Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NCTE Presenters are Rock Stars in my World!

Yesterday my program for the 101st Annual Convention for NCTE came in the mail and I did something I rarely do as a reader, I started on page one.  I almost always pick up any book and flip through it from the back to the front.  Lots of details, lots of presenters, and lots of text, oh my!  I began feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I wanted to start making a plan.  I wanted to see when some of my friends are presenting.  I started figuring out session codes and decided Early Childhood should be a focus of mine.   I thought I could put this down until the plane ride to Chicago but that wouldn't be any fun right now.  Being new I wondered if there was an index of presenters in the back and the answer is YES!  This is when I got even more bubbly inside and found so many of my favorite mentors listed!  I love to read professional books, my TBR pile is bigger than I would like and I get to spend time with so many of my favorite people who guide my work daily with students and help shape my thinking and philosophy.  Our culture loves music.  We idolize those who bring joy to our lives, making us sing and dance.  I may not sing and dance at NCTE 2011 but I know I will have joy in my life as I spend time with educators who help ground me, daily.  I can't wait!

If you are also new to NCTE and need a program planning starting point, go to the Index of presenters in the back and highlight those who guide you.  Maybe pack your camera too for any photo-ops.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Girls Need More Block Play!

While attending our state OCTM math conference last month, I attended a great session with Barbara and Diane from Bowling Green State University.  I have to apologize, I didn't save my program and I didn't write down their last names.  I walked away from their session and immediately made an instructional decision for our classroom.  Have blocks out daily!  Research is showing girls get less block play and this sets them up for a disadvantage mathematically with geometry.  Less block play is fostering a spatial deficit. 

I returned to my classroom and each day since blocks have been a morning choice.  I took an inventory of the blocks in my room and discovered there were lots.  I have a three dimensional block set in natural wood.  I have colored one inch cubes.  I have natural wood one inch cubes.  I have a colored set of building blocks that's perfect for a table top and I have the traditional larger wooden blocks great for building on the floor.  I think offering a variety of blocks provides choices and will create more spatial flexibility.  I'm only offering one set at a time right now so it's something different daily.  I was thrilled last week when three of my girls wanted to show me what they did with blocks.  We are defying research, we are building spatial knowledge, we can do geometry in kindergarten!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little by Little

Little by Little by Amber Stewart and Layn Marlow was the perfect book to open a parent Literacy Night I had last week.  Otto the otter starts the book with an I CAN DO list and an I CAN'T DO list.  At first I  thought this book would be great for all of the I Can statements we are encourage to create for student ownership and assessment purposes.  Otto can do lots of things.  His CAN'T DO list is quite short.  He can't swim.  If you are using your background otter knowledge this presents a problem for OTTO.  As mothers often do, Otto's mother encouraged him and told him, "Little by little, you will learn to swim."  He tries.  He hops long the river bed.  He run along the bank.  He would sit and wish.  His sister has even more advice, "You have to start small."  Each day he did a little bit more, you just have to read the book to see his small steps.  After sharing his new I CAN DO item, Otto's sister gives this wise thought, "You see.  You started small...and finished big!"

My friend Cheryl introduced me to this book and listening to her read it to a group of eager kindergarten parents is delightful.  Cheryl's current role in education is that of Literacy Support.  My building lost her this past year and I truly miss her friendship, guidance, and feedback in my professional and personal life.  Cheryl offers kindergarten parents this wise advice. 

"Celebrate the CAN Do list; a lot of learning takes place along the way that will support the big surprise.  Our best intentions can sometimes cause children to feel defeated.  Instruction give along the way and encouragement to keep trying, will provide a solid foundation for your child to become a great reader who loves to read because..."You see.  You started small...and finished big!"