Monthly Archives: March 2018

Reflections on the Challenge- Year 4


#sol18- March 31, 2018 Day 31 of 31

  1. I am already looking forward to introducing the challenge to new colleagues at my next school
  2. I was disappointed that more of my students did not participate- a few did, but none every day (although two students from last year sliced stronger than ever)
  3. There is never enough time in the day
  4. My slices were shorter this year
  5. I never used any ideas from my idea list (which I did not even create before the month started- least prep ever)
  6. This is the second year I have meant to attend Leigh Ann’s “party” and didn’t make it
  7. I am happy that more teachers from my school sliced themselves this year
  8. I am happy that more students at our school were invited to participate this year
  9. I still never manage to draft ahead
  10. Some days I had lots of ideas, but I never used those extra ideas on another day
  11. I loved the variety of slices I read
  12. I never had as much time as I wanted to comment
  13. Having a school break during the challenge makes my topic choice more varied, but poses other challenges
  14. I felt proud when my 7PM writing reminder alarm went off and I was already writing
  15. There are a lot of amazing writers in this community
  16. Some days were harder to write than others
  17. I almost never knew what I was going to write before sitting down
  18. I always wrote at night (and I am NOT a night owl, just not willing to get up before 5AM)
  19. Most of my slices were “traditional” (not poems or other formats)
  20. I missed doing the Welcome Wagon (maybe next year)
  21. I usually sliced before commenting
  22. I was thrilled when Kathleen changed her commenting settings so I could comment on her posts more easily
  23. I love some people’s blog theme and may change mine-still happy with WordPress
  24. I may have to finally pay for WordPress because I wanted to add audio and video to a few posts
  25. I should include more pictures
  26. I want to join a writing group
  27. I never wrote fiction
  28. I should start using labels/tags now that I have so many posts
  29. I will probably struggle to find an idea for Tuesday
  30. I showed up every day
  31. I can’t believe it is over

Feeding My Teacher Heart


#sol18- March 30, 2018

There are some who might not choose to use half of their March break on PD, but then there are those of us who do:)

Today was started off with a fabulous keynote by Pernille Ripp. If you have not heard her speak you are missing something special. I have followed her on Twitter and via her blog for years and first had the pleasure of meeting her at NerdCampMI a few years ago. She is one smart cookie and I find that she inspires me to turn around the next day and try to be a better teacher for my students. Her no-nonsense way of stating her opinions, explaining her philosophies, and advocating for whats best for students had me smiling and nodding throughout.

I fangirl stalked her the rest of the day- attending her sessions on Passionate Readers, Passionate Writers, and Global Connections. She reminded us of the importance of community, of asking the kids for feedback on our teaching (she says we have the best pd in our classroom every day, so we should make use of this and ask students for their input more often), we have to share our “hard times” as a reader and writer more purposefully, and so much more. I love her honesty as she shares the things she used to do that now she has reconsidered. I enjoy how she sprinkles in research and cites her sources and always has some books to recommend. IMG_7090.JPG

I am grateful to have had the day learning from Pernille once again that I can be a better teacher with resources like her to support me- the perfect boost as we begin the fourth quarter on Monday.

As an aside, Pernille is also an exceptionally generous person and carried three professional books for me from the US that I can’t wait to read (Patterns of Power, which I have read and needed to own, in addition to Kids 1st From Day 1 and Poems Are Teachers)- more fuel for my teacher heart.




The Important Thing About PD


#sol18 March 29, 2018 Day 29 of 31

A little context: I am at EARCOS, a large, regional teacher’s conference and happy to be enjoying some PD during break (really, I am glad it is happening while I do not have to write sub plans). It is a great chance to connect with colleagues, meet some people I follow on Twitter, and learn from some of the speakers. Day 1 ends with an evening reception (still to come), but I was in a session about using picture books to inspire some poetry this morning and drafted this based on The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown and decided this could be my slice:

The important thing about PD is that it helps you to grow,

It should be differentiated,

It reaffirms or brings about common understandings,

It gives energy when done right,

But the important thing about PD is that it helps you to grow.


Looking forward to two more days of learning.

Internet Woes #sol18 March 28, 2018 Day 28 of 31

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI know this is really minor in the big picture, but traveling makes some things an issue that are not even considerations at other times. I sometimes complain about my internet at home, but traveling and expecting WiFi brings on new levels of frustration. I suspect I inadvertently messed with settings at one point on my phone and computer because I usually have more trouble connecting than whoever I am traveling with. In general, I would have more of a “who cares” attitude, but March stresses me out, between making sure to blog daily, link my post, comment on at least three other slices, link any student posts, well internet access is key.

Nonetheless, here I am, settled in my new hotel room poking out a slice on my phone, because I have not yet managed to get my computer connected to the free WiFi… I know, I should stop complaining and go explore Bangkok. Problem minimized, by delaying the issue:)


I Blame My Mother


#sol18- March 27, 2018

Today half of our group of four moved on- Linnea and Maggie boarded a plane to Bangkok for the preconference- Heidi and I had one more day!

