Foster Parenting

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Friends Bring Sunshine Day 31 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slices.  This is the last day of the challenge.  It's been so good to get back into the habit of writing every day.

Today was a day that was made brighter by friends.

My school day ended with a friend responding to my frantic text and meeting me for coffee after school.  She listened, asked questions, threw out options and asked more questions.  I left after our chat feeling a little more hopeful and optimistic about some decisions I have to make.  Thank you Cathy!

Earlier my school day was brightened by another friend. But first, a little of the back story...

We were greeted at school on Monday morning with this amazing lemon pie.  I remembered Cheryl's Facebook post from the week before and knew right away who had brought in this wonderful dessert.  I took a sliver and deemed it a must have dessert for Easter Sunday.

When I got to Cheryl's room to tell her how much I liked the pie, I told her I was going to make it for Easter.
"You have to have Arizona lemons to make it," she told me.
"You're kidding, right?"
"No, my friend made it with regular lemons from the grocery store and the pie was bitter."

Well, darn.  I was pretty sure my principal wasn't going to let me take a few days off to fly to Arizona so I could get myself some Arizona lemons.   Maybe Meyer lemons would work.  I wasn't going to give up quite so easily.

Lucky for me, as Cheryl passed me in the hall today, she whispered, "I have a surprise for you on your desk."  I was hoping it might be one of those Arizona lemons.  

I quickly went back to my office and found not one, but two beautiful, round yellow orbs that looked more like yellow oranges than lemons.  They were huge and they smelled heavenly.  I was a happy girl!  A new fruit, a new recipe, what more could a girl want?  (Well, at least a girl like me).

So, my family will be eating Arizona Sunshine Pie for Easter Sunday, thanks to Cheryl and the Arizona sunshine.  I can't wait to share this little bit of heaven with them.  

Thank you Cheryl!

Now, I will be on the lookout for ways to pay the sunshine forward.  :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Would You Say? Day 30 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge. Please visit their site to read and comment on other stories.

The Johnsons are a little nerdy, all in a good way. Every night at 7:00, whoever is home gathers to watch Jeopardy and then Wheel of Fortune at 7:30. We're all pretty good at the Wheel, but Zach is the king of Jeopardy. He knows a lot of facts about a lot of things. 

The other day I posed the following question to my family as Alex Trebek introduced the contestants, "What would be your claim to fame?  What would you want to say about yourself when you got introduced?"

For the life of me, I couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary to say about myself. I haven't traveled to 53 countries. I wasn't a Raynette (back up singer for Ray Charles).  Those people come up with the best stories. 

I think about this every time the Jeopardy jingle begins to play. So far, nothing great has come to mind, but I did find this article from NPR that might give me some ideas. 

So what would your story be?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Being Present Day 29 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of Life stories.   I am also cross posting this with DigiLit Sunday.  You can visit Reflections on the Teche to read other posts about how educators are using technology in their classrooms.

I received this in my email today.  It's an important reminder that I need often.

One of the reasons I chose "Quiet" as my OLW is because there is constant chatter going on in my head.  I'm always thinking about what needs to be done next or what I should be doing to better more, study more, practice more, try new things to push myself to achieve more.  It goes on and on and to be honest, can be exhausting, because in reality, I can never accomplish everything that I feel like I must accomplish.  Sigh!

I tried to keep all three things that are mentioned above in mind as I went through the day.  It's the last day of spring break.  I didn't crowd my day with things that needed to get done.  Instead, I chose to do spend the day with the people I enjoy the most doing the things that make me happy.  Each thing got my full attention today, which felt so nice.

Tonight, as I sit in my living room, I can hear the rain tapping against the window and the chimney.  Candles are lit and it is peaceful.  I relish the quiet.  

Because I can't relinquish all of my bad habits, I decided to try Nutshell (remember the line above...try new things to push myself) to illustrate the serenity here tonight.  I am a work in progress and tomorrow is another day to remind myself to be present, open my heart, and quiet my mind.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mission Accomplished Day 28 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  It's day 28 of the 31 day challenge!  We're almost to the finish line.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.  

