times she wanted to stop and model or help the readers draw meaning from envisioning, inferring and synthesizing.  You are to give kids
Interactive Read Aloud
an image of what proficient reading looks like.  She began by saying,"Look at the cover and get your mind ready".  Then she referenced a word bank that she had put on the document camera of words from the book we would encounter.  The word bank was separated by just new vocabulary and content vocabulary. She instructed, "Talk with your partner about words you don't reecognize."  After reading the first page in the book she walked the book over to the document camera and showed that first page and said, "Talk with your partner about words you see that were in the word bank.  When she did stop and model she gave us many opportunities to turn and talk.  If you don't prepare deliberately what you are going to talk about it would be hard to be focused about what the kids are learning from your modeling.  An example of this would be Teacher: "Given what just happened, I think the character is feeling and thinking " Then she would read a little more and stop and say: "Turn and tell your partner what the character is probably feeling now about this?  During turn and talk she circulated the room.  Her goal being for the kids to "grow" their thinking from the previous part.  After a few of the models that she did she stopped and pointed out implicitly her teaching point, "Did you see how I grew my ideas of the main character as we went along?

I loved hearing more about interactive read alouds.  I know that from now on I will prepare my teaching points more carefully and not be afraid to cover the book in sticky notes!  Even though I was comprehending the book just fine as a student the turn and talk points made me think deeper about the characters and text.  An essential as we prepare to ramp our kids up faster!

Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Helping Our Youngest Readers Move Up the Ladder of Text Complexity

Natalie Louis
This session was presented by Natalie Louis who is the co-author of Writing for Readers
(Heinemann, 2013) a unit of study for Kindergarten writers. 

The lower grade is potentially in danger with text complexity.  It's a huge learning curve from what we've been doing.  We need to find new ways to move readers forward faster.  Don’t abandon Fountas and Pinnell.  We still need reading levels, the progression of students has just been ramped up.

In kids book baskets, in the past the teacher would mostly have the students independent level.  We started to play around with the formula in the baggies.  Marie Clay says what most grows readers is the instructional level (stretch level). So already we aren’t putting the right thing in the book bags.  Reading Recovery studied and discovered kids grow one level every two weeks, so most of the instruction wasn’t at instructional level.
So we decided to get more instructional level texts in baggies - more shared reading with a small group, sometimes one to two levels above their grade level.

I want to read that book with you!!!!
Kindergarten teachers understand the power of shared reading.  How you know its a good shared reading - the kids are excited and UNRULY!  And its mostly implicit (just doing reading - don’t talk about it).  Less blah, blah, blah, more do, do, do.  It’s why they want to read.  They hear that model of you reading and want to sound just like it.  If your kids are all sitting still, hands folded -it’s not a good shared reading (all eyes on same text - 1 book).  More like a MOSH pit where kids want to surf toward the book.  That's what she wants to see in classrooms.  Excitement! 

You do the dance of shared reading.  As much as they need, until they DO back.  Gesture for them to try, don’t talk about it. Continue saying "Join me if you can." as you turn the page.  Just read it with them.  We are talking levels below I , J. 

Take guided reading books and use them for group shared reading.  Teacher is only one with copy.  All eyes on same text.  The idea is that at the end they might be able to read by themselves. 

Kids below benchmark get this burst schedule of shared reading instruction from you.

Example "Group Burst Schedule"
 You would do two week cycles where you take one group and see them intensely and work with the instructional books in their baggie.  This won't take much time!  These are low level books you can shared read the entire book pretty quickly.

Day 1: Two or three instructional texts (meaning books 2 or 3 levels above their independent level)  in shared reading. Saying to the kids: Join me if you can.  The kids are shouting out things they notice and you just don’t respond.  Keep reading and stopping and saying “Join me if you can”
Day 2:  Two shared reading two above level
Day 3: Guided reading at their level
Day 4:  Two shared reading  two above level and decide how each is doing
Day 5:  Informal or Formal assess to see if their level moved unless they are totally lost still

This can help them “burst” ahead.  Even if you can move a few up faster the one behind can get more focused one on one help.

Partner Reading - There is no reason to have a reading partner unless there is trouble.  If things are don’t need help.  A partner is there for help.  Make sure kids know why they have a partner - so there’s someone else to help when there’s trouble or join the joy!  They need to understand the why of partner reading.

