Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Literally Lighter {Slice of Life}


Last night I realized, my one little word is going in a direction I didn't plan.  My hand is holding a paint roller and going up and down.  I change directions left and right; usually at an angle.  I'm brightening the white that was previously below the dining room chair rail.  I give the baseboard and the chair rail a coat of brightening white too.  Over the weekend my husband and daughter took the just right shade of red for twenty years and made it North Star.  


My one little word is light.  I'm physically embracing that as we repaint the entire first floor; one room at a time.  I think light has bigger plans for me and if I look for them I'm going to learn and feel more this year.

As I finished painting, I wanted to know what North Star meant.  Maybe my paint color choices have more guidance.  North Star is also referred to as Polaris; the star the entire northern sky circles around.  It's not the brightest star which is often assumed.  It's the 50th brightest star.  I hope my one little word lets me circle around it and find new meanings/guidance all year.  One can easily find the North Star and maybe that's why I made the connection between painting our home lighter and my one little word light.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering the Slice of Life writing community.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Light {One Little Word}


Light is my one little word for 2019 and I've been exploring what it means for me which means I went to dictionary.com for some grounding.  As a noun, LIGHT is something that makes things visible.  As a verb, several phrases for LIGHT called to me; to kindle, ignite, to turn on, to give light to, to cause/brighten, especially with joy.  I always enjoy finding synonyms for my one little word to help me through the year and this year I found; shiny, rich, clear, glowing, bright, sunny, vivid, brilliant, included, and aglow.  

I signed up for one of Ali Edwards classes in 2016 that guides monthly thinking about your one little word and I'm hoping to use that each month to help me stay the course with my one little word thinking.  I just finished reading Die Empty by Todd Henry and there were so many tidbits to ponder and guidance for some things I want to change.  I think 2018 brought new challenges that I embraced and at the same time some of me went into autopilot mode - maybe I drifted for a bit.  I don't like drifting.  I found drifting had feelings of being lost.  I need to reconnect, create, and work on my own wellness.

I've chosen light and hope it becomes a part of each day; physically or emotionally.  I want to take actions/steps to help myself feel and think lighter.  I want to support those I love and spend time with.  Maybe that's making things lighter for them or bringing them some light.    

When I pick a one little word it often has some intentions which help foster the purpose and connection to my one little word.  Ali Edwards had us look at five areas and I'll share just a sneak peak for each one here.

Creative/Work - I want to use what I have.  I am a collector of books and projects.  I need to act and do.  I want to write and share again professionally and personally.

Emotional - recognize, accept, and ride the wave of emotions I have and others close to me.  

Physical - exercise regularly again and try new recipes.  I want to physically reduce and use what we have while taking steps to help save the Earth.

Relationships - embrace, accept, guide gently, and listen.  Spend time in person with others and hold back judgements.  Connect with others in current communities and maybe join some new communities.

Spiritual - This can be summed up quite simply - reconnect and find help navigating day to day life.

Thank you for being part of my journey with LIGHT this year.
Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dear Miss James, {Slice of Life}


Dear Miss James,

Tonight as my college freshman was face timing me and talking about life she told me about a conversation she had with you.  I loved hearing her story with my mama heart and my heart as an educator myself.  She wants to be prepared.  She wants to do well.  She wants to add things to her lists of lists and cross things off. 

She asked you where the materials are to study for her Apparel final exam.  Your reply was, "they are in your head."  I burst out laughing because I know it's not the response she wanted or the response she expected.  She's use to review packets, pages of notes, and study guides; sadly. If our children are learning every day and a final exam is built on that day to day learning; it should be in her head.  Your reply indicates you've taught her to think.  You've taught her to use her experiences to communicate her learning.  I can't wait to hear what your final exam actually is!  

Thank you for teaching her this first semester of college and guiding her to trust her own thinking, learning, and heart.

Fondly,
Mandy Robek


Epilogue - I googled Miss James and found her picture at the Kent State University faculty page for  the Fashion Design college.  I sent the photo to my daughter and asked if this was her teacher and she replied with, "Yeah that's her.  Please don't email her."  She read my mind!  I didn't email her and instead decided to share this slice of life with my teaching friends in hopes you find a nugget for your own.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Some Days my Head Spins...{Slice of Life}


Some days my head spins just thinking about spelling rules and spelling rule breakers.  Today was one of those days.  My class is working with suffixes this week and while looking at ed endings we discovered sometimes adding ed doesn't work.  For example,  ate and ran.  There's excitement when rule breakers are discovered.  As we discuss each rule breaker I can see clarity in their thinking and learning transferred.  Spelling rules seem to make sense for a bit.

