Monday, January 31, 2011

Come Out and Play, Little Mouse

I happened to look at my school email Friday night and saw our librarian was offering books to classrooms that hadn't been checked out once in five years.  I got excited about free books for the classroom and wondered what I might find.  I struck gold (it was worth going in on a Sunday), twenty six books for our classroom library and I'm surprised the titles I gathered weren't checked out.  Come Out and Play, Little Mouse by Robert Kraus is one I can't wait to share with my students.  The book follows the cat's request to "Come out and play, little mouse" each day of a week.  Monday through Friday little mouse responds by saying he can't play.  He provides a reason which involves doing different chores or things with his mother or father but ends his reply requesting the cat asks tomorrow.  Saturday comes and little mouse's baby sibling offers to answer the cat's request to play.  He brainstorms lots of games they can play but Cat only wants to play cat and mouse chase.  It's comforting to find out baby sibling is saved from the cat and you will have to read it to see the clever way this happens. 

I see using this book for several things in our room.  It's a great book to talk about days of the week and the sequence of time.  The book can be read as a shared reading in two parts.  The book can be used to see the sight word come in print and for locating it.  The book can discuss character interactions and choices.  I do love the ending and I think it has a message for adults or maybe just for me.  Sunday the mice can't play because they are playing with their family.  They worked with their family all week and Sunday is a day to play.  I hope your Sunday had some play built in.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Somewhere Today, A Book of Peace

Somewhere Today, A Book of Peace by Shelley Moore Thomas is a great compliment to The Peace Book by Todd Parr.  Each page begins with "Somewhere Today" a short almost poetic phrase reminds us what normal everyday people can do and are doing to bring peace to themselves and their world.  The photographs show different ethnic groups.  The photographs are larger in size, bright, colorful and bright. 

Here's my favorite page for you to enjoy and see the potential within this book.

"Somewhere today...

I think sometimes finding peace is hardest when we have to do things differently.  If we can do things differently and work together in collaboration, peace can be achieved.  Wouldn't this be a great message to send and develop with our students?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

City Signs

City Signs by Zoran Milich is a great book to compliment I Read Signs by Tana Hoban.  Each page is a five by seven photograph of people and places children might encounter in their everyday adventures.  Within each photo are pictures of signs which help children notices letters and words they might see everyday.  This helps heighten their awareness of environmental print.  I'm thinking this might be a great book to place in my building/constructing area.  Now, I need to balance and make time for this space in my work with children.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Treasure by Suzanne Bloom is another book with the characters Polar Bear and Duck. This book really has the reader thinking about the word treasure as the story unfolds. Once again, Duck is quite interested in what Polar Bear is doing. It appears Polar Bear is reading a treasure map and Duck becomes quite eager to look for a treasure. He even knows a treasure hunting phrase, "Yo ho ho!" Duck even has treasure hunting gear to help them. Have you ever seen a Polar Bear ride a scooter? I can hear my classroom break out in laughter with this illustration. After diving in water and Duck quite disappointed with not finding a treasure, Polar Bear changes his mood. "We had a splendid day...and you are a treasure." I think discussing the word treasure could be an interesting conversation with students of all ages. I hope you yourself find think about the words splendid and treasure this weekend. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Splendid Friend, Indeed

A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom is charming, delightful, and heart warming.  Polar Bear is busy reading, writing, and thinking.  The illustrations show Polar Bear quite busy and preoccupied when his friend Duck keeps interrupting him with questions.  Duck is a bit inquisitive or nosey depending on your perspective.  He wants to be doing what Polar Bear is doing.  I find myself thinking isn't this normal for friends?  I also find myself thinking maybe some readers might connect Duck's behavior to that of a sibling.  Duck goes to make a snack, returning with a snack and a sweet note for Polar Bear.  Polar Bear is touched by Ducks kindness and returns the notes and sentiments to Duck.  This story uses several sight words in the simplistic and sometimes repetitive text, making this book accessible to emerging readers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug

