Saturday, September 20, 2014

Celebrate: Guilt

We are all busy.  We all have activities and job requirements that require our time.  I know this as I sit here and type my Celebration post for the week.  But the work guilt lingers over me like a dark cloud.  I had a crazy busy week three morning meetings, two parent meetings and 2 huge but wonderful PD opportunities. I know it is similar to all of my teacher friends who are reading this post today.  But the entire week, I couldn't stop thinking about the next "to do" on my list.  I tried to be present in every moment and learn the lessons that I know I can achieve in every new experience.  But I also knew that I had to make it to Friday at 3:45 before I could breathe and try to distinguish that black cloud.

It's Saturday morning I promised myself I wouldn't get out of bed before 8:00 AM which is sleeping in 3.5 hours longer than a weekday.  It wasn't hard to do that so I celebrate sleeping in.  I am able now to look back on one of my parent meetings that hopefully will solidify the importance of the home school connection.  I reflect on the chance to talk to colleagues in another building about what I have learned about incorporating Google into my classroom and saving tons of time which is a huge celebration!  I celebrate an opportunity Thursday night to laugh so hard that I had tears in my eyes and realized my support group extends among my school walls.  Finally I celebrate #Steinerstrong a past fifth grade student who was diagnosed with Leukemia this summer who is a senior now.  I was able to talk to her and wear my orange T-shirt to school Friday as our entire district gathers around her to support her as well as her amazing family. 

Steiner Strong: Dublin Rallies Around Teen Battling Leukemia
Students and parents at Dublin Coffman are showing their support of high school senior Riley. . . .

I celebrate now that I have a chance to pause and feel the gratitude for my crazy busy week.  You can celebrate with other colleagues HERE.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Math Monday: Going to the Bank

  •      Which is larger 4.3  or 4.03?
  •     Can you place these three in order from least to greatest?
    •  2.5 ;   2.05  ;  2.39
  • How many hundredths are in 3.09?

Introducing the first topic on decimals and asking a few inquiry statements like the ones above, I noticed glazed eyes as they stared at the anchor chart.  Luckily for me I had seen this look several times when I introduced reading, writing and applying decimals.  I asked my students if they wanted to go shopping and they responded yes. The bank was now open however their budget was limited to any amount below $5.00 and they had to have 4 coins and only 2 could be the same.

After each student went to the bank, they set up a T chart and drew a picture of their money.  Next they traded their money in for place value cubes. This was a challenge for them because they added their coins and got the place value cubes.  I challenged them to put the place value cubes on top of the money which showed them the connection of money to place value. Several students realized they had to trade in certain PV cubes to make this work. Once they figured this step out they finished the second part of their T chart with PV cubes showing their money.

We ended the class with circling back around to my first three questions all of a sudden lightbulbs went off and their thinking flowed much easily.  The connections with money helped them to see the importance about the placement of zero.  Allowing my students to use money to connect to the real world helped them in understanding place value with decimals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Dim Glimmering Light

Writing around our library.
Why do I totally get wiped out the first few weeks of school?  I knew the first few weeks wouldn't be perfect or even close, but I always hope as the excitement grows and all of my summer thinking finally can burst open.  I had to make a choice and again my OLW came tugging on me.

I am through my first few weeks, and I told my husband tonight I found a tunnel and I think there is a dim light glimmering.  The energy and excitement builds the first few weeks as much mine as my students. I still got nervous and even my butterflies have not disappeared.  As we started our third week today, I stopped and focused on several important events of our day:  weekend share, discussing the predictions from the OSU game, helping a few students learn that a score of 94-11 probably wasn't going to happen.  Staying true to  our reading and writing workshop.  Asking my students about how they felt about reading and reversing the questions with their writing.  Realizing that 18/22 of my students are hesitant writers and when I asked why? They were open and shared that they don't have any ideas, they always worry about spelling and finally they just don't choose to write.  

Honest conversations from the first few weeks will guide my practice. And I promised them that I would be their advisor, coach, and cheerleader as we begin our writing journeys together this year.  I shared my own writer's notebook - you could have heard a pen drop.  Asking me, "Will you write with us?"  I replied, "Yes right along with you." We're all nervous writers but together we will all be stronger writers. The day ended with a dim light getting a little brighter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrate: The Best Lesson Plans

