Monday, March 31, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 31 of 31 - Thank You

This year I made a plan to slice about my teaching life Monday - Friday in hopes of finding things that make teaching sparkle right now.  I worried this might be hard because teaching is hard right now but it wasn't.  I was able to listen more intently and observe more intently, finding a sparkle most days.  I also think my slices this year brought a bit more of a reflective voice.  Sometimes in my blogging life, I'm not sure what to post and slicing brought a fresh new look to my blogging writing.   Slicing every day was easier than I thought, even if it was getting late in the evening I knew I wanted to stay strong.  I really enjoyed reading slices from this community and wish I had the time to read everything, everyone was willing to put in print.  I really appreciated checking in and finding comments from readers.  Feedback does bring a smile to an author, thank you.  Thank you for reading pieces from my heart and being part of my journey.  Until next year, enjoy and embrace what comes your way.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 30 of 31 Quote Collecting App

"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths."

Etty Hillesum

I can't remember where I got this quote from this week.  It could of been from a daily email I receive or maybe it was on twitter but what does matter is I reflected on these words.  These words were important to receive this week as I tried to stay focused on a normal work and home schedule, while anticipating spring break.  Deep breaths are important for each of us to take.  I've discovered as a writer I have another format I like to use.  I like to anchor my Choice Literacy writing to a quote of a professional mentor, a text that has guided my own thinking the reader is about to read.  I think much of what we do as educators is tweaking someone else's thinking to make it work for us.  We are stronger when we stand on the shoulders of others and with others.  

When I discovered I like to use quotes to jumpstart my articles, I remembered collecting quotes when I was younger, in a notebook.   I wanted to start collecting quotes in one place again and found a great app to use.  Quotebook is easy.  You can copy a quote from twitter, a blog, or a website and paste it in the quote space.  You can also type it in the quote text box.  Then you can add the author, the source, give it a 5 star rating, and add tags.  To keep life simple, I add my quote, the author, and right now my tagging system is really easy; life or education.  I'm going to think about more ways to incorporate quotes within the writing I do.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 29 of 31 Why Winn Dixie?

We've arrived and when I am in the south I love to visit the grocery store Winn Dixie.  There's something charming about going.  It really has nothing to do with the quality of the groceries, the layout of the store, or the customer service.  I go in hopes of finding a stray dog.  A stray dog who is lost and making a mess inside the grocery store.  A stray dog who might need a good home and fall in love with me at first sight.  A stray dog who helps people heal and connect with other people.  I never seem to find this stray dog on my yearly journey to the south but I do always think about  one of favorite books Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  I also love the movie version of this book and my family doesn't appreciate how many times I could watch this movie.  

I had my oldest daughter with me tonight when we ran in for a few things to get us through a late dinner and breakfast.  She asked me why I loved going here so much.  I shared with her what I shared with you above and she said,  "Mom, that is silly.  If there was a book called, Because of Kroger would you shop at Kroger?"  She made me chuckle and the answer is probably not.

Friday, March 28, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 28 of 31 - At 4pm

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
riding in the car
for a very long time.

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
picking my first
vacation reading.

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
trying out 
my new running shoes.

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
relaxing in the sun.

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
steeping my new
blueberry pineapple ice tea.

At 4pm 
spring break starts.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
writing about 31 Things.

I shared this format for writing earlier this week, borrowed from my friend Cathy.  I think as writers we need to find out formats that work for us and then play around with the words and phrasing.  It was fun to think about changing this format to fit my new adventures that lay ahead.  31 Things is an online course I bought and never quite worked on from Big Picture Scrapbooking.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 27 of 31 The Arts...

Today, I had the pleasure of watching our fifth graders practice a performance they had put together to share with their families this evening.  Bringing all four classes together for just the second time had some kinks to work through.  That's part of the learning process and preparation for sharing.  I was then blessed to watch the fifth graders tonight and WOWZA, what a difference.  