Every child has that one book they keep picking up that is WAAAAY above their level.  Maybe its a book they've seen an older sibling read, maybe it's a topic or popular character right now, but whatever it is - Let them have it!  I call this the child's northstar book - way above your level but you will LEARN to read for this book. They want to read this book so bad they try to sound these huge words out when they are really a C level reader!  Mark it with a post it and say this book is special because it is hard for you but we will give you a shot.  Guess which book they work on hardest?  If I say a book is "just right" and you struggle with it what are you saying in your head to yourself in your head?  "My teacher said this book is just right and I can't read some of these words - ugh I'm so dumb."   A hard book they know is hard  they say, "Oh, I don't know lots of these words but she said it was hard for me so no big deal."  but they work harder.  Let them have it but label it with a sticky note with a star so they know that is their special hard book they chose. 

As an aside...I remember when my son was in Kindergarten and hanging at the C level for so long and desperate to read Star Wars easy readers.  I bought them anyway to keep at home and I would read them aloud to him at times but he sat in front of those books longer than any others trying to sound out "Obi Wan Kanobi".  I'm pretty sure "the force" (or his Northstar books) propelled him through those primary reading levels. :)

I think the Common Core Standards and text complexity will force us to continue looking for new and different ways to get those "bursts" in reading levels.  Do you have any tips or trick to share?
Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Write Around for Reading

This strategy can be found in the Characters Unit of Study.  A “Write Around” is a strategy to engage
Write Around
students in silent conversation.  It helps students share their opinions, debate or discuss.  It also fosters critical thinking because they have to consider other opinions.       

We participated in one as a pre-reading activity.  A photo or image was put in the center of a piece of chart paper.  Groups of four are ideal but we had a few more.  Everyone uses a different color marker and takes turns responding to the image. You can write what you think about the photo, your questions, your inferences or theories.  Groups members are to start new ideas or respond to yours already written there.

She encouraged us to respond to what other people wrote by elaborating on their writing and taking turns as well.   Zoom in on one portion of the photograph and write about it.  What are you now noticing about just this part?  Move around the table or rotate the chart  Read what another reader has written and respond.

You could begin:
I agree with...
I disagree with..
One question I have is...
What have you learned in other parts of your life that you can relate to this?
What’s an idea you are now having?
I think...

The Babe and I
The activity we did was old black and white photographs during the depression era.  Then she went straight into reading aloud a picture book with us (The Babe and I) that had the Depression era as a setting.  It really gave a deeper level to the understanding of the book as she modeled interactive read aloud.

The "Write Around" strategy is a great pre-reading activity but it can also be used as a debate format about a controversial issue.  Sharing their ideas and building on others' ideas.  Or you can use it as an end of unit activity for a read aloud or content area.  Students take turns write and responding to each other about what they learned or how their thinking has changed at the beginning of the unit or read aloud.  Can you see using "Write Around" easily in your classroom?

Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Building a Reading Community

Kathleen Tolan
My morning session Monday was with Kathleen Tolan - senior director of TCRWP, author of several books including some of the new Units of Study

Kathleen spoke passionately about building a reading community.  Below I am sharing my notes that still may sound a little disjointed even after I reread and filled in but I left what I felt was important or worth repeating.  I am italicizing her thoughts that are some direct quotes and some paraphrased by me.

How do we really think about building a reading community?  It is essential.  We will be holding on to it all year long. Most of the kids you teach have a broken relationship with reading, only a few have a good one.  Some of these essentials maybe weren’t addressed earlier you can’t make assumptions that they have heard of it before.   

