Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Getting through the fog and the hard parts

Over the past  year, my posts have been far and few between while I have struggled with how much to share of the challenges that have altered the small moments of my world.  How can write about the endless despair that has hung like fog over mind? However, there are moments when the fog abates and the wonderful small moments glare me in the eye.  The other day, as I screened students for "oral reading fluency," one student "gave" me a reminder to blog, so I can remember,  the incredible small moments in a teacher's life.

I asked this student to read from short passages of text for just a minute. The first few paragraphs were somewhat phonetically regular and the passages were awkward to read as controlled texts usually are.  But, this student "nailed" the reading in fluency, prosody and accuracy!

So mindful of our human need for acknowledgement, I leaned in to acknowledge her fluent and confident reading.  As I leaned in, so did she; however, she talked first.  "That really was not a good story, you know," she admonished me!  "You should get a better story for the next kid so he won't be bored like I was."

There were lots of things I could have said at that moment; however, I decided I needed to include this insightful 6 year old "in the loop."

"Thanks for telling me," I said softly, "I appreciate your feedback!"  She smiled from ear-to-ear ad skipped back (literally and figuratively) to class.

I'm not sure what else would transpire in that child's day; however, I am very glad she was in my "loop" that day.  If there is a central message in all of this saga it might be this:  we all need and want feedback - even if it is a "point of growth."   In addition, I am reminded that acknowledging the small moments of our lives is a powerful tool: it can help us see through the fog.

Friday, October 21, 2016

National Day on Writing

Yesterday was a "National Day on Writing"," and I MEANT to write!  I mean to write many, many days; however, I've been out of the "writing habit" so to speak and the less I write, the harder it is to find ideas about which to write! It certainly seems illogical, but this is the reason writing gurus have long said we need to write every day.  Writing, like reading, needs to be a part of every day so that we see ourselves as writers!

Besides, I had LOTS of excuses!  I had papers to read and pre-observation plans to write! I have not really done anything "exciting" at work or at home; thus, I had an excuse..... I had so much to do, I couldn't even find time for dieting or exercising!  

Yet, we all know my lame excuses were just that.  I really could have found time for writing, healthy eating and even some exercise....if I had tried.  And trust me, there were some pretty special small moments yesterday as I listened to about 101 students read lists of words and phonetically controlled stories.  Seriously, I SHOULD write a blog post about the first grader who quietly informed me that the phonetically decodable story I asked her to read really did not make much sense!

Instead of beating myself up for not writing yesterday, I'm going to take a page, so to speak, from the long-time diet writing/diet/exercise wars and re-commit to writing and using writing to not only remember but also to sort out and understand living and learning.  Even if YOU did not write/diet/or exercise yesterday, on the designated day, you CAN commit to writing/dieting/and or exercising today.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

First World Problems

The other day, amid the fall's early morning darkness, I pressed the key-less entry fob for my car, and nothing happened.  Nothing.  So, I pushed it again, and again, and again...and still nothing moved or beeped or bopped in the pre-dawn darkness of the driveway.
"Um.....," I said to myself as I headed back into the house to figure out next steps but in reality my mind wandered down the path if calling in "car fob won't work" to school and figuring out if AAA does car fobs while wondering where I would find a Mazda dealer and thinking I had better get another fob....
I was only in the house for a minute or two when I found the key hidden deep inside the fob..
A regular looking, yet never before seen by me, key fob had been resting and waiting, inside my bag, for the moment when it would be needed to work-in-an-old-school-way and ultimately take me where I needed to go!
Getting into the car was easy as the "key" hole, a rather old fashioned yet familiar to those of us who long ago drove cars with keys, was visible as I shone the flashlight at the door handle.  Yet, when I got INTO the car, I had another pre-dawn-panic-moment in the darkness of the driveway!
The car also has a key-less ignition!  
"Um...." I said to myself as I reached for the turn-on button....which somehow, magically, or perhaps because the key was now exposed, started just like it was supposed to do!
As I headed down the road and turned onto the busy-traffic-filled-highway, I reflected on the small, first world problem that seemed destined to derail my day...and yet was just a blimp on the radar of my day.
Amid the devastation of hurricanes, the aftermath of train crashes, the sadness of life-changing illness, and thestress associated with elections and living in our busy, modern world, my small, first world kind of a problem really is not much of a problem.  
Yet, it was a reminder that we all need to put our stressors and problems in the proper perspective.

Monday, October 3, 2016

#sol16 Impulse Purchases

Recently, I've developed an affinity for those "big box" stores where refrigerators sit alongside stacks of plywood and piles of mums.  There I find light bulbs that will last 13 years (seriously?) and wheelbarrows that fit into mini cars.  I've also found myself drawn to smaller, more traditional hardware stores, such as a nearly ACE that has paint chips nestled among wine glasses!  This week's mission was "leaf bags," for falling leaves, and a microwave oven, for reheating. The leaf bags were easy.  Right up front.

