Sunday, March 31, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 31 of 31 Did I know? and Reflections

Today while I we were making Easter dinner I decided to make some deviled eggs.  I asked my husband who I have known for 25 years and been married to for almost 22 years if he liked deviled eggs and he said, "I love deviled eggs!" Every year we color hard boiled eggs and I might eat a couple as hard boiled eggs but I don't think I've ever made deviled eggs in my life until today.  As we were busy putting together all the different dishes for our family dinner I kept thinking to myself, how have I known him this long and didn't know he loves deviled eggs?  Are there other things I don't know, if I just stop and notice or listen more?  This writing challenge has made me notice things more personally and professionally this month.  Writing every day has been joyful and something I've looked forward to.  It was easy and I never seemed to struggle with something to write about because I truly thought of it as a slice - a small piece of writing.  My grandma who I've written like a couple of times this month use to take many slivers of pie at Thanksgiving.  She couldn't turn anything down and rationalized trying everything with a sliver.  I have one more day of vacation.  I'm going to try to balance it with a few things to do for me and spend time with my girls.  I hope to continue capturing slices of life and I'm pondering which format I might use; digital or in a paper notebook.  I also think Grandma had more writing advice, as life gets busy again maybe a sliver of writing will be okay.  Thank you for joining me on this journey to grow as a writer.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 30 of 31 writing like Grandma again

Sunny.  Chill but felt warm.  Picked up.  Cleaned.  Cotsco shopping.  Ran 2.0m.  Homemade chicken noodle soup.  Did all Easter basket shopping.  Not my smartest move.  Looking forward to a family day, just 5.

Friday, March 29, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 29 of 31 It feels good.

It feels good to be back.
Picked up our dogs.
Unpacked myself.
Went through the mail.
Cleaned out the fridge.
Got groceries.
Unpacked the groceries.
Remembered it's still spring break.
Met a dear dear friend for dinner.
We visited for 3 hours.
What a great way to return.
Looking forward to my own bed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 28 of 31 A clean slate to go...

The sky was so blue today.
I wish I could bottle it and take it with me.
It radiated sunshine.
It felt like a clean slate.
It felt fresh.
So I snapped a photo to keep it with me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 27 of 31 Same and Different

Same raccoons and squirrels
Different armadillos, alligators, and geckos

Same blue jays
Different ibis and sand cranes

Same pine trees and pine cones
Different palm trees

Same cold and chilly days
Different sunny and blue skies

Same walking and running
Different golf carts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 26 of 31 Writing Like Grandma

Slicing on the go has been a bit frustrating this trip.  My app on my phone is not seeing my drafts I planned ahead.  My kindle fire wouldn't let me type once I found those drafts.  My father in law's computer is working fine but I am missing my laptop.  I went back and forth to whether I should bring it but thought it would lead to me thinking about work more and writing more and being plugged in more than I wanted.  Sometimes slices of writing can be short and to the point.  I often think when we think of writing they have to be grand big ideas or pieces.  My grandmother wrote daily before bed.  She had a preferred diary she used for years and years.  She didn't write in complete sentences but in four to seven lines of text she could grasp her day and look things up when she wanted to remember.  In grandma fashion.

Chilly in FL.  High 56.  St. Pete's Pier.  Aquarium learning - FL water creatures.  Panera lunch.  Prom dress shopping.  Meet friends from OH.  Night swim indoors.  Walk 2.5m am.  Ran 2.5m treadmill pm.  Rummy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 25 of 31 Shuffleboard Lessons

Shuffleboard when they were little lasted 15 minutes.  They were too short and could barely move the disc.  Shuffleboard now is quite the family event.  With four playing we have a referee to declare what is in and out.  Last night the referee issued a yellow card and now it's turned into an adventure with yellow cards and disqualified players.  There has been a lot of opponents making noises, sliding sticks in front of others on their turn.  What this side adventure to a game of seniors has brought our family is time together filled with laughter, mischief, and everyone on the same playing field.  Lessons that we need reminders for - to laugh, be playful, and do things together where we are equals.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 24 of 31 Armadillo!

I saw an armadillo at 7:30am this morning.  I was sneaking out of the house for an early morning walk.  I wanted to go with peace in the air and no technology.  I turned and went down a short little sidewalk.  I saw a pair of squirrels.  I heard a scratching noise.  I bit strange sounding so I turned around to look and there was an armadillo!  I've seen one at the Columbus Zoo during Girl Scouting events over the years and those always fit in one hand.  This did not!  It was bigger than a cat.  It was up on tiny toes, long tail, beady eyes and a hard shell.  This strands of hair.  Yikes.  It started to follow me and I didn't know how fast one could get going.  Lucky for me, it turned around and went to the neighbors yard.  I was starting to envision it was related to a rhino and could grow at rapid speeds to catch me!  I have been so disappointed all day long that I didn't have my camera.  The girls brought sketching things and I always encourage writers in my classroom to sketch to help tell stories.  We sat and sketched together.  Vacation is good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 22 of 31 Taking Care of Myself

Up early
Took day off from school
Flew to FL
Us 5
Drink more water
Start reading fun book
Try to play Subway Surfer
Eating healthy
Arrive at in-laws
Go to Pool
Read for fun
Doze off
Short 1.4 run
I'm not cooking dinner
Evening not planned
Taking care of myself
Us 5 plus 2

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 21 of 31 No more...

