Saturday, June 20, 2015

Celebrating a Rainy Perspective

It's been raining all week and if I was counting it probably rained all last week too.  Rain slows me down and reminds me to take some time to do those projects that have been on the back burner for a while as of course gives me extra time for reading.  Ii's been a fun week with our daughter home from Charleston with time to visit as we continue to build family memories. Both kids are home time weekend and this makes my heart warm. A mother never sleeps better when she knows both her children are at home - it's a true blessing that I never take for granted.  

My next celebration is one of learning at home!  Which is perfect for me since I chose to stay home this summer and not attend the summer conferences that I have typically gone too.  It really is amazing that I could sit at home on my deck and feel like I was at Allwrite15 through twitter.  I wrote several ideas in my WNB and tweeted out and felt like I was almost there.  Perfect for me.  

I'm also excited for virtual book clubs that I am gong to try and participate in this summer. #CyberPD has chosen Digital Reading by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass. I'm on Chapter 4 and already taking notes and reminded constantly  it's not about the tool it's about the learning.  Secondly, though Facebook, I have joined a Notice and Note group which is going to read certain pages weekly and comment so we can all learn together.  Virtual PLN at home in Ostrander-perfect for me.  

Thanks to Ruth Ayre's for reminding us to celebrate every week.  Her post today was a beautiful reminder about the importance of friends and our writing communities.  Have a great week - stay dry or find a great book!!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Celebrate: a handful of stars

It's summer and the first full week has come to a close. It's interesting to me how time seems to slow down in the summer.  The minutes move like a snail crawling across our garden wall.  Each summer I appreciate that feeling more and more.  

I am celebrating finishing my first book:  a handful of stars by Cynthia Lord.  It's a beautiful story about friendship, Lily and Salma. Lily lost her mom at a young age and lives with her grandparents who own the general store in a remote corner of Maine near the blueberry barrens.  Selma is the daughter of a migrant family who comes in seasonally to pick blueberries. Their friendship includes Lily's blind dog, Lucky, and Selma's love of art which helps both girls achieve their goal. A few of my favorite lines I lifted include: 

  • "different is good it makes you pay attention." 
  • "sometimes life is like a long road leading from one "if" to another" 
  • "takes all kind of people to make a world"
I am celebrating having the time to digest this book, to lift lines and think about how I will weave this book into my mentor text pile.  There are so many possibilities:
  • Beginning of the year with building community
  • Math time with a wonderful part about how hard fractions are yet "That's math for you. But the good part is that once you learn it, it doesn't change. You always do it the same way."
  • Writing Workshop:  How Cynthia wove so many important facts to help the reader learn about blueberries and mason bees. Both of which I didn't know anything about.
  • Reading: character development and how two main characters interact and the importance of secondary characters like her grandparents, Hannah and Dr. Katz (which was a fun play on words) 
  • Social Studies: an important message about migration and the idea of inclusion vs. exclusion.
  • End of the year letting go and taking a small part with you
I look on my time in the summer as a gift. My perspective (OLW15) each summer shifts more to gratitude. I have time to be writing again in my writer's notebook and reflecting on my blog.  I'm excited to be celebrating this week here is the link up.  Enjoy your Saturday!

Time to read, write and play with Ringo who is resting on the left.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Slice of Life: Respecting Summer

Thanks to the Slice of Life community. I am excited to have more time to visit the different slices now that summer vacation has arrived.  Here is the Link for this week’s round up.

It’s Tuesday, June 2, and it’s our last day of school.  It’s been quite a year. As summer vacation is knocking on the door, I am thankful for the next 12 weeks. This summer is going to be different for me.  I am celebrating my perspective (OLW15) of slowing down and realizing I just can’t do it all and the fact I don’t want to do it all.  

This is the first summer that I am choosing to stay at home and not take advantage of different professional learning opportunities. I am sure that I will be learning virtually on twitter, and I’m excited to connect with friends though my virtual #PLN.  How does a girl already have five professional books that she wants to read and one more on the way? I am positive that I have enough professional learning without leaving home.

My perspective on summer is slowly shifting; I have been on overload from previous summers. There are so many ideas that I want to implement when I return to the school in the fall, but I have felt like an island and I needed to change that for this summer.  This is why I need to slow down and respect summer. A chance for early mornings on my porch reading an amazing book which will help me prepare for next year’s Newbery Club. Time to read several professional books and digest them while making connections to my instructional practices. Linger on into the afternoons with a quiet lunch after some midmorning gardening. And finally if it is a perfect day hopefully there will be some time for reflection and blogging. 

Welcome summer….I have been waiting on you.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slice of Life: Time for Reflection

Who knew a two week technology class would put everything into perspective (OLW15) for me?  An extremely smart TST said in an after school meeting, "This past two weeks of the online school was suppose to be difficult and even a little uncomfortable."  I continually shook my head until it about fell off.  Then he responded with "Good, that was the point."  

Enter my thoughts which I didn't say aloud.  

  • Yes this two week course was challenging. I had to go through the paces because I received a new Mac Book Air.  Then I thought wow Maria you're being pretty selfish with your time as well as forgetting about gratitude. Wake up, be thankful!
  • I am never going to remember all of these shortcuts and why should I?  I can look them up if I need them.  Then I thought if I learned the shortcuts I could save time and that would allow me accomplish other goals. The shortcuts I know now I use all the time and love them.
  • I can't pass these two quizzes.  I needed help and asked a friend.  Then I remembered I  totally cheated on the quizzes and took them with my friend who was there for support and yes several answers. 
  • I'm not sure how to use Handbrake, upload a video and add it to our district page. Then I remembered quickly I've  only asked for help at least 5 times this year. Don't you think it's about time for you to learn how to do it?  
This class was  uncomfortable for me. I had  presentations, slide shows and videos to watch. I had to take two quizzes and upload a flat file along with a video.  Most of it was new.  And as I thought about life these past few months, which has been a whirlwind. The entire school year has been uncomfortable for me. Turning around and teaching five subjects a day (new Standards in LA and Math) has been overwhelming. There were numerous times I took a deep breath, did some self talk and convinced myself I was prepared to teach a lesson on a new standard. Thank goodness for lunch conversations with colleagues who talked me off the ledge,  held my hand and helped me to laugh hysterically. 

