Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slice of Life: Time for Reflection

Who knew a two week technology class would put everything into perspective (OLW15) for me?  An extremely smart TST said in an after school meeting, "This past two weeks of the online school was suppose to be difficult and even a little uncomfortable."  I continually shook my head until it about fell off.  Then he responded with "Good, that was the point."  

Enter my thoughts which I didn't say aloud.  

  • Yes this two week course was challenging. I had to go through the paces because I received a new Mac Book Air.  Then I thought wow Maria you're being pretty selfish with your time as well as forgetting about gratitude. Wake up, be thankful!
  • I am never going to remember all of these shortcuts and why should I?  I can look them up if I need them.  Then I thought if I learned the shortcuts I could save time and that would allow me accomplish other goals. The shortcuts I know now I use all the time and love them.
  • I can't pass these two quizzes.  I needed help and asked a friend.  Then I remembered I  totally cheated on the quizzes and took them with my friend who was there for support and yes several answers. 
  • I'm not sure how to use Handbrake, upload a video and add it to our district page. Then I remembered quickly I've  only asked for help at least 5 times this year. Don't you think it's about time for you to learn how to do it?  
This class was  uncomfortable for me. I had  presentations, slide shows and videos to watch. I had to take two quizzes and upload a flat file along with a video.  Most of it was new.  And as I thought about life these past few months, which has been a whirlwind. The entire school year has been uncomfortable for me. Turning around and teaching five subjects a day (new Standards in LA and Math) has been overwhelming. There were numerous times I took a deep breath, did some self talk and convinced myself I was prepared to teach a lesson on a new standard. Thank goodness for lunch conversations with colleagues who talked me off the ledge,  held my hand and helped me to laugh hysterically. 

Taking this class allowed me to put this school year into a clearer perspective. Sometimes school is going to be hard for both the teacher and students. Sometimes you have to fight through the new material and feel uncomfortable  And then finally the month of May arrives along with a two week technology class and everything falls into perspective? 

Thank to all those who participate in Slice of Life every Tuesday especially to The Two Writing Teachers.  

On a side note:  Technology class was difficult.  Scott, our TST, replied, "You were given a new computer.  All of you know four-five things and can do them well.  Let's try and learn more applications to  strengthen  our teaching as well as our students' learning."  
Bravo to you Scott. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Celebrating Minutes of Time

It's Saturday, 1:11 pm, our daughter always told me to make a wish at this specific time. It was always and continues to be our special moment. We even text each other pictures of 1:11.

It's Saturday ant it's 7:15 am, and I don't want to be awake. It's Saturday and I want to sleep in at least until 9:00 am.  Not happening today.  I guess I did sleep in compared to my 5:45 am wake up call Monday thought Friday.  It's all about my OLW: perspective.

It's Saturday and it's 9:02 am and we're back from the grocery store.  Kroger's is not crowded at that time of day. Might be a little hidden secret.  We've unloaded the groceries, and my husband cooks us breakfast.  I wonder around starting the laundry and putting away the groceries.

It's 11:18 am and we watched the two hour special about Bruce Jenner. I was glad I did. I'm reminded once again that we really don't understand each other until we walk in their shoes.  A lesson and a perspective that I have been reminded of a lot lately.  

It's 12:30 pm spaghetti sauce is made and my mom's vegetable salad is in the fridge ready to marinate for dinner tonight.  Laundry has been changed twice and the last load is in the dryer.  

It's Saturday, 1:17 pm and i finally find a few minutes to write.  I've written several times this month but not on my blog, but in my journal, those ideas are for myself. It's been a challenging month, and my OLW has pushed me beyond where I wanted to go.  However, I have been reading other blogs for support (thanks Ruth Ayres) and my daily bible verses 15 in 2015. 5 minutes giving thanks, 5 minutes reading the bible, and 5 minutes reflecting and praying about my day. 

It's Saturday it is 1:19 pm and I'm a little late to the celebration, but that's ok.  Thanks to all those who celebrate every week, although I am not always present on my blog, I spend time reading and reflecting.  Here is the link up for this week. Celebrate!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slice of Life: OLW Perspective on the First Day Back

My OLW perspective sure sums up yesterday. Our first day after Spring Break. I wasn’t quite ready to be back; however, I knew the day was approaching as Sunday evening clicked by quickly and my 5:45 am wake up call was lurking. Facebook was exploding and it was even better than a twitter chat.  Thanks to Mary Lee asking her friends for suggestions on her last read aloud of the year.  It was like a roller coaster of ideas for me. Actually enough titles to last me until retirement.  I posted “What’s a girl suppose to do?” Of course, Mary Lee comments back, “Ask your students” Brilliant!! – fast forward to 10:15 Monday morning, not too many smiles on their faces.  I borrowed the idea from Tony Keefer, and we started our Room 234 Book Challenge for the Final Read Aloud. Picture NCAA bracket made up of 24 well loved and favorite chapter titles. Each student will defend their favorite book with a short synopsis (I taught them that word) they were super excited about writing a synopsis. The winner will be announced Friday.  We will begin reading our last read aloud of the year next Monday.

We played Fact and Fiction while sharing about their Spring Break.  I’m not sure how you feel,, and I love to honor Spring Break stories, but sometimes they turn into a long drawn out story.  The students loved playing the game as they walked around reading everyone’s statements and voted on which was their peer's one fact.  It was a perfect way to celebrate at the same time everyone had a voice.

Perspective has been an interesting choice for my OLW.  At times, it helps me to remember to stay focused on what’s important for my students not all of the “junk” that comes along with teaching. Other times, perspective is a celebration like today!  Not jumping right into focused lesson plans, taking a pulse from my class.  It’s been an interesting journey, and I’m intrigued to see where my OLW leads me into Spring. 

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for encouraging us to Slice especially in March. Thanks to everyone who has committed to the 30 Daly Slice challenge. I have learned so much and enjoy reading the Slices.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slice of Life: Tackling the Hard Stuff

Tackling the hard stuff is not easy. Tackling subjects that cause controversy is sometimes easier to walk away from than choosing to discuss it.  When we read the article in Scholastic News “Showdown in Selma” I wasn’t expecting what happened in our classroom. Room 234 didn’t have any background knowledge of this historic event. As we read the article, questions resounded inquiring why?  My students wanted to understand but didn’t have any information to help them understand what had happened 50 years ago. 

I’m so happy that I didn’t realize the path we would be traveling down that day because I walked the journey along with them. Other plans were pushed aside, and we spent the day discussing Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks. We read several articles and making connections and most of all building background knowledge about the importance of these historic events. For read aloud: Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down a book that I have read every year, but this year it became integral in our learning community. 

As I think about the lessons learned that never made my plan book and most importantly the life lessons that I never saw coming, I am thankful for my students allowing me the opportunity to help them learn about Selma. Thanks to The Two Writing Teachers who encourage our slicing community to continue writing especially in March.  Here is the link up for this week. 

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?