Saturday, February 28, 2015

Celebrations - February OLW Reflection

February has crept slowly by with several snow days and bitter cold temperatures. My OLW perspective was at the forefront, as I had to adjust my thinking several times both with the weather and in my classroom. My celebrations begin with the weather.
  • I'm celebrating an amazing and thoughtful husband who has driven me to work several times with a smile because he wanted to not because he had too.  
  • I love snow days, time to read, look out the windows at our beautiful backyard searching for the wild life. 
  • When I'm not driving in the snow, which isn't often, I love snow I really do.  Individual snowflakes, looking at all the different tracks around our property, beautiful cozy fires and the sun gleaming down on our frozen pond are all celebrations for me.
Celebrations continue with school.
  • My students completed the LA PARCC testing this week - wow they worked hard, used their time wisely and gave their absolute best effort! All I could ask for as their teacher.
  • I celebrate that I know I did not prepare them for a test. I continue to prepare them for loving books, building lifelong readers, exploring the idea of a writer's notebook and creating a community of learners each day.
  • Conversations with my colleagues. My writing group who picked me up and encouraged me to keep writing. 
  • Dublin Literacy Conference- the BEST ever! Wow the presenters were amazing, the conversations were fantastic and the chance to see my friends near and far is perfect.  
Finally I celebrate prayers, the chance everyday to say thank you and remind myself that I am not on this journey alone. All week in my bible reading, there's been a consistent message about God holding my right hand, and I definitely need that. Thanks to Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate and reminding me about my OLW as I read her blog posts. Here is the link up for this week .

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slice of Life: The Choir Has Listened

Can you hear the choirs singing loudly, "Alleluia?" I sure can, and it's sounds beautiful.  Yesterday I spent most of the day "talking" to my class about their Just Right books (JR) through Kid Blog.  I've been struggling where to write my comments.  On the rubric or on their weekly reading reflection.  At about 1:15 yesterday, I somewhat screamed "Alleluia," no one was listening, but I am sure the angels in heaven joined me on a verse.

 I've been preaching for several weeks about how to write a reading reflection NOT a reading book report.  Through read aloud, I've been asking, "Did you hear how Andrew Clements repeated that line over and over?"  During poetry Friday, "Did you notice how the author chose her words to strongly state her opinion about segregation?"  During conferences, I inquire, "Did you try and make connections with another book you've read?"

Enter this amazing and yes very mature reading reflection, not only did she take my hint about switching genres late in the year, but she took every other lesson I had preached several times.  It's so exciting when all the choirs sing in one beautiful voice.  Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life.  I always enjoy sharing and reading along with my fellow bloggers.  Happy slicing with a tune in your heart!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

An Honest Perspective (OLW)

I'm in a quandary.  I am not sure if I should "Slice" or "Celebrate." What a pleasant problem to have. I'm not complaining actually I am thankful to finally have something to write about on my blog.  It's been an enigma lately too me.  Enter my OLW.

School, lesson planning, has been a challenge lately.  How lately? The past month. I try, honestly I do, I try to stay positive, but I haven't accomplished that lately. If not for several BES friends and thanks to another friend for your email "if you want to come to just hang out...maybe we can reboot your confidence."

I haven't found it, but I am feeling better just tonight.  As I have posted several times on Facebook, I am a huge fan of Ruth Ayres, Celebrations. Her words speak to me as well as her faith. Remembering to "love right through the hard."  

My OLW helps me and haunts me. It is constantly sitting on my shoulder like Jimmy Cricket, "How can you approach this with a better attitude?" I've been told my much smarter colleagues than myself to stick with what you know.  It's going to be a hard year - your first year in Common Core.  Remember it's about the students. Stay the course.  I almost have although there have been several tidal waves (more in math I must confess) but still I am used to smooth sailing or at least only a few waves.  

It's interesting where I found my peaceful perspective.  Reading and grading 23 narratives. Realizing the power, again, in strong mentor texts along with scaffold mini lessons and conferences. Oh my those conferences....but so worth it.  I am thankful for this moment in time I have found my perspective.  Who knows what will roll in with the tide tomorrow as I open the door to a new day?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Reflection OLW: Say Yes to IT

Thanks to Google images.

