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Saturday, July 8, 2017

#vocabulary Sharing EDUTOPIA's ideas

Yikes, I haven't posted in a while.

But, today I read this article from Edutopia on Twitter about VOCABULARY.  I have certainly heard teachers complain about vocabulary instruction but I think the article hits a "home run."

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/word-must-dos-vocabulary-instruction-rebecca-alber?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

One reminder is that  "less is more." Long lists do not stick. Memorizing word lists is just that - an exercise of memory.

Another reminder is that you must use the words to own them!
You must display, revisit and use those words if you want them to STICK and of course you do.

CHECK OUT THE WHOLE ARTICLE.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Happens

      In these parts, summer break starts at the end of June, after the longest day of the year and long after the peonies have lost their glow. Summer break starts after some hot and humid days in classrooms without air conditioners. June can be a long month and yet in some ways, it flies as we rush to finish curriculum and measure student progess .  Every year, like clockwork, there are students who progressed slowly for 9 months and then, as June happens, they begin to blossom, like late blooming peonies! Perhaps that is why I say, "In my reading room, things heat up in June!"

      "That doesn't sound right," she said with an intonation that was eerily familiar, "Maybe I should switch the sounds."
     "Beginning to monitor for meaning and attempting to self correct," I write on her reading record  thinking, "It's June, so NOW this first grader is taking off!"

      During the next group of formerly reluctant learners, I hear, "Can we write today?" as they reach my table.
      "I guess we could," I respond as I smile a grateful smile and adjust my plans remembering that not so long ago, these emerging readers and writers did not understand the concept of a word!


      In these parts, June is filled with the culmination of 10 months of hard work. Learning blossoms as June happens.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

#sol17Celebrate94

This week
We said good-bye to the
9th of 10 for Anna and Jeremiah,
Born, raised on the farm,
Never went into the barn.
Long-standing-Brooklynite,
Teller at banks that no longer exist.
Follower of Days of Our Lives,
Fan of  theYankees
After the Dodgers moved to LA.
Connoisseaur of movies,
Actresses, actors, across decades
Bogart, Hepburn, Harlow, Stanwick,
Hanks, Depp, Pitt, Roberts, Diaz.
Lover of Hershey Bars and Kisses, 
Ice cream and Celeste Pizzas.
Making the best of what life sent her way/
My Aunt,
Sitting next to my grandmother
Holding my cousin,
Long ago.

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, shoes

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#celebratelu2017 Our Actions and Our Words Matter

You may not think so at first; however this post IS about teaching, as well as livig.

I noticed her, leaning close, reading to him as I entered the lobby almost every afternoon. He did not seem to be listening; his eyes stared into the distance as if he were looking into the distant future.  Yet, she continued reading, patting his arm at times, deep into the story.  

Then, one day, she was in the lobby, alone, just staring at the door.  My eyes met hers and I smiled, greeting her with a sincere, “Hello,” even though I had that sinking-pit-in-the-stomach feeling that he had gone to that spot in the distance.
 
“Good to see you,” she said slowly, her eyes filling with fresh tears and her voice shaking.

Somehow, I knew I had to acknowledge her missing partner.  “You’re not reading today?” I asked. 
“He’s gone,” she said, her voice no longer shaking, “but we finished The Silent Stream.  It was Tom’s favorite and I knew when I finished he would be ready to go. Thank you for asking about him.  It means the world to me that you care.”

I held her thin hand for just a moment sharing that Silent Stream had been one of my dad’s favorites as well.  Rachel Carson was a name bounced around dinner table conversations when I was growing up!  “Such as small world,” she smiled, “and I am so glad you stopped to talk today.  I miss him so much.”

I thought about the need to carry on the legacy of caring for the environment as well as the need to care about people as I drove home that night. "Our actions matter," my Dad said many times as we conserved water while brushing our teeth and composted long before it was trendy to do so.  

I thought about the brief interaction with a woman whose name I still did not know, as I drove home that night.  Our words matter, as Peter Johnston says, in the classroom, in the boardroom, in the doctor’s office, in the hallway, and in the nursing home lobby.    


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#sol17 Jack in the Box

I remember reading books dedicted to grandchildren and articles about grandchildren written by those I respected in education such as Shelly Harwayne and Dorothy Strickland.  At that point, my own children were still finding their paths towards adulthood and grandchildren were not yet on my horizon.  I remember reading and wondering what made those children so special.....but now I get it.
Children and amazing miracles but grandchildren are that last chance to watch the miracle of life unfold.  Grandchildren are ours to love on, read to, listen to, dance wiith, sing with, play with, watch grow, laugh with, and learn from, one last time. Grandchildren are not only our last chance but also our greatest gift. We notice more, laugh more, and discipline less.

This is Jack, in a Box.  He is one of my 3 grandchildren who have rocked my world in the last 18 months and forced me to stop and notice not only language learning through the lens of academic research but who have also forced me to rethink the miracle of exploring a wonderful new world.

This is Jack, in a Box after waving Bye Bye to his mom and after settling in to play with his Mimi and a box.  Of course, most of your toys can fit in that box.  Of course, you can sit in a box and Mimi will read to you.  Of course, a box is where YOU can have your own house in the house your parents chose for you.  Of course, a Jack in a Box has meaning for those of us who grew up with such a toy; however, for MY Jack and his Box, it is a place where until it falls apart, you play, put your books, set your lovey, set your favorite toys and learn the power of environmental control.