Yesterday, I lamented about the color of my kitchen.  Today ended up being very productive and I am a happy girl.  My husband and I tag teamed the job.  He cut in the corners and edges.  I rolled the large areas.  It was fun working together on a house project.  Fixing up the house and making it ours may just be the thing that becomes "our thing" (see #4 from this post).

Waiting to hang wall decor.

While the paint dried, we went to look at hardwood flooring.  We both love hardwood floors and we knew it would be one of the first things we did to update our house.  We found something we both liked quickly (and it was on clearance!!).  The salesman asked us if we would be putting it in ourselves.  We looked at each other and laughed.  18 years ago, we laid hardwood floors in our then brand new house.  We swore we'd never do it again. We made an appointment with the installer to come out to the house to measure.

Bamboo flooring we ordered.  

But soon as we got into the car, Keith said to me, "Maybe we could put the flooring in ourselves."  A few minutes later he said, "How about if we install it in the upstairs.  If it's too hard, we can have the pros do the downstairs."  We then came home and watched YouTube videos on how to install bamboo flooring.

I have a feeling that I know what our next home improvement project will be.  :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Making up my Mind Day 27 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.

The kitchen was the color of a bright yellow tennis ball.  It was one of the first things I wanted to change.  I LOVE green, but decided that I wanted to start afresh with this house and thought I'd try a different color palette.

Sitting among unpacked boxes, Molly, Annie and I studied Pinterest, pinning colors we thought we'd like.  We finally decided on some blues, salmons and tans.  It looked good on paper.  We were on a mission...get the kitchen and bathroom painted while Molly was still home to help.

Keith cautioned me, "Are you sure you want to paint so quickly?  Why don't we live with this for a bit and see if you really want to go with blue."

Molly and I were confident in our choice.  "No, we want to get this done."

He returned, "Don't you want to paint some samples on the wall to make sure you like the color?"

We stood firm.  We were the color was going to be perfect.  I was excited about trying something new.

So, 3 days after moving, we were painting.  We still had boxes to unpack, but we thought it was more important to paint.

As the walls were covered, I felt a twinge of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. looked a little more like a baby boy blue instead of the blue gray I thought it would be.  I didn't dare say anything to Keith.

I lived with the blue for a month or so, before I broached the subject that maybe I really am a green kind of girl.  Blue is not for me.

Keith didn't say a word.

A month later, I told him that I thought maybe we should repaint the kitchen.

He just looked at me.

Two weeks ago, I got some samples of green that I thought I'd like.

He shook his head, knowing that my mind was made up.

This time, I didn't start blindly slapping paint on the wall.  I painted sections so that I could make an intelligent decision.

Jajoba...too blue
Sage...too dark
Flora...a little better
Feng Shui...perfect!

Tomorrow, my kitchen will be green and I will be a much happier girl.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lifelong Friends Day 26 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.  

We met each other as freshmen in high school.  There was a group of 7 of us who hung out together, but Marlene and I had a special bond.  She is the friend I've had the longest (almost 40 years)!  As teenagers, we drove around the town square on Friday nights, often going out for pizza.  There was the night we stalked the boy she had a crush on when he took one of our friends to the school dance.  (That boy is now her husband of over 30 years).  She was the one I cried to when I found out that I was moving across the state when I was a senior in high school.  We visited each other in college and then were in each other's weddings after graduation.  Before our kids were born, we'd take turns bringing craft ideas that we could do together each time we visited.  After the kids were born, our visits were consumed with kids and sharing the ups and downs that come with parenting.  It never mattered how long between our visits, we could always fill our time together with conversation, picking up as if we had just seen each other.

Today was one of those days filled with stories, laughter, and good food.  I drove to visit Marlene and we spent the day filling each other in on our kids and husbands.  She shared all the preparations for her son's wedding, and as always, we shared titles of good books we're reading.  Our afternoon together ended all too quickly.  As we hugged good-bye, she reminded me that the next time I hugged her would be at her son's wedding.  How does that happen?  It seems like it was just yesterday that I was standing next to her when she married Chris and then a year later, she was standing next to me when I married Keith.