It's spring.  The second day of spring and in the Midwest mother nature is not agreeing.  My high school daughter walked outside only to return and announce it is snowing!  It's not a blizzard and it's not really sticking to the ground for any amount but there are snowflakes in the air.  I'm dressed for work and decided after today there will be -

No more.
No more tights.
No more down vest.
No more wool skirts.
No more winter best.

I hope when I return from the sunny south in a week mother nature supports my no more declarations.  This seems like a piece of writing I could return to easily and that's what we want writers in our classrooms to do.  Something to ponder.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 20 of 31 Changed the Routine

What a great day of learning we had in my kindergarten room!  I threw out the predictable daily routine.  I spent the day on a science project that connected learning with writing and math. We were exploring.  We were adjusting.  We were highly engaged and no one missed the normal workshop formats.  It reminded me the importance of connecting our learning with content areas.  It reminded me how important it is to spend time on things and I get to do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 19 of 31 Kindergarten is 3/6, 1/2, 50% and not a double decker!

I am trying to work a little bit on progress reports this week so I can send student writing home and start the fourth quarter with a fresh start.  I was looking at our progress report and thought there are 6 areas here; reading, writing, math, science, social studies and health.  Health is not that big of an area but it makes the rest of my thinking sound really good.

Right now, I'm doing my best as we all do each day.  Right now, I'm feeling  I'm doing the best with 3/6 of the progress report; reading, writing, and math.  Then my math mind got thinking further.  3/6 equals 1/2.  My students attend 1/2 of the school year.  My students attend 50% of the time.  Then maybe it's okay and I should accept teaching 3/6 or 1/2 or 50% of the curriculum.  However, I'm not a really good person at being 3/6 or 1/2 or 50% at anything and it gets compounded because I get to feel this way with each class, double the trouble or twice as nice are phrases that come to my mind.  I'm also pondering, thinking and tweaking.  I don't think it's fair that state of Ohio counts kindergarten students as 1/2 or 50% of a student for funding.  I'm sure the census bureau counts them as full, living individuals.  Their parents count them as 1 whole child and their teachers and anyone who loves them counts them as 1 whole child.  Our new curriculum standards did not count these children as 1/2 a child either.  Yet, kindergarten teachers throughout our country are faced with a teaching situation that needs to be presented as a double decker or double feature format to meet expectations and grow children.  Some days we have to accept 3/6, 1/2, or 50% because pacing at a double feature or double decker pace isn't what is best for children.

Monday, March 18, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 18 of 31 Looking ahead - coping with reality

Wet and rainy.
Rainy and wet.
The sky is gray - 
I just want it 
to go away.
We are packing for sun
and lots of fun.
But there is plenty 
for us to get done.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 17 of 31 Prom dress shopping has begun

I am blessed.  In the midst of being very overwhelmed in life this Sunday night I found a moment today when I was driving home from going prom dress shopping and thinking I am lucky to be here.  I just went prom dress shopping with my sweet 16 year old daughter.  We went to one store.  She tried on several.  We didn't find the perfect one.  We know she likes pinks or corals.  I'm betting more coral or seafoam green or maybe a light powder blue.  We know she likes sparkly beads and not sequins, right now.  For homecoming and winter formals, sequins won big.  We know she didn't like the feel of a halter top.  We know some deep plunging necklines just weren't going to pass the we can purchase stamp of approval and she easily accepted that.  We learned about a few other stores in the area to shop at when we return from spring break thanks to some friends with older girls, thanks ladies I hope you are catching this post.  When I was growing up and had the opportunity to go prom dress shopping I was blessed then too.  My mother's best friend took my shopping, my mother wasn't able to.  We would make a day of it because there was nothing in my small town that offered a prom dress.  We would drive to the a slightly bigger town over.  Our day would include dress shopping, lunch, and maybe a little other shopping on the quaint Main Street.  

When you grow up in a small town sometimes you have the opportunity to go to prom or a senior ball all four years.  This I did and they were all in our high school gymnasium.  The hosting class would decorate it the night before.  We could gather in small groups of friends as couples and go out for dinner before hand.  I never remember anything going on afterwards.  Photos before and flowers always made the night special. 

