Sunday, January 31, 2016

January OLW Thoughts about my Quest

I have always tried to reflect on my OLW at the end of the month. I lost that idea last year, but I want to try it again.  I felt like it helped me focus on my OLW throughout the month.  As January comes to a close and to be honest I am ready to put this month behind me. I am thankful for my quest as well as the  lessons I learned from January.  

How does each scene support the structure of the play?

In class, I went on a quest to understand RL5.5 Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem. Let's be honest this standard is not new, I attempted it last year.  It's like unwrapping a gift but it turned into a  white elephant.  I wasn't quite sure what the standard meant, but I gave it my best shot.  Year 2, I am celebrating  digging deeper and continued searching for the true meaning of the white elephant. After all there is a little beauty in even the most difficult standard.  I am thankful to our literacy coach and team for helping me on this quest.  As we devoured "Ethics of Pigs" by O'Henry, we all felt much smarter and totally understood the structure of a drama.  We all earned a gold star for that learning. 
January in Ohio is always unpredictable with the weather.  Our weather has been seasonably mild, and we haven't had much snow.  We sidetracked the huge blizzard that just rolled through.  My quest for home this past month was slowing down in the evening and turning off school.  Typically I would do my homework for the evening and then continue reading, tweeting, and writing about being a teacher.  I decided I was going to try this month to turn off school earlier or better yet not have to do school every night. I assume this might sound a little crazy for a teacher to turn off school, but I needed to adjust, and I'm thankful I did.  I learned that being "on" all the time was not working for me.  I am thankful that my quest lead to a path that is more balanced.  I'm anxious to continue into February...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Celebrating Family and Friends

This past week was not easy. I am reminded that it's important to live each day to the fullest and look for celebrations. When times are tough, I try to remember that everyone has those moments, hours and even days.  My celebration is that I was never alone, and I was reminded of the importance of celebrating my family.  I believe God gives me moments to stop and to slow down. Life can be so busy, and I often get all caught up in the craziness.  

I'm celebrating friends and family that were there for me this week. Cards were mailed to our home and left in my mailbox at school. I was blessed to have family from Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and Washington DC come in for the funeral. Our house was full with love and support for everyone. Their hugs and conversations were exactly what I needed. I'm celebrating my family and friends who once again were there to pick up the pieces.  

I enjoy reading Saturday celebrations because I learn so many life lessons. As I read Ruth's posts, I am always in awe of how she handles difficult situations.  I always find a lesson, celebration or a chance to grow as I read her posts. I try to live my life with those three points in difficult times. Here is a quote from her recent post "We've gotta share our stories with a real, live, genuine audience. Because what I know for sure is when we take our stories out, with our hearts pounding and our palms sweaty, we become alive and the world becomes better. We understand one another in new ways and we gain grace. Story will only change the world if we share them."  I am thankful for Celebration Saturday, and I appreciate learning from everyone.  Happy Saturday my friends.  Find a moment to celebrate family and friends. I know I will.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Three Celebrations

I'm celebrating slowing down and marvelous books. Thanks Ruth for organizing our celebrations I enjoy spending Saturday mornings reading the wide variety of them. We completed our first week back and it was nice to slow down and ease in.

CELEBRATION #1  We spent time talking about our holiday break. I always encourage my students to share one favorite event and as usual it led to two, three, four and five favorites. The intriguing thing is that as I listened I learned about vacations, family, fears and new little puppies. 

CELEBRATION #2  My students were sharing about their reading over holiday break. Several students shared amazing book talks and several Newbery Club members read 2-3 books.  Announcing Bailey's winner A Night Divided  by Jennifer Nielsen. Won't that be a huge celebration if it wins on Monday morning? 

Our winner for Newbery Club
CELEBRATION #3   I chose not to start a new chapter read aloud this week.  You know that HUGE pile of picture books that you love and purchased but haven't had the chance to share YET. Well this week that's exactly what I did I shared my favorite new picture books.  If you haven't read them I would encourage you to check these out of the library. 
Did you slow down or read a great book?  It was a wonderful first week back.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Celebrating my OLW for 2016

It's that time of year again, ironic how's it's only January 2. Time to ponder and choose my One Little Word. This year choosing my OLW snuck up on me, and I've spent the last few days in a complete quandary.  I really wanted to recycle one of my past OLW because every time I chose my word it attached to me like another arm. But this year, only 36 hours of it, my word hadn't jumped into my lap. YET

I've been reflecting (a past OLW) about how my word leads my thinking, helps me to slow down, and most of all centers me for the new year.  After several circular conversations with my husband, I knew I wanted a verb and a unique word. I found my OLW or should I say it found me.