A student found Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden in my classroom the other day and reported in, "there are no words".  We talked about how he could read it and he told me he could use the pictures.  I think this bothered the child and even though we talk about reading using the pictures and preview books with a picture walk. I wonder if he grasped or understood this story.  The book is organized in a series of pictures, comic or graphic novel type format.  The reader follows Bow-Wow through his day, almost creating mini stories with the book.  He encounters other dogs and people on his journey not really getting along with anyone he runs into.  He also follows a bug and it's interesting to see the bugs perspective on their day.  I now understand why my student seemed a bit puzzled.  There is a lot of information and thinking on each page.  The reader has to infer at times and think bigger than the immediate page story.  I have to think about the just right mini lesson to use this book with.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raccoon Tune

Raccoon Tune by Nancy Shaw helps the reader imagine what life for a raccoon is like during a June night.  Right away the reader discovers raccoons like to come out when it's not too dark or not too bright.  I think some of my animal and science lovers would be using the word nocturnal before I turned this page.  As we read about the raccoons creeping, foraging, crashing, and finally opening a trash can to only find it full of trout we discover the reader is immersed in rhyme.  The language is so fun to read and after the first read I know my students will enjoy filling in the blank when a rhyming pattern is figured out.  The illustrations are done in varying shades of blue and grey helping to create the setting and mood for night time.  These were done with oil paint by Howard Fine.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Minilessons for Math Practice

Minilessons for Math Practice, Grades K-2 by Rusty Bresser and Caren Holtzman is a resource from the Math Solutions group.  This book was written with the goal of providing students with practice that takes little or no preparation.  After an introduction to the activity it can be repeated with ease and quickness.  The activities gathered in resources also focus on discussion and questioning.  Important things to do and use while teaching mathematics.  I did an activity today for the first time and am really excited about it.

Fit the Facts can be used K-5.  I modeled today with my own Fit the Facts.  I wrote the numbers 3, 4, and 18 on the board in a horizontal line.  Then I wrote my first sentence, Mrs. Robek has ______students.  The students instantly knew 18 was a number to make my fact fit.  Then I wrote, Mrs. Robek has ______pets at home.  This was a puzzle for some, so I wrote the sentence, Mrs. Robek has _______ daughters.  They instantly knew 3 fit this fact which made 4 fit the fact about my pets at home.  They were really excited to be number detectives and thinkers.  I did this as part of my morning message instead of a yes or no question.

To help you be succesful and quick, I did send home a little "homework" to gather fit facts for each child.  I felt these were great for kindergarteners to think about for number facts within their own lives.

I am _________ years old.

I live at _____________ _________________________________ (street, drive, circle, court).

I have ______ brothers and ______ sisters.

I have ______ pets.

My favorite number is _________.

the show-and-tell lion

I decided to look at my stack of books last night and pull a few to read completely through and blog about.  I don't know why I let the show-and-tell lion by Barbara Abercrombie sit in a stack and not in my classroom.  It's a perfect book for writing.  Matthew has nothing to say for a typical show and tell classroom experience.  Matthew uses his imagination to create a story about his lion, Larry.  As Matthew's friends ask questions he creates more stories and his imagination is quite vivid.  When his friends suggest a field trip to his house to meet Larry, Matthew knows he needs figure out how to tell the truth and with his mother's encouragement to tell the truth he thinks of a solution.  Writing.  He puts his stories into a book.  A couple of friends struggle accepting the lion isn't real until Matthew states, he's real in my head.  I love how Matthew is able to orally tell stories, is creative, and puts his stories into a book.  For many children orally telling a story is the first step before putting it on paper.  It's also easier for many children to tell a story than to write.  I think it's important to remember the ease or talking and embrace it to promote writing.  The illustrations done by Lynne Avril Cravath are beautiful and soft by using chalk pastels and acrylics.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Teaching with Intention - Reflection #5

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  My fifth reflection comes in response to reading Chapter 5, Swimming with Sharks: Teaching for Understanding and Engagement.  In this chapter Debbie shares her work within a second grade classroom during a nonfiction reading and writing study.  In talking about organizing resources she mentions have five copies of a text for one for each resource tub that is easily read by the students.  Then she points out that other text can be difficult but become manageable for students when they use the nonfiction features of photographs, captions, cutaways, and more.  I think this is important to think about as teachers gather nonfiction resources for varying abilities within any classroom.