As Oprah would say, What I know for sure is that taking the time to nurture these lifelong friendships is one of the most important things you can do.  Life throws lots of curve balls and there's nothing like having that special friend who loves you no matter what.   They help you through the hard times and celebrate the good times.

I am so glad that Marlene has been in my life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Family Day 25 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slices.

I was on the road by 9:00 am today, excited to see some of the most important people in my life.  You see, I grew  up in a family where not only did I have a mom and dad, but also aunts and uncles who were just like my parents too.  In fact, my cousins, sisters and I didn't stand a chance when all the aunts and uncles were together.  If we stepped out of line, someone was there to correct us.  If we had trouble, there were always open arms to fall into with an ear ready to listen.  Time to celebrate? We had our own cheering section.  To this day, I know that I can count on any of them for any kind of support I need.  Who could ask for anything more?

Lunch with Mom and Aunt Janey

Visit with Uncle Jack

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Can We Play? Day 24 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.

"I wish we could go out and play with the neighbors."
"Why do we always have to sit in the house and miss all the fun?"
"Maybe Mom will notice that we're sitting here and let us go outside."
"They sure look like they're having fun.  I'm pretty sure they need us to come out and run around with them.  We could chase sticks and bark like crazy while we jump as high as we can."
"Darn, they're going inside.  Maybe we can try again tomorrow."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reflections on 30 Years of Marriage Day 23 of 31

Please visit Two Writing Teachers to read other Slice of Life stories. 

Today my husband and I celebrate our 30th anniversary. He gave me the framed the picture below, which was taken on our honeymoon. It made me cry because those 2 young people thought that as long as they loved each other, everything was going to be ok. They didn't know how hard it would be. They didn't know that their marriage would almost end as they neared the 29 year mark. They didn't know that they would have to reach to the bottom of their very beings to find what would make that marriage continue.

This morning, I asked my husband to make a list with me. If we could go back in time, what advice would we give that young, naive couple who were so fiercely in love. This is what we came up with in no particular order:

1.  Being married is hard work. You both need to give 100%.
2.  Live within your means. Refer back to #1. Adding money problems to the mix only makes it harder. 
3.  Have each other's backs. 
4.  Find something that you enjoy doing together and do it on a regular basis. 
5.  In the same way, find the things that you love doing on your own and do those too. Don't lose sight of who you are. 
6.  Expect your marriage to go through cycles. There will be ups and downs as you maneuver through life. 
7.  When you're in the downward cycle, don't give up. Be willing to fight for your marriage. 
8.  If the cycle continues, get help.  A good marriage counselor can help you weed through all the garbage and yucky stuff. 
9.  Share your highs and lows with each other. That personal trust is what builds intimacy in your relationship.
10.  Be honest.  Be kind.  Be strong. Be willing to forgive and last but not least, be willing to love.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Anniversary Trip Day 22 of 31

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. It's been a lovely day of meandering through antique shops, dining on exquisite food, and hiking serene trails.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of
Life Challenge and Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Something in Common Day 21 of 31

Something in Common

I have the unique opportunity to work with a group of very talented teachers on a summer writing project.  We will be writing a book about digital writing in the elementary classroom as part of the summer institute for the Columbus Area Writing Project.  In total, there are four groups working on books.  I was asked to gather a team of teachers to write about the topic of integrating technology into reading and writing workshop.

Today was our first gathering.  As we ate lunch and talked about our classroom practices, I sat back and observed.  Each person in the group comes with a different background, but there are certain qualities they all have in common. 

Each of them is passionate about kids.  They are reflective practitioners and they're not afraid of the messiness that comes with good teaching.  They respond to kids and if something doesn't work, they try something else.  They know that what works for one student might not work for another and what works one year might not work the next.  The foundation of their classrooms begins with community.  They know from the bottom of their hearts that in order to be successful, they need to build a strong community of learners.  They take risks and they admit when something doesn't go well.  But they don't stop there.  They figure out what needs to change and they make those changes.  They are willing to ask questions and they are comfortable with the uncomfortable.  They are good teachers.

