Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Slice of Life - An Open Letter to Honda

Dear Honda,

I didn't always think I would love your Odyssey minivan.  I actually wasn't thrilled to buy my first Honda Odyssey minivan.  I was nauseous and outgrowing your lovely Accord station wagon as we expected our third baby.  I thought this was going to be a short term relationship on that cold winter day 13 years ago.  Our relationship is anything but short term and I should probably confess more about our relationship.  My husband works for you and we moved to the Midwest to work for you.  So, our relationship started long before the day we bought our first Honda Odyssey minivan, it began in August of 1992.  Let's get back to the current status of our relationship.

Over the years, we've been blessed to lease company cars for two years.  I am currently driving my 5 minivan.  I've driven midline models and top of the line models.  I think I fell in love with you when the sliding doors became an option and I could have them open with groceries and three kids in tow or the many bags I carry out of my classroom each night.  I not only love you for these features but driving a minivan has come in handy when I was the traveling soccer mom doing the carpool thing or going camping with Girl Scouts.  What's been more enjoyable is driving a Honda Odyssey minivan when the grandparents visit and we can all go places in one car very comfortably or the long drives for family vacations with beach gear and dogs in tow.  Falling in love again can be a good thing and happened with the vacuum in my current minivan.  

I have to confess though with all this love and our relationship going way beyond short-term status, I am quite sad about the current color options and I just want to make a recommendation to your company.  If you want to see a revival of the minivan love for others - then why not offer some colors  that are softer, lighter, less dreary?  I don't think a shocking color is the color for your target audience but Moms with three kids still have minivan needs without looking dreary.  They need to move things back and forth to college, they still have groups of kids to drive around, vacations to take and grandparents who visit.  They might even want to drive around a carload of girlfriends for FUN!

So, Dear Honda - please consider just looking at your color options from your Pilot line and brightening up the image of your fantastic Honda Odyssey or even bring back one or two from pervious years; light blue, cashmere, a hint of green would just be nice.

Thank you and if you really want to rock the minivan world, what about a convertible?  A del Sol Super Sized.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Slice of Life - Did I hear her right?

She asked me to read her paper when I got home from parent teacher conferences.  This was her second attempt on the project and a much better version.  We make a few adjustments.  We have a few questions for her teacher and I purposefully created these questions so she had to ask for help and clarification.  We are getting near the end of her piece and I'm starting to feel how tired I really am from the day when I'm not sure I heard her right.

"Under-case the word Cinema."

I know I turned and looked quite puzzled.  I wasn't sure I heard her just right.  I questioned what that meant.  She looked at me as if I wasn't listening.  Her expression made me stop and think I should understand the word under-case.  But I didn't understand so I asked again for clarification.

"You know, make the c smaller."  

I burst out laughing and we had fun talking about uppercase and lowercase.  It's always interesting to hear how students or your own children create phrases to explain what they need.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Slice of Life - Slowing Down

Finished the unit, moving on and launch the Unit 6 Week 1 Day 1.  That was Monday early afternoon word study until my students went to lunch and recess.  Mondays are great, I get an hour of no duties and meetings.  Quiet promotes reflection and barely obtainable in an elementary school.  My reflections kept circling around the suggested resources guidance of 80% scores on post assessments are considered mastery of a unit.  Half of my students just missed it.  There was overall improvement but we didn't meet that expectation.  

Then my reflection went to the unit itself.  In this unit we were to work on combining syllables to form multisyllabic words.  A further description is two closed syllables together which is really code for compound words.  If there are three consonants together, the blend usually goes with the second syllable to divide the word, like children.  The students were introduced to more suffixes; full, meant, it, ness, less, able, and en.  We introduced the sounds of au and aw while reviewing previous suffixes and some other various sound groups along the way.  We also had 6 tricky sight words to learn, which we did.

I've been asked/told to use this resource.  I know the creator put a lot of thought into it.  It's a spin off of an individualized program for word study and I'm really thinking taking something individualized and smashing more together for a whole classroom setting isn't the best idea.  These are a lot of concepts for you average seven year old to wrestle with.  So, we are jumping off the Unit 6 Week 1 Day 1 bandwagon and spending more time with spelling multi-syllable words to breathe and enjoy words.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Celebrate this Week - Finding Joy

This week I celebrate it's finding joy for students and myself.