Debbie shares a project using a file folder to help organize thinking and learning.  The goal is to "teach kids strategies for remembering and understanding new learning in nonfiction by making schema theory - connecting new learning to what we already know - even more concrete."  I also found myself thinking this tool helps make kids thinking visible.  It makes the process of learning visible.  I find myself wondering how to make the thinking and learning more visible for young students, emerging readers and writers.  Before Debbie shares the journey and lesson with the second graders she cautions teachers to not just turn around and do this with their students.  She says it best, "The point isn't about finding the perfect lesson or progression of lessons to follow exactly.  The point is to know who you are and what you're about when your're teaching based on your beliefs, your students, and the environment you are creating."

While I loved the project she shares and think it is worth every teacher's time to look at, I found myself thinking I would need to tweak it for my kindergarteners.  Which is exactly what Debbie enourages teachers to do.  I will have to ponder this more as we look at nonfiction this spring.  I think I have a few questions to guide my pondering. 

What do my students need to know about nonfiction reading?
What do my students need ot know about nonfiction writing?
What do my students notice about nonfiction books?
How do my students think while working with nonfiction books?
Is observation a good vehicle for nonfiction writing?
How can or does observation fit in with nonfiction writing?
What can my students create to show learning?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carlo Likes Reading

Thanks to Cathy at Reflect and Refine I have a new book for my books with label collection.  Carlo Likes Reading by Jessica Spanyol a great book to help introduce reading and making labels.  Carlo is a giraffe who reads everything, everywhere.  He reads in his bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.  Each two page spread shows all the objects with a tag/label.  The reader finds Carlo engaged and reading to family, friends, and animals.  There are lots of opporunities to talk about letters, words, and beginning sounds while reading this book.  I'm so glad to learn about Carlo for helping my students understand literacy.

There are also three more Carlo books for readers to enjoy.

Beatrice's Goat

Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier has been in my stack to share from before Winter Break.  This book is based on a true story that takes place in eastern Africa.  Beatrice spends her day helping her mama take care of five children and chores around the hut home that they live in.  She dreams of going to school.  Unfortunately, she can't afford to go to school.  She needs money to buy books and a uniform.  Beatrice's mother is excited to share their family will receive a goat from people far away.  Beatrice doesn't understand how a goat is going to help her family.  Mama tells Beatrice, "It will be your job to take care of our goat.  If you do, it can bring wonderful things."  Beatrice works hard for many months helping her Mama and taking care of their goat.  Beatrice's goat delivers two kits.  Beatrice decides to sell some of the goats milk and Beatrice begins saving her money with ideas of helping her brothers and sisters only to discover after her Mama sells one of the kits she can attend school and continue her own education.  The realistic painted illustrations by Lori Lohstoeter really show a different life than in the United States.  Heifer International is an organization that helps people donate and provide animals to others.  This book is a great example of making a difference for ourselves and others.  Even though the holidays have passed, people and organizations need help year round.  Perhaps this book will help.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching with Intention - Reflection #4

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  My fourth reflection comes in response to reading Chapter 4, Creating Classroom Cultures That Support and Promote Student Thinking.  I think this chapter gets to the heart of what makes Debbie Miller, Debbie Miller.  The explicit modeling in her oral language and word choice she uses with children to help them be explicit and articulate in their thinking.  Debbie reminds us how important our own writing and sharing is to help our students grow.  She writes a poem about a local shaved ice stand, shares it with the class she is visiting with, and a student turns around his questioning response with more thought and insight through poetry.  This reminded me the importance of modeling and being writers ourselves.  It also reminded me that knowledge and learning can be expressed in different formats.  This is something that seemed natural earlier in my career and I've got to find that in my "groove" again to help keep my own passion and help my students.  I think this quote is something worth spending time with.

