Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Do You Want to be When YOU grow up?

What do you want to be when you grow up?  How many times have you been asked this question? Do you find yourself asking children this? As I look back through my life experiences, I realize that so many of my life experiences have led me down this path.  I was destined to be a teacher.  However, it wasn't until this year that I truly realized what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I want to be a learner! You see, I think being a learner gives us permission to try new things. It sets up the expectation that we are in a growth mindset. It gives us permission to fail!  Being a learner allows us to give away some of the power. Giving up power to students can be scary! But let me tell you, it opens up doors! And with each door that opens, it gets easier to take that next step.


Technology opens up many doors for learners everyday!  Technology can be scary!  It can also be empowering!  What we need to realize is that there really is no way to be an expert in technology! It changes every single day.  Being a learner helps us embrace that technology is a tool that creates more questions than answers.  Isn't that what we want from our students?  We want them to question the world! We want them to discover their passions and forge down their own path.  Perhaps asking students what they want to be when they grow up is an antiquated question! The US Department of Education Office of Educational Technology is imploring that our students are "Future Ready."


As a learner and as a parent, I want my children to be "Future Ready." I want to give them the tools they need to innovate, to explore, to connect, to fail! I am willing to admit my weaknesses in the areas of technology and innovation so that I can reach out to my peers to find the support and answers I need. I am willing to be uncomfortable in front of staff and students if it means that our students will be closer to being "Future Ready."  I invite you to join me as a learner!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR

Fall seems to give me permission to spend more time reading.  I don't feel the guilt that I should be doing something.  It seems more acceptable to curl up with a book or two.  Today I gave myself permission to indulge!

I sat down for the second time with Revolution by Deborah Wiles.  It didn't take long to whiz through this book.  I literally couldn't put it down.  Tears were streaming from my eyes as I finished and I continue to process the history and deeper meanings hidden in this beautiful novel.  The combination of a trying time in our country, during the Freedom Summer, and a girl struggling to define her family and her world can be a lot to process emotionally. Although it appears that our country has come so far, you can still see glimpses of the "Revolution" still occurring every day!

I attended the Lancaster Art Department's craft show yesterday.  Local author, Dan Bomkamp, was there proudly displaying his books.  My daughter was dying to read one of his books after perusing his stories and talking with him. He recommended that she start with The Adventures of Thunderfoot. She proudly took her personally autographed copy home and began reading it.  Each chapter is a new outdoor adventure with a slight twist of humor.  I'm anxious to read about Thunderfoot and discuss my perspective with Sophie!

Leah Whitford was the first person that put Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg on my radar.  I started following posts on facebook.  I put myself on the hold list at the library. I couldn't wait any longer. I needed to have this book in my hands.  I carry it everywhere because I may have a moment or two to fit a page or two in.  As Donalyn Miller would say, this book is  part of my current book luggage. It was obvious to me after a few pages that this would be one of those books that I wouldn't be able to share with anyone. It would be full of notes, reflections, and highlights. This would be a book that would cause me to look inside myself. It would be the book that would push me forward. I know that I will encourage others to read this book.  Unfortunately, I will not be sharing mine! 

Professional reading is always part of my day to day reading life.  Some days it might be a blog or twitter.  Today I spent a lot of time with Implementing Effective Instruction for English Language Learners by Suzanne Wagner and Tamara King.  Although this is required reading for a graduate class that I am taking through Edgewood College, it is a resource I would definitely recommend to anyone working with ELL students. The book focuses on twelve key practices for schools to follow to implement a supportive instructional environment for English language learners. I will be adding this resource to the school resource section.  It is full of strategies, checklists, and planning templates to use when planning and advocating for student needs. 

To give myself the book buying rush that I needed today, I was able to purchase a variety of Halloween titles at a Post-Halloween discount. Although they won't be appreciated until next year, they were too great to pass up!  

I must ask you, "It's Monday, what are you reading?"

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Monday. What are you reading?

Battle of the Books is in full swing at Lancaster Middle School. Let's just say that I'm a little behind on the book list! I am currently reading Doll Bones by Holly Black. The eerie cover drew me in at once. This feeling continues as the adventure unfolds.

Check out the Battle of the Books on WEMTA. How many of the books have you read?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Business of Books

Never did I imagine how much I would love this job! Each day is a new adventure.  I've always known that my favorite part of each day as a teacher was reading aloud to students.  I will take a moment to brag and say that I truly believe it is one of my greatest gifts that I use to connect with kids.

What I didn't imagine is how much I would learn each day! I am continuously researching and looking for new information for myself, staff, students, and parents. It is humbling at times to admit I don't know the answer to everything and it has taught me to ask others for help.  People are just waiting to be asked! Big changes occur when you have the courage to open up and accept what others have to offer!