While reading an On Demand Narrative Piece I discovered Family Math is having a positive impact on students and families during a sister's birthday.  A win - win for everyone and my heart is full.  What we do matters.  Students are finding joy and choosing to do math for fun.  Learning should be fun.

"We got board of t.v. so we played my family math game!  It was very fun and I won. It felt like I was in card maineya!!!!!!!!"

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slice of Life - I Didn't Expect to Get Homework!

"That didn't just happen."
"Did I just get homework from my daughter's principal?"
"I think I did."
"Do I walk around with book reader stamped in on my forehead?"
"Do I walk around with one who is always learning stamped on my forehead?"
"Did I just get homework from my daughter's principal?"
"I just got homework from my daughter's principal!"
"It's not a small assignment, it's to read a whole book!"

I had a great meeting with my daughter's principal a couple of weeks ago.  I've had some concerns about her learning, we've done some tutoring and wanted to get some support through school with something we finally found helpful for spelling.  I requested some testing be done and the results were what I expected but to be truthful, I was hoping to find an explanation and didn't besides she didn't learn how to spell in the right way for her.  It's a tricky conversation to have when you also teach in the district.  I just wanted to review some thinking with him and I really enjoyed our conversation and his willingness to realize we needed to keep momentum going with combination of school and home being united.  We are blessed to have a great team of teachers working with her this year, also.

I never expected to leave with a book to read!  He had just finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink and offered for me to read his copy.  I offered to buy my own version and he declined, handing me his copy.  I said I had a couple of books to finish first and he said, "no hurry."  As I read the blurb and the introduction, my appreciation for our meeting grew deeper.  I think he quickly listened and thought this book might be interesting to Mandy as a parent and a teacher.  He didn't know I was a reader.  He didn't know if I would follow through or did he?  One day, when I return this book I'm going to ask, why did you give me this book to read.  I'd love to know his point of view for why I got homework from the principal!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Celebrate This Week - It's Okay and Memories

This week I celebrate it's okay and memories.  

For weeks I asked, what would you like to do for your birthday?  I would toss out all kinds of ideas; big, small, nothing, go somewhere, and silence.  This past Monday out of the blue I got a bubbly response.  "Mom, I want to relive one of my childhood birthday parties with my friends.  They never got to come because we met in middle school and our parties are always the best!"  My reply, "Great idea, plan it and I will get the things we need."  Inside I began to wonder how would we pull this off for Friday night.

We did pull this off and the evening has been filled costumes, pizza and wings, creating spider cupcakes, playing pin the spider on the web, mummy wrapping a friend, relay races, presents, making "spooky" halloween treats for the movie which is occurring right now with lots of laughter, music, and talk.  The house is full of joy.

While shopping for everything Thursday night, yes the night before I found myself talking to myself a lot.  It's okay I didn't do any school work.  It's okay my plans were sketchy in my mind.  It's okay I put work aside because the house is full of joy and joy matters.  While this started out as reliving a childhood memory it's turned into making new childhood memories.  

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Slice of Life - I hear something...

It's the middle of the night.  I'm not sleeping well.  I seem to be laying awake and must drift off for small chunks of time because I hear a noise but I'm not registering what it is.  I feel tired but begin to get up because if feels like I should check on something.  

My friend and math conference roommate says anxiously, "Mandy, that's a fire alarm.  We've got to get out of here.  Grab your purse!"  I'm trying to process everything while I grab my purse and realize I need my glasses to see and a pair of shoes to go out of the room.  I realize boots weren't the most practical shoes to have for this emergency but I have nothing else.  I have to make them work with my pajama pants but slow down the GET OUT OF THE ROOM mode my roommate is in.  We are luckily on the first floor and walk out of the lobby and decide to sit in her car, which is in the front row of the parking lot.  The location of the car is very important because we were able to observe a lot.