My first dress was ivory with lace trim and small dainty floral bouquets.  It had a high collar and short sleeves but long in length.  It's more of a cotton fabric and truth be known it's in my basement.  The next year I got a satin deep purple long dress with puffy sleeves and a curved or v-neck neckline. That too is in my basement.  Purple was my date's favorite color and yes it was the same date the first two years.  The next two years I had my dresses made and both were pink in color.  The first pink dress was t length and was suppose to be strapless but my step-mom didn't really like that idea or worried I wouldn't be comfortable so we made the ruffle off the shoulder arm bands.  Being a bit rebellious, I took my arms out of them and under the arm pits they went creating a strapless look.  My last prom dress, back then known as a senior ball was a mauve satin slip with a long sleeve, high collar, drop waist big ruffle, t length lace overlay.  My best friend had worn the same pattern the year before and didn't care that I had one made for me the next year.  These two dresses are also in my basement.  However, I don't think N will want to borrow any of them.  I think N and I will have to make a day of it when we return and I know we will find the perfect one, that is just right for her.  I am blessed and am happy I wrote about this today and not the junk that overwhelms me.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 16 of 31 Cookie Booth Lessons

My oldest became a Girl Scout in 2001 and every year since we buy lots of Girl Scout cookies.  When she started selling Girl Scout cookies I stopped buying them from students in my room.  I've been a Girl Scout leader since 2002 in come capacity and sometimes I help with two troops as I do now.  I go camping, I stay after teaching to help run meetings, I plan field trips and volunteer time to go with the girls to events but I have never helped girls at a cookie booth.  Usually other parents step up or we don't do one.  However, as the girls have gotten older, (my seventh grade girls) they prefer to sell at a booth rather than go door to door and ask friends.   We are a small troop and the girls wanted to do 3 cookie booths.  My mom who organizes cookies does so much work that I don't want to do so I thought I would help her out and help work a cookie booth.  

I don't think I will ever turn down a cookie booth group again in my life!  People were so kind today.  Of course, those who were interested and bought cookies.  The ones who had already bought a bunch and shared their Girl Scout support with us.  Even those who didn't want cookies were kind to say no thank you.    The girls worked hard.  They used their manners, they talked to strangers, they waited and were happy to have sales, they made change and learned a purpose for mental math, they discovered business can be slow and fast paced.  They were working together to be part of something they enjoy and have funds for future adventures.  I think the joy each sale brought them made their efforts worthwhile.  That little feeling of success is something all Girl Scouts should feel.  So what did I do today when I left my shift, bought a box of cookies.  My mistake was sending my daughter A to the car for money and she returned with $10.50 which equaled 3 boxes of cookies.  I couldn't say no, she was using her mental math!

Friday, March 15, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 15 of 31 Dottie is her nickname.

No more wallflower, no more love my bed and let me read, no more staying home is my favorite thing to do.  My middle daughter A has her first role in the middle school drama production this spring.  She is also playing seventh grade softball.  Her schedule after school is busy.  Two nights a week she is there for four hours.  After spring break her game schedule is three or two nights a week with drama practices increasing and full force to technical week with the production April 25th.  It's so fun watching her try things and blossom.  Don't worry she walks around with a Kindle Fire or book in her hand because as she proclaimed the other morning, "there are so many books, I'm afraid I might miss some."

Her softball coaches have given her the nickname of Dottie.  It came from the movie, A League of Their Own.  We spent this evening watching the movie and I am honored they picked this nickname for her and for knowing her a short time they really pegged her personality.  A has a kind and gentle soul.  She finds the positive in others and cheers everyone on.  She thinks of others.  She wants the best for others and often puts herself last.  She has some spunk and works hard.  Dottie is the perfect nickname for my girl.

I love sport movies where there are underdogs that come out on top.  I love when girls are given role models for doing things they like, enjoy, and want to; overcoming barriers.  The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a wonderful website of information.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 14 of 31 Listen to their Song and their Heart

I spent two hours tonight in a middle school cafeteria at the Tyler Run Idol.  My youngest B sang in the talent show this year.  It was her second year to participate.  I am so proud of her for standing up and singing in front of a few hundred people, all on her own.  It's inspiring to watch elementary students do all kinds of kid talent with courage and fun.  I think the real story is the back story that got us to being a talent show participant family.

Last year B brought home a sing up sheet for the school talent show.   I didn't really think we had a "talent" to share.  She likes lots of things.  She wanted to sing.  She sings every day.  She sings every car ride, at the top of her lungs.  She sings by herself.  I didn't want to come up with an outfit and organize practices.  I didn't want her to get up there and have it not go so well.  I threw the paper away.  She got upset with me when she didn't get a confirmation sheet for participating.  I admitted I threw it away.  She went to the office and got a new form.  Our so kind secretary helped her out with a new form.  B filled out the form, I think parent signature and all and turned it back in to our so kind secretary.  Days before we were signed up and I realized she was determined, there was no possibility of not showing.

