Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Chalk-A-Bration

I'm joining in the chalk fun today with Betsy from Teaching Young Writers.  Head on over to check out more chalky goodness!

May God surround you
with strength every day
May love fill your bucket
and hope light your way
Not only does this poem just make me smile, but it also contains my OLW for 2014: LIGHT!  I hope that next month I will be able to find a day that isn't below zero so I can head outside with my chalk!  It's been a long winter inside with my iPad chalk, but it works.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

26 Slices

I have been less than inspired today in my search for a slice of life story.  Since I had several little snippet ideas but nothing that was worth a whole post...I decided to challenge myself and probably share a little about myself at the same time.
A - Anxious, the end of the school year seems to be rushing toward me and I'm just not finished with this group of kiddos yet!
B - Bestie, I'm lucky to have two.  One who "lives" across the hall and always inspires me and one who lives near Chicago who I miss so much!
C - Calling, what I should be doing to catch up with the Chicago bestie and Coffee, which I would like to be drinking and chatting over with across-the-hall bestie right now!
D - Daydreamer, what I often find myself doing.  I think this is where I get some of my ideas for writing!
E - Eight, eight-year-old drama is rough.  For parents.  Enough said.
F - February, it's almost over, which means it's almost time for the March SOL challenge!
G - The student who will not stop talking!  What am I going to do about him?
H - Home, home is where the heart is, it's not just a saying!
I - Inspired, I have gotten so much inspiration this school year because of reading blogs...both teacher blogs and writing/slicer blogs.  I love it!
J - Joke, I like a simple joke.  What did the zero say to the 8?  See P for the answer.
K - Kindergarten, where I live every week day, where I share my days with 18 pretty great kiddos!
L - The text level of my highest reader...in kindergarten!  She's just amazes me every day!
M - Make-up days, what my school district now has due to the outrageous amount of snow days we have had this year and winter isn't even over yet!
N - Novel, that huge document on my computer that calls to me, the thing that is always in the back of my mind, the story that I daydream about (see letter D).
O - Outing, I am looking forward to my book club meeting tomorrow.  It's my mommy outing and I'm looking forward to good company and good discussion...whether it's about the book or not!
P - Punch line, "Nice belt!"  (see J for the joke)
Q - Ok, did anyone really think I would come up with something for the letter Q??
R - Rainbow Loom, the thing that occupies every spare minute of my daughter's time (and the thing I secretly enjoy playing with too!)
S - Snow, more specifically, blowing snow...I mean really, haven't we had enough already?  Did we really need more snow and wind today?  
T - Two Writing Teachers, the blog that pushes my thinking in the writing arena, my safe place to share my writing.
U - Unexpectedly hard letter to find something to start with U!
V - Violin, I played from 4th grade - 12th grade.  Now it lives under my bed.  There are days I miss playing...there just aren't enough hours in the day!
W - Wondering...what book will the book club choose to read next?
X - eXcited to be attending the All Write Conference again this summer!  Anyone else going?
Y - You, thanks to you for reading all the way to the end!
Z - zzzzzz, what I hope you are NOT doing after reading all the way to the end!  :)
Well, there you have it: 26 slices of my world today.  I hope you learned something new, I hope you laughed at some of them, and I hope you will come back again!  See you in March!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Day to Remember

In my thirteen years of teaching I have attended a lot of professional development and training sessions.  I’ve been fortunate to attend sessions on writing, reading, math, spelling, assessment, first aid, CPR and even proper ways to restrain someone.  I have not, however, attended a training that was ever more beneficial than the safety training I attended today.

There was not a lick of academics or a whiff of best practice involved.  What I learned today was how to save lives.  I had a safety training today that taught us about school shootings.  I learned about the emergency procedures pre-Columbine and what has been learned since.  I learned about the Virginia Tech shootings and what has been learned since.  I learned about the Sandy Hook shootings and what has been learned since.  I learned what to do.  I learned what not to do.  I learned how to take action.  I learned what it was like to have a gun in my face, and let me tell you, even knowing it was a fake one didn’t make it feel any less threatening.  I learned ways to keep my students and myself as safe as possible in the event of an emergency. 

I was able to participate in actual drills to practice the procedures and ideas we were taught.  I was able to practice my learning on the spot and in my own school building with the people who taught us.  I was able to practice my learning with my co-workers, the people I would be surrounded with in the event of an emergency.

I heard statistics and 911 calls and saw pictures that will probably give me nightmares for a while, sometimes made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and at times brought tears to my eyes.  But, I learned about keeping my children safe…and they are my children after all.  I think of the 18 little ones in my classroom as my children.  I am responsible for those precious little souls whose parents believe that I will do my best to teach them to read, write, and play nicely with others.  What I learned today is how to also protect my babies, because their parents have also trusted me with their safety and well-being and I don’t take that lightly, I can’t take that lightly.  As I was told today, no one as Sandy Hook woke up that morning thinking “today is the day tragedy will strike me,” but it did anyway. People at Columbine believed that a school shooting would never happen in their town, but it did anyway. 