 I didn't imagine that I would be connecting with authors on a daily basis whether it is to arrange a skype visit or an onsite visit.  I feel so giddy when I open an email from an author. Every. Single. Time.

 I couldn't even begin to imagine how many book reviews I would read to ensure I am purchasing books that students will inhale. My book list continues to grow. Prioritizing reading time has become a necessity. Every time a book order arrives I feel like it is Christmas. I truly feel that each book is a gift.

 The conversations I get to have with kids about their books is something I treasure.  Each discussion reveals a bit of the student's personality, another great way to make a connection.

Meetings have become a natural part of my day.  Not only do I get to connect with students and staff, but I am connecting to people in our community through parent meetings and Schreiner Memorial Library meetings as a board member. Building relationships with community members is a great way to find new resources!

Planning big projects or events has always been a passion. I love that I can share my ideas with others and they sort of take on a new life and become bigger and better than I could have even imagined!

The business of books is a story in itself! I feel so lucky to go to work each day and turn a new page!

Monday, September 1, 2014


It is the night before the first day of school.  As always, I feel a little jittery about the adventures that await. Being in a new position, traveling to three different schools, working with many new students and staff has me a little nervous, but that is not the feeling that is exuding from my pores.  That feeling is pride!

I am so extremely proud to be an educator in Lancaster.  I have had the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible people this summer.  I am so proud of the work we have done to lay the groundwork for an incredible year.

First of all, I am proud of our custodial staff. They have gone above and beyond to help with my endless list of needs for the school libraries.  I am honored to work side by side with them and look forward to continuing this relationship.  Many of my ideas could have been brushed off because it requires change and work, but they have jumped right in and helped me along the way.  The pride they have in Lancaster Schools is evident!

I am proud of the administration team in our district.  The communication and collaboration that has occurred throughout the summer shows their deep commitment to our schools.  They have the unenviable task of making the tough decisions, balancing out the schedules, and trouble-shooting on a daily basis.  How they do this and continue to motivate us is a real gift.  They truly demonstrate #arrowpride in all they say and do!

Our staff demonstrates #arrowpride in so many ways.  The way the new staff was welcomed is admirable.  The way everyone shares the load to make special events come to life is magical.  The kindness displayed even in moments of stress or panic shows our commitment to one another.  I am extremely humbled to be working with new staff in the middle school and high school this year.  I look forward to learning from them and I am thankful for the warm welcome. I am proud to be a part of the entire school community.

What would a school be with out families? The children and their families are truly the heart and soul of our school community. I have seen so many fantastic demonstrations of #arrowpride!  The Friends of Winskill has organized family movie night and is really reaching out to get new families involved.  The Sports Boosters and Music Boosters are gearing up for another year of activities in which they can demonstrate the pride they have in their kids. Students coming in to practice their locker combinations demonstrate their #arrowpride as they prepare for their next step.  The smiles are contagious.

Jimmy Casas challenged us to tell our stories, to show our pride!  I think we are heading in the right direction.  As I prepare to spend the night awake going through all the dreams I have for this school year for myself, for my kids, for Lancaster, I will continue to smile with knowledge that I am part of something big, something great!  I've got #arrowpride and I'm ready to pass it on!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

DonorsChoose: Lights! (Read) Camera! (Write) Action! (Film)

Subject: Help me add technology to our school libraries

Hi Friends,

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a request for my classroom at

Lights! (Read) Camera! (Write) Action! (Film)

Give to my classroom by August 23, 2014 and your donation will be doubled thanks to Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100).

If you chip in to help my students, you'll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks.

Thanks so much,

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!

Lights! (Read) Camera! (Write) Action! (Film)

Ms. U.
High Poverty, Lancaster, WI
Have you ever been convinced to go to a movie after seeing the movie trailer? I want to help the students in all three of the school libraries create ... read more

My students need need a green screen, iPad tripods, and action signs to make movie book trailers.
Help my classroom

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book it to the Library

Conjure this image...books, coffee, a comfy chair...a favorite place to unwind and become reinvigorated with words. Words that teach. Words that inspire.  Words that transcend generations.

Now imagine a room abuzz with people collaborating, connecting globally, utilizing the latest technology to enhance learning! 

Can these two worlds coexist?  Absolutely!  Come check out my new adventure as I embark on a new challenge as the K-12 Library Media Specialist in the Lancaster School District

Through this journey I will be connecting with students, teachers, and families. I get to share my passion for books!  I get to challenge myself daily! I get to promote deep thinking! I get to connect students with resources and help them expand on their passions!  I have the job of my dreams! Can you tell that I am excited about the possibilities?  

I plan to use this blog as a resource to share literature, tech activities, links for learning, and activities that we are engaged in in the school library media centers!  I will share my successes and failures. I will promote the amazing work of our students and staff!  

Now get after it and "Book it to the Library!"

Ms. Micki Uppena