Wahoo- First Day!

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#sol17- August 8, 2017

Today was our first day of school and knowing this I thought that I would draft my slice last night, but after a busy day of meeting students (the Ice Cream Social is supposed to be a quick event, but somehow always stretches) among other first day prep things I just could not manage it. So here I sit, writing after…

  • arriving at school while it was still dark to have time to calmly start my day (aka write up my schedule, organize all the materials I might need, etc.)
  •  seeing all my grade level colleagues arrive earlier than usual too, so we had time for a quick chat/laugh/check-in (I LOVE our team)
  • meeting and greeting my 17 students (only two of whom are new to the school)
  • teaching morning routines and having our first Morning Meeting (and bam I learned all the names!)
  • remembering how s l o w l y things get done the first few days (weeks?)
  • reading two picture books (The Story of Fish and Snail and School’s First Day of School)
  • jumping on a table (a la Colby Sharp) to proclaim my love for reading
  • learning more about each other and the year ahead we hope for
  • making it to recess and lunch/snack on time
  • losing not a single child in all the confusion of the first day
  • having my first recess duty
  • remembering to send a student down to the nurse at the right time for her blood sugar monitoring
  • sending home the tons of paperwork that the first day entails
  • emailing parents a copy of the welcome email so that they can subscribe to the class blog for announcements
  • updating the blog
  • solving the mystery of why one email bounced back
  • answering the parents who were already scheduling “Getting to Know You” conferences as well as other issues they emailed me about
  • setting up a job chart so that all the unfinished things I had to do today can be shared by the kids tomorrow
  • leaving with a small stack of “All About Me” papers that I will read in a bit
  • ordering pizza for delivery- I think I need it!

 

I have to admit, all things considered, it was a great first day! Phew, now I can relax and sleep soundly tonight.

 

*** A former third grader still slicing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Links to Share This Week- August 6

I decided I would use my blog to collect links to share with colleagues. I feel like I am being a pest when I frequently email people to share so I will collect links once a week, and people can check them out or not.

A fun back to school video (yes, it is an ad, but the teacher has a good message).

A digital magazine for the science minded students (and others too). I love by Jess Keating. Her website is also rich and she has lots of great videos.

Posters, bookmarks, reading lists, etc. that you might want to print by Debbie Ohi. Scroll down a bit.

If you have not listened to Wow in the World yet, here is the link. It is NPR’s first podcast for kids and it is great!

One of my favorite blogs, Two Writing Teachers, is currently running a series on writing workshop.

Looking for even more places to find rich math tasks? This list may help.

A new community blog focused on building relationships in the classroom that I like has a post today on building community in the first few days with some good ideas.

A reminder about the many literacy events you can participate in this year.

I would really like to start a writing group with teachers at my school this year. Writing just because or writing for another purpose. Just writing at the same place and sharing a little. Maybe a weekend morning at Starbucks for an hour?

Do you have recent favorite links you love to share? I’d love to add to my list!

Bugged!

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#sol17- August 1, 2017

Living in the tropics nature and wildlife often take on new definitions. In general, insects seem to be more present and bigger here. There seem to be a few times a year where a few tiny ants make my home theirs. It is a low-level irritation- they stay out of my food and trek back and forth across the white tile floor for a few weeks and then word seems to get out that it is not so interesting in A-15-16 and as stealthily as they appear they are gone.

I was away for 4 weeks this summer and the ants seemed to become more content in the apartment. So far ignoring them is not doing the trick. Neither is the vinegar I keep wiping along the path they take from the front door and along the baseboard in the dining area. I am hesitant to use more serious means, as I have a cat (and although I find one pet quite enough the ants seem to need more convincing).

I have to admit the ants are smart, or at least they communicate amazingly well and just have bad taste. The other day my cat threw up. She does this more than I’d like- seems to be a combination of lots of shedding and a sensitive stomach. Usually, I hurry over to clean up her mess, but this day I wanted to finish my breakfast first. Imagine my horror when I made it over with a paper towel and saw that the ants had bellied up to their own breakfast bar-ugh- and they called in all their long lost relatives!

 

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Sorry- gross to see cat throw up, but focus on the ants! I do not know how they got word so quickly!

 

I cleaned up the mess quickly and that was that. I am still seeing a few ants checking around for treats, but only a few.

I won’t tell you about the visitor I killed yesterday morning in my kitchen, but I am hoping you will tell me it was NOT a cockroach… I am hoping that word gets out in the insect world that this is NOT the place to hang out!

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Please tell me it is not!

 

The Gift of Time

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#sol17- July 25, 2017

This week I am starting to visit my classroom again and I am so happy to have the time to ease in! I am a bit of a stresser and coming in before the teacher inservice days is one way to ease my stress because I feel like I have time without pressure. Some of what I have done I could have done at home (worked on conferring notebooks, creating the document of the covers of all my summer reads to put on my classroom door, etc.). but just by working in the classroom I start to get back into the groove. It also allows me time to catch up with people bit by bit without feeling like there are 101 things I should be doing instead of chatting.

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This morning’s fun included playing with my new Frixion markers and making some charts for my conferring kits. I am NOT neat or artistic, so making anything that people will look at freaks me out, but these fab markers are erasable, which made me so much more relaxed. I actually made a few pages for my kit that I can imagine using. Seriously, these markers are great! I have used the Frixion pens for more than a year, but never thought I needed to try the markers. There is lots of color choice (I bought about 12) and they really erase (admittedly not quite as well on colored paper) well!  I entertained myself by scribbling and erasing for anyone who would listen to me, but really I also got some legit work done, so win-win!

My gift of time also allowed me to stop and notice this beautiful butterfly: IMG_4549.JPG

Tomorrow I will have company because I have invited last year’s class to come in and help me organize the huge classroom library, which accomplishes many things at once- a chance to catch up with those in town, some books will get returned, new books will be shared, and some much needed sorting of books- another gift of time day! Color me happy!