My “treatment” of the day was different thanks to Heidi’s suggestion. She said that after so many days of sun and sand our bodies might need a “refresh”, so we reserved an hour long “Sensational Salt Scrub”. I have only had a foot scrub before, so this was guaranteed to be a whole new experience. I am all about trying new things. The brochure said, “Using sea salt as a base, this highly effective body scrub leaves your skin instantly softer and smoother. Ylang ylang and jasmine essential oil combine to create a romantic, calm and uplifting feeling.” It all sounded good (although the romance improbable).

This week through our “special discount” massages Heidi and I have seen more of each other’s bodies than would normally be expected amongst friends, but the spa staff had no such worries. We were shuttled into a small changing room to undress except for disposable black tiny somewhat stretchy boy shorts. Once on my table the wonderful therapist began her work. I was scrubbed from top to bottom, front side and back a body part at a time, while the rest of me waited underneath a light cloth. Heidi finished a minute before me and was sent to the shower in the changing room and told to put on new disposable underwear after showering. I waited outside the shower for Heidi to finish, then took my turn.

It felt great, really relaxing. Then I was back on the table and slathered gently with thick lotion. Some tiger balm was massaged into my neck, I was bent and stretched a bit, and then sent back to the changing room to dress again.

It was a blissful experience (aside from the hilarity in the changing room), trying to figure out what was expected of us before, midway through, and at the end. Turns out I would happily have a body scrub again, even though I would prefer a room to myself next time.

So, three massages and a body scrub in my four full days in Khao Lak- I blame my hedonistic mom for my early taste for massage. She used to ask my sister and I to massage her back after a long day’s work and then we got our (much shorter) turn. She progressed to professional massages and much later in life I found out I liked them too. In Berlin I was lucky to have a great place on my street and that special treat has become a much more regular habit now that I live in Asia where massage is much cheaper and more accessible (and common practice for many people).

Not a bad way to refresh after all of the beach and pool time and prepare for the teacher conference ahead (spoiler alert- it is off to Bangkok for that tomorrow, so I expect there will be more massages in my future, including my quest to visit the training school at Wat Po).

Another Day in Paradise


#sol18- March 26, 2018 Day 26 of 31

It was another quiet day here- the big excitement was when a monitor lizard took a shortcut through the pool. Monitor lizards are gross (to me), but do draw attention. This guy walked up the concrete path with determination and did not hesitate to slide into the pool, swim across, and emerge on the other side before ducking under a sunbed and then disappearing through the fence. Aside from a few people jumping up to take pictures or video it did not disturb the peace at all. IMG_7026

Today was a day full of reading and relaxation (yes, I had another massage)- I could get used to this! One more day and I head to part two of break (a regional teacher conference).


A Perfect Afternoon

#sol18- March 25, 2018 Day 25 of 31

Spring Break, I love you! Today was day 2 of my time in Khao Lak and my second massage achieved. There is nothing that says instant relaxation like massage to me and a massage in a lovely spa after a morning at the pool- nearly perfect. An hour and a half later I emerged totally relaxed and perfectly happy to sign up for the following two days as well.

Ode to Thai Food


#sol18- March 24, 2018 Day 24 of 31

We arrived in Khao Lak last night and I am already busy working my way through my favorite Thai dishes. Lunch was Pad Thai (or Phad Thai), probably the first Thai food that I ever ate (and I have to admit perhaps the most delicious Pad Thai I ever had was at a favorite restaurant in Berlin, Germany oddly enough). The hotel we are staying at has a restaurant overlooking the beach, so a perfect setting and a decent meal.

We walked into town (a 15 minute walk they said, but I think it was longer). After checking out the Moo Moo Cabaret Club for a “lady boy show” we wandered the night market and ended up at Siam Restaurant. After looking over the menu I settled on a new favorite – massaman curry with chicken. I usually opt for green curry but was recently introduced to this less common curry and I love it. Tonight’s version was spicy and delicious. Our dinner was disrupted by the restaurant cat catching a gecko and nibbling off its tail before letting it go- yuck! We were tired so took a taxi back- a great first day of eating my way through yummy Thai food (and the great news is I have another week to go).

A Reading Celebration


#sol18- March 22, 2018

Today was officially the last day of our Character Book Club reading unit (only two more books to be returned- hoping they come in tomorrow- reminder emails just sent). The TC unit recommends a celebration that consists of the students creating book lists (in the style of “If you liked Judy Moody you might like…”). This makes sense because part of the unit focuses on identifying similarities between characters, their traits, problems, and reactions, among other things. We brainstormed ideas for titles for book lists and then they were off. They could work alone or with a partner, on paper or digitally. They could add any book they had ever read to their list.

After about 20 minutes of work time, many lists were completed, while others need a little more time. The lists were as varied as the students and ranged from “If You Like Picture Books with Great Pictures You Should Try…” to “If You Are Hungry Read…” to “If You Get in a Bit of Trouble You Might Like” and more.

I promised my students that these lists would go in the school library, our class library, and could be used by future third graders too. It was fun to watch the diversity of their reading interests portrayed on the lists and already they were crowding around the lists looking for ideas.  A perfect end to a busy day!