However, I was lured into the "tool aisle" as I headed towards the back of the store and the "small appliance section."  I walked by cutters and connectors of all sizes, shapes, and powers.  It was in the middle of the aisle, that section designed to lure you in, where I found it. I picked up the demo that was nearly weightless and yet whirred in my hand.  It seemed comfortable and seemed to be calling me.  I remembered the feeling of finding something-too-good-to-pass-up at TJ Maxx or Talbots! Clearly this was impulse and not necessary, so I put it down and continued towards the small appliances.

Not finding a small microwave that met my needs, I headed to the check out area walking by "it" again.  This time, "IT" jumped into my cart where I found "IT" as I loaded the leaf bags onto the counter!  I smiled as Lila the Little Screwdriver was scanned and loaded into a bag.  And now, Lila and I are ready for small, powerful screw-driver-type-business! Our specialty, I suspect, will be those impulse jobs, like hanging a picture when I should be putting laundry away!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#sol15 Gyms: For People and Cars

Yes, from the mouths of a kindergarten student thinking outside the box this afternoon, come the invention we have all been waiting for!  A "gym" space were humans can run on treadmills, fast, and cars can go to learn to go on race tracks, fast!  That's how one little guy explained his block creation to me.  He then proceeded to demonstrate how that would work!  I smiled, as he eagerly explained his creation....while my mind raced to the possibilities of this creation! 
What if there were gyms where we could work out while our cars were cleaned?
What if there were gyms where we could work out AND get our laundry done at the same time?
What if there were gyms where people and their dogs could both work out at the same time?
What if there were gyms where someone would pay our bills while we worked out?
What if there were gyms where we could relax while the pounds and inches melted away?
Tangential thinking on my part; however, I am reminded of the potential to think outside of the box and shape their environment in creative ways every time I sit knee to knee with an eager young learner.  
If only we could "bottle" and save that imaginati

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Teaching Grammar: A TWT Share
From Anna Cockerille of Two (or more) Writing Teachers Fame. here are FIVE amazing mni-grammar-writing lessons.  These suggestions are TOO good to miss!

Ideas for teaching:

Punctuating Dialogue
Verb Tense
Sentence Fragments

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Good Morning to You or Happy Birthday to You:You Choose

This week, I'm singing "Happy Birthday to You," again and again as we celebrate two very special first birthdays in my family.  The "little babies" who joined our family last year just as fall blew in are now, I guess, technically "toddlers." Yet, they will always be my "miracles" who brighten my heart when they smile and melt my heart when they share a slobbery, open mouth version of a kiss.  
So as I prepare to sing Happy Birthday to You to them, I started wondering about the roots of the song.  I know, the CCS get to me again and I start wondering about the information behind customs and traditions! Here is what I found here:
In 1893, Mildred and Patty Hill, teachers, wrote Good Morning to All to sing to their pupils.  "Good morning to you........."  In 1922, "birthday snuck into versions of the song!  In 1931, the song made it into the musical, The Band Wagon and it was copyrighted in 1934.  it was not until 2015 that the song was "copyright free!"  Phew...'cause we;re singing it more than once at this point in time....and we may just add the "Good Morning to You"  origins to our singing routine just to break things up a bit!  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

#sol201 We All Need Somebody to Lean On

"Do you know your way back?" I asked her after we read together, "or would you like me to walk back with you," I asked her at the end of my fall screening.
"Can you come with me?" she asked.

"I'd love to," I responded seriously.  She grabbed my hand and we headed back to her class.  It was not much of a walk, but as she grabbed for my hand, I was sure she was grateful for my guidance on her journey through a not-yet-familiar hallway.

I thought of that moment many hours later when I exited the unfamiliar highway and thinking I knew where I was going, turned right rather than left.  I spent 15 minutes or so, even though it felt longer, trying to find my way home, with several stops to access my GPS along the way. If not for GPS, I might be wandering through deer-and-bear-infested hills even now!

There are times in our lives when we all need someone to take our hand when we are lost on our journey through life.  That person can be our parent, teacher, partner, sibling, friend, pastor, GPS, or even a paid counselor.   

As the song says, "We all need someone to lean on."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Celebrating: When it is really hot!

It's been hot  and humid this week in these parts, and my school, like so many others, is not air conditioned. Most of us have abandoned our fall clothes in favor of our old linen shifts and long, loose skirts.  Most of us have splurged on an extra large iced tea or perhaps a diet coke to cool from the inside when we cannot control the outside.
It was certainly "hot" in the hallway as I walked one of my "customers" back to class and a colleague commented, "It is so hot in hear, we could fry an egg in this hallway."
I suspect I nodded, understanding the reference and agreeing it was hot; however, after we were down the hallway a bit, my reflective young reader offered her own perspective on the heat - or perhaps the lack of it.
"It's not really hot," she noted, "until your hair is sweating."  
I smiled as her comment did not require a response.  She was right, indeed.  Really hot is when you have been really working out at the gym, or running around the yard, or running a marathon!  You are working so hard, your hair becomes drippy from sweat.   Clearly, we were uncomfortable today, but we were not working THAT hard!
Perspective: an important part of reflection.