Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sweet Smells - Breath Slower {Slice of Life}

I open the back door on a mission to start the grill for dinner and I stop in my tracks.  The sky is blue with bursts of white clouds and sun radiating down on my evening; which is enough to make anyone stop for a moment to enjoy but it's the sweet smell that stops me.  I turn to my right and my lilac blossoms are bursting.  I find such sweet joy in their smell.  It lightens my step.  It makes me breath slower.  However, tonight I realized they do so much more.  They take me back in time.  

I'm standing in Grandma and Grandpa's driveway.  The same smell of sweetness is there.  It's toward the right, down a very small hill.  I can't get there on a direct path because the gardens are there with rows of berry bushes.  I turn my pace into a jog and dodge the garden by turning left, then right, and head straight to the three lilac bushes.  When I get there I take deep big breaths and am in love with their sweet sweet smell.  I believe her flowers were more blue/purple and white.  Quite often we would cut some off the bush/tree and wrap their stems in damp paper towels so I could take them home.  

I return to my current mission and light the grill.  The scent of these lilacs really gave me a mental image of a place.  As I write this post, I'm surprised my grandmother wasn't with me but in reality I would sneak to these lilacs whenever I could to smell them with or without her.  I don't know if I've ever really thought about the scent of something guiding my writing but I'm going to share this idea tomorrow with my writers.  

I wish you could smell these; allowing yourself to stop and breath a little slower.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting our Slice of Life writing community.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I forgot something? {Slice of Life}

"Mrs. Robek, you forgot something."

I kept going with our shared writing experience because I didn't think I was missing anything.  We discuss more ideas for our piece of poetry.  We negotiate the text.  We edit.  We revise.  

"Mrs. Robek, you forgot something."

I need to validate this thought and inquire.  Maybe I did forget something.

"Mrs. Robek, you forgot the punctuation."

"L, poetry doesn't have to have punctuation.

The room erupts.  The room was buzzing with questions, exclamation marks, and puzzlement.  I tried to explain the difference between a sentence and phrase or a list.  Their little faces showed shock and awe and processing.  I can't wait to see how this impacts their poetry writing tomorrow.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life community.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Simple Formative Assessment {Slice of Life}

Me:  What did you learn today doing this investigation?

7 and 17 are both odd
6 and 16 are both even

Me:  What did you learn today doing this investigation?

19 is odd
I actually thought it was even.
I tried 8 + 8 but that was only 16.
With 19, I can't make equal groups.

Impromptu.  Verbal.  Quick.
These are two snippets I wrote down on a post it note today as I conferred with partners after they did an inquiry during math workshop.  They were figuring out if the numbers 1-20 were even or odd.  They built a stick with unifix cubes and then tried to make the longer stick into two equal groups.  They then created a t chart or two circles to place their handmade post it note number cards in the correct spot.  I could easily see if they had the numbers placed in the correct category but I wanted to hear more about their thinking.  

So, I asked a simple impromptu question; What did you learn today doing this investigation?  I'm always interested in the words and verbal responses my students give.  It's much more fun and interesting than a paper/pencil exit ticket.  I was surprised to see my first discussion discovered a pattern and I didn't take them further with this justification but if the ones place number stays the same with the tens place value changing the number will also be odd or even. To continue their sharing; 47 is odd and 86 is even.   My second conference made me aware of a misconception a student had and how he cleared up his own misconception.  

As we walked to outside recess I realized these conversations were quick formative assessments.  Open ended questions that showed me more thinking than three questions asking students to identify odd and even numbers.  This was quick and easy and insightful.  I need to do this more often and possibly consider my students putting their thinking in writing in their math journal to capture more responses and thoughts from everyone.

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

31 Days - Reflection {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

I did it!  

