Remembering Amy~SOL#13~2017

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“What’s wrong, hon?” my husband asks, glancing over at my somber face.

“She died,” is all I can say.

“Who died?”

“An author I love.”

“Aww. . . who was it?”

“Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I have most of her books. She was an amazing human being.”

“How’d she die?”

“Cancer.”

“How old was she?”

“51.”

“Oh my. . . you’re 51.”

“Yes, I’m 51.”

I’ve been reading Amy’s books to my 3rd graders over the last few days after I told them she was dying of cancer. They love every one of them. Spoon.  Exclamation Point. Little Pea. The OK Book. Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons and so on. They recognized how her messages are similar. We all have special gifts and we need to use them. We need to discover what our gifts are. It’s okay to be different. We are all OK.

Tomorrow I have to tell them that she passed away.  And, I’m sure I will shed a few tears. They’ve seen me do this frequently so it won’t be a shock to them. Usually it’s when I’m reading a book to them.  Or just words.

Like it will be tomorrow.

(The words above are from the last page of Amy’s book Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Not Exactly a Memior.)

Shari 😦

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Rethinking Homework ~SOL#16

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image from Death the Kid

Homework.

Ugh.

Just thinking about homework brings me dread.

And, I’m the teacher.

I’m taking some time to rethink how we “do” homework in my third grade classroom. The math home links, worksheets, correcting, papers all over the place.  Let’s be honest. In the elementary classroom, we should not be spending instructional time going over homework papers every day.  There are not enough minutes in the day.  If you are like me, homework gets turned in and piles up.  Not good, I confess.

Homework is a hot topic right now with all the research now surfacing about its lack of benefits.  Especially, in elementary school.  Google research for or against it and you’ll find both, but current research is stating that it doesn’t help in achievement.

But, like everything else, this is not one of those all or nothing concepts.  I don’t believe homework is either good or bad.  It can be both.  And, it depends.  I hesitate to throw it all out based upon the idea that “research doesn’t support it”.

Here is what research does not support:

*mindless worksheets of 30 problems focused on the same concept (double-digit addition, grammar sheets, long division, writing the same spelling words over and over)

*concepts that students have not been taught in class

*a large amount of homework, especially for elementary students

I know that the prescribed home links that come with our provided curriculum series in both reading and math are too much.  An 8-year-old should not have to spend an hour on a math home link.  Yes, we have spelling words and math facts and yes, these are simple practices that students could practice at home with parents.  Perhaps this is all the homework requirements a third graders should have – along with reading – for pleasure.

I don’t know.  I wonder more than I actually know.

As a parent, although my four children are all grown and out in the world, but when they were in school, I liked to have an idea of how they were doing in school.  Observing how they performed on their homework was one way of monitoring that.

As a teacher, I do not use many worksheets in my classroom so papers do not fly home every night that blare, “See what I did!”  We use an app on our ipads called SeeSaw where students can take photos of their accomplishments during the day and parents can peek in on this.

As a parent, I know how busy home life is.  There are sports and parents working nights and daycare and meals and for Pete’s sake, kids just need to play and parents need to have the time to play with them.  But, I know the reality is:  Parent Are Tired.

I know I was.

So, I sit here and ponder some more.

Here are the questions I’m hanging on:

*How can homework be more of a communication tool from home to school so parents know what their child is doing?

*How can we illuminate all the bless-ed papers that go home and come back to school begging to be corrected?

*How can homework be quick, beneficial and interest the student?

*How can homework be something that parents do not have to police?

I still think it is important to begin to add responsibility to students, such as, finding a quiet place to work, focusing out distractions, and managing time (some kids do their homework on the bus because they know they have hockey practice when they get home).

I wonder if I could try some of these things?

1. Eliminate Paper/Reduce Problems

*Have a homework notebook (no papers).  In this notebook, students would glue in a half sheet of paper (from the teacher) that has perhaps 3-5 math problems that demonstrate evidence of what was taught that day.  Eventually, students could just write these problems into the notebook, copying them off of the white board/smart board.  Copying from white board to paper is an important skill students need to learn.  It also teaches independence.  These problems would show parents what students are learning and they could see evidence of their child’s performance.

2. Time Homework Takes Students To Do

*I’m also curious about how long it takes students to do the work.  I want to make sure I am assigning homework that takes minimal time away from family time.

Could we add a spot like this?

Beginning Time:_____ Ending Time: ______  Total Time to Do Homework:_______

This would also help to teach elapsed time, a difficult skill in third grade.

