Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrate: The Best Lesson Plans

Back to school this week, three day with students and I am already remembering where the best lesson plans come from.  Not from an on line Common Core document, a district mandated pacing guide, or a box of I can statements.  The best lesson plans come from my summer conversations that I see clearly now as I implement the new idea with my students.  The workshop that I attended in Indiana and brought back several new ideas but the one I chose first is using the  same mentor text for reading and writing workshop and if I'm lucky I can pull out a few delicious words for word study observation.  The very best lesson plans come from my 23 students sitting on the floor enthralled with the video that I shared from Ruth Ayres in which she talks about her own writer's notebook.  She shared that a WNB can be and should be a collection of objects including poetry, comics, ticket stubs, play bills, lyrics etc.  Along with the idea that my students  can draw, web, create lists was very exciting to them.  After discussing the video and sharing my own writer's notebook, my class was begging  to write.  But we didn't just write in our room, we wrote around our school.  I told my class I trusted them to write anywhere on the first floor.  I gave them 10 minutes and to report back to the library at 11:45.  One student exclaimed, "I never have had a teacher that trusted me to write and not be sitting in the same room withe me."  Another question, "Are you sure about this?"  Yes I said with a huge smile - go write. At lunch one of the 4th grade teachers told me that one of her past students said as she took her class to lunch, "Don't worry I'm just writing and Mrs. Caplin knows I'm here."   Finally as we were getting ready to go home for the weekend, three students asked if they could take home their WNB so they could decorate it because they loved the second video I shared.  Wait one more celebration, another student came back upstairs to get his WNB because he forgot it and just thought maybe he would write some this weekend.  My celebration is for writing both my own and my classes, and a special thanks to Ruth Ayres for making her amazing video and continuing to encourage all of us to celebrate every week. You can link up HERE

Sometimes a photo says it all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Slice of Life

I've already had to implement my OLW: choice on the first day of school.  I am not going there, but I am willing to say that the time I spent this summer reminded me to stop and breath.  Here is "The rest of my story" as the amazing storyteller Paul Harvey would say. 
  • Every year our entire district gets together to kick off the school year.  One of my favorite parts is the high school band playing. We also listened as several Dublin teachers spoke about what is #theDublinDifference.  They were inspirational and reminded me the importance of teaching to the students' heart.
  • I was able to enjoy a literacy conversation with a new teacher and start sharing ideas about reading workshop.  I even got a chance to model a lesson. What fun and a great way to share best practices.  I'm excited when we have new teachers join our staff from different school districts. This provides an opportunity to learn and share together.
  • Finally a celebration (I know it's not Saturday) for our custodian, Joni and her amazing crew. They always say yes and with a smile.  Even when I have moved a bookcase three times.  It's a blessing when you have such a caring support team.
  • Today is a work day until 2:00 and then I get to meet my brand new class for the first time this year. I  LOVE the walk through as they check out their new classroom while meeting new friends including our fish and gecko.  Asking questions: where will I sit?  More surprises on Wednesday for them.
Thank you to the Slice of Life community of writers.  It's always a highlight on Tuesday to read other slices. You can check out other slices here at Slice of Life.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate: In ALL Sizes

This has been a week of celebrations from the minuscule to gigantic.  It's amazing when I live my week wondering which event I will be celebrating on Saturday. I am thankful to Ruth for the encouragement of celebration. Also her honesty in her blogs which always cause me to pause and reflect. You can link up HERE

Truth confessions I love Starbucks.  IT is just is a little piece of heaven wrapped in a Non-Fat Chi yet the nearest Starbucks is 20 minutes from my home unless you count Krogers.  I have been thinking and thinking and talking and talking to friends about purchasing a Keurig and you would have to know me to realize what a monumental decision this was.  I finally purchased one from Kohls after I spent weeks waiting for them to go on sale, collected a coupon from my friend, Kelly, and saved my Kohls cash.  The full prices was $124.56 and I paid $77.94.  A minuscule celebration.

Thursday I was running errands and I went to get out of my car, and  I had locked my doors and realized the store was not open yet. I got back in my car, closed the door and the car alarm went off.  I could not unlock my doors, open my windows or do anything.  It was a little scary, so I just started my car and thought that might stop it. It didn't so I drove around the parking lot with the alarm blaring finally it went off.  I went into the store, came out and started my car - beep beep beep!  Ugh what do I do now? Finally a kind older gentleman told me to turn off the car and he'd pull the wire on my battery.  When he did that he thought it would reset the alarm but it didn't.  He then pulled the fuse for the horn, and I finally could drive home. No horn and my flashers flashing.  I wish this blog had sounds and videos kind of like Smellavision on the Cooking Channel. Now it's funny then not so much.   Keep celebrating even the minuscule and the gift of a stranger.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wonder Wednesday: Starting the Year with Wonders

It's time again to start thinking about the first few weeks of school and which wonders I want to incorporate into my lesson plans. It's exciting to go back and read the bookmarked wonders from camp this summer. I've starting linking wonders to the first units of study for the new school year.  