 

***A slice from one of those lovely former third graders, Zhi Hong.

#cyberpd Week 3- Chapters 7 and 8

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Chapter 7- Creating Opportunities for Readers to Interpret

p. 113- “As teachers, however, our goal should be to help students develop coherent interpretations that are personally meaningful and supported by the text.  And to do that, we need a more complex understanding of how writers convey meaning indirectly through patterns that change and break.”

This is something I tried to work on more directly with my students this year as they came up with theories and adjusted as they read further. Using conditional language made it feel safer for them. Revising thinking was important across curriculum areas. The definition of “rich task”- one we discuss often at our school in math, was helpful to me. I could see ways that our school needs to rethink what we are doing with this. Great that it applies across the content areas! I need to do better making student thinking visible more often. I loved the reminder later in the chapter to focus on author’s craft- third graders often put things on the character, rather than the author! The reminder to release responsibility too early was important to me as well.

Chapter 8- Creating Opportunities for Readers to Consider the Implication of Facts

Ack- the shift from knowing to understanding! I know it often surprises/frustrates me when students do not question what they do not understand. I need to model this with students so that they are attuned to thinking about why the facts matter. I also liked Vinton’s differentiation between planned and prepared is something I need to work more on- ugh, so much to balance!

Short reflections today, but still so much for me to absorb!

 

There’s No Place Like “Home”!

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#sol17- July 18, 2017

I have just returned to Malaysia after a few weeks “home” in the US and as usual, I am confused about where home is for me. I do not have a home in the US, so when I visit I am in someone else’s home (in this case I was at my mom’s, my son’s, my sister’s beach house, the TC dorms, and a hotel for #nErDcampMI). I had a great time, but I was definitely ready to be back “home” in Malaysia. It is interesting living away from my “home” country, as I feel like I lose touch with how things work and always have to ask questions that may seem ridiculous to residents. On the other hand, as I have only lived in Malaysia for three years there is much I do not understand about things here.

As I sat in the airport Thursday night waiting for my flight I got a text from my landlord. I was to sign a lease extension by July 25th and she suddenly needed me to sign within 24 hours. There was no way to do it at Logan, so I replied that I would do it upon my return, but that it might be a few days as I do not have a printer at home. She offered to have a hard copy couriered to me, so I assumed a copy would be waiting for me when I returned. After two flights (one long, one shorter) to get back to Malaysia no document was waiting for me, but I was not concerned because really I had until the 25th to meet my obligation.

Monday morning I decided to do something about getting the agreement printed out so that I could sign and return it to the landlord, but where to go? I did not want to go all the way to school, so I checked with a friend for ideas. She said that the mall near her had a printing place, but suggested the mall next door to me might as well. Later, when I went for to Starbucks I asked at the concierge desk. The woman suggested I check with the photo shop. Sure enough, “Here is the email that you need to send the document to,” she answered as if it was a regular practice. One minute later I walked out with my print out.

Afterward, I reflected that I really did choose the perfect apartment location for me. This mall is next door (which sounds weird, to live next to a mall, but there are soooo many malls in KL). The mall is fairly small- 4 floors, with 10-15 shops per floor, but has so much that makes my life easier. In addition to restaurants, places that I  frequent are: the pet store, the grocery store, a money exchange place, a dentist, a hair salon, a fancy massage place, a place to get manicures and pedicures (only pedicures for me), a hardware store and more. There is also a cobbler who cuts keys for about 75 cents. The photo shop has come in handy before for all the various photos I need for visas. There are other shops for clothes, sporting and kitchen goods, and more. There are few of my basic needs that can not be met next door.

As I write this, my cat is curled up in a ball at my side. There really is no place like home, wherever that is at the moment.

 

 

*** Third graders who keep slicing: Zhi Hong 

#cyberpd 2017

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Week 2- Chapters 5 and 6

Chapters 5 and 6
I am in the midst of a crazy busy summer like many of you (and fly back to Malaysia later tonight), so my reflections are based on pictures I took of my scribbles in the book because the book is packed in my suitcase already. I promise to comment on more posts!

I love the way Vinton starts with the chart listing if we believe this, then we must do… I also like the focus on empowering the students and helping them to see reading as pleasure. Work can and should be fun! Vocabulary is an area I struggle with- the majority (by a lot) of my students are English language learners. I loved the idea of having students underline all the words they already know in a passage to show what little is left to attack. The core practice discussions will help me to be even more intentional. I am always on the hunt for efficient ways to capture student thinking and am using audio and video more. I like thinking of reading as problem-based. The resources as examples of texts we could use are helpful- I would love some video clips too. I like how Vinton supports her ideas with “why this work matters” as it gives me a chance to agree or question-based on my own context. Lots to mull over for sure!

 
I am in the midst of a crazy busy summer like many of you (and fly back to Malaysia later tonight), so my reflections are based on pictures I took of my scribbles in the book because the book is packed in my suitcase already. I promise to comment on more posts!

I love the way Vinton starts with the chart listing if we believe this, then we must do… I also like the focus on empowering the students and helping them to see reading as pleasure. Work can and should be fun! Vocabulary is an area I struggle with- the majority (by a lot) of my students are English language learners. I loved the idea of having students underline all the words they already know in a passage to show what little is left to attack. The core practice discussions will help me to be even more intentional. I am always on the hunt for efficient ways to capture student thinking and am using audio and video more. I like thinking of reading as problem-based. The resources as examples of texts we could use is helpful- I would love some video clips too. I like how Vinton supports her ideas with “why this work matters” as it gives me a chance to agree or question based on my own context. Lots to mull over for sure!