Saturday, December 3, 2016

Choosing to Find Joy in Celebration

I choose to find a celebration everyday and when I begin my day with this decision I have a better day.  As I was thinking about this post, I was wavering from a Slice of Life and celebration.  Slicing helps me think about the whole picture which isn't always easy, and celebrations help me look inside the whole picture to find the joy.  I have been choosing to find the joy. 

  • A hesitant student finally found a book that he loved and said, "Thank you."
  • Parent emails that ask how they can help their child and thank me for supporting their child through difficult times.
  • FRACTIONS: common denominators, mixed numbers, adding, subtracting (OH MY) after a week using every trick up my sleeve, several students finally smiled during math class.
  • Hugs, hugs, and more hugs from students.
  • A student had a meltdown in our classroom on the floor sobbing, she told me that she had waited all year to be "board cleaner" please don't let other students help her. She wants to do it all by herself.  Problem solved :)
  • Bus duty:  I had the best conversations with my friend as we keep all the students safe. 
  • Bus duty: our principal is always on afternoon duty with us.
  • Message about test scores from my principal,"We're all in this together." 
  • One of my favorite days of the year when I give each student a copy of our December read aloud wrapped with a sticker from me.  Their smiles tell the story. And as my friend, Bill says, "Just read a great book for fun!" That is what we will be doing everyday before lunch.  Thank you Andrew Clements for The Last Holiday Concert.
  • I celebrate Ruth's video's about her writing journey about grading.  Her video tugged on my heartstrings. And once again I am reflecting on my practices. 
I am so thankful for the reminder to celebrate. I choose to celebrate and find joy.  I appreciate the supportive community on Saturday who take the time to comment.  Here's to the first Saturday in December - finding joy in celebrations.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Celebrating Learners in Room 234


It's been a grand week in Room 234!  Several students accomplished their goals in reading and math.  I celebrate their smile as they tell me 

  • "I finally read a Historical Fiction book and I really liked it.  Where's another one?"
  • "Did you know that I connected with Margaret in Are You There God? It's me Margaret."  One of my favorite books from fifth grade.  Thank you Judy Blume. 
  • Over 60 families attended Grand Discussion discussing Save me a Seat on Thursday night with their mom or dad
  • We had our second Newberry Club meeting - students are enthusiastic about their reading and casted their first vote of the season
  • EO made connections with Base 10 and the Metric System.

  • Students played with water to explore Metric Capacity. 

  • "I've never had so much fun in math1"  
  • "I never compared a liter to a gallon."
Celebrating learners in Room 234 and their inspiration to continue to grow. Asking great questions and most of all beginning to take ownership of their own learning. Several students set higher reading goals because  they had the confidence which has been building since August.  I hope all my friends are enjoying the learning at NCTE and tweet away. Thanks Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Celebrating Unexpected Moments

I'm celebrating unexpected moments this week that pulled me up by my bootstraps and kept me going.  A phone call from a dear friend who I haven't talked to in a few months.  We text every now and then to just let each other know we're thinking of each other.  But this week, I sent a long text (which I tell my mom isn't the correct use LOL) but I wanted her to know how impressed I was with a recent project and how her words touched my heart.  Two minutes later, my phone rang.  It was reassuring to hear the sound of her voice.  In my busy world, I truly appreciate when friends pick up the phone to talk. That 10 minute phone call helped me smile and lifted my spirits.

My second celebration is one about honesty. It's hard sometimes to be honest with a friend especially a friend that you value and respect.  I sent a Voxer message to a colleague about an event we were suppose to be attending, and I decided not to go.  After I sent my "vague" message, she voxered (is that a word?) back and told me why she wasn't going either.  We both had the same reason and better yet we both were able to discuss our thoughts which was worth a $100 therapy session to me.  

My final celebration is this photo that I captured as we were walking to our Veterans Day assembly.  A second grader was struggling with tying his Cub Scout knot, and KC got of line and stopped to tie it for him.  Totally without any prompts!  That is a true celebration and the Boy Scout Way!!!   Thanks Ruth for encouraging us to to celebrate.  I am excited to read other posts.  Happy Saturday friends. 





Saturday, November 5, 2016

Celebration my OLW: Quest

Celebrations make all the difference when life is passing me by quickly.  I am celebrating my quest (OLW16) as our first 12 weeks of the school year comes to an end.  I celebrate moments that I knew would happen, but I wasn't sure when they would.  This year I have taken several photos of my class.  It's been helpful with my reflections as I think about how the learners in Room 234 have grown the first 12 weeks of their fifth grade year. Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to Celebrate every week. Happy Saturday, and here's to locating your own quest.