When trying to develop curriculum it’s hard because you are always being given more things to stir in the pot and never one to take out.  And reading affects ALL content areas.  Reading has to matter in a school as a whole.  In every classroom.  Make things in your school that display that reading matters... Photos, displays of book reflections, book ads...  We have lots of assessment data but we need to think of the kid as a reader.  If you were making a timeline as a reader what would be on it?  Let kids talk about themselves as readers.  If they had a great experience reading what were the components of that?  If kids had a bad experience what were the components of that.  Lists of favorites and why they are favorites. Conversations with readers about their lives as readers.  Some kids who are avid readers lose the love because it isn’t cool to read.  They don’t talk about themselves as readers.  It’s important for them to speak about themselves as readers.  Tell them about YOU as a reader.  Read the books in your classroom library so you can talk with kids as a reader of that particular book.  Book buzz- sell them or talk about them to kids.  When was the last time you walked into a bookstore and just picked a book off a shelf and just read it?  Really?  Kids with broken relationships with reading do that on a daily basis.  Let kids sell books to each other. Also talk about books you found not so good.  Why did you not like it?  Oprah Winfrey’s book club sales would go up after they talked about it, not the day she introduced it. 

Build a community where we talk about books.  Rating systems for books, interactive bulletin board happening in room.  Recommendations inside covers on sticky notes.  Let kids own and not be ashamed of the books they read, every classroom has a range of readers they should still be a part of the reading community.  If you are talking about the characters of books it doesn’t matter what level you’re reading.Make sure there are plenty of choices for all levels of readers.  Struggling kids shouldn’t have fewer choices.  They need to feel part of that community.

If you want to scare yourself, do a running record on your content textbooks.  They are always written above their level. Reading identity gets established young.  Have time each week for kids to shop the classroom library to find new books to read.  1/3 of books leveled but part of the library not leveled for interest level.  Have a smaller library out at the beginning of the year so you can control choice a little until after you assess.  Getting kids turned onto a series will help kids read a ton of books.  If you have second language learners it’s good to have a few books in their native language to continue their reading skills in their native language as well as books in their English level.  When we launch book clubs or historical book clubs we need to save books to side so they won’t have read them already.  Structures and units affect how we roll out our library.  It’s important for kids to read for long stretches of time.  The more you practice something the better you get at it...  LONG periods.  AT LEAST 30 to 40 min a day.  So many “activites” around reading than kids actually reading.  The reading extensions can’t become more important than the actual reading.  How many of you as adults finish reading a book and go get a coat hanger out of the closet with some yarn and make a mobile about the book?  It’s not growing readers!

Help kids keep track of the reading they do.  They can keep a log but use it for conferring and have kids use it to look at their reading habits.  Help them see how they can use it to assess themselves for reading time and genre type and where they read.  Columns to have on the logs:

book /level / home or school / page started / page ended / minutes read / genre

If you don’t talk with kids about noticing their reading patterns and they think of it as only an assignment don’t do it.  That is not what it’s for.  Study and get data on yourself as a reader.  Also compare with a friend. 

There is a magic to books if you get kids hooked in to reading books, but they won’t progress without the right instruction.  Structuring your day with rituals and routines that make roles for the kids and teachers clear is important.  60 minute block is really needed.  Mini lesson needs to be mini.  It’s important for kids to be on the floor close to you because it creates an intimacy with you.  Your feedback is instant and if you ask them to do something to practice what you teach you can hear and see what they are doing better.  30 to 40 minutes is the time for workshop and reading. You pull small groups, assessments, circulate, confer.  Don’t do one thing only every day.  You might also be working with a book club or partners reading.  Sometimes you might have a mid-workshop reading point.  You stop what they are doing and note it.  The share closes the workshop time with a noticing where a student used what you taught in that mini lesson. 

During running records you need to look at fluency and reading rate.  If that’s not something to patch and fix the longer you wait.  Reading logs will help you assess this informally.  The important thing about a running record is you don’t stop until they bomb.    How can you assess their higher level comprehension?  Written responses to their reading.
Depending on your assessments, that will tweak your instruction and units.  Some groups may need more word work or compare/contrast.  Assessments should change your instruction. 
Our educational system teaches to deficit model, always teaching at what they don’t know.  If you teach to the strength that can spiral back to help the deficit as well.  Don’t get caught up in all weaknesses.  

I think that all the teachers in my building agree that we are ALL reading teachers and that it is
important to use reading strategies and teaching techniques throughout the day, but there is always more for us to learn about teaching reading through content or informational text.  I think that we will do more of that in our professional development this year.  But I am thinking there are some creative ways we can display to our students, parents and stakeholders that we are a "community of readers".  Maybe highlight a teacher's favorite childhood book, short "commercial" clips that teachers or students can do for books to be played on morning announcements or accesible on a share site for teachers to show at a good time and maybe even capture video footage of teachers in the school that are willing to share their life and habits as a reader.  Especially those teachers that are familiar to all students, so watch out resource teachers and administrative staff...I'm coming your way with a camera!  What ideas can you share to build a reading community?

