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Welcome to kindergarten! Join me as I share my experiences in the classroom, my professional learning and reflections and my love of teaching. Teaching is an exciting journey - come along as I share mine!


Monday, December 31, 2012

Time is a Speed Demon



 With a new year literally just hours away, I keep finding myself thinking about how my children are growing so quickly before my eyes.  When I was little, I used to think it was funny when people said how the year just seemed to fly past.  Now I understand.  As I watched my children open Christmas presents I realized both how young and how old they each are and how quickly it has happened! 

My 9-year-old was delighted to open his Kindle Fire...a gift we pondered over for a long time before deciding upon.  It is really hard for me to comprehend the fact that he is old enough to be responsible with it and yet young enough that when he opened the wrapping paper on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure, he couldn't stop there.  He immediately tore the package open, popped out the turtle and started to play with it!  But oh, he is growing so fast!

Then my 7-year-old opened her tiny little box.  She couldn't even begin to guess what was inside...an iPod Shuffle awaited her!  She was so excited she jumped up and down and danced around the living room!  It was my idea to get it for her because she loves music so much and often asks to listen to my iPod.  I loved watching her face as she realized what it was and that it was her very own.  She's growing so fast!

My 4-year-old fell head over heals in love with her Pete the Cat stuffed animal!  She enjoyed her new Lego sets, her horse and stables set and had them assembled and spread over the kitchen table for hours of play on Christmas evening.  But...she also loved the video games she got and has spent much time playing them as well over the last few days.  She's growing so fast!

The 1-year-old little lady actually understood how to open presents this year!  It was a joy to watch her dig in to the wrapping paper, toss the gift aside and play with the boxes!  Last year she sat in her bouncy seat and watched.  She played with the shiny bows and chewed on her new toys...after someone else unwrapped and opened them.  Oh how times change...she's growing so fast!

I keep thinking about my students too.  Wondering how their Christmases were?  Did they get a special gift that they enjoyed as much as my children did?  Have they been able to relax at home and play with their new toys like my children have?  Do they miss school and the predictable routines?  My own children have enjoyed being at home and having free time but they are beginning to ask when they will get to see their friends, the babysitter, their teachers again because they love those things too.  While I love my time at home with them, and my own vacation, it makes my heart happy to hear them ask when they get to go back to school!  Somewhere along the line, they fell in love with school, just as I did as a child and just as I hope my students have.

Oh they grow so fast!  My wish for the new year is to be more aware of this "speeding of time" so that I can slow down and really enjoy what I have here and now. 

Goodbye 2012 and all the good times you brought (and the less than stellar times too, because they make us who we are).  Hello and Welcome 2013!  May the new year be filled with kindness and love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back to the River

I'm feeling some of life's torments today and reflecting on the evils and perils in our world.  I'm wondering how to raise good people in a world of poor models, horrible monsters and unexplainable events. It has been about 9 months since I wrote my first river poem.  It came to me one night, freely, almost faster than I could type and born out of frustration.  Once again, I find myself returning to the river...thoughts flowing like the water I imagine so clearly.  It makes me consider why water seems to be my metaphor.  I didn't reread the first poem until after I finished this one.  Interesting how similar and yet different they are.  Funny how the mind works.

The river rushes
it ebbs
and flows
it gushes
it slams
it builds
it tears down

The river flashes
it rages
and rocks
it pushes
it pulls
it ravages
it rearranges life

The river rolls
it sleeps
and quiets
it waits
it sneaks
it rests
it lies dormant

Until the next storm
puffs
it to life

again




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little Moments

Join Ruth and Stacey at their blog Two Writing Teachers and read more Slice of Life stories every Tuesday!



It's dinnertime again.  How do I know? No, it's not the growling tummy.  It's not the smell of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove either.  It's not even the family all sitting together at the dinner table.

It's the crying that gave it away.  It's the "I don't like meat in my spaghetti" and the "Do I have to have salad?"  It's the crying about not wanting to sit in the highchair and the crying about not wanting to sit at the table either.  It's the "Can I have some..." and the "I don't want any..." that gives it away.