Thank you Tonya Buelow for taking a picture!
The next few months are going to be exciting as we start to gather our stories and think deeply about our practice.  We will ask questions, push each other's thinking, and grow as learners.  I am so fortunate to have these amazing folks by my side.

Please visit Two Writing Teachers to read other slice of life stories.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Surprise 20 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge.  I will be joining other bloggers and writing every day in March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

"You've got quite a few packages in the office," the secretary told me.
"Yay!!  That means my order is here!"  The afternoon just got a little brighter.
I went out to run some errands and got back to school just in time for my duty and then to begin seeing my reading groups.  The lure of that stack of packages slipped my mind.

An hour later, T showed up for his reading group.  He came alone as the other 2 boys who usually join him were completing a special project in their classroom.  As I quickly tried to figure out how I might change my lesson, I remembered.

"C'mon, T.  There's something in the office for us."
"What is it?"
"Remember when you helped me choose books the other day?  Well, they're here."

A smile slowly spread across his face.  You see, a few days ago, T was by himself for reading and not wanting to start something new, I asked him to help me order books for my third graders to read independently.  He sat next to me at the computer as we scrolled through titles.  He'd either approve or dismiss books as read summaries of books and looked at pages online.  His was an important job, because it's been a long time since the library in that room has been updated (like 10 years) and many of the books are more geared toward the first graders who used to have reading groups in there.

We brought the packages back and tore into boxes.  T rummaged through the books, looking for certain titles.  I told him he could take them home for spring break.

He left my room a happy boy, excited to have some new books to read over break.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Club Crashing Day 19 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge.  I will be joining other bloggers and writing every day in March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

What do you do when you read a new book and really like it, but don't have anyone to talk to about it?  

What do you do if you know that a group of fifth graders are reading the book and are meeting in book clubs to talk about the book?

You invite yourself to join the club.

Normally, I am aware of social norms.  I don't invite myself to events.  I politely wait to be invited.  But last night,  I took home Rivals by Tim Green to quickly review it. I didn't expect to like it so much.  It's about a boy who plays baseball and from what I can tell, there's going to be a mystery to be solved.  I'm not someone who particularly likes sports and I definitely know very little about baseball.  So, I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn into the fast-paced chapters.  Tim Green knows his audience!

This morning, when I took the book back to Mrs. Boyers, I asked if book clubs were meeting today.  I then proceeded to invite  myself to join in.  They agreed to come get me when it was time and I was thrilled when they popped downstairs to get me.

There's something about hanging out with a group of boys, reading a book about baseball and then talking about it.  I learned a lot.  For instance, I didn't realize how rare the 75 mph pitch that the main character can throw would be for a 12 year-old.  

We had a nice chat and they have invited me back after spring break to talk more about the book.  Rivals is coming home with me over break so that I can finish reading it.  I want to be ready for the next time we meet.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Translation Day 18 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.  

"Oh, Oh, Oh, come here and look at this!"  I was jumping and hollering as a centipede skittered across the counter.  At least I thought it was a centipede.  I don't know if I've ever seen a bug like the one I saw this morning.

My husband rushed around the cupboards at the same time the centipede fell on the floor.  I continued to squeal, "Look at this!!"



My husband stomped on our surprise visitor as I screeched, "What are you doing?"

"I thought you wanted me to kill it."

"No," I replied.  "I wanted you to see it.  I've never seen anything like it before."

"Sorry!  I thought you were screaming because you were freaking out and you wanted it squished."

I guess something got lost in the translation of my screeching and hopping around.  Next time, I'll try to remain a little calmer when I spy an unknown critter scampering through my house.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A New Lens

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.  

I have found myself looking through different lenses today.

I drove my daughter's car to work because she and my son drove my car for their spring break trip with the puppies.  Getting into Annie's car early in the morning, while it was still dark outside, gave me pause.  I've only driven it one other time.  I realized quickly, that I didn't know how to turn on the headlights.  I figured that one out pretty quickly.  She listens to a different radio station than I do.  I'm an NPR or country station girl.  She listens to adult alternative.  I decided since I was driving her car, I would experience my drive listening to her music too.  It was kind of interesting to listen to something different.

