Monthly Archives: May 2016

Ending As We Mean to Carry On


Ending As We Mean to Carry On

Today we have 2 1/2 days left to the school year. Reports have been written, end of year assessments are finished, and so we have the much sought after white space to give students time. The week before last I asked my students to tell me what some things were that they wanted to squeeze into the last few weeks and I used that to frame our last two weeks together. There were a few projects I added to the mix, but for large parts of these last two weeks, the students are setting their own agenda based on the priorities we have set together. These days are filled with “last times”, but I am so glad that we are spending time how we have chosen.

Our schedule has included:

  • making end of year videos to remember our great year
  • making plates to reflect our reading (thanks to Dana and her Nerdy Book Club Post)- we added a scroll to each that was our summer “to be read” list
  • having Potato Olympics (thanks to an idea on the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Facebook page) which combined math, science, writing, and fun
  • making Reading Life presentations (thanks to Michelle Haseltine, a fab teacher who shares lots)
  • making brochures to share with next year’s third graders about third grade
  • some math review
  • passion project time
  • a movie
  • some play time (inspired by our earlier experience with Global School Play Day)
  • more read alouds
  • a last visit to our reading buddies
  • a “Thank-o-Rama
  • a book swap
  • making a summer writing notebook (complete with some ideas for writing)
  • sharing a SQWORL of summer learning ideas
  • and more

We are trying to hold on to these enjoyable experiences even as we notice that time is slipping away. It has been great for students to have these slower paced days as we wind up the school year- it has helped us all feel focused and purposeful as we reflect on the year and set summer learning goals. I love being able to say yes to their ideas. I am going to be a wreck on Friday!

A Princess for an Hour


A Princess for an Hour


I was feeling rather virtuous. Having just bought a set of drawers from a departing colleague to hide in my closet at school (to absorb some of the mess and chaos I seem to create) I was inspired to clean a bit in my classroom. “Two piles a day” is my mantra at this time of year, which really translates to getting two “end of year” jobs done a day. Today was a great day for this- I had a double planning session at the end of the day and for the first time since August no planning that needed doing. I decided to double dip and get my school laptop backed up and updated while I cleaned. Two piles became four and the computer was still updating, so I  decided to sort of clean out the closet where the drawers would go to move the drawers in.


The drawers in my friend’s closet.


 When the computer was finally ready I headed for the door, feeling accomplished. Arriving home I decided to call the hairdresser to make an appointment for a haircut soon. It turns out she was free right then, so I told her I could be there in five minutes (I live next door to the mall where she has a shop. Don’t judge- when I made the decision to not have a car here I needed ready access to lots, plus there are a LOT of malls here).

Five minutes later I was sitting in the chair. They have a custom here of washing your hair in the stylist’s chair. The shampoo woman uses a squirt bottle to wet your hair and lathers you up right there. What follows is a 10-minute combination hair wash and head massage, definitely my favorite part of the whole experience. At the very end, you are brought to a chair by a sink for a final rinse. It is such a relaxing experience, I understand why some of my friends here go to salons just to get their hair washed.

The shampoo woman then brushed my hair, before the stylist joined the party. After about 20 minutes of pinning my hair up, cutting, and checking, again and again, it was time to see if she was happy with her work. “It has to be dry first,” she said. Next up, two women to pin up my hair again and dry it bit by bit. Keep in mind that I NEVER dry my hair. Two women fawning over me, armed with brushes and blow dryers.

After they finished their part, it was time for the stylist to come back. She then spent a further 10 minutes trimming microscopic bits of my hair to make sure she was satisfied. When she thought she was ready, she took off my smock, but then she noticed more errant hair, so it was time for a few more adjustments.

Finally, just over an hour after I walked into the shop I headed for home (remember, only a five-minute walk). The cost for all that luxury- about $25. I definitely felt like I had my Cinderella experience today. I had to do the cleanup at school, but boy, the payoff was great. Now, if I can only line up a string of other luxurious experiences to get me through the rest of the clean up!

