Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Are There Books for That? {Slice of Life}

First thing Monday morning four of us gather with a parent in my room to review an IEP up for review.  My mind was reading, processing, and inquiring about a few things.  I thought I was asking some good questions; a little nitty gritty, a bit global, and a bit whole child. Until...

We shared with the parent the next step in reading is going to be reading multisyllabic words but that needs to come up in his systematic phonics small group instruction probably first.  Then our conversation went to a fluency goal which probably needs the work with multi syllable words to happen first to see the goals that are hoped for.  My student's mom asked how she could help him practice this. An intervention teacher said, "We have controlled text passages and I can share them with you."  Her next question is brilliant, "Are there books for that?"  The answer for this was not really.

I was so happy my parent understood books are the best vehicle for reading instruction.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Rules" vs Helping {Slice of Life}

Prologue - Snack is necessary and for the majority of my career I've had families donate bags of snacks and I would quickly pass out the same thing to each student.  My first building did it this way so everyone would have snack.  It was easy to give out and quicker.  My second building had everyone bring their own but I held true to what was comfortable until a few years ago for health reasons within my classroom.  When I made the switch I decided I would not provide any snack, even if students forgot.  

Last Week - It was independent reading time.  The room was quiet and students were reading.  My heart was in turmoil.  He forgot his snack.  Usually that's okay but today I happened to ask if he ate breakfast because he shared he was hungry.  He hadn't eaten breakfast.  I kept thinking about any food I might have to share and realized I had some pretzels in my lunch today.  He left for a restroom break.  I grabbed a brown institutional paper towel and my bag of pretzels.  At his seat, I put a small handful of my pretzels and wrote a note in pencil; I had some pretzels in my lunch today and thought I could share them with you.  Love, Mrs. Robek.  I went to the park bench at the carpet and waited for him to come back.  He read my note and slowly lifted his head searching the room for me.  I motioned a thumbs up and he just beamed ear to ear.  We exchanged smiles and my heart was no longer in turmoil.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Being Out of My Reading Comfort Zone! {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating being out of my reading comfort zone!  I've watched my boys at library check out repeatedly check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants.  I find the hardest thing about working with second grade readers is they become good word decoders but don't stop and think to completely comprehend.  So, I silently cringe when these thicker books go home but then I find peace because they have a desire to check something out from our school library and are motivated to hopefully read it at home and maybe they will get help.  I have Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady from my third grade days and really feel right now for these readers they might be a bit hard.

Last week, as I cringed and couldn't wrestle with peace I asked my school librarian for something like Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants in a graphic novel format but more accessible for my readers.  I tell her I have Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady from my third grade days and really feel right now for these readers they might be a bit hard.  I know they can read the words but I want the comprehension piece of reading easily accessible.  I wanted graphic novels because I thought they might appeal to these readers I kept observing and I thought I might find some with humor along Wimpy Kid and Captain Underderpants.  She took me right over to her graphic novels section, I didn't know our library had one and started rattling off lots of different titles for me to consider.  She was also so proud she left empty space for this section and hopes to grow her collection.  At that the same time, I sent a tweet to Colby Sharp who got right back to me along with a few others to help me find accessible books.

I'm working my way through a dozen books.  I'm learning lots of things about this format for books.  I heard Mary Lee Hahn say once, they are a format and not a genre.  This is not a format I would choose to pick up and read.  My youngest daughter loved Smile but that is the only graphic novel I think we own.  When I was little, I loved the Snoopy cartoon and have some books of Snoopy cartoons I got.  While I'm learning lots about their format, features, and different genres I feel like I'm out of my reading comfort zone.  I feel like I'm going into each book a bit hesitant until I find something that makes me chuckle or comfortable.  Its good to be stretched.  Its good to do something I ask my students to do.  Its good to try.

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Unusual Sighting on my Walk {Slice of Life}

We woke to an icy morning and school is closed but the temperatures are finally above ten degrees so we are out walking.   My four legged furry friend and I are enjoying the white dusting of snow.  We are careful stepping on the icy layer underneath.  He stops along the way to smell things around him.  It feels great to be on our usual path, a mile loop in the neighborhood.  As we approach the pond, all is quiet.  The kids playing hockey yesterday must have realized the ice had started to melt and wouldn't be safe.  I see something out of the corner of my eye.  A creature with tall skinny legs, an oval body, circle head, and a pointy beak.  It's standing on the ice.  At first this image seemed normal but then I remember it's completely the wrong season for what I think is a heron to be standing on the pond.  I can't figure out why he would be there.  Poor thing was all scrunched up.  His habitat was frozen.  He couldn't land smoothly and swim around.  By the time I circled back he was gone from the pond.  Now I wonder why he was there?  Is he injured?  Is he a she?  Can he survive the winter months here?  What I do know is I will be on the look out for this what I think is a heron on future walks this winter. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

