Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Watch Out! First Grader's are Honest...

As a first grade teacher everyday is full of stories and when I share these stories I hear, "You should write a book with all the things kids say." There's no doubt the book would be a laugh a minute! Some stories are about the bathroom, body functions, stories from home and many others. One thing true is the stories are ALWAYS bluntly honest!

First graders really don't understand or even know they should filter their thoughts. What they're thinking is what you'll hear!

A few years ago I had a student we'll call Trey. Trey is the son of a close friend. Trey's family and my family were close for about 4 fours prior to having him my class. I had also met and become friends with the extended family and even visited his grammies house and his aunt Linda's house WITH TREY. One morning Trey came in to school bubbling with a story.

"Mrs. Frazier, this weekend I am going to my aunt Linda's house, she's my mom's sister and her husband is my uncle Phil. I am going to see my cousins Stew and Aaron! We can go boating and we can go swimming in my grammies pool. They live about 2 hours away we are leaving right after school."
It was so hard to listen without smiling and pretending I didn't already know all about his family!

A sweet girl we will call Isabella came into the classroom and wrapped her arms around me excited to to be at school. As she hugged me she sweetly commented,  "I love your tummy, it's squishy like my mommy's." What better compliment can you get from a 6 year old!

There are so many stories between these stories and today's, but today's comment really was a barrel of laughs and 100% honest.

At the end of the day as we were lining up to go home I noticed 2 boys pushing each other around in line. As the class began to leave I stopped these 2 boys.  As we chatted it became clear some hitting had also been involved. Who did the hitting was a bit fuzzy. After a few teacher tricks and one last chance to be sure we were sharing the events as they happened, Cam said, "OK, I hit him." I thanked Cam and we talked about the importance of being honest. I looked to Oliver and asked one final time, "Oliver, did you hit Cam?" Oliver replied, "NO, I didn't have a chance." That was it, nothing more simply, I didn't have a chance.

Kids will share more than we expect. Trust me if you read the newspaper or a book in the bathroom, your child's teacher probably knows!

Join us for Slice Of Life over at Two Writing Teachers. Share in the gift of story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slice Of Life~ THE Shelf

THE Shelf~

As we embark on the adventure that was moving our youngest daughter to college 5 states from home we have many stories to tell, but of all the stories, none of them TOP the story of THE shelf!

The story actually begins back on our first campus visit in January. While touring the dorms we noticed the beds had a headboard shelf much like you might see in a popular home decor catalogue for teens. The whole family thought these shelves were very stylish and functional and how cool is it that the university provides such nice furniture. They don’t provide a microwave nor a refrigerator, but THE shelf makes up for all!  

Fast forward 6 months, the setting- student and parent orientation business fair- the revelation- these businesses are SELLING THE shelves!  THE shelf isn’t provided by the university?  Once this shock settled in I began to ask questions about the delivery and found out the company will deliver and install the shelf. Being from out of state I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! So I gathered cards from all the vendors so I could visit websites and compare.

Here’s where the real story begins! THE shelf ranged in price from $350-$400! Being the daughter of a carpenter I knew this shelf had maybe $80 worth of material and, to an experienced builder, maybe an hours work. My husband began his research and realized we could buy the material at the local Home Depot for $40 and build the shelf in our hotel room! This was the plan for about a month.

Then an offer we couldn’t refuse came about! Olivia found a shelf for $100 on the school Facebook page! I figured an extra $20 was worth the trouble of labor. arrangements were made, payment was sent and THE shelf would be delivered by the seller to Olivia’s dorm! PERFECT!

Fast forward to move in day- Van packed tight, but efficiently with overflow space available via a car top carrier. Two hours into our ten hour drive and Olivia says, “They can’t fit THE shelf into their truck, they ran out of space!”

Ok, now is NOT the time to panic! The sellers house is 2 1/2 hours from the university, but it is on our way and we have overflow space!  Quick adjust navigation and reroute to THE shelf!  Operation shelf is now in full motion as we plot packing adjustments for THE shelf.  (You may be starting to see how the became THE when referring to THE shelf.)

Arrive at the seller's beautiful lakefront home- Ok, everyone has a job in repacking and making room for the shelf and everyone is busy. Finally, we are ready to load THE shelf! My daughters and I (hubby has had back surgery and isn’t permitted to lift)  struggle to bring THE HEAVY shelf to the van. Now is when it REALLY became THE shelf! after all the planning and repacking THE shelf WILL NOT FIT and now, it's raining!!!!!

Hurry---- REPACK THE VAN!!!

Time for plan C! 
My oldest daughter and TIm will return tomorrow after the van is unpacked. Olivia is now in tears of frustration, Tim is feeling helpless (and most likely wondering why we changed his plan and why we NEED THE **%& shelf) and I am sitting in a seat that is no longer attached to the hinges on the floor of the van. It’s a quiet ride for the next 2 1/2 hours to our hotel.