3. Effort?

*Could we have students show the effort it took to do the work by also including a rating scale or face that demonstrates this?  As a teacher, I want to know if they needed help.  As a parent, I want my child’s teacher to know if it was easy or hard.  Could it look like this?

How did you feel doing this homework?

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Yes, it’s a pain chart.  But, I think it’s appropriate.

We could start out the year with these two added parts on the homework sheet, but eventually, students would just write them into the notebook.

 

4. Homework is not always math.

Sometimes, homework might be literacy related, or science, or social studies, rather than math.  Some examples might be:

*Find a photo to put in your writer’s notebook. Why? Because writers can write stories from a photo.

*Bring an object to school that tells something about who you are.  Be ready to tell the story behind the object.  Why? So we can all learn a little more about who you are and writers can write stories about objects, or poems.

*Draw a sketch of your reading nook at home.  Why?  Because it is important to have your own quiet reading spot free from distractions.  A special spot to read gets your body and mind ready to read and teaches rituals that adult readers do.

*Sit outside for 5 minutes and write a poem about something you hear, see, smell of feel. Why?  Because writers write about their surroundings using their senses.

These are homework activities that hopefully, students enjoy doing. When they are excited about a homework activity, the idea of homework changes and their belief shifts from drudgery to one of engagement.

Again, I say hopefully.

There are no “one size fits all” ideas in education.

What are your thoughts about homework and what might you try differently this year?

 

 

Rethinking Readers Notebooks #SOL16

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Books and people inspire me to rethink the practices I hold on to in my reading and writing workshops. The Readers Notebook is a tool my students and I use that I do not think I will ever let go of.  However, my thinking is changing on how to best use this tool.

Last year, I discovered that most of the third graders in my classroom were extremely creative.  They loved to draw.  So, I taught them how to Zentangle.  We scoured You Tube videos and Pinterest on our ipads to find new patterns to learn and practice. We made anchor charts of the designs we wanted to remember.

I then realized that we are all, including myself, are drawn to visual learning.

I wanted some of that in my Readers Notebooks.

My burning question became:

“How can I make the Readers Notebooks more engaging, user-friendly and fun?  And, enhance our learning at the same time?”

My third graders were not always that excited about writing down their thoughts in the notebook at the end of our reading workshop – if only for 5 minutes.  They worked diligently on their weekly letters to me – but honestly, they were doing this for me.

We looked at other options to share their evidence of understandings from the books they read.  Fountas and Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehension and Fluency suggests many ways to teach students to do this, of course, each strategy needs to be explicitly modeled first.  A few ideas are: webs, character trait charts, chapter summary grids, T-charts, etc.  We added these to our repertoire of options, yet I still did not see the enthusiasm I wished for.

But this summer, I followed Debby Ridpath Ohi  (@inkyelbows on Twitter) and anxiously awaited her visual displays of the books she was reading for Donalyn Miller’s Book A day Challenge.  I’d read some of the books she shared, so I was excited to see what elements she decided to jot down and put on the page.  Here are some of her examples:

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and. . .

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Here are some things Debbie did:

*She added an image of the book and the author.  Visual Stuff. Artsy. A collage kind of thing. I like this because I art journal and cutting and glueing and arranging things on paper are a love of mine.

*She adds what she’d like to find out more about by going to an author’s blog. She notes the blog.

*She drew a few sketches about how the book changed her life – just one thing!

Another inspirationalist I follow on Twitter is Leah O’ Donnell.  Oh, I can’t keep up with this lady!  I sizzle with energy every time I see what she is up to. She also does some doodling of the books she reads.  Here are a couple of examples:

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What did Leah do?

*She lifted quotes from the book that she felt were important.

*She wrote down some questions that prompted her to think more deeply about her own life.

*She added some of her own thoughts about the book.

*Of course, she added her own little doodles and sketches and used lots of color.

I’ve also been following a few people who post their visual sketchnotes on Twitter under the hashtag #sketchnotes The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown and One Zentangle A Day books have also  influenced me here – just a bit.  And if you have time, you have to take a field trip to The Sketchnote Army and  Brain Doodles.

“Could I do this? Could I integrate this into our Readers Notebooks?” I wondered.

Surely, it’s been done in some shape or form.  But, I wondered what it might look like in third grade – the integrating of doodles, zentangles, collage and words to share our understandings about the books we read.

Now, you may be thinking, as I often do,

“But, I don’t want my kids spending so much time drawing and wasting time doodling.  They need to be reading and writing!”

