Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

 #G2Great ANNIVERSARY YEAR 8 Professional Transformation: From Possibility to Action

To go straight to our #G2great schedule change description, you can scroll down

by Mary Howard

On August 29, 2012, my 2nd book was published: Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters(Heinemann). I was thrilled when that book became the source of #G2great twitter chat on 1/8/15, as reflected below and in our Wakelet artifact.

Since this chat launch, our team has changed over the years and now includes fellow founding member, Jenn Hayhurst with co moderators Fran McVeigh and Brent Gilson. We have also been very fortunate to have the supportive guidance and input from Towanda Harris. Across the years our mission statement has guided our thinking.

For seven years, I’ve been honored to write our anniversary blog posts. As always, our anniversary topic will be my reflection centerpiece: Professional Transformation: From Possibility to Action. In this post, I’ll view transformation from a dual perspective:

Transformation from the lens of #G2great twitter chat across the years

Transformation from the lens of those who joined our chat on 1/5/23.


I found two pertinent definitions describing TRANSFORMATION as a noun:

1) a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance

2) an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed

While transformation can be “thorough” and “dramatic” as shown in the first definition, I lean more heavily on the second one that views transformation as a PROCESS. I consider the most essential feature of transformation step-by-step change that occurs OVER TIME (not OVERnight). In other words, there is no end point as illustrated by key words “transformING and “BEING transformed.” I began my professional journey in 1972 and 51 years later, I continue to reside in a constant state of becoming. My belief in continued professional learning helps me fine tune, confirm and adjust my thinking. Like so many other educators, I’ve traversed along a meandering path on a never-ending transformational journey. Some changes are more time consuming and demanding than others and may be accompanied by the push and pull of comfort and discomfort given the inevitable uncertainty of any transformational process

These related words that accompanied the definitions seemed fitting:

The terms and the definition I’ve chosen to highlight reflect an internal shift with the POTENTIAL to be transformative. I use the word “POTENTIAL” very intentionally since transformation requires responsibility. Simply adding furniture, doing an activity viewed on social media, or joining a questionable facebook group blindly is devoid of transformative potential when those things are based on the popular idea of the moment rather than sound research support. Transformation is an active rather than passive process and is only possible when we explore and awaken research supported beliefs with intent and then transform those beliefs into action where it will have the most impact – with children. Impact assumes that there is benefit to the decision maker as professional (teacher) and recipient as learner (students).

Sadly, a quick fix educational culture further escalated by COVID-19 and efforts to use this to justify the battle cry of “learning loss” has compromised how we view change. Transformation has nothing to do with performing like mindless puppets according to the mandates of others (often with little or no benefit of experience or knowledge of literacy and children). Transformation takes time, dedication, an ongoing quest for professional knowledge, and an unwavering belief that no one-size-fits-all script can dictate the direction lifelong learners of literacy committed to individual children can understand.

I’d like to begin this discussion from the perspective of our #G2Great eight-year labor of love and then close this post by sharing some twitter thinking from our anniversary chat discussion on 1/5/23.


#G2Great chat has actively engaged in a transformational process across the years. We have made a wide range of concrete shifts on behalf of our chat and those who grace us with conversational wisdom via twitter. This “collective community of invitational conversations” and transformational opportunities those conversations have afforded us have motivated our team to make these shifts on your behalf and thus keep #G2Great alive and fresh.


The conversations that have taken place week after week on #G2Great chat have become our transformational drive since we opened our twitter doors. The first part of that change process began in mere weeks when we made the decision to transform our initial vision of a book study that would end after ten weeks into a long-term chat that continues seven years later. But we didn’t stop there. My book was initially the focus, but we shifted to topics beyond my book on 3/19/15 with Engaging Stakeholders in Deeper and More Meaningful Ways. On 7/16/15 we explored an amazing TedX talk with Kimberly Davis: What it Means to be Brave.

We soon recognized that we had an incredible platform to spotlight wonderful books and engage in twitter style conversation with a virtual Who’s Who of authors. Our first book spotlight was with Lisa Eickholdt in a two-part book study on 9/3/15 and 9/10/15: Learning From Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts.

Since that time, professional books have remained a major chat feature and we’re honored that many remarkable authors have shared their gift with us. This motivated us to adjust the number and source of chat questions as we invited our authors to craft their own questions in honor of their book and the wonderings that they wanted to invite.


Once we made these initial shifts in our ongoing transformational process, we continuously explored and applied other shifts over time:


• Wakelet Artifacts: We’ve collected each chat since our 2015 launch so that educators can revisit previous chats. Our Wakelet collection offers a home for inspired thinking.