We went to the talent show and I was still worried about her getting through her song.  I felt very nervous for her.  She sang by herself with confidence, courage, and strength.  I was so proud of her and again I am tonight for singing again on a stage in front of lots of  people.  Last summer we took some voice lessons, I'm going to look into that again.  She enjoys singing and I think singing fills her heart.  We've always tried to support their interest and find things that fill their hearts.  Singing fills this daughter's heart and I found out when I stopped to listen to her song.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SLO General Tips

Image found @ google images

In the state of Ohio teachers are learning about a new initiative SLO - Student Learning Objectives that will be required for teachers without standardized testing to show growth and report value added information.  My district hired an SLO consultant who is offering a hybrid class on this new process.  In an effort to be proactive and having to do this for two kindergarten classes, I wanted to have suggestions and guidance before this all begins in August.  We had our first session yesterday and I found it very helpful.  These are some general tips and information I gathered from our first meeting.

-SLO is job embedded work we must do.

-Each teacher will work on 2 SLO targets for the year.

-SLO are written for an August - April time frame.

 -It may be possible SLO will need to be adjusted during the year.

- The first year will have hiccups and adjustments along the way.

-You will want a checklist of things you need in each section.

-Front load pre-assessment with low, medium, and high questions.

-We will want to show growth throughout the school year not just a beginning and ending assessment.

SLICE 2013 - 13 of 31 Why do dogs?

I have wondered this for quite some time as I walk my dogs each day.  I don't necessarily remember our first yellow lab doing this but I imagine she did.  My chocolate English Lab does and so does my Golden Retriever.  The English Lab is a girl and the Golden Retriever is a boy which means both genders do it, in my family.  They also do it 100% of the time, that is consistently.  

I wonder why my dogs turn their back and face away from me when they have a bowel movement?  Seriously, you might think this is a weird question but I do wonder this sometimes when we walk and I would love to know if anyone knows the answer.  They don't do turn away from me when they urinate.  

I mentioned this to my fourth grader the other morning and she said, "Mom, it's their way of having some privacy!"  Do dogs need privacy?  My Golden Retriever, he likes his space and takes breaks from the family.  He is content being on his own.  My English Lab does not take breaks, she is always near people, always one step away from you, and really enjoys being in the mix of life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 12 of 31 Love my Honda, not my Gas Guage

My gas gauge surprises me quite often.
My gas gauge plays hide and seek.
My gas gauge is silent.

The gas gauge is located in the bottom, the very bottom right corner of my "gadget" board.  So, when I drive with two hands on the wheel my right hand blocks this corner of the screen.  For months, my light would come on and panic would rise because I had no idea how long the light had been on for.  I don't drive far and usually a tank of gas can last me two weeks.  It's not a weekly or semi-weekly event.  My Honda "gadget" board has a screen with various numbers I can view.  One of those numbers is range.  The range of miles I can go on the amount of gas I have.  Thankfully, I have learned or I trust someone is looking out for me because driving on a range of 0 seems to be habit sometimes for me.  I haven't had this happen for me for quite a while but it did tonight.  My range was at 6 miles and I could easily make it home and within 30 seconds which was not 3 miles of driving it dropped to a range of 3.  I'm pretty sure I drove 4 miles on a range of 0 miles of gas.  I was almost to the point of sweaty palms.  I had a lot of self talk or small selfish prayers going on.  I directly went to my favorite gas station where I could get $1.03 off every gallon.  Then I drove back up to the middle school to get my daughter.  I came home and did some research.  I have a 21 gallon tank and tonight my photo shows I was too close to a phone call for help.  

A prologue to my slice but the slice was far more interesting to start with.  Since 1990, Honda has been a part of my life.  The first car my husband bought after college was a blue Honda Accord.  In college my husband did an internship with a local bank and that turned into his first job out of college for a year.  The first job he did a search for was to work for Honda.  Honda brought us to Ohio.  Then, we bought a new car for me to drive and that was a teal green Honda Civic hatchback.  Then when our family started to grow he drove the hatchback and I got a champagne colored Honda station wagon.  What an improvement from the green wood panel station wagon I learned to drive on!  I think he went back to an Accord and eventually with baby three on the way we bought our first mini van.  Which I did not want and now I love!  We are now fortunate enough to drive company cars and our love with Honda continues and vehicles rotate on a cycle here.  He is currently driving a Civic and I drive a 2011 mini van.  This is the first complaint I've ever had about the design of or how a Honda functions.  It will be something I think about in my next Honda and that is what we do in life, learn from our experiences.

Monday, March 11, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 11 of 31 The number 531

The number 531 jumped out at me today.  Sounds like a random number, right?  It's not the number of students in my room.  It's not the the number of classroom pets.  It's not the number of toes we all have.  It's not the number of minutes left until Spring Break.

In the life of a kindergarten teacher teaching two classes filled with early and emerging readers, it's the number of books checked out of the book room right now?  Holy cats!  This number won't look like this tomorrow.  I returned a stack today and will collect another stack to return tomorrow.  Then parent volunteers can check those books in and the number might go down about 150 books.

