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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Haiku #12

summer warriors
eating to bring about change
chomp munch working crunch 

Last weekend I was feeling filled with angst and stepped outside at a local park for a change of scenery and steps.  I started to stop and look at the milkweed plants and caught this video.  Amazing creatures at work and just what I needed.  Time and space to discover something new.  When I watched the video, I knew there was a haiku to be born.  This is my 12th haiku of the summer.  My plan was to try some poetry writing this summer and I did it!  I didn't know I was going to write 12 or enjoy gathering ideas and images for writing so much.  School starts Monday for me and I'm not sure if this will continue or not.  As I'm typing, I'm wondering if there's a different format to play around with for a bit of time.  I do worry the busy of teaching will put my poetry writing to rest.  Thank you for your support and following along on my journey, I've appreciate all the comments and suggestions.

This week Poetry Friday is being hosted by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Haiku #11 {Poetry Friday}

liquid sunshine
burst from the sky in July
drip drop raining

I missed last week because I was on vacation but the first line has been sticking with me every since.  The rain doesn't really show up in this picture very well but I was eating breakfast on the deck pondering some words shared with me on my walk that morning.  I passed two older gentlemen on my morning walk.  We were walking in a morning drizzle, a bit of a drip drop format.  He smiled at me and said, "it's just liquid sunshine."  It totally changed my mindset and I began thinking about all the good that comes from a good rainfall.  Earlier this summer I was sticking tightly to a 5-7-5 syllable format.  Thanks to you, poetry friends I've branched out a bit to 4-7-4 pattern.  I do like the first and third line to have the same syllables.  It may not matter but it feels right to me.

Thank you Donna at Mainly Write for hosting Poetry Friday this week.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Softball Season {Celebrate This Week}

Today I'm celebrating softball season.

Softball season makes me sit.  Softball season makes me enjoy the sunshine.  Softball season lets me meet new friends.  Softball season gives me time to knit and read.  Softball gives me a reason to eat ice cream after a game.  It's easy to be content when softball is here, it's summer.  

Softball season ends today and while I enjoy the season, I'm a little tired.  I've been watching or talking softball since March 1st.  I've watched losses and wins.  I've watched at bats with hits and some with strikes.  I've watched two catchers in the spring and in the summer just one first-base gal.  I've watched stretches and balls caught.  I've seen frustration and tears.  I've heard grumbles to yelling to laughter and reasonableness.  I've watched leaders on the field and bottoms on the bench.

I've had a player turn umpire with younger girls and while she was earning money she kept her head in the game in a new way.  She's played since she was five and I'm happy she didn't completely walk away.  When you love something and enjoy it win or lose sticking with it is important.  

Last week I just couldn't wrap my head around a celebration.  I tried and I enjoyed Ruth's post about keep showing up for celebrations even when things are hard.  My week wasn't hard - it felt normal but nothing jumped out at me to celebrate.  So, I wanted to not only celebrate the ending of softball but little things that add to our softball season of life.  

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and celebrate things in our lives.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Haiku #10 {Poetry Friday}

summer's natural fireworks
red orange yellow

I've been admiring some new coneflowers I planted near the end of summer last year.  They aren't the typical purple color I have planted in other areas of my gardens.  I made a list of words to play around with and did some research for synonyms for blossom and bloom.  I wanted a third word to go with those two but didn't really find one I liked.  Instead, I learned a new word and decided it was a great lead for this haiku; efflorescence - state or period of blossoming.

It's late and dark right now but I hope to take a picture and include it in the am.

Thank you Katie at Logonauts for hosting Poetry Friday this week. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Breakfast Conversation {Slice of Life}

Me: You shouldn't be watching videos after lights out.
Me:  Technology is a tool.
Me:  We need to work on balancing when and how you use it.
Me:  Be with people.
Me:  Look up information and then put it down.
Me:  I think we are going to take a break from it for a week over vacation.

Her:  I can do that but I might need it for the car ride.
Me:  Nope, not even on the car ride, you can do other things.

Her:  I get it!  It's not a lifestyle!

This is how our day started over breakfast.  I was using my calm voice with wait time for processing. She knew I wasn't thrilled she was on it when I checked in.  Some times I do still check in just to make sure she's settled in.  I think I'll look up the definition of lifestyle but in this quiet moment we both burst out laughing as she heard my words and began processing them. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Haiku #9 Plus One {Poetry Friday}

walk, hop, scamper
white bushy tail confusion
bounding along

Earlier this summer we were walking through a park downtown and spotted a white city creature at the base of a very tall tree.  At first I thought it was a rabbit but the ears were too short and the tail was too long and bushy.  It moved a bit like a squirrel.  My girls acted as if seeing a white squirrel was normal.  It brought me great confusion and I wonder if it brought the squirrel some confusion.  

