Tuesday, April 30, 2013

sols: unplugged

Slice of Life hosted at the 

Maybe you've heard . . . it's annual Screen Free Week.

Time to turn off the TV, iPad, laptop, iPhone.
Don't scratch the Twitter, Pinterest, blogging itch.
All.  Week.  Long.

Time to turn ON life!
Notice, read, write, draw, daydream, relax.
Your goal?  Get unplugged.

Be with family.  Play a game.  Sing and dance.
Go outside.  Take a walk.  Fly a kite.
Read a book.  May I suggest hello!  hello! by Matthew Cordell?

It doesn't have to be all or nothing.
Limit when you can.  Limit what you can.
Take a step back.

Enjoy the disconnect.
You are not missing anything --
except life p a s s i n g you by . . .

Be free.
It's good for the soul.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

sols: right now

Slice of Life hosted at the 

I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn't write about the negative.

But then that means that I probably wouldn't write today.

I don't feel like writing because I'm feeling, um, not-so-positive.

As Ruth previously encouraged, I'll write what is on my mind right now -- perhaps that will clear some space to see the light:

April is one of those in between months that breeds stress in a school.

As a teacher, I have one foot in this school year and one foot that is already stepping into next school year.

Right now, I am counting the days I still have with my students to press on and close the gap.
Right now, I am wondering if I really did all that I could to help prepare them for next year.
Right now, I am disappointed that they may not reach certain "benchmarks" or "growth targets."
Right now, I am curious if they really love books or are just pleasing me - pretending to be readers.
Right now, I am hoping they will read, read, read this summer for themselves and the enjoyment.

Right now, I am thinking about next year and worrying about the students.
Right now, I am wanting to create connections with the right classroom teacher.
Right now, I am preparing to pack up my room and move to a cozier learning space.
Right now, I am questioning our current interventions, RtI, CBMs, and Common Core.
Right now, I am frightened by the research that states there is no reading series that meets the needs, yet we move forward with an adoption, which also means material distribution and professional development.

This is what is taking over my brain today.

Questions, thoughts, reflections, wonderings, doubts.

And it's raining.  Again.

But -- that rain will bring green grass, beautiful yellow daffodils, brightly colored tulips, big green leaves . . .

Ah, there is the light.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

sols: why i stay

Slice of Life hosted at the 

I have taken a much-needed break from Twitter the last couple weeks, or maybe it's even been months.  You see, it can be very addicting and overwhelming and time consuming.  

However, I had to return.  I love being able to learn from committed, caring, courageous, curious educators from all over the world right from my laptop or phone. Constant professional development that fits my needs.

Picking and choosing articles to read.
Blog posts to think about and respond to.
Conversations to engage in.  

With a little bit of free time this weekend, (OK.  Late, really late Friday night and my hubby was out of town), I jumped into Twitterland, and this tweet caught my eye:

I didn't hesitate.  I clicked to watch - go ahead and take 5 minutes to watch this video of "Why I Stay" if you haven't seen it yet.

I watched it.  Twice.  It got me thinking.  (As with many other teachers who are also writing posts similar to this post.)

Turn on the TV.  Teacher evaluations.
Read the newspaper.  Mandated assessments.
Browse the web.  Pension reform.

The state of education and teaching is not feeling good these days.

And I'm worried. 

The statistics are frightening.  I have been in education for thirteen years.  I know I have many more hard working years of service in this field.  I could easily look at my future in education with worried eyes and my head hanging low.  But, I know I have so much more time to learn and share and make a difference.  

So, why do I stay?  I stay . . .

. . . for me, my own sanity and balance in my life.  I love being a mom and I love being a teacher.  Being a mom and being a teacher make up who I am.  I love learning and want to share that same excitement and enthusiasm with my daughters and my students.  I want to be the best me I can be at home and in the classroom.  That's why I stay.

. . . for the challenge.  Every day brings something new.  Remember, we are not just teachers.  Teachers orchestrate many roles every day for every student.

It doesn't matter to me if a student arrives with a "label" - I see a student wanting to connect and learn together.  Every student needs someone telling them "You can do it" even when it's challenging. That's why I stay.

. . . for the readers.  There are too many great books out there that need to be devoured, chewed slowly, and swallowed to digest.  I read to share books, titles, authors, and series to hook developing readers to show them that reading is delectable.  That's why I stay.

