Saturday, March 31, 2012

SOL 31 Reflection

At first,
 I was
Could I do it?
Scared of being noticed
Sure I would get distracted by life
Afraid I would not have enough to say
Worried that no one would like my writing
Concerned that there would not be enough time
Anxious that my writing would not be as good as others

A month later,
I am
Excited about writing
Empowered by other writers
Proud that I wrote every day!
Aware of the little events of my life
Sure about the need to write regularly
Transformed into a more confident writer
Very happy that I completed the challenge
Cyberfriends with writers all over the globe
Confident that we all have writers inside us
Grateful that I decided to give this a try
Ready to start finding a publisher
Ready to catch up on laundry!
Looking forward to Tuesday. 
Anxious to write again
A SOL survivor
Begins a new challenge
April's Slice Off Me (SOM)
Exercise my muscles every day
Work on getting in shape
Lose a few pounds
I guess, I like

Friday, March 30, 2012

SOL 30 Giving Up and Giving More

For many years, I used to "give things up" during Lent. I grew up in a home where my parents usually gave up alcoholic beverages and married into a family that typically gave up dessert (except on Sundays when it was OK to have cake) in preparation of Easter. I just followed without thinking critically about my practices.  One day, a sermon changed this and I stopped giving things up and started consciously giving more during this season of preparation. Some extra change shared here or a little extra into the envelope. Paying for the next person's coffee. The gift of happiness or even a goodie for someone. 

Last night, I walked out of the university where I work as an adjunct invigorated as always by the students, their energy and their questions.  I taught all day, attended CSE meetings, pondered APPR, mentored teachers, taught grad school, modeled how to make any text a readers theater, and then talked to students.  I should have been tired...but I wasn't.  In the past, teachers have asked how I find the energy to teach grad school at night, and I really didn't  have an answer.  Through some miracle that happens every week, I seem to get energized by giving more

While I might still go out of my way to donate a bit more during this season (eg. change into the March of Dimes container), giving happens every day all year through.  Maybe the message all along has it should be...that giving up and giving more are both ways to reflect and ultimately get more

Thursday, March 29, 2012

SOL 29 It's Readers Theater Time

My sister-in-law was full of advice - but most of time she did not tell me what to do - she showed me. She showed me how to put a Sunday dinner on the table for 15 people in 20 minutes without having a breakdown.  She showed me how to recycle stale bread for hungry teenagers. She showed me how to do a butterfly bandage and avoid a trip to the ER.

I think of her..

When I talk to my young writers.
I need to show them.
I remind then to show me with details.

When I talk to my grad students.
I can't just lecture.
I need to show them what an engaged classroom looks like!

There will be a host of grad students
Crawling around the floor
Acting as if they are the characters in a story.

It's readers theater time.
I will show them how it feels to be engaged in learning!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SOL 28 Lost and Found

                                                   Lost and Found
In my school,this catch-all place is in a corner of the cafeteria.  It's filled with sweaters, hats, gloves, lunchboxes and more.  I wonder what parents think when a sweater, hat, glove, or lunchbox does not return home?

In my kitchen, it's the first drawer after the pantry where odd pieces of string, twisty ties and paper clips intermingle with scissors and pencils.  It's where you put stuff because you don't really have a place for it until you need it!

In my computer, there are deep recesses disguised as folders that suck up files.  "Download CQ78Rcg," it said the other day...and it might of well have said..."you'll never find me again," unless you save me to your C, D, A, and B drives.  I usually have to call in my husband, the great hunter, to find missing files; thus, I TRY to avoid losing files!   

My new tablet computer, Monet, is tiny and barely a centimeter thick; however, she appears to have the biggest lost and found in the world.  Incredibly, she saves things in the clouds! 

That book that went missing the other day?  It's been found!  I guess it got lost as I searched the virtual stores in the clouds.  I must have shopped in the Google Play "store" even though I THOUGHT I was in the Amazon "store."   In some ways, this tablet might even make finding lost books "easier" as they are not hidden in the couch cushions nor are they lost in the blankets.  They are not mixed in with the daily news papers; they are just lost in the clouds.  In some way, that all seems very appropriate....when I am reading a really good book, I often get lost in the clouds!