At my coaching meeting today, we discussed how important questioning is in the coaching relationship.  I've discovered how easily I take others' resistance personally.  It's especially difficult when it comes from my colleagues who are also my friends.  So, today, I decided to step back and take on the lens of a scientist.  Instead of getting upset over a conversation, I said to myself, "Isn't that interesting.  I wonder why she responds that way."  I'm going to start to look for patterns and see what I discover.

Ironically, I have spent the evening getting ready for my evaluation which will be early tomorrow morning.  I will be doing a close reading lesson based on the work of Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts.  My third graders are working on understanding theme.  I'll be showing them how to look through the lens of what the narrator is saying to  help them create new understandings.  As I worked on my lesson, I realized how difficult it is sometimes to make all the thinking that goes into a lesson visible.  I put on the lens of my principal as I wrote and asked myself what I needed to add so that she would see all the thought that goes into what seems like very simple decisions.  

I never would have guessed this morning when I got into Annie's car and thought about looking at my drive to school through her eyes, that so many other opportunities of looking through a different lens would become available to me today.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Backyard Perfection Day 16 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge where writers have pledged to write each day of March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

I am not in love with my new house.  Friends assure me that it's normal to feel that way at first.  Although after living here for almost 6 months, I thought it would be better.  I don't feel settled because I look around and think about what I want to change.  We've developed quite a list of what we'd like to do to make the house ours.  

Sometimes my husband and I play with the idea of fixing up a few things and selling it.  We bought it so quickly.  Did we make a mistake?  We go back and forth every week.

However, each time I step outside to the back yard, I feel hope.  It's this space that made me want to buy the  house.  

It's serene.  

It's beautiful.  

It's ours.

And when I'm out there, I stop and see the potential and think maybe this is where we're meant to be.  
This creek runs at the end of our property.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Break with the Puppies 6-Image Story Day 15 of 31

Today's post is cross posted at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge and Reflections on the Teche DigiLit Sunday.  Please check in at both sites to read other posts and leave some comment love.

"Mom, she's touching me!"
"Mom, make him stop.  He's on my part of the seat!"

I remember wondering if my children would ever be friends.  I had hope.  My sisters and I used to have some down and dirty hair pulling, scratching brawls and we ended up being very close.  But at the time, I was hesitant to believe that the same could happen for my children.

Fast forward 10 years, and my hopes are realized.  Our children are best of friends and hang out together whenever they can.

Two years ago,  Molly, Zach and Annie decided that they were going to visit all the National Parks together.  They've hit quite a few and today they will meet up at the Shenandoah National Park, with puppies in tow.  They've been planning the trip for months (changing their plans for a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains when they discovered that puppies lure the bears in).  This is a siblings only trip.  Mom and Dad are not invited and that's ok with us.  We are so happy that they have this special bond.

I used Animoto to create this 6 image story (I took some liberties with the 5 image story).

Tomorrow's Digital Writing club will be creating 5 image stories.  I found some great information on Wesley Fryer's site, Show What You Know with Media.

You'll want to check out this video .  He got me in his first sentence, "I love encouraging teachers to play with media."  He continues by saying that when we give ourselves opportunities to play with different apps and technologies, we will become more comfortable with how these tools can be used for learning in our classrooms.  Yes!  This thinking is the foundation of why Cathy and I created the Digital Maker Playground.

I also bought his ebook Mapping Media to the Curriculum and am anxious to dive into it.

So, tomorrow, my students and I are going to play with telling stories visually, dabble in a few different tools, and create.  Play is such an important part of our after school club and I'm looking forward to spending the afternoon learning alongside them.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Symphony in the Sky Day 14 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge where writers have pledged to write each day of March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

Symphony in the Sky

It begins as a quiet whisper
As dawn lazily
Saunters in.
The early morning
Beckons me
To begin the new day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Puppy Problems Day 13 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge where writers have pledged to write each day of March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

A Slice told in images...

