Saturday, October 18, 2008
Teaching is a living, breathing process. Our research is already such a part of our day. We are always making adjustment for things that work and don't work with students. We know we are lucky. Lucky we are in a county and a school that acknowledges the value of this work. We are allotted time during our work day to work on our project, space in a nice conference room and experts at our beck and call for the sole purpose of asking and exploring questions we have about our practices. Thinking about our teachers embracing this... maybe we've made our luck.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Anyway, my five random things:
1. I spoke Japanese til I started kindergarten when my mom decided it would prevent me from speaking English and doing well in school. We just didn't know. Can hardly say ko nichi wa now.
2. I've had thirty different jobs in my life not counting mom, and including "cook" on a llama ranch in Gilroy, CA (town named for my family).
3. Two foods always in my refrigerator- lemon and cilantro.
4. I owned a dirt bike in the desert as a teenager til I had a bad crash.
5. I love violin music.
Monday, August 25, 2008
How do we do it? One week the primary numeracy group meets and sends their little guys to an upper grade class which is part of the multiplication/division group. We "buddy" the students for 1/2 hour at the end of the school day and dismiss them from this class while their teacher spends that 1/2 hour and 1/2 hour after school dismisses to learn. On another week we swap... older students go to the younger students. Brilliant.Last week our class had our first swap. We partnered a kindergarten student with a third grader. They each drew a portrait of their buddy. Third graders interviewed each kindergarten student and shared what they discovered. Later they swapped portraits. It was a very fast 30 minutes!
Things seen and heard:
K boy: I have flames on my shirt.
3rd boy: Uh, I know. They're cool.
K boy: I have flames and words on my shirt.
3rd boy: I know. I was just about to put the flames here.
K boy: Uh huh...don't forget the words.
3rd boy: Shaking head, eyes looking sideways at his buddy, smiling with no teeth showing.K girl: This is you on a sidewalk.
3rd girl: What am I doing?
K girl: Walking to school. You're going to be late.
3rd girl: That really looks like my outfit today.
K girl: I know. Did you hear me say you're going to be late.
A good time was had by all.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I didn't achieve my original goal to have students directly produce the blog. They are indirectly "writing" the blog by adding their voices in podcast form but... Okay, so I have hopes for next year. I spent about a month and a half on a language arts unit of study last quarter informally titled, "writing for the web." The writing objectives, drawn from our district and state objectives, were all geared toward publishing on a website. Our technology resource specialist co-taught some of the lessons. Our students had great ideas: a food column, a winners column, a games column, a favorite animals column, etc.
I loved these kid-centered themes and the kids mostly loved working on a team to produce a bit of the website. There was a lot of collateral learning on this project. I learned a lot about my students and how they work. I realized we have a lot of strong personalities who need lots of support to work on a team project like this. Students learned they have strong personalities and have to sometimes let go and work toward consensus. It's all good, but, this unit was much more time consuming than I expected. So, now after many weeks, after abandoning the student blog idea, and working to get in other reading and writing lessons, I have caved and put our news online, without student help. I don't like the idea. I am determined to work next year to help students get their own news online. In the meantime, student's voices on a couple of podcasts are helping me assuage my guilt and reconcile the fact that the blog is not as pure as I'd like it to be.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The image in this post is my torch from the 1984 Olympic Torch Relay. The Relay traveled the United States, starting in New York City and ending at the Los Angeles Coliseum, traversing 33 states and Washington, DC. The torches (each runner keeps theirs) in the relay were only carried by runners on foot, covered more than 9,320 mi (15,000 km) and involved 3616 different runners, including 200 runners from the sponsoring company AT&T, and one runner from San Jose, CA who won her one kilometer leg in the San Jose Mercury (love that paper!) 10K road race. None of my memories in that kilometer, which I milked for every second I could, included protests, zealous security or left out media. If there was a protest somewhere, I missed it. The Olympics are a political event after all. After a much delayed start (actually scheduled for 8pm) due to the crowd who came to watch, I ran at midnight on a country road in bucolic Carmel Valley, CA. Friends ran beside me along with some AT&T employees, escort cars, and a few local police. I really felt I was part of the Olympic Torch ideal; I was "spreading the Olympic spirit, the message of peace and friendship" and helping to "ignite the passion of the people around the world." There was no stress. Just sheer joy! As I watch the relay via online video I only hope the runners have that same sense of Olympic spirit and joy as they dodge a multitude of distractions.
