Podcast with Penny Kittle

It was so much fun to create a book talk podcast with Penny Kittle, author of Book Love and Write Beside Them. After making this podcast, I began thinking of 3 easy ways I can re-energize independent reading on day one of returning to the classroom in January.

1) Do 2-3 Book talks a day during the first week back.

2) Have my student go “shopping” for books by putting a large stack on each desk group. Students can read the backs of the books and get a feel for their first pages.

3) My students can do some talking and writing around their reading goals for January. This may include adding books to their wish lists and writing down their future goals such as “New genres I’d like to read are…” or “I’d like to read 100 pages a week.”

I’m really looking forward to reading in January 2018! The ALA Awards are right around the corner and my students and I are going to keep reading!



#ILA17 Resources

#ILA17 Links to All Information From Our Presentation:

Top 20 Favorite Digital Texts:

Our Top 10 Favorite Digital Texts &

Our New Top 10 Digital Texts

Digital Texts & Text Sets:

Flipped Learning:

To Make Digital Notebooks/ Book Clubs:

Book Trailers:

Reimagining the Book Report Pt. 2

Using Padlet

We’re having a great conversation on our Facebook Book Club about the many uses for Padlet in our classrooms! Join us!

If you’ve never tried using Padlet, then you’re like me! I’m excited to learn how to use it so I can try making some Padlets with links to flipped lessons and digital texts. In our conversation on Facebook, our group has come up with many great uses for Padlet in the classroom including:

  • Exit Tickets
  • A collection of flipped lessons (so no child has to go to YouTube)
  • Entrance Tickets
  • Group Discussions
  • Digital Bins
  • Question of the day

Come join the discussion! Padlet is totally new to me, and this chat has really helped! This is my first Padlet ever: https://padlet.com/djohansen1/yyapxe2ota0l I’m trying to figure it out, and it’s really fun!

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Thank you, #ILA16!

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It was a great weekend at ILA! Thank you to all who came to our presentation about flipped learning! We have posted a bunch of flipped resources here on our blog. They are under the heading “Flipped Learning Book” at the top of the page. Email us or tweet us if you have any questions. Our email is LitLearnAct7@gmail.com and our Twitter handle is @LitLearnAct.

Also, please join our Facebook Group! We talk about flipped learning, technology we’re using in the classroom, teaching interpretation, digital texts, close reading, and most importantly, bringing joy to the language arts classroom!

Flipped Lessons that are Inquiry-Based


When I first started flipping lessons in writing workshop, I worried about the amount of direct instruction I was creating. I was worried because that’s not my primary teaching style in the classroom. I like to have a balance of direct instruction and inquiry-based instruction in my writing workshop. I want my students to explore language and punctuation. I was worried that I might not be able to create inquiry-based flipped lessons. But I was wrong.

Two of my favorite inquiry-based professional development books for how to teach writing are Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray and The Power of Grammar by Mary Ehrenworth. Both authors encourage students to examine the work of writers in order to investigate and discuss their writing moves. Ray and Ehrenworth encourage students to come up with their own names for the moves that writers make such as “Fragments that Create Heart-Pounding Suspense” or “Endings that Circle Back to the Beginning.” This way, students can take ownership of the writing strategies and try them out in their own writing.

I was excited to discover that I can make flipped lessons that support this inquiry-based learning approach. I began creating lessons that did not use a direction-instruction method for teaching, and I found that students loved this type of flipped lesson.

For example, let’s say I wanted to create a writing workshop flipped lesson about writing leads in a fiction unit. I might take a sentence such as the first line of the book, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and use it in my flipped lesson:

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog. This is what happened:”

In my flipped lesson, I would use an inquiry-based teaching method like Ray and Ehrenworth recommend. I would encourage my students to examine this sentence and jot down the writing moves that they’re noticing DiCamillo made when writing this sentence. I would use an inquiry-based teaching prompt such as “What do you notice?” to help students get started. This would open the lesson up to students noticing many things about DiCamillo’s sentence.

After students had the chance to jot down what they notice, I would ask them to think about DiCamillo’s sentence only in terms of leads. I would encourage students to jot down this type of lead in their writing workshop notebook and name this type of story beginning. Some students might call it an “Introductory” lead or a “How did it all Begin?” lead.  Finally in my flipped lesson, I would ask my students to try to write a lead like DiCamillo’s. This way they can put their own spin on this type of beginning.