To search for wonders, link here and type in the wonder # into the search box. I hope you're considering searching for the perfect wonders to start your school year.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Math Monday: Building a Math Library

I'm so excited Mandy has decided to start this blog. An opportunity to learn and grow together and hopefully share best practices, great mentor text as well as support each other as we continue to look at our world through mathematical eyes.  This is when my shift occurred when I was lucky to be in #carPD with Mandy and Mary Lee as they were discussing the idea of math visual literacy.  I've always enjoyed math especially the calculations and precision of it.  I have to admit I haven't spent a great deal thinking about it and I certainly have not been on a scavenger hunt like I have been this summer searching for rich math picture books.  Our district is moving towards a K-5 math workshop this year and I am thrilled.  There will be so many overlaps for me because of my love of language arts workshop.  The one area of great need was my math library. I have had a few that I love as old standbys, but this summer I am definitely adding to my collection. I'm curious what are you favorite mentor texts?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Late Night Slice: Thankful for Leadership Academy

Today I had the opportunity to attend our district's Leadership Academy.  This is a two day academy totally organized by the teachers in our district. A group of dedicated professionals work all year and the presenters are all teachers who choose to share their passion.  It is an amazing opportunity to come together, see friends, share summer conversations but begin to think about the start of the new school year.   This  year our keynote was Dr. Michele Borba and she was inspirational and totally energized me for the start of school in two weeks.  And to think this is what I found on her twitter page:

How excited was I to see that she MT as I was writing my blog tonight?  I struggled between tweeting and taking notes.  There were so many take aways I wanted to share them for my Slice of Life.  

  • Start the school year with a discussion asking your students which traits they believe are important as a new class is beginning to build community.  Remember these traits are verbs not nouns.  
  • She shared with us her qualities of her legacy teacher. She asked us to think about our favorite teacher. She remembers two rules which are life lessons that I loved."We start what we finish" and the 2 H's:  Are you being helpful or harmful?
  • It is our job to lead by example showing students these traits: greeting students at the door, teaching them to look you in the eye "Good Morning" and I loved the idea of a learning log.  Asking students everyday to write down one thing they learned.
  • Another take away that i am going to use when starting our class meeting is "Good News for the Day" helping students learn to look for good but also go beyond their own world.  She mentioned    which I am going to incorporate into building our global community
  • Finally and honestly very touching she disucussed the imprtantnce of knowing everyone's name but also something special about each student.  She had all of us stand up, put our arms around each other and sing "Everybody Knows Your Name" the theme song from Cheers.  It was so cool to be standing in the back looking down and of course singing loudly, sorry Sarah I was a little off key.
I am always excited even when a little late in joining Two Writing Teachers for Tuesday Slice of Life.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Celebrating: Full circles

This past week was perfect and came full circle for me yesterday.  Our week started with a quick (12 hour turnaround) decision to go visit our daughter in South Carolina last Sunday.  Anna had been asking me to come down and help her set up her classroom and was pretty positive that would not probably happen. She is an intervention specialist with 33 students on her caseload. I can't even begin to explain how wrong that is so my husband and I decided to surprise her with a quick 48 hour visit. We spent Monday not on the beach but in her classroom moving furniture out (use to be a preschool classroom) and helping her set up for a new school year.  I couldn't have been happier helping set up her classroom library, putting up her word wall and organizing cabinets.  My husband was amazing and a real trooper and nothing made me happier than seeing all three of us in her classroom supporting her as she begins her third year of teaching. We're so proud of you Anna!
Another celebration-my 50th birthday 

We got home late Wednesday night, and I realized I needed to spend one more long day in my own classroom to finish up - all those little things that take so long. I text my mom coming home from SC and asked her if she was free Friday to help me in my classroom.  She of course said yes, later learned she changed some plans that she had for the day.  We spent yesterday cutting laminating, organizing my news bulletin board, building an iRead phone which Anna gave me the idea, finished organizing my library and ending the day cleaning out my book bins so the next class can build their own library. Our conversations were fun and another opportunity to share special memories. I sure know where I get my love of books thanks mom and Grandmother Ro.  I only have one problem I chose 27 books for the first week of school. Do you think that is too many?  

This is an example from Pinterest.  I am going to put the book covers  on it that I
 will use as my mentor text this year in reading workshop. Our button is a
small white paper plate. A little 3D action. 
Thanks to Ruth Ayres for her weekly reminder to Celebrate. You can link up HERE