Cross posted at LIVE from the Creek


Teachers College Reading Institute Begins

Inside Riverside Church
Our day started bright and early at the beautiful Riverside Church I spoke about yesterday .  Where Lucy Calkins gave the keynote entitled:  Leading by Influence

If you have ever heard Lucy Calkins speak even once, you know her words are powerful, she tells a story like nobody's business and she talks fast!  So I came prepared and took seven pages of notes but recorded her audio as well to go back and fill in some important parts I missed.  So, much of what I am sharing is direct quotes from her or her words paraphrased.  I want you to know that this huge church was filled to the back and you could have heard a pin drop.   The thoughts and ideas resonated with us all as I could see nods of heads around me and even tears at times.  I hope that what I share here will even have a small impact on you as it had a big impact on me.

Lucy Calkins
We are at a juncture in education where pressures and expectations are skyrocketing.  The Common Core Standards which have been adopted in 46 states point out that there is a gap that exists from high school graduation to college entrance where students enter a year behind the reading level they should. Even though it has been made clear that if there is any dumbing down of the texts it has been done at the high school level, maybe the middle school level but definitely not the elementary level.  (The level of text complexity in the K-5 level has not increased over the last 30 years). Yet the common core has put the responsibility of raising text complexity squarely on the shoulders of K-4 teachers. Between the grades of K -5 kids are expected to grow a level of 150 lexile points a year and between the grades of 6-12 the kids are expected to grow a level of 60 points a year.  What used to be expected at the end of fourth grade now is expected at the middle of second grade. We have to escalate the quality and volume of reading that kids do.  The expectations come with punitive results if students don’t meet the them.  Instead of 1/3 of third graders not meeting expectations in the U.S. we will now have 2/3 not meeting expectations. (This just happened in NY )  It is the level of reading, comprehending and writing.

The expectations are higher so the level of support for teachers should be high as well but schools have less money to provide for books and supplies because that money is used on tests and technology to take tests ( 15 billion is being spent in the U.S. to implement Common Core Standards)  Schools have less ability to provide professional development and less ability to provision kids with books they need and teachers have larger class sizes than ever and at the same time people, the media and politicians are calling out, “DO MORE, REACH HIGHER!”  Teachers are being portrayed as screw ups. 
That wake up call has been rung, and rung, and rung and it’s not gonna work now.  Why would people think that criticism is helping grow master teachers? 

The story that schools are failing is a carefully manufactured message.  It’s not true, for example, that graduation rates are at an all time low as people keep saying.  In the beginnning of the 21st century, the graduation rate was 10%.  Now the graduation rates are 75-90% depending on how you look at them.  The question Lucy asks is, “Why would Arne Duncan, U. S. Education Secretary, NOT count those graduating in August instead of June? Why would he not count GED graduates?

Why don’t people point out that levels of child poverty have tripled over the years and the scores have remained flat for 30 years.  The single factor that most relates to scores is poverty.  They should be saying, “Good for you teachers!”  Do they actually think the way to improve teaching and learning is to demoralize teachers? 

A study recently came out that said in the last 3 years teacher job satisfaction levels have gone from 62% to 39%.  It’s worse in elementary schools.  Over half are going through their day stressed.  Think about a day with your kids where you weren’t stressed at all.  How different was that from the day you were totally stressed out. 

Whether you like it or not those of you who teach reading are entering into a horse race. The move to more universal and rigorous common core assessments will yield data about approaches to reading and writing and the expectation that we will figure out the right answers from these tests.  Many of these schools are quickly moving to Readers Workshop.  This year they received more applications than ever. 

Here’s what will matter in your school because there is less professional development.  You must lead from within.  Build capacity.

