Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life: Sliver of Seconds


Almost everyday in school there are slivers of time when I pause and extremely thankful for the little moment that just occurred. Sometimes it is a split second. Those little moments are never on my lesson plans. My morning includes our specials and language arts block. A huge block of time which I am grateful for everyday, but still can't seem to fit everything in from my lesson plans.  Almost everyday at lunch Sarah asks me, "How was your morning?"  My response "Good except I didn't stick to my lesson plans again." 

Thinking about my lesson plans, I was trained 30 years ago on how to write my LP. Thank goodness for Bonnie Chambers at BGSU who stressed in 1984 the importance of strong book choices as the foundation for great LA lessons. Lately,the past few years, is that lately? My lessons plans haven't been about what I was teaching that specific day during that specific time. It's been about big thinking including conversations with my literacy coach (thanks Gretchen) rereading professional books, looking at summer notes from Allwrite etc. I am realizing that my lesson plans are the big ideas, and I know the standards as well as the implementation so I am not going to be so hung up on the what I typed inside the LP boxes.  There is a sense of freedom in not being locked into 11:00 Monday and more importantly I am open for those slivers of seconds which is why I am a teacher.   Thanks to all the slicers here is the link up for this week. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slice of Life: Slow as a Snail

Yesterday in class, I introduced our class twitter account @228bes.  I purposely chose to hold back on our class account this year until the time was right. Last year, we sent a few tweets randomly and I wasn't sure of the purpose.  I knew the purpose, but I didn't feel like I did a good job for defining why we had a class twitter account.  I spent this summer learning and hearing over and over: break down the walls and allow students to expand their audiences.  I know this, but I didn't succeed last year.

This year, I chose to start as slow as a snail with technology.  A shift from the past but one that I wanted to try.  I was surprised as I introduced our twitter account to my class. Only two students knew what twitter was and a handful thought it was all about the #hashtags. Interesting....and we discussed digital literacy and the importance of knowing their tweets are alive and represent our class.  We sent our first tweet @katemessner to share that we started our new read aloud. I "promised" that she would reply to our tweet and luckily for me she did.  We are going to send tweets about our read aloud:  Hide and Seek.  The students are going to compose them, send them and then as a class we will share them.  I started as slow as a snail but this time around the students will have purpose along with ownership.  Already it feels better than last year.  I like slow as a snail.  Thank you to the Slice of Life Community of writers. You can check out other slices here at Slice of Life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Three Days as a Gypsy - Invaluable

Sunday thoughts all rolled up into a Slice of Life, Celebration and my OLW which is choice.  We didn't have school this past Friday because it was our comp. day for evening conferences which were last Wednesday and this Tuesday.  My husband and I took our annual gypsy trip ending up in Kentucky. I love our annual three day trip and each year we plan less and less. This year we left without reservations for lodging, and the few decisions prior to leaving included exploring the Bourbon Trail and searching for a river which would allow us time to stop and enjoy the peacefulness as we listened to the gurgling as it moved swiftly along the banks. My favorite part of the journey is our quiet time for conversations and the opportunity to not have my life scheduled out for three days.  

Old barns and quilts two of my favorite. We learned at the National Daniel Boone park
office  that this is the Sunburst Pattern depicting all the different jobs that
were needed to live in the 1860's.  I think I would have enjoyed that era.
It seems as I reflect on this school year, my life has been extremely scripted. Tons of meetings, most of them I have chosen to schedule but still set times on my calendar.  Hard work as I made the choice to focus on starting math workshop while continuing to implement reading and writing workshop. As I sat and listened to the river and reflected on the past eights weeks, I realize that once again my OLW is upon me. The choices haven't been about a weekly blog post or my set routine for working out. It's about making the best choice at that specific moment in time.  Realizing and knowing I am ok with my OLW is what I figured out as we gypsied our way across Kentucky.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Late Celebrations: Saturday Literacy Connection


Today was perfect and it's not even over. A beautiful sunrise, cool temperatures and breathtaking colors as I drove to the Literacy Connection with Jennifer  Serravallo presenting.. Spending Saturday with friends and reading is just what I needed to energize me.

I am still wrapping my thoughts around Jennifer's presentation.  I have three pages of notes to reflect on. One of my biggest take aways is the importance of knowing our readers through purposeful conversations and lessons.  She continually had us stop ad jot, turn and talk along with modeling how important it is too see the text as she read aloud to us.

I've been stuck lately with my writing but I felt a breath of fresh air as I listened to her speak. I feel like I have several new ideas that I can implement this week.  Along with being a lucky winner of her Independent Fiction Reading Assessment, I am excited to learn more.  Just the golden ticket I needed. Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to Celebrate every Saturday. Click HERE.for the roundup

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Late Day Celebrating my OLW: Choice


A friend asked me yesterday, "Have you been writing lately?" 
I thought that was an interesting question.
I asked, "Why are you asking?" 
She replied, " Because I checked your blog."

I pondered this question, and I truly appreciated her inquiry.  I knew my answer in my head, and I explained a little that I just haven't felt like I had anything to share. I had some great moments in class this week but none of them were on the lesson plans. I wonder why I don't feel the need to share these moments. There were moments with my students that I had to make a choice. Choices that included not taking the first grade on a math quiz because he needed to know that studying for the first time at home meant something. His mom had emailed me and told me it was the very first time that he did not fight her to study for a math quiz.  Another student needed to know that she will be a reader. Using her book as my mentor text was powerful to her.  There are choices I make everyday in my class and this week they focused more on building my students' self confidence. Recently I just haven't felt the desire to write.  It's a new position for me to be in, and I am still trying to figure it out.   Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to Celebrate every Saturday. Click HERE.for the roundup. 


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.
http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2014/09/19/dublin-ohio- . . .

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.