Virtual Becoming Reality!


#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:


Zhi Hong 

Winding Down- An Almost Empty School



#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)

Eek, It’s That Time Again!


#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



#sol17- May 30, 2017

We are lucky this year that we have finished our math units before the end of the year. What to do with the “extra time”? We decided to regroup the third graders into 6 groups, based on their most pressing needs. I have the subtraction group. There are always kids who just are not ready for subtraction when it is taught at the start of the year, so I was looking forward to a chance to reteach. We started last week and each day I am focusing on one strategy, with the goal being that they find at least two they really understand. It has been so fun to see the light bulbs go off- so far favorites seem to be the compensation method and decompose and subtract. I bought Heinemann’s Math in Practice mid-year and read the subtraction section to prepare myself. I had never taught the decompose and subtract method by only decomposing the subtrahend- using this method has really helped many students. Today a group of students who were previously a bit insecure with subtraction rocked it! We are keeping the learning going in these last days of school (7 1/2 days left) and it is “making a difference”! Today I am grateful for another chance to teach (and learn)!



***Amazing third graders who keep slicing: Sejin, Juliet, and Zhi Hong!

Time to Breathe


#sol17- May 23, 2017

Today feels like my deadline day, although it is not really. Let me explain…

Grade 3’s report comments are due to our assistant principal on Thursday. On Wednesday during school we have our collaborative team meeting that takes up our whole planning block, so no time there. After school, the math team has our last meeting of the year at a restaurant nearer to home than school, so I will not go back to school to work after. On Thursday during our planning, we have a short meeting before a mandatory assembly for a retiring administrator. After school, we have a farewell party for her, which feels required.

All that means that today feels like the deadline for reports, even though I know I will have snippets of time, maybe, in the following two days. And here’s the other thing- our last day of school is June 9th.

Yesterday I made plans with a colleague to stay late today and slog through. We decided to work, work, work, and then take a quick dinner break as a treat before working some more. Later last night we got an email that our school server would be down for an hour or so from 5:45- ugh, change of plan.

This afternoon we convened for plan b. We decided right after school we would walk to a nearby coffee shop to get some caffeine and a treat to fuel our work, as we needed a walk first. The coffee shop is right near the school but sadly it was closed- maybe forever- it is hard to know, as there was no sign. Unfortunately the only option left was a convenience shop, where we grabbed a cold soda and chips- not really the treat we envisioned, but at least we had something to keep us going.

Today I am grateful to Jamie, for reminding me to breathe! 5:45 was our time to leave and we promised each other we would be productive tonight. So, as I impatiently wait for a taxi in the storm, I tap a few lines on my phone. I have my comments written and proofread, now I just have to cut and paste them into the separate sections of the reports and fill out what feels like 101 indicators for each student. Breathe- it WILL all get done, I remind myself. With any luck by the time I get home the system will be back up and I can make a bit more progress.




*** More from third grade slicers who keep going: Zhi Hong, Sejin

Comfort Foods


#sol17- May 16, 2017

Today I am not feeling well- I have a bad cold that is likely also a sinus infection. I knew I was tired walking in. Combine that with a long music rehearsal (for 6/19 of my class) that was smack in the middle of my writing tie when my students are supposed to be planning for their end of year on-demand writing assessment. Suffice it to say the day was not easy. Although I wanted to curl up into a ball and go to sleep at 3:00 I forced myself to mark a math fact assessment,  clean up a bit, and head to Pilates. We got to class early (a shock if you have read some of my recent posts), I survived all the contortions and calls of “tummy, tummy, tummy,”, so it was time for a treat.

I had to stop at the store for bananas and milk, so I headed to my favorite pizza shop. They were still out of anchovies (it has been weeks since they’ve had them), so I settled on another combination (pepperoni supreme- beef pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes). Heading home with the pizza in hand I knew I was set. My day might have been hard, but my night would be okay with a happy tummy. Pizza is one of those foods that can almost always make me feel better! This started me thinking about comfort foods and wondering what foods bring friends comfort. I know that my next step in my evening is a soothing cup of hot tea- good for my throat and head. Topping it all off with an early night sounds like a recipe for the path to wellness.

*** Third graders who keep slicing: Juliet, Zhi Hong

Getting Stressy


#sol17- May 9, 2017

We have hit that crazy, busy it is not quite the end of semester, but we have to get common assessments, report writing done time of year! It is a domino effect of sprinting to the end of the year and it is never a straight path.

A few weeks ago my son (the one on South Korea) informed me that he would stop here for the weekend on his way to Thailand. He knew it was report writing time, but hoped that I could arrange my work so that I could spend time with him. What mother could resist that?! I started my report writing early and thanks to a few well placed local holidays I was feeling okay with my progress when he arrived Friday evening. My plan was to sneak in work when I could (he has always been a late sleeper, but he told me this is not the case when he travels).

Saturday morning I woke at 5:30 (darn that internal alarm- on school days I get up at 5:15, but really would love to sleep later on weekends) and jumped out of bed to do lesson planning. I worked more efficiently than usual, as I was unsure how much time I would have. To my surprise, I did the bulk of my planning before my son (who I maintain is part vampire due to his sleeping habits) finally got moving. We eventually went out and did some touristy things and had a great day.

Sunday morning, same scenario-5:30 wide awake and I jumped out of bed. This time I decided to work on reports (which I really did not think I would get to during his visit). I managed to write the language arts section for all but one of my students before he was ready to head out the door (truth- we did not get out the door until after 2:00 both days, hence my productivity).

This weekend reminded me of a few things:

  1. Jason’s idea of not sleeping late and mine are different (he will say he was awake, but definitely not ready to go anywhere).
  2. It is better to go into time with him without an agenda- when I have tried to plan ahead in the past I always get frustrated by his lack of timeliness- this time I took it as a gift of time.
  3. If I am up against a deadline I work better- I was more efficient writing and planning this weekend than usual.
  4. I enjoy my sons!
  5. With a weekend visitor and the upcoming weekend being a weekend workshop/pd I have really put myself under pressure to get things done.
  6. I will get it done!

Tomorrow is Wesak (a Buddhist holiday) and my son left yesterday so I will use lots of the day to get math comments written (of course all of these comments will have to be tweaked as common assessments get done in the next week or so). One foot in front of the other after an early night tonight!



*** Some third graders keep slicing! Zhi Hong