There's something to be said for watching students share what they have learned and enjoyed creating.  Our music teacher guided each class in writing their own music for drums and xylophones.  She then had each class put together small skits that had an overarching idea.  That takes energy, coordination, and patience.  They had visuals projected on a screen and video of their classroom learning playing while each class transitioned.  She worked with our art teacher to create some props and tie in to an art them with student created Picasso like pieces part of the storyline.  Through art the students thought about color and emotions they wanted to portray.  I'm so pleased it went well for these two staff members and only hope parents understand or think about the thinking and labor that went into planning this.

As a parent, I was reminded throughout the show how important the arts are for many students.  It takes courage to speak and perform in front of others.  Some students are musically inclined.  This type of performance tonight was all about engagement and creativity.  Two big motivators for learning.  I watched my own daughter in a small skit with a good amount of speaking parts.  She projected her voice with such confidence and looked like a natural on that stage.   I wish events like this weren't just once a year.  I am happy she has the opportunity to have music twice a week and then art for a longer chunk of time, once a week.  It also justified using more music and art in my own classroom.  What a fun way to spend my Thursday night.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 26 of 31 Waiting

I've read a lot of books on parenting over the past 18 years.  I've read books about what to expect before the girls came.  I've read books on what to do that first year over and over.  I've read books on different ages, as they grew.  I've read books about raising girls and sisters.  I've read books on how to talk to your child so they will listen.  I've read books on teenage discipline and habits of effective families.  However, yesterday I realized all of these books never used the word waiting.  We were at a special tooth doctor for a check up that turned into over an hour appointment.  As a parent, we have to wait.  We have to wait while they get themselves dressed and learn self help skills.  We have to wait for various doctor appointments for different reasons.  We have to wait for practices and lessons to start and finish.  We have to wait for them to get in the car.  We have to wait while they make decisions.  While waiting can be hard and something we didn't expect whether you are a parent or not.  Waiting is a natural outcome of relationships and waiting happens if it's just one person.  The word waiting stuck with me today and I realized waiting brings different things to our lives.  Sometimes waiting brings the outcome we want and hope for and sometimes waiting doesn't but either way waiting can strengthen us.


Waiting teaches independence.
Waiting takes patience.
Waiting brings calm.
Waiting brings frustration.
Waiting brings stamina.
Waiting brings persistence.
Waiting brings conversations.
Waiting brings thinking.
Waiting brings silence.
Waiting brings reflection.
Waiting takes time.
Waiting teaches strength.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 25 of 31 Reading Plans are Being Made

Going to the library with spring break in our future was fun.  I had my youngest and oldest daughter with me.  My middle daughter had text me quite a list of books, she wanted.  My youngest had wandered around the upstairs last night and gathered a few books to take with her, probably to make me happy.  Today, she changed that pile to be more meaningful with all new books - three were from the library.  Two of those are the beginning of a series and the other one was a recommendation from her oldest sister.  I was so happy to have my middle daughter just gush over this book when we got home.  Their ages and reading interest vary greatly so hearing them talk about the same book was wonderful.  

My oldest had a friend ask for book titles on our way to the library so she text another friend for some titles.  She hadn't been to the library in quite some time.  Most of her reading is text book related for school.  It was so nice to see her find titles from friends and myself, locate them in the library and have a fun reading plan for spring break.  

My middle daughter has the thickest books, the tallest stack and the largest smile about the books brought home for her.  I found several on her list.  I picked up two titles that were by the same other but different than what she requested and she seemed okay with that.  I made the judgement call to get the sequel to a book she asked for.  I even asked the librarian for a recommendation based on what was in my hands.  Her eyes just lit up when I could barely carry her stack.

Yes, my reading plan is missing.  My kindle fire has two books, turned or turning movie to read.  These are important to read because it helps me connect with my middle daughter.  I'm a smidge late on one title, the movie came out last weekend.  I have a book on there recommended by one friend and another friend blogged she just loved it.  I have a real book or two to bring too!  I have a book to connect with my youngest daughter to borrow from her room.  Lots for friends are buzzing about this title.  My kindle fire has a bunch more books - self help/reflection books, fiction fun titles, and yes a professional book.  I could bring physically books in all of those categories.  I feel like before I ramble off titles here I need to be realistic and make a plan.  One that I can obtain and wouldn't it be fun to surpass?  We will have lots of driving time and I've taught myself to read in the car so there is some good potential reading time either in the car or by the pool.  