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

PS - I didn't intend to declare a poetry project this summer but this haiku journey keeps happening and while I LOVE some homemade macaroni and cheese I just couldn't change the nature settings for my haiku so here's something simple and easy.  I'm adding macaroni and cheese to my menu this weekend with some turkey hotdogs and green beans.  Just how I like it.

M - many meals
A - anticipating
C - cheese
A - anticipating
N - noodles
D - delicious
C - craving
H - homemade
E - eager
E - expecting
S - simple
E - excellent

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I Get It {Slice of Life}

"I have a purpose.  
I have a reason.  
I kind of understand why people use Youtube!"

Self talk - a couple of nights ago.

Back story leading to the small moment -

I need to finish my sleeves and hem the bottom of my dress.  I've been using my serger sewing machine because I need to learn how to use it more and it's best for knit fabrics which this is.  For hems and finishing the pattern suggest converting the machine to do a cover stitch.  If you have a t-shirt on flip up the hem and that's a cover stitch.  Straight lines on the outside and a herringbone-ish stitch on the back covering the fabric edge that was folded up.  I have no clue how to convert my machine.  I look in the manual and I don't quite understand all the steps.  

I wonder if Youtube has a video.  When I was stuck changing the thread on this machine I found a video and it was a life saver!  I'm not a Youtube user.  I sometimes get frustrated when my daughters are watching it, one can get lost there but she often is watching how to videos.  My search is successful.  I started saving videos in a Serger How To folder and as I began working I found my self capturing the thoughts above.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for gathering this writing community.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Idea to Action; Sharing my Super Reader Life! {Celebrate this Week}

I'm celebrating Idea to Action; Sharing my Super Reader Life!

I've been trying different things to share my reading life visually with my students and families but my various attempts never took off too successfully.  I'd start with excitement and think it would be effective but it would fizzle on my end or my viewers end.  Then I was having trouble archiving these sharing so if I wanted them all for a lesson, I could find them.

Today I'm celebrating launching my new Instagram account mrs.robek_reads

But here's the what I'm celebrating more...the planning behind this new Instagram account.  I recently read Every Child a Super Reader and I plan on implementing a lot of ideas of this text.  After reading this text I was even more motivated to share my own reading life in hopes of making my reading mentoring more visible.  I love photos and I love Instagram.  I've shared reading life pictures on my own personal account but for students I would share different things and word my thinking differently.   

My planning became key for this project.  

I found Scholastic has a hashtag #superreader which I decided to use on all my post.  Then I decided if I wanted to find certain things for me I could start those hashtags with mr - Mandy Robek or Mrs. Robek.  I like to share and want to show my students my reading spots, where I get books and where I sneak in reading; #mrreadingspots, #mrgetsbooks, and #mrsneakyreading will archive these categories.  The super reader strengths; belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage, and hope will have their own hashtag that starts with mr - Mandy Robek or Mrs. Robek, then super reader, then strength; #mrsuperreaderbelonging.  This seems like a lot of thinking but once I took notes for what each strength could show from my reading my archiving makes sense to me and I am SUPER excited!

This account, is for my students and families.  It's also for my friends interested in using it or sharing it with their students or own children.  It's public, but I do monitor who is allowed to follow me on any of my social media sites.  I won't be sharing my posts each time I post something via twitter but may toss out a reminder or an update about how it's going.  So, if you are interested in following my journey click the follow button on Instagram.  I'm really excited about how this week has been shaping up!

