From the Book Ambassador: Literacy Snapshots

From the Book Ambassador: Literacy Snapshots

Literacy snapshots capture the images of learning in action.  We take the time in reading and writing workshop to notice and name what the writer is doing.  We look closely, to examine text and decisions that  authors have made to help influence us as readers, writers and thinkers. Literacy snapshots help us notice and name the work our students and colleagues are doing.

By JoEllen McCarthy, Educator Collaborative Book Ambassador (@JoEllenMcCarthy)

“Celebration isn’t just the actions we take or the words we use; it’s a mindset that propels us to see, observe and value strengths.”
~Regie Routman

Photographs capture memories and moments.  Think back to an event in your life.  A special trip, a milestone birthday, a graduation, your wedding day, the birth of your first child or the first day of school.   The cycle continues, and although the moments change, one thing remains the same. One common thread still exists: photographs.  “Kodak Moments,” if you will, stay with us.   We all have memories and moments that resonate in our lives and those that will remain in our hearts and minds.  We have an opportunity to make time stand still, to reflect or to recreate those magical moments.

Now picture the images we save and celebrate as part of our learning journey. I like to call those literacy snapshots.  Literacy snapshots capture the images of learning in action.  We take the time in reading and writing workshop to notice and name what the writer is doing.  We look closely, to examine text and decisions that  authors have made to help influence us as readers, writers and thinkers. Literacy snapshots help us notice and name the work our students and colleagues are doing.  Literacy snapshots provide us with images that leave tracks of  thinking and allow us to “grow ideas.”  Our classrooms serve as laboratories to be innovative and experimental.  Educators need more time to collaborate and share experiences. Sharing literacy snapshots moves the conversation to authentic learning where teachers can reflect to create, adopt or adapt.  Literacy snapshots make learning transparent and transferrable.

As part of my work as a lead learner and staff developer, I believe that learning should be joyful celebrations of teaching and learning.  When we collaborate to showcase and celebrate teaching and learning, we are building our collaborative mindset (Tom Whitby).  When educators use literacy snapshots shared publicly, privately or through social media, they allow educators to move away from the deficit model and move toward a celebration of individual differences, passions, and talents.

For years, we began every faculty meeting sharing literacy snapshots and noticings.  Time spent together reflecting on resources, student work and such literacy snapshots leads to a more positive culture of literacy and learning.  All learners can be empowered in this examination of practice and invitational learning environment.  Mentor, Shelley Harwayne once said, “Whenever enthusiastic teachers get together, new thinking occurs.” The power of literacy snapshots is that they bring people together literally and figuratively to share ideas and joyful learning.

We can adopt or adapt ideas for mini-lessons or anchor charts. We can explore “must have” new titles (kid lit and #PDLove resources).  We can get a sneak peek and find ideas for tools and techniques that support learning, and energize our PD journeys. We use literacy snapshots to capture moments that invite all learners to travel together. They allow our paths to be shared moments and destinations where students and teachers can discover new lands and worlds of possibilities.

“Literacy snapshots are a powerful way to showcase the amazing work that our students and teachers are engaged in.”

~Ellen O’Neill @ellen_oneill

Lead Learner and Principal at Southold Elementary School, Southold Schools

Energized by learning communities’ voices and choices, literacy snapshots allow us to reflect, facilitate, celebrate, and engage learners and learning opportunities. Literacy snapshots instill a love of learning. They help us to collaborate and share ideas. We are better together.

I am inspired daily by the teachers and students that I work with. Being a connected educator, I can share literacy snapshots from across the districts that I work in. I am inspired by the varied application and interpretations as we share and grow ideas together.  Educators can use literacy snapshots to communicate with parents as PARTners in the learning community, may post in a blog, share through social media, and or collaborate with other connected eds to support, celebrate or grow their professional learning networks.  Literacy snapshots support learning and collaboration on or offline.

In the words of Tony Sinanis, Lead Learner and Principal at Cantiague Jericho Schools, “Literacy snapshots allow us to build transparency with the community so we can share what we believe makes up good literacy instruction that’s in the best interest of kids!”

Literacy Snapshots


Reflecting on Student Work in the Literacy Lounge

IMG_2036shari Ss goals

As literacy coaches, literacy snapshots allow us to knock down walls and celebrate students and teachers learning together. The snapshots bring curriculum and instruction to life for teachers.  Twitter is our online literacy lounge too.

-Pete Gangi Literacy Coach Merrick Schools

Glitter Boards in Action

how to glitterkindness like glitter 365 DW

After seeing the glitter boards I was inspired to create my own the very next day!  My students can’t wait to find quotes to celebrate on our very own “bedazzled” frame with colored gemstones.

– Kathleen Sokolowski 3rd grade Lead Learner Farmingdale Schools

Spread Book Love and PD Love:

image1hooked on books

We share moments in our reading, writing and our thinking that make us want to go back again and again.

currently reading with post its display“After teaching for 30 years, I feel inspired by the learning and sharing we do.  My students are driving my enthusiasm, as they reflect on being lead learners as well.  Literacy snapshots allow me to bloom, to grow and to things back to my students as we learn together.”

-Kathy Timmerman 4th grade teacher Plainview Old Bethpage

“Literacy snapshots allow educators to spread their passion for reading and writing, allowing others to envision what they couldn’t see before.  So in the end, everyone gets invited to the party!”

-Jen Brady Literacy Coach Merrick Schools

quote board Jessica Cantiague

“As a teacher I pride myself in being a lifelong learner.  Literacy snapshots are ways for me to enhance my reading and writing curriculum and to share my ideas too!  -Jessica Rouse 5th grade teacher Jericho Schools

Literacy snapshots provide a canvas of possibilities, validate work we are doing and can give us a vision of what is possible.  Celebrate teaching, learning and sharing.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Top 10 tools and resources that support Literacy Snapshots:

  1. Twitter
  2. Instagram
  3. Pic Collage
  4. Vine
  5. Buncee- digital storytelling
  6. Padlet- digital canvas that brings your notes to life
  7. Pinterest- curate and share images
  8. Animoto- makes music video from your photos
  9. Word Swag- word art for quotes or favorite lines

What would you add?   How have you used or will you use literacy snapshots?