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An Effective Principal in Action

An Effective Principal in Action

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

This week I am in Las Vegas, working with colleagues at a school and also presenting at a conference.  It has been a very productive and inspiring week.  One of the ideas, which we explored is efficacy in teaching and learning.  What makes an effective teacher, learner, and/or principal?  And, then today I was able to watch an effective principal, Connie, in action as she worked her magic.

The Problem

The problem at this school is that the intermediate students (6th and 7th graders) are not reading well. This group is the most vulnerable in a school which focuses on the needs of low-income and at-risk students, and speakers of other languages. In others words, this particular class is filled with students whose social, emotional, academic needs are many and complex.   These students are the most-challenging group of reluctant readers.

The Principal’s Plan

Enter Connie, the principal, with a plan to support the students’ reading, while at the same time to model and mentor the teachers in the school. Her plan was to create learning groups and to use high-interest novels. Her goal is to make these stories comprehensible and compelling for the students. In addition, she led this transformative process, and brought in other teachers to take part and others to observe.

We entered the classroom, and the students were seated quietly waiting for her. She greeted them and immediately went to the white board and drew a large quadrant. The students drew a large blank quadrant on their blank paper on their desks, which indicated to me that they knew from past experience that this would be their graphic organizer for the day.

Today (View)

Next, Connie moved into the lesson of the day. She asked the groups who knew what an acronym was. She and the students agreed that it is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. Connie explained that her acronym of the day is HERO, and she filled in the quadrant with the letters.


The Book

Connie held up her copy of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, the classic story of a Danish girl and her family’s dangerous struggles to smuggled Jews our of their Nazi-occupied homeland to their safe haven in Sweden.


Looking Back (Review)

Connie began by asking the students what they had read the previous day, and a brief whole-class review of the book followed.

Today (View)

Next, Connie moved into the lesson of the day and the three chapters which each group would be reading.  She gave hints of what was to become of the characters and the plot in today’s reading–she made me want to grab the book and start reading. 

Please notice the teacher in the background, who is carefully watching what Connie is doing as she reads with the students.  In addition, note how the students are listening intently.

Teachers, here is what I saw Connie, the principal and instructional leader, doing.

•ModelShe went to the classroom and demonstrated one way of teaching reading.

•MentorShe invited other teachers to take part and learn with her and from her.

•Scaffold the students’ learning: When you forget what scaffolding is, always think of how kids learn to ride a bike: Gradually a family member slowly releases the support, and the child is suddenly riding alone. I have posted here some other ways of scaffolding. If you want more materials on scaffolding, just go to my home page, scroll to the bottom right, and find the SEARCH bar; type in scaffold.

•Review/View/ PreviewTeachers often (a) review the previous lesson; (b) talk about what will take place today; finally, (c) teachers share what students will learn tomorrow. 

Readers and Writers Workshop

Readers/Writers Workshop is a very effective method, which teachers often use.  Connie was using her variation of reading & writing workshop. 

CARE Conference

We presented at the CARE Conference (Conference on Academic Research in Education), which is paired with EQRC and AABBS. The three conferences run concurrently, and all three focus on ethnographic and qualitative research.

Le Putney, who was once my graduate student at CSU Stanislaus and who is now a full professor at UNLV, is lead researcher on our focus on efficacy.

Chyllis Scott was also one of my grad students in CA and is now an assistant professor at UNLV.  Chyl, Le, and I shared our understandings of mentoring.

And, of course, I loved the flamingos in Las Vegas.

And, look, I found an avid reader at the CARE conference! He was waiting patiently for his parents, who were at the conference, as he read All The Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is a book for adults about WWII and a young blind French woman and a young German man.


February 28, 2018Read More
Mentoring: Our Academic Family Tree

Mentoring: Our Academic Family Tree

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Forgive all of my back-to-back burst of blog posts.  You can probably tell that I am getting ready for 3 back-to-back trips, and I will need some of this information to use with my colleagues.  If it is all on WinkWorld, I won’t have to do so much digging around in my computer when I get where I am going. 

Two of my friends (Dr. Le Putney & Dr. Chyllis Scott) from UNLV and I will continue our exploration of mentoring from a Vygotskian perspective.  We have published and presented on it numerous times.  