"Children seem to breathe in,"I/We can do this" and breathe out, "Here's how."  They seem themselves and each other as kids with purpose; they see themselves as the kind of kids who can figure things out. These children sense that they have the capacity to roll up their sleeves, take action, and get things done.  And wouldn't you know - the teacher sees herself, and them this way too?  We see it in their faces.  We witness it in their actions, their work, and their words."

The middle of this chapter has a wealth of ideas for putting "our thinking on display", modeling.  As I read this section of examples for showing our curiosity and interest or how to be reflective to name a few I realized how critical this is for all ages.  However, my days are filled and need more of my thinking on display to help my kindergarten students.  Everything is so new to them in their first school experience.  Debbie knows the reality of a classroom.  She shares with us language to use in response to the typical things teachers encounter in the classroom.  If you need help in any of these areas this chapter is a must read for you.

- a child says something in response to a statement or question and we're not sure where they're headed.
-a child has quite a bit to say, but we're not really sure what she's talking about.
-a child says something a bit bizarre (to us) that we wonder if they have been listening at all.
-a child needs to expand and broaden their thinking and to value different thoughts from their own.
-a child struggles to figure something out.
-a child figures something that and we need to show them we value the mental process.

The biggest tool Debbie uses to make thinking visible, public, and permanent is a notebook to record "something that seem particularly insightful or poignant, I want to capture their words exactly as they said them.  And put them up for all to see.  A note book is perfect for that."  She feels a  notebook is less obtrusive.  I've had a notebook made for this and tried to use one last year to help remember all the great things my students say as they come every other day.  I think I just found an action I need to implement Wednesday after my teacher work day tomorrow.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DK Readers - Garden Friends

I've enjoyed DK books previously but just discovered DK Readers, Learning to Read pre-level 1 and I'm very excited.  I discovered Garden Friends while looking for books that used labels to help promote our reading of words.  I found the text to use high frequency words and a repetitive phrase or phrases on each page.  There are two sentences per two page spread and easily accessible for young readers.  Garden Friends uses the sentence starters, "Hello, ___________.  You are ___________."  The realistic photographs are fabulous and then there are two or three labels per garden friend.  The last page of each book includes a picture word list.  Another example and opportunity for my young readers to connect words to pictures, reading labels.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Tools by Taro Miura is a book I discovered while looking for books with labels.  The book has a two page spread with a collection of tools, each with a label.  The two pages that follow identify the profession that would use these tools with an illustration of a person using them.  Some professions are easy to figure out while others might be challenging for my students.  I think they will enjoy trying to figure out who might use each collection of tools.  Here's one example from the text - open-end wrench, adjustable wrench, slotted screwdriver, nut, washer, bolt, and pliers...mechanic.  What I love about this page is the mechanic is working on a moped, scooter and not a car or a truck.  A few other interesting professions are tailor, electrician, watch maker, and barber.  The illustrations are simple and done in monochromatic earth tone colors which I find very pleasing.  I think this book is a must have for any primary room.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cassie's Word Quilt

Cassie's Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold is new to me and  I'm delighted to have found it.  It was the perfect read aloud to introduce labels, in a reading study I'm calling Reading Words with Confidence.  The story is about Cassie and we learn on the first page she lives in Tar Beach.  The reader continues to find out about her home, her bedroom, the park near her house, her school, and how she travels from Tar Beach to New York City.  There's a four page pattern to help readers and the story to be told.  The first page on the left is the text for the story and it continues with a sentence on the right page.  This sentence tells the reader what the three by three grid of pictures is about.  Each picture has a one word label underneath.  When the reader turns the page they find a two page spread with the individual pictures from the page before placed within the big illustration.  Labels accompany the pictures with in the two page illustration.  I feel the staggering of seeing the pictures and labels within a grid first helps the readers apply reading the labels with more independence  within a bigger illustration.  My students and I reviewed the school page and then worked in partners to create a label for an object in our classroom.  I think this book will make a great choice for our buddy reading box too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Teaching with Intention - Reflection #3

First, I would like to welcome Primary Perspectives to the blogging world and sharing her reflections for this course we are taking together.  Welcome.