The next day Tim and Lexi make the 2 1/2 hour drive (5 hour round trip) to get THE shelf!
When they arrived back at the dorm with THE shelf I recruited a few college guys to muscle the shelf up the 2 flights of stairs and into place where THE shelf now rests adorn with….decorations!

Join us for Slice Of Life over at Two Writing Teachers. Share in the gift of story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Slice of Life ~The Twist and Turns of Life

Please join us at Two Writing Teachers to share your slice of life or to enjoy the slices of others. Comments make all slicers happy, happy happy and build relationships and community. So if you have time please leave comments as you visit. 
You can follow the Slice of Life on Twitter @SOL15.

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Life is full of crazy twist and turns and no matter how much you prepare for them you just can't be ready for them all.  Some are small twist and some are life changing, some are good, some are great and some are just too darn overwhelming.

This week our family is facing one of it's most overwhelming twist yet. This week we live our week of lasts. Our last Sunday dinner on the patio with the grandparents, our last  BBQ Chicken pizza dinner prepared by Olivia and the last night our family of four sleeps under one roof.

Because this week we move our baby girl (O.K. she's 18, but you have to expect this, she's our youngest) off to college…all the way from Ohio to Alabama!  How many miles is this anyway? Ten driving hours. By plane….11/2 flying hours (direct flight) plus airport navigation, plus rental car, plus drive from air port to the university= 5 hours by plain, train and automobile (yes, it takes all three modes of transportation when you fly).

Well, I sound like a sad sap. Sure this is eating away at me, but it's not like she is leaving forever! She's going off to college, a typical transition in life, albeit several states away.

And if we think about this really carefully---- with parents weekend, holidays and spring break we will be together almost every month! (Please donate frequent flyers miles in the comments.) There will be more nights when all four of us sleep under one roof, other family dinners on the patio and opportunites for Liv to cook are certain to reappear. These next nights will just be Livi after dorm life.

And let's not forget about Face Time, Skype, and Google Chat. We can connect e-v-e-r-y-day, eye-to-eye! Liv can keep me up on all the urban slang, latest styles, what to wear and tell me of all the things I am doing wrong (according to the book of Livi). I mean how am I am going to pick out my own outfits, use popular vernacular, and plan my days all by myself? I will be a mess!

But, this isn't about me this is about Liv,  I will have to find my own way. This is her chance to take off  find herself, rehearse her independence and grow!

… but one last thing to make sure she's all set to be MISS INDEPENDENCE...

 *Make a note- iron and layout her first day outfit before I scoot back to Ohio! Besides, I won't even be out of the state before Livi calls to say she misses me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of LIfe ~ Flashback- Childhood Friends & Gifts

Please join us at Two Writing Teachers to share your slice of life or to enjoy the slices of others. Comments make all slicers happy, happy happy and build relationships and community. So if you have time please leave comments as you visit. 

You can follow the Slice of Life on Twitter too #SOL15.


Recently on a road trip I spotted these large wooden spools. The minute I saw them memories began to flood my mind and spill out to everyone in the car. I knew then this had to be my Slice Of Life post. My very skilled and conscientious driver slowed down just enough for me to take this picture.  Thanks Cathy!

Do you remember these large wooden spools?  I do and they bring back fond, fond memories of friends, an elderly neighbor and jewelry making.

I grew up in a house that seemed to be the hub for all of the telephone wires in our neighborhood, back when telephones had wires. I remember watching the repairman from Ohio Bell attach the metal spikes to his steel toed work boots and jam his boots into the pools as he made his way up to the top where all the wires met.

Cam, Rachel and I would watch all the time crossing our fingers, hoping there would be left over phone wire for us and our fine jewelry making. And sure enough each time he would stop just long enough to supply us with all his scraps and have a cold drink.  (Remember when we offered the mailman or a repairman a cold drink on a sunny afternoon? I do.)

Fist full of colorful wires my friends, Cam and Rachel and I got right to work on our creations. We would make rings, necklaces, and bracelets.  The rings were grand in size and looped colors on top of colors before making their way back into the band creating a large flower, they were beautiful in a child's eye. And, we had a customer just waiting for our gorgeous designs! Mr. Dever.

Mr. Dever was our elderly neighbor. His wife said " He just loves to sit outside and watch the girls play." So each hot day there in the shade sat silent Mr. Dever. He rarely (if ever) spoke. He watched the cars go by, he watched us play and he waited. He waited for us to adorn him with our colorful telephone wire jewelry.

What we didn't know then is how much he and his wife enjoyed us accessorizing his daily outfit. My mom stills shares her fond memories of Mrs. Dever laughing about how the girls made jewelry for Mr. Dever.

