"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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The Scholar, Age 5

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“WOW-ed” on Wednesday

I told myself that I needed to take it easy on the professional books this summer ( after all I  still have to buy groceries, pet food and keep that AC hummin’ hear in good ole SC) so I’ve indulged my thirst for professional knowledge by mostly following several blogs.

HOWEVER, because I do feel like I need to feed my mind in many different ways,  I decided I would allow myself one or two professional books during my summer vacation, and with only a few days left of June, I made one  of  my first choices:
TEACHING WITH INTENTION by Debbie Miller.Red heart This is just the kind of book I need to read this summer!

from Stenhouse

"I believe that classroom environments are most effective when they are literate and purposeful, organized and accessible, and most of all, authentic."

Debbie Miller,
Teaching With Intention

from http://www.literacy-builders.com/free-resources/quotes-we-love

If you are not familiar with Debbie Miller and her work with reading comprehension, you may want to view these videos to get a better idea of the authentic, literate, and purposeful classroom environments that she is speaking of.
These were a few videos of her teaching style in action on You Tube which were posted by Stenhouse Publishers:

As you think about what you want  to go on inside your classroom, you may want to check  out Reading With Meaning which is definitely one of my  teaching “anchor texts” for teaching reading comprehension. My  hard copy is now about ten years old, and I have a backup copy on my Kindle.Smile


If  your interest is piqued, you may preview several chapters of Teaching With Intention at the Stenhouse site like I did:


In reading reviews of this book on Amazon, one or two reviewers said the book was “ a good summer read.” That  kinda sounds like “fluff”  to me, but after reading the first few pages, I understood what the reviewers intended: Summer is a good time to reflect on our classrooms not just the decorations and furniture arrangements, but our reflections should focus on what goes on inside those classroom walls. Everything we do, think, say, and believe as teachers should be reflected in our classroom: the  arrangement, the overall environment, our lessons, our words- all create an atmosphere of who were are as teachers and what we believe in.

This idea spoke to me so strongly because it reminded me of the words that were spoken about what was important  to my family as evidenced in my home.

Gary Smallen , an assistant football coach at Coastal University in Conway, SC, has for all intents and purposes been a big brother to me. He was a player for my father Don at  Dentsville High School in the 1960’s. The two remained lifelong  friends, mentor and student, player and coach, father and son until my Daddy passed away in 2005.I asked Gary to speak about my mother Iris when she passed away in March 2010.

Gary began his eulogy speaking about how you can tell a lot about people just by going into their homes. He said he had spoken with his son ( and my father’s god-son Jason,  and the two men came to the conclusion that  when a visitor  comes into your home, it is almost like a profiler gathering evidence and information. And so a speech was born! 
Gary said that anyone could tell a lot about my mother and me by the home I created that we shared for the past several years. ( I moved three years ago to  the small town where I have now taught for almost 20 years, and bought my dream house- a nearly 100 year old farm house). Gary spoke of the  old family photographs, the old sports memorabilia, the Biblical quotes, the  old handmade   objects like quilts and churns, the many books in almost every room, and how each object included and displayed in this home was something precious that held a story and was of some importance. But these objects in my home also reflected what my family held dear: our love of family and our past, our love of sports, our strong faith, and our love of knowledge. I cherished the words he spoke that day because now as I look around my home, I remember that each and every place I look- I see and feel LOVE.

When I read Debbie Miller’s first chapters, I felt like her words were speaking to in the same way that Gqry’s words did that day. They were powerful, strong, and thought-provoking. That’s what I want my kids to feel when they look around my room this year. My plans for this year must be done intentionally.

Some of the challenges and questions I had  on my mind were:

  • What do people see when  they come into my room?
  • Is what I value about learning evident?
  • Does what I have displayed reflect my own beliefs about learning?
Thinking about the answers to these questions is empowering and  can also somewhat sobering.

So as I am preparing for my new school year, I need to be careful, selective, and thoughtful  not only in how the room looks ( and Lord knows, we teachers LOVE to plan  and decorate our rooms) but what goes on when my class arrives MUST BE DONE WITH INTENTION.Smile

As I am picturing my room filled with children, I have to think “How am I going to get them to that place that is my ideal, my dream classroom?”

These questions have given me what I need to start.



"I bear the flame that enlightens the world. I fire the imagination. I give might to dreams and wings to the aspirations of men."
- Marva Collins, from her poem, "I Am Excellence."

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