#sol17- June 26, 2017
My mother is a 60’s hippie who never got over it, so it figures that I am a bit of a rule follower (although that seems to be only true when it can induce guilt, otherwise I make my own rules). The day before school ended I got a long list of things I should bring to the TC Writing Institute I would be attending a week later, including student writing (for one or more students, both on-demand and published), the Writing Pathways book, and mentor texts I love. I had already sent all my student writing home and because I was going to be traveling for the three weeks after the institute I could not see lugging extra heavy books, so I did what I could. I emailed my third graders to see if anyone would be willing to search through the piles of work I had sent home to pull out their on-demands for me to copy to take. Happily, one student responded and brought his in, so I felt relatively guilt-free just bringing that.
Fast forward to the Institute- we used the Pathways book for a few minutes on Thursday, but there were plenty extras around, so no stress. Friday morning she asked who had brought student work and in my quest to show that I was not completely remiss in following directions I passed my pile forward (#frontrownerd, so I was at the front table). Imagine my excitement when the amazing Mary Ehrenworth proceeded to use my student’s writing to demonstrate how she would use on-demands to notice strengths and possible teaching points. She used think alouds to show us how she looks across genres to see how he did/did not have control of the genre, what level he was performing at, etc. The writing was super strong (he came in strong thanks to his fab second grade teacher) and his work showed great progress across the year. This kid definitely sees himself as a writer and always tries out new strategies learned and self-assesses well. Mary asked to copy his work to use in future workshops (yes!) and even offered that she would love to do a Skype coaching session with him once we are back at school. This young writer will LOVE all this! I saved the notes she made and can not wait to tell him about the coaching session offer. I was already grateful to him for digging out the work and bringing it is on short notice, but now am even more so, as his writing taught me more about being a teacher of writers. I will be able to use Mary’s strategies in the future and happily have his writing to hold on to as a mentor text for future third graders.
I often use the hashtag #kidscanteachus and this was yet another great example. Today I am reminded that teachers are everywhere. I am so grateful for the time I had at TC learning from some of the best in the field and I am happy that my third graders continue to teach me too!
***Third graders who still keep slicing! Zhi Hong
#sol17- June 20, 2017
I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong to New York City on Friday (almost 24 hours of travel time-ugh). Saturday I wandered the city a bit, but on Sunday I had BIG PLANS! On Sunday I got to meet Sally (@SallyDonnelly1) in real life! Sally and I have been virtual colleagues for more than two years (?) and this year, in particular, we shared ideas back and forth and our classes collaborated on several projects (Mock Caldecott, shared Padlets, and more). Sunday she took the train up from the DC area and we spent the whole day together. Last year we had thought about meeting in New York, but the timing just did not work out, but this year, even though she still had a week left to her school year, she left her home early in the morning and took the train up.
We had no set plans but agreed to meet outside of Bank Street Books. Before exploring the bookstore we took a detour for breakfast (Absolute Bagels-bagels are one of the foods I seek out as soon as possible when in the US). We shared a yummy breakfast, explored the bookstore (where she bought a Spot book for a friend as a baby gift- she always gifts books with “Sally” as a character) and I recommended a series to her for her new classroom (Phil Bildner’s Rip and Red). Throughout the day we wandered Central Park, explored the 9/11 Memorial Museum, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, and shared another meal at Shake Shack. We alternated between the personal and the professional- learning more about each other and trading ideas back and forth. It was a wonderful combination of feeling like I was catching up with an old friend, but getting to know her better at the same time.
As we got ready to go our separate ways that evening I felt so satisfied. There are those who think that society is going downhill because people engage online rather than in real life, but to me, the online is merely an extension of real life. Although it is true that there are many people I interact with online that I will never meet in real life it is always rewarding when I do get the opportunity to mesh the two worlds. People are who they are no matter what the “space”. My summers (and workshops I attend) give me the chance to meet people “in real life” that I feel I already know and my week at TC is giving me more scope for that. Now that I know Sally in real life as well I am sure we will continue to collaborate across the miles!
