Sunday, June 30, 2013

Currently July

Yep! It's July (well in a few more hours)... June came and went... which means my big awesome vacation to the Bahamas is OVER! O-V-E-R and I'm so sad about it. The only thing I have left to remind me of the amazing time with my hubby are some shells we collected on the beach and a bunch of bug bites that I can't stop scratching! Exact diagnosis hard to know- but best guess is sand fleas. They got me- and they got me bad! Oh well. I can wear pants a little bit longer to hide the bites all over my legs.

Now it's July... and currently... currently I'm glad it's July! July will be boating on the Potomac! July will be a visit from my BEST FRIEND... July will be a thorough cleaning of my house (to be ready for a visit from my BEST FRIEND- her husband is a clean freak). July will be over before we know it... just like June was.

I'm hooking up with Farley... for this month's Currently.

My husband loves to listen to people TALK on TV about things that he has NO control over! AKA Politics! Good grief. It might as well be white noise to me. But then he always says, "Did you hear that?" and I'm like "No. I wasn't listening!" Now I'm upstairs on my personal DVR. It's a Sunday with Flea Market Flip! 

I spent the entire morning on my computer. It made me happy to know it was raining outside so I wasn't "missing" a gorgeous day outside. The sun has since come out, but I'm pretending I don't care. Rainy days also mean I don't have to go on the boat. Don't get me wrong, I love our boat, but sometimes a girl just wants a day at HOME to do nothing! 

Seriously! We need to go back to the Bahamas and ASAP! But next time, it has to be longer. We had just started to relax into things when we realized it was almost time to go home. 

I really want a housekeeper, but I am too cheap to pay for it! It feels like a waste of money. But today as I was sweeping up dog hair and wiping up dust for almost the entire morning, I'm feeling like it is money well spent. I still won't do it... but I want one nevertheless! 

Oh I miss my Rae! We have been friends since college. This year her drive to work has been at the same time as mine and we have talked at least two mornings a week. Rachel is a teacher. Which means she doesn't HAVE a drive to work in the summer, but I still do, and I miss those phone calls!  I so wish we still lived in the same state so I could just go over and hang out with her right now. 

Tips, Tricks, or Hints:
Do what you can- and some days I can't do much. Teaching in Killeen the in June, I realized how many things ARE on my blog as a reference to teachers, but I also realized how many other things I could still write about.  I remind myself that it is MY blog and that it doesn't have to be like any other blog.  I will admit that COMMENTS from readers make me want to blog more. If you read something and you like it, comment! It is the best blogging encouragement there is! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Heart Is Whole... in Kindergarten

This is another oldie but a goodie! This was from my time at Region 12. However, there is much to be learned. Read on for some Writer's Workshop in Troy Texas...

I spent the morning in Kindergarten today! I was greeted with many hugs and smiles and looks of awe! There is nothing like a visit to Kindergarten to make you feel like a SUPERSTAR! Some little girl didn't even know my name yet, but she ran over and said "I made this for you". She proceeded to hand me a piece of paper that had been colored on. I took it with a reaction that showed what a treasure I believed it to be and proceeded to back it with tape and wear it on my shirt for the duration of my visit. It is now inside my Writer's Notebook.

Shortly after my arrival it was time for the Writer's Group Meeting where I was introduced to the class as Mrs. Sommers's teacher!  Make note of time number two that I felt like a SUPERSTAR!  Mrs. Sommers was showing the class her Writer's Notebook and I couldn't help it- I went and retrieved my own from the bag I brought in... SUPERSTAR episode 3.  Students were finishing up letters to soldiers today and many who were finished would be making their photo envelopes for their ideas folder.

The first thing that became evident when I saw students leave the rug (after having turned and talked with a partner about their writing plans for the day) was that this is a classroom where WRITING TAKES PLACE! Student folders were overflowing with papers and students knew exactly what to do when writing time began.

Mrs. Sommers had a list of students to confer with about their soldier letters. I am so happy to have this picture to replace the one I use of a teacher with a RED PEN in her hand. Rhonda- watch out- your picture is going to be part of my powerpoints now. Look how intent she is! Look how focused on that student! What a gift she is giving her writers- her full attention!

 I let her work as normal, and I pulled in close to some writers. Unfortunately names are escaping me so another description will have to do. I sat down next to a gentleman with the cutest squishy cheeks you ever did see! He was writing a story called Me and Scrappy.  Little did I know that Scrappy is a frequently chosen topic.  His story read...
Me and Scrappy
Me and Scrappy
He rides in the car because my mom picks him up.
Yes.. that is where the story ended.  I settled in as a listener first. And I said... who is Scrappy?! He said, "My dog!" Oh... I explained to him that I had no idea who Scrappy was (everyone in the class knew, but not me).  I asked him if Scrappy was his Uncle? He laughed. "NO"  I asked if Scrappy was his brother... "NO".  His classmates piped in and said, "It's his DOG!" OK. "Where did you write that?" I asked the cute squishy cheeked gentleman.  We worked out a new opening sentence. "Scrappy is my dog. I am his daddy." The second part the student came up with all on his own.

Next I asked him to tell me more about his dog. He told a story about Scrappy and the fence, Scrappy and the bed, Scrappy and how he jumps on him. I looked at this writer and explained that he had not written any of that down on paper. He shook his head and assured me that he had. "I don't see it!" I said looking at the paper in front of me.  He started digging in his folder and sure enough- he pulled out not one, not two, but FOUR other stories about Scrappy. And he HAD in fact written those things in those stories. Turns out, my conference should have been about more ideas for story topics with this little guy.