Our observations were a bit alarming.  People were exciting the building slowly or standing in the lobby.  Many ladies had grabbed their purses.  There didn't seem to be enough people up and about for the size of the hotel.  The front desk help didn't seem alarmed.  Hotel guests were choosing to sit on the sidewalk right where a firetruck should pull up.  A very cute older conference attendee had put on her conference badge over her bathrobe.  While this was cute, I actually thought how smart it was for people to know her name.  The firetruck did pull up and hotel guests had to move.  All of these observations were happening at 4:15am.

After this experience, I reflected on a few things.  Pack flip flops for all trips.  They are very quick to put on and off.  Why don't we have a consistent fire alarm sound in every building in our country?  This hotel alarm sounded nothing like the fire alarm in my school building.  Why didn't the guests at the hotel move away from the building as they practiced growing up and going to school?  We hope our lessons in school carry over to real life and travel with a friend who is quick to respond to a fire alarm!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for inviting teachers to write and share their writing with each other.  This community helps teachers and students grow in writing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Celebrate This Week - Spaces

This week I celebrate spaces.  

I've been pondering this post for a few weeks and thought I would celebrate the various spaces in my life and how beautiful each one is as I wander in and out of each.  None of these spaces get equal time and sometimes they are neglected.  When I think about spaces being neglected, I realized that spaces don't mind a little neglect and they often call you back.  Spaces are forgiving and spaces are inviting.  Spaces can be overwhelming but spaces are comfortable with little steps.  

This week I particularly celebrate this space.

This space has been neglected.  This space has called me back.  This space is inviting me to write and share again.  This space is encouraging me to connect.  This space is willing to take little steps and be active again.  This space encourages rest amongst my busy days as I write and reflect.  This space doesn't need a plan.  This space doesn't need a schedule.  This space is happy I'll be writing again.

Thank you to Ruth Ayers for fostering a community where celebrations are found and shared.  Reminding us of the joy in our daily lives, inside and outside our classrooms. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Slice of Life - What does it mean to you?

What does it mean to you?

It's my favorite new question, for today!  My middle daughter enjoys sewing and is currently making a wallet for herself.  She is trying to be more independent while soaking in some words of wisdom.

Mama's Getting Better Words of Wisdom
   (said over time, not all at once.)

1. Sewing more often will help you reach your goals.

2.  Practice more often will fine tune your stitching.

3.  Being very precise is important, everything matters in sewing.

4.  Sewing when you are tired is dangerous.

5.  Read the pattern carefully.

6.  Go slowly.

7.  Yikes, don't leave the iron down on the ironing board when it is hot.

8.  Ask for help when you don't understand or need to clarify.

This is where my favorite new question comes in.  A has been able to figure out some of the pattern directions on her own but when she is questioning something she comes and asks me what step ?, means.  Before I tell her, my reply has become, "What does it mean to you?"  I figured out I'm pre-assessing the situation with a little formative assessment.  I can tell if she's read the directions all the way through.  She can then show me with her fabric what she thinks she has to do.  I can agree or reread the directions aloud to tell her where there are some glitches in her understanding.  While doing this, I can give her a compliment or use her fabric to show her a slightly different meaning and send her back to her sewing machine.  

I think I need to use my new favorite question more often in my classroom.  At home, it's causing less frustration and more independence - something my students deserve too.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers blog for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of Life - I don't like...

I was able to walk away from my bigger writing project this summer while the top editors were reading and offering their suggestions.  I got my writing back last night with suggestions, questions, and editing guidance.  I appreciate all of their feedback and it's pushing my own thinking.  However, 24 hours later I'm still feeling ICK about the process.  It's not ICK over their feedback.  It's not ICK over using google documents.  It's not ICK over the feeling of them asking for more writing and me wondering if I have any more in me.  

It's ICK about not having a face to face writing conference.  I'm desperately missing a face to face conversation with our top editors.  I know his/her kind face, pausing, thinking, and questioning is soft spoken, filled with reflection.  It's also nurturing and guiding in a way different way than these little boxes.   I want a smile from these little comment boxes.  I want the little boxes to see my puzzlement or worry, but they don't.  

As I think about this process, I find things that aren't ICK.  I love using Google Documents and love the little comment boxes where others can record their thinking and I can check them off when I have resolved them.  I also love using the comment boxes for my own notes for feedback or recording suggestions from a face to face writing conference.  I enjoy co-collaborating using Google Documents.  