Monday, April 21, 2008
|You Are a Comma|
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.
You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.
Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)
You excel in: Inspiring people
You get along best with: The Question Mark
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Seen and heard:
Q: Perseverance is a virtue. But are there times it is a mistake to persevere? A: If you are hurting yourself. If somebody is better than you at something and you are jealous and want to keep snapping back at them. When someone is annoying you, they shouldn't persevere with that behavior.
Monday, April 14, 2008
I don't want to say we're used to it. I don't think anyone wants good people to go. Our last assistant principal also left to be a principal at a school that needed her. She has now spent the last few years helping to make good things happen and her school and staff are growing professionally. Before that we lost our beloved principal so she could be the Director of Elementary Instruction for our district. I guess that's a pretty good job to have. With over 135 elementary schools it's a big job. We can't think of a better person for that position. Sure we could whine, but we all, and I mean all, from teachers to instructional assistants to custodial staff to specialists, to volunteers, understand good citizens leave our school not to leave us but to do good things beyond our walls. Each of those educational leaders have been part of and contributed to positive transformations for staff and school. We're better with each departure in a weird sort of way. We know that and so, it's easy to say, "Good luck," We'll really miss you," "You will do great things in your new school," "Those kids and that staff are so lucky to get you," "Thank you for all you've done to help our students," "Thank you for helping me grow as a teacher," and mean it.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Yesterday for about an hour I quietly watched 17 third graders writing and sharing during workshop. It was our first day back together after a three week break. I didn't have high expectations because we were so out of routine. I was going to be happy if they could find their pencils, notebook, word book, and folder. I was going to be thrilled if they gathered those goods within five minutes. I couldn't even remember what our last workshop before break looked like. I expected to have to make desk to desk stops to support writers getting started. Today's workshop focus: visit your notebooks for ideas and pieces of ideas you started. If something inspires you, plan and write the beginning of this next great piece.
Well. Within 4 minutes, the class had their tools. Within the next few minutes they were writing. Second looks all around to be sure writers were on task. Third looks, ready to nudge relunctant writers. None needed. Seen and Heard: rereading, bookmarking, highlighting, coloring, adding to writing hearts, quiet whispering about an idea for a story series titled "A Visit to...", advice offered student to student in quiet whispers accompanied by a smile, story mapping to plan a story (worked on this before break to deconstruct fiction we were reading), a wonderful lead: "It was a hot, sunny day in July. The waves were shining. It was a perfect beach day," lists of new ideas generated by the old idea, "my birthday," a travel piece begun about Disneyworld (I could have used this a few years ago), calm.
I sensed we would need extra time for sharing. There would be much to talk about. Selfishly I couldn't wait to hear the comments. After 45 minutes we came to the meeting area in a circle. The prompt: "Reflect on your writing today. What made you feel successful or what made you feel pretty good about your writing." A response: "Can we pass?" Mental, unseen sigh with a smile. "Yes, but still take a moment to think about how you were successful today." Seen and Heard during share: story maps detailed with characters, setting, several plots, "I forgot I had some of the ideas I had in my notebook," that great lead about the beach, how the idea for a series of stories came up- "I have so much to write about and I thought a theme would be a good way to do it." "I like the funny stories like Junie B. Jones so I wanted to try something like that (spontaneous mentor texting), "I liked having the time to create my characters today," "Can I read my beginning?", "I passed earlier, can I still share?", "I liked writing today."Me, too.