~Original image from, free. Edited and adapted by Thank you, Susan.

Here is a journal article in which several of us connected teaching with mentoring.

Teaching as Mentoring

We will use the following image of a tree as a metaphor of how mentoring grows larger and deeper with each student (mentee), who will eventually go on to mentor others. 

(, free image)

Often in my teaching, I have used the metaphor of a tree to help students reflect  on their own learning.  The following two images were created by Araceli Dohner Chavez, and used to reflect on her own learning & teaching (pedagogy).  Thank you, Araceli.

First, Araceli drew this tree.

Next, she reflected on what she knew and where her knowledge originated.  Araceli is one of the branches on my academic tree, and I am confident that she now has mentored many students, and has her own academic family tree filled with mentors and mentees.


I suspect that when we are finished with our sharing at UNLV,  Le, Chyl, and I will have a new tree which captures our academic genealogy.

Tip of the hate to Lindsay Vonn, the Olympic skier: Am I the only person to notice that she is also a fabulous mentor to many other skiers (mentees)?

February 22, 2018Read More
Prairie Pedagogy: A Story about a Bromeliad and a Geranium

Prairie Pedagogy: A Story about a Bromeliad and a Geranium

Dear WinkWorld Readers, 

Previously, I wrote about the scientific method which is being used in a rural school near us.  You might want to read this post before reading this update of that project.

Prairie Pedagogy: The Scientific Method

This project was started last September, and now I have a story to tell about a bromeliad and a geranium, which just would not bloom during the winter months, even though they were in the East and South windows with glorious sun light of the prairies.  I so remember Grandma Dora’s plants in Moville Iowa.  Every September she took her geraniums to the local little public library and plopped them in the southern window.  During the winter the plants grew to the ceiling and bloomed and bloomed. For decades I have tried to get a geranium to bloom during the winter: Nothing. In addition my bromeliads would not bloom like those of my friend, Julie, in CA.

This is what a geranium and a bromeliad should look like:

Here is my pitiful bromeliad.

Here is my geranium without blossoms.

If you read WinkWorld, you know that I love spending time  with 16 precious K-8 kids at Atall School, which is 50 miles from our ranch.  They are often the “din in my head & heart.”  This was a one-room school until a couple of years ago.  Now, the modular building has been divided, and they have a full-time teacher for K-3, another full-time teacher for 4-8, and a teacher for Special Needs.  I primarily spend my time with the students in 4-8; Missy is their teacher.

Here are a couple of photos of Atall School, which we took in the fall.  The prairies are now totally white; photos at the end of this story.

Missy has many professional and personal strengths, but one of the things which I notice about her is that she never loses track of the fact when the 8th grade students leave this little isolated school, they will more than likely need to go to one of several little towns near-by, necessitating a drive of anywhere from 30 to 60 miles, depending on the town and the location of each student’s ranch.

She is always looking ahead to make sure that the students are as prepared as possible for this eventuality.  For example, for the last several months, the students have been learning more about the scientific method, which will probably be used in various classes in secondary: Science class will use this approach, and certainly all inquiry based, research projects in the reading/language arts classes will spring from this approach.

Missy and I had a hunch that if I took the plants to the kids, they could get a blossom to pop. 

The best part of this story is that in November the students suddenly realized that they had not been watering their plants. So, without ever discussing it with their teacher, Missy, they took it upon themselves to add this one chore (watering the plants) to their rotating list of daily chores. Watering the plants was added to the Devices and Sharpener chores.

The kids have now taken care of the plants for several months. 

Their bromeliad has grown a “pup,” which is thriving.  I expect a blossom by May.

Here is the first blossom on the geranium plant.

Here is my pitiful bromeliad today.

Feb. 21, 2018 photos of Atall




Storytelling as Research: A Bibliography

Storytelling as Research: A Bibliography


Dear WinkWorld Readers,

The beauty of a blog is that you can read, whenever you have time or interest. The same is true for me, in that I can post when I have time and interest.  As a reader, you can always go to  WinkWorld News to find something which had been previously posted. 