Later in the day, I'm working with a reteaching group and our focus is to understand three ways to make the  k sound when we will use each one.  Over a few days we've made progress in knowing when to use a c or k at the beginning of a word.  In helping my reteaching group see it in new ways from the initial learning, I realize how hard it is to for striving word learners to see how the second letter in each word determines the first.  We use a k if the vowel is an e, i, or y.  Which leaves using the c if the vowel is an a, o, or u.  In thinking about when to use ck, students need to realize the word has a short vowel sound and ends with a ck.  Spelling rules are making writing laborious.    

Some days my head spins just thinking about spelling rules and spelling rule breakers.  Every day my head doesn't spin during writing workshop when we are making things and spelling is part of the process; not the focus.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No More Dreading {Slice of Life}


"This is really helping me with my writing!" said the visiting second grade student as we transitioned back to our classrooms in anticipating of packing up and going home for the day.  He wore the biggest smile and melted my heart.  

At the end of the day, I kept replaying this sweet smile, face, and heartfelt thinking.  After four days, I had helped this student.  This conversation is the best form of formative assessment.  A student feels empowered.  A student feels successful.  A student feels his transferring of direct word study help is transferring to his writing.

As I reflected today about this quick exchange, I realized I can no longer dread this chunk of time in my day.  Three days a week our grade level is to provide and plan for an intervention/enrichment block.  Students who receive ELL, multi sensory systematic phonics, and sometimes speech are pulled for services during this block and no new learning is to occur.  Three days a week I'm offering reteaching for students who need support with word study.  My teammate is offering enrichment for students understanding our word study unit focuses.  It can be frustrating at times to lose these minutes with my students.  In the past our plans or ideas were complicated and hard.  We tried to mix up our students across four or five classrooms.  This year we've simplified.  We've focused on what this idea is truly based on; reteaching to offer more time and different ways to see learning and enrichment to stretch our learners who need more than the "program". 

I am grateful for listening closely; for hearing eight little words that turned dread into meaning.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, October 5, 2018

What if? Could it? {Poetry Friday}



What if I could sit here all day?
Could it slow the hustle and bustle?

What if I could watch the grass grow?
Could it make time slow down?

What if I could feel the blue water?
Could it bring my shoulders down?

What if I could paint the clear blue sky?
Could it capture this space in time?

What if I could hold this moment in time?
Could it bring peace within?


I'm working my way through and studying Poems are Teachers How Studying Poetry Strengthen Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.   Each week I will let you know the technique of the week I've played with and a thought or two about the process.  

"Dress-up is a form of what if, as is playing in a blanket fort.  For a child anything is possible.  For a child, the world is full of what if.  As writers, we work to come back to that place."

I was traveling last weekend through New York State and stopped at my favorite rest stop to just see this view.  I had a couple of more hours to travel and didn't want to leave.  I had the first line of this poem right then.  The week got busy and I returned to this moment with a photo and pondered some more.  I love the quote above from Amy about working to find that playful state of what if.  I'm going to revisit this strategy and ponder being a bit more playful.

Thank you Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting Poetry Friday.



Friday, September 21, 2018

More Pandas {Poetry Friday}



in solitary
grunts and barks speak
leave me alone

recent discovery
during
mating season

rapid
pulsating
bleats
1 call - come hither

once endangered
now vulnerable
may there be hope

keep on bleating
keep mating
keep growing



I'm re-continuing my study of the book Poems are Teachers How Studying Poetry Strengthen Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.   Each week I will let you know the technique of the week I've played with and a thought or two about the process.  

"Current news stories might make us angry or sad or joyful, and writing gives us a way to give our feelings and reactions form."  Amy Ludwig Vanderwater


This week was Respond to Current News and I knew right away I was going to have to read some news because it doesn't help my emotions so I often ignore it.  I opened up my NY Times app that Pam Allyn recommended as her favorite and began scrolling down the list of today's articles.  I keep scrolling until I found, Decoding Panda's Come Hither Calls.

As I read the article, I started jotting words used in the article.  I then used my dictionary app to find other words for that word meaning.  Then I began drafting my poem and found I needed to do a little research on the levels of extinction.  I did worry I was giving an account of the information and not sharing a reaction.  I tried to work in my reaction at the end.


      Thank you Erin at The Water's Edge for hosting Poetry Friday this week.