Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Energize Your Writers Workshop: So Writers Can Discover Their Process

It's always fun to bring new thinking into the classroom, and it's even better when you share your new ideas with others, and you can learn from each other! Well, Cathy Mere and I had just this luck this week. As a part of our district's Summer Academy, we shared our ( still under construction) thoughts on Writers Maker Space. 
Please take a minute to leave any thoughts or resources you have on Writers Maker Space.



Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thanks SOLSC for the Learning Day 31


On the first day of the SOLSC, I wrote about how I work best under pressure which is why I like teaching first grade.  I wrote about how all the business of the month seems to provide just enough busy for me. My school calendar is filled with parent conferences, meetings, progress reports, teacher reviews, spring breaks, and the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Well, today I am here to tell you learning is painful! I know this because this March I learned I have a limit to my busy. 

Sure, I wrote almost every day in the challenge. Well, I missed two days while out of town visiting my Disney intern daughter. I posted my students writing every day, I tweeted posts, I even made, at least, three comments a day, but I am here to tell you there were days when I struggled.  I kept going because my kids were writing, you were writing, and it was a promise I made myself.  Listening to my writing group on Voxer share similar stories pushing through the struggle comforted me. I wasn't the only one pushing myself, they can do it, I can do it, I will do it, I did do it! 

The treats of the first days are all gone but the words I left on the pages of the blog remain.  I have so many things I wish I would have done, so many I should have done, but rather than self-deprecate, I have decided to set goals for next year.  I, no we, deserve to be proud of all the efforts in the SOLSC, no effort was too small, and all efforts can grow with goals for next year. 

Next year:
I want to comment on at least three student blogs and adult blogs each day. 
I want to be a few days ahead on my blog posts.
I want to link my post in the morning. 
I want to eat fewer treats during the SOLSC ;-) 

See, already I am feeling ready for next year! 



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Stamp of Approval! Day 30 SOLSC

The students were full of squeals, questions, and wonder as they walked into our newly organized classroom.  "Wait, look the mailboxes are different." "Cool, new books!"  Books were pulled from the shelves and shared with friends like precious gems.  A small group of girls gathered at the mailboxes to scrutinize the new organization of tools.  Another group spotted the smallest change in the room, table caddies full of newly sharpened pencils! 


It was so fun to listen to the excitement of the kids, it made my late night all worth it! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

No More Mailboxes! SOLSC Day 29

Looking around my classroom, I knew I would be staying late.  Books were stale; papers were spilling out of the mailboxes, and post-it-notes littered the carpet.  The mess that was overwhelming me today wasn't made in one day, and it wasn't one the class would be able to clean.


As the kids filed out of the classroom, I began. I turned on Spotify to my favorite African Acoustic relaxation music and moved about the room randomly grabbing one thing then another. The gravity of the work needing done was paralyzing.  


I decided to work in one area at a time. I pulled the trash can and a chair to the mailboxes.  The papers spilling on the floor begged organization.  I pulled out the contents of each mailbox one student at a time.  I looked at the papers saving only the pages showing promise of more work and tossed all the others!


My team laughed as they looked in and saw me buried in papers and folders vowing to NEVER again use mailboxes in first grade! I grabbed tubs for the writing folders, word study notebooks, and the reading folders. One tub for each subject, mailboxes are a thing of the past in our room!


To reward myself for all this hard work I decided to freshen the books.  I pulled all the poetry books and displayed them on our beloved book tower; I replaced the winter books with my collection of graphic novels, a new genre for our classroom.  Finally, I cleaned up the existing book tubs and moved them to new shelves giving them a brand new look!

I didn't get home until 7:30, leaving much undone in the classroom and me exhausted, but I know tomorrow my students will be in awe with all the new books and it will all be worth it!

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Family To Be Day 28 SOLSC

Day 28 of the SOLSC writing challenge. Join us at Two Writing Teachers and share in the story and conversation. 

I remember sitting back as a young teen and wondering who I would marry. How many kids would I have? Would they be girls or boys? What would I name them? Where would this family to be live? What jobs would they trudge off to each day as my parents had for so many years? These questions seemed so distant, removed, and impossible to answer.