I spent a little time with Andrew. Very quiet and soft spoken. When I sat down next to him, his eyes got all big and his face blushed a little. "ME? You want to talk to ME?", he seemed to be saying.  Andrew was just getting ready to start writing a new story. "About what?" I asked him. "About when my mommy gets the baby out of her belly!" Ah... Kindergartners have such a way with words! They are even funnier with their illustrations of such things!  He explained that his mommy is having a baby- a baby brother.  I asked questions to try and get his mind going with what could make a good story.  I left him to work.

When I came back, he had his folder closed and was working on his picture envelope. "Are you done with that story?" I asked.  He shook his head yes. "Well let me see!" I said. His story read:
I am happy my mom is having a baby.

Yes folks- that was IT!  I shook my head.. I scratched my temple... I looked on the back of the paper? I asked "Is that it?" He looked surprised to be called out on the table. "You didn't write about how you are going to help him learn to read like we talked about. You didn't write about how you don't want to change his stinky diapers like we talked about?" He started to smile. "I don't think you are done." I said.  He got his pencil back in his hand and he continued to write! When I left he had it on the NOT DONE side of his folder to keep adding more details to tomorrow! Praise God!

Alas it was time to get on the road to Waco. I began packing up.  Over came a sweet cherub whose name I never did get.  She had been writing about her Calico cat that day.  She opened with...
"Can I ask you a question?"
I should have known not to allow that from a Kindergarten student I had just met, but I said,
"Are you pregnant?" she asked. I know my eyes got large, I swallowed my pride, and instantly sucked in my (slimmer than it was last year this time) stomach and said, "No dear, I am not pregnant." She continued to stare at my belly a few more seconds... she may make a good Nancy Drew someday, examining the clues.

Thank you Kindergarten for a NON SUPERSTAR sendoff.  I will reconsider this outfit more carefully before wearing it again in the future and I will admit, I have been holding in my stomach ever since.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Show and Tell at SWS @ Logan

I had the opportunity to go to a Reggio inspired school in DCPS last week.  I love early childhood! I love Reggio and its emphasis on the spirit and worth of being a child.  Childhood matters. Kids matter and at at a Reggio school it is evident with every step.

I started at a Morning Meeting and Sharing Time in a PK classroom.  I got to receive a handshake, a high five, or a hug.  I wanted a high five and my partner wanted a handshake.  I loved this idea for natural materials to mark how many questions/comments can be made after someones share time.
Sharing time this day at Morning Meeting was about their cicada adventures/learning/experience. I learned more than I ever thought I'd know about cicadas in a brief five minutes I must say.

 Look at these BLOCK structures! And the fact that they STAY up- they don't get cleaned up every day. This just screams childhood rather than "school".

When they are ready to clean up... here is the sign that says so. Otherwise- it lives another day.

This made me laugh out loud! What a unique use of corks! It's a bridge of course! I guess I'll need to drink a little more Chardonnay for the kiddos at SWS!

More block inspiration.... where would one get a poster like this? I need one. For my basement and that classroom I'm going to have again... some day! 

And in a first grade classroom they were knee deep in Writing Workshop (the Katie Wood Ray kind) and publishing books- lots and lots of books! I loved this clever display for the author's work. 

I'll keep going to schools... and I'll keep taking my camera.
I love my job!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Lovin' This in Lubbock

 I worked last month in Lubbock ISD for a Writer's Workshop training for their district. We had a great day full of Writer's Notebooks and CSCOPE IFDs color coded pink.

But I have to say my favorite site was in the halls of the administration building. It is a map tracking all the places Lubbock grads have gone to college! I think every school district should have something like this- maybe every high school?  I wonder if DCPS has something like this?

I just loved the idea. The only problem... Texas kids are choosing the WRONG Michigan school! Seriously!

I hope this inspires someone out there the way it did me!


June? Is It Really June?

It's JUNE!
Holy cow.
Time for Currently from Farley.

Listening:  I rarely actually watch TV. It is usually ON, but I am always doing something else in front of the TV- on my computer. Like right now! The news is on, but here I am doing my Currently. I am however super excited for the Bachelorette! Don't make fun- you either watch- or you don't- if you don't, don't judge! I am actually pretty jazzed because I get to watch it on the BIG TV tonight too! Jeff is at work.  It's just me and 14 Bachelors! :)
Loving: My dentist is in the same building as Baskin Robbins and I thought I had earned a little ice cream treat for the hour of torture she put me through. A small cup of Very Strawberry is waiting on me in the freezer!
Thinking: Not do any work tonight? Who am I kidding... I know I will do ppt before the night is over. I'll be doing PowerPoint while Des is kissing boys. Woe is me...
Wanting: Dinner is soup... I knew I could "eat" that without biting myself. It won't be too hard to make. Half my face is still numb! I really hope my kids get my husband's "teeth" genes, but mine is the pits. I've always been a cavity kid- aw nuts!
Needing: Seriously. It takes so much TIME to look good! Men have it so easy!  That does remind me that I could paint my nails while I wait for Man Candy Monday.
Vacay Essentials: So... I am actually going on a pretty incredible VACAY! Jeff and I leave in 17 days for the Bahamas! We have NEVER gone on  trip like this and we are doing it! I am kind of freaking out that I won't have a PHONE on this vacation... but it will be OK. Right? I need to disconnect.  So since I can't have my phone, the top three essentials for me will be sunscreen- I am so white it is not even funny- so I need to put it on over and over again. Next is the sunhat- keep the sun off my face- last summer my LIPS burned! NOT this summer. No way! Then of course a camera- but what am I going to do when the camera can't post the pics right to facebook? I am really going to go through phone withdrawal! Maybe I should also put BOOKS on that list! Soooo many good books to read!