Monday, March 31, 2008
The teacher presenting had literally written the book. I sat down at a round table in the library with two other teachers in what would soon become a standing room only crowd. I didn't really notice the nonfiction resources, colored pencils, glue, paint, water, and paint sponges that were going to be my tools for the next hour and a half. It was a library after all. I met my colleagues and turned to see these beautiful, student authored/illustrated books all around the bookshelves. They were written by first and second graders. I recognized the curriculum. Is this what we were going to learn how to get our students to produce? Yee ha!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I could tell there was engagement because after the first five or six set questions, students grew new things to ask based on her answers. A few things heard (not quoted here entirely word for word) today: Student: What do you like to research? Mrs. H.: I like to know about architects. I have some favorites. Antoni Gaudi based his work on nature, worked in a natural free style, has a flowing form. Frank Lloyd Wright also based his work on nature. He encouraged architects to go back to nature. In architecture we imitate nature a lot. I'm also always thinking about the design of things. Student: What were your favorite subjects? Mrs. H.: I liked art. In college I really liked history. Studying history and cultures teaches you how they contribute and influence things today. (I loved this because we are always telling our students how important it is to learn about the contributions of the ancient cultures we learn about!) Student: What makes architecture so interesting? Mrs. H.: You get to translate a person's ideas to paper and then to a 3 D building. You think about the rhythm of a building, the proportions. We don't like things out of proportion, usually. I like to think about the light that enters a room, the perception of the room when you first walk in, and the purpose of the building. Student: What kind of architecture do you like to do? Mrs. H.: I used to think I would like to work on churches. I love churches. Many magnificent buildings are churches. Now I work with residential buildings and I like that because I can take a person's ideas and feeling and bring them to life. I like modern architecture more than classical. I like clean, simple lines, streamline shapes. Our last ten minutes we looked at plans she brought, drawings of a house that were done quickly (beautifully proportioned and done free hand!), tools of the trade, a book on world architecture, and a construction drawing book. She let the students hold, touch and turn pages. They were thrilled.
Mrs. H. led us on a field trip that ignited so much interest and thinking. Thank you Mrs. H! We really have to do this more often.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I want students to know how to work in teams to creatively solve problems, gain confidence, and have fun.
- Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
- Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
- Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
- Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce
I offer this up in a cyber tag to:
Monday, March 24, 2008
*our 1-2 week optional school sessions that fall between our quarters during our modified (year round) schedule
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Hear more about Kadir Nelson and this book on npr.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
20% slack time is scientifically proven to be useful, especially for knowledge workers. Knowledge workers (like software developers) tend to produce good quality code when they are in relaxed environment. Google's strategy would produce good ROI over a period of time.
What would the effect be if students (i.e. knowledge workers) were given a free time policy? I think we teachers have to give our students a chance to be self-learners. Isn't this what we are as adults? Don't we problem solve what we don't know everyday? Students won't become self-learners if they never get a chance to practice. I think a free time policy may help.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
As my daugher and I have gone house to house we've taken a great walk down memory lane looking at all the pictures. She's noticed she wasn't in some of the large group family photos. I explained the timeline. She is fourth youngest of 12 grandchildren who range in age from 11 to 29 years old. We took lots of pictures before she came along. I've really had fun telling the stories behind the shots. I really hate to admit this. Especially as I think about how resistant most of us were most of the time to having many of the photos taken in the first place. Are all families like this? You know the situation. We have a family gathering. We're having a good time. Grandma waves and insists everyone huddle together and smile so she can get a picture, capturing a moment she thinks is special just because we are all in one place. We sigh, roll our eyes, whine, "Grandma, not again!" while she repeats, "Oh come on, come on" and we humor her out of respect for her age and desire for memories, arrange ourselves, smile, crack a few jokes, and she snaps away. We thought she was a little overzealous with that darn Kodak.