SOL 27 Half Full or Half Empty

We see it differently.

My mom says that her perception as half empty protects her a little from the bad things that happen. She's had a lot of sadness and stress in her life and does not want to be let down when things she hopes will happen do not. It means, however, that she often has trouble enjoying whatever she has at the moment out of fear for the future.  She's been predicting the frost that came overnight as inevitable after our unprecedentedly warm spring. She's been warning us that is could still snow. "We're gonna pay for this," she admonisned on one realy lovely day last week! 

It's not easy, but I try to find the potential each day has to offer. I've seen my share of sadness and loss; however, I am sensitive to the finite number of days all living things have to make this world a better place. I realized last night as the temperature plummeted that frost was likely; so, I spent a few extra minutes enjoying the flowers and budding trees on my way home.  As I write this in the early morning hours of darkness, I do not yet know what he impact will be; however, I am hoping the frost will have limited impact on the plants and life that are trying to spring from the earth.  I'll pull out the scarf that is now at the back of the closet and grab some gloves and a winter coat when I head out.  If I see this..............

I will not be jumping for joy; however, I am confident that the real spring is still closer today than in was yesterday. 

Early this morning, the SOL link was not up and I was doing my customary reading of yesterday's blogs...and I came across Christy who blogs at Living. She wrote about the same topic from a different but wonderful angle. I love the term, "landed safely." and plan to keep it as my own. Thank you, Christy for sharing

Monday, March 26, 2012

SOL 26 Some Learning Required

My new toy is dangerous.  Late Saturday, I downloaded a book, Some Assembly Required for 12.99. I read voraciously that evening and I would be reading right now....except I can't seem to find the book!

It used to be that I had a LIST of books to borrow or buy.....time passed...and often they were loaned to me.....I bought books and loaned them to others.....I see all this changing...but at least I will be helping the e-economy!  Specially if I have to order NEW books because I can't find the old ones!

Hold on world...I hope to figure out this App thing when I am no longer consumed by my SOL challenge and I have a little more time.

Could get expensive.
A bookstore with disappearing books
Just a few clicks away
Late at night
After hours
Some Learning Required 

 Order date: Mar 24, 2012 10:46:44 PM
 Google order number: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Qty                               1
Item                              Some Assembly Required
Price                             $12.99

Sunday, March 25, 2012

SOL 25 There Are Times When You Just Want to Make It All Better

Long ago, my sister-in-law (and chosen mentor on raising children) and I were sitting on her couch trying to plan a 50th Anniversary celebration. "Little kids, little problems; bigger kids, bigger problems,"she volunteered as she sat trying to comfort my colicky infant.  At the time, most of her kids were already teenagers, and thus her wisdom usually put my bawling baby or tantrumming toddler in proper perspective. 

Today, those words resonate clearly with me as I watch my now "big kids" maneuver their ways thought life's obstacle course - from afar.  While there are many "helicopter" parents out there who planned their children's lives, scheduled sports lessons, wrote papers, filled out college applications and micromanaged decisions, we were quite simply, the opposite.  

I really am not sure which came first, our decision to raise independent children or our, by nature, strong-willed and fiercely independent children.  "I do it myself" and "Don't help me" were probably the first phrases out of their mouths!  Now, as adults, they are usually a bit more polite, but the message is the same, "I'll figure it out,"  and they do.

This month, they have each maneuvered their ways through intense housing "crises" that have disrupted their sleep (and mine) and their thoughts (and mine).  They are making big decisions and maneuvering the gauntlet of life that they have been preparing for since those early phrases, "I do it myself!"  I am proud and happy and sure they have will make their way through the obstacles and challenges....but there are still times when you just want to make it all better or easier! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

SOL 24 A Fine, Fine Lady

Most days, I stop to visit my mom and aunt on my way home. I usually start with my mom, because frankly she gets cranky if I don't. I love my mom dearly, but as she has aged, and dealt with sadness and crises, she has become increasingly cranky.  But this post is not about about my mother (perhaps another day).  Today's post is about the slice of my life that takes place after I leave my mom's condo and walk next door to see my Aunt Gert. She is many things, but she's not cranky. 