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. My third reflection comes in response to reading Chapter 3, Environment, Environment, Environment.  The chapter begins with Debbie describing her initial meeting with a first year teacher who got hired two days before school started.  It's now November and this teacher just wishes she could start over.  Debbie guides her in starting over with her environment and along the way her students are involved.  Debbie begins by clearing the room and sorting things into three piles;  things to keep, things someone else might want, things to throw away.  I did just this when I moved to kindergarten two years ago.  The previous teacher was leaving the classroom and before I moved anything in I took care of what was left behind.  I found I needed my own organization within my new space to think clearly.  I think it's hard for teachers to throw away or put up for grabs but I think it's necessary to clear our minds.  The chapter continues to follow Debbie's work with the first year teacher by asking questions about the physical space.  Asking questions about the different kinds of areas needed in the classroom and room arrangement.  I found these three sentences to be important in thinking about the physical arrangement and furniture.

"During this process, we had to get into what we called the "acceptance mode." 
In the end we had to work with what we had.
Good teaching, more than anything else, rests squarely with us." 

Debbie is telling us, we have to use what we have, what we find in our rooms, within our buildings and not spend energy creating giant wish list for new furniture and beautiful spaces.  She gives tips on making subtle and financially reasonable changes.  I love Debbie's thinking about wall space and embraced this years ago.  She encourages teachers to leave them blank and don't buy things commercially made.  "Instead, everything on those walls was purposeful and authentic....That's because much of the teaching, learning, and thinking had been made visible, public, and permanent.  We saw not only the evidence of learning, but also the processes students and their teacher used to get there."  I just love she mentions showing the evidence of learning AND the process.  Learning is a journey.  You can't go from point A to published point B without work in between.  I think it's important to celebrate the journey.  I think it's important to show the journey to appreciate the evidence.  Debbie also devotes a section on organizing books.  In organizing books and materials the last step in our environments to work need to have a system.  Any system can work as long as it is modeled and the children know how to use it with success.  I've really been reminded of this my last two years of teaching kindergarten.  It takes a great deal of time to model, I've spent  more time on modeling this year and it's paid off for more student success and independence.  While the environment has to work for us as teachers it needs to be created for and sometimes by the students.
Our classroom meeting area back in August.
I will be including with this assignment two articles I wrote for Choice Literacy.  Those are Creating a Kindergarten Library and Redesigning a Classroom:  Putting Students First and Technology in it's Place.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Birds by Kevin Henkes was published in 2009 and I hadn't picked it up yet.  I'm so glad I picked it up now as I ponder creating a bird feeding area/observation space outside our classroom windows.  More on that later.  Birds is written for young children and reflects the thinking and observations a young child would make.  I love how the book begins with an interaction with a bird.  "In the morning, I hear birds singing through the open window."  Often when children or adults see or hear something they may think further about a subject as does the narrator in this book.  I think this book would be a great mentor for children to read and think about writing daily observations in their own book.  My favorite page is a painting that illustrates the thought of birds making marks as they fly.  I could see children trying to replicate this painting. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Story of Snow

The Story of Snow, the Science of Winter's Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, PhD is right up my alley for a couple of reasons.  It's lightly snowing outside right now and I grew up in Upstate New York spending my college years in Buffalo.  I love when the Midwest is covered in a white blanket.  It's so much prettier than the dull yards and dreary skies.  Those are some personal reasons.  Here are my reasons for loving this book as a reader and a teacher.