Thank you Ruth for giving us an opportunity to stop and celebrate something in our lives!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Haiku #8 {Poetry Friday}

dark low heavy clouds
looming grayness over head
summer downpour soon

I was running errands today with my daughter and I wanted to stop at one more store quickly.  I really needed a few things at Trader Joe's.  She checked my favorite weather app (Dark Sky) and said, "you have 20 minutes before heavy rain for the hour."  I replied, "I can do this."  As I looked to the sky for a chance Dark Sky wasn't right, this haiku is what I saw.  I appreciated the nudges from last week where friends suggested I could break away from the 5-7-5 pattern.  Mary Lee gave me something I could visualize; short, longer, short.  I thought I'd give it a try but I wanted to make sure I posted and shared today so I didn't even collect a list of words first, which I've really enjoyed.  So, I stuck to 5-7-5 because comfort led this piece without my pre-writing, collecting routine.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Uncovered Advice {Slice of Life}

It's Monday morning and I'm talking through the day with my middle daughter.  She's got to get dressed, pick up her room, pick up a sewing project in process, start a second sewing project for fair, get ready for work, work, and make cupcakes with her sister that are red, white, and blue for a picnic we are going to tomorrow.  Increase the pace at which you read this because I do talk fast and I forgot to mention she was just eating breakfast for the day.

Her response - "Slow your roll."

I got really quiet and walked away and thought maybe that was a bit too much so soon.  Then I thought about starting the school year with my new friends.  While there's a lot of excitement to get going right away and there's a lot of energy for doing things just right and the to do list starts growing, maybe I need to "slow my roll".  After a little internet research I learned "slow your roll" is a metaphor for "applying the breaks, calming down, and/or take it easy.  I think those are three things worth considering in August. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Knowing {Celebrate this Week}

Today I'm celebrating knowing.

Tuesday night I received a group text message welcoming a first grade teacher in our building to the second grade team.  We needed to add a teacher but I've been a bit worried and trying to let go that I didn't have a confirmation on my own teaching assignment.  As I reread this text message I began to infer, I must be staying on the second grade team.  I could of just replied and asked if my inferring was right but I did some detective work and found out those being moved this year got a phone call.  I didn't get a phone call.  I didn't want to make a phone call.  Yippee I get to spend more time with transitional readers and writers.  I get to really put things together after figuring it out for three years to make this year the best one yet!  It's nice to have the knowing, my mind is finding peace.

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and notice Celebrations.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Haiku 7 {Poetry Friday}

flicker on blink off
twilight bursts welcoming dusk
summer magic glows

I've been observing my evening visitors for about two weeks new they would become a haiku in no time at all.  In making my list of words this week I did a quick definition search to make sure I understood twilight and dusk; making sure I used them in the correct order.  I'm always focused on the syllable structure but find it interesting I brought in a little science order for my word placement.  I went outside to take a picture tonight and observed in darkness; they disappear.  I played around including this in the last line but wanted to capture I think fireflies are pure magic.  

Thank you Diane at Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Humor is the Best! {Slice of Life}

"Let me get some popcorn and watch this go down!"

I can't remember the details.  I wish I had written it down sooner.  I was talking with my youngest daughter trying to navigate something.  It was in the morning, after swim team practice and she didn't like my idea.  I think it was probably something with picking up her bedroom so it was reasonable.  It might have been to pick up something from the first floor but either way - it wasn't going as smoothly as I had hoped.  A simple yes would of been great but I got something better.

My middle daughter stating what she's thinking - "Let me get some popcorn and watch this go down!"  She burst into a belly laugh and we did too.  Once we stopped laughing, whatever needed to get done got done.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Being Able To {Celebrate This Week}

This week I am celebrating being able to...

send our middle daughter to Kent State University for their Fashion Academy.  A pre-college experience for high school students interested in studying fashion design.  What an incredible experience for someone who is trying to decide on a college to attend and career to pursue.

afford this adventure for her; by working hard and setting some priorities we could make it possible.

help her explore her passion.  Her passion isn't really available here in a high school curriculum so I/we work hard to help her explore, learn, create, and be active where her heart wants to take her.  

It's a fun journey to watch.  She smiles, she beams, she's happy which in turn makes me happy.

       Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Haiku #6 {Poetry Friday}

bee - zip dart up down
gentle landings carefully
gathering nectar

This week I used a photo from last week that I took purposefully for a haiku.  As I gathered my list of words and started a draft I had trouble thinking of the last word in the second line.  This syllable work makes me focus on words with more intention.  Carefully wasn't on my original list so I skipped a line to show it was added after my initial ramblings.  Then I wasn't sure what word I wanted to end this haiku with and did a Google search, adding nectar after carefully on my list.  I like thinking about the process here and hope it benefits my students next year.

