Saturday, January 21, 2017

Celebrating: Authors Think Horizontal

I've been enjoying Ruth's emails encouraging different aspects of writing workshop.  I have watched several videos and shared snippets with my writers. This week the writers in Room 234 completed their research. Each writer had a choice on how they wanted to present their new learning. Most students chose to write their book.  The writing process and thinking through their research is a huge celebration!!  I worked side by side our literacy coach, Heather, who helped me think about the structures of nonfiction. The students started with 4 questions then I read their questions, and I wrote one question for each student to extend their thinking.  After they completed their research, the students were thinking "vertically" and ready to lift the facts and "just" write their book.  They were finished (or at least thought they were).  Enter horizontal thinking.

We focused on strong mini lessons, "How did the author share research in this book?"  We completed several circle book passes, and students found graphs, maps, sidebars, vocabulary charts, diagrams, sequence, timelines.  After creating a list, students completed chalk talks. I asked my writers to think "horizontal"  WOW! What a challenge for them.   Asking them to look across their 4 questions.  Prompts included

  • What do you notice about your research?  What do all 4 questions have in common?
  • Do you see any data in your research?
  • Could you create a sidebar with interesting facts?
  • Is there another way to share vocabulary besides a glossary?
  • Could you build a graph that would support your research?
Writing is messy!  I love that quote from Ruth.  I remembered that almost everyday. I am celebrating a writing process that encouraged my writers to think horizontally.  Research is not finished after you, "Google it."  Thanks to Ruth for mentoring me in my writing workshop. Here's the link up for this week's celebrations. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Slice of Life: EnJOYing the Process

Slice of Life as defined by me is when I share small moments not always about my life as a teacher (which is a majority of my blog) but my life beyond education.  I am not sure why I see slices differently. Often I write slices in my notebooks or compose in my head, but I typically don't publish them. 
I believe that's why I chose to hang on my OLW: quest from 2016 you can read here why I made this decision. Our 2017 sermon series at church is entitled “Starting Something New.”  Last week’s sermon was about enjoying the process and not getting so wrapped up in the end result.  I listened intently and reflected about my OLW quest. Pondering about the process of being on a quest?  As I reflect on the steps I took to achieve a goal, most of the time this is where I learned the most about myself. The moments in the process that I didn't see coming. Those moments when I was unsure of which way to turn.  I don’t like to change directions unless I know the reason why. I am hesitant to switch my path once I have figured out which one I am going. But I have learned through life experiences, that my quest is not my journey alone. I am not an island.  I always turn to my family, friends, and prayer.  I am working on enJOYying the process and trying hard not to focus always on the end result. I am excited to be joining the slicing community. Perhaps it's another part of my quest. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrate: Discovery and Conversations

Dropping in and listening carefully during reading workshop.  Choosing to be quiet and listen to the conversations around 8 vocabulary words: tobacco, pry, destination, conductor, quilt, beckoned, lineage, and station.  There were three directions: find a friend, discuss how the words are connected and make a prediction about what the play will be about.  Finally write your thinking down in your reading spiral.

I am celebrating allowing students the opportunity to think around 8 vocabulary words. Half of the words were unfamiliar to them, and I celebrate them working with a peer to discover the definition and confirming with a dictionary. Reteaching the importance of guide words and also choosing which definition works best for the similarities was a celebration. As students grouped the words, several comments were made about their predictions.

·      I think the setting will be a long time ago because of the word (quilt)
·      I think the plot will be about a family traveling (destination, conductor, conductor)
·      I think the characters will be a part of a big family (lineage)
·      I wonder if someone will work on a plantation and grow (tobacco) and call their brother to help them (beckoned)

Have you guessed the play? Henry's Freedom Box was our mentor text for the week.  I celebrate allowing students the opportunity to discover and make connections with an important story. Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate throughout the week.  I'm excited to read other celebrations from the week. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Celebrate: Slowing Down First Three Days of January

Learners of Room 234 came back on Wednesday. We spent almost the entire day in conversations. I decided this year after sharing their favorite memory that we were going to discuss gratitude. I chose to open the conversation with a favorite picture book, Thank You, Mr. Falker. . I believe it is important to teach young learners about being thankful. I purchased thank you cards from Target, so students could have a chance to write a quick note. Most students wrote their parents, some wrote their grandparents and a few wrote a coach.  I celebrate not jumping right into curriculum the first three days back in 2017. I am thankful for my students who spent some time reflecting on their holiday vacation and writing about gratitude.

 I have been struggling with writing lately.  I know that my Saturday Celebrations are important to me in two different ways. First of all the community of writers and the comments that we leave each other encourage me. Second I live differently knowing that I will be posting a celebration on Saturday as I constantly search for that special celebration moment.  Welcome to my first celebration of 2017.

Monday, January 2, 2017

#OLW2017 Still On My Quest

I have thought and thought about what my new One Little Word would be for 2017. I am not sure if I am breaking the rules, but I have decided to keep my same OLW from 2016. I feel like I have more lessons to learn from quest, and I am still on a journey searching for answers both personally and professionally. 

Personally, I've been lost with my writing. Often feeling like I had nothing new to say, or if I would share what I was thinking would it be too negative? I've written several pieces in my head, placed a few in my writer's notebook, but then made the decision not to post. I often wonder if I am running away or choosing to keep my thoughts to myself because it is more comfortable. There seems to be a fine line right now for me. I often lean towards the statement, "If you don't have anything nice (positive) to say, then don't say anything at all."  But then I know that choosing be a writer is hard work and putting the pen to paper is often the most difficult part for me. 2017's quest will help me to continue to define what my writing life will look like. 

Professionally, I am still on a quest to understand my 26 learners sharing Room 234 with me. Several of my students need me for organizational skills as well as helping them remember to make positive behavior choices. Several students need to build their confidence when choosing books and helping them maintain stamina. My small group of mathematicians still need to have
support with counters for basic facts, manipulative for place value, and a constant smile of encouragement. I am anxious to return to school Wednesday and continue my quest with these learners in 2017.