• Literacy Lenses Blog: We knew that a blog would add a new layer of reflection so on our first anniversary on 1/7/16 we launched Literacy Lenses . Since then every chat is accompanied by a reflection in our blog.


We initiated the first of nine series on 2/4/16 to highlight a common topic with related areas of focus over 4 to 5 weeks: Holding Tight to Practices that Matter: read aloudshared readingconferringsmall groupsindependent reading.  


Our belief that students have great wisdom to share led to inviting our first student guest was Sam Fremin: Shifting Our Perspective: Viewing Our Teaching from a Students Lens followed by several #BowTieBoy chats: Exploring Instruction from Our Students’ Eyes, Paul Sinanis: Instilling a Life-Long Love of Reading from a Student Lens, and Olivia Van Ledtje based on her book, Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World


We added alternate texts we knew would inspire conversations with a few firsts:

• Article study with Alfie Kohn: Is Learning “Lost” When Kids Are Out of School?  

• Podcast study with Nell Duke and Colleen Cruz: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice

• Blog Study with Vicki Vinton and Aeriale Johnson: Do We Underestimate the Students We Teach?


We stepped outside of an education box so that we could connect with authors who lived in the business world but made connections to literacy including Kimberly Davis: Learning Our Way to Professional Excellence; Drew Dudley: This is Day One and Jody Carrington: Kids These Days.


Over the years we’ve included many administrators including a 2016 Leadership series including Dennis Schug, Natalie Miller, Tony Sinanis, and Matt Renwick and Seth Berg. We also created a chat from a schoolwide focus with Mike Oliver, principal of Zaharis Elementary with Beyond Borders: A Journey to Becoming


We’ve been fortunate that remarkable authors have widened our perspectives, understandings and commitment to continued learning and growth such as:

• Gholdy Muhammad: Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy

• Sonja Cherry-Paul: Stamped for Kids: Racism, Antiracism and You

• Matthew R. Kay: Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom

• Lorena Germán: Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices

• Liz Kleinrock: Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community

• Kim Parker: Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching

• Afrika Afeni Mills: Open Windows, Open Minds: Developing Anti-Racist Pro-Human Students



We recognized that many educators had not written a book we could spotlight but were doing amazing things worth celebrating. In this spirit we added our Educator Spotlight chats to honor their contributions to literacy with Nawal Qarooni: Our Collective Strength: Children As Curriculum; Paul Hankins: Everything’s a Remix and Islah Tauheed: Teaching as a Radical Act


We explored a slower chat format for discussion across a day. A SLOW CHAT allowed educators to respond to questions at their leisure such as Professional Reflection as a Stepping stone to Decision Making and Fueled by Collective Curiosity and Collaborative Conversation. Since change may also require us to LET GO of our choices, we alleviated this format since it did not invite the active discussions we knew teachers needed.


After 7 years of weekly twitter chats, we knew it was important to revisit past chats that with new eyes and fresh questions including What It Means to be BRAVE with Kimberly Davis Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-8 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke and Maximizing Student Engagement in Literacy Across the School Day (Topic)


We began to notice common topics and themes across books and created book pairings that would offer two back-to-back weeks of books with a related topic:

1) TALK: Building Bigger Ideas: A Process for Teaching Purposeful Talk by Maria Nichols and Hands Down, Speak Out: Literacy and Talking Across Literacy and Math by Kassia Wedekind and Christy Thompson (this was our first book connecting math and literacy with later addition of Allison Hintz and Antony T. Smith: Mathematizing Children’s Literature: Sparking Connections, Joy and Wonder.)

2) TRANSLANGUAGING: Rooted in Strength: Using Translanguaging to Grow Multilingual Readers and Writers by Cecelia Espinosa and Laura Ascenzi-Moreno and En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students by Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera

As you can see, our #G2Great chat has been in a state of transformational change across the seven years our chat has been in existence. This year, we believe it’s time for a step in our transformation as we look ahead to year 8.


The shift that we’re making this year was not taken lightly; based on thoughtful observation, conversation and contemplation as a team with careful thought across two years. For seven years, we’ve held weekly twitter chats. As you can imagine, this has required constant planning and commitment across 357 chats to date and counting. We know that this also makes it more difficult for our chat family to attend weekly, especially in challenging times. Yet, we also know that in challenging times, we need a safe space for conversation and collaboration. This year, we will adjust our calendar for the first time in our 7-year history:


Effective on our first twitter chat on 1/5/23, we are making these changes:

  • MONTHLY chat on the 1st Thursday of each month
  • Same time slot will apply from 8:30-9:30 EST
  • Occasional 2nd Thursday slot for paired books/topics
  • Continued references including Wakelets and blog posts
  • The addition of a new monthly twitter chat (see below)


Brent Gilson is one of our #G2great moderators. If you follow him on Twitter, Lifting Literacy Facebook Group or his blog, “Things Mr. G Says”, you know the amazing things that Brent is doing with his students and his gift for engaging educators in thoughtful conversations. Brent’s new twitter chat will be called “Lifting Literacy” and it will occur on the last Thursday of each month at the same 8:30-9:30 EST time slot. His first chat launch is on 1/26/23 with a book study on Angela Stockman’s new book, The Writing Workshop Teacher’s Guide to Multimodal Composition (grades 6-12) as shown below. Brent will also maintain a chat blog on his Lifting Literacy Website.

