Saturday, April 21, 2018

Celebrating NOT Testing

Ahh state testing, anyone reading this blog understands what happens to the classroom environment during four weeks of testing.  2 math, 2 reading, 2 science and 2 MAP.  I am not celebrating that!  We had a state wide shut down on Wednesday with our state testing. All tests cancelled in the state of Ohio for the day. I had planned on two hours to complete the math test,  so what did we do when that happens?  Of course, more time to read, share books, play word games especially hangman and celebrate no testing.  10 years ago, probably 5 years ago, I would have jumped right back into instruction.  Not any more.  I'm celebrating hangman with my students and of course a little word study thinking integrated with my word choices.

Coming together with their snacks and sharing our class read aloud, Flying Solo.  This is a perfect time of the year as my fifth graders transition next year to a sixth grade building. I LOVE this story and most of all I LOVE the life lessons.  Conversations around the characters and their decisions and choices are powerful.  As we were reading Wednesday, EV noticed that that storyteller's name: Klof Selat meant folk tales?  These are the moments that learners will remember forever.  I am so thankful for the opportunity for my readers to connect with authors through twitter.  Thank you for celebrating this week with me.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Celebrating: A NEW Path

Have you ever been lost as a writer, and then realized you weren't lost?  I haven't been lost. I am on a different course.  A new direction that I am choosing.  Choice is such a huge part of writing.  Audience is another huge piece of writing for me.  Who is my audience?  Am I writing for an audience?  Am I writing just for me?  All of these thoughts that have been ping ponging around in my brain this winter.

When I do feel the need to write for an audience larger than myself, I always choose my Saturday celebration family.  I've written before about "taking" and not "returning."  I have been taking a lot this winter by reading all of the Saturday celebrations and not returning by writing my own post.  Here is the link up for this week.  I am thrilled to be joining in with such supportive friends. 


My celebrations this week are from colleagues, friends and principals.  Those who don't know that I have been on an alternative route lately.  I am extremely thankful when someone takes the time to leave a kind note, inspirational email, tweet some kind words, leave a comment on my blog from a post written months ago or leaves a voicemail for my principal about a professional development that I lead this week.   

It doesn't take a lot of energy to be kind.  After all, we all know to Choose Kind  But the best part of kind is when you're not expecting it.  Those kind moments woven together reinforce that I am on the right track.  I am thankful for opportunities to quietly lead fellow teachers and volunteer in helping students who are struggling. It's strange when the current path leads me in a new directions, but I know the journey is perfect for me.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

When I Don't Know the Answers

I purchased this print about six months ago to hang on my wall in my library in our home. It took me three months to find a frame that I loved as much as the print.  It sat framed on the floor probably since Christmas. Today was the day it was placed with honor.  This photo says it all if you truly know me. "I love my library." The young girl choosing a perfect book on her library ladder. Truth be told I really wanted a ladder when we built our home, but we just couldn't figure it out.  

In the past two weeks, I have become quiet. Choosing not to be involved in conversations about what's happening in the world specifically in Ostrander, Worthington and Florida. I don't have any answers.  My time is spent on prayers and reflection.  I am a wife, mom, teacher and a citizen.  For me there aren't any clear answers.  I choose to focus on how I can help my family and my students.  The best way I know to help my students is continue to increase their knowledge, compassion, and empathy for people who are different than us.  I believe one of the best ways is to share stories.  Stories that allow students to see another point of view. Stories that open up their eyes to how fortunate they are.  Stories that have them asking questions and yes hard conversations.  When I don't know the answers, I turn to books that I can share with my impressionable readers.

I always participate in #NF10for10 either with a post or following all the blogs.I opened several tabs and started requesting picture books from my favorite little library in Ostrander. This is my pile that I picked up yesterday at the library.  Today I had time to read all of them.  Several touched my heart and will be shared in our classroom. I found one that I ordered for a friend because I believe paying it forward is one positive way to move forward. When I don't know the answers,I know my answers can be found in books and that is why I love my library and more importantly that is why I believe we need to continuing sharing books with our students allowing stories to be told and conversations to be opened.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Celebrating: Her Heart Burst

I typically write my Saturday Celebrations during the week and have them finished to post early.  Come back later in the day to read everyones posts, and I always find a few posts that linger with me. Our community and how we comment and share our thoughts is so important to me as a teacher and a writer. 

This week was busy, and I did not get my post written.  It's Saturday morning. I'm looking at the snow on the ground, birds eating in our feeder, drinking my hot tea, and I'm ready to share my journey of becoming a teacher. 

The picture above is one of my greatest treasures. If the house were burning, I would want this. I need this.  It begins my story of becoming a teacher. Both my grandparents were well educated. My grandfather was a world renown pediatric surgeon. His career started in Boston and ended at Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. There is a library in the hospital dedicated to him.  My grandmother LOVED reading and words!  She shared with me some of my favorite books and taught me the love of writing thank you notes.  She continued into her 60's translating Russian documents for The Ohio State University. My grandmother gave my mother the statue above while she was still living. When she passed, my mother passed it on to me. 

Mothers are always our first teachers. My mom wanted to be a teacher and never had an opportunity. She became my teacher.  Weekly trips to the library, helping me choose books and puzzles, reading to me every night and sharing her favorite authors especially of poetry.  Opening my eyes to the gift of books and "how they allow you to travel anywhere."  