This experience is going to impact my writing workshop this year.  I'm going to have to provide feedback to my students in person.  I may use a comment box or a sheet of paper or post it note but when that writer is receiving a chunk of feedback at one time, especially the first time I want it to be in person.  I want to help the writer embrace a range of emotions and be available to them, if they have questions.  I don't want my students to feel ICK about writing.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slice of Life - book flaps

Me - "How's your new book series?  The one we got over the weekend."
B - "It's great!"
Me - "What makes it great?"
B - "It's fantasy."

Silence. (I'm not getting anything more easily, I think.)

Me - "What makes it fantasy, is there magic, what are the characters doing?"
B - "You know how the book is hardback?"
Me - "Yes, just the first one."
B - "I love when books have the paper cover because then you can use the front flap for a bookmark and then when you get further in the book, you can use the back flap as a bookmark.  It's GREAT for when you can't find a bookmark to use, like me right now."

Interesting.  (I'm thinking, at least she has no plans to dog-ear the pages.)

All day I've been pondering this conversation. I didn't get much of a book conversation going.  I learned she likes the book.  She likes it because it's fantasy.  I saw her reading it yesterday, so she's sticking with it.  We don't buy a lot of hardback books but the book flap as a bookmark is an interesting feature.  It's also interesting because for many years prior to this the book jackets always came/come off of books because she didn't like them.  They got in the way.  Now that she sees a purpose beside the given purpose, book jackets are GREAT!  

Kids are so interesting.  Sometimes we have to set aside our own agendas and let them lead a conversation to discover something unique or special or enjoyable to them.  I can't wait to make the time this fall to find interesting nuggets with my new readers.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Slice of Life - Protocols


Modeled yesterday.
Piece of writing is read first by everyone.
One group member shares responses.
Others listen.
The author responds.
Others still listening.
Next group member shares responses.
Others listen.
The author responds.
Others listen.
Repeat and continue until all group members have shared.
Looks easy enough - we can implement.

Piece of writing is read first by everyone.
One group member shares responses.
Might be interrupted.
Others listening, difficult!
Eye expressions happen.
Mouths are covered up.
Hand gestures.
Chocolate break to keep self busy.

Goal met.
Writers pushed.
Protocol tweaked.

I have the honor and pleasure to be working this week and next with the Columbus Area Writing Project on a new little adventure.  I am equally blessed to be working in a small group of local educators that has new friends and old friends for me.  I can't wait to see what this week and next brings our group.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering this writing community.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Celebrate This Week - Sitting

Today I am celebrating, sitting.  

We had a double header for softball to start our day.  It was very hot and humid.  I tried to knit but knitting wasn't the most fun as sweat was dripping and rolling everywhere.  So, I sat and cheered and watched a fun group of 12 year olds have fun.  I told myself sitting is okay and I decided if I was a dog my owners would not be happy with how much focus it takes for me to just sit.  

I realize sitting this long is easy for many people.  However, I am usually doing things while I am sitting and the amount of time I sit is very short. 

Then we were invited to a post game pool party and I thought we would be there about an hour, mingling with team parents.  We actually sat and visited, making new friends.  Sharing and listening to stories that create connections for about three hours.  It was fun to watch our youngest play with teammates.  Sitting allowed her to make connections.  

Sitting created connections for us today.
Sitting is important.

Thank you Ruth, for supporting us in finding the positive in our busy lives and using our words to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slice of Life - Reading is Hard

Our bedtime read aloud is The Lightening Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1 by Rick Riordan and I'm struggling a little bit.  I find myself asking is it fantasy?  Is it a myth?  Is it science fiction?  Is it adventure?  Either way, these genres are not in my comfort zone.  I've been working on reading fantasy because my girls like fantasy.  You could say it's my personal reading goal.

I actually feel okay about my comprehension.  I have to pay attention and ask questions to confirm my character connections.  A little who is who with my daughter.  I've also learned I pay attention better if I am doing the reading but when she is reading I follow along as she goes to help me stay focused.  These probably don't feel like big struggles and as I write about them I realize I have figured out strategies to help me be a more successful reader. 