It's filled with facts about snow.  When I first opened this book I thought it was too complicated for my young readers.  After reading the entire book, I think it could work K-5.  For K students teachers can read the larger sentence, one fact per page to get the big idea.  Other grade levels could chose how much of the smaller detailed facts you would want to read.  The book describes how a snowflake is formed.  The book describes the shape of snowflakes and I just learned snow crystals can be plates, crystals without arms.  This book describes possible attributes of snowflakes.  Then it concludes with directions how to catch your own snow crystals.  I can't wait to read this with the girls this weekend.

The book is filled with enlarged photographs from a nature photographer of real snowflakes.  There are also actual size comparisons noted in several places.  I know snow can be frustrating, cold, and cause complications in life.  However, there is a science and wonder to snow.  Stop and try to discover this winter, if you can.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Orange in January

While looking for books, I rediscovered An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston.  I heard about this book from Katied at Creative Literacy and was surprised to not find it on her blog.  It's a perfect book for winter reading.  The readers follow the journey of an orange from orange blossom trees to the end of its' journey a child's lunchbox.  The journey includes a little bit of information about the growing process.  It includes information about how the orange travels to the grocery store.  The illustrations done by Julie Maren are colorful, bright, and show movement in acrylic paint.  This book is perfect for teaching economic concepts to elementary students.  It was included in a bibliography for my first article at Choice Literacy.  That article is available to the public, Teaching Economics Through Children's Literature, enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Zero Is The Leaves On The Tree

Zero Is The Leaves On The Tree by Betsy Franco appears to be a book about the fall or winter season and I picked it up for that reason.  I was pleasantly pleased to find out it's more.  It's about mathematics and a concept assumed children often just understand and they may not.  How do you count zero?  Every other number can be attached to an object or a group of objects.  Betsy Franco does a fantastic job of finding examples of 0 easily found in our daily lives, nature, and scenarios children may have experiences with.  Here are two examples;  "Zero is...the balls in the bin at recess time.  Zero is...the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten."  As a teacher make sure you read the inside jacket cover and keep these questions in your mind as you think about helping children understand 0.

Can you see it?
Can you hear it?
Can you feel it?

Thank you Betsy Franco for making zero more concrete.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dublin Literature Conference 2011

Monday was our first day back after break.  A day with mixed emotions.  It's very nice to see the students again but a little sad to leave my vacation schedule behind.  I was looking at our building email and saw this from our school librarian to the staff. 

"I put the flyer for the Dublin Lit Confernce in the staff lounge if you'd like to make a copy of it - feel free. Looks like there are a lot of great presentations this year! Wendy Mass, Loren Long, Amy Krouse Roesnthal, Brian Pinkney and our very own Mandy Robek are some of the presenters!!!!"

What a nice way to start a new year with a little shout out from a colleague.  I was honored and thrilled to see my name with the others.  I've attended the Dublin Lit Conference for several years.  It's always worth spending a Saturday on professional development.  My mind grows each year.  This year I received an email, looking for presenters.  I'll be sharing during session A, Something Old, Something New - come have a look I've got a book for you.  I'll be sharing picture books found during the last year to help teach mathematics.  I hope if you live close you will consider joining this wonderfully planned event for teachers. 

Right now I'm struggling to pick my other sessions.  So many great offerings from talented people I know and have yet to meet.  It's funny I  posted this the night before Franki's post.  Her post has more details about the entire program.  Make sure you check it out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pets in the Classroom Grant

This summer via Twitter I learned about a grant, Pets in the Classroom.  I've had pets each year I've taught.  It started out with fish.  Then I added a guinea pig.  Then a second fish tank.  Then I added a turtle.  I've had parents help with materials and supplies with donations but I always spend my own money during the year.  As you may know parent help also varies each year.  I had a moment that summer day and I am so thankful I went to pursue this grant further.  The application is done all online, it really took me 10 to 15 minutes and glancing over my curriculum standards.  I hit the submit button and two weeks later I was notified I received a grant and it was $150.00. 

