Monthly Archives: May 2019

Missed Opportunities and Poetry


#sol19-May 28, 2019

I am the worst when it comes to fully capturing all the awesome things the students do in our classroom. I wish I was better at photos and video. Today’s missed opportunities included their answer to the question, “What do you like about poetry?” Gah, the sweet answers! “Because I can express my feelings.” “I can write about the same thing in so many different ways.” “I can write about the things I love.” “Last year I usually wrote acrostics, but this year I have been open to new ways to write poetry and I pretty much do not like acrostics anymore because they do not say enough.” “I can experiment with line breaks and totally change the meaning of my poems.” So many more great thoughts! I wish I had recorded them all!

The thing is how can I really document all the wow?! We use Seesaw and it is great- parents get a lot more insight into what their child is doing regularly and we have a poetry share coming up on Thursday. The students have been writing and reading poems for a few weeks now and are excited to share with their parents. Our classroom is pretty well covered with poetry- students have their own poetry notebooks, but some students prefer to draft or publish on loose paper. The carpet is usually where we confer, but when I scan the room I see many conferences going on informally at tables, while students share what they are reading or writing, desperate to share and get feedback. We have tubs of poetry books at the front of the room, so there is a steady stream of students looking for new their next read. Others pull out an iPad to read through the Epic collection I have shared. Two friends are reading aloud quietly, sharing poems for two voices. Another is canvassing the class- she read a poem that included ways to say hello in many languages and now she is out to write her own version using the languages in our classroom. Students walk over to a board to display one of their published poems, but then a quandary- which of their gems will face out? Unfortunately, they have to choose- there is only space for them each to have one- prolific writers are stacking their poems so readers have lots to peruse. Nobody has told them that they have to share their poems, they just want to. M. wrote a poem I have to send to C., who is currently recovering from the flu in the hospital.

Before our time is up we practice our class version of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s I Wish You More. Each student has written a line and we will share with the parents (and our principal who is leaving at the end of the year because N. thinks we should).

Not bad for a group that was not really excited to hear that we were ending the year with a poetry unit. Sigh! How can I capture it all?!

Watching Writers


#sol19- May 21, 2019

“Today, you are going to work on your end of year writing assessment. This is your chance to show your fourth grade teacher what a strong writer you are. You are going to write a small moment narrative. You will have 10 minutes to plan, 45 minutes to write, and then another five minutes to finish revising and editing. It will all be done before recess.  What makes a strong narrative?”

It is that time of year- end of year assessments. Although I feel for my students having to do them (writing, math, and reading) it does give me time to making careful observations. Yesterday was their writing, which happened to be a small moment for the third graders. We are currently in the midst of a poetry unit, so I wondered what their small moment writing would look like. We have not focused on narrative recently, so I was a bit worried- I knew the six who had sliced all April had recent practice, but what I should have considered was all the free choice writing they all have been doing. Every day after lunch we have 10-15 minutes of “quiet time” where they can choose whatever they want to do silently. Every Friday we have “Free Choice Friday” where they can choose their own reading and writing (not having to stick to whatever we are currently studying).

But, wow! After spending a few minutes reviewing what they considered to be the qualities of good narrative writing they were off to plan. Their planning was as unique as they are as writers. I saw timelines, storyboards, webs, and more. I read small moments that had happened as recently as the day before and others from years ago. I saw writers coming together to rehearse ideas. Some writers grabbed a dictionary or thesaurus, others consulted their personal word wall. All wrote for at least 30 minutes (when I think of the first writing of the year when some petered out after about five minutes…). I saw strong leads, paragraphs, dialogue, evidence of revision and editing, endings that left readers thinking, and more. While I have not had time to “check” them against the rubric I have seen all that I really need to- these writers have made so much progress and I could not be more proud of them. They are really living writerly lives and it shows!

A happy teacher here!

Some Rebranding Just Doesn’t Make Sense


#sol19- May 14, 2019

I often see new book covers on old favorites and struggle. I know publishers (I think it is publishers, is that who makes those decisions?) decide that some books will sell better with a new cover. I have the UK and US version of several books, so I know that covers vary from country to country too, even within the same time period.

I guess I have noticed in the past that games are also rebranded from time to time because everyone needs 101 different versions of Monopoly or Uno, right so why not have one based one each new movie?

But this? This is what I saw while shopping on Sunday.


So now I am wondering, is this just for outside the US? Since when has Sorry been rebranded as No Apologies? Clue is now Mystery Game? I know it is Cluedo in the UK, but… Climb & Slide instead of Snakes and Ladders? I just do not understand these changes. Maybe this makes me old fashioned, but I think all the names should go back to their earlier versions. This is rebranding gone wrong and makes me think of all the rebranded trends I have seen in education- sometimes a new name seems to be the only change.

Third Grade Slicers Reflect


#sol19- May 7, 2019

So, May ended last week and on Thursday we had our slicer celebration (optional, like the whole slicing challenge was). Six of the 21 students sliced every day (or very nearly) and they all came to the recess celebration. It was low key- I printed off paper templates of ribbons and suggested the students might want to design their own award and share a favorite slice.

These six students, who do not usually all hang out together had so much fun! We had had optional lunch recess meetings once a week throughout the month and they all had come at least once, but this was especially fun. They proudly wore their “ribbons” and explained them to others as they came in later. They shared their favorite slices, and then they talked about the challenge. After a few minutes, I asked if I could take down their thoughts to help next year’s students be interested in the challenge.

Here is what they said :

V-“It helps you write. Even from slice #1-5, I could see I got better. It helps you see ideas when you are stuck I thought if that day or looked to the past.”

A- “It helps you improve on describing things. It helps you really improve how you write.”

L- “It helps you be creative, It helps you challenge your brain because you see improvement and see others slicing.”

O- “It helps you not put off things. If you have a moment it’s small, but when you write it, it’s huge.”

J- “I sliced every day.”

S- “One time when I didn’t know what to do I wrote about not knowing what to write.”

And you know what is amazing- today, Tuesday, a week later, one of the boys (S) said, “It’s Tuesday and I am going to slice today,” because he knows that Tuesday is my regular slicing day. Sigh! No matter how frustrating the day may have been (and there were moments) I felt that mic drop moment.