Yesterday, she turned 89, but you'd never know that.  She's still got that translucent Irish skin with nary a wrinkle.  In that way, she reminds me of my dad who looked pretty great at 84 even after the ravages of illness.

She was the 9th of 10 children of Irish immigrant parents on a tiny farm in upstate NY.  I doubt they knew if they could provide for another child; yet, she has outlived all of her siblings, including my dad.  The ironic thing is that she left her apartment in Brooklyn to move next door to my dad, her baby brother, about 10 years ago so he could "take care" of her!  

She never married and shared an apartment with her sisters after the farm was sold.  While she says school was not her thing, I am pretty confident that my aunt is as smart as can be.  She worked in a bank for many years and does a great job managing her finances, even now.  When she asks me to research some financial plan, I am really researching! 

She's also a major league movie and baseball buff and the queen of trivia.  She is equally cconversant about Derek Jeter, Justin Beiber's antics and the religious preferences of political candidates.  Her mind is as sharp as a tack thanks, I guess, to her daily crosswords, her vocation and avocation.

She is a fine, fine lady who never has a harsh word about anyone.  While she too has seen a lot of sadness and her world turned upside down, she still greets each day ware of the potential that day will hold, even if it is just a great crossword puzzles and Doctor Oz. 

My Aunt Gert is gentle, kind and accepting.  She is a fine, fine lady.  If I am lucky enough to grow old, I want to be like her.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

SOL 23 Promises

 Green shoots from the resting earth,
Pink and white signs of the future.
Small reminders of renewal after rest,
Hiding during dark and gloomy days.

Perhaps it's the strife and discontent,
Perhaps it's the angst of so many,
Whatever the reason,
Tiny signs, promises.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

SOL 22 Testing 1, 2, 3,...

In some states, they're over and people await the results.  In New York, they're looming.
I keep searching for the best way to  prepare for this annual event that challenges students and teachers.  In my searching, I came across the article by Guthrie at this site:

It's long, but filled with lots of great points.  A few (familiar) points are with putting on posters in the teachers' lounge!

* Students who read widely and frequently are higher achievers (Guthrie, Wigfield, Metsala, & Cox, 1999).

* When students are provided opportunities to connect reading and writing in integrated language arts, their reading increases and achievement improves (Morrow, Pressley, Smith, & Smith, 1997).

* Scores may be low for motivational reasons (Sugrue, 1995; Waid, Kanoy, Blick, & Walker, 1978).

* While some exposure is effective, excessive time in format practice is not (Yen & Ferrara, 1997).

* Effective teaching strategies (encouraging, connecting, questioning, modeling, scaffolding) for reading and writing are the best way to prepare for high stakes assessments!

                                   Got a poster maker? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SOL 21 My husband thinks I might have SCRIPTURIENT

I'm sure you have heard that people who live together for a long time start to look or act alike!      While our physical and political attributes are still quite different, my husband, the engineer, is starting (after many years) to really appreciate words

"Interesting add to your blog," read yesterday's email.  "At first, I wasn't quite sure why he was sending me a link for a poster of the word, scripturient selling for $160. I read the poster again and noticed the definition: processing a violent desire to write!

Dear husband,
While I am pretty confident that my desire to write is not violent, I will admit this SOL thing has become a bit of a compulsion! I went looking for a a word that describes a compulsion to write for a community of writers that you will likely never meet.  I think I found that word: blog. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SOL 20 Going strong at 98

"She just turned 98," he noted proudly as he stared down at her red head. "It seems like yesterday she joined our family!"

My husband was referring to Matilda, my 3 year old VW.  She, like Roald Dahl's character, is magical!  She gets upwards to 50 mpg (amazing)!  We have been "personifying" our cars (and tractors) for as long as I can remember. 