It's that time of the year when everything we have talked about and learned about reading needs to come into play.  I'm right in the midst of turning around the books in their book boxes.  Gathering 8-10 titles at their independent reading level if they are using their reading strategies which we call our Good Reader's Tools.  Each child has four strategies on a laminated card in their book box to help foster independence.  I was doing a conference today with a friend when the friend sitting next to her caught my attention.  She was working through a new title with independence and my heart just radiated with joy.  I was worried a bit about this little friend and I worry no more.  For that small moment, that slice of my day I felt joy.  Sometimes it's watching from a far and not being directly engaged for us to experience the joy our teaching can bring.  I hope you had a moment of joy today or find one tomorrow and share with us your story.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 10 of 31 A Right Now Slice,

Right now, at this moment my slice of life is enjoying one of my favorite ice cream combinations.  A just right banana sliced into circles with scoops of vanilla ice cream on top.  The bananas and ice cream are drizzled with cold chocolate sauce.  Peanuts top this creation off.  

I feel like I have the whole nutritional needs thing going on; fruit, dairy, protein and this is about the only time I really do like chocolate which certain members in my family and site lots of reasons that is good for you.

Ice cream is my one food/treat that I completely enjoy.  I believe you can never have too much ice cream.  When I was growing up going to the local ice cream store was a treat, a once in a while adventure.  Our local ice cream shop had a drive through window, it's the perfect idea!  I often got black raspberry.  I also would get a flavor called Mexican Sundae which is a spin off from  my ice cream tonight - vanilla base with chocolate syrup and peanuts tossed and mixed in.  When I could get a job during high school, I worked at this little ice cream shop and scooped ice cream through high school and college.  I never got tired of ice cream.  I never got sick of ice cream.  I still loved ice cream!  Everyone is happy when they come to get ice cream.  Have you ever been grumpy at an ice cream store?  When I travel I always look for ice cream stores. 

I have favorites at our local ice cream stores.  If I'm at Graeter's I like coffee ice cream even though I don't drink coffee.  It reminds me of the ice cream my dad would make that I wrote about earlier.  I'm not a fan of the chocolate chunk flavors at Graeter's.  At Handle's I like Spouse Like a House ice cream.  At Culver's I like a vanilla concrete mixer with fresh banana and Heath bar.  At Jeni's my favorite right now is Rainbow Yogurt but this one changes because she changes things up so often.  I like to share books with my friends and readers but we could also talk a lot about ice cream, if you want.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 9 of 31 I ran my first 5k!

You can set goals.  You can work on goals.  Goals aren't accomplished unless you finish them.  Today I finished a goal I started in the spring of 2008.  Yes, if you do the math that was 5 years ago.  An awful long time to work on a goal.  My work was inconsistent.  My work was on and off.  My goal was met but not in the final form.  Final form was very public and going public means taking risks.  Risk, that's a funny word and one I'm willing to take if I know I am almost super positive I can do what might be at risk.  Then there is a point in your life when you have to say show up or be quiet.

Today I ran my first official 5k run.  I ran the Pi Day 5k, sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Collaborative.  The funds from today's run support the learning of math and science education.  Running for education seemed like a great reason to "saddle" up.  It's a smaller size run with the event drawing about 350 runners/walkers in each of it's three years of existence.  The course was held at North Bank Park which is along the stretch of the river in downtown Columbus.  It was a pretty course, I love the water.  The course was an out and back course so I could visualize how much further a bit easier on the return stretch.  The course was 3.14 miles the first three numbers of Pi.

It was a lot of fun!  I went on my own.  I arranged my day around attending for months but I didn't register until I showed up this morning.  I told no one I was going, not even my family really.  I told my middle daughter last night she was going to have to watch her sister in the morning.  This may seem odd, I didn't tell my husband.  He runs every Saturday morning with his training for a half marathon group.  He ran 9 miles today.  I didn't want hype, fan fare, or pressure.  I like to run on my own and that is just what I did.

The experience was great.  I dressed warm, I don't like to be cold.  I sported a pair of leggings and a running skirt which covered my bottom and looked a bit sporty.  Starting a run is a bit tricky.  Navigating different paces, figuring out you can pass people in the grass to find your own pace and there was a lot of bodies near mine.  For someone who runs alone my personal pace was tight.  I could pass people!  That was a bit invigorating.  No one I  passed, passed me later.  I ran the whole race and finished feeling good.  I could of gone further, for a bit.  At the finish I was passing a lady on my right when I saw someone coming up on my left, I didn't let her pass me.  I think the photographer captured my smile and wave as I finished.  

My time was 3.14 miles in 30:58 seconds!

My youngest suggested four more this year since it took me so long to do.  I think my Central Ohio Bloggers should join me next year either walking or running to support math and science learning.  I know a great breakfast place afterwards!

Friday, March 8, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 8 of 31 Playing with Poetry

Playing with Poetry

Four furry feet
Times two
Eight furry feet
a steady beat
Under the moon.

Playing with Poetry, again.

The crescent moon
is all aglow
The stars
are twinkling bright
The cool crisp air
is chilly to my cheeks
As I start my day
just right.