If you have any reading advice for my plan let me know, I'd appreciate it.  All fun?  All e book format?  Ebook and physical books?  

Monday, March 24, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 24 of 31 - Pet Direction Highlights

Our pets are staying behind and friends are watching them for the first time.  I left some directions with meals, routines, and behaviors they each have.  I thought it would be fun to write a cliff note version.  These are phrases I'm pulling out I hope they pay attention to.   Good news, our friends love dogs.

tennis balls in her bowl
slowing down how fast she eats

don't feed them human food
she will discovery any she can find

her best command, crate
she can't be trusted off the leash
game of chase
could be a marathon

he loves tennis balls
plays catch 
all day, if allowed

she loves people
she licks dirty dishes in dishwasher
she loves cupboards,
keep closed

Sunday, March 23, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 23 of 31 - Looking Ahead

It's one more week
til spring break.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
teaching kindergarten
goods and services,
practicing retelling the 3bears,
discovering geometry.

It's one more week
til spring break.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
getting a haircut,
sneaking in some polish on my nails,
and finding clothes
too cold to wear here.

It's one more week
til spring break.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
doing laundry,
and praying my dryer gets fixed ASAP,
packing snacks for a long ride.

It's one more week
til spring break.
If you are looking for me
I might be,
writing how to take care of my dogs directions,
buying rabbit food,
and planning books to read.

Thank you my friend Cathy for inspiring my slice!  I just loved your piece of writing.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 22 of 31 Collecting Family Quotes

"Oooo, invite me to that!" is followed by some giggles and my youngest daughter sitting with me at the kitchen island.  I just announced I was going to lick the bowl from making chocolate no bake cookies and she decided to find the closest stool and grab the second spoon in the pot.  I think we need to work on her fraction work because it certainly wasn't a fair share situation.  

Posterity is an app I like to use to capture quotes from family members.  Each family member has their own notebook.  Each one actually looks like an opened notebook.  You can use a photo to personalize the cover of each one.  Each notebook has a button to let you view all quotes or add a new one.  When you add a new one, you type in the text, pick a date, and if you like, you can add a picture to the quote.  You can also share quotes with friends and family.

Here are some I've collected in the past few months.
S- Man plans.  God laughs.
N- It's going to be like Hunger Games with guacamole.
A - The brain only has 7 spots for short term memory.  He gave us 10 vocal words.
B - Ooo, invite me to that!

I love looking back at previous quotes and hope to collect more.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SLICE 2014 21 of 31 Professional Stimulation

Professional stimulation.  
Two words that jumped to my mind when I woke up this morning.  

Life is busy teaching full time, raising a family, and completing report cards while dreaming about sunny Florida.   Somehow, within this week I have managed to attend dinner with friends one evening to talk about technology.  I adore this group of local friends who all teach outside my district.  I seem to fit right in with them, so much they forget where I actually teach.  They shared brilliant projects they were doing and things they were trying with their students.  Many of them teach older students.  They also have a variety of tools within their rooms or building to use.  I listened a lot and hope to be invited back with a bit more to share.  I certainly was inspired.

Another night after school, I attended the second session for a class within my district about global literature.  I love this class.  The professor is a teacher within our district and she loves books as much if not more than I do.  I ordered a book during class and came home to order three more all representative of Africa.  

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting with another instructor to make up a class I had to miss during parent teacher conference for the Literacy Connection.  I really appreciate working with people who are able to help me, when my schedule gets a bit busy.  I can't wait to visit and discuss Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayers.

I've blogged each night a small slice, too.

Professional stimulation keeps me going.  It feeds my soul when things seem dark.  It's wonderful to find people to talk to about the positive in teaching and how we can learn and grow as educators.  While I always have blogs to read, twitter to check, text messaging to use meeting with people face to face is far better.  I'm glad I found professional stimulation this week because spring break is a week away.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 20 of 31 Quadrilateral News Flash in K.

News flash!  

Quadrilaterals have made their way to kindergarten.  