Back when I first met my husband, he was driving "The Cutty" but over the years their names have increasingly reflected our family's interests!  There was  Clifford, the "big" red Focus (pun intended, he really was quite small) and the Silver Bullet (an aging Volvo P1800 who really yearned for movie fame).  There was Heidi (who loved to take off her top like the Heidi Klum poster that snuck into my house).  My daughter still drives Stella (from a Streetcar Named Desire) and my son drove Patty (named after an inside out peppermint patty) for a few years. And, these days, my husband takes Johnny (Deere) with him to help with the yard work!

I guess back in the old days, it was not really necessary to name cars.  You had one per household and you took THE car if you were going some place.  Not so anymore.  It's very helpful to state clearly which car you are taking and why.  SO we call them by name!  As soon as I shower, Matilda and I will begin our daily mini-marathon. She loves to run fast and play in the traffic (loves those tractor trailers who use the same fuel she does) so we get out there and run 5 days per week.  All this running is why she is aging faster than your average car! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

SOL 19 In a dresser drawer

During dinner the other night, he mentioned that he'd cleaned out the ol' pink dresser, the one that sat at the bottom of the basement stairs.  It was filled  mostly with mouse droppings. 

Then, he said quietly that he'd found an old cigar box in the bottom drawer.  I breathed deeply as he took the box from under his chair.  Cigar boxes were storage containers for his dad - and remain treasured relics for my husband and his son, too.  He asked if I knew about the box - but he already knew I did not.
It was filled with memories...of aunts and uncles he did not remember.  He found glimpses of party dresses from his mother's youth and his father's first car.  He found a love letter SWAK from his mom to his dad - long before he was a glimmer in their eyes.  His own eyes filled with tears as he remembered. 

Somehow, those who are no longer with us, reminded us of their love.  I am not really sure how that box got there or why he looked inside that bottom drawer before putting the ol' dresser at the curb... sometimes you just have to smile...and remember. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Internet-Based Technology for Teaching

Today, I finished planning your online class. It's not the first time I have planned for this class.  It's likely not the last!  Everytime, it's hard!  It's hard on students too. Frankly, it's more work than going to class.  I am not sold on the idea that teachers will be totally replaced anytime soon BECAUSE this online learning requires SO much planning and SO much work.  I really admire teachers who do a whole undergraduate or graduate class without watching their students' faces and engaging in small group discussion, fishbowls, and last word protocols (wait for that one next week!)
HOWEVER, I am also pretty sure that we can not be effective teachers in the 21st Century without technology.

 I dream of having iPads for my students to use for individual reinformecemnt and reading. 

Wikis, webquests and Teacher Tube vidoes are the way we can engage our diverse learners. 

As one of my fellow SOLbloggers observed, we write so we can be better teachers of writing.  I am willing to risk making my ideas public JUST like I ask my students to do!
Frankly, without Google images, my ELLs would not know what we are talking and reading about.  Just the other day, we got to a section in Freckle Juice about the freckles all over the back of Nicky Lane's neck.  I have a few freckles, but not the kind that would evoke a neck full of freckles!  All it took was a quick Google search in images and we were all talking about the same thing! 

What role do you think technology will have in your classroom? Did you read, learn, or do anything this week that helped clarify your thinking? Let me know!

SOL 18 Real Men Cradle Infants on Facebook

His image on Facebook spurred memories so different that it made my head spin. Cradling his infant daughter in the crook of his arm, he smiled the kind of smile you think about all day. It was not an ear-to-ear-cat-got-the-mouse smile but rather a this-is-what-life-is-all-about smile.  He pretty much looked like he was destined for fatherhood all his life! 

I sat remembering the pudgy teenager in a football uniform.  He was a kind soul even then; quiet, respectful and grateful for the rides I offered and the Wendy's trips I sponsored.  At one point,  he offered a solution for a car problem even though he did not yet drive.

I remembered that kid's father screaming about "hitting hard" and "blocking harder," rather than embracing approximation of grid iron greatness.  I remember feeling sorry for that kid as I sat in the stands.  His mom, appeared to be a kind soul herself, although she rarely said a word.
I have wondered about that kid over the years and mentioned his name when I read the father's obituary a few months ago.  He lived down south, i was told, and worked as a mechanic.  Married his high school sweetheart, he was doing just fine.  In fact, they were having a baby!

