Sunday, July 20, 2014

A school year fueled by recovery...

I have not blogged in almost a year and am refueled for this coming school year.   I am refueled, not because I have not blogged, read many blogs, or commented, but due to spending this past school year focused on recovery...returning to a normal state of health, mind and strength for myself.  I found that I needed silence in our busy world because words were beginning to lose their meaning. I felt as if I was juggling topics and beginning to chase noise without grounding ideas in my beliefs.  During this recovery,  I found myself listening more and not reacting.  I realized speaking does not always heal or solve problems.

During this "education recovery", I realized I was not driven by fear.  I had not become afraid to venture out with new ideas and was willing to nudge the status quo.  I found with silence, my beliefs were not losing focus.  I did realize that I was driven by the need for approval with evaluations, being there for every teacher I support, working with families in our RTI process and SLOs.  I found that I was trying to please everyone.  I had forgotten that was the one key to failure.  I also realized I was driven by unnecessary stress.  Stress worrying about things that I could not change.  I had to find focus.

Now,  11 months later...I have found I was focused but was letting the noise of our education world interfere with my silence.  I found myself this summer ready to venture back into the blogging world and making this a part of my new "refueled" reading and writing life.  

I am in the literacy coach role again next year.  Even coaches need time to keep calm...and teach on! :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We were WONDER #1044!

WONDERful news! My school co-authored a Wonder of the Day on and it was posted today!!!!!  We were wonder #1044.  

The website is brought to life by the National Council of Family Literacy.  Wonderopolis connects learning in schools to our homes/communities.  Their approach informs and encourages inquiry and discovery in the family and classroom setting.  The Wonders are aligned with CCSS, STEM, and Blooms Taxonomy.  Back in December, NCFL sent a team to our school to discuss what it was like to author a website and write informational text.  Our school brainstormed possible new wonders.  Then, a fifth grade Wonder Writing Team researched and wrote the answer to our school question...Can Coins Bring Good Fortune?  Today it appeared as the Wonder of the Day.  Please check out the link to see the connections to media, vocabulary, and inquiry.  Congratulations to our students!  Thank you to Wonderopolis!!!!

I am feeling a tshirt in the making...instead of their flamingo tshirts...mine would say "I know if coins bring good fortune!" with a big number 1044 on the back! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Which type of writing to start the year?

Which type of writing to start the year...informational, narrative, or opinion/argumentative?  When looking through writing resources available, most start with narrative.  Narrative gives students a chance to tell their story and to learn about them personally as we begin to develop our intellectual communities in writing workshop.  But what about this twist?  What about starting the year with opinion/argumentative writing?  What message would that send our students?  It would send the message that we all have opinions (just like we all have bellybuttons), we all need to be heard, we will use text as a trigger to share personal experiences/feelings, and we have the right to change our mind as we gather new knowledge through text and conversation.

I have been sharing a series with some teachers titled, This or That ________ Debate: A Rip Roaring Game of Either/Or Questions.  This series has an animal debate book, history debate, sports debate, and
survival debate. Would you rather run fast like a cheetah or long like a wolf?  Would you rather swim with a great white shark or a jellyfish?  Would you rather help build Mount Rushmore or build the Panama Canal?

Readers are presented with a question and a two page spread that presents text features and details about each side of the debate.  The reader must decide what they would rather do.  A great opportunity to answer the question without reading (students can share personal experiences, feelings and known knowledge), read (model reading nonfiction), share (speaking and listening), find details (evidence based), and then make your final decision (drawing conclusions).  Students can write in the OREO format (opinion writing) to discuss their final side.

Hmmm...what is your opinion?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My new "in-between" graphic novel...

While at the bookstore this week, my daughter was looking for a "quick read."  I asked her to define "quick read" and she said it was a book that was easy to follow, might be silly, and did not need a bookmark.  So there you have future third grader's definition of a quick read.

My daughter loves books.  She loves to hear them read aloud and she chooses to read, but right now she is working through the picture book to chapter book phase.  She wants to read chapter books by herself but needs encouragement to work through a page with no pictures.  Sometimes she is frustrated to put the bookmark in so she can go back to the book the next time she reads.  Graphic novels are her "go-to" books.  She is attracted to the pictures but appreciates the numbers of pages and the humor of the series characters.

She began with the two voice style of Elephant and Piggie, but now feels that she needs more.

She then went to Babymouse.  The character and the idea of a series motivated her but she still needed support with some of the vocabulary and wanted to be more independent.

So..this week she found her new "in-between" graphic novel...Meet Bean Dog and Nugget!