This kind of work supports so many standards and best practices about teaching, I can’t even begin to list them all.  But, I have to, because I am a “Why should I do this?” and “Where is the research in this?” kind of  person.  We need to know our “Whys”.  Our practice purposes can never be, “Because the kids like it,” or “It’s the new shiny sparkly thing.” Even though the kids probably will like it and ultimately that’s what we hope to achieve.

Here are a couple of Big Why’s:

  1.  “A doodler is engaging in a deep and necessary information processing. A doodler is connecting neurological pathways with previously disconnected pathways.  A doodler is concentrating intently, sifting through information, conscious and otherwise generating insights.” ~Sonni Brown The Doodle Revolution
  2. “By using repetitive patterns with deliberate strokes, one becomes engrossed in each stroke and a shift of focus, a heightened awareness in which your mind, instincts, and knowledge all work together  quickly, effortlessly and accurately can occur.” ~Roberts and Thomas (the orgins of Zentangle) One Zentangle A Day by Beckah Krahula

If you want to read more research, go here, or here (under Research Links).  And, here are some visual literacy standards on Edutopia.

And, if you’d like a visual:

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from page 17 of The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown.

A personal thought is also that we rush kids through books and do not give them enough time to let a book marinate in their souls long enough. We need to let books linger for a while, just like soup.  It always tastes better after it’s been simmering all day.  New thoughts and ideas keep bubbling up the longer we allow a book to stay with us.

Like anything new we teach to students, we’d need to start small and with what students already know.  I’m thinking we’ll do some visual notes on a couple of class read alouds first and go from there – adding various doodles and sketch note strategies little by little. Or perhaps they could do a visual page of who they are, an identy project to help us all learn more about one another.  However we choose to introduce this, anchor charts will be a must.

And most importantly, if we are expecting our kids to do it, we need to walk the walk alongside of them, and do it as well.

So, I had a go. . .

Here are a couple of my attempts from some of my summer reads:

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I knew I could do better. . .

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Oh yes ~~~~ this one was much more fun. 🙂

The possiblities are endless here.  And, I love to live in a classroom where anything is possible.

Shari 🙂

Stuck Between Being and Doing

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Bring on the lemonade. Drag out the lawn chairs. Summer has officially begun. 🙂

The classroom is cleaned, organized and packed up for the summer months.  Reflection mode is in high gear which means time needs to be spent “just being” for awhile. Reading, writing and walking with Sandy (our lab)  have consumed the majority of my past few days. It is glorious.

I am pretty good at doing “downtime”.

Expert – really.  I should give lessons.

Savoring this blissful peacefulness throughout my days, my children all grown and having flown out of the nest, I am learning to accept this pace of life as being “enough” right now. The quietness of an empty house is healing.  My company; myself.   It’s taken years to unlearn the multi-tasking, needing to keep busy, making stuff and going places kind of mentality.  I must be honest, I’m not proud of that person.  (But, dang, she got a lot done.)

Yet. . . (I used yet, instead of but, because there is always a but, but yet feels like but here.)

. . . when my husband comes home from his long day at work,  there is this unsettled feeling that I should be able to tell him all I had accomplished during these past 8, sometimes 10, even 12 hours (yes, he works too much). I mean, the windows need cleaning, my hostas are begging to have the taunting weeds pulled out and Sandy is now afraid of the dust bunnies (I need to buy a vacuum).  This is obvious stuff I should do.

Yes, the residue of this old narrative telling me “I should. . .”

All I can somedays tell my tired husband is that I got some writing done (in my notebook), some reading. . . and I took Sandy for a walk.

He is always happy for me that I got to go on a walk, especially on beautiful days.  So, we talk about Sandy and how she loves to run and play in the water filled ditches.  And, that she smells from this.

I am grateful my husband never complains about the things I don’t do.  He is careful here, as he knows what door he is opening if he goes there. But, my own soul, and mostly my mind, need to feel some sense of accomplishment.

This place in the “Being-Knowing-Doing” gap is a destination I tend to reside in more than I’d like to admit, even though I’ve worked hard to get here.  I’m not sure how long one should stay here.  Because if I stay too long, I can’t seem to come out.

I remain stuck.

In the crux between being and doing.

Carrying an angst that I can not name.

Perhaps it does not have a name.

I need guidance.

I reach for a book that calls to me right now, Do The Work, by Austin Krien.  I can not seem to find it, my writing room in disarray.  So, I grab the next one in line;  Let’s All Be Brave, by Annie F. Downs.  It practically jumps into my hands.

