#change · #endings · Uncategorized

Grade 5 Moving On Ceremony – June 2017

I wrote the following letter to my students at the grade 5 Moving On Ceremony this year.

Dear Fabulous Fifth Graders,

You know who you are!
We have had an amazing year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always taken care of each other. Reluctantly, we’ve said our goodbyes to Layla, Cata, and Santi. We’ve read some amazing books as a class, and each one of you read many more on your own. Some of you, you know who you are, read books that then made the rounds in our class.
Some of you, you know who you are, came into 5th grade not liking to read or write, and some of you were afraid to make mistakes in math. Throughout our year together, sometimes without you realizing it, you became readers, writers and mathematicians, not because your reading, writing or your math work was perfect and you learned everything there was to learn in a year of school, but because all of you developed an appreciation for reading, writing, math and deep thinking. In fact, you found joy in books and stories. Sometimes, you shed a tear or two.
Some of you, you know who you are, came in with a very beginning level of English and now you are able to defend your ideas and opinions with confidence, orally and in writing.
Some of you, and you know who you are, made me laugh every day at least once, and usually more than that.
But all of you taught me more than I probably taught you. Sometimes I failed miserably, but because teaching is really about learning, I had to learn. So, I dusted myself off and moved on. The learning curve for me was steep sometimes. But, in spite of my shortcomings, you taught me to be patient; to laugh; to be prepared for all kinds of questions; to apologize when it was necessary; to realize when I was wrong and fix it; to make changes in my lessons so that you would hopefully learn better and more. After all, how many times did I ask you to be patient as I tried, for the umpteenth time, to make our math stations work for all of us?
You matured, solved problems and came up with some amazing actions in your PYP Exhibition of Learning groups. I hope you’re proud of yourselves for that and for so much more.
So, here is some final advice as you move on to 6th grade:
Never give up when things get a little bit challenging. Remember: if your brain doesn’t hurt, you’re not learning.
Always tell the truth. You’ll feel better about yourself and you will be respected for being honest no matter how difficult the situation.
Read, write, and be curious about the world. Take on the difficult problems in your community with confidence and passion. You are our hope for the future.
And, last, but not least, laugh and be silly. I will always say yes to that.
I love you. Congratulations!
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#cyberpd #TeachersWrite #ITA17 #EdD

Just as the year begins to wind down, I am thinking ahead to the flexibility of the summer months. Not only am I looking forward to a 3-week family vacation to the US, but I’m also anticipating the slew of summer learning opportunities available to me and the choices I’ve made from among these.

I plan to participate in this summer’s  #cyberpd book study. I am hoping to be more consistent in my follow through this year than in the past. I can’t wait for the unveiling of the professional book that will be selected. I’m always hopeful it’s a book I own and that I don’t have to go out and buy a new one.

I’ll also take part in #teacherswrite again like I have for the last few years. And, again I am planning to be more diligent than in the past. I often do well for the first week and then I taper off my participation for the remaining weeks of the summer.

I will also continue my participation in #ITA17 – the Innovative Teacher Academy headed by A.J. Juliani – comprised of a series of events, activities, and conversations to help educators create and implement innovative practices in their classrooms and beyond. Although I’m a bit behind at this point, I plan to catch up and stay caught up to finish strong in September.

And, of course, I will be working on my doctoral work this summer. Reading. Writing. Rewriting. Reading some more and the cycle continues. As I recommit to ramping up this work during the summer months, I feel myself getting excited in anticipation of the joy of learning. Nerdy? Perhaps. Do I care? Nope! Bring it on!

Follow through – that is going to be my #OLP (one little phrase) for the summer.

#DigiLitSunday

#SOL · family · Uncategorized

My Daughters are Home

Posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

The house is full.
My daughters are home.

I still say “home” even though it’s not really home to them anymore.

It’s not the home they grew up in,
not where they lived for 4 years and
10 years when they were little
and before my oldest went off to college.

It’s the home we built after they graduated from college
and they were no longer living with us.

It’s the “home” they come to when they come home.

It’s home because we’re all together,
and together we make it home.

My daughters are home.
They fill up the house.
Every corner is taken with their belongings.
Every table top is cluttered
with books, cameras, and electronic devices.
All the bedrooms are occupied.
The bathrooms look used.

Evidence is everywhere.
It screams, “We’ve been here.
We’re here still.”

They mark the territory.
It becomes theirs.
We welcome them.
And there is balance in the world.
All is right after all.

Until they leave again.

Then, my husband, my son and I readjust,
find our center because it has shifted.
It takes a few days for our routines
to make themselves present again
even as we fight the change
because it means
we’re on our own again.

My daughters are home.

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"You mean, we don’t get to read today?"

“You mean, we don’t get to read today?”

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that response!

Every year, I set four major goals for my work with students that guide everything I do in the classroom. These goals are: (1) that my students love to read. (2) That they love to write. (3) That they develop a mathematician’s mindset. And, (4) that they be curious about the world. If I can accomplish any of all of these to some degree, I feel I will have been successful.

“You mean, we don’t get to read today?”

Most years I have a range of kids in my classroom. Some do school very well. These are the kids who watch me carefully, almost surreptitiously, so they can determine how I want things done in the classroom. But, they get thrown off when they realize that I’m more likely to let then figure things out for themselves than to tell them what to do.

Then, there those kids who’ve had negative experiences with reading, writing, and/or math. It takes them almost all year to let go of those negative experiences so they can learn about themselves as readers, writers, mathematicians, thinkers and inquirers. So they can value what they know and can do.

“You mean, we don’t get to read today?” was spoken out loud by one of my most (previously) reluctant readers. I had just announced that I was going to demonstrate a strategy to keep a conversation going. This strategy is from The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. In this lesson, students respond to a conversation partner by saying, “I heard you say…This makes me think…” 

That was when my student blurted out, “You mean, we don’t get to read today?”  I chuckled and explained that we would do just that very shortly.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this student to request independent reading time – a protected daily time in our class – much less to complain about not having enough time to read! 

The truth is that there is now a festive feeling in our classroom when we read, write, talk, do math and wonder. 

Some of my students may not score at the top end of the F & P assessments in June. 
They may not get high scores on the MAP test. 
They may not look like what someone thinks they’re supposed to look like in all of these areas at the end of their 5th grade year, but I know. 

I know where they started out. 
I know how they’ve engaged in productive struggle. 
I know how their smiles light up their faces when they get to the end of a book.
I know their reactions when they realize that’s it. The book is over. There’s no more to read. 
I know which books have made the rounds in our classroom. 
I remember how they’d glare at me at the beginning of the year when I would suggest a book they might like. Not comprehending what I was after. I could almost hear them say, “Who is this teacher?” 
I know how much English some of my ELL’s have gained since school started in August. 

I know.

This is what counts. 

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Until Tuesday…

Slicing every day in March!!

I’m not sure what to write for this last slice of the March Slice of Life Challenge. It’s the last day and I’m a bit stuck for ideas.

Today was a cold, rainy day.
It has been cold and raining for several months now.
I wish it would stop, even if for just a little while.
A few sunny days and blue skies would really help pick up my spirits.

This weekend is the second round of elections in Ecuador. It has been a long, dirty campaign season.
Many accusations have been hurled across a great divide. Some fear a new spate of violence on Sunday when the polls close at 5:00 p.m. I’m hoping this prediction doesn’t come true.

This weekend is also for writing progress reports. This snuck up on me, though I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. It must have been on some calendar that progress reports are due on Monday, but somehow it got past all of us. Too many other things running through our minds.

This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make reading and writing more joyful, more grassroots. More about the kids. There have been some great moments and some that I’d prefer not to remember. I hold onto the great moments so that I can create similar ones with my students again and again.

I will miss sharing my slice every day on the Two Writing Teachers website. I’ll go back to doing that on Tuesdays. But, as I’ve written several times this month, this year of blogging in March has been different from previous ones. My writing has flowed more easily than in other years. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped worrying about what I’m going to write and have simply written whatever came into my mind. I’ve let the words flow as they may. Then, from there, the rest came pretty easily. So, starting tomorrow, I plan to blog every day as part of my daily writing routine. I’m excited to see where this takes me.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge, especially to the Two Writing Teachers for setting it up and keeping us going. I hope to see everyone on Tuesday.

Usually a late night slicer!!
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Without my laptop…

Slicing every day in March!!

Today I forgot my school laptop at home.
I had to get to school before the 7:00 am “pico y placa” restrictions, based on my license plate, went into effect. It wasn’t until I got to school that I realized that the feeling that something-was-missing when I walked out the door was because something was missing!

Not having my laptop proved interesting.
I had to borrow an iPad from the tech office for the day.
For those things I couldn’t do on the iPad, I used my phone.
Not ideal either way.

This experience made me realize how dependent I’ve become on computers to accomplish work at school.

Without my laptop, I couldn’t use my document camera.
Without my document camera, I couldn’t project the set of math problem solving strategies and some practice problems I had planned on doing with my students.
Without the use of the projector, I had to write everything on charts.

Without my laptop, I couldn’t access any of my documents that weren’t on Google Drive.
Without my laptop, I couldn’t access my personal gmail account on the iPad if I had my school gmail account open.
Without my laptop, I couldn’t print anything, which may not have been all that bad.
Still, I do need to print sometimes.

Without my laptop, I could greet my students at the door instead of from my desk.

Without my laptop, I didn’t have access to some cool math sites I’d found over the weekend.

Without my laptop, I had to shift around my plans for the day.

I definitely won’t forget my laptop tomorrow!

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Writing Every Day

Slicing every day in March!!

Oh, oh.
I don’t know what to write.
I’m tired and I’d love to stop trying to write so that I could curl up with a good book, instead.
If it weren’t for the March Slice of Life Challenge, I would most likely log out of my computer right now, so that I could grab one of the many books I’m reading, like…

I would open up my book and get lost in the lives of the characters.
Then, as my eyes would start to close, I’d put down my book, turn off the lights, and fall into a deep sleep until morning.

So, I’m glad it’s the middle of March and I’m participating in this challenge.
If not, I would have stopped writing long ago.
So, how can I keep the pressure on, so to speak, to keep writing every day and posting on my blog?

Maybe I could set a challenge for myself.
Pretend it’s an April SOL challenge. Then, May. And, so on.

I’m going to pressure myself to keep going.
Hold myself accountable.

Here’s to writing every day.