I could give you the background of my pre-assessment for geometry, one on one interviews, and modeling a picture shape sort with my students where we sorted shapes into groups labeling them; circles, triangles, hexagon, and quadrilaterals.  I could give you the background of teaching kindergarten students to say the word quadrilateral, which is a mouth full and learning there are 5 syllables in quadrilateral.  Five syllables make a long word.  I could give you the background where earlier in the day my students exploded upon entering the art room to repeat the word quadrilateral over and over to Mrs. K.  She looked at me a bit puzzled and I said we have some new learning and are very excited.  

All of this does matter but it really doesn't because what really matters is our discovery during snack today!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 19 of 31 A Blessing

Half of our buses are late daily.  Packing up 23 kindergarteners is always busy.  We try packing up slowly.  Sometimes we have to pack in a hurry.  Sometimes we pack up just right.  The funny thing about packing up is I can plan to do it one of these three ways and it always ends up another way.  It's a lot of work for little ones to gather all of their belongings and to bundle up.  Navigating the hallway with all my little ducklings is always an adventure.  They are able to do it now with much more ease than earlier in the school year.  This is my most worrisome time of the day.  I pray they all get home safely.  I walk backwards in the hallway because I am worried I might lose one of them.  It takes so much navigating and negotiating to get outside that once we get there, I really appreciate when all the buses are there.  Today, we had to wait a bit.  While we were waiting a guest teacher for another classroom asked me if I was their teacher and wanted to know if they were in kindergarten or first grade.  I said I was their teacher and they are kindergarteners.  She turned to me and said, "a blessing."  Two little words, from a stranger were good words to ponder at the end of a long day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 18 of 31 Grateful

I didn't feel well today, physically.  I thought it would go away and I could get on with my day but it didn't go away and my day kept going.  I decided after lunch I could take it a bit easy.  I didn't have to race around and do writing conferences.  What if I sat at one table and did some discussions here and kidwatching from a far.  I did just that.  We were finishing up some short pieces in hopes of cleaning out our writing folders and to start a new unit later this week.  Sometimes it's necessary to stop and watch, with no true agenda.  I saw children with writing stamina.  I saw children with writing plans.  I saw children thinking about making the writing easier for the writer to read.  I saw children using their manners.  I saw children using their new resources for spelling sight words and lowercase letter formation.  I am grateful the students were able to apply all they've learned so I could take it easy.  

Now, I need to take it easy and get myself in bed in hopes tomorrow is better.

Monday, March 17, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 17 of 31 Book Reading Bus Driver

I've talked with Bus #80 for a few years each night at dismissal, as I pass her by.  I know a couple of weeks ago she had a skunk under her old farm house.  Yuck, poor lady.  We've talked about the students we share.  We've talked about the weather.  For some time now, I've watched her reading on her kindle fire and then put it away as we arrive for student's to board her bus.  Tonight I asked her what she was reading.  Today I learned about Sue Henry and her Alaska mystery series.  It was fun to hear her retell me about the series.  She was happy and excited to share something she enjoys.  She peaked my interest based on her description of the character and it seemed like a fun book or books to enjoy.  I think I need to ask more people, what are you reading.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 16 of 31 It glistens.

It glistens.
She glistens.

It shimmers.
She shimmers.

It sparkles.
She sparkles.

It twinkles.
She twinkles.

It lights up a room.
She lights up a room.

It makes her heart happy.
She makes my heart happy.

Prom dress shopping today, inspired today's post.  This is definitely a project that requires time and patience.  After experiencing it for the first time last year with some trials and tribulations, I knew what to expect this time.  We had a small but big catastrophe this year trying to purchase a dress online, warning - Just Don't Do It.  So with that behind us, we went out today with some friends for the second time to find one.  After stopping at three stores, with one more to go I thought we were going to be going again next Sunday.   