So, I guess it was destiny that I his image appeared on a social network. His smile made my day.  I don't think I ever saw his father smile like that; yet, I hope he was proud of his son. I don't think I ever saw his mother smile either; however, I am think she might just smile that same smile if that image popped up on her Facebook.

I wish I had known back then what I know now.  I might tell him, right there in the stands, that manhood is not determined by how hard you hit.  Real men gently cradle their children and glow with love at their every achievement and moment of's a love that is as deep as the ocean and as wide as they sea....a love they could never have imagined when they were trying to "hit 'em hard " and "hold that line"! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SOL 17: Feeling Green

One year, my mother made pitchers of green beer.  I was way too young to partake in the celebratory slug; however, I gathered that this was some sort of adult holiday that made people act crazy.  Another year, my aunt dyed her hair green. Let the partying begin was her motto that year! While neither of them had an ounce of Irish blood, they eagerly borrowed my father's heritage and celebrated readily!

This year, like most, my sister wore green from head to toe! To an adult, she looked like the Jolly Green Giant from Birdseye commercials; however, she takes this adult holiday and makes it special for Pre K students! At least she is 50% Irish and there will only be green eggs and ham!
In the NYC area (where there are MANY who claim to be at least a "wee" bit Irish by heritage), there will be parading and partying that will likely last well into tomorrow.  There will be green hair, green beer and lots of people who just feel green.  With the exception of my sister, this still seems to be an adult holiday that centers around partying! 

While I could, by birthright, be wearing the green and partying today, I have other plans.  I do think a little hair color (NOT green) is in order at a nearby salon.  I will clean the gray dustballs and dirt of all colors from the counters and floors in my house. I will add some green kale to my soup at lunch.  I will cook up some corned beef in my crock pot for a good Reuben sandwich tomorrow! I will gaze out at the little glimpses of green that are emerging in the garden and be grateful for spring.  I will think of my dad, wearing a green shirt, and reading his NYTimes (like every other day) while the partying ensued around him  I will also say a prayer that those party goers everywhere either have designated drivers or take cabs home.  If you're feeling really green today, please don't drive.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

SOL 16 Yearning...For Something

It started.
Waves of memories swept over us as we discussed possibilites. 
The mission: Crafts for a four-year old's birthday.
We stayed focused.

Painting birdhouses,
Making crayons,
Decorating cupcakes. 
We were tempted to look for adult crafting fulfillment.

Eight hours later.
It started, again.
Sharing new-favorite crafting blogs.
In pajamas, we dreamed, downloaded, and explored.
Crafting Dreams.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

SOL 15 APPR - it's a slice of life these days

Annual Professional Performance Review

It's a slice of teachers' lives
Please sing along with me to the tune of YMCA.
Teach-er, there's no need to feel down
I said teacher-er, pick yourself off the ground
I said teach-er, it's all over town
There's - no - need - to - worry!

Teach-er, there's something you should know
I said teach-er, worry, but t let it show
You'll make it, and I'm sure you will find
Ways - to - get- through -this - time

We can't avoid A.P.P.R
Everybody's got some A.P.P.R
Somehow we'll endure
Just make a fair plan, that's for sure

We can't avoid A.P.P.R
Everybody's got some A.P.P.R
You can get observed more,
Think of this as your core,

Teach-er, are you listening to me
I said teach-er, politics caused this be
I said teach-er, just be the best you can be
But - you've - got- to - know - this - one - thing

No teach-er, does it all by themself
I said teach-er, put your pride on the shelf'
It's coming
To  your school and mine
Just - remember - why - you - became - a - teacher...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SOL 14 Go Play Outside

On our way home, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, we saw a young child on a tiny motorbike.  He / she was SO young he / she needed training wheels on that motor bike! OH MY! 

This is a google image - I did not stop to photograph - yet  the image of that child riding around has stuck with me!  I do realize that motorized bikes, cars and toys have taken over, but I think the cost may be far greater than parents imagine!  These children, some too young to even balance on a bike, are riding around in the sunshine, but they are using very few muscles! 
In light of the obesity epidemic in America and with the every increasing need for PT and OT services for children with low muscle tone, I am pretty sure there a connection! 
Kids need to get outside, run, play and move their bodies to grow strong and be healthy. 

While so much of my own professional focus has been on classroom learning, I know that going outside to play is important for learning to read,write, and develop fine motor skills as well as becoming self-reliant.  Kids need to get outside and play - there will be a time to drive 2 hours a day - trust me on that one!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SOL 13 Out on a ledge

At the beginning of this challenge,
I was on a ledge
A dangerous but exciting place.
There was ice,
 I could slip
Fall to the abyss,
I threw caution to the wind.

The sun in stronger,
The ice has melted,
I feel stronger and safer.
In this new season of my life,
 I doubt I'll head back.

I'm challenging you
To write every day.
So you, too, will learn
To be a writer

Monday, March 12, 2012

SOL 12 Food For Thought: Chicken In a Pot

In most families, there are cherished recipes. Many are meals to be enjoyed on holidays or special occasions, like Grandma's eggplant.  Not us, we're into something called affectionately, chicken in a pot (CIP).

The recipe has roots in my mother in law's kitchen where as a busy working mother (back in the 1950s when few women worked outside of their homes), it was a way to make the cooking of one chicken last 3-4 days!  It started as soup and later, with  canned tomatoes added, was popped on top of pasta.

In my own kitchen, CIP has slowly changed as our family grew and changed.  As a working mom with busy children, it became a Sunday staple that reappeared on Monday and Wednesday in some form or other.  It was always available as a healthy meal even if sports' schedules disrupted cooking time.  With Minute rice (fast) or pasta, I could make it stretch where few meals could go!  When they came home from college or when I visited, CIP was the requested meal.  When friends came for dinner, they all seemed to all know about CIP, and were disappointed if something else was served!
There are no rules for this recipe and this recipe is far easier than my MIL's original.

Chicken In a Pot

Take onion(s) -green, yello -  whatever you have and garlic - saute in a little oil
Push them to the outside of the pot when they are soft cooked
Add boneless chicken breast or thighs - cut up - whole - if still frozen, just add anyway
Cook a while, then add cut up peppers (frozen or fresh) - red - green - yellow
Cut up and add whatever veggies you have available (eggplant, carrots, green beans, peas)
If you have no other veggies, that is OK too!
Add canned or fresh tomatoes - not too much juice - just the fleshy parts
Add basil + oregano - fresh or dried
Add onion powder and salt

Variations include, adding black or kidney beans and chili pepper; or an all veggie CIP (just leave out the meat and add more beans!)
The beauty in CIP is that YOU CAN NOT MAKE IT WRONG and it never is exactly the same although I have concluded after many batches that onion powder and tomato pieces are the key!  Thus, you can eat it every week....and we have been....for many years.....but still, when they come home, or when I visit...they ask for CIP!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

SOL 11: Repurposed

In my "world" there seems to be lots of "re purposing" of "old" things like the wonderful old railroad bridge in the photo. After nearly 50 years of sitting vacant in the wind, thousands of visitors now walk where trains once rolled high above the Hudson. While many people were critical of the tax dollars spent on that project, it's a pretty amazing view of the valley and connects some pretty amazing biking and hiking trails (themselves re purposed from old railroad trails) that have brought countless hours of enjoyment to people of all ages! While I never rode a freight train over the river during the ol' bridge's first "life," I have walked it many times during the last few years.  I suspect it looks far more beautiful than in its prime!

Recently, we hiked around Beacon, a small city that just a few years ago was a pretty scary place! It too is going through some pretty impressive, privately funded re purposing. The shot above is the Beacon Falls Roundhouse...once the crumbling site of the Mattewan Hat Factory...and now soon to be an upscale restaurant and pub. To be honest I am guessing it has never looked so good...not even in its prime!

I guess all this gives me hope for the future.  Fuel prices might soar through the roof and our politicians might never agree on how many angels really can dance on the head of a pin; however, we are smart enough to be using public and private money towards a few good causes that will provide healthy outlets for the next generation. 