February 24th:

February 26th:  Trying to save some money...

Hubby was able to fix the cord with the $8.00 part.  It worked for a week.  
Broke down and bought a new cord at Best Buy for $80.00 on March 7th.

Today:  I came home to this.

Luckily, hubby is handy and can fix things.

Good thing those puppies are cute.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

So Many Slices Day 12 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life March challenge where writers have pledged to write each day of March.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

Tonight is one of those nights where I could easily crawl into bed and skip Slice of Life. I'm not much good after 8:00.  Get home at 9:00?  It's REALLY hard to get anything accomplished.  So how do I begin a Slice of Life post when I'm ready to crawl into bed, burrow under the covers and read my book?

Well...I crawl into bed, burrow under the covers and grab my laptop for a quick slice of life story.

My evening ended with a slice (which I'll have to enjoy tomorrow).

But there were so many other wonderful slices that happened today...

  • Meeting with a parent this morning and sharing how much her son has progressed in the last two months
  • Talking to the new teacher I'm mentoring and listening while she shares how her community of writers has become even closer as they share writing slice of life stories each day (Her first graders gave me the idea to make a list tonight.  Thank you Mrs. Cochran's class).
  • Watching the special bond between a  first grade student and her teacher read a book together and L says to Mrs. Miller, "Be careful, you're about to lose control," as they laughed out loud about Peaches the Pig trying to fly with the ducks
  • Stopping by a first grade classroom and seeing some amazing thinking going on as the students found evidence to support their ideas.
  • Working with our first grade reading intervention teacher as we changed schedules to do what's best for kids
  • My principal who trusts and supports us in making these moves
  • Meeting with a friend and colleague to talk about a summer writing project
  • Going out to dinner with my daughter and the ultimate comfort food restaurant (Der Dutchman)...broasted chicken, mashed potatoes and noodles etc., etc., etc.
  • Which ended with the slice that I mentioned above.  Notice the carry out box...the pie will have to wait for tomorrow.  :)
Coconut Cream Pie from Der Dutchman (my favorite)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Sure Sign of Spring Day 11 of 31 Slice of Life Challenge

During the month of March the Two Writing Teachers host the Slice of Life Challenge.  Writers have taken the challenge to write all 31 days of March.  Please visit their site to read other Slices and leave some comment love.

 This arrived in my email today.  It made me smile.  It brings me hope of warmer weather and the promise of what it to come.  The yard at my new house is a blank canvas.  The previous owners were not plant people.  Where they had rock gardens, I dream of

blooming flowers,

heavy, ripe vegetables and

flavorful, green herbs

dotting my landscape.

The next best thing to walking the aisles of the local bookstore has to be meandering through the greenhouse designing the landscape of my dreams.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First Grade Writers

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.  

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my  job as a literacy coach.  There are some things that I enjoy more than others.  The thing I love the most is working with teachers and kids in writing workshop.  Each time I'm invited into a writing workshop, I feel like I am home.  I'm happy, comfortable, and excited to be with the young writers.

Today, I got to work with some amazing first graders and their wonderful teacher, Mrs. Shell.  They are working on teaching books and today's lesson was all about how authors make their pictures more powerful.  

This author is teaching her class about how she used words to make her picture more powerful.  This page is about how cats and dogs might get along and might not.  She divided her page in half to show what cats and dogs would say if they weren't getting along (grrr, hiss) on one side and what they would say if they were getting along (rrruf and meow).  She was very purposeful in her decisions as a writer of teaching books.

This author's book is about Minecraft.  I need to read all the Minecraft books I can read, because I don't know much about it.  He was very purposeful about color and the way he drew the pieces to make a Minecraft person and the diamond sword.  

One of the special things about this classroom is that they are a community of writers.  Mrs. Shell isn't the only teacher.  Each and every one of them has something important to offer.  I am so glad that I was invited to be a writer with them today.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Missing the Lost Hour

Thank you to Two Writing Teacher for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave some comment love.

