Monday, April 16, 2018

Title I Video Delayed Due to Dumpster Diving in Detroit


No, you didn't misread the title.
If you're subscribed to my Secret Newsletter, you were probably expecting to receive the video link to my featured presentation at this year's 2018 Title I Conference in your email last weekend.

The reason I was unable to send out the Title I video link last weekend (as promised) was due to an unexpected, four-hour long dumpster dive in Detroit last Sunday—the ONE day that I had time in-between flights and conference travel to edit and upload it. 
Why was I dumpster diving in Detroit, you ask?  Was it for jewelry or cash....? Nope.
It was to rescue my favorite 1st-grade student writing sample, below.
Secret Stories® Phonics — 1st Grade Writing Sample
Favorite First Grade Student Writing Sample
If you’ve seen me speak at a conference, it’s likely that you tripped over this particular piece of writing when walking into my session, as it's usually draped over the door and extending out several feet into the walkway.  It is a perfect example of early learner skill-automaticity, but at over 12 feet long and heavily laminated, it's always a challenge to get into my suitcase! That said, I love it and always take it with me wherever I go (to speak, that is, not on regular vacations- lol) 
Even when I do keynotes, you're likely to see it thrown over those fancy, giant ballroom doors, like a "Jed Clampett-style" welcome sign for teachers!
So you can imagine my horror when after finishing up my sessions at the Michigan Reading Conference,  I looked up and saw that it was GONE! 
I searched everywhere and questioned everyone. 
"Has anyone seen a 1st-grade writing sample that's about 12 feet long?” No one had.
I was especially suspicious of the "little-kid" cheerleaders (whose cheer competition was in the same part of the convention hall as the reading conference) as they seemed like the most likely suspects. Not only were they everywhere, tumbling up and down everything, but they were the only ones (aside from myself) who would have had any use for a 12-foot long piece of plastic (the makings of a perfect "cheer-banner!")
But as it turned out, it wasn't the cheerleaders. 
It was a custodian who had apparently spotted my giant, puddled-up, plastic mass of writing on the floor by the door (where it fell) and decided to throw it away…. or try to, as it wouldn't fit in her garbage bag. 
The writing was so long, and the heavy-duty laminate so inflexible and unwieldy, that she’d apparently had to "hand-carry” that 12-foot long writing across the entire 3rd floor, down the escalator, and to the far side of the main lobby to the gondolas  (a fancy word for rolling garbage bins), where it would then be taken to the building's main compacting dumpster on the outer deck.
I later found out that my precious writing sample had been put into that giant compacter, where it was squished and squashed by an iron plate that pushed it further and further into the back recesses to make room for more cheerleader garbage. 
By the time I had figured out what happened, that damn dumpster had literally "eaten and swallowed" my 12-foot long, 1st-grade writing sample! And to make matters worse, there was only one opening at the very front through which all of the garbage had to be pushed through. There was no top or side access door, which meant that there was no way to tell just how deep down that "rabbit hole" dumpster my writing had fallen!
But that didn't stop me…. or my new (and VERY kind) friend, Kevin, an off-duty custodian who was willing to help me try and rescue my writing. So, with the circuit breakers turned off so that we wouldn't be squished, (Can't you just see those headlines? "Teacher and Custodian Squished to Death While Trying to Save Student Writing at the Michigan Reading Conference") So Kevin and I donned matching garbage bags over our heads like ponchos and went in. (He went in because he knew what he was doing, and I went in because I was unable to accurately describe to Kevin what a 12 foot long, laminated 1st-grade writing sample actually looked like.)

We were in about three feet and randomly poking at walls of cheerleader garbage when I suddenly saw my writing pop out from behind some plastic cups. That super-heavy (and extremely expensive) Kinko’s lamination just would not be contained! Imagine a can of snakes trying to uncoil. It was like the tentacle of a giant, plastic octopus reaching out to me…as if it were running home to mommy (if mommy were standing in a dumpster). 
I was so happy to see it that I actually had tears in my eyes, as I just couldn't imagine having to fly home and leave it behind— no more than I could have imagined leaving behind the sweet student who wrote it! At this point (as if there had been any previous doubt) I'm sure that Kevin thought I was certifiably nuts! 

Only a teacher would understand. 
My husband certainly didn't when I tried to explain why I'd missed my flight. Luckily though, Delta Airlines did understand (or else thought that I'd made up the most bizarre excuse EVER for missing a flight) as they were kind enough to book me on a later one that night.
Michigan Reading Conferences's Best Custodian EVER!
Kevin, the bravest custodian EVER (and my personal hero!)
It is thanks to Kevin (the kindest and most patient custodian EVER) and to Kinkos (whose overly-expensive, plastic lamination is virtually indestructible) that my favorite 1st grade writing sample is back where it belongs….safe and sound, and ready for its next trip to Montana on Monday (despite being “three times-compacted" and having a little less spring in its step!) 
And I got to experience two things that I never thought that I would: 
1. Go dumpster diving in Detroit 
2. Take a shower with a 12-foot long writing sample                                         (It was the only way to get us both cleaned-up in time for the flight! :-)

So now that I've provided you with what is probably WAY too much information, here is the link to my featured presentation at the 2018 National Title I Conference in Philadelphia, as promised! 
Katie Garner Education Author and Keynote Speaker/ Literacy Consultant
Click here to view my featured presentation at the 2018 National Title I Conference
or watch the video, below.

And if a more "brief" overview is preferred, check out the highlights video from last year's presentation. (This year's highlights video should be posted in the next few weeks!)  
I also want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to send me (or post on Instagram, FB or Twitter) pics and vids from their classrooms, as I can't tell you how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing all of the awesome things your kiddos are doing with the Secrets! It's the reason that I dig through dumpsters— Lol!
With Warm Regards and Happy Spring Wishes!
Katie
And to all those in Montana, I'm looking forward to doing the morning keynote and several breakout sessions at your State Title I Conference later this month, and to hopefully seeing many of you there!  And Maryland-friends, I will be coming back again in May, so am looking forward to seeing many of you again soon, as well! (To view all upcoming conference and school/district PD dates, click here.)
And a note to all subscribers, be sure to add Katie@KatieGarner.com to your address book so that your spam folder doesn't "eat" my emails like the dumpster "ate" my writing— Lol! :-)
PS I am also including the download link (see below) to the Secret Stories® white paper which provides a great overview of the research that supports the topics covered in my presentation at Title I.  Additionally, you can download the PDF handout packet from the Title I lecture, here.
Secret Stories® Phonics White Paper Research Support
SECRET STORIES® White Paper Research Support
by Dr. Jill Buchan (author of the 2 Sisters "Daily CAFE/Daily 5" White Paper)
Dive deeper into the research behind Secret Stories® and how to target phonics instruction to the earlier developing "affective" social-emotional (feeling) domain for accelerated learner-access to the code!

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Katie Garner Education Author and Keynote Speaker/ Literacy Consultant
For a list of upcoming conferences, or for information on scheduling a school or district professional development workshop, click here. 

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