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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Dim Glimmering Light

Writing around our library.
Why do I totally get wiped out the first few weeks of school?  I knew the first few weeks wouldn't be perfect or even close, but I always hope as the excitement grows and all of my summer thinking finally can burst open.  I had to make a choice and again my OLW came tugging on me.

I am through my first few weeks, and I told my husband tonight I found a tunnel and I think there is a dim light glimmering.  The energy and excitement builds the first few weeks as much mine as my students. I still got nervous and even my butterflies have not disappeared.  As we started our third week today, I stopped and focused on several important events of our day:  weekend share, discussing the predictions from the OSU game, helping a few students learn that a score of 94-11 probably wasn't going to happen.  Staying true to  our reading and writing workshop.  Asking my students about how they felt about reading and reversing the questions with their writing.  Realizing that 18/22 of my students are hesitant writers and when I asked why? They were open and shared that they don't have any ideas, they always worry about spelling and finally they just don't choose to write.  

Honest conversations from the first few weeks will guide my practice. And I promised them that I would be their advisor, coach, and cheerleader as we begin our writing journeys together this year.  I shared my own writer's notebook - you could have heard a pen drop.  Asking me, "Will you write with us?"  I replied, "Yes right along with you." We're all nervous writers but together we will all be stronger writers. The day ended with a dim light getting a little brighter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrate: The Best Lesson Plans

Back to school this week, three day with students and I am already remembering where the best lesson plans come from.  Not from an on line Common Core document, a district mandated pacing guide, or a box of I can statements.  The best lesson plans come from my summer conversations that I see clearly now as I implement the new idea with my students.  The workshop that I attended in Indiana and brought back several new ideas but the one I chose first is using the  same mentor text for reading and writing workshop and if I'm lucky I can pull out a few delicious words for word study observation.  The very best lesson plans come from my 23 students sitting on the floor enthralled with the video that I shared from Ruth Ayres in which she talks about her own writer's notebook.  She shared that a WNB can be and should be a collection of objects including poetry, comics, ticket stubs, play bills, lyrics etc.  Along with the idea that my students  can draw, web, create lists was very exciting to them.  After discussing the video and sharing my own writer's notebook, my class was begging  to write.  But we didn't just write in our room, we wrote around our school.  I told my class I trusted them to write anywhere on the first floor.  I gave them 10 minutes and to report back to the library at 11:45.  One student exclaimed, "I never have had a teacher that trusted me to write and not be sitting in the same room withe me."  Another question, "Are you sure about this?"  Yes I said with a huge smile - go write. At lunch one of the 4th grade teachers told me that one of her past students said as she took her class to lunch, "Don't worry I'm just writing and Mrs. Caplin knows I'm here."   Finally as we were getting ready to go home for the weekend, three students asked if they could take home their WNB so they could decorate it because they loved the second video I shared.  Wait one more celebration, another student came back upstairs to get his WNB because he forgot it and just thought maybe he would write some this weekend.  My celebration is for writing both my own and my classes, and a special thanks to Ruth Ayres for making her amazing video and continuing to encourage all of us to celebrate every week. You can link up HERE

Sometimes a photo says it all.