Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Last One Little Word Reflection of 2012

2012.  It was a year full of wondering, learning, reflecting, changing, hurting, adjusting, and listening.

Below were my three goals for this year...the purple writing is the "now" feeling!

1.  Listen to my heart-
Listening to my heart took on a whole new meaning for me this year.  I did stick with my goal of listening to my beliefs in the classroom and being ok with slowing down before deciding if I was riding the latest education wave.  I listened to what I saw in my students and planned instruction off of what I recognized...following the students' needs.

The lesson I did not expect during this ride was listening to my heart in my personal life.  After experiencing my dad's five month struggle with cancer and now his passing, listening took on a whole new meaning.  I learned to listen to the meaning of words not said when holding someone's hand and how to listen to the true message behind acts of kindness from family and friends.    

2.  Listen to conversations-

As I moved back into a literacy coach role this school year, I was reminded once again how amazing my colleagues are.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to listen deeply, hear viewpoints, and be a part of journeys that create aliveness and possibility in our education world.  The one common word you always hear..."students".  I was able to listen to this word over and over again and found it to be the center of all that we do, believe, and think about.

3.  Listen to reading-

From January-June...this was my obsession...making sure that the thinking and listening that was done while reading had as much value as the thinking that was done when the book is closed.  As my role changed in the school come August, so did my focus...but this obsession of WHILE reading led to so many realizations about my students and their level of engagement with a text that have impacted my beliefs forever.

What a year!  Thank you to Maria for encouraging me to post each month. So what will my one little word be for 2013????  I have it narrowed down...find out in a few days.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When times are difficult...look a book...

Our family has just begun to experience the loss of my father, my children's grandfather, my mother's devoted husband of over 40 years...  His five month struggle with cancer was full of many feelings, but the one lesson I learned was to look around.  Although there are no words to describe the hurt and loss right now, I can look around and find peace in my dad's comfort and strength to find courage in the day's ahead.  There are so many loving memories of my dad that I will forever hold in my heart.  To look around and see the presence of friends and family...a smile, a hug, a photo, his glasses, a laugh, a card, a hand holding out a tissue, a book...

There  are two books that I have found that I will be using to support my children with the death of a grandparent.  Thank you to the church and friends for recommending the following books to help our family during this difficult time.  Please give your families an extra squeeze during this holiday season...

Link to Amazon

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WONDERful Wednesday with Wonderopolis...Part One

Today was the day!  Wonderopolis sent a crew of three to our school for an author visit!  Words can not express how grateful we are for Sara, Donna (who talked to six groups!), and Jon.  The day was full of wonder, the writing process, the "investigation" process, and choice for the students.  As teachers we were able to have meaningful conversations about how inquiry, acting on curiosity, and technology are major components of the home-school connection.  We also spent time creating a more personal relationship with the mission of Wonderopolis and the crew members behind the scenes.  There were so many great moments to the day...I can't possibly put them all in one post!  So I am going to retell the day through photographs and then leave you WONDERing about how the rest of the day went.

Getting ready...
Wonder Jars made by a third grade classroom.  We used these to decorate the lunch tables.

Our librarian encouraged students to wonder off of photographs from home.

How do cell phone signals travel?

How many neck bones does a giraffe have?

Second grade's wonders focused around curriculum.
Fourth grade's favorite wonders from Wonderopolis...(cookie jar:)
Kindergarten's wonders around science.

Look who arrived...dressed alike and ready to show off the answer to the first Wonder of the Day...
Why are flamingos pink?
Sara, Donna, and Jon...ready to make us wonder!

Let the wondering begin...
 Stay tuned for part two!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

OLW: Listening to our vocabulary instruction

A few days ago during our professional development day, teachers were discussing vocabulary instruction. After reading vocabulary thoughts from Beck, the Common Core Appendix A explanation of acquistion of vocabulary, Fountas and Pinnell, Debbie Diller, and so on...I found that vocabulary instruction had around 8 common themes that were reappearing.

  • Balance of direct and indirect instruction
  • thought-provoking
  • interactive
  • encourages wide reading
  • promotes word consciousness
  • includes high quality literature
  • playful
  • balance of dictionary and context

 The teachers were asked to sort these components into three categories.  The teachers were given no headings for the sort.  They were thinking about their knowledge and their experiences to sort these components in a way that connected to their students, their teaching and teaching structures.  Some found this activity frustrating because they were not given the categories.  Some teachers were quick to sort.  Some were quick to sort two ways and spent time looking at the sort to see a third way.  Here are some of the sorts that teachers used to anchor their conversations.

Sorting by what we do, what we need, and areas to wonder about.
Sorting by teaching strategies, components for students, components for the teacher.
Sorting by what the classroom would appear to look like, the benefits, and the structures needed.

It was during these conversations that I was reminded of what I already knew...teachers need time to discuss and listen to colleagues about the WHAT and the WHY of what we do/teach so that we can make informed decisions on HOW this could occur in the structures we have developed and the needs of our students in our individual classrooms.  

PS...If you are interested in supporting the "balance of using the dictionary and using context"...check out Wonder 127- How do words get added to the dictionary?