EO smile says it all!!! The comfortable beach chair, a Friday morning celebration of multiplication.
I celebrate the time EO spent with me and her determination that she would accomplish her goal.


When we finished our first read aloud, the students decided they wanted to do projects to share their learning from Capture the FlagRD and her friends chose to write a play.  I celebrate creativity and fun props.  RD has her dog,  press credentials, reporters notebook and her briefcase. 

 CC wanted to make a poster, and my favorite part was that he used
crayons.  In a tech world, I celebrate a poster board, crayons and amazing thinking.













Saturday, October 29, 2016

Celebrating: Math Shifts with Homework

Celebrating this week came on Tuesday evening, and I couldn't wait to write my blog post. I am watching the first game of the World Series.  I don't have a favorite team because my heart is with both cities and their beloved baseball teams.  My second celebration happened subtly.  There are so many posts, blogs, and thoughts about homework that I was overwhelmed. I have tried to wrap my thoughts around homework; my district has allowed me to form my own opinions as long as I can support my decision.  I can do that and I did that at curriculum night the third week of school.  My parent community supported my definition of  homework. 

My definition for Language Arts was simple. Lifelong readers and writers.  Choice with both of them and continue to grow in both reading and writing.  Done!

My definition in Math has ebbed and flowed this year.  I'm at crossroads lately.  I've been on both sides of the track with math homework.  I believe strongly in practice (similar) to reading; however, math computations feels and looks different.   Without going into pages of thoughts on math homework, most of math HW is a review including playing games with parents and writing a reflection, explaining a new skill or old fashion practice of basic facts (which are still  desperately needed needed in fifth grade)


This assignment was a first for me...the idea is home learning.  I composed the email and shared it with my students at the end of math class.  My learners looked a little confused, and I showed them how I had taken a few photos from the day to help help them.  As the emails came in tonight, I realized I had a hit a home run - no pun attended with my first celebration.  Just read what CS wrote me. 
Thanks Ruth for encouraging us to to celebrate throughout the week.  I love when my celebrations stand up and hit a grand slam for me.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Teaching is Messy when You're on a Quest

My one little word continues to grab me and won't let me go. Just once I wish I could scream, "Leave me alone."  I am not ready for another quest.  But then there is life and life gets messy as my friend Ruth Ayres writes about so many times,  I appreciate her honesty especially with those posts.  My messiness is in my classroom this year.  It's with an amazing group of 27 learners. It's really my messiness that I haven't wrapped my thinking even after seven weeks and 1/2 way through our first trimester.

My quest has been for flexible seating, workshop model in all subject areas and most of all visible student learning.  Lyndsey, our literacy coach, saved the day a week ago. I don't even know if she knows this.  But I was totally overwhelmed, and I asked her for more advice. I don't remember anything  except, "You jumped in with both feet in all subject areas."  I didn't even consider that affect on my overwhelming feeling of being lost several times in my quest.  

Fast forward to moments of pure joy... there have been several of them this year.  I believe they are breadcrumbs that help keep me moving forward on my quest.


There two girls are reading The War that Saved my Life.
They started before recess reading in the hallway.
Almost 100 students went to lunch walking by them.
I walked into the hall five minutes into recess, and they were still reading.
"We can't go to recess."  Can we please finish the book?
YES you can :)  





Saturday, September 17, 2016

Celebrate: My OLW (Quest)

It's been a long week in fifth grade.  Long meaning several conversations about how we are going to choose where to sit.  How we have to share the couch, stools and moving tables.  How I am not willing to have a sign out for all the seating preferences. Yes I played the teacher card.  Two weeks ago at our Friday class meeting, the students decided that you could only sit at "special" seat once during our rotation of five subjects a day.  

Fast forward to yesterday's class meeting.  An extremely shy student raised her hand and said, "Mrs. Caplin everyone isn't following the class rules about open seating."  I responded, "What should we do to solve this problem?"  Conversation continued similar to the past two Fridays.  I just listened and did not solve this problem again.  

I'm celebrating my quest on not solving the problems for the learners in my room this year. I don't respond when I'm asked

  • how to spell---- 
  • where's Massachusetts
  • how do use multiplicative form with 433,320.21
  • can you tell me the attribute for Anna in Capture the Flag
You get the point.  It's a huge transition for me.  I am no longer the gate keeper of answers.  I am the gate keeper of the questions, so they can find the answers.  It's been a hard process to break old traditions, but it's been an amazing quest for the first four weeks of school.  

I'm celebrating with my colleagues.  Thanks Ruth for helping me to remember to search for celebrations.  Happy Saturday :)