Friday, February 25, 2011

Seven Chapters: Part 2 - Home Sweet Home

I'm a mom who is trying to balance new babies (ok, not really new. . . they are almost 10 months old already!?!) and working full time.  Part 1 of my life consisted of ideas for writing about school and work.  

Part 2 is my home life.  Home sweet home. 

1.  A Pinky Promised Visit

2.  A Working Mom
3.  Anxiety, Worries, and Guilt
4.  Super Daddy
5.  No Pain, No Gain
6.  Hope
7.  OLW: Intentional

Ideas that will hopefully lead into some great writing and sharing in the next couple of days!

Seven Chapters: Part 1 - At School

Thanks for your idea Diana at One Literacy Coach!

Here's a list of ideas to help me prepare for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge starting March 1st.  Won't you join us?

Chapters of My Life - Part 1: At School!

1.  Synthesize
2.  Can I ask you a question?
3.  Celebrations
4.  Day 6
5.  Hugs
6.  DCFS  Her Story
7.  Acronym Crazy

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let the Count Down Begin. . .

It is that time of year again.  State testing.  I usually don't stress about it because at this point, what can you do?  Encouragement is my best advice . . . as is peppermint candy, so I have heard.  (Something to do with memory. . . I think.  I don't really remember!)  Guess I need to chomp on some peppermint to boost my concentration! [Digging in the desk junk drawer. Ah-ha!  Red and white swirl. Twisting the clear cellophane wrapper open. Crinkle and crunch.] Oh!  Now I remember what I was chatting about before the "interrupting peppermint". . .

I'm starting to feel anxious about "THE TEST," as Miss Malarkey would say.

Last year was the first year our school (just barely) did not meet AYP (adequate yearly progress).  We have a high percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged and also the majority of our population is ELL.  We have a new administrator this year learning how and why we do the things we currently do and making the conscious decision not to drastically change anything.  But in the back of my mind I'm wondering: Will we make it this year?  How can we?  What have we changed? What have we improved?  What impact will the process of RtI have on our students? What happens if we don't meet AYP a second year? So many questions are looming.

However, here is what I truly believe in:  Great instruction. All. Year. Long.  I don't teach to the test.  I consider it another genre.  We learn to approach tests differently, just as we approach fiction and nonfiction differently.  I know in my heart we are doing our best, trying new strategies, and meeting the needs of all learners.

Regardless, the kids always work so hard and do their very best.  We'll have students who exceed and find the assessment a breeze; we'll have kids who are encouraged to go back and check their answers because twenty minutes to finish reading the passage, answering the questions, and writing the extended response just seems to quick; we'll have others who struggle through it and analyze every question and answer;  and we'll even have students who tell us it was a piece of cake, knowing full well that they couldn't read or comprehend the text.

What matters most is that they try and put forth the effort and achievement that we strive for EVERY day. Not just on a state testing day.

That's what matters.

(By the way, new research states that students who write about their anxieties before a test could help students perform better.  We'll try that this year, but it may still be worth sharing the peppermint too.  Any advantage will help! Or, what about this?  An entrepreneur has seized the moment: peppermint smart smencils.  What next?!? Peppermint erasers? Peppermint paper?  Peppermint tests!?!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Choice Literacy Clusters

Note: Choice Literacy is a subscription website, but worth every penny if you are a literacy leader or providing literacy professional development!  There are many free features, including The Big Fresh e-newsletter that arrives every Saturday morning with great ideas -- many free links to check out!  Browse The Big Fresh archives to see what you've been missing!

I love perusing the Choice Literacy website.  It's amazing!  Their adage: "Come for the resources. Stay for the inspiration." You think you are searching out information on one topic and before you know it, you've found 10 more articles or videos on other interesting and inspiring topics!

One component of the Choice Literacy website is the Professional Development Clusters.  As a literacy leader in my school, I'm always looking for new ways to provide PD or information to share.  This is an awesome resource!  Choice Literacy has already "clustered" several articles, videos, and reflection questions for discussion.

Need some inspiration for . . .

  • Better Meetings
  • Moving from Assessment Data to Classroom Practice
  • Rethinking Guided Reading
  • Understanding the Literacy Learning of English Language Learners
  • Writer's Craft Refresh

Take time and enjoy browsing the site!  You'll soon realize my obsession!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happiness is . . .

  • enjoying a glimpse of sunshine, a breath of fresh air, a jaunt around the block and the hope of spring-to-come
  • noticing the natural light of the day that is still looming at five o'clock in the evening
  • adoring a curious tilt of the head, a bellowing laugh, a coy smile, a slow blink of those much desired long eye lashes, and a sweet snuggle from my angels
  • watching one child learning to crawl and the other perfecting the art
  • being the one who is needed in the middle of the night for comfort
  • starting something new that I am passionate about
  • sharing that 'something new' with those I trust and respect
  • growing giddy with excitement as I peruse the comments of my first slice
  • loving going to work every day and knowing that I make a difference
  • connecting with my students, laughing and learning together, and having the utmost respect for each other
  • reading a student's blog that she decided to post from home instead of choosing to watch TV
  • finding a splendiferous children's book that I can't wait to share
  • opening and expressing my heart, my mind, and my soul through writing
  • spending time with the one I love . . . and it doesn't count when we are in the same room both quietly clicking away on our computers.
  • sharing a slice of life!

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My First Slice!

Here I am!  I did it!  I finally sat down this weekend during M's and P's (my adorable nine month old twin daughters) nap and I created a blog.  My biggest hold up was a name.  Everything is in a name!  I am a reading specialist and my focus (and love!) is reading and writing, but coming up with a name was stressing me out!

After checking the availability of various names, "Literacy Zone" just popped into my head.  I typed it in. Holding my breath, I clicked.  It was available!  Whew...I'm done.  I did it!  Well, not so fast.

Of course, I (a self-admitted type-A over-achiever) couldn't make things simple.  I had to start collecting and adding and changing.  Then more changing, adding, and collecting.  I was seriously addicted to my laptop this weekend.  Remember when you first logged on to Facebook?  (Well, I'm not actually on Facebook, but my husband is a member.  When he first started using it, he was searching and checking and reading all the time...for hours!)  Well, that's how I feel about blogging.  I'm constantly checking for new posts, reviewing old posts, searching out what I love about certain blogs...and finally, here I am!

I'm ready to dive into this cyber world and come out dripping with new knowledge, ideas, and strategies to take back to my classroom.   A BIG thank you goes out to Ruth at the Two Writing Teachers blog and all your friends. You gave me that final push that I needed to just go for it.  Thank you for welcoming me with open arms, er -- I mean, blogs and comments!  I have arrived!