However, my thinking changed the minute she walked out of the room.  She was a bit gushy about the dress but I saw that twinkle in her eye, a smile from her heart and I knew this was the one.  It's really fun to be part of these moments with her and I can't wait to see her wear it in April for her Senior Prom.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 15 of 31 A Brown Parcel

Ding Dong!  Surprise!  Mom, Dad, I think this is for you.  Nice FedEx guy holding a brown parcel for me and needs my signature.  I let the brown box sit on the dining room table for the rest of the day.  This brown box was going to need my time and my attention, without major interruptions.  This brown parcel brings some hesitation.  This brown parcel brings some joy.  This brown parcel brings some new learning.  This brown parcel brings some excitement.  This brown parcel brings new possibilities.  With this brown parcel, I have taken the full Apple product plunge.  It started with an iphone last June and within 48 hours I ordered an ipad and now nine months later I own a MacBook Air!

If you have tips or suggestions, please share.  I've been a PC girl until today.

Okay, just figured out I will learn how to copy our badge later into this post.  
Just don't want to miss out on posting daily.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 14 of 31 It's Okay

It's okay.
It's okay to take a bit longer to observe.
It's okay to listen a little big longer.
It's okay to stop and rest.
It's okay to plan more than you can do.
It's okay to realize that.
It's okay to adjust.
It's okay to say don't rush.
It's okay to say there is another day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 13 of 31 I've Got A Feeling

Today, I felt it.  The feeling that comes every spring, in a classroom.  The feeling that lets you stop and observe.  When I take the time to observe, I see bigger students.  Students who can take care of their belongings.  Students who can get themselves dressed.  Students who can read for longer periods of time.  Students who take care of the classroom and put things away.  Students who use their words to communicate their feelings.  Students who ask questions and speak up more.  Students who know how to get around the building and back to the room with just one friend.  Students who remember their classroom job.  Students who notice the tiny details within a read aloud and extend our discussion time because these noticing's are very important.  Students who hug you more and even exclaim, "Mrs. Robek, I love you."  We are ending the third quarter tomorrow and I'm so glad I got a sparkle, a reminder of what is ahead.  Fourth quarter is always so much fun!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 12 of 31 Why do your veins...?

Nothing else mattered today during a writing conference!  

My friend drew a picture that looked like a popular topic in our classroom. My friend was writing letters on his own.  My friend had a story to tell and six months ago this little friend didn't want to write or share stories.  My friend was listening for sounds in words and able to identify the letter to represent sounds.  My friend used a resource to easily spell the word and.  My friend was using his spacer stick.  My friend had stamina to write longer.

Zombie and a blue boy. - something from minecraft

As we worked together, my little friend was rubbing the top of my hand.   He asked me, "Why do your veins do that?  They look like my grammies."  My veins do tend to be raised and I don't know why.  I quickly reflected on the idea he just compared part of me to his grammie and I laughed a bit.  Grammies are wonderful and this moment was wonderful. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 11 of 31 Spring Ahead Twice?

Yes, you can spring ahead twice.
Benefits of springing ahead twice?

Drink 8oz of water with multi-vitamin in peace.
Walk both dogs 1 mile.
Feed 2 dogs.
Catch up on Feedly and Twitter.
Pilates for 18min.
Reading for 10min.
Dressed and ready before any of the girls are up.
Discover my laptop is dead and won't turn on.
Throw in a load of laundry to the washer.
Move laundry to the dryer.
Make breakfast, times 3.
Make lunches, times 3.
Encourage 2 daughters out of bed.
Write a slice.

Turn alarm clock time back one hour.

Monday, March 10, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 10 of 31 Little Things Count

I'm taking a class within our district for the next six weeks.  The title is, Seminar on Global Children's Literature.  It's after school for two hours at a time and I was feeling a bit tired today.  I forgot to pack a snack and didn't bring water.  When I walked in the door for class there was a table of snacks, very nice snacks.  Snacks right up my alley; veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, apple slices with a very yummy homemade dip and then pita chips and hummus.  Yea, I didn't starve and crash during class.  She is one smart teacher!  I bought myself 20 oz of cold water and was excited to add that to my fitbit flex water intake for the day.  I saw the syllabus ahead of time and a text for the class was mentioned, I purchased it only to find out they had them there for us.  I think I didn't clearly read an email that was sent last week.  I had already started underlining and highlighting thoughts and declined the free book.  The kind book giver said,  you can still take one and return it.  Yes, I'm going to save about three groups of ten dollars.  Then our very nice teacher who has her doctorate read to us from global literature books.  I don't think I have been read to since I was at The Ohio State University for my masters degree.  As she read, I realized I enjoyed listening to someone else read while I pondered what she read.  I enjoy finding new books and I've been ignoring global literature, not on purpose but I use to plan integrated studies much easier than I have been lately.  Unexpected little things really do count when working with others.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 9 of 31 Hello Fitbit Flex

