Friday, May 26, 2017

Haiku #2 {Poetry Friday}

frail newborn Spring birth
downy fluff to plump feathers
nest to branch to yard

We've had a robin's nest right outside our kitchen table window the last three weeks and it's been fun to watch.  Today our baby left her nest and spent the morning balancing on branch.  Just after lunch she returned to the nest but a short time later she wasn't there.  I hope she returns for a bit.  I have more wondering to do.

This week Poetry Friday is being hosted by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Her Heart {Slice of Life}

She wanders around the yard.  Sniffling and smelling what springs brings us.  I call her name and she doesn't turn her head.  I call it again and I think maybe my husband is right, she might be deaf.  I change the tone a smidge and she heads my way.  Then she gets a short burst of energy and sprints my way; happy and full of life.  Watching her I stop and think, "the heart is a funny thing."  Medically she has six different medications and the vet says she has heart failure.  However, her heart keeps her near us and in places where we sometimes trip over her.  Her heart keeps her walking one mile in the morning and another at night.  Her heart keeps filling ours for the time being.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for foster this writing community.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Windows by Julia Denos coming Oct 2017

Windows by Julia Denos with illustrations done by E. B. Goodale takes place at twilight in an urban setting.  The main character takes his dog for a walk and notices things within the windows as their lights turn on.  Observations are made about the activities within the neighborhood windows along with predictions.  Words are carefully chosen to create comparisons for the reader to ponder.  As I read the text, I found myself noticing and observing windows not mentioned in the text and wondering about the contents or people inside.  I think this would be a great book to encourage noticing and wondering.  

The illustrations are delightful.  E. B. Goodale used ink, watercolor, letterpress, and digital collage and I just want to know more about the digital collage.  The combination of these mediums adds texture and depth to each page.  The curtains look like gauze with the detailed thin lines.  The screen door looks realistic with depth to see the building on the other side of the street.  

The ending of the story is endearing.  One that will touch the heart of teachers who teach reading.  A story that celebrates home and the safety of your surrounding which provides comfort.

A huge shoutout to Candlewick Press for sending along this Advanced Reader Copy.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Big Messages from Little People {Celebrate this Week}

This week I'm celebrating word choice and big messages from little people.

Our Parent Teacher Organization runs a Write Shop for the students each year where they are able to publish their writing in a "hard bound" book.  If you've read Donald Graves work he wrote about the power of publishing many times.  The books are made from chipboard wrapped in patterned or solid contact paper.  The students help sew their writing with a needle and thread to the spine and rubber cement the end papers to finish off the inside.  We have a rubber stamp with our publishing company for the school and these books become treasures.  

Yesterday we started the morning with Poetry Friday but instead of reading other authors we read our Write Shop books and left Reader's Comments.  To be honest, I had read all the poems one night and early morning trying to help with editing.  It was quick and fast because I was focused on catching spelling errors and I was surprised the poems didn't stick with me.  As I read each student's book in a published format, my heart started bursting with joy.  I could see the mini lessons we had worked through come alive.  I saw details in illustrations but one poem in particular really made me stop in my tracks.

A quiet student wrote a short poem.  A short poem with carefully selected words with a big message.  Our world is filled with goodness but turmoil and sadness.  Our own lives are filled good things that can bring self doubt and uncertainty.  I'm sure we could all use or know someone who can use this kind of medicine.  


Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to stop and think about Celebrations.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Haiku #1 {Poetry Friday}

rhythmic back and forth
natural flashy Spring bursts
bouncing between clouds

Today is the last Friday of school and I'm thinking about my summer plans and things I want to rekindle, writing being one of them.  Another, is taking a few moments daily to focus and notice things around me.  I think focus, notice, my notebook, and haikus are part of my summer plans.

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Reading Fluency Probe Reflections {Slice of Life}

"For this reading project, I need you to read as fast as you can.  
I want you to pretend you are at the races.
When you are done, I'm going to tell you the number of words you read per minute.  
We are going to do this three times.  
Ready, set, go."

Reflection - 
I decided to try something different this time around with three one minute reading fluency probes (and stay within the parameters).  I decided to try and empower my students.  I decided to give them immediate feedback in numerical form.  I decided to be truthfully honest about their performance each time.  I decided to give them information to drive their performance.  

I'm about two-thirds of the way done administering this assessment and my students love knowing their numbers after each read.  They are impressed with how high it is and then driven to read a few more words per minute.  I'm blown away by how many words per minute they are reading without any practice in-between assessments.  The practice they have had is real reading in real books at their own pace.  

I had to set the stage today with a student I've told to slow down all year.  We've had moments of "mini conflict" because his speedy reading was not allowing him to comprehend.  I had to encourage him to read as fast as he could today.  When he got done, he looked at me and said, "Mrs. Robek, I didn't understand anything I just read!"  

I'm not a fan of how this assessment tool is being used.  I'm not a fan of what happens if a student doesn't meet the benchmark based on national norms but by giving my students the number of words per minute they are reading I saw their progress increase which should keep them out of the terrible outcomes and for one student, it helped reinforce the main reason readers read.  May we all continue to read for understanding.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this writing community.