For me I played school in our basement as soon as I could walk down the stairs. I've written a little about this in past blogs, but I honestly believed I was a teacher everyday as I walked downstairs. Being an only child, I never felt alone because i had my students. My mom's friend, Kathy, who was a teacher gave me a few "teachery" things. My heart burst with my first real grade book at age 8. Remember they were red or green, spiral bound and smelled wonderful.

Fast forward to our daughter, Anna, who is teaching in South Carolina. She played in our basement, and I brought home "teachery" things for her to use. Her heart burst when I allowed her to grade real math papers. She believed she was a teacher playing in our basement. 

Yesterday I was pulling down anchor charts (they were becoming wallpaper) and I was going to throw them away. I remember having conversations with H. about playing school in her basement.  I asked her if she would like them to take home.  Her heart burst.  I believe it is our job to encourage younger teachers, open our classrooms and share with them.  H. will be getting every little "teachery" thing I can find for the for the rest of this year. 

I'm thankful for our Celebration Community.  I will be reflecting on Ruth's post today for a long time.  Thank you Ruth for writing about what your afraid of and sharing when you're ready. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Favorite New Titles and Their Journey to Room 234

compliments of Google Images

We haven't had any snow days or delays the past two is our second snow day, and I am taking every advantage to knock down my TBR pile.  Several years ago I promised myself not to "press order" every time a new title hit a blog post or twitter. During this time of year with all the mock Newbery and Caldecott lists coming out,
 it could get really expensive quickly. It's still expensive; however, I have read every book ahead of time that I purchased for our classroom.  

I find as much enjoyment in opening a new tab for Delaware Library and start requesting books.  It's even exciting when Delaware doesn't have a book, and I use Search Ohio which is an amazing resource if you live in Ohio.  Any book can be borrowed from any public library and shipped to your home library for free.  My class has learned when I share a new titles the book has a large white sticker on the cover that it's a special book which has traveled to our classroom. They are always curious where it is from. Sometimes that leads us to a mini geography lesson :)

Every twitter feed & blog post mentioned this book. I had to order it in from
Search OH.  There are moments when I read a picture book and realize a whole new world
is open to me.  A world that I have a huge desire to learn more about. I've had conversations
about this book. I shared it with my class. We had conversations about this book.
Conversations that opened up new learning for everyone. #powerful

LOVE every part of this book.  The illustrations are fun and captivating.
I learned several new facts about bees and was entertained as I read the book.
The cartoon style of the speaker is a blast too. 

I'm searching and purchasing more books about #diversity.
Helping my young learners see themselves in books & learn
about others has been a focus all year. The illustrations are perfect with
the shiny gold woven into an extremely important story.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Three Celebrations All Rolled into One Day

I'm celebrating with our Saturday communityThis week's celebration happened on Tuesday. The first celebration was a snow day on Monday. It was our first one in two years.  I LOVE snow days because they are unplanned and a huge gift to teachers & students. Our class was a buzz Tuesday morning as everyone entered.  Listening to their conversations and agreeing with everyone was so fun!  Several students replied, "Mrs. Caplin you are as excited and we are."  I replied, "Yes I am!"

Our next celebration was in word study-in case you don't already know I love word study! I am passionate about vocabulary and weaving in new words throughout the day.  Our focus this week is a Latin room "struct" which means to build.  After our mini lesson, I always encourage learners to search for other words with a similar pattern.  While they wrote them on the chart paper, I was as quiet as a mouse listening to the rich conversations. My final celebration is our student generated word list which is always better than the teacher made list - just saying :)

Super list of vocabulary words and rich conversations
about roots + suffixes leading us toward another conversation
about parts of speech.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Celebrating JOY

I recently heard Sheryl Sandburg speak with Oprah on her Super Soul Conversations.  I appreciated how candid Sheryl was about her husband’s death and how she no longer had an Option A, but she does have Option B.  I get entranced with speakers who are sharing their heart stories. I want to listen deeply; however,  I also want to write down key points in my notebook.  I chose to listen deeply, and I then proceeded to check her book out at the library.  I didn’t read it cover to cover, but certain chapters I read several times.  Poignant take away moments for me included, searching for JOY!  And when you’re searching for JOY, you find JOY because it’s there often times in the smallest moments.  

I automatically connected the idea of celebrating JOY with my #OLW gratitude. That little word changed my life in ways that I never saw coming. That is what #OLW are suppose to do; however, some years my word captures all of me and other years it flounders along beside me.  I had decided not to choose #OLW this year.  Nothing was sticking or knocking me over.  I still consider gratitude my lifetime #OLW.  JOY is lightly tapping on my shoulder asking me to consider it. 

Yesterday was one of my celebration of JOY!  I got an email before Thanksgiving from Jordan. I had her in fifth grade, and she is currently a Junior at The Ohio State University. She was very kind in her email and told me that her favorite grade was  fifth grade, and she decided that she wants to be a teacher.  She visited yesterday and spent the day with our class. I expressed to her that as an educator we are never sure when we will have a lasting impression on a students' life. It's such an honor to know that I've created a lifelong difference for her.  

Celebrations and our Saturday community help me find JOY, and I feel a huge sense of gratitude for our conversations.  When I'm leaning toward closing up and not blogging, I always reflect on those discussions which always lift me up. Happy New Year friends.