Saturday, April 22, 2017

Celebrating: Presence and Presents

It’s easy to get wound up like a ball of yarn during this time of year.  6 days of state testing, more district tests and knowing there are only 27 days of school left until summer.  One aspect that I love about getting older is perspective.   I clung onto my OLW (quest) and as each month passes I realize that my quest has been to dig deeply and continue to learn some of life’s grand lessons.

This week my celebration is about presence and presents.

Presence is defined “being in a place at a certain time” I am learning that presence is my learning target. Learners have several learning targets throughout a school day; however, I have one learning to be in a place at a certain time.   It’s been a week of learning for me. Challenges I have faced where I had to choose to step back and pause, go eat my lunch prior to having a conversation, and finally taking deep breaths when asked the same question 58 times.   I am thankful when I purposefully choose to be in the presence.

Presents are defined “something you give to somebody” My thinking about presents have changed with my age also.  I enjoy giving presents at the unexpected moments.  Finding something at special store and knowing that I have it in my drop drawer at home when I need it.  Leaving presents on someone’s desk without a card is my new favorite choice.  This concept started for me with Sandy Hook Elementary. I watched 60 Minutes this past Sunday, and it’s been four years, and I still wept as I listened to the parents.  This week I had a celebration in our school library.  A first grader brought her new book in and I was looking for books.  I paused and looked at the book which was almost as big as she was and I asked her about it.  She shared her favorite pages and facts.  Connecting over books is the best present of all.  Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate every Saturday. 

I never knew until this post that both words are
next to each other in the dictionary. I believe they
are connected. 





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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Celebrating: Student Voice

Last Saturday I spent the day listening to #TheEdCollab Gathering "PD in my PJs" with a cup of hot tea, and my notebook to collect all the juicy nuggets that I learned.

I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to learn side by side virtually with brilliant educators.  The ease of learning at home, being able to pause a session to switch the laundry or answer my phone was a perfect Saturday combination. Another key for me is writing down nuggets of learning and referencing the session numbers.  Did I mention the power of twitter? When you tweet and there is an instant community of learners. #purehappiness All the sessions are archived, so I can go back and listen again, or better yet share a session with a colleague.

One of my favorite quotes “Step back in your classroom and let your learners take center stage” My biggest take away was the reminder and importance of student voice.  This shift in thinking has happened for me over the last 2-3 years; however, I have to be purposeful with creating this feeling in our classroom. The sessions I listened to were focused on writing and honoring the power of writer’s notebook. The importance of teaching my writers that their notebook is a safe place to write anything. A sacred place they can choose to share their thoughts that they may not be able to express verbally.  Writers need a place to capture their thinking with free choice on topics.  Opening a mini-lesson with What Do You do with a Problem? allows all writers to have an opening and a choice to write about a difficult situation.  Some of my favorite picture books for an opening include:
·      First Day Jitters
·      Courage
·      Those Shoes
·      Henry’s Freedom Box
·      The Book Itch
·      OK Book

Continuing to learn to step back as a teacher and reminding myself that writing workshop is a perfect place to allow students to share their voice will be my target the last six weeks of school Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate every Saturday. 

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Celebrating: ECT (Enrichment Creavity Time)

It's time for celebrating, and I am proud to share this week's celebration.  Thanks Ruth for encouraging us to choose a special moment and write about it.  I am excited to celebrate with everyone.  Spring break has passed, hopefully winter is over soon, and round 2 of state testing starts next week.  Two weeks of testing which changes everyone's schedule in our building and in Room 234 our schedule will have a celebration everyday after testing.

KA and HD chose to research cancer. Both girls lives have been impacted by cancer in their families.
They chose different kinds and their creativity is making the different ribbons to display each
type. I learned that every form of cancer has a color attached to it.  These displays will be placed in the library
so their learning will go beyond our classroom.

RK built the White House with popsicle sticks.
The roof lifts up and she included facts about three rooms that she was interested in learning more about. 

ECT (enrichment creativity time) has been a highlight of third trimester. Our district has encouraged the entire K-12 staff to include creativity throughout the school day.  We have had district PD on what it looks like and sounds like. I decided learners in Room 234 would be apart of the decision making process.  I posed a question: What do you want to learn more about and how could you use your creativity to share your project?  When you ask a group of fifth graders and allow the gates to be wide open, their responses are amazing.  The best part about the process for me (and them) was it was an opportunity for exploration as well as a chance for each learner to share their project with their peers. The criteria included:
  1. Learning goals
  2. Plan including a timeline
  3. Materials (most supplied from home)
  4. Completion and sharing with peers
AM built a rubber band car. He chose this topic because we were
studying force and motion.  He loves science! The best part of his ECT project was that
his car did not run smoothly, and he is still revising his plan. I am confident that he will
revise and share his car with us.