Now, I'm actually having happy thoughts about each of those pictures. As I'm writing I'm in a living room and there are over 100 photographs I can see. My three girls have their own shelf and this isn't even at Grandma's. I'm beginning to feel a little guilty because I don't have 1/5 of this collection in my living room. Maybe not in two or three rooms. I certainly haven't given my three nephews their own shelf space. I don't like too much clutter, but do these photos qualify as clutter? Am I depriving my relatives and my own immediate family of happy moments by not framing those images and displaying our history? I'm really pondering this.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I loved that the show focused primarily on the corn tortilla and its multiple ways of showing itself on a dinner plate. The Sterns and Lynne Rossetto Kasper (host) bubble on about the virtues of this tortilla as a chip, as a base for nachos, as a shell for delectable meats and veggies. I can relate. I knew what they meant when they said when crisped by hand it became a 3D food as opposed to the 2D chips you buy in a bag. I make those chips. Lately I like to shake Old Bay on them and dip them into hummus. Anyway, it's a tasty piece. Take a listen here.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Coaching sessions no longer involve e) all of the above but, instead facilitate my development as a teacher of reading, writing, and word study. So I am back to finding the right gear to best fit each activity, stretching past the point of comfort to grow, strengthening by progressively overloading my "muscles", training on a regular basis to maintain (rather than lose) my fitness level, and assessing as I go to keep in touch with how I feel, making adjustments so I can maximize my "practice". It's just that now all that involves literacy.
My literacy coach is also my instructor so she comes to see how we apply our lessons in our practice. At first I thought what I did and what she observed should include all the stuff she taught during our last few classes. I thought this would please her. All good mentees want to please. I wanted to have a good evaluation, after all. Well, crammed too much in to the read aloud. Knew I was doing it. Couldn't help myself. I waited for the post observation feedback. Good thing it's generally an hour or so later. You have time to let go of a few things. Maybe. Well, the feedback came but, only after some good questions had been asked about what I thought happened, which of course brought me to some good self-assessment and what is the farthest from evaluative as one can get after being observed. In fact, if done well, a cool thing about being coached is we learn to do stuff on our own with just a few good questions, some "here's what I saw," and "what will you do with what you know?"
And this is how it happened with my lesson. In a pre-observation meeting I let her know what we would be doing. I wanted to know if my questions were exposing my students toward several levels of text processing. Between my lesson and our post observation meeting my coach typed up the questions I asked during guided reading about the book, Frindle. Not sure how she did this so quickly! With this tool she prompted me to analyze whether the questions were within the text (W), beyond the text (B), or about the text (A). To my surprise I actually had a good balance. More importantly I had a chance to explore my own practice through self-assessment. I feel like I just learned how to control an errant backhand in my tennis game. Thanks Coach!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I hope they are building a love for math and mathematical thinking. Some things heard today: "When you take away the pawns from both sides it's like working with a mirror, you have to do the moves equally." "I can check to see if my 'x' is correct lots of ways. I can count each one; I can skip count them, I can multiply them." "I can try lots of numbers for the pawn but I make sure the sides are balanced and equal."
They work hard to line up and match the teacher version of the balance. I think this kind of matching may even help them when tracking on a standardized test. A lot went on in 30 minutes today!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
The part that caught my attention and flashed a memory during my drive was:
"Wings Over Jordan was born in the sanctuary of Gethsemane Baptist Church on Cleveland's east side. In the 1930s, the city was a collection of ethnic neighborhoods — Italian, Polish, Slovak — and each one got an hour on the radio. "
I will never forget and have often told people of my first visions driving north on I-71 to downtown Cleveland when my husband and I first moved there in 1986. I saw church spires everywhere. I was astounded by the population of churches in the old neighborhoods surrounding Cleveland. They were all practically walking distance apart. I grew to realize how those neighborhoods were (and continue to be) the center of social and spiritual life for the European immigrants and subsequent generations that came to work the farms and factories. The three years I lived there I loved how each neighborhood/church had maintained its own ethnic identity, festivals, feasts, and foods.
Hearing the program today made me curious about the programs these churches must have aired. I'm sure they were in Polish, Italian, Gaelic... maybe even had some news from the old country. I wondered who paid for airtime and how much it cost.
The rest of the quote above follows: "But Gethsemene pastor Glenn T. Settle found no such program for the local African-American population. He went to WGAR, and in the summer of 1937, The Negro Hour hit the airwaves, with Settle delivering homilies between the hymns." What incredible vision and courage Reverend Settle had to promote civil rights in that time period. The fact he had to search for air time, that it wasn't offered is telling. What a great picture of one of my favorite cities today.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
image citing: http://www.greystoneefc.com/images/GEFCImages/teamwork.jpg
Friday, February 22, 2008
Days of Winter
Waking in the cold snow
And freezing slush, Seeing
dim light that used to be
Snd now it’s a quiet
And silent in the dark. I can
Barely see the white of the
Trees and a leaf drifting in
The sky and the last thing
I heard was splash.