Taking this class allowed me to put this school year into a clearer perspective. Sometimes school is going to be hard for both the teacher and students. Sometimes you have to fight through the new material and feel uncomfortable  And then finally the month of May arrives along with a two week technology class and everything falls into perspective? 

Thank to all those who participate in Slice of Life every Tuesday especially to The Two Writing Teachers.  

On a side note:  Technology class was difficult.  Scott, our TST, replied, "You were given a new computer.  All of you know four-five things and can do them well.  Let's try and learn more applications to  strengthen  our teaching as well as our students' learning."  
Bravo to you Scott. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Celebrating Minutes of Time

It's Saturday, 1:11 pm, our daughter always told me to make a wish at this specific time. It was always and continues to be our special moment. We even text each other pictures of 1:11.

It's Saturday ant it's 7:15 am, and I don't want to be awake. It's Saturday and I want to sleep in at least until 9:00 am.  Not happening today.  I guess I did sleep in compared to my 5:45 am wake up call Monday thought Friday.  It's all about my OLW: perspective.

It's Saturday and it's 9:02 am and we're back from the grocery store.  Kroger's is not crowded at that time of day. Might be a little hidden secret.  We've unloaded the groceries, and my husband cooks us breakfast.  I wonder around starting the laundry and putting away the groceries.

It's 11:18 am and we watched the two hour special about Bruce Jenner. I was glad I did. I'm reminded once again that we really don't understand each other until we walk in their shoes.  A lesson and a perspective that I have been reminded of a lot lately.  

It's 12:30 pm spaghetti sauce is made and my mom's vegetable salad is in the fridge ready to marinate for dinner tonight.  Laundry has been changed twice and the last load is in the dryer.  

It's Saturday, 1:17 pm and i finally find a few minutes to write.  I've written several times this month but not on my blog, but in my journal, those ideas are for myself. It's been a challenging month, and my OLW has pushed me beyond where I wanted to go.  However, I have been reading other blogs for support (thanks Ruth Ayres) and my daily bible verses 15 in 2015. 5 minutes giving thanks, 5 minutes reading the bible, and 5 minutes reflecting and praying about my day. 

It's Saturday it is 1:19 pm and I'm a little late to the celebration, but that's ok.  Thanks to all those who celebrate every week, although I am not always present on my blog, I spend time reading and reflecting.  Here is the link up for this week. Celebrate!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slice of Life: OLW Perspective on the First Day Back

My OLW perspective sure sums up yesterday. Our first day after Spring Break. I wasn’t quite ready to be back; however, I knew the day was approaching as Sunday evening clicked by quickly and my 5:45 am wake up call was lurking. Facebook was exploding and it was even better than a twitter chat.  Thanks to Mary Lee asking her friends for suggestions on her last read aloud of the year.  It was like a roller coaster of ideas for me. Actually enough titles to last me until retirement.  I posted “What’s a girl suppose to do?” Of course, Mary Lee comments back, “Ask your students” Brilliant!! – fast forward to 10:15 Monday morning, not too many smiles on their faces.  I borrowed the idea from Tony Keefer, and we started our Room 234 Book Challenge for the Final Read Aloud. Picture NCAA bracket made up of 24 well loved and favorite chapter titles. Each student will defend their favorite book with a short synopsis (I taught them that word) they were super excited about writing a synopsis. The winner will be announced Friday.  We will begin reading our last read aloud of the year next Monday.

We played Fact and Fiction while sharing about their Spring Break.  I’m not sure how you feel,, and I love to honor Spring Break stories, but sometimes they turn into a long drawn out story.  The students loved playing the game as they walked around reading everyone’s statements and voted on which was their peer's one fact.  It was a perfect way to celebrate at the same time everyone had a voice.

Perspective has been an interesting choice for my OLW.  At times, it helps me to remember to stay focused on what’s important for my students not all of the “junk” that comes along with teaching. Other times, perspective is a celebration like today!  Not jumping right into focused lesson plans, taking a pulse from my class.  It’s been an interesting journey, and I’m intrigued to see where my OLW leads me into Spring. 

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for encouraging us to Slice especially in March. Thanks to everyone who has committed to the 30 Daly Slice challenge. I have learned so much and enjoy reading the Slices.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slice of Life: Tackling the Hard Stuff

Tackling the hard stuff is not easy. Tackling subjects that cause controversy is sometimes easier to walk away from than choosing to discuss it.  When we read the article in Scholastic News “Showdown in Selma” I wasn’t expecting what happened in our classroom. Room 234 didn’t have any background knowledge of this historic event. As we read the article, questions resounded inquiring why?  My students wanted to understand but didn’t have any information to help them understand what had happened 50 years ago. 

I’m so happy that I didn’t realize the path we would be traveling down that day because I walked the journey along with them. Other plans were pushed aside, and we spent the day discussing Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks. We read several articles and making connections and most of all building background knowledge about the importance of these historic events. For read aloud: Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down a book that I have read every year, but this year it became integral in our learning community. 

As I think about the lessons learned that never made my plan book and most importantly the life lessons that I never saw coming, I am thankful for my students allowing me the opportunity to help them learn about Selma. Thanks to The Two Writing Teachers who encourage our slicing community to continue writing especially in March.  Here is the link up for this week.