However, my real struggle that continues each night is my decoding of character specific terms and names.  I don't know who many times I can attempt satyr to only have my "parrot" repeat the correct pronunciation in my ear.  Each time my helpful "parrot" rescues me I just want to cringe and then I start a grumbling feeling where I might not like this book.  However, this book is my youngest daughter's favorite book so I will persevere and overcome my struggles with decoding.  Together can overcomes  struggles and I need to remember this when student's need a little support and also be a little bit more gentle with those "parrot" reminders.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Slice of Life - My Dress

My dress was picked out two nights ago.  Something black, white polka dots, and little strips of the same fabric sewn near the bottom in the shape of flowers.  A new dress I thought would scream fun summer event, seemed very appropriate for my dear friend's funeral.  

Funerals are a celebration of life and my grandmother's words guided me today, "Funerals are beautiful, I like funerals now."  She went on to further explain, "I get to see people I haven't seen in a very long time and people are willing to visit and tell stories."  Her words kept me grounded quite often throughout the mass because it was beautiful.  

I took time today to sit.  I took time today to listen.  I took time today to reflect.  Sometimes the beautiful is hard but my little new dress with a little spunk reminded me to carry on, life is fun, and it made me smile.  Sometimes wearing the right thing can get you through the hard stuff and today it was my black and white polka dotted dress.  Now I need to find that fun summer event to wear it to.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slice of Life - Take Care of Yourself

I've been trying to plan this slice all day and wanted to write about something else but this is what my mind is preoccupied with.  My dear friend entered my life three years ago and has made me a better person.  She transferred to our building and was the new teacher at the end of the hallway, teaching first grade.  

I don't know what brought us together but eventually passing in the hallway we started up small talk and it quickly grew to lots of talk - personally and professionally.  She was planning her wedding and so kindly asked if she could invite me but didn't want to make me feel awkward because we were new friends.  During our short time together, our friendship grew and we talked daily.  We would try to squeeze in lunch together during our busy days, where we would try to solve all things education or plot another professional book to read, or our list of technology we would learn and work through together.  I've never really worked with anyone who reads as much as I do and anytime I would ask, have you read - she probably had.  

This year we each moved classrooms and she was my neighbor, I thought I had struck gold!  Each day we would chat about teaching and life.  She would also offer such sound advice and guidance.  I could text her at 11pm and know she would answer and have a thought about my newest ramblings and ideas for second grade.  We shared a common philosophy about many things.

She had been working a lot lately, it seemed a bit more than usual.  She came to work last week two days because we have a sub shortage and no one picked up her jobs.  Luckily, one staff member could cover at the end of the day and it got her to the doctor to find out she had flu B.  On Friday, she came in to set up her class with other first grade teachers to go home and rest.  Today I learned, her cold got worst, she went to the ER yesterday and passed away shortly after with an infection that developed with the cold/fluB.

Friends, please take care of yourself.  School can wait.  Papers can wait.  Students can wait.  My friend was resting and taking care of herself but I wonder if she had started earlier would she have been strong enough to fight this horrible infection and prevented such sadness we are all feeling who knew and loved her.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.  I've enjoyed writing and sharing stories with you all.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Slice of Life - Highlight or Crazy Idea

A full day of fun
Crazy idea
After 29 years

Roller coaster!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slice of Life - Embrace Again?

I didn't expect embrace, my one little word from last year to surface this year at all.  It was a great fit last year as I embraced all three girls making school building changes, my oldest graduating and going to college and myself changing grade levels.  I guess I thought once we worked out the kinks of having her go to college everything would be smooth sailing.  Nothing in life is smooth sailing, who was I kidding.  

Embrace is very present with me the first few days of spring break.  Our oldest couldn't join us her classes are in session this week.  My middle daughter is nearby but on a trip with her softball team - playing games and team bonding for the upcoming season.  I bet you've caught on, my youngest is our only child with us right now and we are embracing that and learning how to be just 3.  It feels very odd and strange to just be 3 and I want to share with the others what we are doing but not too much to make them feel bad they aren't with us.  However,  I have to admit for the first time in 12 years is kind of fun to focus on her for a long stretch of time.  Since she was born her life and many travels have been to support her older sisters.  It was fun to watch her explore and experience a few things today for the first time.  