Our first goal at our school should be to create a counter narrative to this “teachers are failing” narrative.  The “teachers are failing” narrative is demoralizing and it will never tap into the energy needed to do this work.  It’s not just teachers taking a beating.  Kids are taking a beating.  Lucy referenced Sandy Hook Elementary where they could be the death of optimism.  But authors captured the stories of heroic teachers and love displayed to give that school a counter narrative.  At Teachers College they have made the story of NewTown, CT the story of the principal, Dawn who attended many of their Institutes.  The principal who put herself in harms way to protect children.  THAT is a narrative.  These counter narratives need to be told.  They are what MATTERS.  It shouldn’t take kids dying to tell these stories.  Write yours as school leaders.  You need to do this to overcome doing more with less. 

Successful communities have leaders that rally others to fight for causes greater than themselves. Success or failure of an institution is how well it taps into finding talents of individuals.  We all need to be contagious learners.  It needs to be visable.  One way to rally communities is to go on walks through the school building expecting to find beauty.  Call it “Glory Walks” - illustrate your counter narrative with the magic that happens when a teacher sits and works with a child. 

Carrot sticks will never make teachers go the extra mile.  Rally them to ideas that tap into their belief system.  Tapping into people’s energy to make good work better.  As a leader, all of the people who work with you are on your lap or shoulder.  Choose to lead by influence. 

My favorite thing about her speech was teaching us about writing the counter narrative for our school.  I think we do a good job of that within, recognizing greatness, sharing small moments and telling the story of what makes our school special but I think we can do more.  I LOVE the idea of Glory Walks.  Sometimes when you are going on a "focus" walk looking for specific things you might miss out on something amazing that could be happening that very minute.  One of my favorite job assignments my boss ever gave me was to take photos of each teacher interacting with a child or class.  Truly I get teary eyed watching the slideshow of the photos teamed together because what we are doing with kids IS magical, and rocket science, and selfless.  We need to tell our story more!

Created with flickr slideshow.
Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Arriving in New York to attend Teachers College Reading Institute

When my principal and several of our teachers - myself included - went to see Lucy Calkins speak in Orlando, we were so excited about what we were learning from her.  I watched and waited for the Teachers College to post information on applying to their summer institutes.  I filled out the application and was so excited to find out a few months later that I was accepted!  One of the ways that it was possible for me to go was my boss covering part of the travel and registration and me staying with a teacher friend from my professional network on twitter!  That's right, I know her from twitterKaren Blumberg and I knew each other there but met face to face finally in 2010 at the national technology conference, ISTE.  Since she teaches in New York I contacted her last summer when my family was here visiting and she toured us around and spent time with us.  So much fun!  And her last words were:  You should just come visit me sometime!  So I thought... Maybe if Karen is in town she wouldn't mind me bunking with her so I could attend the Reading Institute at Teachers College?  And she said, "Sure!  I live in a one bedroom, fourth floor walk up so it would be a true New York experience but you are more than welcome to come bunk on my couch!"  So I arrived this morning.

My first thought as I arrived outside her apartment building was, "Oh!  Look it has a stoop in front just like in Sesame Street!"

Without Oscar the Grouch

So Karen showed me how to use the different keys to get in and walk up all the stairs to get to her apartment.  Let's just say, if I don't lose weight this week I've done something wrong.

She was determined to show me around and orient me to the area where I needed to go for the training tomorrow so she wanted to finish her laundry first, which involves climbing back down all those stairs to below the building in the basement.  Along one whole wall was a line of meters that showed the energy usage in all the apartments in the buidling.

Meters in the laundry room

When we went back upstairs we discovered Karen's cat loves my suitcase.

Angus the cat

Karen said I could walk to the Teachers College so we set out on a walk down Broadway near her building.  I've never been in this residential section of New York and thought it was just beautiful.


We did pass by Director Michael Moore, she MADE me take this photo to prove it.

Can you even tell that's Michael Moore?

But after the 30 block walk I assured her that I would be taking a taxi.  So her plan B was to teach me how to use the city bus.  The last time I was on a city bus in Denver, CO with my boss while we were at a conference and we witnessed a full out brawl among the passengers and I haven't been on one it took some convincing.  But she walked me to my starting place tomorrow at Riverside Church so I would know where to end up and I think I'm prepared to arrive bright and early tomorrow for a full day of learning at the Reading Institute.  Check out these photos I got today of the church.  Should be a beautiful location for the opening keynote by Lucy Calkins!

Riverside Church