So here are my 5 steps to creating an inquiry-based flipped lesson:

  1. Choose or write something that you want your students to explore. Ray and Ehrenworth have great pieces of writing in their books that you can use. Sometimes I write my own sentences for my students explore. Other times, I pick a children’s book and find a bit of text that they can explore.
  2. When creating your flipped lesson, state your purpose: “Today writers, you will be exploring a bit of an author’s writing. I want you to read it with eyes wide open, looking for anything that might be interesting to you.”
  3. Reveal the text you have selected for students to examine. Encourage students to jot down what they notice. “What do you notice?” “What words or punctuation jump out at you?”
  4. Why did the author make this writing choice? Have students name what they are noticing.
  5. Have students try! They can mimic the author’s writing choice and see if they can create the same effect. Students should have all of this in their writing notebook, ready to share with you or their peers.


What I love about flipped learning is that the possibilities are endless. Students can have an inquiry-based learning experience at school, at home, anywhere. Technology helps make this happen.

Let me know if you have ideas about inquiry-based flipped learning with technology. I’m finding that it’s all about the questions you ask. With the right questions and encouragement, anything is possible.


Dana Johansen teaches fifth grade in Connecticut.  As her dear friend and colleague Melissa says, “For teachers, June is like Friday night, July is like Saturday, and August is like Sunday.” Dana is soaking up the July days with #bookaday reading and teaching writing to middle school students. Dana’s newest book, Flip Your Writing Workshop, co-authored with Sonja Cherry-Paul, was released in April, and Dana is looking forward to #ILA2016 where she is going to present on flipped learning. She believes in bringing literacy learning to life in any way that she can. Dana uses digital texts, flipped lessons, and all things Google to differentiate, be time efficient, and increase her students’ autonomy in the workshop. She has taught elementary and middle school for fifteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop. 



Wow! The summer is starting, and I have 3 main goals for rejuvenating and relaxing:

1- Get outside and do some good walking with my yellow lab.

2- Try some new, healthy smoothie recipes.

3- Try to keep up with the #Bookaday challenge. So far, I’m on day 12 of the #Bookaday challenge and I hope to continue for 60 days.

I’m not going to lie- so far there have been some rough days, but I’m hanging in there and am feeling good! If you haven’t heard about the #Bookaday challenge, the goal is to read a book each day. You can start the challenge at anytime and end at anytime. Simply set a goal and read! You can read a picture book, chapter book, professional development book, anything! The purpose of the challenge is to simply set aside some time for reading. How glorious! Thank you, Donalyn Miller and The Nerdy Book Club, for inspiring the #Bookaday challenge!

What I love about this challenge is that with each day that I read, I am gaining book talks for Sept., mentor texts for minilessons, and professional development advice. I am growing stronger as a teacher (and reader!)

Today I read and posted a Good Reads review of Bounce, Megan Shull’s new release (out in Sept.) I’ve attached the review below:
BounceBounce by Megan Shull

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three cheers for Megan Shull’s new book, Bounce!!! This book feels like a combination of Wendy Mass’s 11 Birthdays and Megan Shull’s The Swap, and it is the perfect blend for readers who love these books. I teach middle school and my students LOVE The Swap. That is why they are counting down the days till Bounce is released. Having just finished reading Bounce, I know they will LOVE it too!

Megan Shull’s distinct writing style and voice shines through in Bounce, and readers will immediately feel like they are back with the voice and style they loved so much in The Swap. Bounce has new characters but the same heartfelt messages and themes from The Swap. While reading Bounce, I laughed, I cried, and I rejoiced. Without giving anything away about the plot, I’ll say that one of my favorite parts of Bounce was meeting such a diverse group of characters. I know that my students will have many discussions about all the characters and how they affected the main character, Frannie.

I am so thankful that Megan Shull writes books that have strong messages, good feels, and diverse characters. As a teacher, I’m always looking for books that will connect with readers. Megan Shull’s books do that. They’re simply magic! If you don’t already have The Swap in your library, it’s a must-have. It will fly off the shelf. In September, get copies of Bounce, too, because they will also be flying off your shelves. I’ve already pre-ordered copies of Bounce– I can’t wait for them to be delivered in Sept. My students will be eagerly waiting for that box, and they’ll love reading Bounce!


Join the #Bookaday challenge! For more information about the #Bookaday challenge, read Donalyn Miller’s blog post here.

You can tweet about your #Bookaday reads with Sonja and me by using the #Bookaday hashatag and our Twitter handle @LitLearnAct. Or visit us on our Facebook Group to talk about about reading, #bookaday, flipped learning, digging deeper into texts, and close reading! We love it!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/770735289739767/