Keeping Promises


#sol19- June 11, 2019

It was the last (half) day of school and it felt like the shortest and longest day both at the same time. I had promises to keep, so I made plans. Somehow I lost the plot a bit too early and returned my laptop before morning recess, so that threw off my timing. After assembly, we had about 10 minutes before the last recess of third grade.

“Should we stand on the tables and shout now or wait until just before dismissal?” I asked the students walking back with me.

“Now!” they chorused.

“Yeah, that is what I was thinking too. If anyone gets dismissed early I would hate for them to miss it,” I added.

Word spread as we walked. It was finally time!

Every year for the last five or so years I have shown Colby Sharp’s “I love reading” video on the first day of school. I then start a similar refrain from atop a table in our classroom and shock all my new students.  I do this just before their first recess of third grade because I want them to know right from the start that this is a year of reading. I then always promise them that on the last day of school they will be able to climb up on the tables and shout. This year’s group was impressed on day 1 and told new students as they joined during the year about my rant and promise. So, of course, I kept my promise!

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 5.06.58 PM

Our fab TA took the video to prove it:)

As the morning went on the time seemed to fly. We had to read one more picture book to get our #classroombookaday completed (okay, 180 days of school = 190+ picture books read and a bunch of chapter books too).


But as time continued to go too fast we ran out of time to finish our last chapter book, The Wild Robot.

“You know what I will do, guys? I will read it aloud and post the link on our summer Padlet,” I said. “But there is a lot to read, so I will not do it right away, but will get it done this weekend.”

“Are you sending us the link to the Padlet on Gmail?” they asked.

“I already included the link on my letter to you,” I reminded them. “Sure, I will email you the link too.”

So, what did I do Friday night after a great two hour massage and yummy dinner with a friend? I sat in the quiet of my apartment and read the last 80 pages of the book aloud and posted it in three parts on to our Padlet. I then sent the promised email with the link to the Padlet and went to bed.

From messages on our Padlet I know that at least three students have listened already. I am ever hopeful that this will not be the only story they hear read aloud this summer. I know many borrowed books from our class and school library to read, so there are books nearby. These kids have come so far this year, but now it is time to let them go…

This has been a special year, but summer here we are!


A former student (from two years ago) sharing his slice! I hope to get links to slices from some of this year’s group later:)



Keep On Keeping On


#sol19- June 4, 2019

It is the last week of school and we are tired, but keeping busy! Two weeks ago we wrote a list of all the things we wanted to be sure we did (or did again) before the last day of school, so we are concentrating on that.

Yesterday we had a time to “make” summer notebooks and the writers were soooo excited. We started with a fairly plain notebook, but then added on. I pulled out magazines (to add pictures and words), fancy tape, origami paper, a June/July calendar, a “bingo” sheet of writing ideas, and Kathleen Sokolowski’s QR codes for additional writing ideas. All of the supplies were options- the notebook was theirs to decorate/prepare how they liked. Some students started setting up pages (one divided her pages into “diary” and “free write”, another wrote some notes for a story she wants to write this summer. I knew my TA would have fun making her own writing notebook (her poetry notebook from our recent notebook is still be used) and she did!

I heard from one mom today that her son had proudly shown his notebook last night and had talked about his plans for writing over the break- be still my heart! I know they will not all write, but I always figure it is best to plan for what could be. Today I also shared a Padlet where students can share this summer. We talked about the options within Padlet- they can add pictures, video, and more. It will be a place where students can share writing, books read, adventures they have had and more. Again, fingers crossed they do. Next up… our reading plans! I will MISS this group!

Missed Opportunities and Poetry


#sol19-May 28, 2019

I am the worst when it comes to fully capturing all the awesome things the students do in our classroom. I wish I was better at photos and video. Today’s missed opportunities included their answer to the question, “What do you like about poetry?” Gah, the sweet answers! “Because I can express my feelings.” “I can write about the same thing in so many different ways.” “I can write about the things I love.” “Last year I usually wrote acrostics, but this year I have been open to new ways to write poetry and I pretty much do not like acrostics anymore because they do not say enough.” “I can experiment with line breaks and totally change the meaning of my poems.” So many more great thoughts! I wish I had recorded them all!

The thing is how can I really document all the wow?! We use Seesaw and it is great- parents get a lot more insight into what their child is doing regularly and we have a poetry share coming up on Thursday. The students have been writing and reading poems for a few weeks now and are excited to share with their parents. Our classroom is pretty well covered with poetry- students have their own poetry notebooks, but some students prefer to draft or publish on loose paper. The carpet is usually where we confer, but when I scan the room I see many conferences going on informally at tables, while students share what they are reading or writing, desperate to share and get feedback. We have tubs of poetry books at the front of the room, so there is a steady stream of students looking for new their next read. Others pull out an iPad to read through the Epic collection I have shared. Two friends are reading aloud quietly, sharing poems for two voices. Another is canvassing the class- she read a poem that included ways to say hello in many languages and now she is out to write her own version using the languages in our classroom. Students walk over to a board to display one of their published poems, but then a quandary- which of their gems will face out? Unfortunately, they have to choose- there is only space for them each to have one- prolific writers are stacking their poems so readers have lots to peruse. Nobody has told them that they have to share their poems, they just want to. M. wrote a poem I have to send to C., who is currently recovering from the flu in the hospital.

Before our time is up we practice our class version of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s I Wish You More. Each student has written a line and we will share with the parents (and our principal who is leaving at the end of the year because N. thinks we should).

Not bad for a group that was not really excited to hear that we were ending the year with a poetry unit. Sigh! How can I capture it all?!

Watching Writers


#sol19- May 21, 2019

“Today, you are going to work on your end of year writing assessment. This is your chance to show your fourth grade teacher what a strong writer you are. You are going to write a small moment narrative. You will have 10 minutes to plan, 45 minutes to write, and then another five minutes to finish revising and editing. It will all be done before recess.  What makes a strong narrative?”

