Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seasons and Summer {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating "summer - a time to do things in a different way."  This definition of summer is not my own.  It was in a podcast by Nancy Jane Smith at Happiness Hacks last month and stuck with me.  There are seasons in life.  I wanted to ease into doing summer differently and my family thought differently.  So, 36 hours after school ended we were on vacation doing life differently.  I started thinking about blogging and decided to rest a bit more.  A few months ago I had to take a break, put things on hold, re-prioritze and I hoped there will be a time and place to return.  It's here!  This space is where I write and go public.  This space is where I join communities and hope for feedback to grow as a writer.  This space is low-stakes writing; no editor, no money attached, no deadlines.  I've missed this space that has become a spot to make friends and keep connecting with others who also give writing a try.  Thank you for your support during my different seasons.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

On a Walk... {Slice of Life}

Things she chases or possibly would hunt

mallard ducks
house sparrows

any bird

Things she gravitates towards 


Things I am doing

arm strengthening each walk
heighten awareness to my surroundings
learning - walking in the dark is easier!

We rescued an older puppy at the end of March.  She's been with us five weeks and brings us great joy and some challenges.  Each walk can be an adventure and really easy if no one else is out in the neighborhood.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sad, Reflecting, and Joy {Slice of Life}

Today I was lucky to sit with every child one on one and conduct the DRA - Developmental Reading Assessment.  I felt joy.  I've used this tool for all twenty some years I've been teaching and today I did it with sadness.  These stories, format, and questions have been my guide and friend for getting to know readers and figure out what they need instructionally.  

Today I found myself reflecting in-between meeting with students.  

I was fortunate enough to use the DRA when it was in the "beta" stages in my very first school district.  I was fortunate enough to teach next door to some of the original writers.  I was fortunate enough to use the tool before it was tweaked and refined for mass production.  

I stared at the four titles for level 28 and found myself wondering if the new tool coming offered students book choice.  Choice is important and offers insight about our readers.  I was amazed today when not 1 out of 16 picked the story about peanuts to peanut butter.  I was excited to see what students wanted to read about service animals and picked a nonfiction text over a fictional story.  Then it was interesting to see who wanted to read about a family moving and their pet cat or a skunk who thought she was beautiful.  It was interesting to see gender didn't really play a role in one story over another.  

I love the fluency piece of this assessment.  It's a real story.  It's a reasonable amount of words and a reasonable expectation for my readers.  It eases my mind.  

All of this good thinking was thought with sadness.  My building principal has held strong to using the DRA for years.  I'm not sure why we are changing.  Other buildings in my district have already changed.  It seems a bit odd it's not consistent across the district, maybe they are doing the change for consistency. I appreciated staying with the DRA because I love it.  It's easy to love things we are born and raised on.  It always feels like going home when I pull out my crate.  Maybe this crate is more about doing what's right for students and reminds me of a place and time when things were brighter, maybe easier, and maybe more enjoyable with less stress.  As I did my DRAs today - life did seem easier, more enjoyable and less stressed.  I also decided my crate doesn't have to go anywhere.  I might still need it to double check something next year.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Game Words Offer Power {Slice of Life}

I walk up to the field with our dinner packed, a blanket, and our new seven month old black lab puppy.  The sun is out for a bit and I'm surprised the softball game is going to actually happen.  Several games were cancelled the first week and this is going to be our second game.  I start surveying the field looking for my girl and wondering if she's playing or not.  She's not on the field.  The teams flip who's at bat and I see her with a helmet on.  This will be her first up to bat for the season.  

It goes like this; ball, strike, strike, ball, foul ball, ball, strike.  She "battled" to the end and showed she was thoughtful.  I wish she had gotten on base and hope for another up to bat for her.  It comes again.  I always tune in a little bit more and listen in to the words of encouragement from the team and coaches when my girls have been up to bat.  Today is no exception and I'm thankful I didn't miss these words.  "I believe in you Bridgette."

The whole game stopped in that moment for me.  Those five words have a big message and were simple to say.  I wonder what those five words will bring for her this game?  I wonder if she heard those five words from her coach on the third baseline.  I hope she heard those lines.  We all need to hear those words.  She hit a single, a single, and double that could have been a triple.  Batting takes power.  Maybe those words inspired her power.

As I kept watching the game, I wondered what impact could those words have with the students in my classroom?  I think I need to say those words more often and maybe they will help foster power in my students.  We all need some daily power.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Stitch Fix and Matching Readers to Books {Slice of Life}

Today I received my second Stitch Fix box.  I've heard successful stories from friends and finally decided this winter it might be fun while I waited for spring to arrive to give it a try.  Today I received five items.  I didn't like the dress.  The first top was okay.  The second top I did like very much.  The jeans were so soft but I had similar ones.  The denim jacket was soft and a bit trendy.  

I'm intrigued by the whole process.  I filled out a survey to help my stylist.  We've never met or talked in person and I wonder can they really get all five pieces right for me if we haven't talked in person.  I wonder if they can really get all five pieces right if they've never seen me in person.  There's a descent discount if you purchase all five items.  Both months I've just purchased one because I didn't love it all.  I signed up not knowing if I'd do a second month.  Earlier tonight I thought it would be my last.  After trying on different combinations I realized this might be a bit of a game.  I think I'd name it - Can my stylist get it right?

Then I realized it's a bit like matching readers to books.  I try to get to know my readers and luckily for me I do meet my students in person.  I do a reading survey.  I observe my students.  I confer with my students.  I think I select great books for them individually and in a guided reading group.  However, it doesn't always match up.  What I think is just right for them might not be what they feel is just right.  This is a little bit like my Stitch Fix selections so far.

I find this time of year so intriguing as a reading teacher in second grade.  The students are truly transitional readers.  They are not just reading the words in books. They surprise me constantly with a series or characters they fall in love with.  They surprise me when a genre becomes a focus. They have stronger reader identities which is helping them make independent reading selections that are just right for them.   That just right isn't always what I think is just right and maybe my Stitch Fix shopper is up against some of the same things.  Maybe I can only pick what's just right for me. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this writing community.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Oops {21 of 30 SOLSC}

I knew earlier I wanted to slice.  
I decided to do a few things and it slipped my mind.  
I've never skipped a day but realize that's just fine. 
Sometimes challenges have set backs.
Sometimes challenges need reboots.
I hope to be back later today.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for not only bringing together a community of writers but inviting us to push the pencil daily and nudge our writerly life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Did you order? {20 of 31 SOLSC}

What are you reading and where are you?  Our transition from a reading workshop mini lesson to independent reading guides our sharing circle each day.  I have one reader fixated on the Captain Awesome series who replies with his answer, tossing in the chapter he is on too.  Every time he shares the chapter he is on, I remember the day our reading conference was about the difference between pages and chapters.  He then adds, "Did you order number 9 yet?"  I replied, "no but let's do that today during reading."  Then I realize I purchased 7 and 8, maybe even 6 so maybe I should check the public library.  Together we find a list of books in the series.  He giggles at each upcoming title.  Watching him anticipate the new book coming, giggle, and be interested is pure joy.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for not only bringing together a community of writers but inviting us to push the pencil daily and nudge our writerly life.