“You’ll never do IT,” said my husband.
“Yes, I will,” I replied.
…….. “”Done, we booked IT.”

Above is one of my favorite conversations with my husband as he challenged me to take all three personal days at one time.  I’ve never done IT in 26 years of teaching. How could I be away from my students for three days in a row?

God taught me that lesson last year. From that point forward “never” is no longer apart of my vocabulary and saying "Yes" became easier.

My OLW: perspective has already touched my thinking. It creeps up on me quietly and helps me adjust my attitude and even encourages me to say, "Yes."

As this posts, we will be in Ochos Rio, Jamaica for a short vacation from the Ohio cold and dreary winter. Jamaica has been on my bucket list ever since I had one…actually Dunn’s Falls is on my list. I am enamored with the idea of walking through the falls and exploring the culture of Jamaica and perhaps the warm weather, sunny beaches and an all-inclusive is mixed into the concept also.  

It’s January 31, and I am going to post about my OLW on the last day of the month this year. I know it helps me with focusing and taking in the different perspectives from the month. Feel free to join me with your OLW. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebrate: Threes

I’m celebrating threes. I’ve struggled with understanding the Common Core Standards in Reading Information.  I was struggling with raising the level of thinking my students will need to do to process and understand the standards.  

I’m celebrating Wonderopolis as my go to for non-fiction text to support higher-level thinking.  This week my students read Wonder #1377 What Was the Sit-In Movement? They read it three times with three different prompts. As we discussed their background knowledge, only two students out of 23 knew anything about the sit-in. 
  1. Read it for an overview of the article: What did you learn new? Which vocabulary words were unknown to you?  
  2. Read it for comprehension answering the three questions from the wonder and application of context clues for the vocabulary words they identified.
  3. Read it for the author's purpose with supporting evidence. 
Thanks K. for letting me share your essay.
We never read an article three times. Occasionally, I heard, "We're reading it again." But more often I heard, "It helped me to understand it better because I read it several times."  It's hard to explain how much I learned from this experience.  I celebrate my students for allowing me to learn along with them. 
  1. I learned what close reading really means. 
  2. I learned that students can read an article three times and it's ok, and they didn't mind. 
  3. I learned that when I choose an article - I want to hook my students with a subject they have limited background knowledge instead of always connecting with other content areas. 
I'm celebrating an amazing week of reading workshop. Thanks Ruth Ayres for encouraging us to celebrate.  Here is the link up for this week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

OLW Heads and Tails

Google Images

Rigor. Perseverance. Determination. “I think I can, I think I can.” I wonder where these important life skills have gone with my students? I often feel like I am working harder than they are.  I’ve had conversations with several colleagues, parents, and friends about the lack of “I can” attitude. 

I wish I knew the answer. I occasionally see a glimmer of these important attributes in my class; however, never consistent. I have wondered if there is a huge desire for this age group for an immediate reward?  The student completes their task even if it isn’t at the level of expectation, but at least it is complete. I even have had awkward parent conferences where I have mentioned this lack of motivation and often I hear in response, “We feel the same way.” That’s a red flag for me and with so many years of experience, I don’t sugar coat the rest of the conference as we discuss the issue.

Enter my OLW for 2015: perspective.  “A way of thinking about and understanding something (such as a particular issue" I have been thinking intently about these or lack of these character traits.  But I haven’t been “understanding.”  I never realized my OLW is like a coin: heads (thinking) tails (understanding). 

Enter understanding.  Over the past several months, I notice some common characteristics about my students: 
·      Most of them are totally overscheduled and can’t figure out when to do their homework, read a book or relax and play outside.
·      Most of them are attached at the hip to some electronic device. Although this year, I am excited to see Kindles and iPads being used for reading.
·     Some of them are not sure what to do in their free time when they have free time.  When we do our weekend share every Monday, most of the time I hear about their sporting events.  Occasionally girl scouts/boy scouts. 

Which brings me back to Rigor. Perseverance. Determination. “I think I can, I think I can.”  Most successes have been when I model them. I teach them. I share books about them. I ask them to apply them. What I understand now is I need to focus on these traits in order to help my students become problem solvers, cooperative learners, and strong young citizens.