I hope to the moon and back that I never once have to use the training that I received today but if I ever do, I feel more prepared to handle it and more confident that I would make good solid choices for the safety of my students.

I don’t know who was responsible for arranging for the professional development we had today but I can’t thank them enough.  I am thankful for the instructors who have dedicated their lives to teaching others in this way.  As one detective pointed out, they don’t teach this stuff in education classes, do they?  And even though the reading and writing trainings I have had have been great learning experiences, they don’t even hold a candle to today’s learning.  After all, it doesn’t matter if I have taught my students to read or write if we aren’t here to do it.

Join in more slice of life fun by visiting the Two Writing Teachers blog today. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Little Book Love

Join in the slicing fun by heading over to Two Writing Teachers.

I love to read.  I love to curl up with a good book and get lost.  I love that books can take you places you've never been, introduce you to people you've never met and send you on journey's you've never even imagined. 

I so badly want my children to love to read for all the same reasons and more.  So far, they do enjoy reading.  However, there are other activities they also enjoy and often reading loses.  I am hopeful that this will change as they grow older.  As they grow their book selection options also grows and I think, at some point, this will help their desire to read increase.  Until then...it's still something we do every day.

At school, I also want my students to gain this desire to want to read (and to learn to read!).  I try to find books that they are interested for guided reading and strategy lessons.  I try to choose wonderful books for reading aloud.  I've brought poetry into the classroom as an option.  We have studied authors to encourage a love of books and writers.  We have lots of favorites...Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, David, The Gingerbread Man (they love that tricky fox!), etc.  Many kids in my class this year enjoy reading and they look forward to independent reading time.

And then...there's Jordyn.  She began kindergarten, at age 5, reading a level H.  Yes, I said H.  She has always had a love of books and she's the type of child who asks when she doesn't know something because she truly wants to learn every single thing she can.  She is the child you teach something to one time and she remembers and can do it forever.

Last week, Jordyn brought a book from home and asked if she could read it before school when she was waiting at her locker for the bell to ring.  Um, YES!  Of course!  When the bell rang, she asked if she could keep her book in her mailbox to read during independent reading later in the day.  Um, YES!  Of course!  This has been her pattern ever since.  She's reading a series of books and is loving every minute.

Today, I noticed that she pulled out her book during free choice (play) time!  At first, she wandered around the room as she was nose-deep in her book.  Eventually, she walked over to the rug where she stood reading for about five minutes (when I snapped this picture) as others played around her...literally, driving cars and building with blocks around her feet (just inches to her right).  Finally, she moved to the edge of the rug and sat down to read until clean up time.

It is so refreshing to see this type of reading enjoyment!  I just love this little girl and her love of reading and I truly hope that she's a trend-setter for her peers.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sometimes It Just Hits You!

Love the new SOL logo! 
For more slice of life stories, head over to the Two Writing Teachers blog.

Do you ever have a moment when you realize just how your students must feel sometimes?  I had one of these moments today.  It was one of those "ah ha" moments when it all made more sense.

This morning, during our independent reading time, I helped my kinder kiddos shop for new books for their book boxes.  It's really a pleasure to watch their faces light up as they find a book that looks interesting to them AND is at a level they can read independently.  It's that time of year when those two things are colliding more and more.

I was enjoying the process of watching them look carefully through each book in the tub until they found just the right one (or four).  They were so excited to take their new treasures back to their book boxes and get started.  With all of the snow days/cold days we've had in January, it had been far too long since we had done any shopping.  The kids were absolutely devouring their new books.  It was the quietest read to self time we've had in at least two weeks.  It was lovely.

At lunch, in the teacher's lounge, I was talking with several co-workers who are in a book club with me.  I dared to ask how the current book was coming along and received quite a response!  One person had finished the book but had hated it.  Another was close to the middle and didn't like it either.  I am about 15% in and I can't make myself like it or even want to read more of it, for that matter (and I'm not the type to not finish a book I've started).  Another person is only on page 10...out of 503 - she can't get into it either.  We were debating the problem: continue to read and follow through with what we started OR throw in the towel and choose a new book?  We didn't reach an answer, but I kept thinking life is too short to read a book I don't enjoy.

And then it hit me!  I bet this is how my students were feeling after reading the books in their book boxes over and over too many times since we hadn't been able to shop for new ones!  I bet they were feeling the dread that I feel each time I try to make myself read this book! 

What did I learn today?  I need to make shopping and choice a higher priority for my students.   As my dad used to say, I can do it if I put my mind to it.  So, I will!