The kids were dragging 
The teachers were dragging
Not a good combination
Springing ahead
Makes us all tired
I love the lighter evenings
But, right now, I'm missing my hour.
Good night.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Classroom Fix

Today's post is cross posted at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge and Reflections on the Teche DigiLit Sunday.  Please check in at both sites to read other posts.

I love my after school digital writing group for several reasons.  The first and foremost reason is that I get to work with great kids.  The second is that it gives me my classroom fix. So many times I go to conferences, read an article or find something on Twitter and I wish I had a classroom to go to the next day to try something out.  Monday afternoons give me that opportunity.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted this group to be different.  I wanted it to be student driven with lots of choice.  Based on my summer work with #clmooc, I wanted to have a maker set up where kids could problem solve, collaborate, create and connect with others.

I began by asking the kids what tools they were familiar with and then what they wanted to learn.  A pattern emerged.  They wanted to explore Scratch and do some coding, create movies, do some hacking, and create animations.  All of these things are a bit out of my comfort zone, so that means I've got some exploring and playing to do on my own.

Thanks to Kevin Hodgson, I am learning about paper circuitry.  This project done with his sixth graders intrigues me.

PowToon, an animation tool, is another one I want to explore.  There are so many resources on Twitter alone, that I will be kept busy.  It's not a tool the kids are familiar with, so I'm anxious to see what they come up with.

I dabbled with Scratch with my students last year and they loved it.  They have a support page with several resources that will help all of us learn.

Our very first session was about introducing themselves.  They all chose to use the iMovie Trailer app on our iPads to create their introductions.  I thought they might try different things, but that was not the case.  I hope they'll be finished tomorrow and I can share their work.  The collaboration began right away as some of the kids were more familiar with the app.  Since I haven't used it yet, it's another one I need to explore.   (Hmmm...I have to create something to show my Makerspace for Digital Maker Playground.  It might be a good idea to use iMovie trailer).  I'd also like for those who are interested to explore using the full iMovie feature.

Jen Brittin wrote a Slice of Life post today about the messiness of creation and exploration.  You can bet that my after school writing workshop is messy, but that's ok with me.  The kids are learning, working together, and taking risks.  I love it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rekindling Friendships Slice of Life Day 7

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge where writers pledge to write every day of March. Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment for them.

The friendship began over 22 years ago.  Three women who were not ones to put themselves out on a limb,  took a chance all in the hopes of doing something good for their 5 year old daughters.  The result was the beginning of Girl Scout Troop 2111  and a friendship that has lasted through the ups and downs of life.

As our girls got older and the Girl Scout troop changed as the girls went to different schools,  we didn't get the chance to see each other often.  We all went back to teaching and life got busy as it does when you are raising a family.  We kept in touch through Christmas cards and ran into each other at chance meetings here and there, but we didn't see each other on any kind of regular basis.   Now, 22 years later, our girls are grown women leading independent lives of their own and the three of us have reconnected.

We met for breakfast this morning, and it was like we just saw each other last week.  These are women I can still talk to about anything...the good and the bad and there will be no judgment.  It felt like going home and settling into the comfort of being surrounded by people who love you no matter what.

We've set a breakfast date for next month.  I am looking forward to rekindling my friendship with these two wonderful ladies.

Friday, March 6, 2015

How To Get the Principal to Participate in Slice of Life Day 6

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read other Slice of Life stories.

Who can say no to a first grader?  Our principal, Kayla Pinnick cannot.  

I was in her office today, and I caught sight of this on her desk.  

All four of the first grade classes decided to write a letter to Ms. Pinnick, asking her to join the Slice of Life challenge.  She responded to each class, telling them that she'd be happy to join.  Since these young writers are using journals this year, we gave Ms. Pinnick her own special Slice of Life journal.  She writes faithfully and checks in with the kids to see how they're doing.  

I feel so fortunate to have such a supportive principal.  She's a busy lady, and yet, she sees the value in modeling for the students the importance of being a writer.

Thank you Ms. Pinnick!