Back to school this week, three day with students and I am already remembering where the best lesson plans come from.  Not from an on line Common Core document, a district mandated pacing guide, or a box of I can statements.  The best lesson plans come from my summer conversations that I see clearly now as I implement the new idea with my students.  The workshop that I attended in Indiana and brought back several new ideas but the one I chose first is using the  same mentor text for reading and writing workshop and if I'm lucky I can pull out a few delicious words for word study observation.  The very best lesson plans come from my 23 students sitting on the floor enthralled with the video that I shared from Ruth Ayres in which she talks about her own writer's notebook.  She shared that a WNB can be and should be a collection of objects including poetry, comics, ticket stubs, play bills, lyrics etc.  Along with the idea that my students  can draw, web, create lists was very exciting to them.  After discussing the video and sharing my own writer's notebook, my class was begging  to write.  But we didn't just write in our room, we wrote around our school.  I told my class I trusted them to write anywhere on the first floor.  I gave them 10 minutes and to report back to the library at 11:45.  One student exclaimed, "I never have had a teacher that trusted me to write and not be sitting in the same room withe me."  Another question, "Are you sure about this?"  Yes I said with a huge smile - go write. At lunch one of the 4th grade teachers told me that one of her past students said as she took her class to lunch, "Don't worry I'm just writing and Mrs. Caplin knows I'm here."   Finally as we were getting ready to go home for the weekend, three students asked if they could take home their WNB so they could decorate it because they loved the second video I shared.  Wait one more celebration, another student came back upstairs to get his WNB because he forgot it and just thought maybe he would write some this weekend.  My celebration is for writing both my own and my classes, and a special thanks to Ruth Ayres for making her amazing video and continuing to encourage all of us to celebrate every week. You can link up HERE

Sometimes a photo says it all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Slice of Life

I've already had to implement my OLW: choice on the first day of school.  I am not going there, but I am willing to say that the time I spent this summer reminded me to stop and breath.  Here is "The rest of my story" as the amazing storyteller Paul Harvey would say. 
  • Every year our entire district gets together to kick off the school year.  One of my favorite parts is the high school band playing. We also listened as several Dublin teachers spoke about what is #theDublinDifference.  They were inspirational and reminded me the importance of teaching to the students' heart.
  • I was able to enjoy a literacy conversation with a new teacher and start sharing ideas about reading workshop.  I even got a chance to model a lesson. What fun and a great way to share best practices.  I'm excited when we have new teachers join our staff from different school districts. This provides an opportunity to learn and share together.
  • Finally a celebration (I know it's not Saturday) for our custodian, Joni and her amazing crew. They always say yes and with a smile.  Even when I have moved a bookcase three times.  It's a blessing when you have such a caring support team.
  • Today is a work day until 2:00 and then I get to meet my brand new class for the first time this year. I  LOVE the walk through as they check out their new classroom while meeting new friends including our fish and gecko.  Asking questions: where will I sit?  More surprises on Wednesday for them.
Thank you to the Slice of Life community of writers.  It's always a highlight on Tuesday to read other slices. You can check out other slices here at Slice of Life.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate: In ALL Sizes

This has been a week of celebrations from the minuscule to gigantic.  It's amazing when I live my week wondering which event I will be celebrating on Saturday. I am thankful to Ruth for the encouragement of celebration. Also her honesty in her blogs which always cause me to pause and reflect. You can link up HERE

Truth confessions I love Starbucks.  IT is just is a little piece of heaven wrapped in a Non-Fat Chi yet the nearest Starbucks is 20 minutes from my home unless you count Krogers.  I have been thinking and thinking and talking and talking to friends about purchasing a Keurig and you would have to know me to realize what a monumental decision this was.  I finally purchased one from Kohls after I spent weeks waiting for them to go on sale, collected a coupon from my friend, Kelly, and saved my Kohls cash.  The full prices was $124.56 and I paid $77.94.  A minuscule celebration.

Thursday I was running errands and I went to get out of my car, and  I had locked my doors and realized the store was not open yet. I got back in my car, closed the door and the car alarm went off.  I could not unlock my doors, open my windows or do anything.  It was a little scary, so I just started my car and thought that might stop it. It didn't so I drove around the parking lot with the alarm blaring finally it went off.  I went into the store, came out and started my car - beep beep beep!  Ugh what do I do now? Finally a kind older gentleman told me to turn off the car and he'd pull the wire on my battery.  When he did that he thought it would reset the alarm but it didn't.  He then pulled the fuse for the horn, and I finally could drive home. No horn and my flashers flashing.  I wish this blog had sounds and videos kind of like Smellavision on the Cooking Channel. Now it's funny then not so much.   Keep celebrating even the minuscule and the gift of a stranger.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wonder Wednesday: Starting the Year with Wonders

It's time again to start thinking about the first few weeks of school and which wonders I want to incorporate into my lesson plans. It's exciting to go back and read the bookmarked wonders from camp this summer. I've starting linking wonders to the first units of study for the new school year.  

To search for wonders, link here and type in the wonder # into the search box. I hope you're considering searching for the perfect wonders to start your school year.