Keep on Keeping On #sol May 17, 2106


Keep On Keeping On

At this time of year it is so easy for me to be caught up in the minutiae of the 1001 things I have to get done before the last day of school is here (June 3). Today I appreciated time and community. I had a goal to get through six reading assessments today. In theory, I should have finished these last week, but these kids surprised me and after doing a first round with all of them I found I had to check the next higher level. I told the students my goal and wrote a tally chart on the board, so they could keep an eye on my progress. My normal protocol for when I am conferencing with a child is that they may interrupt me “if there is blood, death, or vomit”, so my students are pretty used to having to get on with some things on their own. During reading time I got through three- all confident at the next higher level. It was so great to have the time to work with them and celebrate their reading successes. One child, in particular, came in August saying, “I do not love reading, my sister does.” He know chooses to read such a wide variety of books and his F & P showed that he has really taken off! During writing time I got through two more, only one left. The students were worried I would not meet my goal, but the last one I had to squeeze in at the start of technology time. We were in the science lab programming Lego Mindstorms as a connection to our space unit, and this poor young man sat patiently with me while he showed his stuff.

We are going to keep our reading community alive right up until the last day of school. In the last few days of the school year we will spend time making summer reading plans, including adding to our “to be read” lists.  We will have a class book swap. We will keep up our daily book talks. We will keep posting IMWAYR Padlets all summer. We will squeeze in as many read alouds as we can. A love of reading will last beyond the school year, but today I appreciated our community of enthusiastic readers and the time to hear from six of them.

Hurry Up/Slow Down

Hurry up to:  Get through all the “end of year” assessments that have to be finished this week, even though we still have 3 weeks of school after this week.

Finish writing reports (edit, revise, proof someone else’s, enter indicators).

Fill out all the end of year checklists.

Slow down to: Share more books!

Allow time for more choice in the last weeks so students are choosing how to apply what they have learned.

Set summer goals and make plans to keep learning and sharing.

Make time for the “lasts” as we close out our year together.

Celebrate our community.

It is definitely the time of year when I feel like I am wearing two watches- one that tells me to hurry, the other reminding me to slow down. I want the end of year to be positive and purposeful, not cranky and frenetic. I can feel the pressure mounting to rush, rush, rush. I have to remember to breathe. Starting now.

Routines or Habits?


SOL- May 3, 2016

Routines or Habits?

Yesterday I pulled out my writing notebook and realized that it has been ignored for weeks! Up until the end of February I was using it fairly often, but then March hit and it was the Slice of Life Challenge, and I have to admit, my drafting was all on my blog. In the daily rush to publish the only other writing I was doing was for my class, so my school writing notebook had fared a little better. Somehow April slipped away and aside for weekly slicing I was not doing much writing- uh oh, a habit broken?

That made me reflect on routines vs habits. Somehow to me routines are what I love, habits are what I resist. I have some routines (I like to go to the bookstore on Sunday mornings whenever possible, I like peanut butter on toast for most breakfasts, I sleep on the right side of the bed, and countless other things). As I struggled in my mind to differentiate between habits and routines I tried to pay more attention to what I did when and how.

Today is Tuesday- as per usual I had my after school activity (habit, routine, or schedule?). After school as I got a ride home I brightened- it was Tuesday- time for my Tuesday treat. Before writing my slice each week it has become my custom (or habit, routine, or schedule) to stop on my way home to pick up sushi for dinner. As I placed my order for one “sushi set” I laughed to myself. About 6 months ago they had changed the menu and sushi set was no longer on the menu. The first time I went to the restaurant after the change I had bemoaned the change to the manager. I almost always ordered the sushi set- a perfect combination platter for someone like me who likes a bit of this and that. She told me she would ask her boss about it. When I returned the next time she gave me the thumbs up- her boss had said she could still make it for me, but it just would not be on the menu. It seems like that was the sign I needed to make the sushi set a regular part of my life. Each Tuesday as I mentally prewrite my slice I have the comfort food I need- a sushi set made just for me! Sadly it seems this part of my life will change in the not so distant future. The sushi place is relocating once their lease is up in August, so next school year I will need to find a new Tuesday treat.

I still have not decided exactly where I draw the line on habits, routines, schedules, or customs, but I do know that somehow in my everchanging life I need some of each of them, yet I need to be open to adaptation. Time to pull out that writing notebook more often too!



Mmm, my sushi set!