Hello Fitbit Flex.  I'm so glad I found you finally.  After stalking the shelves at Target since January you were there, waiting for me on Saturday.  I stalked and waited so long because I had gift cards from my kind and generous families to help with your purchase.  You seemed like a great idea to use gift money on. Something I probably wouldn't just buy for myself, normally.  Something to help improve my health and probably spark motivation.   

Today was our first day together.  The sun was shining brightly and tricked everyone to thinking it was a bit warmer than it actually was.  We took the dogs on a mile walk this morning and that really increases the step count for the day.  We walked the mall for a bit today, it's prom dress shopping season and we will be out shopping more for this special purchase.  We walked with the dogs again to the next neighborhood over to pick up A from a friend's house.  I might have driven without you in my life.  I knew I wanted to reach the goal of 10,000 steps for the day so we walked.  

I like checking out your feedback using my fitbit app.  As of right now, we took 13,271 steps for 5.88 miles and had 44 active minutes.  You also tell me the calories I burned, interesting and I might pay attention to this later.  I'm not sure about having you keep track of my calories eaten or starting a food plan.  I do think your other feature might be a bit creepy but we will try it tonight.  You are going to track how I sleep.  I'm thinking I could predict these results, not very well but we will see and I will try my best.  I am going to keep track of my water intake tomorrow with you.  Thank you for joining my journey in life, fitbit flex.  I think this will be interesting.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 8 of 31 364 Days Later

Slice 9 of last year was about running my first 5K.  364 days later, slice 8 is about running my second 5k.  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.  It's just a smidge and a pinch over 3.1 miles in honor of Pi Day with 3.14 the final distance.

I felt great after my first 5k and thought it would be something fun to do once a month until it got cold.  I didn't even get close to doing another 5k last year.  I have all the normal excuses a busy person has.  I didn't completely leave running after completing my 5k goal but it wasn't a habit and I didn't maintain it consistently. Then #nerdlution came along and I knew I needed to move more and I began running at the Y again. Somewhere along that project three days a week seemed realistic.  As 2014 started, I wanted to think about things I wanted to embrace (my one little word) and running made the list.  I decided to run 9 miles a week.  I pictured it as 3 miles a time/3 times a week.  I'm happy to say since January 1, 2014 I have made this goal all but one week when I fell short one run due to an icky cold and a week of parent teacher conferences. I'm finding having a distance goal over a number of days is a bit more helpful.  Even though the reality is I run three times a week, I could run two days a week for 4.5  miles if I wanted to.  There was one week where I fell short 1 mile because I had to pick my daughter up from softball.  So, I did go back for a fourth run that week and it was really short.  I'm going to think more about my goals and creating goals with variation or flexibility built in.  Maybe this helps foster success.  If you have any thoughts on goal setting, I'd love to hear them.

Running today felt good.  I finished 32 seconds faster than last year, 30:26.  Thanks for celebrating with me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 7 of 31 When the sun comes out...

The sun came out big, bold, and bright today.
I opened both rows of blinds and let it shine right in.

I said goodbye to indoor recess Lego creations, one class was saving day after day.
I said goodbye to the cups of counting bears left over from a math game.
I said goodbye to a collection of content books that seemed to take forever to use with school cancellations. I said goodbye to collections from home we brought to use for content learning.
I said goodbye to dried splattered paint.
I said goodbye to random school library books we have used.

I said hello bird feeders, you need some food and out I went to welcome friends for us to view.
I said hello space on the window sill, you look inviting.
I said hello empty book display stands, you need something new.
I said hello outside recess.
I said hello ideas for planning found and printed to take home.