I wanted to jump ship twice and hang up my writing.  I had high hopes for using my notebook daily as I did last year but I didn't make that happen.  I posted much later than I had hoped.   I got caught up that a slice has to come from something on that day specifically but I don't believe it has to.  Maybe I should start collecting small moments now for next year so I can post earlier and I can overcome the day where I wrote about not having anything to write about.  

I did write for 31 days.  I did start a new notebook and captured a few thoughts.  There's potential here.  I enjoyed reading posts by others and often connecting with their small moments.  I did connect with old friends and enjoyed comments from new slicers.  I appreciated everyone who stopped by and scanned or read a post.  I appreciated the comments very much; we all need caring thoughts.  I laughed each time Clare commented about my posting time.  We live in the same time zone but she's convinced we don't.  I worried about a few friends who disappeared during the month and was glad to know things are okay; life just got busy.

I wrote more about my classroom than I usually do here and started off wanting to find the joy some days in this world of education.  I did find joy in education, it's there if we look and accept what we can control and gently shut the door to embrace what brings us joy.  

Thank you for joining me on this journey!  We did it!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Writing Project.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Capturing Words {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

Today I wanted to remember words that were shared with me.  I didn't have to dash out at the end of my day so I pulled out my notebook and wrote down these words.  It felt good to capture words that made me laugh during a conversation that I didn't feel like laughing.  It felt good to capture words I could hold on to and use in the future when working with students.

"Teenagers are like a box of chocolate."

"Sometimes our best friends on the playground, aren't our best friends at the carpet."

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fluency Masters {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

I decided to revisit a Family Math game for the week.  Review is always good and the focus is on fluency with addition facts.  We are suppose to know our addition facts from memory by the end of the year.  I love the game Addition Top It for this but if you grew up when I did you might call this War.  

I begin modeling how to set the game up; removing the face cards, aces are ones, shuffling the deck of cards, and then dividing it in half.  The next step begins the play with both players flipping over a card and the person quickest to add the numbers together keeps the pair.  

Things are going well.  The students are attentive and interested.  My modeling continues with an actual game and a student as my peer.   Suddenly I'm overwhelmed with playing for real.  I don't think I'll be going soft.  No slowing down my pace for a younger opponent.  We model reading fluency through read aloud why not model fact fluency by playing the game for real.  The small crowd gives an ooh and then an ahh.  

I fell asleep on the couch...that's it for today.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Lfie Story Challenge.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DIY with Guidance Tech Support {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

Ugh.  Where did the internet connection go?  I was just in my work email.  I just went through the school district's portal.  My desktop has internet connection but I can't move around with that.  I start doing some self talk - I wish we had technology support right here in the building but we don't.  That went away years ago with budget cuts.  I don't want to take the time to get help but once the students come I can't really spend time on this.  Okay, I better call the help desk.  I don't know the numbers for the help desk and it's probably the only number I dial this way - HELP.  

There she is - friendly Kim.  I don't know how she remains so friendly in a position that has lots of people calling with requests and so few people in this office to do the work.  I actually imagine this department at Central Office in a little tiny space; maybe the size of a master bathroom of a modest sized house.  I think there are 6 people for 23 buildings.  

Kim was glad I did some troubleshooting first.  I shut the laptop down and restarted it.  Still no internet connection.  I give her the asset tag number but she can't swoop in and ghost own my machine to fix it for me.  Then she guides me through what I need to do.  It involved unplugging the wire from my phone and putting it in the back of the laptop.  It then required I go to a couple of screens and try to reestablish the internet connection.  It wouldn't work.  She walked me through again and it did work this time!  I unplug the wire and plug it in to give my phone service.  Before she hangs up she wants to make sure the connection is established and really working.  She asks me to go to any website.  I type in www.amazon.com - yikes, books and prime membership makes a dangerous combination!

I never expected my teaching position would involve technology repair but I'm grateful for friendly Kim who is patient, friendly, and kind - often solving my problems and when she can't she can guide me so I can fix my own problems.  That is a good feeling!

Than you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.