I makes my heart smile to think back on these days, the sun, Cam, Rachel, Mr. Dever and telephone wire....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Search Is On! #CyberPD & Digital Reading What's Essential in Grades 3-8

Ok, Ok, we are a forgiving community, we all do what we can, and we make it work for us...and this is why I feel comfortable posting late AGAIN and now sharing TWO post in one!  Digital Reading What's Essential in Grades 3-8 gives us so much to think about, I am sure I will be back again and again. But for today here are my take-aways!
To read more thinking and reflections from the #cyperpd community visit #CyperPd . Thank you @CathyMere @LauraKomos at @litlearningzone for all you work in bringing together this community!

Chapters 3-5 
As I read I realized I had not expanded our digital options in terms of reading from multiple sources Wonderopolis, but why haven't I considered digital reading as a viable daily reading choice?  Am I enabling my readers to  understand a topic deeply and take in a variety of information ? Am I building teaching them to take in many sources and then synthesis the information making their own independent thoughts? Why am I limiting them?
around one topic; I have to admit our reading choices have been largely print. I was surprised as I thought about this in our room. I have worked to include more non-fiction text and a variety of genres, magazines, graphic novels and even a visit or two to

My first thought is the readability level of digital resources for first grade readers. I have to pause here and think about this... is it true the tools are limited or have I not invested the time needed  to look for sites that will be  users friendly for my students? And if the sites are too challenging how can I scaffold their learning so students experience what is possible. Only by knowing the possibilities can they begin to take on this responsibility and choose intentionally.

So this year I will be exploring the sources here in our book and looking for suggestions from all you and on Twitter! If you have suggestions please leave them here in the comments!

Chapters 6-7
"Somehow, with the inclusions if digital tools it's easy to move away from the things we know to be true of literacy assessment. But un this digital age we both believe that we must keep our eye on the literacy and assessment practices we have trusted for years." (pg 88)

Keeping my eye on what we have trusted for years has been a point on focus for me for quiet sometime. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that the glamour and fear of technology were the initial catalyst in rooting technology in my room. The glamour wasn't obvious to me initially, but the the fear was. I knew I wanted the students in my classroom to learn about digital tools because I saw the benefits of being connected, reaching beyond the classroom and learning to share in different ways. But it was the fear and pure challenge that fed my drive. I am a firm believer in doing something new, something out of the box, something that scares me each school year. This challenge gives me new energy and focus in teaching and the students and I benefit.  So as I read the final chapters I was again reminded to think about what it is that I am doing now that I believe to be true in literacy learning and then infuse my new learning.

Infusing Technology
As I reflect on my classroom I feel confident that technology is embedded in a way that allows natural use and enhances learning and assessment.  But there is room for improvement right from the start.

The first change I plan to make is in the survey I give to parents and students. Each year I have a list of questions, like Franki and most likely from something else brilliant I have read of Franki's, to help me get to know the students better as a literacy learner and to set a tone of our learning conversations throughout the year.
  • What kind of books do you like to read?
  • Where do you read?
  • Who do you read with?
  • How do you feel when you read?
  • Tell me about reading in kindergarten. 
  • Do you see your parents or siblings read?
  • Do you have tricky parts when you when you read?
  • What do you do when you get to these tricky parts?
  • What would you like to learn more about?
  • Do you have a library card? How often do you go to the library? 
  • Where do you buy books?
  • Where do you keep your books?

This survey currently does not include questions about the student as a digital learner. Looking at the list Franki plans to infuse I am planing to add the following questions to my first grade survey:
  • What kind of things do you read other than paper books?
  • What kids of things does your family read?
  • Do you have an e-reader?
  • Do you ever listen to books?
  • Do you have any websites, you tube channels or blogs you read? 
  • Is there anything other than books you can read? 
#CyberPD in paper and digitally has given me much to take in and grow my thinking! Thank you all for giving me pause to reflect and improve my practice! You are all to be commended to your dedication to education and kids! #LOVEmyjobitsaprivilege

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Agony of Cooking and Joy Around the Table

I have many friends who adore cooking. Something just clicks for them in the kitchen, creative juices start flowing and they just seem to relax and get lost in the process. Fortunately for me and my family, one of these friends is my husband.

This is a huge relief for us because when I approach the kitchen one of two things happens.

1. I stare into a full pantry and refrigerator and see nothing. Nothing to create a meal or even a snack!   
2. I enter the kitchen with a new recipe that even I can do that ultimately ends in frustration and ordering a pizza!

Cooking and I just are not friends and I am okay with this. Sure, I worry about passing on this trait to my daughters, but I have come to accept I am not a cook. Besides, look what a great role model my husband is in the kitchen. Who wouldn’t want to marry a man who can cook?

Of course, I can make a few basic meals, we wouldn’t starve if push came to shove, but basically my husband prepares the meals we look forward to seeing on the table.

