Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Thinking as a Parent and Teacher Intertwine {Slice of Life}

The parking lot is full and I find a spot in the grass to park.  My schedule for the night is on my phone and I'm ready to walk the high school hallways as my junior does.  As I walk through the parking lot, I remind myself I'm here as a parent.  I make a plan to listen as a parent; resting my teaching brain. Not too long into the first session I start taking notes.  Notes as a parent, notes as a teacher - the lines are intertwined.  Each role influences the other.  I hope these lines tug at your heart as they did mine as a teacher and educator.  I'm excited for a more relaxed high school year this year.

"I"ll love your kid and get maximum effort."

"I've never had a boring day, if I do it's my fault."

"Keep school at school."

"One goal is to increase tolerance  - wisdom about people."

"Your child will read 10 minutes every day without fail in class."

"Reading for joy helps heart health and personal health."

"Grading system is flawed."

"I have a lot of room to grow."

"Not much outside work."

"Every kid needs somebody - I'm willing to help."


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Silence Slips In by Alison Hughes {Mental Wellness}

When I read, The Silence Slips In by Alison Hughes I was instantly reminded that picture books are not just for children.  The book reminds us and shows us different ways silence can be with us.  I love how the words give us clues about the different forms silence can take and illustrations confirm what the form is.  The words shy, soft, shaggy and still leads the reader to think about silence and holding a puppy.  The book goes on to describe life events that aren't filled with silence and how we can discover it as we work through busier moments.  The author lets readers know they can call the silence back during moments of noise and encourages readers to do that via a deep breath.  Last week, my students and I were introduced to snake breathing by a colleague.  Snake breathing is when you take a deep breath in and hiss as you push the breath out.  My students loved snake breathing and I think this book will be read tomorrow to talk about why we need to pause and breathe.  Pausing helps settle our bodies and our minds.

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Ten Years - 1 Book Each Year {Picture Book 10 for 10}

When Cathy and I met and Picture Book 10 for 10 began I never envisioned ten years later I would be gathering and writing posts about my must have picture books.  I am grateful for Cathy.  While she maintains a huge spot on my mentor/teaching hero list she has become a colleague, confidant, and friend.  I can't wait for school to start next week because it means our Tuesday Talks via Voxer will pick back up.  I am grateful for Twitter and how that plays in a role in all of us sharing great book titles and connects us with kindred spirits.  I am grateful for you - readers and participants who make this project even possible.  This project isn't about Cathy and Mandy.  It's about the community and sharing that will happen today.

So, without further ado - here's my list for 2019.  Just one book from the previous lists.  I have 100 books to narrow down to 10.  I was teaching kindergarten and now I'm teaching second....I might need a crystal ball.



1. (2010)  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle changed my life in college!  I was sitting in my reading methods course at SUNY College at Buffalo when Dr. Phelps read this book in class.  I was introduced to a predictable pattern, shared reading, Eric Carle, collage hand made papers, turning the page slightly ahead of the text to encourage student participation and I'm sure much more.  I remember thinking this was much more fun and engaging than the basal readers and reading groups I grew up with.  I've never had a group of students who didn't fall in love with this book.



2. (2011) Cornelius P Mud, Are You Ready for School?  by Barney Saltzberg is a book while simple in text the inferring and ah ha moments expand primary grades.  As we reread this book together we really notice humor within the illustrations.  Cornelius is a great character for young students, they can connect with him.





3. (2012) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is about older people, it's about spending time with them, it's about memories.  Memories give us ideas for writing.  As in this story, memories help us remember.   I think we need to work harder and bridge the gap between our young and old.   I think we need to work harder as a profession to help students make writing easier by writing about memories and things they have done.  I just love the relationship between these two characters.













4. (2013) I can't believe I removed this book for a year and am glad it's the one making it to the top ten in ten years. Ish by Peter Reynolds is a must have for any classroom to embrace the arts and the differences between artist capabilities.  It encourages the reader to look at things in a different way, with a different lens.  Looking at things with a different lens is essential for 21st century learning.  Glad you, stayed, Ish!













5.  (2014) Once Upon a Time Niki Daly shows us how Sarie doesn’t mind the hot sun in the South Africa and worries about being at school and learning how to read.  The reader follows Sarie’s journey and how she does learn to read.


6. Oh no, 2015 I actually didn't write a post.  This always falls during the changing of summer to getting ready for school seasons and I could only find hosting/sharing post for participation.  Life gets busy and that's okay.
















7. I Wish You More (2016) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Wishes aren't just for birthdays or seeing the first star at night.  I usually read this story at the end of the year but I'm thinking about starting the year with it and then revisiting it at the end of the year.


