Monday, January 30, 2017

#SOL2017 Vocabulary Learning Thanks to Sandra Boynton!

If you have toddlers or if you are the Grammy to toddlers (like me), you probably know Sandra Boynton's books, such as her Hippos Go Berserk.  There is rhythm and rhyme that makes this book easy to memorize (for the reader) but also appealing to little listeners who for whatever reason, love the song-like patterns of rhyming books

If you have toddlers or if you are the lucky-Grammy-who-gets-to-read to toddlers, you probably know that toddlers LOVE to hear the same story-of-the-moment again and again.    So, as I read about how one hippo all alone, called 2 hippos on the phone for the 6th or 7th time not so long ago, through the eyes of a literacy specialist as well as a Grammy, I thought about the many subtle messages and powerful vocabulary Boynton infuses into that story.  I love her out-of-the-box word choices and even though not everyone loves her wacky books, I am sure now that her books provide a foundation for "success" on primary, universal screener vocabulary tests, such as AIMSWEB!

Here's the connection!  One of the vocabulary words on the AIMSWEB screener is distressed!  I must admit I have been totally surprised by how many students seem to understand what that word means!  At first, I thought they connected with the word stressed.    However, after multiple readings of the same story in one sitting, I had one of those AHHHHA moments!

I'm thinking that those students I know as beginning readers and writers were once toddler story readers like my Jack and Vivi.  I'm thinking they too heard again and again and again how..Seven hippos headed west leaves six hippos quite distressed!   As I read slowly, I smiled thinking, perhaps, that multiple readings of those Hippos going berserk over the 5 years prior to kindergarten MIGHT just be having a positive effect!   

If you don't know the story, you might want to ask the parents or the Grammy of a toddler or two or three.  Or check out the story here!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Those who fall

In the middle of the night
To the emergency room
That is what you do 
When you hear 
"She has fallen."

"She'll be admitted," 
And so began another journey
Through the world
Of elderly-medicine
Research-based practices
People look at you
When they talk
Pain management
Anxiety control
Are not guaranteed
 For those who fall.

Thank goodness for
Patient advocates,
A few
Nurses who care,
Doctors with vision
Who see an elderly person
Who needs their help
To get back
To Days of Our Lives,
Hallmark movies,
Law and Order.

As Baby-Boomers
Become Those Who Fall
We will have to change
This Paradigm
Because we will soon be
Those who fall
Those who change
The perspectives of about
Those who fall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Those who fall between the cracks

I don't know his name.
I wonder if he comes from Eastern Europe
Or perhaps the Middle East, 
I don't know where he once lived,
Nor where his relatives still live,
Yet, I say, "Good Morning,"
To this elderly gentleman,
At least once a week 
As I stop for fuel
 (And coffee).

He responds,
Softly, humbly, with a heavy accent,
Nodding his head,
Going through the motions
As if
Every bone in his body
 Aches in the dampness.

I share my Visa card
He fuels my car.
Then moves, slowly,
Towards the next car,
Slowly moving,
Towards his chair,
As if
Every bone in his body.
Aches in the dampness.

I wonder IF he has health care,
Or has fallen between the cracks,
Is here, yet hidden, in the masses
Of those without "green" cards.
Without retirements, social securities.
Will he work until he cannot
Get up and down?
Then, where does he go?

I wonder what might have been
With a public school education,
With health care,
With retirement savings,
What will happen
When he cannot
Get up and down?
Then, where does he go?  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

MICE: Lead the way

I'm not sure how I stumbled on this blog on the internet; however, from the pieces I have viewed, this is one interesting resource for teachers!

The author, Alison, is a literacy consultant who has goggles of "stuff" on Teachers Pay Teachers. While she certainly did not invent Reading and Writing Workshop models, she is appears to be trying to provide resources to make busy teachers' lives easier!

Of course I wandered over to Teachers-Pay-Teachers and stared at her units proudly displayed in a format that is SO easy for teachers to use while I vaguely remembered how years ago, I worked long and hard to publish many units with the now defunct New Century Publishers.

I smiled a happy-to-be-alive and teaching in these wonderful times smile as I realized the WEALTH of resources teachers have LITERALLY on their fingertips these days.  While it is IMPERATIVE that we look critically at ALL of the information out there (including on this site), that is what 21st Century Learning is ALL ABOUT!  There is no reason to become a dinosaur and even though I value the cooperative learning that comes from workshops and conferences, we really can be life-long-every-day learners with the help of our mice!  I was thinking I might even make my grad students do their OWN searching for assessment sites....I'll learn from them....and THEN I can share with you!

Image result for google mice image

Monday, January 16, 2017

Head and Heart

I drank my coffee slowly, while I read the many MLK quotes circling social media.  The smell is different when it comes from a mug.  It's warmer when you focus on the coffee rather than the traffic on the interstate.  It's different, better, somehow, when you are sitting on the couch!

I thought about Atlanta, Selma, Birmingham, and the challenges of all groups marginalized by more powerful peers as I held that warm cup.  I thought about the word slinging that has become the norm in recent politics and wondered what MLK would say if he were here with us today?