The Feeling of Winter
White cold snow drifting down upon
My face making me want to freeze.
Freezing cold wind blowing slush, snow
On the roof and splashing to the ground.
Drip drip drip drip drip drip.
Then as the quiet trees dance in the nice wind animals hide
In their shelter in the dark until spring
With the wind, whoosh.
A bright light came, animals came out.
Spring is here. Happiness is everywhere.
The snow in winter is cold.
The wind chill in winter is freezing.
Also when it snows it may rain, and cause
Snow to slush. In the silent nights, the snow
Is drifting very quietly and also in the dark there
Is always a bright light and that light makes a bright
Reflection in the ice to a leaf.
white shy silent place.
Everywhere is a quiet white day.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The teacher I remembered immediately- Virginia Hamilton (not the author) of Goodrich Jr. High School, Lincoln, Nebraska. I had her for 7th grade English. She was passionate about mythology. She wasn't chic like our mini-skirted Miss Adams, who was a runway model in the off-season. She wasn't hip and cool like Mr. H., our long-haired, liberal minded student teacher in social studies who let us call him Bruce and who was subsisting on $1.00 a day for food because he wanted to experience what people below the poverty level (this was 1969) were experiencing. She wasn't smart-alecky and witty like Miss Michaels our crazy art teacher. She was a little corny, middle-aged, suited, hairsprayed, had a high pitched voice, and had the nerve to insist we do our readings (yikes) no matter how archaic the language of the text (Beowulf...double yikes). She had the ability to light Olympic torches in our literature-feeble, middle school-aged brains. We read Beowulf and pictured Grendel, the great hall, and drank non-fermented mead. Just thinking it could be fermented was tantalizing. We read Greek and Roman mythology and learned about love, scandal, hubris and tragedy in the world of gods, goddesses, and humans. Tabloid news before tabloid news. We found that year in English class interesting, relevant, and unexpectedly fun. We rewarded Mrs. Hamilton's efforts by naming the mascot of our newly opened school, "The Olympians" in her honor. As she reminded us, Goodrich was perched on a hill (Mt. Olympus to us) called Belmont whose name had Latin/Roman origins. It's almost 40 years later and these images are fresh. Her lessons and passion are fresh.
As teachers it's not often we get feedback on our abilities from our biggest audience, our students. Here's your chance. Share your story about a great teacher who left you with indelible memories. Comment on!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
We wanted our high ability classes (one each 3rd, 4th, 5th grade) to reflect our general school population. It began with efforts, school-wide to raise awareness of student behaviors that indicate giftedness. These can be demonstrated by students even though English language is emerging, reading is below grade level, or behavior challenges are present. We've had to swerve from the indicators of giftedness we grew up with, i.e. high test scores and great grades to looking for giftedness as demonstrated behaviors. Test scores and grades are a part of our criteria, just not the only criteria. Potential giftedness might show in a student through their exceptional ability to learn, exceptional application of knowledge, exceptional creative/productive thinking, and exceptional motivation to succeed*. Specific behaviors include frequent translating for a parent, learning a new language at a rapid pace, persistence with challenges, high interest and passion in a subject, quickly learns and adapts to new cultures, highly developed reasoning, problem solving, keen sense of humor, fluency and flexibility in thinking, highly curious, advanced connections... and more.
Our district provides a great system for identification for our gifted and talented programs. Our adminstration supports any staff development we need to further our knowledge about how to serve our underrepresented populations in exceptional programs. Together with the grassroots efforts of our classroom teachers recognizing, referring, and defending their students abilities, we have been successful in providing our students access to programs that would have been unavailable to them in the past based on a narrow criteria for giftedness. Along with all our work to provide for emergent learners in our school it feels good to know we are nurturing learners who are ready for more challenge.
*from our district's Gifted Behavior Rating Scale