***Third graders who keep slicing include:
#sol17- June 13, 2017
Today is my fourth day of break and I can gradually feel myself beginning to relax. This morning I had promised to go back to school, so I did, but it was an almost surreal experience. We had an “Open Morning” at school and the principal had emailed more than a month ago to see who would be willing to come in to help out. I knew I would still be in town, so it seemed easy to volunteer.
This morning I dug out my id and headed out the door. It felt so funny to be leaving at 9AM. When I go to school it is still dark, so I saw things I never would usually see (including that a mall near school is nearly completed). My ride home from school takes me in another direction, so it has been a long time since I have seen that area in daylight. I felt like I was visiting a whole new place.
I knew it would feel funny to be at school without the students there, but luckily there were a few students there for the second day of the summer program. As I led my tour group around I tended to show them the areas where there were kids, because those were the ones that felt alive. It was strange to show an empty studio (where we have assemblies with more than 500 students), canteen with no food, a silent music room. We found one of the science labs smelling good, as young cooks were at work, a 5th grade classroom hosting second and third grade writers, an early childhood classroom full of students learning about Mexico, with plans for China the next day. It looked almost like the school I know, but not quite! I was lucky enough to see two of my students (weird to say “from last year” when in fact they were part of our class 4 days ago) and check in with them.
The parents I was showing around commented on the resources they saw- how lucky we are to have all those instruments, computers, the pool, and more. They were, of course, correct, but it really felt like they could not come to know our school without seeing it in action on a real school day. Our real resources are our students- lively and lovely- coming from 62 countries around the world. I wondered if they could picture their children learning and laughing there. I wondered what they really saw and heard as we walked around this nearly empty school. I am hoping that the pictures they saw and the questions we answered gave them the information they needed on this quiet “school” day so that they could get a glimpse of the school that I know.
Strange to know that I will not be back to school until near the end of July when I start to ready the class library for a new class (with the help of some wonderful volunteers from my “old” class. Now on to other adventures!
Third graders who still keep slicing! Juliet. (more to follow)
#sol17- June 6, 2017
Ugh, today made it all too real! First thing this morning we sorted through piles of papers and moved them into cubbies for easy access for later sharing (or to take home). Later in the day some of my superstar students stayed in at recess and cleaned and organized- the classroom looked ready. In the afternoon during math, the students designed the games for tomorrow’s Potato Olympics (great way to combine literacy, math, and some engineering, with a lot of fun!). Then we settled in to read a few more chapters of The One and Only Ivan (eek, will we get it all finished?). Parents were peeking in the windows, enjoying seeing their children totally enthralled. Then it was time. We had a farewell party in our third-grade classrooms today- nothing major just a half hour at the end of the day to share snacks, thank our room parents, say goodbye to students moving on, and share a fun time. Not all of the parents were able to attend, and that was fine. What was lovely was that there were several dads there, a grandmother, and a little sister, and everyone had fun together. What I did not like was that I did not get to talk to everyone. Our team had decided that 30 minutes was long enough, but it flew by. After today we have only 2 1/2 days left and although in some ways I am more than ready, in other ways I am getting that melancholy ending feeling- this class has come so far!
We had a farewell party in our third-grade classrooms today- nothing major just a half hour at the end of the day to share snacks, thank our room parents, say goodbye to students moving on, and share a fun time. Not all of the parents were able to attend, and that was fine. What was lovely was that there were several dads there, a grandmother, and a little sister, and everyone had fun together. What I did not like was that I did not get to talk to everyone. Our team had decided that 30 minutes was long enough, but it flew by. After today we have only 2 1/2 days left and although in some ways I am more than ready, in other ways I am getting that melancholy ending feeling- this class has come so far! Tomorrow we will have the last assembly of the year and the third graders will visit fourth grade. There is still so much we are trying to squeeze in as we celebrate our last week together and I am trying to feel ready, but I am not very good at goodbyes. 2 1/2 days to get it all done and of course it will be time for the last bell whether we get it all done or not. Our mantra this week in 3EV is end strong, be proud! I better live it too.
Super grade 3 slicers: Sejin, Zhi Hong, Juliet