. . . for the smiles, the laughs, the high-fives.  There are multiple celebratory moments sprinkled throughout the day -- those "a-ha-light-bulb" moments of "I get this!" or a second grader coming into my classroom telling me "I'm a reader now!" or a fifth grade student telling me she just finished a book and what she's reading next.  That's why I stay.

. . . for the kids.  One look at them --

That's why I stay.

I'm so glad we are staying in this together because everyday #TeachersMatter.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

sols: spring arriving

Slice of Life hosted at the 

Spring has finally arrived --

Gray clouds dropping
Rain drops plopping
Thunder lowly rumbling

Tinge of green glowing
Buds begin showing
Flowers boldly emerging

Blue skies peeking
Sunshine rays speaking
Temperatures slowly rising

Fast bicycle riding
People neighborhood striding
Dogs happily joining

Children outside playing
Chalk art staying
Bubbles lightly blowing

Neighbors come a-gleaning
Yard work cleaning
Long winter waving

Spring has finally arrived!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

sols: waking up!

Slice of Life hosted at the 

"Hey, welcome back!  What did you do over spring break?"  

“I didn’t do anything."  "I stayed home."  "I sat around.”

After a week off from school, from reading and writing and thinking hard, some of my students needed a little brain massage to wake up this April Fool’s Monday.  

Of course, I thought: What about those books your borrowed from me? What about that blank notebook waiting for your stories?  

But instead, I said, “I know you had to do more than just sit around and do nothing.  You have stories to tell, I just need to help you remember them.”

I grabbed a couple copies of the “Words from A to Z!” organizer:

Topic: Spring Break

To do:  Fill in as many letters as you can about spring break, including:  Places you went, 
people you saw, things that you did, etc.

I started to share some of my spring break activities to spark some thinking.

This allowed my small group of students to start sharing and remembering and gathering ideas from each other.  The conversations continued and ideas were scrawled  onto the organizer.

After about ten minutes, I explained that we were going to do a quick write:  write and write and write as much as you can about one of the ideas without worrying about spelling or fear of grammar mistakes.  Just write.  They flipped over their paper and wrote their selected topic at the top.  I set the time and we all wrote.

Here’s one of my quick writes:

This month I wrote every single day.  31 days straight.  I wrote about BIG things.  I wrote about small things.  I wrote a lot about my girls.  I wrote about writing and the process, and the frustrations and celebrations.  My goal has never been to write a book or publish my work, but rather capture stories in my life, today, in this moment.    

The timer beeped, and we finished the sentence we were writing.  Round two:  either continue your first story or pick another idea to write about next.

Here’s another one of my quick writes:

Yesterday our family enjoyed a walk down the street to an open field.  We let out the string and quickly the wind took hold.  Up, up, up into the air.  Swaying and swerving in the sky.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  The wind died and it quickly dove towards the ground.  We pulled on the string and the wind caught hold again, lifting it higher and higher -- until M. accidentally let go.  She was convinced the wind took it away.  It skimmed the ground gaining speed.  Daddy chased as fast as he could to catch it.  He finally did catch it only after it was stopped in a big leafless tree.  Flapping in the bare branches, M. pointed and said, “Get it.”   

After writing, some students shared their quick writes.    Slowly, we are waking up those reading and writing brains.  Ready for the last two months of school.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Of course, after a month of writing, I had to write today -- especially knowing that Tuesday is only a day away.  I borrowed yet another idea from several slicers for today's slice, er, I mean, post.

Some days I feel that I'm in my own little world, writing for me, and happen to have a few people I'm lucky enough to share my writing with on Tuesdays or throughout the month of March.  Then it dawns on me that it is bigger than that.  I'm leaving behind my words, my thoughts, my feelings, my story.

My story is also part of my digital footprint.  Here's what I wrote about this March leaving a deeper imprint into our ever growing digital world:

Thank you to Jennifer
who thanked Kay
who thanked Robin 
for sharing this awesome idea!  

I have played around with creating word clouds with wordle and recently played with Tagxedo and the ability to create word cloud shapes.  But little did I know that you can enter your url address and create a word cloud shape representing a website!

My hope is that you will continue to leave your digital footprint 
every week by participating and writing your 
Tuesday Slice of Life hosted at the Two Writing Teachers