The sun came out big, bold, and bright today.
An invitation to use planning time wisely.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 6 of 31 Well Worth It

We can email parents.  We can share our learning via websites.  We can write paper newsletters and send them home.  We can post learning to twitter.  We can create pinterest accounts to share information with parents.  We can make a phone call.  We have so many options to be in touch and communicate with parents and yet talking face to face always feels best.  

I've concluded meeting with two sets of families.  It was so nice to show them concrete evidence and talk about their child inside the classroom and outside the classroom.  I love hearing their insights and observations from home.  Most often it confirms the growth I am seeing in the classroom.  Sometimes it explains things about behaviors or struggles a child might be having.  

I also attended conferences tonight as a middle school parent.  I love hearing how she works at school and she's ready for high school.  I too learned things about my daughter I didn't know.  She is doing well in math but her teacher mentioned she never takes advantage of doing extra credit points by correcting her mistakes on a test.  This does seem a bit odd for any student. When I asked her why she doesn't do test corrections she replied with, "I don't believe in second chances. If I miss a problem, then I miss a problem."  I need to work on modeling or thinking about second chances with her.  Second chances can be a blessing or a gift.  Having two rounds of parent teacher conferences is like a second chance.  An opportunity to come together a second time to communicate, enjoy, and celebrate a child.  Well worth the time, energy, and effort.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 5 of 31 I Got Some Reading Advice

My fifth grader said tonight at bedtime, "Mom you need to do some loose reading."  I questioned, "loose reading?"  She replied with, "You read too many teaching books or books about food.  You know you are always learning. Learning books.  You'd really like this book."

She's currently reading the second book in the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans and stalked classroom libraries at our school until she could find the second one.  I'm going to ponder her advice.  She is observant.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 4 of 31 Dinner put on hold...

The yellow mailing envelope was calling my name.  It was even out of my sight, on the island while I was making stuffed shells for dinner.  Then I realized I couldn't remember placing an order this week.  Suddenly, the idea of not knowing what I ordered got the best of me and my spices had to wait a minute. I opened my yellow mailing envelope and discovered I did place an order, it was a pre-order which means today is a book birthday!  Happy Book Birthday to - the SCRAPS book by Lois Ehlert!  Now, my spices were on hold for much longer than a minute.  Good thing the shells had about 5 more minutes to boil and the homemade sauce that was frozen still needed to defrost on the stove.

Lois Ehlert begins her sharing with pieces from her childhood.  I loved a black and white photograph of her parents with this caption, "My mom and dad returning after hunting for wild asparagus."  People hunt for asparagus?  I want to know more.  She gives tribute to her mom for sharing her sewing supplies with her.  She gives tribute to her dad for sharing his woodshop with her.  One whole page is a photograph of her art table she used while growing up.  Next, she shares several stories about where her ideas come from.  Nuts to You! was conceived when I real squirrel came in her house.  Feathers for Lunch is based on a visit she had with her sister and her cat Bucky.  She even shares how she wrote this book from the cat's version first and then wrote a version from the owner's point of view.  She shares many interesting tidbits about her medium, collage.  She rubs a crayon over a grater add texture.  She makes collage sound so easy with every day materials.  Throughout the entire book there are collage examples from her books, labeled with tidbits of information.

When Lois graduated from art school she didn't make books right away.  She shares, "Everyone needs time to develop their dreams.  An egg in the nest doesn't become a bird overnight."  Who doesn't need this reminder, especially anyone working with children.  Then again at the end of the book she asks the reader if they want to know why she chose to be an artist.  Lois' reply, "I think maybe it's the other way around.  Art chose me."

So, to get this detailed book information to share with you I did have to spend more time with the book than making my spices wait another five minutes.  I think everyone should own this fun, beautiful, informative auto biography.  This book makes me want to go to school tomorrow and launch a whole great big author study on Lois Ehlert.  We can be just like Lois.  Sketching, planning, observing and creating with materials.