I noted that in the previous posts, when I shared some of our treasures and memories, so many of you wrote to me individually and shared your personal experiences. Thank you.

Today, we are moving forward with some ideas, which I am exploring.  I will probably post several times in the next few days, and you can read whenever it is good for you. I am fascinated by Storytelling as Research and have started a bibliography. These are all new-to-me citations, since my latest book, “The Power of Story” was published in November 2017.   If you want to add other citations in the Comment sections or to me privately, I’ll compile and re-share at a later date.

Here’s the deal: I make. You take. 

Storytelling as Research Bibliography JWink 2.18




February 21, 2018Read More
If You Don’t Know the Prairies: A Story

If You Don’t Know the Prairies: A Story

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

We tried something new when the blizzard was about ready to hit us here on the prairies. Hope you enjoy.

February 20, 2018Read More
More Treasures

More Treasures

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Recently, I posted some treasures* which we found while cleaning out boxes, cubbies, closets, etc.  Well, it continues: more cleaning means more treasures


I found a journal of a trip to Saltillo Mexico with LaRee Roper Mayes, previously of Redfield, Yankton College, and now living in Rapid City. We drove a little 1962 light blue VW Bug. The night before heading South through Nebraska, we stopped at Wink’s Dad farm in Iowa, and Wink gave me an engagement ring.  The journal begins with that day….



Kids had blankies which they loved to pieces, and then Grandma Dora (Wink-side of family) would make another one.  Here are the remnants of one the blankies which had been cuddled to death.


We used to have Family Council meetings on Sunday evenings; the duties rotated: Prez and Sribe.  The Prez led us through plans & chores for the coming week, fun time for the week, TV-time allotment, etc.  I found 3 hand-written notebooks of our minutes. When Bo was about 4 and still not writing, he used his pictures, numbers, and letters to record the minutes: Gotta love “emergent literacy.” Below this photo, I will “read” what he had written.

Emergent literacy translation.  Dawn gets $7, and Bo gets 1.75 for doing chores (picking up rocks).  Fun time will be a football game on the road in front of our home.  TV time: ?  After family council, we are all going for a hike into “never – never land,” which were “secret paths” along the San Pedro River in AZ. (I have no idea was the 5 is, which begins the minutes.)

Late 70’s mostly Benson Kids and a few Davis Kids.


Dawn’s school scrapbooks, K-12, through undergrad, grad, year studying in Germany, and summer studying in Sevilla, Spain.   Dawn will be here in a month and can finish cleaning up those boxes–stay tuned, as I see another WinkWorld coming.


In the previous WinkWorld, I shared the story of Willie Nelson/Julio Iglesias song and party which my friends at Davis Joint Unified School District had for me, when we moved to College Station, TX. They presented me with a California Teaching Credential; note the special signatures from the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, etc. 





Copy of the original homestead papers for our ranch, signed by Cecil A. Richardson (my grandfather) and Woodrow Wilson (the president).  Actually, we found lots of homestead papers, and Wink has spent hours with that blue magnifying glass, reading the papers and telling me the stories buried in the old, old papers.

Finished cleaning? I hope. I have to get back to work…said the retired person.

*The previous post: 

So, This Just Happened



February 19, 2018Read More
So, This Just Happened

So, This Just Happened

So, WinkWorld Readers, this just happened.  Wink has been cleaning out the garage and hauling in filthy boxes, which neither of us has touched in many years. My job is to see what is inside.  Today we have found treasures.  This will be more than some of you want to know about my life, but I suspect that there will be tidbits along the way for lots of you.

Some of you tell me that you think my blog is too academic.  This one may be too for personal for others. 


I found all of the legal information of the time I sued the California State University system for paying a man more than I was paid. Toughest professional thing I ever did.  I even found my old journal, where I kept 3 years of dated notes whenever anyone (university administrator, colleague, union member, lawyer) talked to me.


1991, I found all of my TX A&M grades, verifications of degree plan, my written and oral exams, and the defense of the dissertation.  Think it is safe to toss all of these papers?

1985 -1991

In the days before blogs and even my previous newsletters, I used to write letters on an old PC and print on a dot matrix.  Some of you received those epistles from our days in AZ and TX. Before these, I used to write in longhand to a wide group of friends. Now, you almost have to be over 80 years old before I will write a real letter by hand to you.