It's perfect for me in all the ways I need it to be. 
  • what's better than a word that is unique and starts with "qu"
  • it's a verb - reminds me to be on the look out for and continue to search
  • I'm on a quest to continue to weave in my past OLW 
  • a constant quest to strengthen my skills as a an educator and blogger
  • continue the quest of finding and recording explicit yet engaging vocabulary
  • a quest for a balance of prayers, petitions and praise
So now I'm 27 hours into the new year and I'm on my quest. Thanks to Ruth for supporting OLW and Celebrations.  Welcome in 2016!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Slice of Life: Reflection on 2015

This Friday is the last day of 2015 in our classroom. As I'm reflecting (OLW15) on the first four months of school. It's been a great start to the year with celebrations including last Friday's comment, "Mrs. Caplin, I've never understood long division. It's the best day of the year."  Another email from a sixth grade student thanking me for spending so much time helping him with his math and reading. As the school year closes, I am thankful for these celebrations.

  • All my students are reading their JR books that they choose. They know their teacher is a reader and will always be asking, "What are you reading?"
  • Newbery Club is meeting this Thursday, and I'm celebrating all 23 of them that go above and beyond and choose to be apart of our club early in the morning before school.  
  • Long division doesn't have to be long - it can be repeated addition and/or place value long 7.  What ever strategy works best for my students is the #1 choice.
  • We're reading Family Under the Bridge written in 1958 in Paris, France.  I read it every year and have enough copies for everyone to have their own. There is a magic when my students know that the book their holding might have been held by their brother or sister who is now in high school.  It's been a different type of read aloud this year with the recent events in Paris.  We've spent additional time having important conversations. I've used  Google images showing them photos of important historical places in Paris.  
  • Yesterday the The Ohio State Jazz combo visits our school every year.  The opportunity for our students to be exposed to different types of music as well as learn the story behind the music is very special. 
  • Thursday we will be doing 5th Grade Gives Back collecting toiletries, making snowflakes to deliver to the nursing home and after school several students and teachers will go the nursing home to sing and pass out the snowflakes.
  • Friday will be our holiday party, and I'm super excited this year.  The room mothers asked for every student to donate a gently used book they've already read, and we're playing a game with them.  All my students will be taking home a old/new book to read over the holidays.  Perfect for Room 234 :)
Finally I am thankful for my renewed energy in writing. Opening the computer and having something  to type.  Grabbing ideas from Sunday sermons and collecting interesting vocabulary from everywhere.  New and exciting words are jumping off the pages and my wordsmith brain is happy happy!!  I hope everyone has a blessed and relaxing Christmas. Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for encouraging me to Slice on Tuesdays.  My plans right now are to celebrate with our family the first week and find some writing time the second week. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Slice of Life: Eeyore Complex

I rolled out on the wrong side of the bed. It was one of those days when every email I received was a problem or created more work for me. I was about at my wits end and have to admit that I was very boisterous during lunch hour with my thoughts about the latest requests.  I continued to walk around like Eeyore and just had a grumpy look on my face.  After school, I meandered down to my friends classroom in which I found my other three companions and I just let loose.  They all listened, and a few of them had inquiries in support as well as questions.  I’m pretty sure it was a gripe session in the best of days.  However, knowing I have my friends in the trenches with me and I had a safe place to vent was so important to me. I am thankful to my colleagues who always listen when I’m ready to pounce. I am thankful to my daughter who I call everyday after school as we discuss our days as teachers.  I am thankful to my mom who always listens and seems to find a glimmer of light.  And my husband 30 years later still says, “I can just tell. What’s wrong?” Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for encouraging me to slice about life's adventures.  

Thanks to Google Images for sharing one of my favorite Pooh friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Slice of Life: Can't Find the Path (Yet)

Over Thanksgiving, I had several conversations with our adult children which left me in a quandary. There are so many tough questions being asked these days not only from our kids, but about life.  I think there lies the answer: I don't have to know all the answers as long as I continue to learn and have empathy as part of the process.

 I watched Ruth's video about her decade of One Little Words.   Her calming voice along with her explanations resonated in me. My OLW15: reflection has sent me on twists and turns I never saw coming this year. When I take a moment to reflect and realize the answer is not always there or more importantly the path can't be found (yet).  We're all on a journey to figure out the pieces (slices) of life. The conversations really made me realize that my journey at 52 is not any different than one at the age of 23 and 25.  I am thankful for that realization. Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for encouraging me to Slice. 

Summer reflection from a moment on our dock.