Embrace - for 3.5 days and then it will probably switch to adjust when we are just 4 again and then joy because for Easter it will be back to 5.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Slice of Life - Wordless Almost


Sometimes a change in pace and a new view is just what you need. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Slice of Life - Spring Break Prep

Morning Meeting
Honor and Recognize
Last day 
Spring Break

Each student
Spring Break Plans
Teach Vocabulary

Reading Workshop
Generate Excitement
TBR Piles

Spring.  Clean.  Room.
Organize tubs
Wash tables

Generate Excitement
Do Science
Make it Rain Inside
Sketch Watercycle

They will 
In a Week

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Slice of Life - Tech difficulties

Tonight I just sat down to slice and the lights went out.  No power, slice by flashlight and using my phone.  It's ironic in a way because early as I was packing I decided I might not fit it in and maybe that was ok.  However, I've sliced every day so I need to keep going was the self talk in my mind.  Today had some personal bumps and maybe the power going out is a sign to shut down for the day.  I will take this sign and ponder it while I finish up a few more things that go along with my packing list.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slice of Life - Dog Sitter Tips


I had technical difficulties with my internet tonight so I typed this in word, took a photo, and uploaded it from my phone to keep going with my slicing!  Thank goodness for other ways to get my writing in public.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slice of Life - going through books like...

"Last summer, I was going through books like chocolate!"  

This is from Sinead a former student of mine and the highlight of the softball carpool drive home tonight.  Sinead is now a freshman in high school and isn't reading anything for fun and not required from school.  So sad, but my daughter listened to what she likes to read and has a book for her to take on the softball trip.   Of course, I told her she had to have a one book reading goal for break and I will be checking in on her.  Small goals are good.  It's my hope if she reads one book, she will remember reading is fun when you can choose what you want and/or get recommendations from friends.  I'm going to check in on Sinead this summer and hope she has a box of chocolates with her book.  Maybe that could be a present from me to her, an even better idea.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slice of Life - Back up the Bus for Word Study

My students have been cruising along with our word study learning this year until tonight.  I've decided to hit the brakes even though I already put the wheels in motion for Unit 12.  See I got a little confident and didn't take the time to look at our post assessments for Unit 11 before I hit the gas pedal and began Unit 12.  

Lucky for me, I'm paying attention to the traffic lights and seeing too many yellow and red stop lights.  While I see green in certain areas, we are able to identify multiple ways to record different sounds and learned how to spell trick words, words that are tricky to spell and may not follow a typical word pattern or rule.  We need to practice more to identify different types of syllables and choosing to use ee or ea when spelling new words.  Sometimes when the first user manual doesn't answer your questions you have to turn to another resource.  Lucky for me, Word Journeys by Gansky and Words Their Way by Bears are waiting for me upstairs.  

I do need to explain to parents tomorrow that I'm not proceeding with Unit 12 this week and reviewing/relearning concepts from Unit 11 this week.  They will need to hang on to their helpful tip sheet until after Spring Break.  I'm also glad I'm taking a step back because that is what is good for students.  It's not good to keep going forward and ignoring the traffic lights even if the company says I must drive a certain make and model.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slice of Life - Big Project on Hold

I've been thinking about really launching some digital literacy work in my classroom.  I thought about doing it last week with standardized testing but didn't think I could juggle trying to finish up work in progress and getting into the computer lab several days in a row.  Then I thought about it launching it this week but realized this might not be the best idea I've had with spring break approaching.  We are going to be excited about this very important work and I'd love for them to using it over spring break.  This important and exciting work will require me to do more work behind the scenes.  

However, I'm going to be selfish and not launch our work this week because I've decided that spring break this year will be school free.  I'm not going to read a professional book.  I'm not going to read anything in children's literature.  I'm not going to work with apps or technology in any way related to school.  Ok, learning how to use some apps on personal topics might lead to something later in my classroom but my initial learning of these apps will be personal.  