I went to bed a bit earlier last night, not much but it's a start in the right direction which made getting up earlier easier to enjoy my morning walk with my two furry friends.  I thought what could I slice early in my day and wondered if I could write some poetry.  I decided maybe I didn't need a great polished poem on the first try and decided I was just playing around with poetry.  Isn't that what we ask our students to do?  I imagine these snippets belong in a writer's notebook so they can percolate.

Poetry Friday is hosted by  Heidi at my juicy little universe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 7 of 31 Happy Dental Day.

What a happy day!  

Six years ago my oldest and I found out she was missing an adult tooth.  I thought no big deal, I actually still had a baby tooth and still have it today.  My baby tooth is a molar and my grandmother had the same molar missing.  Missing teeth are passed down through genetics.  My oldest however wasn't so lucky to have a molar missing.  She is missing a front tooth and her dental journey has been a long one.  Our last big adventure was bone grafting a year and three months ago which was to lead to a dental implant surgery six months later.  Only that has been postponed for almost a year because her x-rays were showing her face was still growing.  We just got the go ahead two weeks ago for an implant surgery and today we had our consultation.  She is ready and eager with this next phase.  

Eager enough to ask if we could do it next week during an adjusted school schedule for Ohio Graduation Testing which puts most of the school on a half day schedule each day.  Her classes will be 18 minutes long.  Who thinks you can get anything done in 18 minutes?  This is our third year of this and I think there must be a better plan.  I teach elementary school and there is no way we would keep those not testing at home and miss instruction.  So, it seems like a good week to miss two days of school.  Our periodontal specialist also teaches at a local university and they are on spring break next week.  If he doesn't have to be at the university, then he will take that time and do our implant surgery.  If not, it is scheduled for April 19th on a Friday so she has the weekend to recover.  I'm so glad she can get going with this next phase.  It means a day of taking care of her.  Ice on and off every 20 minutes for the first 12 - 24 hours.  It might mean cooking special foods and maintaining her medicine schedule.  It means weeks and months of reminders about how to eat and what not to eat.  I will be needed and she will appreciate my care.  I'm sorry she has to endure this whole journey but know it's teaching her a lot of life lessons.  

Side note, my middle daughter is missing an adult tooth and it's the same one as my grandmother and I.  My youngest just found out she has all her teeth and the oldest doesn't see how any of this information is fair at all.  Like I said above, life lessons are being learned.  Life isn't fair and we do what we have to do to keep going with grace and bravery.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 6 of 31 Learning at Home.

My snow day was beautiful!  I loved taking the time to just be with my girls. I thought this morning about all the learning we would do today just by nature.  I often tell parents it's the little things in short burst of time that can have the greatest impact in learning.  It makes me sad when parents seem frustrated the kids are home or eager for them to return to school.  

My youngest and I were talking about fractions as we made donuts for breakfast with strawberry smoothies.  We used geometry to play the game Blokus and our work knowledge as we played Boggle.  My oldest was reading informational text and thinking about math as she and a special friend made homemade waffles for a late breakfast.  The funniest part was watching her trying to crack eggs gently so the yolk would not get in the egg whites that needed to be stiffened.  We observed various birds at our backyard feeders.  A great collection of finches, cardinals, and even some kind of hawk.  We discovered the best packing snow fell last night and the girls were able to roll the biggest snowman base it couldn't roll anymore and he/she never got finished.  After that they went for the smallest balls for easy tossing.  We fed the birds and squirrels in hopes of fostering more observations.  We used our taste buds to savor banana bread and hot chocolate. (notice how much banana bread is left, I should of photographed the last piece)  We learned a bit about spring cleaning bathrooms and how pleasant teamwork can be.  My two youngest led the way following directions for homemade pretzels.  We ate them while we had reading time.  Then we had to watch the Wizard of Oz movie, one of my childhood favorites to gather background knowledge for a new movie coming out this weekend, Oz the Great and Powerful.  There is always things to do and work to be done but today it was about us.  At one point, I sat on the couch and had a feeling of summer when things are a slower pace. Thank goodness spring break is getting closer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 5 of 31 Anticipation

According to

the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
realization in advance; foretaste.
expectation or hope.
previous notion; slight previous impression.
intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.

When I opened my garage this morning I captured the image below right away.  I thought beautiful.  A bit of spring is sprouting and looks great against the smidge of fallen snow.  I started anticipating spring this past weekend and started dreaming of warmer temperatures.  However, when I looked again at the cluster of daffodils trying to sprout amongst the fluffy smidge of snow I realized I could easily sway my anticipation back to winter for an approaching snow storm.  I could anticipate a snow day with my girls.  I do believe snow days are a gift of time.  I have some bananas ready for banana bread, a snow day tradition for us.  The time it takes to bake is the perfect amount of time to go outside and play or shovel the driveway.  Topping that off with hot chocolate and time together.  If the weather is bad enough for a snow day I always anticipate the roads are too dangerous to travel on and we are home for the day.  Even if I know growing up I drove in far worst conditions in Buffalo, NY.  

