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. . . .

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.