Saturday, October 26, 2013

Celebrating The Good Things


As I read Ruth's post on Tuesday, I pictured many days that I could write those same words.  Actually, I could have written them one day this week.  There seems to be a underlying presence of negativity and even hopelessness lurking in the lives of educators right now as we grapple with high stakes testing, SLOs, data gathering, and new teacher evaluations tied to our student test scores.  This community of celebrators is very important to me as it helps me focus on the positive and see past  the adversity.  I'm thinking we need this community in our building.  I'm envisioning a bulletin board dedicated to Celebration Graffiti for teachers to share their celebrations both in and out of the classroom.  I'll let you know what comes of it.

This week's celebrations happened in school and out of school.

First ~ My kids are having REAL whole group conversations that don't involve me leading the discussion.  Our best talks are happening during our read aloud of Out of My Mind. We've been working all year on how to have an engaging conversation that does not involve the teacher asking the questions and a student answering while others drift off aimlessly.  My heart was singing this week as I sat back and watched the magic. In addition,  our blogging and commenting skills are getting better and better.  The kids love the opportunity to connect with others in and outside of our classroom.

Second ~ My fourth grade team is collaborating with our literacy coach on an opinion writing unit.  With all of us at different stages in our lives (empty nesters, little ones or teenagers at home, no kids) it's hard to find a common planning time.  It was a little tricky, but we did it this week.  I'm excited about the time to work through the new Lucy Calkins book with my colleagues who are also my friends.

Third ~ My teaching partner and I got writing partners set up today.  We spent the morning at Panera talking about writing workshop and our young writers.  For the first time, the kids who go to resource room for Language Arts are staying in my classroom for Writing Workshop this year.  Sarah, their intervention teacher, is co-teaching the writing block with me.  I love the collaboration and keeping and building a community of writers that includes all the kids.

Fourth ~ This might be the best part of the week.  It's Saturday afternoon and my lesson plans are done for the week.  I made two batches of cookies (oatmeal raisin and peanut butter chocolate chip) because for the first time in two months I get to be with all 3 of my kids and they NEED homemade cookies.  Zach has a percussion ensemble concert tonight at the Conservatory of Music.  Molly drove in from Pittsburgh and we are on our way to Cincinnati for the concert.


There is something so satisfying in seeing your grown children being happy and successful.


Thanks to Ruth for this wonderful opportunity to share our celebrations.  Visit her site for the link up and read other celebrations.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Chance

Please join Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday where you can read lots of great stories.

Can you ever, really find balance?  It's always been a little elusive to me...but an ideal that I'm not
What makes this really funny is that I'm not a football fan at all.
willing to give up on.  Every time I find myself teetering on the edge of splintering, I put on the brakes, take some deep breaths, and turn my focus back to what really grounds me.  This weekend gave me the opportunity to slow down a bit and savor time with my family.

It began with a trip up north for a college visit at the University of Michigan.  Our oldest daughter took a break from grad school and joined us for the weekend. Friday's weather was perfect...mid 70s, sun shining, fall colors at their peak.  Saturday's gloomy rainy day did not keep us from visiting Dearborn's Greenfield Village where we explored the history of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as
well as learned about life in the late 1800s.  Sunday brought the sun back, but also brought a crisp breeze that kept us moving when we stopped for a walk along Lake Erie at Sterling State Park.  It ended perfectly when we visited with my best friend from high school and her family.  There's something about connecting with
Lake Erie is one of my favorite places to be.
those you've known from that time in your life before you were a wife and a mom.  I cherish those friendships ~ especially the one I share with Marlene.

The weekend was just what I needed.  I returned feeling refreshed and ready to start again.  Balance was regained.  I'm under no illusion that it will last, but for now, I'll enjoy the feeling of all being right with the world.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let's Celebrate!



Ruth Ayres is creating a space for those who want to join in to celebrate all the great things going on. When I first read about her idea, I knew immediately that I wanted to join the party.  I seem to be evolving right now as I step back and look at my life.  It started poking  into the edges of my conscience last year when I turned that certain age when you realize that time flies by way too quickly and if you don't pay attention, you miss a lot of great things.  Last month, my cousin's husband lost his life very unexpectedly at the age of 52 (only a year older than me).  He was a wonderful, gentle man who made everyone feel like they'd been his friend forever.  I am forever reminded how fragile life is and how important it is to celebrate the wonderful.  So, I plan on joining Ruth on Saturdays and I hope lots of others will too.  I'm looking forward to taking the time to write...I've missed the blog world.  Writing my blog is something that brings me great joy.  I realize more and more every day the importance of taking the time to do the things that bring joy and to connect with those people who bring joy into my life.

My celebrations and joys...


I wish you could have heard my classroom as I asked my fourth graders to write a story for me.  JOY filled the room.


"You mean I can write about anything?"
"Yes!"
"How long does it need to be?"
"As long as you need it to be."
"Can we write until the end of the day?"
"Absolutely!"
"Can we illustrate it?"
"Of course you can!"

We had spent the week looking at narratives  to get ready for a narrative unit of study, I wanted to get an idea of what the kids knew about writing narratives.  (Who knew that preassessment  could bring so much joy to nine and ten year olds).  They wrote for over an hour...lying under tables, sprawled on the pillows, and lounging in comfy chairs.  Lamps cast a soft light over the room, piano music played quietly in the background, and kids wrote (and wrote and wrote) with abandon.  Imagine my joy when several of them came back on Friday morning and wanted their stories back because they thought of new things to add.  It was one of those afternoons where everything just went right!  

What brings you joy?