Anticipating can be a funny thing.  We anticipate what we don't know.  We anticipate what we hope for.  We anticipate what we do know or plans we have.  We anticipate the positive and unfortunately the negative.  Sometimes I think anticipating the negative helps us prepare.  However, anticipating is not a plan or an event and we have to be ready to roll with whatever comes our way.  I'm not a gambler at all but I'm anticipating a 50/50 chance I will be home tomorrow or at school teaching with my all my heart and energy, just trying to do my best for that moment in time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 4 of 31 PD/CCSS/Feeling Good

Talking and connecting with educators is something I enjoy.  Today was our monthly meeting for The Literacy Connection, a local group of teachers who gather to talk about literacy related ideas.  Tonight we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Amy McClure from Ohio Wesleyan University.  She was talking about children's literature and the Common Core.  These are some "slices" from her discussion I would like to remember in a time of change, lots of work, and uncertainty.

-Comprehension strategies are embedded in the CCSS.

-Background knowledge is embedded in the CCSS.

-It's exciting to see children's literature across the curriculum.

-Read aloud is a time to have productive struggles with a text.

-Instructional methods are up to the individual teacher, teach in the ways we know that are good for children.

-We can't describe all that can or should be taught in the CCSS, we need to strive for content rich teaching and go beyond.

-Use the CCSS as a means to seize power and control the work we do.

-Be proactive, get together, work with others outside of your own schools.

-The CCSS is a wonderful opportunity to teach with wonderful literature.

I think many of us are trying to figure out and understand the CCSS.  Tonight I was reminded this is an opportunity to integrate our reading and writing instruction across curriculum areas.  If you are looking for more information or resource on true integration of reading and writing through out the curriculum I would like to recommend, An Integrated Language Perspective in the Elementary School - Theory into Action by Christine C. Pappas, Barbara Z. Kiefer, and Linda S. Levstik.  This book provides the theory behind integrated work, a description of teacher and student roles, planning how to, examples at all grade levels, reading and writing activities and experiences, along with evaluation options.  

Book Whisperer - Reflection #7

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  As I read Chapter 7, I found myself anticipating spring readers.  I love observing the independence and excitement emerging readers have gained.  Donalyn reminds us, "The purpose of school should not be to prepare students for more school.  We should be seeking to have fully engaged students now."  

Chapter 7 is full of goodness, research backing and supporting student choice to foster and grow as readers.  As a kindergarten teacher, I think choice is sometimes hard for teachers to give emerging readers because they are learning to read and need direct strategy instruction.  It can be done with balance.  My students have guided reading books and choice books in their book boxes.  I've been having book shopping for choice books be at the same time and day for everyone and this seems silly when thinking about the work real readers do.   We all did it together so everyone could learn how to do it but we don't need to be doing it that way still.  I'm going to change that today.  Readers should be able to book shop when they want and we have a morning explore time that will be perfect to shop for books as they settle in to their day of learning.  I also think they could book shop during reading explore while I try to meet with small groups.  

Donalyn's goal is to create life long readers.  I want my students to be life long readers.  I know they are readers now and the excitement for school is high.  I hope they can maintain this enthusiasm as they move through the grades ahead and encounter various reading situations and formats for instruction.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 3 of 31 Palmolive ?

We like to shop at Costco and often my husband does the shopping on his way home from running on Saturday mornings.  He does a great job looking for the best deal.  Our dish soap had been the Kirkland brand for quite some time so when he came home from his last trip I noticed the dish soap had changed to my favorite color, green.  It was Palmolive.  I then remembered my mom used Palmolive dish soap faithfully when I was growing up.  I didn't think anything more about it and kept using the current bottle of dish soap.  

I went to do dishes one day last week, felt the bottle was quite heavier and saw it was the new bottle of Palmolive.  I didn't think twice about it and started to pour a small amount into my kitchen sink.  I was taken back by the scent of Palmolive dish soap and instantly thought about my mom using Palmolive dish soap when I was growing up.  I can't really remember a particular dish story to tell you.  I can't even really visualize her washing the dishes.  What I can tell you is the scent of dish soap reminded me of my mother.  It triggered a warm feeling in my heart and doing dishes now makes me smile.  

The Book Whisperer - Reflection #6

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  As I read Chapter 6, "Cutting the Teacher Strings" I enjoyed reading Donalyn's thinking about practices that have been around a long time and how she examines their goals and if those goals are truly met with such a practice.  Donalyn talks a lot about whole class novels and this is not appropriate to use in kindergarten at all.  I found myself reading her work and thinking about my high school daughter, wishing her reading life was being embraced and fostered during high school.  Right now, she is immersed in whole class novels as a junior and gets frustrated by the choices made for her by someone else.  I believe in stretching reader's genre selection and thinking.  I wonder if allowing student's a choice from a collection of Mark Twain books might be more beneficial and motivating.