There are underlined words ~

“Courage involves action – like you are going somewhere.  Maps.  Movement.”

“Your life, start to finish, is a map. . . I don’t know where you’ve been and I don’t know where your map will take you.  I only know there will be moments when you feel like the map has turned or changed and moments when you realize you’ve read this map wrong all along.  You will crumple it up and throw it down, only to return to it for direction, once your finish your cryfest.  I get it.  I know.  But it’s your map.  Not my map.  Or my cousin’s map.  Or your spouse’s map.  It’s yours.”

Oh my.

I have to go back to my map.  Where’s my map?  Am I lost at sea?

Fear will set in again.  I know that.

I am not a risk taker – never have been.  The only risky thing I ever do is ride my motorcycle – that’s it.  The males in my family make up for what I lack in risk-taking.  I should not say that.  My daughters are more brave than I can ever be.  They take risks.

But, I need to be braver, I think.

I should be writing. My writing dreams seem to be all stored up in notebooks and there is big fear here:

~of choosing the wrong one to dive into as a project.

~what if I tire of it?

~what if I don’t have time to finish?

~how will I ever stay focused?

~what if no one likes it. . . or even reads it?

~for sure, nothing will get done around here if I commit to writing.

Yes, this must be my problem, I tell myself.  It’s fear.

I glance at my writing desk and see chaos.  Just like my mind.

And, my house right now.

The real answer hits me hard and I really try to ignore it because I really do want to write. But, I must take care of what really needs to be done first.  I scan my shelves for a the third book of today’s writing session:  The Life-Changing Magic of  Tidying Up.

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It’s cleaning.  Creating order.  De-cluttering.  Wash the windows.  Pull the weeds.

Go buy the damn vacuum.

This work is not pleasant.

I text my mother and tell her I can’t stop eating.

“Go outside and pull weeds, there’s no food out there, ” she replied.

Ugh.  How did she know?

Maybe, just maybe, today – I’m supposed to accomplish something.  Just something small though.  I don’t want to set the bar too high. And, I’m afraid of falling off the “just being” wagon.

I’ll tidy up my writing room and go pull a few weeds.

Maybe, make some chocolate chip bars.

That should be enough “doing” for one summer day.

For now.

Until I find my map.

 

 

 

 

 

Poem Triggers

Fifty 8 and 9 year olds squished into my classroom this afternoon.  A neighboring teacher home with a sick child and being short of subs, we take turns inviting extra children into our own classrooms for portions of the day.

“What are you going to do with them all?” my teacher friend asks.

“Poetry,” I reply, “We are going to write poems.”

She gave me a look.  You know the one.

I gathered them all and told them that I saw Poetry on my way to school this morning.

They looked befuddled – like Poetry wore clothes or walked around.

“I heard it first, as I stepped out of my car, singing in tweets so happily.  Because is was morning, I’m sure.  I looked to where the poetry was coming from and then I spotted them, in trees.  Hundreds of them.  Flocks.”

“I saw them, too, Mrs. Daniels!” they beamed.  “The robins are out!”

“I stood under the tree for a moment, holding my bags and my coffee mug.  I felt called to take in the poetry – the singing of joyful the morning, the red ripe berries hanging on to the branches patiently waiting for these robins to come to enjoy them, the robins with their bellies overstuffed with either babies. . . or berries.  How was I to know?

A poem was shouting at me.

I skipped inside, whipped off my coat, sat down my coffee mug and scrambled for my notebook.  When a poem arrives, it is the poets responsibility to get it down onto paper quickly, before it leaves and finds someone else.”

I quickly wrote my Fat Robins poem for them on the chart paper.

Fat Robins
There you all sit
Singing joyful tunes
on berry tree
that waited
for you.

But honestly!
Those bellies!

Are there babies in there?

Or do you all
just need
to lay off
on the berries!

They giggled – those third graders.

I told them how poetry finds me and then I have to write it down and how I love to write poetry more than any other kind of writing because. . . .

Poetry breaks the rules.  Free verse, that is.  My poetry form of choice.

After I shared the rules that you can break with poetry (complete sentences, punctuation, capital letters, paragraph form), I set up objects around he room and we wrote small poems. Rocks, a toddler mitten, monopoly houses, a deck of cards, any item I could find in my house in a 2 minute search for stuff.   I showed them how an object can trigger a thought and as a poet, you have to pay attention to that very first thought that pops into your head and grab it by the tail and put it down on paper.  A poet can’t sit around and think too long or the thoughts go away to someone else.  Poet’s get stuff down.  They don’t think stuff up.