It's the "eating my dinner after it's already cold" that gives it away.

Sigh.

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I love bedtime.  I love to snuggle up with the sweet, fresh-from-the-bath, pj-clad baby girl.  I love the way she cuddles in with her bottle held tight.  I love the way she hands me her empty bottle and puts her head on my shoulder.  I love the smell of her clean hair and her lavender lotion.  I love the way she sighs in her sleep.  I love her.

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"Mom, I'm going to read on the way home today.  Then, I can write down 20 minutes on my reading calendar for today," M said.  "I'm on chapter 4 already in my book!"

E pipes up, "I think I will read on the way home, too, Mom.  I brought my new Junie B. Jones book today."

The drive home is so sweet when you look in the rear-view mirror and see two heads bent over books.  It makes my heart smile to see my children read for enjoyment.  Yes, they have to read for school and note it on a reading calendar, but they choose to read in the car and they choose to read before bedtime and they choose to read on Saturday.  It's those times that I know they are reading because they love it.  It's when they ask to hear or look at Pete the Cat for the 12,947th time that I know they love reading.  :)

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These are just a few snippets from my life lately.  This time of year is filled with so much.  It's full of wrapping things up at school, finding time to shop for presents, baking the special cookies, kids who are tired and need a break and parents/teachers who are equally ready for the break.  I have to stop sometimes and just take a moment to take it all in.  I have to take a breath and enjoy the good, the bad and everything in between.  It's the little moments that make everything worth it.

I hope you take some time to enjoy your little moments today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing Workshop in December


For more great Slice of Life stories, visit the Two Writing Teachers website, hosted by Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz.

Yesterday I read Ruth's post about having much on your mind and no time to reflect.  The part that struck me was the reminder that you sometimes have to make space in your brain in order to reflect.  I have been monitoring my student's writing closely.  Having a student teacher has been great for reflection.  I've had to reflect on my teaching practices, beliefs and reasons for my beliefs in order to help best guide and coach her.  

It's challenging to give up the teaching of writing for me.  It was the last thing I gave over to my student teacher and it's the first thing that I will take back as she eases out.  I'm still very much a part of the writing workshop in my classroom but it is odd not being the one in charge during this time.  Of all the different parts of the day, this is the most difficult for me.  I have been frustrated at times with my students and how they are behaving.  They are a tough group and give my student teacher a run for her money most of the time; writing workshop is no exception. 

Out of my frustration came the need to really dive into their work and break it down for myself.  I have been monitoring all along.  I have been working to be sure I have conferenced with each student during the week, in addition to the work my student teacher is doing with them.  I've been watching and coaching her through her lessons.  However, I needed to lay out all the writing and see where we were as a whole.  

Here is what I found: student growth!  Let's take a look at B...

 This is B's writing in October.  If you look carefully, you can see a purple person with a whole lot of other "stuff" in the picture.  He didn't really know what he was drawing, but knew he needed to draw more.  There are no words or letters in this particular story.

 Here is B's writing in November.  The people are much more detailed but there is nothing to help tell the story in the illustration beyond the people.  There are no background details, no clues to help the reader.  He has begun to add writing to his stories...some of which we can even read!

 B's December writing shows even more progress!  He has included the people, some detail about what is happening (the cat that he was playing with) and a portion of the background has been added (the grass outside). B has begun to use initial sounds for his words ("I was watching" is the part you can see).

In just a short time this writer has changed quite a bit.   The other students are growing similarly - although there are varying levels.  Seeing the whole class together allowed me to reflect on how widely spread the skill levels are of the children in my classroom.

Here are a few more examples:

                        I gave mom a picture.                                    I bought groceries. (oral story)       
                                                     Me and my mom were going home.
                                                     It was my birthday.

I was both encouraged and discouraged as I looked through their writing.  I see glimmers of greatness in students.  I see students who have a long road ahead of them.  But I know we will get there.  We will continue to grow and learn together.