 This morning, I give you MY Jack in a Box, my grandchild who adores dirt, rocks, and things that move, known as Vroom Vrooms.  Jack knows the power of an empty box filled with all his valued loveys and books to fill a rainy morning.   

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Name Droppings: Marc Brown

Marc Brown, yes, Marc Brown of Arthur fame, came to my school!  That in and of itself made the week, perhaps even the YEAR, special!

He was charming, just like haracters and just like I thought he would be!  Marc Brown not only shared his newest, yet to be published book, Mary McScary, but also connected with staff and students as he shared tales of his life!  It seemed too good to be true that his THIRD grade class and some of his teachers inspired his amazing characters.  Marc Brown shared pictures of his home on Martha's Vineyard and his menagerie of carefully named goats (one was named Hillary Clinton), adorable Oreo looking cows, and prolific chickens.  

Just when I thought my cup was overflowing with joy, I was gifted the opportunity to eat lunch with him.  Yup, there I was, sitting right next to Marc Brown as he ate lunch.  Here is the central message of the day: Always be nice and kind to students, parents, everybody.  You just never know when someday, it might take 40 years, you might be lucky enough to find yourself sitting next to someone you admire, whose characters you have adored, and whose presence leaves you smiling for days.

There is only one lingering regret I have for the day.  Star struck as I was, I did not find the courage to "prove" what I have told many struggling beginning readers needing a sight-word-focused story found in a 1981 Houghton Mifflin basal reader called Help Help!  For many years, I have suggested that THE MARC BROWN wrote that cute beginning reader of few words and lots of laughs! On some level, I'm more convinced than ever that it was his work as the story and its characters are for real, just like he was!  However, I passed on my chance to know for sure! I'll just have to keep up the pretense!






Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Difficult Decisions

"What color do you want your bedroom," I asked.
"Well, in apartments you always have white walls,
So that is a big decision.........But.........
I think I'd like............... pink!" 
She finally declared.
So, she had a pink bedroom, finally.  

To stay the course or take a new job?
To retire or wait?
To follow your heart or to break a heart?
To stay in your comfort zone or start over?
To drive or not to drive?
To fight to the bitter end?

So many decisions we make
Over the course of a lifetime
They impact what we see
How we feel, 
Where we live
How we spend our days
The chapters of our lives.

Today has been a day
Of Very Difficult Decisions.
Some chapters are hard to write.    
  

#sol17 To Read

Last month was Dr. Seuss's birthday,
This month is Poetry month,
Yesterday was World Book Day,
Lots of reasons to read.

Today is a Rainy Day,
Rainy days are Tee Pee Days,
Recovering from Stomach Flu Days,
Stuck at home
Stuck inside days,
Climb inside a toddler-sized-tee-pee
With a stack of upside-down books
Rest your head on a cozy pillow
Pull up a comfy blanket
Learning to be a reader kind of day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#sol17 Shoes That Make Me Smile


It was a Back-to-School-Monday-After-Spring-Break kind of morning and I lay in bed wishing, of course, like teachers everywhere, for One-More-Day!  Delaying the inevitable departure into the highway-traffic-adventures ahead, I checked my email knowing that at least one of my grad students was likely to have sent something for me to read in the overnight hours.

However, on this Monday morning, I found nothing from grad students, but something from Amazon that made me smile! I am not sure exactly how Amazon knows what they know about me; however, it seems there may be some smart "cookies" in cyberspace that know not only what we are searching for, but also what we talk about!  

Amazon is right. I have been searching for a new pair of spring-type "fun" shoes to carry me through his last quarter of the school year.  This pair is a bit more "flowery" than I was searching for, but they did make me smile!

L'Artiste by Spring Step Women's Fray Flat Sandal
Amazon is also right about this image that popped up in my feed! right.  I've noticed glittery shoes of late thanks to a little girl who points her own glitter-encrusted sneakers at every opportunity! I guess Amazon not only knows what I search for but also "hears" my discussions with a Little Miss! Surely, on this sunshiny morning, glittery Mary Jane shoes with wiggling butterflies would make someone I know smile!  Come to think of it, they make me smile, even though this last pair does not come in my size!

Mini Melissa Kids' Ultragirl Fly Mary Jane Flat

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#sol17 Writing Through Tough Times

We ask students to share their "hearts" and write about the special small moments in their young lives early in each school year thinking that sharing "Personal Narrative" stories might be the easiest things to write!  As I reflect on my own difficulties writing through tough times, I've decided this is a practice we might want to reconsider!

Sure, for MOST students whose summers are filled with special moments at camp or family vacations, finding a "moment" to describe makes sense.   But, when your life is focused on sadness or sickness or anger or hurt, it can be difficult, perhaps even impossible to notice and write about those moments amidst the strife.  It can be hard to trust that your audience will understand or may even want to hear your story!  

Sure, I can write about my elderly Aunt's tough times.  I can write about my students and their challenging journeys. I can even write about flat tires.  I'm guessing most of you can connect on some level with those tough times.

 At times, I've wondered if I should share  about my own "tough times" wondering if my own story might help someone else?  I've wondered if it might even help me? Yet, as I am returning to writing and this SOL community,  I've chosen mostly to share about the "easy-to-write-about" moments that I can now notice.  Perhaps some day, I may share my tough times, but for now, I'll just ask you to consider how hard it must be to notice the small, easier to write about, personal moments when you are not sure your audience will understand.