Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My OLW in January

Many of you know my One Little Word for the year is reflection.  The OLW changed my month.  I stop now and reflect much more than I ever did.  I even started a place in my writer's notebook of ideas for January that I can reflect on.  I never took the time to this before and what is even more interesting to me I thought I would reflect on teaching practices.  But at least for January that is not what I have chosen to blog about-- what really stopped me this month were two first time experiences.

The first experience happened in writer's workshop and it took my breath away.  As the students were leaving to do their writing a student asked if she could talk to me.  We walked over to my desk,  and she said, "I have been asked to speak at my great grandmother's funeral.  I want to say something special.  Can you please help me write down some strong vocabulary words? "  I looked at her and replied, "I'd be honored." with a tear in my eye.  Together we came up with 5 very special words.

Jon and his son enjoying the moment.
The next experience was an opportunity for my family to spend a weekend in Louisville with the 5 other wonder lead families and the amazing group from NCFL .  I had been lucky enough to spend time with many members of the NCFL in the past.  But this was the first experience for my family to learn about this extraordinary organization.  During the weekend, the wonder families visited many different places and as we arrived at the Louisville Zoo, each family was given a question to WONDER about.  All of a sudden our family was talking and thinking about this question, of course the first place we went to was the orangutans.  We didn't find the answer on the signs that we read around the area, but we were lucky enough to ask the assistant keeper to find out our answer. The reflection came later from this experience how one question hooked four adults (remember our kids are 19 and 21) We had fun searching the answer and connecting as a family in the primate house-who knew?

On a side note, I am very excited because we are going to
do some cross posting today.  Please check out my friend's blogs:

Melissa @ Technology: figuring out how the pieces fit
Tracy @ Thinking Stems 

Tara @ A Teaching Life

Barbara @ One Little Word

Memories with your family, friends and students are what makes me thankful each day. Take some time in February to stop and reflect.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Better than Bread Pudding!

I bet I have your attention--- I like chocolate, ice cream, and pie but I LOVE bread pudding.  Here is the part that is crazy I don't know how to make bread pudding, my mom never made bread pudding, but I love to treat myself when we go out to eat.  What does bread pudding have to do with Wonderopolis?  I always look forward to Wonder Wednesday and sharing the conversations with my students about the daily wonder.  The delicious part for me is when my students make connections with Wonderopolis beyond the classroom and extend to home.  I encouraged my class to try and connect their persuasive topics to a wonder of the day and use those facts in their research.

As I read McKenna's rough draft I was so impressed with her research along with her connections to the wonder. When I conferenced with her, I asked her where she found a few of her facts.  She told me the links on Wonderopolis helped her and I said that is exciting. But the bread pudding was when she told me it wasn't the links in the wonder but the links in the reply from Wonderopolis.  So if you haven't shared with your class the Wonder of the Day-I think you should. You will get your bread pudding.

PS. If you live in Ohio and near Cap City Diner they have the BEST bread pudding in the world!  Just look--

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friendly Reminder to my Reflection Friends (OLW)

In my first post about One Little Word I wrote that my word for this year is going to be reflection. I had as much fun reading all of the comments as I did reflecting on my month.  At the bottom of first post, I suggested that you might consider reflecting with me at the end of each month well January is getting close to being over. On a side note, I am just fine with that (it is my least favorite month of the year) I guess I will reflect later on why that is.  I had several comments so I am posting a friendly reminder to those who left a comment and of course anyone else who wants to join along on a cross post on Tuesday, January 31.  I will post my monthly reflection and you can post on your blog or just leave a coment, and we'll cross reference each others blogs-what fun.  Thanks for joining my OLW journey.

Melissa @ Technology: figuring out how the pieces fit
Mrs. Kmiec @ CSI Scientists

Julie @ Raising Readers and Writers

Gail (a reader of my blog)

Tracy @ Thinking Stems

Tara @ A Teaching Life

You Are Never to Old to Wonder or Visit the Zoo!

As I mentioned in my Flame Run post, our family had an amazing weekend in Louisville as we walked around the Louisville Zoo. As we entered the zoo, each family was given a wonder card that we had to find the answer.  Here is our card to the right. Automatically our family, remembering our children are 19 and 21 were on a mission to find the answer.  All of a sudden our family was talking and thinking about this question. This was interesting to me because of one focused question we were all discussing our ideas for the answer instead of talking about another topic. Typically for our family would be talking about what we wanted for lunch?  We didn't find the answer on the signs that we read around the primate area, but we were lucky enough to ask the assistant keeper to find out our answer.  I am not going to tell you just in case you want to WONDER and search for yourself.