It's hard to be nice and kind, when you are angry, hurt or feel left out.  It's hard to look outside of our own experiences and notice the pain, needs and wants of others.   Yet, we're given this day in January not just as a day to sleep in and catch up.  We're meant to spend
time reflecting on the works and words of a man who was on earth not very long, but who left a huge mark.
"One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart—intelligence and goodness—shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature." MLK

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Power Of Words

"You have to be really careful when you choose your OLW," I smiled as I placed my gift in the window, "as your word really does have the potential to impact your world."  The snowflakes were dancing outside my window; yet, the sun seemed to be trying to breakthrough the clouds.  The "To Do" list was long and actually a little scary; yet, somehow, it seemed like the gift of a long weekend would allow me to get some of it done. I thought of my, giftors, whose losses and stressors were many.  I pondered the potential of the word...In the hours, after the gift appeared in my window, there were many, many reminders of hope as well as moments filled with laughter, life, love, and hope.  It's a potentially life altering word. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On the Edge

"You're on the edge of your zone," she said as I stepped off the scale and put on my shoes.  I never realized there was a zone!  I quietly celebrated that even if my clothes were a bit tighter than they should be,  I was on the edge. I was OK until I remembered that muscle weighs more than fat! I began to wonder if my "edge" performance on the scale was more likely the result of comfort eating and "reasons" to skip the gym.

With holiday cookies still resting on my counter, I decided to revisit my diet and exercise habits! It's a fairly simple plan: no chips and cheese and more lean meats and fresh veggies.  Less time on the couch and more time at the gym.  Trying to keep stress under check though writing, meditating, and reflecting. It was a plan to put me over the edge.

So here I sit, dangling on the edge of a new, hopefully, healthier new year.  I'm on the edge of a new semester and on the edge of a mid-month visit to the scale.  I'm on the edge of meeting a tiny little someone who will steal a little more of my heart!  I'm on the edge of some home improvement as well! I'm a bit "edgy" and a bit "hungry" and a bit sore!  Most days I'm on the edge of reverting to old habits.  Yet, I'm also on the edge of a healthier, happier lifestyle! I might just be able to get off the edge and onto solid ground!  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Real Snowy Days

Snow days
Are wanted
On week days.
Wear PJs
Sleep with spoons
Under pillows
Wait for
Calls, texts,

Hold their breath
Calls, texts

Snow days
On weekends,
Students and teachers
Regretting the "loss"
Of a "snow day" 
Until the magic
Of softly falling snow,
Sleds. boots, mittens,
Hot chocolate, movies
Puzzles, books.
Reminds them to 
Celebrate anyway,
While hoping
For a REAL
"Snow Day"!

Snow days
On weekends,
Appreciating the break from
Of a weekday "snow day" 
While watching the magic
Of softly falling snow,
While searching for
Sleds. boots, mittens,
Hot chocolate, movies
Puzzles, books.
Trying to  
Celebrate anyway,
While dreading
"Snow Day"

Monday, January 2, 2017

#sol 2017 MY huge OLW

I've done the OLW (One Little Word) challenge for the past few years and SOMETIMES the OLW just comes to you while other years I don't commit until mid-January! Some words (JOY, PERSISTENCE) have shaped their years and have become part of who I am in ways I could never have imagined when they were chosen! Thus I take choosing a OLW quite seriously.

I first started thinking of my OLW for 2017 back in December when I was on the treadmill watching a home improvement show about choices.  They shoppers talked about their hopes for their first home.  I listening and remembered being in their shoes, long ago.  I thought about my OLW as I made a few cookies hoping others would also make cookies as the volume was different than in years past. I began to question my choice when Lisa of TWT (Two Writing Teachers) wrote about her OLW, Breathe.  "What a great word," I thought aloud!  Hmmmmm.....

Then, yesterday, Facebook did a OLW challenge and based on pictures and posts, they suggested my OLW should be Noble!  "That is definitely not my word," I said as I googled the word assuring myself that there was not a hidden meaning that would make that word mine.

I rethought my OLW again when Melanie's of TWT' OLW was published.  "Yes, indeed," I thought, Brave could be my OLW......Hmmmmmm

So I guess the message is that there COULD be many words that COULD help shape this new year. Yet, the OLW I've chosen is strong, as I am becoming and will need to be in this new chapter of my life.  It has Biblical roots and it embraces a belief in what is not yet known.   My OWL can be described as the feeling of what is wanted and can be had but it is also a belief that events will turn out for the best, or at least the best they can be!  My OLW can also be a verb meaning to look forward with desire, confidence and trust.

My OLW, HOPE, is really not such a little word and right now it appears to be a BIG word to live by. Perhaps, this OLW is a lot bigger than me! Thus, even if it is too big for me right now, and even if I will just be working towards finding hope as a noun and using hope as a verb, it's mine.

As I get ready to share my OWL, I realize my OLW is HUGE.  It will be challenging, but I do hope, pun intended, to be kinder in my words and deeds as well as more generous with my tangible and moral gifts.  I hope to be kinder to myself as well as more accepting of others.  I hope to read, write, exercise, and say "yes"  more often.  I hope others will be kind to me as I journey on new paths and find new ways to interact and live with a new identity in a new community.  I hope to smile and laugh more and embrace to small moments of every day.  I hope to accept what I cannot change and change what I can.  I hope to embrace hope as my OLW this year!  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Endings and Beginnings

I've walked quite a few miles, read quite a few books, and watched quite a few Hallmark-ish (happy ending) movies as I've tried to relax, reflect, repair my own heart, and plan for a new and very different year during this end of the year week. I've also watched the joy of un-decorating trees, finding neighborhood lights, opening packages, going down slides, and enjoying the mall decoration for the "first" time!  These, a tiny miracle in the making, and the New Year's reminder of the potential for new beginnings might be some of the reasons that as this year comes to an end, I am hopeful for the future.

Thus, this song, which I had never heard until yesterday, sings to my heart as one year comes to an end and inevitably a new one begins.  Bonnie Kaplan used these words it to frame images of our writing community that she will publish this week.  Last night, it shaped my Hallmark-infused New Year's Eve and with a little bit of luck, it might just shape a year!

So reach out a hand
To those you love most,
And mourn for those gone away,
We'll count up out losses,
We'll bound up our wounds,
And tomorrow we'll face a new day.

Happy New year wallpaper: