Saturday, December 23, 2017

SOL17 Perhaps the Window Will Come Some Day

Perhaps it is the writing course I am preparing to launch in January or perhaps it is a sign that light is beginning to break through the darkness, but whatever the reason, I am finding yet another small moment (3 in one week?) worthy of documenting!

"Um, Mrs. Ferreri?  This is XXX from XXX and I really don't know how to tell you this...but....there must be some sort of mix up with your installation," he began cautiously as if I was going to bite his head off.  "The installers did not show up this morning. I really don't know what to say.  Neither is answering his phone so far!"

I smiled thnking about this third attempt to install a window in four months!  The initial window was broken and then the replacement fell off the truck and so another custom sized window was ordered and so we waited,  I scheduled for Saturday morning a few weeks ago, but it didn't come in time, so today was the day!

Perhaps it is the spirit of the holiday season and perhaps it is a realization that in the whole scheme of life (made more clear by loss), a delay in window installation does NOT rock my world!  In fact, it is not even a ripple in the pond of life!  Perhaps it is the realization is the real "losers" are the company that has long been awaiting my money and really regrets the extra costs involved in this "deal".  

"It's really OK," I replied to the caller, " I'm sure there was some kind of mix up and we'll get it done eventually." Then, thinking about HIS likely loss of money from this lost job, I added, "I hope this is the biggest blip in your holiday season!"  

"Thank you for your understanding," he said softly.  "I'll call to reschedule on Wednesday.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas."

Perhaps it is the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards men, or perhaps a delay is NOT worthy of unkind words. Perhaps that window will arrive before the Wise Men!  Whatever the reason, I'm reminded, once again, that our words matter MORE than that window that will come some day!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Capricorn and This Winter Solstice

I usually catch the "news highlights" of the day on my phone after the alarm rings for the first time.  This morning, the start of winter was on my mind and so I clicked on USA Today's site following a headline about the winter solstice, "The winter solstice — also known as Yule, Midwinter, the Shortest Day of the Year and the Longest Night — occurs at 11:28 a.m. ET Thursday."
Yikes, I thought as I pulled the covers a little tighter and read, "This short, little day with the great many names also may be the worst day of the year, according to astrologers."
I'm not particularly into astrology, but "Apparently, the sun will appear to pass in front of the constellation Capricorn hours after Saturn does likewise. This will cause both of these orbs to line up for the first time time since 1664.".
The inference is , "starting something new on this day is “ill advised” and will have long-term consequences. And anything you try to do Thursday will be more difficult than usual, take more time and be more frustrating."  Ugh, I thought as I headed for the shower. 
But now, midway through a long day with students, I realize that it is NOT just the pull of a pending vacation, the excitement of endless gifts, or the clamor of crazy hat day that has students squirming in chairs and running in the hallway!  There is ALSO to the pull of Saturn, Capricorn and a new moon adding stress to our students' focus, attention and persistence to task!  Yes, USA TODAY, you are right!  Today has been a challenging day for teachers!  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


The crowd, how plentiful!
The sights, how incredible!
Taking in a plethora of miniatures,
Houses, trains, flowers,
An hour of escape
Into a Lilliputian version
Of NYC nestled
Amidst flowers and tiny trains.
The NYC Botanical Garden's
Annual Train Show.
If you can,
Go see it!
Or at least
Put it on your bucket list!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#SOL17 I Can See Clearly Now

"We're done," he volunteered cheerily as he came back into the house. "They may be a little stiff at first, but you are going to like how they are easy to clean" he continued showing me how the tilting, high tech 21st Century window worked.  I thought about explaining that I HAD 21st Century windows in my old house, in my old life, in a world I left behind, but I didn't. I thought about telling him that my son washes windows, but I didn't.  Instead, while he demonstrated the push, tilt, wash features, I noticed that I could see more clearly, now, than in quite some time.
Andersen Double Hung Window Parts |

I noticed the leaves drifting softly to the ground creating a colorful old quilt on the ground.  I noticed the old chairs on the porch rocking empty now that colder weather has reappeared.  I noticed the mailman almost skipping down the street and that fall wreath that needed to be hung on my door.  I noticed that I was looking ahead and at that moment, I could see clearly! It's been a while since life seemed as clear as it did at that moment. Perhaps there was even a song of joy in my heart as those broken old windows with their chains and death defying drops left with a promise that the glass and the wood would be recycled! Don't worry, I did not sing aloud but for a moment, as the fog of life lifted, as the stress of an unexpected turn in life lessened....I could see clearly......
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Have a Nice Day

When I got there, all three bays were busy and there were 2-3 cars in each of the lines; thus, I almost kept on driving delaying the oil change and tire rotation for at least another week. "This is going to eat up the rest of today," I thought.  But, there was a book on the passenger seat and the service light had been on for a month; so, I decided to step out of my usual "busy" mode and wait. The time flew as I first cleaned my bag and then got lost in a good book stopping to glance at times, at the packed, aging Dasher wagon waiting beside me.  In a flash, my car was being waved into it's bay as if I were an airplane pilot headed into the hanger.

After scanning my car's ID, they greeted me by name and began the "complimentary" safety check of the lights and tires as someone deep below the garage floor began emptying my "old" oil.  They kidded me about my ultra high mileage and then asked if I wanted a battery stating that Mazda issue batteries are 36 months without even knowing that my daughter's Mazda issue battery had passed at 38 months not that long ago!  How did they know?

I was thinking about getting a book on car repair so that I could do my own oil change and repairs next time as I watched the total add up on the screen inches from my car window and handed over my credit card,  And then, as he returned my credit card, he said, "I thank you for coming in today and letting us serve you.  I really hope you have a nice day and find time to enjoy this long weekend for teachers and students. You teachers really do make a difference." 

I left with a smile and some deep reflection on the power of our words and the potential of kindness to make a difference. I forgot the DIY idea and promised to return for my next service in 4 months.

valvoline instant oil change medina mn
it's all up to you.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." -Jane Goodall

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Highly Efffective Student Engagement: Petting a Mouse?

Perhaps it was that solar energy
Spurred by a magical stop in my tracks,
Against my will by traffic moment
Crossing the Hudson.

Full Hunter's Moon of October

Perhaps it was the the lunar energy
Powered by an October Full Moon
Before a 3 day weekend of 
Questionable determination

Perhaps, it was
A topic of yesterday's faculty meeting:
Student Engagement
Lingering on my brain.
We can all agree that student engagement
Is a critial factor in good teaching 
As well as student learning.

Yet it was in the hallway
On the dreaded morning duty
That I watched a classroom greeting
Through a warmed up lens.
Not individual handshakes
Not empty good mornings,
But, a carefully executed
Attempt at student engagement
By a seasoned teacher,

I am pretty sure I noticed
What was 
A four out of four
On student engagement
On any APPR rubric.

I know

It happens every day

They are eager to be learning
You can't pet a mouse and be uptight
It's a supernatural delight
Petting a mouse in the early morning light!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

SOL17 Some assembly required?

Cozy Coupe®
I spent a good amount of time attempting to assemble a "toy car" that says, "Some assembly required!"

After 38 years on the market , there must have been TENS of THOUSANDS of these peddle-less cars assembled across this country! I am positive that exhausted parents as well as individuals who can barely read have assembled these. I am certain that some families have assembled more than one! I have an advanced degree in literacy and have assembled IKEA bookcases, a gas grill, and a picnic table!  "I can do this," I thought as I opened the box.

But, it's still wheel-less at one week  I am trying to persist; however, at this juncture, it is STILL not drive-able!

So, it was with trepidation, I opened the other Little Tykes box to find out how bad the other gift, for the other two-year-old was going to be! According to Amazon, it is a NUMBER 1 BEST SELLER!   I assembled it in minutes!  I was so excited.....

But I noticed something interesting as the two sat side by side.  The Cozy Coupe, hard as it is to put together, appears to be made to last a lot longer than the basketball hoop....that I suspect will likely have a life-cycle measured in months!

Of course, like so many life experiences, there may be a message gleaned from all this time with Little Tyke plastic: Things might be a little sturdier, a little more valued, and perhaps more stable if they are a little harder to achieve.  Or, perhaps I am just reading too much into this "some assembly required " Cozy Coupe challenge me during this once-in-a-lifetime-season of toddler birthdays!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why Write?

I write to remember
Small moments
Special sights
Strong feelings
Savory images
Spare tires
Sappy conversations
Second birthdays
Can merge onto
A highway of life
Racing through time.

Those moments,
The laughter,
The smiles,
The tears,
The joy,
The peace,
The sadness,
Blur with time,
Become lost with living,
Are buried under daily chores.

I write
To remember.
Do we share that with our students?
Do we show them the magic
Of revisiting our words?
Our moments?

We also write to understand
To explain and to convince.

I write to remember
Color cookies
"How you doing, baby,"
"I'll be right backs'"
Scarves and necklaces
Singing, rocking, loving,
My Birthday Girl.
This png image - Happy BirthdayCake PNG Clipart Picture, is available for free download

Monday, September 18, 2017

#sol17 Duty Calls

I was early,
For the opportunity to 
For hours, longer,
In a hard chair amongst
Too many people
Too close together
Coughing, texting,
Carrying briefcases,
Conducting business,
Caring for loved ones.
Cell calls about boredom
Where are you froms?
Amongst trapped people.
Sharing strange connections
Political perspectives,
Most of us, I suspect,
Our service would end
Before it began. 
I tried to read 
Below the flashing florescent lights,
Tried to watch Kelli, Rachel
The Price is Right,
With text delay from afar.
Watched the time tick
Ever so slowly
Thinking about all I should,
Could, might be doing
Along with the possibility
Of deciding someone's fate
In the juror holding room
On the 3rd floor. 
At least the view
Through the window
Was as gloomy as
The mood in the room. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

#sol17 Remembering and Respecting

I was remembering the sights, sounds, smells, and pains of that bright, clear morning as I pulled into the station for petrol for my hungry Mazda.  I noticed the price was higher than the last time I filled up and remembered the disasters in Texas and Florida thinking, "At least I have gas," I handed over my credit card on a morning etched into not-just-my-memory.

I might have been still deep in thought as I decided I deserved a coffee and entered the "Mobile on the Run Coffee Zone." Then, I noticed him lingering at the open door.  This young man, likely still in preschool 16 years ago, held the door open for me as he offered, "Hope it is a good day for you!"  I noted his smile and his "respect," for me, someone he did not know and who would not likely cross his path again.

I thought of him again, later in the morning, as Steve Max implored our students to be respectful and kind as we "kicked" at our character building assembly.  I thought of him later that afternoon as I worked with "C" whose summer slide did not happen because he played word games with his dad all summer long! I thought of him as I asked "L" to read just one more book and to bring home a brand new word ring with some old familiar words.  I thought of him as I played "decorate the rock" and as I "rowed the fake boat at the gym."  I thought of him as a read blog post from those whose lives were changed forever that day.

He may have been far too young to remember the bright morning sky on 911.  Or he may have lost an dad, mom, grandparent, uncle, aunt, family friend that day. I'll never know.  I do know that I remember and that HE respects not only me, some sort-of-old-lady-buying-Mobile-on-the-Run-Coffee who was deep-in-thought-about-the-life-changing-memories-of-that-day, even if he is too young to remember that horrible day.

Monday, September 4, 2017

#sol17 Commencement Day

Image result for marble notebooks
I purchased my eight,
Distinctive, marbled notebooks,
One for each of my groups,
One extra, just in case,
Space for goals, plans, 
Running records,
Conference notes, 
Informal assessments 
Planning for progress monitoring
Way back in July 
In anticipation of this day.

Image result for plaid talbots dress
I purchased a new, 
Back-to-school-style dress,
Sleeveless, just in case it's hot,
At an end-of-the-summer sale
Then cleaned out my closet,
Organized shoes,
Sorted mismatched socks
Knowing I will not need them for awhile,
Way back in August
In anticipation of this day

Image result for swimmer cartoon

I swam, yesterday, even if it was cool,
Noting I would be in school in 24 hours,
I soaked up the last rays of summer vacation,
Before I showered and headed to bed,
Noting I would be leaving home in the dark,
I felt those ol' familiar butterflies of excitement
Mingle with saying goodbye to a long respite
Filled with new adventures, sights and books.  
Image result for commencement day cartoon
I cleaned the fridge,
Did a load of laundry,
Loaded the dishwasher,
Ran the vaccuum
Gave myself a pep-talk,
Promising to find time to exercise,
Pack lunches, eat breakfast,
As I headed to bed, 
Anticipating a fitful sleep.
Image result for snow day cartoon

Grateful for another opportunity
To make a difference.
Thankful for this
Commencement Day.
Thinking that good endings
Make good beginnings
Yet, secretly wondering about
The chance for a "snow day?"   

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sharing a link about Teachers Advocating for their Classrooms

I read article in the NYTiems, and I have many things to say about how this might be a good idea and about how this might be dangerous to the public school system in America that seeks to provide every child with a chance to be ALL they might be....

For now, I am sharing this link.....but I will have more to say!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Ready to take on this world

I missed this week's 
Slice of Life
Because of him,
But that is OK with me.
He already nuzzles into my shoulder
As if it were an old favorite.
He already gazes into my eyes
As if we were old buddies.

I gaze at him and wonder,
How can I love him 
As much as I love his sister?
As much as I love 
His cousins?
Is he an old soul?
Yet, brand-new, 
Fresh from the oven
Ready to take on this world.

He's still so tiny,
Yet, he's melted my heart,
Rocked my world,
Filled my soul
With scent-of-miracle.

I wonder, as I hold
My miraculous grandchild,
If my Grandmothers felt this way
As they held their
Children's children?
Were they too
Filled with happy tears
As they nuzzled, long ago, 
Each of us?
Then, I smile
As I nuzzle, because
I already know the answer.
Your heart grows 
As they emerge
Ready to take on this world.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

#celebratelu2017 Still Holding on Tight

Did you hear? 
I'm moving to a new to me house,
With a new to me porch,
With new to me floors,
With new to me doors,
With a new to me room.
Can you see?
They're packing my toys,
The ones I play with,
Packing my blankets,
The ones I snuggle under,
Packing my pots,
The ones I bang together,
Packing my clothes,
Into boxes and bins.
Did you see?
I'm holding on tight
To my cars,
The ones that fit in my pocket,
The ones I push and fill with sticks,
The ones I ride to the "store"
Until they load the last load
Into that BIG truck.
Until they take me
Holding tight to all my cars,
To MY new to me house. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reposting: How to reach all readers

This is from 3 years ago; however, it is good to think about as we gear up for another school year and readers who deserve our best.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

SOL#17 Hold on Tight

These are certainly busy times
As we embrace a new school year.
Considering ways to ensure learning
For diverse learners
Researching means of creating
Respectful learning environments.

These are certainly challenging times
For our country, our world.
Asking us to  
Consider ways to ensure kindness,
Embrace patience,
For our diverse melting pot, 
Imploring us to
Research means of creating
Respectful living environments.

These are certainly times
When we need to be kind
When we all need to hold on tight
To the Golden Rule,
And to that red, fire truck
If you are not quite two.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Literacy Learning - Snippets Along The Journey

I should have written down all the funny things students have said over the years.
I'd be rich.
I should write down all the silly things my grand-miracles are starting to say.
I'm enriched with the opportunity to witness the journey of literacy learning without the stress of parenting this time!

What’s your name, sweetie,” the clerk asked?

Eeee peed on the toiy-it,” she responded in toddler-speak.

Good girl,” the clerk clapped assuming, erroneously, Eeee was her name and accurately that something had happened in the bathroom.

And so the clerks and the toddler joined in a round of applause for someone named Eeee, thinking, foolishly, that the story teller in front of them had accomplished great things in the bathroom that day!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#SOL17 One Step And Then Another

A reminder:

Go, even if you are relunctant,
Continue, even if it is hard,
Through the rocky passages
Along the steep cliffs
Through the misty clouds
Along the winding path
Climb those mountains
One step and then another.
The journey might be tough
The reward for persistence

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."

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.


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


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.
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.  


Sunday, April 9, 2017

#celebratelu Trudging Through Tough Times

I just want to go home
She said ,sadly
I get a little better
Then, something happens
I try to do
What they say
I get tired, though
When, I am exercising
I was never in the army
When I was young
I just want to go home
To watch my shows, when
I want to watch them
To eat what
I want, to eat
When I want to,
I'm tired
Of trudging through
Tough times

Me too
I said, sincerely
Thinking about
Taxes, Google Docs
Papers, boxes, cleaning
I too try to do what they say
Then, the tough times
Come, as Annie's
Theme song begins
The sun will come out

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#sol17 Daily Dose of Words

"How can I make my child read? 
How can I make them like reading"
Parents ask me.
Expecting a magic cure,
A just right list
Of Books, Apps, Games, Tricks.

"Read to them, talk about books,
Tell them what you are reading,"
I suggest.
"Children imitate
Adults they admire
Let them see you reading
They will want to do what you do!
They will want to explore your book
Your magazines and newspapers."

When children
Live with, learn from,
Who share the power
Of reading
A Daily Dose of words
They will learn to love them
*My cousin,
A faithful reader
Known as Grump Grump,
Shared this precious image
Of a precocious reader
Holding HIS newspaper
In just the right way for him.
Clearly, he is approximating
Reading behaviors of those he loves.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Important Research About Beginning Readers

I do love the way Twitter can lead me to learning and research such as this Pathways to Begining Reading study reported recently.  

Researchers from Canada, Oullette and Senechal (2017) are reporting a significant reading-writing connection that collaborates what Marie Clay (1982) reported in her landmark study.  
Invented spelling can make all the difference 

Invented, or temporary spelling as some of us would like to call it, provides "mental reflection and practice with words."  The human brain gets better at whatever it practices. 

"Reflection about how to spell a word allows the child to actively practice making decisions.memorizing. This active practice likely results in synaptic changes in the child’s brain by strengthening neuronal pathways for long term-retention of spellings to be retrieved for reading and writing."

Using temporary spellings, children start out approximating the sounds in words, like they do when learning to talk, and then get more accurate and understandable as time goes on. 
In recent years, some leaders in the educational field have considered invented or temporary spelling to be the cause of bad spelling rather than a route to reflective spelling. There has been a strong push to encourage memorization of words and phonetic patterns. While I am certainly not suggesting we abandon some "direct instruction," this does suggest we should look for ways to encourage meaningful, personally directed writing for our beginning writers.   
Ouellette and Sénéchal conclude that invented spelling facilitates literacy growth. It integrates phonological and orthographic growth. 

Please spread the word.

Friday, March 31, 2017

#sol17 Not Alone

I wrote every day
          Although I  didn't think I could
I remembered the power of writing
          Although I didn't think I had much to say
I learned that my words still matter
          Although I did not think they did
Thanks to my students
          Who think outside all the boxes
Thanks to my children
          Who send me precious slices of their lives
Thanks to my baby and toddlers
          Who are reshaping my perspective
Thanks to my nieces
          Who slither into my heart  
Thanks to my fellow slicers
          Who encourage and spur my thinking 
Thanks to this Daily Slice of Life Challenge
          Which has helped me to reflect
          Which has forced me to notice
          Which has spurred my own thinking
          Which has encouraged me to see what I was overlooking
          Which has reminded me: I am not alone
My words matter
          Although I had forgotten
I am a writer