While change is inevitable in life, these "slices" of life are evidence that change is not necessarily "bad" and might even be good!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SOL 10: Winds of Change

It was VERY windy the last few nights.  As I lay in bed, listening to the wind blow, I was thinking of the MANY changes every day that we all experience:
Our personal children start out as totally dependent but then change to individuals who only "need" us at fleeting moments of extreme happiness or stress.
Our parents start as our caregivers but then depend on us more and more.
At school, the children take on more and more responsibility for their own learning.
There's APPR, CCSS and RtI and other lenses to scrutinize and reflect on professional practice.
Technology increasingly becomes part of what we do and teach.
Writing is changing as we can get support and build community from afar!

    Change is hard and often we miss the comfort of what we knew; yet, as they say in
    Lion King, "It's the circle of  life."  

Friday, March 9, 2012

SOL 9: Exercising fingers

I'm many things; however, I am not particularly athletic.  The closest I ever came to being an "athlete" was when I joined (you did not have to try out for that one) the synchronized swimming team in high school!  Things were different back in the "old days" before Title IX; however, so I am not sure if I had some innate capacity that never developed or if I am just not particularly athletic! 
For my kids, it was a very different story.  They gravitated to movement and sports with a passion that took me by surprise (ballet, tap, gymnastics, track, basketball, softball, football, baseball, wrestling......).  I was a reluctant sports mama and tried very hard to make academics their "vocation" and sports their "avocation."  Sometimes, I had to draw the line in Sharpie marker to make sure one of them could see it! 
Perhaps that is why I tend to marvel to the intense spirits around own children as well as my nieces and nephews....and have wondered where their affinity for sports came from....
Now I have a hunch..

This week, I've been thinking that, perhaps, it's not the competition aspect of sports that attracts and keeps people coming back for more...
Perhaps, it's the community part - being part of a community of people who share a similar passion.
Perhaps that is why people set their alarms early to go play golf AND to get up and write! 

I wonder if we need to talk about writing (or talking, discussing) as if were a more like sport?  What if we talked about writing as if it were "exercise" for our fingers?  What if we thought up ways to have more writing challenges, like this one, for our children! 
We are exercising our fingers!  WOWSERS...what a week! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

SOL 8 New Flash: Writing Clarifies Thinking

When I wrote yesterday, my post flowed - so quickly it amazed me.  I needed to write...I needed to talk...I had thoughts I needed to say.....and all this got me to thinking...

Our children (at home and in school) don't always hear what we say....but they are always watching and learning from the what we, the adults who care about them, do.  Some parents and teachers model an "exercise" and "fitness" filled life by exercising at the gym and running a marathon every few months.  Some parents and teachers model healthy eating by making whole grain bread from scratch and shopping at the organic food-mart.   Some parents and teachers model how to relax and vacation when they go on cruises or off the their beach homes. 
I'm beginning to realize that "my" kids have a slightly different model!

From the time they were big enough to hold a pencil, I told my "personal" kids to write their thoughts and ideas downs on paper!  Admittedly, as a working mom, there were times I told them to write things down just because I could not stand a moment more of bickering or any more discussion....and there were times when I used that as a way to stall them and force them to clarify their thinking about whatever they wanted at that moment.  Over the years, they have done just that.
For example, when my son desperately wanted his license - a few months ahead of our planned schedule - he wrote a passionate plea about his worth and good decision making - drafted overnight on the ol' family computer, that turned his "iron-clad" father into mush at the breakfast table!

Since that first NWP workshop I attended LONG ago, I have used a similar model at school encouraging kids to write for real purposes AND writing them notes - making my thinking visible to them.  Admittedly, as a busy teacher, there were times I told them to write things down just because I could not stand a moment more of bickering or any more discussion....(just like at home)....and there were times when I used that as a way to stall them and force them to clarify their thinking about whatever they wanted at that moment (just like at home)!   Yesterday, one of my former students wrote ME a note (ON A STICKY NOTE!) about her younger brother's improving reading prowess:
                                         He's getting very good at reading.       
                                         But, not as good as me yet.
Yesterday I realized I am writing as a way to organize and clarify my thinking.   It helps - it really does!