Thank you Heidi at my juicy little universe for hosting Poetry Friday this week. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Same Idea in a Different Genre {Slice of Life}

With much anticipation I wait for the first blossom to appear.  I start by soaking the seeds overnight in water to help them get jumpstarted.  I gently place them in the soil and watch for weeks as vines grow in height and wrap around the trellis.  That first morning glory blossom takes me back in time each year.  I'm about 8 or 9 years old and it is summer vacation.  We hop out of the car and find grandma.  She's usually in the house or we find her at the beach in her swim suit ready for her day.  She's excited to show us her morning glories.  We skip and hurry down near the lake.  Every year, in the same spot her old tree stump is wrapped in morning glory vines.  The old tree stump is probably three feet round in diameter and about three feet tall.  It's thick and wide; looking like a mini jungle in the yard.  There they are bursts of blue and pink blossoms!  Round and open, welcoming us for the day.  They are magical in my heart and mind because by lunchtime they will be closed; resting for another greeting the next day.

My first morning glory blossomed last week and I was immediately brought back to my grandmother's yard and having her next to me.  She was a lucky woman and lived on the lake year round.  I was a lucky girl because she was a short drive away and I could go any time I wanted to.  At first, I collected words and shared Haiku#5 this past Friday for Poetry Friday about morning glories but immediately I wanted to write a little slice; a narrative using the same topic.  I think I need to encourage my classroom writers to try the same thing; the same idea in a different genre.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fullness by Choice {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating fullness by choice.

I watched a bee this week busily working it's magic on a plant outside a doctor office.  I thought, it's moving quickly, buzzing about just like I do.   Then I realized, this bee is very focused on the task at hand.  This bee is choosing to stay on this one plant; it wasn't plant hopping.  This past week was a week of fullness but as I watched this bee, I realized the fullness was by my own choice and I really enjoy choice.

Fullness by choice looked like this - in the summer

three days of softball games to total six
a swim meet where we were a heat winner with two PR
hosting teenage friends
painted my bedroom on my own
read my first pd book
started another book I can't put down
three runs
knitting at softball
reading at swim meet
there was inspiration
there was organization 
ice cream

I hope you get the idea.  While the list is starting to look too full or a to do list.  It wasn't.  It was filled with joy, laughter, smiles, frustration, help, love, effort, patience, cheering, listening, and redirection. 

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Haiku #5 {Poetry Friday}

hello - bursts open
morning greeter daily joy
magic every June

This week as part of my writing process I found myself stopping and noticing nature without my notebook or the time to draft a list of words.  Instead I snapped a picture and then took the time later to ponder my thoughts about those moments.  

Thank you Carol at Carol's Corner for hosting Poetry Friday.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Haiku #4 {Poetry Friday}

lush rich vibrant greens
Spring transitions to Summer

I had another plan for Haiku #4 and was going to use my list of words from last week and think differently.  However, I explored a fairly new Metro Park in our area tonight and found myself collecting words as I was running.  Then I was stringing words together and counting syllables.  I was a bit surprised to find myself "writing" while running.  Maybe that list of words will be revisited when I get stuck one week.  As I was writing, I really wanted to capture the big feeling I felt while exploring this park and when it came down to one word I recounted the syllables many times to make sure it was five.  I always think of haiku as a string of words but discovered it doesn't have to be.

Thank you Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Just Stop...{Slice of Life}

My youngest returned from camp today.  She was tired and hungry.  I gave her some space and went about doing some "helpful" things around the house.  (aka my new word for chores)  I passed by to check in while she was watching TV and she said, "Mom, do you want to come and watch this next Bones with me?"  I was in the middle of a mental list and told her in a little bit.  Then I realized she's been gone and she's a little bit tired AND she asked me to do something.  That doesn't happen very often with teenagers so I stopped that mental list, grabbed some lunch and sat with her to watch an episode of Bones.  It's important to stop and just spend time with others.  

I need to remember this in the fall when school starts.  It's important to just spend time with others to build a community and relationships.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Accepting {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating accepting the unknown.

I've been wrestling with something for a month now and over time I've realized it's out of my hands.  About a month ago, I was told there is a 50% chance I will changing grade levels next year.  I have changed grade levels several times over the years; about every five years I get an itch.  I don't have the itch right now and it's not familiar territory so I'm feeling uneasy.  I'm not sure when there will be a decision so I have my school life on hold.

Accepting my school life is on hold has required a lot of acceptance.

In accepting this in-between I'm reading adult fiction, organizing fabrics, walking, running, driving the girls around, gardening, seeing friends, celebrating birthdays, and enjoying my first week off.  Right now I'm accepting the unknown because it's opened time and doors for new things.