Pets can help foster learning in all academic areas.  Pets help students learn responsibility.  Pets help students feel better.  Pets are interesting, fostering wondering.  Pets have brought a lot of projects for learning during my years of teaching.

Yesterday my daughter A and I went to a local pet store to purchase fish for each tank and to improve the living quarters for my painted turtle.  We learned a lot about caring for my painted turtle to make it better for him.  I decided to do the upgrading with my students first thing this morning.  We did a water change, removing a little muck.  The fish filter I was using had died right before break.  Today, Chica (named after the turtle in the book, Nim's Island.) got a new reptile filter.  A new, bigger and better climbing "toy" which allows his water to be deeper.  This creates a better swimming environment for him.  I found it interesting to have the girls take an interest in adding water to Chica's cage.  I learned he should have half his tank filled with water.  I got everyone involved to help figure out how much half would be.  We used unifix cubes and two made equal groups to determine half.  We also got reptile serving tongs so I'm not dangling earth worms over a popsicle stick to feed him.  These tongs are steel and 12"long.  I have no interest in a turtle nibbling my fingers!  Enjoy these photos and we will be doing more projects with our pets.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Discover - My One Little Word

Happy New Year!  Instead of making New Year's Resolutions I've chosen the past few years to pick one little word.  An idea and I would say now a movement created by Ali Edwards.  An inspiring scrapbooker but really her niche in life is recording and capturing stories, everyday stories that are normal but beautiful snippets of our lives. 

Discover.  I began thinking about choosing a new word and nothing seemed to fit but when I thought about discover I thought it encompassed all aspects of my life and got very excited.  Life is busy being a mother, a teacher, a wife and myself.  All four parts of my life need discovering and often rediscovering.  I think discover is a word of excitement.  I think discover is in everyday things.  I think discover is uncovering and understanding.  I think discover is right in front of me for many reasons.

I know discovering and spending time on things outside of education will make me a better person and teacher.  It's a bit like balance but I was afraid to chose balance and worry about making things equal.  Here is some of my discovering thinking for 2011.

-Discover and make exercise a regular routine, using my Y membership and yes, I'm putting it in writing, running a 5K in 2011. 

-Discover the joy in scrapbooking, knitting, and sewing on a more regular basis.  I do enjoy creating. 

-Discover things with photography again.  I realized I didn't upload nor share any family photos in 2010.  This makes me a bit sad, it's a great way to connect and share our lives with family and friends.  I also have a project I got two years ago and never completed. from Becky Higgins.  It's a way to capture life daily and organize it in my 365 album.  I want to discover our daily lives and record it.  (She now has her own company and her product is called Project Life.) 

-Gardening and healthy living are also areas I want to continue discovering or think more about.
-Discover technology in many areas of my life. 

-Discover the many facets of my three girls even more and embrace the journey of parenting.  I want to help them discover what they enjoy doing and do with them.

Professionally, I want to discover the joy in what I'm doing each day.  Finding peace with teaching two groups of kindergarten students every other day.  I want to remember how to discover curriculum and watching them explore their world.  I want to discover or should I say rediscover the best ways to help emergent learners succeed daily.  I want to discover ways to show the important learning and growth students make without summative assessments.  I want to discover and continue blogging, sharing, and learning from others.  I want to continue to explore my own writing voice and publishing thinking. 

Of course, I want to continue discovering books.  I want to stretch this to reading things not for school or education a bit more but more my own adult enjoyment or learning beyond the classroom.

I think I'm off to a great start.  Already this morning I discovered you can tweet from your Kindle reading. I loved using the word discover in my tweet! Last year was probably the worst job I've done keeping my One Little Word in my thoughts.  So, this year I'm taking an online course with monthly guidance from Ali Edwards to write and reflect on my word discover.  May you have a blessed start to your new year and thank you for being part of my journey.