Meet our new friend-he EATS a lot.
I had never really extended my WONDER outside my classroom and with a few simple ideas I learned that WONDER is everywhere. The transfer back to the classroom would be to choose a wonder of the day at Wonderopolis and discuss it with the class.  Instead of asking students to reflect on what they learned, ask them what they continue to wonder about?  Have them write the "extended" wonder on an index card and post the cards on a bulletin board.  I would probably do this for an introduction to a a new unit for example life science.  I might show Wonder # 47 Why Do Leaves Change Color in Autumn? Then as I teach the unit we would try and find the answers to their wonders. If we still had index cards that were not answered at the end of the unit then we would work together to search for the answers. Building wonder throughout your whole day is WONDERful!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I WONDER What is in the Box & OLW

During our WONDER weekend in Louisville, one of our stops was at Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery.  I was thrilled to be going to Flame Run because I had an instant connection because when I was little I collected on vacations glass animals. I guess my love of the country started at a very young age.  I am not sure why I ever started the collection, but I always remember visiting my grandparents in Twin Lakes, NY and my favorite store the was the glass blowing.  As we learned, on our tour blowing glass takes lots of time, patience and talent.  It was fun to watch Brook, who is the owner share his craft.  I listened in awe as he discussed his knowledge of his craft.  We could all see how passionate he is about his craft.

So after our presentation, Brook said there is one more surprise each of the WONDER leads is going to be able to make an ornament.  My heart dropped because if truth be known I don't enjoy getting out of my comfort zone very much.  We were able to offer the opportunity to our family members, but my family wanted me to make one. Their encouragement really helped me as I stood and waited my turn.  I watched as the other 5 leads made their one of a kind unique ornament and then it was my turn.  I chose my colors of red, white and pink and requested a twist.  Brook looked at me and responded,  "I have never tried this before." This comment made me feel more comfortable. I proceeded to watch Brook create my ornament and then my turn came to blow in a tube to expand the bulb-my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I did it, and I have to admit I was very proud of myself.

As I REFLECT (OLW) on this experience, I thought about my words in the classroom.  What are the words we can use to encourage our students who are scared, but don't want to tell anyone? At what point during the day, are my students afraid to speak up and say I am not sure how to do this?  Visiting, Flame Run reminded me it is alright to explore out of my box.  So with that said here is my ornament.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wonderopolis is Mentor Text Heaven!

Have you ever experienced a moment when the lightbulb goes off and you say out loud, "How come I didn't think of that sooner?" and no one is in the room.  Well that moment happens to me often and yes I must confess I do occasionally talk out loud especially when driving to school in the morning thinking about my day ahead.  

I assigned WONDER homework as I typically do on Wednesdays so that my students could connect persuasive writing with What Does It Mean To Stand Up for Something?  We had looked at this wonder previously because I purchased the book Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand after watching the video in the wonder.  If you don't do anything else with this blog post, please watch the video from the link above-powerful!

This was their final part of the lesson for persuasive writing. Their HW was to read the wonder and leave a comment answering 3 questions.  How did the wonder persuade you to take a stand?  What was the strongest part of the wonder? What is your HOT topic?  As I read their comments which are all posted in the link above.  Again my class blew me out of the water.  I was so impressed with their thinking, connections with past lessons from class and YES they did connect the persuasive writing strategies with the wonder. Which brings me back to the light bulb.

Wonderopolis is a wealth of mentor texts-perfect for any non fiction writing piece. Not only can the wonder hook your students, allow them to extend their learning at home but also as the teacher you can use the text for teaching strong writing. Why had I never thought of that before?  In addition, I was so excited about how my students chose a wide variety of HOT topics that I created this wordle .  


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

OLW Reflection

One of my favorite parts of blogging and tweeting is the community of professionals  that I now know through these digital resources.  I love that I can have virtual conversations that change my teaching but also encourage me from a distance including South Carolina, Montana, Kentucky, California, and North Carolina.  What a wide group of learners and just today someone started following me from Sydney, Australia. Last week, I had a comment left from someone in Africa.  It really is a small world and for that I am thankful.