To help you keep up with both of these chats as well as reminders of off weeks, we have added a COMING SOON section on our chat blog. Upcoming chats will be added here so that you can plan accordingly (see the top right corner) and we will also continue to advertise new chats on twitter at #G2Great.


With our transformational process in mind, Seth Godin’s words seem fitting.

Over the course of our seven-year history and counting, we have added, deleted modified and questioned many things as a team. The one thing that never changed, however, was our weekly schedule. We feel certain that our EIGHTH anniversary is the right time for this shift to a monthly chat. We are still very committed to our #G2Great chat and to the wonderful educators who join our twitter conversations. We are are not going away but simply continuing one more phase in our ongoing transformational process. We will consistently keep an eye on our #G2great page and respond whether we are holding a chat that week or not. We hope that you’ll continue to share your thinking with us and join future chats in the coming year.

We are so grateful to those of you who have attended our chat and engaged in the conversational twitter style dialogue that has inspired us to continue our #G2Great labor of love. Each chat is created in your honor and we always gain new insight through your eyes. We are excited to explore the 2023 year with each of you who make your way back to our chat and invite your input. We look forward to learning through new conversations in the coming year.

In closing, let’s look at a few tweets shared on our 8th Anniversary chat:

1-5-23 ANNIVERSARY CHAT TWITTER WISDOM LAUNCHING 2023 Professional Transformation: From Possibility to Action

Seven-Year Anniversary: Lifting Our Professional Voices in a Collective Gathering Space

by Mary Howard

You can access our Wakelet chat artifact using this link

When each January arrives to boldly mark the start of a new year, it awakens a sense of eager anticipation for all that stands before us and precious days ahead just waiting to be lived. Like other new years that loom large in our view, 2022 brings promises of hope for what could be at a time when the world has given us challenges like we have never known before. While Covid 19 is not yet in our rearview mirror, a new numerical combination of 2-0-2-2 beckons us to dream of better days ahead.

Your #G2great co-moderators including me, Fran McVeigh, Brent Gilson and Jenn Hayhurst share that same sense of hope and possibility as we enter 2022. But each new year also brings an added meaning to each of us. Every January since 2015 we turn our attention to the chat created on January 8, 2015 with a ten-week study of the book that inspired it: Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters (Heinemann 2012). That ten-week exploration has led us to one joyful knock on the anniversary door after another that inspires us to gaze back across the years and contemplate brave new conversations ahead.

To launch #G2Great Year 7, we celebrated a topic that has been our heart and soul from the beginning: Lifting Our Professional Voices in a Collective Gathering Space. Admittedly, we are selfishly motivated since we personally long for a space where we can think, wonder, and explore alongside dedicated educators. We would love to think that all teachers reside within a schoolwide community of learners, but we know that this is not reality for many educators. Invitational discourse has been the driving force of #G2Great chat since its inception and that vision continues. We embrace collaborative inquiry and have experienced its impact in action each week. We are honored to step into 2022 armed with our own curious wonderings along with those that each of you carry into our chat.

Since we were very intentional about crafting our anniversary chat topic for 2022, I’d like to highlight it from a twitter perspective: Lifting Our Professional Voices in a Collective Gathering Space. In this post, I’ll reflect on what drives our commitment to allocate time and energy for collective professional growth using twitter as our platform and how this can support shared learning and the continued professional growth we all desire.

Acknowledging our Professional WHY

We can’t discuss professional learning and our dedication to lifting our own voices in the company of others without sharing why we made a choice to bring #G2Great chat to life for seven years and counting. As professionals, we are fueled by our desire to deepen our understandings about the teaching/learning process and the research that supports and enriches those understandings. We know that no program or quick fix solution will ever be a worthy substitute for growing knowledge. We have seen blind faith in products lead to dependency as publisher fueled tethers distract our view and blur the lines of our professional responsibility to children. We created #G2Great chat in January of 2015 because we recognize resources with a strong research foundation can support our thinking, but it is flexible professional decision-making grounded in research supported knowledge that matters most. This inspires us to use #G2Great as a social media platform where we can merge our collective voices to build a dual lens of reflective practice through our eyes and yours. Ultimately, we know that our goal is to sharpen our view of thoughtfully responsive instruction.