Away they went, eager to be poets.  I gave them only three minutes per object and said to write fast, keep your pencil moving and get down your first thoughts.

Always, I am in awe of what children can do.  All I did was model my own poem and get them excited.  I didn’t hover over their shoulders telling them to add line breaks and rhymes or to start here or skip spaces.

This happened on its own.

If these are our quick three minute drafts, I can only imagine where we can go with poetry.

But for now, we will joyfully write. . .

content with the freedom

of free verse.

Shari 🙂

 


 

Befuddled #sol16

We began to do some notebook collecting for non fiction writing, my third graders and I. We created lists of passions, interests, wonders, places we’d like to visit and people we’d like to meet.

I became quite befuddled when I realized my kids did not know very many famous people beyond You Yubers.

“What’s a You Tuber?” I asked them.

“You know, people who make You Tube videos?” they laughed at me, not realizing I was fishing for more information.

“Well, what kind of You Tube videos are you all watching?” concerned – these are 8 and 9 year olds.  There is some pretty nasty stuff out there.

“Video games!” they shouted.

“What? I don’t get it,” I replied, confused.

“They make videos of themselves playing video games!” again, trying to help me understand.

“Huh? I’m confused.  Why would you want to watch that? Why wouldn’t you just play your own video games?” I asked.

“Because they are funnier!  They make jokes, but you have to be careful, Mrs. Daniels, because some of them swear,” they confessed, “but they are funny!”

I tried to nudge them to be interested in Teddy Roosevelt or even Kate Dicamillo, but several of them declared the name of a video You Tuber as their person they would love to meet some day.  Ugh.

So, I did a little googling tonight to see what they were talking about and I discovered that this character called PewDiePie made over 7 million dollars in 2014 just playing video games on You Tube.  Yes, he is what my third graders are watching.  No, they shouldn’t be.

Just sayin.

The world is a-changin.

And, I’m not sure yet what to think.

What are your kids watching?

Shari

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  While I’ve missed a few days, I’m still in it for the long haul!  To check out other writers, visit here.

 

Finally. . . An Ipad App I Love sol#16

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Our district went 1:1 three years ago, which means each of my third graders has their own ipad.  Even though I recognize the benefits of integrating technology into our teaching and learning, I have reservations as well.  My biggest struggle has been finding tools on our ipads that we can use every day (or not) that are not gamified.  My kids are a distractable group.  When the ipads come out, it’s tenfold.

Well, thanks to my colleagues, I think I have finally been introduced to the most effective app so far. It’s called Seesaw and it’s free.  Yes, free.  Here’s the nitty gritty on it:

What is it?  It’s a portfolio to house student work.  It’s a way for kids to show evidence of their learning.  It’s a communication tool between myself and my students.  It’s a way for parents to see what their child is doing in school.

Why do I like it so much?  Well, it’s free.  Did I say that?  It’s also so crazy easy to figure out – even for me – and I can’t run the remote for my tv at home.  We don’t do many worksheets in school – we are reading and we have authentic writing going on.  I often feel parents do not know what the daily happenings in our room are.  Now they can.  And, they can even give their child feedback.

But here is the best thing ~

Tonight, I had to make sub plans for tomorrow (yuck) and I could actually write my kids a note on SeeSaw, give them directions for lessons and even give them links for some art videos I want them to watch on their ipads tomorrow.  My kids love to draw and several of them are writing graphic novels during writing workshop (Jeff Kinny fans), so I thought some drawing lessons were in order.  Here is what I wrote them:

Dear Artists,

Today for Art Workshop, you will have some drawing lessons. Please watch these art videos with Mr. P. and he will give you some wonderful lessons on drawing characters with shapes. Then, get some paper and try making your own characters using some of his ideas!! Have fun!! I can’t wait to come back on Monday and see what you have done!

Your Friend,

Mrs. Daniels 🙂

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How cool is that?  Now, all I need to put in the sub plans for Art Workshop is, “Have kids go to their SeeSaw feed.”

I was a skeptic about falling into the “App World”, but this one has possibilities.

Let me know if you have used Seesaw and how you use it.  I’d love to here your thoughts.

Shari 🙂

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.  I’m on Day 10!

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Image from http://web.seesaw.me/.