I've made these decisions far in advance and I keep talking to myself about them because they are the opposite of what I do most breaks from school.  I'm really good about shutting down from school during the summer and being with the girls for a bit of time.  However, all other times of the year I am usually in full school mode and this year in general while working really hard at a new/returning to grade level I am trying to find balance and myself within a lot of school work.  I want to model to my girls that you can and should be able to walk away from school/work and still be true to yourself.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Slice of Life - Incomplete Flickers

Today I returned to The Ohio State University and Ramseyer Hall for a meeting.  I found myself wanting to wander and explore.  I did for a few minutes after the meeting I was attending but had to dash out to get to a softball game.  

I found myself wanting to remember.  Remember the rooms I took classes in.  Remember the people my path crossed with.  Remember the familiarity of collegiate life.  I was married and beginning my teaching career when I got my masters so I would dash to campus for class and go home but I loved doing just that.  I loved learning more on how to be a teacher.  I loved learning more about reading, language and literacy learning.  I loved tutoring in the reading clinic.  

While I was there, I never had the opportunity to take a class from Gay Su Pinnell but I did meet Andrea McCarrier when interactive writing was still in the developing, action research, going public phases.  To this day, I love interactive writing.  

I hope to during my two weeks this summer on campus I can explore Ramseyer and Arps Hall a bit more and maybe recall a story or two from my time on campus 18 years ago.  Moments like this remind me I need to create a writing habit about daily life because stories get lost over time and then we are left with little incomplete flickers.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Slice of Life - Back on Track

There was laughter and smiles and conversation.  The room was a buzz with engagement.  The conversation was all about numbers.  They were playing a game called, Anything but Ten!  Using a hundreds board and a pair of dice, my students were trying to get to a counter to 100 but if you roll the sum of 10 then your counter is sent back to 0.  Cheers or groans or giggles were the typical response every time someone rolled a 0.  I felt the voice volume was getting a bit loud and then I realized this is what a classroom should sound like, not the quiet stillness of standardized testing.  I can't wait to hear more cheers or groans or giggles all next week.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Slice of Life - Tired

Today's reality is I'm tired.
I've written this post and dozed off.
I reread what I wrote and didn't like it.
I revised it.
I deleted it and now I'm moving on so I can get to bed.
Lesson learned, try to write earlier in the day.
Lesson learned, it's okay.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Slice of Life - Lucky


I set pencils 
next to my shamrock plant
I got yesterday. 

I just smiled.
It reminded me 
how lucky I am. 

I am lucky 
to be working 
with a great group of students. 

I am lucky 
to be able to guide them 
with their first standardized testing experience. 

I am lucky 
to spend each day 
with them 
because they just make me smile. 

They were lucky
I saw a need to get outside and move
making it a 
3 recess day!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slice of Life - I can, I can't, WAIT!

How can I make this better?  I can read the directions slowly.  I can provide brand new #2 pencils - sharpened and ready to go.  I can arrange their seats so they can won't be distracted by their near and dear friends or their distractible buddy.  I can arrange their book boxes as barriers to prevent wandering eyes.  Every time I read the words close your books, I can offer two exercises to the count of twenty-five each to get them moving and their brains stimulated.  I can follow the directions and provide the full allotted time in hopes my students will recheck their work.

The reality is I can't make it better.  I can't take away the stares they are giving me while they wait for the time to pass while others finish and the clock moves slowly.  I can't tell them what words mean when they say they don't know them.  I can't tell them directly the answers to their questions, I can only reread the directions.  I have to discourage turning the page when there is a stop sign.  I have to be direct and tell them they can't get up out of their seat.  I have to discourage doodling on the page.  

Wait!  Part way through my morning I decided I can embrace and celebrate their new learning and experience with standardized testing.  I can share with them one way I like to celebrate and it almost always involves, ICE CREAM!  Yes, I think on Friday morning right before lunch we will make your own sundaes.  Each day will get easier.  Each day the testing time is shorter than the one the day before.  Today was the LOOOONNNNNGGGGG one!  I can't wait, they will be so surprised!

PS - you might be asking why right before lunch and in the morning?  Any time of day is good for ice cream but the reality is I will be out in the afternoon on another personal day adventure with my college girl on spring break and I don't want to miss a reason to eat ice cream.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering and organizing this writing challenge.