One Little Word 2018 {Celebrate this Week}

My One Little Word for 2018 is Hope.  I shared this on Instagram a week ago and didn't know if I was going to write about it publicly even though I love reading everyone's thoughts and reasons.  I always write publicly about my One Little Word and think it helps bring clarity but this year is different.  Then my friend Deb left this comment, "Are you hoping for specific things, Mandy?"  I thought this was a great question from someone who cares and I still wasn't sure how to answer this so it has sat unanswered.

I discovered hope while talking with Ruth at NCTE about The Giving Keys.  She shared her experiences with these necklaces and I confirmed this is something my daughter mentioned she wanted.  One of Ruth's stories was about the word hope.  I had to look up the definition because something about it just felt right.  Hope according to dictionary.com - the feeling that what is wanted can be had or the events will turn out for the best.  That right there filled my heart.

This word reminds me of the year when I chose embrace.  My girls all had some major shifts coming up; college, high school, and middle school.  I knew our family dynamics were going to change and I could saddle up and embrace it or crawl up and worry.  2018 will bring more major shifts to our family and while I will choose to embrace, I will have hope.

Our oldest is in the middle of graduate school interviews and waiting for notification letters about the outcome from her applications.  She could stay close to home at our favorite undergraduate school or she could be out of state.  I have hopes for either outcome.  My middle daughter got accepted to start her freshman year at her number one choice here in state but two hours away.  Different than our first twenty minute experience.  She is eager and ready to follow her dreams so I have some hopes for the next eight months while she is here with us daily when life beyond is exciting.  While I'm excited to have some one on one time my youngest; she's quite worried about not having her sisters close.  I understand; from the minute she was born she's always had them coming and going.

Deb, I do have hopes for specific things.  I love to gather projects and I hope to get things accomplished without buying more.  I hope to sew, to read, to exercise, and work on my health.  When I decided to write today and rekindle this blog I realized it's okay to not take all writing public. I have some very personal reasons for the word hope and I believe readers and writers have moments where personal can be respected and support given without details.  Some stories aren't mine to share.  Social media makes things so easy to share but not all things do need to be shared.  We are safe.  We are healthy and sometimes everyone takes one day at a time and that's where hope comes in - events will turn out for the best.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Uncomfortable {Slice of Life}

I was feeling uncomfortable.  I didn't feel confident.  I was trying but I wasn't sure if I was doing it right.  I watched the instructor.  I tried to follow along.  I started telling myself, I can't statements.  I realized I had to stop that right away and decided to adjust what I was trying.  I focused on my feet and let my arms sometimes join in.  The pace was fast and I wondered why there wasn't more modeling before sending me off to do this on my own but then I realized I wasn't sent off on my own...I "volunteered" to come nobody sent me off.  I also wondered why the routine didn't start small and built on parts to help me remember what to do.  I finally made peace with all of this thinking and thought about all the things I ask of my students in a day.

Being a student in a dance fusion class at my local YMCA made me realize my own students need to feel comfortable to build confidence and a willingness to try.  They need to be able to self adjust a bit for success and work at their own pace a bit.  They show up each day and that's the first step for learning and being a community member.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A student asked...{Slice of Life}

I was in the hallway with lunch buyers while they waited their turn to buy lunch.  I always try to praise them for waiting patiently and quietly because we wait right outside the music room.  I try to encourage them to eat their lunch and visit less.  While we wait small conversations happen.  

Today I was asked, "What's your favorite day of the week?"  I was speechless.  I didn't have an answer.  I know my favorite color, my favorite animal, and favorite book (for that day).  This little girl was waiting for my answer so I asked her what her favorite day was.  She told me Wednesday, very quickly and with confidence.  I wanted to ask why but her neighbor starting sharing his favorite day.  

She was waiting for my answer.  At first I said Monday.  I thought, I like fresh starts.  Then I said Friday and thought I'm tired but love the feeling I made it through the week and have time at home ahead.  Then I said Saturday.  It's a whole day with my family without feeling like I have to get ready for the week ahead.  After all those answers I didn't know if I had a favorite day of the week.  

I went about my lunch duty and the afternoon and thought the question had left me but I drove home thinking about it again.  Right now, Tuesday is my favorite day because I get to connect with friends via Slice of Life.  Do I need a favorite day?  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.