 

You Gotta Love a Good Read Aloud sol#16

We tested today.  Yup.  It’s only March 8th and already the MAP testing has begun.  My troopers worked on their ipads nearly all morning.  Yup.  We test on ipads now – ipad minis even.  Nope, I don’t like it.  I’m 50.  I can hardly read the text WITH my cheaters on.  But these kids are used to it and they did great.  I was proud of their effort.  But after lunch, they were melting into the furniture as if it were 110 degrees outside – noodles they were.  Spent.  I knew our afternoon would not be productive.

Having just the right read aloud is high priority on a day like today.

I decided on The Sons of the Dragon King:  A Chinese Legend by Ed Young.

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Now this book would not work for every class, but it works for mine for many reasons.  I have a lot of readers that LOVE any story with characters that have special powers – we are talking Beast Quest and Percy Jackson fan-city.  I can’t keep these books on my shelves.  In this legend each of the nine sons has a special power and that hooked my kids, line and sinker, right in my intro.

The second reason my kids loved this book was because it is Traditional Literature.  I fully believe we short our kids of good legends, folk tales, fables, trickster tales and especially fairy tales and tall tales.  We tend to stop reading these books aloud in the primary grades.  It’s all fantasy and much of the literature our kids love as upper elementary students builds on good old Traditional Literature.  They listen intently knowing there will be some kind of lesson or moral to the story because they know that these stories were told only orally thousands of years ago to teach children lessons.  They crave trying to determine the lesson before the story is finished.

The third reason my kids loved this book is because of the simple pattern.  The father tracks down each son, who is basically wasting his time with his special power.  With every son, the father finds the perfect life job that allows the son to use their power.  My kids wonder and predict what the power is that each son will have, and then what will the job be.  Through the whole book they wondered if the last son perhaps will change the pattern of the story.  Perhaps will he have no power at all?  My kids love pattern.   They hang on every page.

This read aloud, with our talk took almost 35 minutes to read.  Yes, that’s awhile, but it felt like five minutes and we were surprised that it was already time for music when we finished.  For awhile, it was if we were taken away to China, walking in the shoes of a father who was trying to help his sons to what is good for the world.  We were lost in the book.  Transported.  Flow.

We didn’t get much else done today besides a word study sort.  And, that’s okay.

For me, a good interactive read aloud is striking it rich and I will savor that all  week.

Ahhhh. . . . yes.  Thank you, Mr. Ed Young.

One Of Those Days ~ sol#16

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Those days.

I’m not sure what contributed to the angst I carried around today.  There could be logical reasons:  not enough sleep last night, hormones, not enough to eat, thyroid issues? Maybe all of the above.

Instead of accepting this heaviness is due to something physical within me, maybe spiritual or purpose driven, I begin to search outside of myself to declare the culprit.

February and March are tough months for teachers.  The year is 3/4 over when fear and anxiety begin to set in. Testing looms just around the corner and many of your kids are still not writing in complete sentences or worse yet, even turning something in.  You question everything you are doing.  Student behaviors are at their peak – name calling, teasing, and just an air of low vibrational energy that radiates in the classroom.  It gets thick in there.  Interruptions fill your days when you know you have so much more to teach.  Your colleagues are all so busy with these same issues that no one has time to reconnect on a deep level to ask the question, “How are we really doing?”  Sometimes that question alone is enough to cause breakdown in some of us.  It’s no one’s fault.  It just is what it is.

When I was a literacy coach, I traveled to Ohio State University twice a year for almost a full week of PD and renewal – always in November and early March – just when the I’d fallen into the valley of despair and determined that being a greeter at Walmart might be a better job for me.  I always came back to school with new insights and fresh eyes.

Teachers do not get the luxury of going somewhere for a few days to get outside of the situation in order to look at it with new eyes.  We stay in the situation and muddle through.  And sometimes we drown.

Understanding the change curve is one way to ground ourselves in resiliency.  Teachers go through this change curve every year when a new crew of students rush into our classrooms.  Sometimes we go through the whole cycle each month – or even within a week.  I’ve gone through it in one day.  The important thing is to recognize where we are in this cycle and to know that we can work through it.  The other thing is this: We have to reach out to others that might be feeling it, too.  We are not alone in this work, even though we often feel we are.

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So, tonight, I’m sipping on a fresh cup of decaf Carribou coffee, snuggled in my knit blanket and not thinking about school.  Some Dove dark chocolates rest in a small bowl and my book is calling to take my mind away.  I am being a tender wife to myself until this wave passes.

And it will, because I’ve been here before and I’ve survived 100% of all those other times.

Shari 🙂

(images by of Maxine by John Wagner @ Hallmark and change curve from http://surviveatwork.com/coping-with-change/personal-transition-through-change-2012/)