So tonight as I was reading blogs about One Little Word, I read my friend, Melissa's, post which really helped me organize my thinking. What is Your Word? I have already chosen my word: reflection but this post is the first of many. I am totally "borrowing" a few of her questions but how couldn't I with this introduction.

Let's stop and reflect ....

What part of speech were you?  
reflection is a noun (fixing of thoughts/thoughtful consideration) synonyms (meditation, deliberation) reflect is a verb (to give back) I like that definition because of the importance of conversations.

Does that word symbolize a goalThat is a great question because I didn't originally think my word was a goal but now that it is MY word I find myself thinking about it. Driving home today from school, I was thinking about hard it has been to set my next guided reading groups typically I turn on the radio but not today.  Perhaps my OLW is setting me up to think about it as a goal-didn't see that one coming.

Does that word come from  promise to yourself?  This word comes from the bottom of my big toe meaning I never take time to reflect because I am always thinking and planning ahead, but I know from reading professional books and listening to PD conferences that reflection is  crucial.  Luckily in 2012 I have committed to my OLW.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Welcome in Wonder Year 2012

I have been very fortunate the past two years to have the opportunity to surround myself with a strong community through twitter and blogging. I believe that this community has helped me grow professionally, increase my understanding of my craft, ask better questions and allow me the chance to grow in areas where I never thought I would be today-mainly technology.  Many of you who have been following my blog know that when I got my iPod grant I was searching for a way to integrate literacy and technology.  I found through a friend, thanks Andrea, an amazing website: Wonderopolis.   

Best breakfast in the world @ Lynn's Paradise Cafe

With the background set, I have some exciting news I have been chosen to be one of the lead ambassadors for Wonder Year 2012. Last weekend, my family was invited to Louisville, KY the home of NCFL to explore and wonder with the other 5 families which included children from the age of 3 to 21. (disclaimer: I happen to be the eldest lead but proud of it) We had amazing opportunities to visit so many exciting places and the BEST part was that we learned first hand that there is WONDER everywhere we visited-more about that in future posts. So with that said-Welcome in Wonder Year 2012, and I am honored to be included in this journey.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wonder Wednesday: Persuasive Writing and Ownership

As we start back to school this week, I am going to begin to push my students to think differently about the wonder of the day. Today for Wonder Wednesday, we are going to look at a wonder from a different point of view. As a class we are going to examine WONDER #43 Where do Recycled Items Go? I chose this article so my students will think beyond the collection of items. It also connects with our science unit.

  • Where do recycled items go?
  • What kinds of products are made from recycled items?
  • How are recycled items sorted for processing?
Here are some of the focused questions that we will use to examine the WONDER from a different point of view.

*How did the author of the wonder grab your attention (LEADS)?
*How did the author of the wonder raise your awareness of the recycled materials?
*What are the most powerful points of the wonder?

In addition, I will ask the students to become more aware of published media. Students will choose their favorite commercial and write about it. Using the same 3 questions from above just inserting their commercial product. One of my goals is to allow the students time to notice persuasive writing that is all around them. Again connecting school learning with home learning.

Once we have looked at all the different types of persuasive writing, we will design our class rubric for grading their persuasive writing projects. There is power in allowing students to help design the rubric that that they will be held accountable to for grading. It is going to be a very busy start to our new school year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year-Are you Willing to Reflect in 2012?

As we drove home from an exciting family weekend, I was reading twitter and enjoying all the posts on One Little Word.  As I read Mandy's post Happy New Year and One Little Word, I began to think about my one word for 2012.  Since we had a four hour drive home, I had time to ponder. As I thought about 2011, there are many words that come to mind including: change, motivation, literacy, technology, integration, learning, and wonder. In my busy life, reflection is probably the first thing I let go of in my timeline. It is funny for me to think my life is busy now because my husband and I became "empty nesters" in 2011.  After having time to think, I have decided my 2012 word will be reflection.

I am excited about this word because in the new year I will hold myself accountable to a reflection blog at the end of year month. I also think that this will help me stop, think, and reflect during the month. Anyone willing to start a cross post the last few days of the month? We could call it: Reflections of January 2012 etc. Leave me a comment if interested.