Monthly Archives: August 2015

SOL- August 25, 2015 Whir, Zoom, Day 15!

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SOL- August 25, 2015

Whir, Zoom, Day 15

It is hard to believe that today is only the 15th day of the new school year. Today I feel so busy that I am making a list of some of the things going on (in no particular order):

  • Tomorrow night is Open House for parents (hmm, I have not done anything to prepare- thank goodness most of it is done as a team- I appreciate my team so much!).
  • Tomorrow is also Day 2 of our principal selection committee after school (we are Skyping in the short list to whittle it down to 2-3- that means I have to reread resumes and references tonight). I am glad to be able to help make this important decision.
  • Today a colleague and I invited our colleagues to come to a Q & A session about Twitter after school, especially focusing on Twitter Chates, such as TCRWP’s Twitter Fest- it was fun to spread our love of Twitter as ongoing PD.
  • A few of us in each grade are piloting the Teachers College reading and writing units- I LOVE this, but the first time through anything takes a lot of extra time, and this is no exception.
  • We have our grade level performance coming up in four weeks- we got a lot of planning done for it today, but there is more ahead.
  • Two global projects that I like to be involved with are coming up soon and they both take some planning, preparation, and time (International Day of Peace means a song has to be learned and a video made before September 14th and International Dot Day means setting up connections with other classes and figuring out what we will do before September 15th.
  • Then there is all the normal, everyday planning that all teachers do.
  • I am still getting to know the 17 learners in my class and figure out more about what they all need- this takes a lot of time and thought at the start of the year.

This is NOT a complaining list, just a noticing that the year is in full tilt already. When I first started teaching (many years ago) I used to think that there would be a “quiet time” of year. Now I know that so such time exists! In retrospect, that disillusionment was similar to the “I’ll have so much free time” I anticipated as I began my years of being a stay at home mom while my kids were young. It is true some people thrive on being busy I often wonder when is busy too much. I feel like I could be a happy less busy person as well, but then I think of my colleagues who have more demands on their time and energy at home than I do and feel grateful.

As for me, for now, I know that my most important job right now is getting to know my learners. One thing that I have noticed this year more than ever is that my worlds continue to overlap- the writing I do on my blog and in my notebook help inform me as a teacher of third-grade writers, for instance. I love that feeling of being a “double dipper”- in this case doing something for me (blogging) also does something for as a teacher. I guess that is the point of reflection. Taking time to reflect ends up helping me to work smarter (but not necessarily faster!). Reflection also makes me notice all of the things I have to be grateful for- I am lucky to have such a great class this year- it is so fun to learn with them and these early days are so precious.

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SOL- August 18, 2015- How Did That Happen?

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SOL- August 18, 2015

How Did That Happen?

A bit of review…This summer I had 21 glorious days “at home” in Boston. Having such a short time each day was precious. I had not been there for a year and a half. Naturally I wanted to spend most of my time with family, but my family is spread apart. My younger son graduated from university in May and in June began his first career. The trek from Boston to Bentonville, Arkansas was one I was going to make for the first time in order to see him in his new home.

As we planned my trip to Arkansas we organized it all around my son’s new work schedule. I was set to arrive just before he was finished for the day on Friday and then he would drop me off at the airport before going to work on Monday, which meant we could maximize our time together.

Now in all the planning it was clear that my son would pick me up from the airport. He had spent most of his “growing up” years living in Berlin, Germany- a city with a great network of public transportation. His college was in Washington, D.C.- a city with a better than average system (for the US) of public transport. In all this time he had never started driving- there really was no need. Flash forward to the spring of his senior year in university- he had been offered a job following on from a summer internship, so he knew that he would likely end up in Arkansas- the land of virtually no public transportation, so the need to drive became real.

In the spring, in the midst of last semester busyness, my son took driving lessons. He planned to take the test between the end of exams and graduation, with a back up date a few days later. Unfortunately he failed both times, so had to rearrange his short window of time to build in a few more days of practice and an additional test, which he happily passed (only a day before moving to Arkansas).

Before even arriving in Arkansas he had researched used cars and had an idea of what he wanted. He emailed me the details of the car and had a test drive the day after arriving. A few days later the deal was sealed and he began to furnish his apartment and begin his work life.