During these years, I was a bilingual coordinator in the Davis, CA schools, and when I left, my friends/colleagues had a great party, where even the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent did a Willie and Julio Iglesias rendition of “Of all the girls I loved before.”  I found so many happy memories, poems, and photos.


1976 to 1985

During these years I was a wild and crazy Spanish teacher in Benson, AZ, and I loved to use authentic music in the classroom, so I have a wonderful collection of books, lyrics, and tapes. Some of materials spring from my days at University of Arizona and Guadalajara, where I learned of the wealth of folklore from Mexico.  I am beginning my search for the best home for all of these materials, but you must love them, as I do.



If any of my Benson friends know the Barrios family, I still have tapes of Barrios singing and playing corridos–verse, after verse, after verse. He would always say that he didn’t know the song, and then he would begin to play and sing. 

I even found notes and poems, which former students and friends had written to me, when we left AZ.  

Early 1970s

I found an old journal from the 1970s.

And, I found this one amazing memory.

Did I really take a journal into labor with me?  Apparently.

1963, The Coup d’état of Treasures: My high school Latin notebook from Mobridge High School. I even found a poem, which the teacher had written to me in the 1980s.

And, even better than my high school Latin notebook were the love poems I found which Wink had written me through the years.  Here is one example.

And, as I am finally finishing this too-long-too-personal WinkWorld, Wink just brought in another filthy box, but when I saw the old 1919 newspaper clipping, I said: No more–not now.




February 14, 2018Read More
Dawn Doig: Three New Children’s Books

Dawn Doig: Three New Children’s Books

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Dawn Doig is a former graduate student who was in one of classes in Mallorca Spain during a summer global education program.  Dawn has been an audiologist in Canada, England, Kuwait, and Saudia Arabia.  She is now teaching in Mongolia, and soon will be teaching in Cameroon. She and her husband, also a teacher, have a global perspective on the world. 

She has recently published 3 children’s books with Pen It Publications, LLC.  I hope you enjoy her writing, as I do.  I hear more books will be available soon.

Petra Pencil Pines for Pizza, Go Away, Shawn, and And So, Ahmed Hears.  In all three of these books, you will find a thread of kindness.  In addition, you will see that Dawn has a background, not only in mainstream classroom teaching, but also in counseling and education for the hearing impaired.

All three of her new books can be found on Amazon, 






February 12, 2018Read More
Back to Robert Frost

Back to Robert Frost

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Recently I posted a blog about Robert Frost, in which I visited a school and read the famed poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. I will re-post that WinkWorld near the bottom of this posting.

What is self-selected reading?

“Free voluntary reading consists of massive, but not necessarily wide, self-selected voluntary reading.  This provides the bridge between conversational language and academic language (Krashen, Lee, & Lao, 2018, pp. 13 – 14).

A couple of weeks after I had read the Frost poem in that school, one student chose this book during self-selected silent reading.  The teacher quickly sent me this photo. Made my day!

Self-selected reading is the kind of reading we do because we want to.  It is often “light” reading, reading not intentionally designed to inform or make one a better person (Krashen, Lee, and Lao, 2018, p. 37).  

The earlier post is reposted below:

Jack Frost or Robert Frost?

Krashen, S.,  Lee, S., & Lao, C. (2018). Comprehensible and compelling: The causes and effects of free voluntary reading. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited.

Coming soon to WinkWorld soon: A review of this new book.


February 8, 2018Read More
These Hot Springs readers are hot, hot, hot.

These Hot Springs readers are hot, hot, hot.

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Often times, readers of WinkWorld will share with me privately and not in our comment section.  No worries, I’ll try to share the good stuff here, so you will not miss out on any treasures.

Such is the case of these readers from Hot Springs.  This photo was not staged to please us, rather their teacher walked out of her classroom to meet her students who were returning from their time in their school library.  This is what she found in the hallway.  She quickly snapped this photo before the students even looked up from reading.

Thank you, Koreen Hammel.  This photo tells us so much about you, the students, your school library, and your school.

February 1, 2018Read More