But, something funny happened this Sunday. As I called the family to the table for a Sunday breakfast of homemade waffles, sausage and fruit I realized I am the only one in my family who cooks breakfast! I can cook up a mean batch of pancakes, french toast, and we all agree I make eggs (scrambled, fried or poached) better than anyone! If I am really feeling it I can even turn out biscuits!

These recipes are second nature to me and I enjoy making them! WHAT? Did I just say I enjoy making them? I did. There is just something about a weekend family breakfast that makes my heart smile. All of us gathered at the table, still in our pj’s, battling over the syrup, talking about the day ahead and the week passed. All this chatter somehow brings me into the kitchen ever Sunday morning to get lost in the process.

Please join us at Two Writing Teachers to share your slice of life or to enjoy the slices of others. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3 Splashes of Summer

I grew up with a pool in my backyard and a pool pass in my bag so to say I am a self-proclaimed pool princess seems fitting! My summers are planned around trips to the pool and the beach, it's just a regular part of my day in the summer. No questions asked, I will be in the water each and every sunny day June-August. So when the summer comes and there are no sunny pool days and your family vacation to the beach is transformed into moving a daughter to a college 4 states away what do you do?

Well, If you had told me this would be my summer I might have curled into a ball and cried or reverted back to my 2 year old self and screamed and cried. But no one told me this would be my summer. Instead opportunities (aka splashes) filled my calendar. Opportunities I had no idea were coming my way. Opportunities that filled my soul and gave me the confidence and discipline to learn about myself as a writer.

1st Splash~
Julie Johnson a colleague and friend extended an invitation to participate in the Columbus Area Writing Project (CAWP) to me and 6 of my colleagues.  We met at THE Ohio State University each day for 2 weeks. We conferred, we shared and of course we wrote everyday for 4-6 hours. I learned a few things about myself as a writer.

  • I need a busy place to write. Busy with people I don't know, like my favorite coffee shop where I am sitting in right now. 
  • Spotify has amazing playlist that really help me focus and produce.
  • It takes me about 45 minutes to find that little voice whispering inside my head. 
  • I can write for about 2-4 hours if I find the zone. 
  • Commas still terrify me! 
  • The 3 finger tap on the upper side of the track pad on a Mac brings up a thesaurus(my BFF).
  • I LOVE feedback! 
  • My words can surprise me and I love it when they do!
  • My words sometimes do not convey my intended message. 
  • I have a process! It's a bit crazy and maybe even a bit ritualistic, but it's mine! 
This splash was a huge confidence booster for me. I learned about myself as a writer and I faced a long time fear.  As a college student I avoided The Ohio State University. It's big, really big and I wasn't sure I would find my way around, I wasn't sure I was ready for the academic challenge. So when Julie invited me in CAWP through The Ohio State University I was nervous, very nervous! But guess what? I didn't get lost and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote! Now I waiting for the revisions and edits to come back… this will be a whole new learning curve and I can't wait! 

2nd Splash~
I am joining Two Writing Teachers (TWT) as a co-author! Did I really just type that? Is this really true? I have admired the work shared at TWT for a very long time and when they said they were looking to expand their team I knew I was looking to write more, increase my writing community and I began to feel a little nudge… (thanks @CathyMere and @KarenTerlecky). Cathy and Karen are long time mentors to me and having them behind me gave me the confidence to apply as a co-author. I am so glad I did, I have been wanting to write more and I know having deadlines, a team and this amazing audience will help me grow and learn right along side all of you! I am looking forward to a long and rewarding journey with TWT! Buckle up! 

3rd Splash~
For the first time I attended #nErDcampmi! I have followed the tweets on Twitter and read many reflective post on all there is to gain by attending #nErDcampmi, but nothing could have really expressed the empowering feeling of being amidst authors, bloggers, administrators, teachers, media specialist all ready to share and learn together in one space! Walking through #nErDcampmi you might brush elbows with those you've followed and admired and then learn they are just as happy to meet you and to learn from YOU. At #nErDcamp we all have one common goal- Learn all we can to support kids! This  one goal levels all playing fields and brings together a powerful group of educators!  I have a notebook crammed with new ideas, book titles and apps all to explore! While #nErDcampmi is amazing inside the camp the learning and growing began on the car ride to Michigan! Car PD up and back continued to fill my notebook! Thanks @JosieStewart, @MarissaReads and @KarenTerlecky for all the learning and miles of laughs! 

So while the summer weather in my neck of the woods has severally altered my self-proclaimed status as a pool princess I am overwhelmed by the splashes of my summer!  I truly believe everything works out for the best, and if it was a beautiful sunny summer how would I have fit it all in?  

Thanks for stopping by to read and I look forward to browsing your post and learning alongside you!