Less than a month later I was flying in to visit. As I landed I texted my son to let him know that I was there. He texted back that he was just leaving work and would see me in about 15 minutes. As I waited inside for a few minutes, to avoid the sticky heat, I marveled at the idea that my younger son would soon be there to pick me up. Moving outside I scanned the incoming cars looking for my son (I had completely forgotten what his car looked like at this point). Before too long my phone pinged-he was there. I skimmed the curb and saw his car and started to walk toward it as he glided to a stop. As I got closer he got out and told me to put my suitcase in the back and we hugged before getting into the car. I admired the car and remarked on its many features and away we went. He was an okay driver- a bit hesitant at times, but definitely I felt safe, On the way to his apartment I may have been a distraction, gripping thearm rest, braking on my side of the car, flinching occasionally, but as the drive continued I felt myself relaxing. He was a fine driver and all was well- how did this happen? It really was a moment to remember- my younger son picking me up from the airport- a subtle shift in our relationship- we were now even more equal- meeting as adults. The signs have been there for a long time- he was old enough to move to university thousands of miles away, work part-time through college, old enough to vote, and finally graduate. He is a full-fledged adult, and lots of fun to be with, but somehow this first drive together in his first car to his first apartment made it all crystal clear- I am now the mom of two adults- wow!

Next challenge is my older son, who has now decided that he better get his license too.

SOL- August 11, 2015- Creating Writers

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SOL- August 11, 2015

Creating Writers

Just the other day I was trying to build excitement for the official start of writer’s notebooks in third grade. I held up my notebook and talked about how it is just one of several that I own and that I am trying to be better about writing in notebooks because as a teacher of writing I know it helps if I have and share a writing life. I flipped through some pages, sharing that I wrote lists, plans, ideas for future slices, planning for the future, etc.

D. called out, “Read that one- it looks like a poem!”

I responded that yes, I do sometimes write poems in my notebook. I cleared my throat and began to read. Fortunately/unfortunately it was a poem all about a time when I was out walking and was desperate to pee, with nowhere to “go”. This was definitely a model for my students about small moments, writing what you know, and trying out new writing.

We started our new notebooks by brainstorming some topics. Then, I handed out the gold- home writing notebooks. I explained that this notebook was because they get to write each night as well.  After answering many questions about forms of writing and other (non) limits the students tucked them in their folders. This morning the students were soooo excited to share their home writing notebooks as they walked in the door. I got a report from a parent-colleague that her son would not even let her put down her heavy bags of groceries before excitedly sharing his writing and notebook.

I am excited that we are off to such an enthusiastic start.

#pb10for10- Building Community

It is hard to believe it is that time of year again! This year I am not brand new at my school and school started last week, so in planning I knew long ago that my theme for #pb10for10 would be this- building community. Yes, there will be overlap from lists I have made in the past, but that is the thing about favorites- they do many jobs!

In no particular order:

Ralph Tells a Story– It is so obvious that Abby Hanlon gets kids! This want to be writer who thinks he has no stories to tell reminds many students of themselves! It is a funny story that shows the struggles of writing workshop.

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 765654Ish– Doing the best we can each day! It is a good reminder that we are all trying to do our best.

18383325The Most Magnificent Thing– Trying again and again and learning from our first attempts. I especially liked that the one doing all of the tinkering was a girl. The ending surprises my students.

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  1. Counting on Frank– The importance of asking questions and following our passions is reiterated in this book. Frank also quite likes math!

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  1. This Is Sadie- I love this story of a little girl who is the characters in the books she reads. She is great about using her imagination and entertaining herself.
  1. How to Read a Story- As we build our reading community this is a good reminder that stories are often even better when shared. This is a message I think parents need to remember too.

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12448586 Boy + Bot– Friends do not have to be just like you and you have to support your friend in their best way, not yours.

18349884    My Teacher Is a Monster– I love this story of a developing relationship between a teacher and one of her students. The students notice so many details here.

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Each Kindness- This is a rare children’s book that does not end “happily ever after.” The message of considering your actions (living ethically in our school’s SLRs) is powerful!

The Story of Fish and Snail-Being brave and compromising with friends is so important. This is a book I like to read on the first day of school! I loved the discussions we had with this book.

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Eeek- there are so many others that I could have included (Enemy Pie, Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, etc, but 10 it is*!

I would love to read what your favorite community building books are!

*Bonus-The Dot- Making our mark! I will not share this book until International Dot Day, but I could not leave it off. It is one of the ways we expand our community too. I hope you will join in the fun!

SOL- August 4, 2015 First Day of School!

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SOL- August 4, 2015

First Day of School

For a change, I slept last night, the night before the first day of school,

Woke up a bit early, and went to school- so much to do that first morning,

Lovely visitors, children of a colleague- organizing books for me, just before the first day of school,

Meeting the kids, learning the names,

Morning Meeting, how we start to build community,

Reading a book, thinking about being brave, discussing our hopes and dreams for the year,

Sharing ideas, asking questions,

Learning about a love of reading- watching a video (thanks, @colbysharp), then jumping on a desk to proclaim for myself,

Later- at the end of a busy day, saying goodbye,

Realizing it has happened again- so soon- these new little people already finding a place in my heart,

On the first day of school!