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Haiku #3 {Poetry Friday}

clear blue sky clarity
bright sunshine brings joy and hope
June invites stillness

I decided to eat breakfast outside this morning and just notice - using my sense of sight and hearing.  I've been making a list of words to start my haiku writing of my observations and then playing around with how they might go together.  Today's list is quite longer and included sounds of birds and shadows of flight.  Maybe these list will circle back and help another day.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Buffy at Buffy's Blog.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Haiku #2 {Poetry Friday}

frail newborn Spring birth
downy fluff to plump feathers
nest to branch to yard

We've had a robin's nest right outside our kitchen table window the last three weeks and it's been fun to watch.  Today our baby left her nest and spent the morning balancing on branch.  Just after lunch she returned to the nest but a short time later she wasn't there.  I hope she returns for a bit.  I have more wondering to do.

This week Poetry Friday is being hosted by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Her Heart {Slice of Life}

She wanders around the yard.  Sniffling and smelling what springs brings us.  I call her name and she doesn't turn her head.  I call it again and I think maybe my husband is right, she might be deaf.  I change the tone a smidge and she heads my way.  Then she gets a short burst of energy and sprints my way; happy and full of life.  Watching her I stop and think, "the heart is a funny thing."  Medically she has six different medications and the vet says she has heart failure.  However, her heart keeps her near us and in places where we sometimes trip over her.  Her heart keeps her walking one mile in the morning and another at night.  Her heart keeps filling ours for the time being.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for foster this writing community.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Big Messages from Little People {Celebrate this Week}

This week I'm celebrating word choice and big messages from little people.

Our Parent Teacher Organization runs a Write Shop for the students each year where they are able to publish their writing in a "hard bound" book.  If you've read Donald Graves work he wrote about the power of publishing many times.  The books are made from chipboard wrapped in patterned or solid contact paper.  The students help sew their writing with a needle and thread to the spine and rubber cement the end papers to finish off the inside.  We have a rubber stamp with our publishing company for the school and these books become treasures.  

Yesterday we started the morning with Poetry Friday but instead of reading other authors we read our Write Shop books and left Reader's Comments.  To be honest, I had read all the poems one night and early morning trying to help with editing.  It was quick and fast because I was focused on catching spelling errors and I was surprised the poems didn't stick with me.  As I read each student's book in a published format, my heart started bursting with joy.  I could see the mini lessons we had worked through come alive.  I saw details in illustrations but one poem in particular really made me stop in my tracks.

A quiet student wrote a short poem.  A short poem with carefully selected words with a big message.  Our world is filled with goodness but turmoil and sadness.  Our own lives are filled good things that can bring self doubt and uncertainty.  I'm sure we could all use or know someone who can use this kind of medicine.  


Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Haiku #1 {Poetry Friday}

rhythmic back and forth
natural flashy Spring bursts
bouncing between clouds

Today is the last Friday of school and I'm thinking about my summer plans and things I want to rekindle, writing being one of them.  Another, is taking a few moments daily to focus and notice things around me.  I think focus, notice, my notebook, and haikus are part of my summer plans.

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Reading Fluency Probe Reflections {Slice of Life}

"For this reading project, I need you to read as fast as you can.  
I want you to pretend you are at the races.
When you are done, I'm going to tell you the number of words you read per minute.  
We are going to do this three times.  
Ready, set, go."

Reflection - 
I decided to try something different this time around with three one minute reading fluency probes (and stay within the parameters).  I decided to try and empower my students.  I decided to give them immediate feedback in numerical form.  I decided to be truthfully honest about their performance each time.  I decided to give them information to drive their performance.  

I'm about two-thirds of the way done administering this assessment and my students love knowing their numbers after each read.  They are impressed with how high it is and then driven to read a few more words per minute.  I'm blown away by how many words per minute they are reading without any practice in-between assessments.  The practice they have had is real reading in real books at their own pace.  

I had to set the stage today with a student I've told to slow down all year.  We've had moments of "mini conflict" because his speedy reading was not allowing him to comprehend.  I had to encourage him to read as fast as he could today.  When he got done, he looked at me and said, "Mrs. Robek, I didn't understand anything I just read!"  

I'm not a fan of how this assessment tool is being used.  I'm not a fan of what happens if a student doesn't meet the benchmark based on national norms but by giving my students the number of words per minute they are reading I saw their progress increase which should keep them out of the terrible outcomes and for one student, it helped reinforce the main reason readers read.  May we all continue to read for understanding.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this writing community.

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.