Priya Parker beautifully illustrated our #G2Great WHY in The Art of Gatherings: How We Meet and Why it Matters. Our commitment to using social media as a gathering space around a particular topic affords opportunities to make sense of our educational world within a learning community. Through the process of lifting our collective voices each week, we put our hopes and dreams on display in fast-paced twitter conversations that can serve to extend and strengthen our beliefs and understandings on invitational thinking playground we created for that purpose.

Expanding our Professional Growth Reach

Seven plus years ago, social media was barely a blip on my priority radar screen, evidenced by the twitter eye rolling reflecting my disdain. But then one day I was invited to lead a twitter chat. After one “No thank you” after another followed by more eye rolling, I reluctantly agreed. As it turns out, this hour chat was life-altering and when Jenn Hayhurst and Amy Brennan invited me create a chat around my book a week later, I didn’t hesitate. A twitter convert suddenly emerged from the ‘not me’ ashes.

What changed? Suddenly, this eye-rolling gal from Oklahoma who spent most of her time alone on the road could engage in professional conversations with educators from all over the world no matter where I happened to find myself. Even after all these years co-moderating #G2Great chat, I still feel a sense of anticipatory elation each time I sit in front of my computer ready to engage in celebratory discourse with new friends and old. The chats we collaborate to create each week are the gentle nudge we need to revisit, reflect, and often revise our thinking and that nudge explodes in technicolor view on Thursday nights at 8:30 ET. I never cease to be amazed by how much I feel supported as a professional during the course of our twitter ponderings alongside others. New acquaintances have blossomed into trusted friendships across the years, and the generosity and dedication of educators has been overwhelming.

An Insider’s Perspective of a Twitter Chat

While I have certainly been twitter blessed over the past seven plus years, this seems like a good time for you to see the impact that our twitter chat is having on other professionals. As you read the inspired tweets from our #G2great chat last night, I hope that it just might entice you to join the conversation.  

I’d like to take a moment to depart from sharing tweet collections and celebrate one new #G2Great friend. This week, fourth grade teacher, Laura Reece, joined us for her first twitter chat. I am still inspired by her enthusiastic joy!

Last night Laura’s enthusiasm was a reminder that if we are going to ask our students to step into discomfort for the sake of learning, we should be willing to do the same. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your belief in your own professional responsibility to your students and sharing your love for teaching with us.

My Final Thoughts

I’m so grateful for the conversations and collaborations I have engaged in over the years. I am so grateful for that memorable day I chose to leave my twitter eye rolling days behind me and venture in to the power potential of the chat conversations we have come to cherish. Yet, I’m always surprised that so many educators have never experienced the gift of passion-fueled twitter dialogue that is only a reach away and accessible twenty-four hours per day.

As I come to the close of this post and the beginning of another year of engaging conversations, I’d like to pause to send a note of appreciation to each of you who join our chat on a regular or occasional basis. YOU inspired us to create #G2Great in January 2015. YOU inspire us to look forward to another year each January since then. YOU are the reason we stepped happily into year seven. YOU heighten our desire to explore the topics, authors, and twitter style discussion that we are grateful to support. All of our planning for each chat is done in YOUR honor because you ARE #G2Great and YOU motivate each of us to imagine new professional conversations as we lift our voices across another year.

Thank you for infusing professional passion into our #G2Great chat.


Just as I have done in each anniversary post in the past, I’d like to share the artifacts that lovingly reside in our  Wakelet home awaiting others to follow across 2022 as well as the 271 blog reflections that extend and support each one. We look forward to adding more as we chat across 2022.

Anniversary Chat Artifacts on Wakelet

1st Anniversary chat

2nd Anniversary chat

3rd Anniversary chat

4th Anniversary chat

5th Anniversary chat

6th Anniversary chat

7th Anniversary chat

Anniversary Literacy Lenses Blog Reflections

Year 1: 1/5/16 (Blog Post launch)

Year 2: 1/5/17 The Gifts of YOU

Year 3: 1/4/18 (Curiosity Crew collaboration)

Year 4: 1/10/19 (Curiosity Crew collaboration)

Year 5: 1/9/20 WHAT IF?

Year 6: 1/7/21 Courageous Conversations

On our 5th anniversary, I wrote a post about the book that launched #G2great and have shared it in every anniversary chat since then: 10 Lessons Teachers Taught Me About Good to Great Teaching by Mary Howard