Saturday, August 29, 2015

Celebrating: Letting Go!

let go the first day of school.  

  • I was nervous to leave the supplies open ended, they were thrilled.
  • I was hesitant that everyone would be included, everyone was successful.
  • I was leery when I gave only one direction "Build the tallest free-standing structure" they worked together to build their structure.
  • I wanted to "jump in" and make suggestions, I kept quiet.
  • I wanted to offer encouragement, but I knew that would be teacher "approval."
  • I wasn't sure of the connections they would make, and they made better connections that I could have imagined.
We discussed their learning experience and created the chart above.  I asked them what did they learn as a team?  We connected these ideas to our new school year.  I was impressed with the last one: say something positive first before you make a suggestion.  WOW!  If we accomplished that on day one I think we are set for the year.

TAKE AWAY:  When we step away and allow our students the opportunity for open ended learning (projects, #makespace) there is more commitment and ownership.  Students find creative solutions and most of them I didn't even consider.  I'm excited for the opportunity to continue challenging my students and learning along side them.  It's going to be a GREAT year - Let's celebrate!  Thanks to Ruth for reminding us to celebrate every week. Here is the link for this week.  I'm always thankful for our Saturday time together in the blogging community.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Letting Go - Celebrating Creativity

After reading several blogs, attending Dublin Leadership Academy and having several conversations with colleagues, I am embracing the idea of “letting go.” I spent the summer with my #OLW: reflection.  Thinking about how I can let go and as important allowing students the choices they need to be more independent.  Every step doesn’t have to be planned and every outcome doesn’t have to be known.  I’m doing a little self-talk: take a breath; if you know me this will be a huge learning curve. A focus area for me as a learner and a teacher is going to be celebrating creativity

It’s important to build on what I know. I know the center of our classroom will still focus on inquiry and wonder, which goes hand in hand with allowing students choice especially with collaboration and the opportunity to create. Wonderopolis will continue to be my go to website to celebrate choice in reading as well as allowing students to eventually create their own wonders. 

In the past, my students have completed several first day activities: building a class puzzle, building marshmallow and spaghetti structures, playing fact and opinion. These are all great ideas but again I structured them tightly by Limiting supplies and giving specific directions.  Granted they enjoyed it, but they didn't have the chance to choose their supplies which is a huge part of collaboration with a new group of students. 

The table is set to greet them as they arrive to fifth grade on their first day.
Spaghetti, toothpicks, marshmallows, Duct tape, different size construction paper and containers.
Tomorrow when my students arrive, they are going to see a variety of supplies and my only directions will be to create the tallest structure on Wednesday; Thursday build the strongest structure. After each structure is complete we will discuss the following:
  1. ·      What did you learn about structure as well as working as team?
  2. ·      What are you proud of with the structure and as a team?
  3. ·      What would you change with the structure and as a team? 

I will record their thinking on chart paper..  I will ask each student to write a reflection in their notebook, so that on Friday we can come back to both experiences and compare/contrast them.  My goal is that as a class we will write a class motto for the year and will continue to reflect on these experiences throughout the year.  More to follow who knows what will happen after all I'm letting go.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I Blog.

Why blog?  I've been asking this question frequently in my mind and even asked a few close friends. The answer has been blurry for me and lately I have had more reasons why not vs. why to continue to write.  I've been struggling last school year and even more this summer.  I've been thinking about it all the time: lying in the hammock, morning walks, gardening, and sitting in the rocking chair. I've been searching for answers.  Here is what I've figured out about blogging.

  • Blogging isn't necessarily about what ends up in the blog.  I compose posts all the time in my mind actually this is probably the number one reason I have a blog. I'm always thinking about what to share or what not to share.  How to say this but not say that?  The process is huge for me.
  • Blogging is my lifeline for my PLN.  I wouldn't be where I am today as an educator with out my extended learning including my NCFL family and support of twitter friends. There are numerous times when I was at the end of the rope and a comment, tweet or text pulled my through.  I wonder how someone in another state can know me better than my colleagues I work with everyday.
  • Blogging is my connection with reality. My reality of putting pencil to paper in my notebook or typing on Google docs. The reality of asking my students to write and seeing that look on their face of horror and being able to say I know how you feel because I felt the exact same way.  Then open up my writer's notebook and share my story with them.
  • Blogging pushes me in a direction that I am unsure but somehow want to end of there. Well doesn't that sound like life...pushing forward and not sure of the path your'e on.  
I'm not going to promise that I am back to full throttle, but I know that I need to continue to blog because the thinking in my head, the writing on paper and the commorodity with my PLN is something that I cherish.  Here's to another school year - welcome back to those who already started as well those of you who are still basking in the summer glow. 

Found this gem on our sailing trip this summer.