I can still see my teen self-sitting on the white canopy bed. The light blue bedspread with ruffles falling over the side as the colors faded into a dark navy and the bed became one with the carpet below. I would gaze at the yellow walls of my room as I practiced writing the names of my daughters to be, they were always girls in these dreams. Jennifer, Jenny, Faith, Hope, and names I have long forgotten. I wrote in my fancy cursive with colored pens, on colored notebook paper. I can see the pages scattered across my bed and hear the Stairway to Heaven playing on the eight-track.

That family to be has become, and we live in a home that we adore in the town where both my husband and I grew up. We have two beautiful girls who have none of the names above and a cat, which was never part of my family to be, but I wouldn't give her up for a second.  No one trudges off to a job. I leave the house each day to go to school where I am the teacher now, and my husband leaves the house every day to go to work as a cardiovascular perfusionist, a job I didn't even know existed back in the day of the family to be.

Now, I sit in my office, on my leather chair, writing about the family that came to be, listening to Acoustic African music on Spotify trying to remember that young teen. I can see her; I can feel the feelings she felt, but I am not her anymore. As the family to be became the family that is, the young girl became a mere memory.

As I type this, it sounds sad, but I want to end with saying, I am happy, happy as can be! In all my long afternoons of dreaming family dreams I never knew how complete a family would make me feel, and I wouldn't change a thing!

I love you Tim, Lexi and Olivia!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Swirling Thoughts SOLSC Day 27





It's difficult to choose a topic today.
My mind is swirling with ideas. 
Setting up the patio furniture gave me a hope for warmer weather.
Should I write about that?

Blooming forsythias are everywhere in my neighborhood. 
Should I write about that? 

Closing a wonderful week of spring break left me missing my daughters.
Should I write about that? 

Cooked Easter dinner for my parents for the first time.  
Should I write about that?

First Easter table without my oldest.
Should I write about that?
Organizing for schedules and school tomorrow. 
Should I write about that?

Trouble choosing just one dessert today. 
Should I write about that?

Bustling with ideas.
Should I write about that?

I think I just did! 


Thank you for reading my rambling and an attempt at a poem.  When I sat down to write I really was swirling all these ideas and I just started typing, expecting to delete it all once my thoughts became clear. Writing helps me sort things out, get organized and writing this just might help me slow down and go to sleep tonight! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Parenting Battles, SOLSC Day 26

How do you explain to your college freshman daughter (FD) you do understand her trepidation, her frustration and even her anger, but you still aren't changing your answer? I beg you, readers, please, help me find the magic which shows her I get it, but the answer is NO!

The issue at the heart of this and several other heated dinner table discussions is the same. ONE SINGLE ONGOING TUG-A-WAR that consistently includes the same dialog.

FD- "I need my car at school. You really don't understand the struggle."
Me- "I know you like having your car, but we don't think a car your freshman year is a good idea."
FD- "I can't take care of myself because I can't even go to the store."
Me- "What about the store on campus?"
FD- "They don't sell fresh fruits and vegetables, I am trying to eat healthy, and all they sell is junk.
All my friends have cars."
Me- "So you can go to the store when they go, just offer to pay for some of the gas."
FD- "You just don't get it! You never get it!"

What I want to say at this point is, "Oh, I get it! I get that I have taken all your points, and you're mad you didn't win." But, then I remember, she's far from home and feeling tethered to a campus ten hours from home, and she just wants a little more of home with her. I get it!

I do, but I don't feel safe having her driving around so far away at such a young age.  She's a freshman. We believe the more time she spends on campus getting to know the school and the people the better! We have stood fast and hard, no car freshman year. I guess the prior weaknesses of our parenting have taught her to keep pushing, but this time, we aren't caving, we haven't caved! She has only six more weeks of her freshman year, and we have compromised, next year, her sophomore year, she will be allowed to take her car.

I was surprised to discover as I typed my slice our reason for not having a car is mostly an emotional one. A reason I am sure our FD won't be able to understand until her child goes off to school ten hours away. But, for the meantime she is safe, we followed our heart, we supported her, and she is a better person for our decision.

Note- Rest assured, She's eating! She looks like the picture of health!