It is that time of year- end of year assessments. Although I feel for my students having to do them (writing, math, and reading) it does give me time to making careful observations. Yesterday was their writing, which happened to be a small moment for the third graders. We are currently in the midst of a poetry unit, so I wondered what their small moment writing would look like. We have not focused on narrative recently, so I was a bit worried- I knew the six who had sliced all April had recent practice, but what I should have considered was all the free choice writing they all have been doing. Every day after lunch we have 10-15 minutes of “quiet time” where they can choose whatever they want to do silently. Every Friday we have “Free Choice Friday” where they can choose their own reading and writing (not having to stick to whatever we are currently studying).

But, wow! After spending a few minutes reviewing what they considered to be the qualities of good narrative writing they were off to plan. Their planning was as unique as they are as writers. I saw timelines, storyboards, webs, and more. I read small moments that had happened as recently as the day before and others from years ago. I saw writers coming together to rehearse ideas. Some writers grabbed a dictionary or thesaurus, others consulted their personal word wall. All wrote for at least 30 minutes (when I think of the first writing of the year when some petered out after about five minutes…). I saw strong leads, paragraphs, dialogue, evidence of revision and editing, endings that left readers thinking, and more. While I have not had time to “check” them against the rubric I have seen all that I really need to- these writers have made so much progress and I could not be more proud of them. They are really living writerly lives and it shows!

A happy teacher here!

Some Rebranding Just Doesn’t Make Sense


#sol19- May 14, 2019

I often see new book covers on old favorites and struggle. I know publishers (I think it is publishers, is that who makes those decisions?) decide that some books will sell better with a new cover. I have the UK and US version of several books, so I know that covers vary from country to country too, even within the same time period.

I guess I have noticed in the past that games are also rebranded from time to time because everyone needs 101 different versions of Monopoly or Uno, right so why not have one based one each new movie?

But this? This is what I saw while shopping on Sunday.


So now I am wondering, is this just for outside the US? Since when has Sorry been rebranded as No Apologies? Clue is now Mystery Game? I know it is Cluedo in the UK, but… Climb & Slide instead of Snakes and Ladders? I just do not understand these changes. Maybe this makes me old fashioned, but I think all the names should go back to their earlier versions. This is rebranding gone wrong and makes me think of all the rebranded trends I have seen in education- sometimes a new name seems to be the only change.

Third Grade Slicers Reflect


#sol19- May 7, 2019

So, May ended last week and on Thursday we had our slicer celebration (optional, like the whole slicing challenge was). Six of the 21 students sliced every day (or very nearly) and they all came to the recess celebration. It was low key- I printed off paper templates of ribbons and suggested the students might want to design their own award and share a favorite slice.

These six students, who do not usually all hang out together had so much fun! We had had optional lunch recess meetings once a week throughout the month and they all had come at least once, but this was especially fun. They proudly wore their “ribbons” and explained them to others as they came in later. They shared their favorite slices, and then they talked about the challenge. After a few minutes, I asked if I could take down their thoughts to help next year’s students be interested in the challenge.

Here is what they said :

V-“It helps you write. Even from slice #1-5, I could see I got better. It helps you see ideas when you are stuck I thought if that day or looked to the past.”

A- “It helps you improve on describing things. It helps you really improve how you write.”

L- “It helps you be creative, It helps you challenge your brain because you see improvement and see others slicing.”

O- “It helps you not put off things. If you have a moment it’s small, but when you write it, it’s huge.”

J- “I sliced every day.”

S- “One time when I didn’t know what to do I wrote about not knowing what to write.”

And you know what is amazing- today, Tuesday, a week later, one of the boys (S) said, “It’s Tuesday and I am going to slice today,” because he knows that Tuesday is my regular slicing day. Sigh! No matter how frustrating the day may have been (and there were moments) I felt that mic drop moment.





SLCs Were a Great Success


#sol19- April 30, 2019

Last week was a crazy week, what with just getting back from break, but there were several highlights. Last week we got to celebrate one of my favorite days of the year- Student Led Conferences. I think this was my seventeenth year being a part of SLcs, but for some of my students, it was their first. We had started talking about it before the break and each student had a draft of their agenda. We were actually asking a lot of them- in just 30 minutes we wanted them to share some new work on concepts, knowledge, skills, the learner profile, and action they were committed to.  They had to choose work that was representative of all the curriculum areas but could decide what went where and how. Somehow, as it alwasy does, it felt a bit hard, a bit too rushed, but then came Wednesday…

Those kids rocked it! They gleefully led their parents through their agendas, shared important goals and progress, flipped back and forth among different languages (conferences are always in the language they speak at home, so I heard English, Khmer, Chinese, German, Spanish, Korean, and more being spoken).

One highlight was a family Facetiming in mom to the conference. We did that at the three-way conference back in October too, so the precedent had been set. It is such a lovely hubbub of activity that it was no problem having four or five families in the room at one time. Running late? no problem- there were always others in the room anyway. Some students took a full hour, rather than their allotted 30 minutes, but the grins on their faces and the nonstop enthusiasm made the time fly!

Here was our “agenda” that they individualized.

Copy of G3 SLC 2019

Here are a few pictures:

The day made me fall even more in love with the students- they are teaching me every day and definitely embodying all that the IB aims for in the PYP. Being me I am already thinking ahead to next year and have solicited (and will continue to) feedback from students and parents about how it all went from their perspectives, but from my seat in the corner-it was all a bit magical. I was so proud of these kiddos! The sad thing is that SLCs always are a reminder that we are now in the fourth quarter and we have only a short time together left, but I am trying not to focus on that now.