Monthly Archives: April 2019

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.

Sometimes I Go a Little Overboard


#sol19- April 23, 2019

Sometimes I go a little overboard- it is hard for me to walk by a bookstore and not buy at least one book. I blame it on location- I do not live in an English speaking country, so my reader’s heart is never satisfied (okay, maybe it wouldn’t be even if I lived in an English speaking country, I do have a book addiction).

Recently it was decided that our elementary leadership team was ready to do another book study and someone (thanks, Sandy) suggested Being the Change. I was tasked with seeing if we could get 8 books in a reasonable time. After some to and fro with Heinemann I learned that they ship overseas pretty quickly and not tooooooo expensively. That should have set off alarm bells- professional books are always hard to order while overseas. In my last location, the local bookstore regularly accepted my orders of professional books only to cancel them a few weeks later. As a result, lots of my pd book buying has been limited to summers, but now…

The order came in quickly (ordered March 19, received a week later)- wahoo! I have already read the books (thanks to #cyberpd last summer), but am enjoying my reread with the team. But, then I realized I could feed my thirst for more pd books…

So April 8 I put in another order. Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 6.05.20 PM

Meantime it was Khmer New Year break for a week beginning April 12 and I had heard that nothing would happen in Cambodia for that week. I worried because a friend in China had told me a story of her wayward package going missing over a break, uh oh.

But then, while on break,  a week later Colby Sharp announced his next book club choice and I had to squeeze in another order. It would be silly to order We Got This only, so I added on another…Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 6.05.52 PM

Imagine my excitement when yesterday before lunch I received an email saying “Your packages are in reception.” Packages? I had been tracking both shipments and the first had been in Phnom Penh for 6 days already, so I was worried it might have been sent back and the other one was not due until the next day. I toddled off to pick them up and sure enough-two packages! Inquiry Illuminated was not yet sent because the order shipped before it was published- maybe I should have waited a few days for that second order.

My friend who coveted my copy of Being the Change now has her own copy, and me… I started reading all of the other books already last night! I know I will have to slow down and savor them one by one, but … my pd reading heart is happy for the moment. (Side note: I contacted Heinemann to see when the last book will be shipped and it should be any day now). Some people share pictures of their pets or children- I *may* have sent a picture of my book stack to a few friends.

Ah, well, that should keep me busy until I go to the US in mid-June… I wonder if I will already own the book that will be the #cyberpd choice for the summer?!



A former student loves sharing his slice each week.

The Break I Need


#sol19- April 16, 2019

I procrastinated planning my Spring Break for several reasons, but part of it was inertia. I finally decided to go to Bali, but then I had other dilemmas-for how long? Where to stay? etc.

In the end, I decided to make myself a list- I LOVE lists (and yes, I sometimes add things to a list after having done them just so I can check them off), as I tend to get things done when they are on a list.

My list revealed that my only goals were to read and get some report writing done. That made my planning easier. I decided to give myself “cushion time” on either end of my trip away, where I could get school stuff done if it did not happen while away. With that decision made I then realized that I did not need much of a location- all that I really wanted to do was read, LOTS! Five days in the forest in Ubud would be perfect- I did not need a beach or fancy. It was my chance to read in nature-ahhh!

So far I can report I have walked through the city (I decided I better do that on day one in case I did not get to it later) and finished three books. Today’s plan-nothing! I was determined to be lazy.

I ambled to breakfast and then came back to my room to read on the patio. Just before going outside I saw a monkey out the window, but was too slow to get a picture. I am enjoying the compnay of many birds, butterflies, lizards, and more. I have had several human visitors too- a man dropped off an announcement about traffic issues in town the next few days, due to an upcoming royal cremation and the election. Another man swept the pathways. A woman brought a floral arrangement to the altar outside my window. I read Stella Diaz Has Something to Say. It was recently announced as next year’s early elementary Global Read Aloud choice and I wanted to see if I could read it with next year’s class-the answer is yes! Always over ambitious I have also read the first four chapters of Mathematical Mindsets (a book I read quickly when it came out, but will now read more slowly as I am taking an online course that uses the text) and I am currently listening to Dare to Lead while sitting on my patio enjoying an afternoon rain shower.

After creating a list of break goals (after all it is now day 4 of 9 and I can feel it slipping away) I think it is time for a walk- yesterday’s sunburn has mellowed and it is late enough in the day that the sun is gentler. A leisurely stroll to town is up next… I can feel my energy returning.

Quiet Time=Action Time


#sol19-April 9, 2019

As the students dribble in after lunch recess an aura of peace and calm follows them. Without any discussion, they pull out what they need- and find where they want to be. Time passes too quickly and when after 15 minutes I called them back together the groan was audible.

I have discovered a little time of wonder each school day. Last year, my friend attended a Responsive Classroom workshop. Although I have used many of the ideas from Responsive Classroom for years I have never been trained, so I was eager to hear her takeaways. “I am starting Quiet Time,” she said and then she explained it. Turns out it was just what the class needed.

This year I introduced Quiet Time right at the start of the year and it has been a time the students count on.

Today looked like this:

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When I looked at it like this what I saw was action. Action is one of those educational words that has taken on new meaning. My school discusses it here. Today I saw choice and independence. Usually, electronics are not allowed, but as students are blogging, exceptions are made. Some students were writing or posting their slices (it is the slice of life challenge for students and it is optional in our class, so they have to find their own time to do this- some write during Quiet Time, others write at home and post then). Some were writing comics with a friend, finishing work, or reading. Others were creating games. Some doodling was definitely going on.

They were all fully immersed in whatever they chose and it is in these moments that I marvel at how far they have come. Earlier in the year, they had to build up their stamina to work independently for the full time and I spent a lot of time reminding students about the “quiet” part. We created a chart for Quiet Time activities (never consulted anymore- they all have too many ideas) and sometimes had to cut it short when it got too loud.

While it can sometimes feel like I do not have time for this I have found that the transition time means the rest of the afternoon is so much more productive.

We are preparing for student led conferences and I know that as students sift through their work and consider what they want to share, Quiet Time will play an active part. I know how important it is for students to have choice and this is by now a non-negotiable.



A former student slicing too.