Monday, March 3, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 3 of 31 A Writing Hum

Everyone is writing.  Everyone is focused.  There is a writing hum in the air of room 104 today.  How did we get there?  What's different about today than in the past two months?  The weather hasn't changed!  It's still freezing outside, new snow is on the ground, indoor recess was just before lunch, and it's March 3. We can keep hoping for an early spring outside but I think I witnessed a bit of spring inside today during writing workshop.  Again I ask, what's different about today than in the past two months?  

We had a consistent attendance pattern last week, finally.  I stepped away from a new teaching resource.  I used data from a recent on demand writing assessment and saw all of my students need to work on mechanics and conventions in their own writing.  I took a lesson idea from this new teaching resource and instead of doing it in just one day, I've spread it out over three days.

I started our time together today looking at student writing from last week and having the students share what they notice these writers did well.  We then made an anchor chart What Makes Writing Easy to Read to make our thinking visible and easy to refer to.  We organized our writing folders.  We had just sent home old pieces and had a few new pieces from last week.  We decided which pieces were done and would go on the red dot side.   We then decided which still needed to be worked on and placed them on the green dot side.

I haven't been able to get to the copier to copy and produce little booklets, so we are using single sheets for writing. Maybe the shorter pieces are letting us focus more on the all the tasks a writer needs to think about. Maybe it's not guiding their writing topics and feeling a sense of choice was important to them.  We just got tongue depressors to use as spacer sticks and we think they are pretty fun to use.  It's magical how these have helped spaces appear in everyone's writing.  Before going to write independently, we talked about what writing workshop sounds like and could look like.  I mentioned we would share and look at more pieces of student work at the end of our writing time.

Off they went, gathered their illustration tools and paper if needed.  Five and six year olds love to talk as they work but today, they all worked truly independently on their own.  I think all of these things were little seeds that different student's collected, sprouting a writing hum we all enjoyed.  A hum that sprouted and fostered writers.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 2 of 31 Stealing is Okay!

Stealing is okay in life, is an unexpected lesson I watched my daughter learn in basketball this season and I didn't know it until last night.  After our second game, we gathered with families for pizza and good cheer.  We were headed to the championship game, Sunday afternoon.  One of the coaches asked B, "How many steals did you have today?"  She told him 3.  He was grinning ear to ear and went on to tell her tomorrow's goal would be 4.  I've seen her fight for the ball a lot this season.  Her face becomes very determined, not to be confused with angry or mad when someone tries to grab the ball away from her.  She often keeps the ball and either passes it or dribbles it down the court.  I've seen her take the ball away from the opposing team, but didn't realize this was a focus for her.  Today as I watched the championship game , I realized of course stealing is important!  It changes the possession of the ball and gives the team more opportunities to hopefully score.  As she made her first steal, the crowd cheered and her coach was yelling, "B - that's 1."  I think if she had gotten more steals, he would of kept shouting out her stats to her.  It's good to know your stats and keep working on a goal.  Sometimes, our goals aren't met.  Sometimes our goals change mid stream and sometimes our goals are surpassed.  B didn't get 4 steals today.  She played hard and had fun.  She scored one basket and made one free throw.  She did win the championship game with her team and until next season, stealing is not okay in life.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

SLICE 2014 - 1 of 31 Possibilities

Possiblities.  Today is the first of March and I'm excited to be slicing.  I tried to capture possibilities throughout my day.  It's possible to get back on track and begin my days by walking my dogs.  So, I did and twenty degrees felt like a heat wave here in Ohio.  It's possible my fifth grader could win her first basketball game and have a second game today.  She did.  It's possible to go grocery shopping for lunch, turn it in to groceries for the week and check it off my list.  It's possible to take the Christmas lights down when the temperatures are 46 degrees.  It's possible to discover little sprouts of daffodils and iris in my garden.  It's possible spring is on it's way.  It's possible the weather man is right and if my groceries are bought then maybe I should help the birds and squirrels and put some food out for them.  It's possible my daughter will win her second basketball game and go to the championship game Sunday.  She did.  It's possible to gather with her team afterwards and make new friends while enjoying pizza and good food.  It's possible the weatherman is wrong about their forecast and there will be no major storm here by morning.  My slice of life is going to welcome and encourage possiblities.  Thank you for sharing it with me.