8. (2017) Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy. 











9. (2018)  I am a Warrior Goddess by Jennifer Adams gives us guidance for tackling your day and affirmations for how you can help others and tackle your day.  I used this book to guide students in writing affirmations to hang with their self portraits.


10.  (2019) I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong is an empowering new picture book with our main character ready to tackle her day.  I love the very first page.  Our main character sits up in bed, raises her arm up high with a fist and declares, "Today, I will be fierce!"  The following pages and illustrations show the reader examples of what being fierce can look like.  













Thursday, August 1, 2019

Picture Book 10 for 10 is COMING!

Dear Cathy,

I was very worried about you here in July.  I wondered if you would return from the beautiful sites I saw on Instagram and I did notice you weren't sharing any book titles.  Which makes me wonder if your list this year will have anything new on it.  I hope our participants realize their list doesn't have to completely change each year.  Mine doesn't always.  This is a challenging day and event for me.  It started with you wondering my ten must have books.  How is this even feasible with so many wonderful books published each year?  We both enjoy reading and buying books.  I do think you are better about using our public library and I've been trying to do that more and more.  Maybe my list will have to be books I actually own.  Maybe my list will be my all time favorites with a title or two swapped out.  Maybe my list will be about repetition or emotions.  I have ten more days to make a decision, thank goodness.

The Basics
Want to join the conversation? 

  • What:  10 picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #pb10for10
  • Hosts:  @mandyrobek (you're here), 
  •              @cathymere (Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community)
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Saturday, August 10th
  • Where:  All posts for 2019 will be linked to Cathy's blog:  Reflect and Refine

Here's how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  3. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number.  
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share the link to your collection here, at Reflect and Refine, on August 10th.  
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  6. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Monday, July 29, 2019

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black {Mental Wellness}

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black has a fun twist in my collection of worry books.  There are three characters; a potato, a flamingo, and a girl.  The potato states, it's worried.  Sometimes I think it's helpful for something completely different than yourself have the same feelings you may have.  The girl and flamingo do some probing and discover the potato is scared of the future.  The future worries are giant - anything can go wrong.  I enjoyed reading the girls guidance as she took both characters on a memory walk revisiting slightly bad things that happened to each of them;  potato rolled off  table and flamingo stuck her/his beak in a jar of peanut butter.  She even has her own slightly bad memory and she points out they were okay in time each time.  Then potato and flamingo have an idea that will protect them from worries and in reality it's silly and doesn't last long.  The book ends with a big life idea.  "Since we don't know what's going to happen in the future, maybe we should just enjoy the now."  This book isn't just for children and there is a humorous ending to bring readers giggles haven't some that reflection on life.


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak

Last week I attended a two day workshop on Whole Brain Teaching.  One of my favorite parts was learning about the brain and how all the different parts come together and a chant with motions to help students understand.  I fear that over time my students are sitting way too much and need to move and groove.  I'm so lucky my friend asked if I knew about The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak because I didn't.

I've reread the book several times and I'm wondering how did I miss this one!  The book begins by defining what the brain is and what it does; highlighting the different parts.  The Amygdala is fascinating.  It's in the center of our brain and controls our emotions while the Prefrontal Cortex helps us make plans and decisions.  The book shares information about practicing and stretching our brains.    I often tell students we learn the most when we make mistakes and this book confirms my thinking.  There's a page discussing the different areas of the brain that are needed to learn how to play the piano and could launch a great discussion about their own learning interests and how they are using different parts of their brain.

I'm so happy to have found this book for the first month of school.  It's a great introduction for Whole Brain Teaching and of course, growth mindset.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Her Haircut Leads to Much More.... {Slice of Life}

She started pacing.  She called her oldest sister for advice and probably reassurance.  She had a friend come over to go with her for support.   They left early to get a drink at Starbucks without caffeine.  I met them at our one and only favorite hairdresser.  She walked in taking deep breaths and shaking her arms, "I've got this."  She shows nervousness, anxiousness, uncertainty, and then she says - "Let's do this."  Our one and only favorite hairdresser makes a ponytail and measures the length.  My daughter grabs her friend's hand and snip.  Ten inches are cut for a donation.  Two more inches are cut while shaping and redesigning.  Joy ends our session.

As I watched all of this transpire, I thought about those feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and uncertainty.  Feelings that can really be prevelant as a new school year starts for everyone.  What I noticed was my girl riding the wave of these emotions and reaching out for support from her friend - verbally and physically.  Let's remember to pause and take in what we feel and reach out for help.  




Thank you Two Writing Teachers 
for fostering this writing community called A Slice of Life.