Next, Donalyn talks about comprehension test and this makes me think about my youngest daughter.  I love this message from Donalyn, "We cannot confuse assessment techniques with motivation techniques, either.  Reading for the goal of performing is not motivating for students beyond their desire to earn a good grade on the test and may actually reduce their reading enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading outside of school."  

Tests are here to stay.  Tests are frustrating.  Donalyn encourages us to have children read widely so they can think critically about what they have read.  She believes this carry over will help all students meet minimal expectations for any standarized test.  Test preparation is not reading instruction that can carry over to new situations in real life.  Donalyn does a study for reading tests and I have done that in the past when I taught third grade.  We need to find the balance of fostering true readers in our students and guiding them to pass and be successful reading a test. 

Donalyn shares book reports and book talks are not motivating nor do they create readers.  They create pressure to read and lack personal interest for the student.  She suggests book commercials as an alternative method for sharing and recommending books to friends.  Book commercials are shorter and don't give away the plot or sequence of events in hopes of enticing books with other readers.  Another alternative for book reports would be a book review.  Book reviews foster book evaluative thinking.

Other traditional structures Donalyn writes about include reading logs, round robin reading, and incentive programs.  I don't use any of these structures in kindergarten but I have used reading logs for years.  I gave up keeping track of pages read years ago.  I did enjoy the monthly calendar format I created to help my readers look at genres they were reading to help balance their reading choices.  I can see why Donalyn thinks these are not needed.  If students read the same books at home and at school, you will be able to know more about the genre choices they are making daily.  

This chapter is a great resource if you questioning anything you are currently doing.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 2 of 31 Being Together Then and Now

Homemade ice cream making came to our house once a year right before the seasons started to change.  Before the forsythia bushes would bloom, before the daffodils would start to sprout, and before the snow would melt completely the ice would break up on the lake and start to melt.  If you make a lot of ice cream you need a lot of ice!  Ice from the lake was free and we would spend a weekend making ice cream.  If the lake didn't freeze we could get ice from the firehouse in town because they had a large ice machine  and we had family members who were volunteer firemen.  

It was always a big production gathering supplies and ingredients.  We would make homemade coffee ice cream with fresh brewed coffee.  We would make homemade strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries.  We would make homemade cherry ice cream with maraschino cherries and a vanilla base.  We would make homemade mint chocolate ice cream with shaved pieces of chocolate.  My mom would make the recipes and have it ready for my dad.  Who took it to the basement and worked some magic.  He kept the right balance of ice and salt to keep the cylinder container spinning and getting colder.  He would check the mixture and wait patiently for the right consistency.  The best part was when he called my sister and I to scrape off the long plastic blade for a taste of the yummiest ice cream they would then pack in freezer boxes to last for months.  I didn't grow up with ice cream in the freezer weekly or even that often.  So this yearly tradition was a family event we truly enjoyed making and eating together.  It was fun.  We were together.  I wonder if the lake is covered with ice today or if it has started to melt.

I had the itch to make some ice cream today with the girls.  We discovered a few years ago homemade vanilla ice cream with crushed thin mint Girl Scout cookies was a great combination.  Thanks to progress and my new ice cream machine the process is super quick and we were enjoying it with our movie tonight, together.  A different kind of together filled with content, happiness, and ice cream.  Some things in life shouldn't change.

Friday, March 1, 2013

SLICE 2013 - 1 of 31 Poetry Friday Original

My seventh grade daughter just completed an ELA project.  She chose to do a tier 3 level; writing a couple of more poems and present in a creative way.  She is interested in fashion.  She has sewn a couple of projects and is interested in sewing more.  She had the idea to create a dress and display her poetry on the dress.  That could be a complicated project.  I was able to guide her and shop with her to create a skirt.  It was suppose to be a 15 minutes skirt without a pattern.  We worked on it all day Sunday, more than 15 min.  I forgot there is a difference in experience and rate of work when you are thirteen.

She needed one more poem and it needed to be a mentor text after she was done sewing.  I shared with her Ralph Fletcher's poem, "The Good Old Days" and described the process he had us go through when I was at the Dublin Literacy Conference this past Saturday, #dublit13.

I'll be honest, I wondered why she couldn't do a Tier 2 project.  I've wondered why she couldn't put her poems on paper, in a book.  I've wondered why she had to get so creative.  As I read her poems about fashion in Russia, Japan, Europe, Australia, Africa, America, and Asia, I was quite impressed with the research she had done and her choice of words.  However, her mentor text version of "The Good Old Days" tugs at my heart and made the whole project worthwhile.

The Good Old Days
by AER - 2013

Sometimes I remember
The good old days.

Stitching and sewing.
Twisting and turning.

My mother is there
to guide and protect.

After I'm done
I try it on.

Excited and relieved
wash over me.

I still can't imagine
Anything better than that.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Julie at The Drift Record.