Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting Ready to Slice {SOL 2-24-15}

My 4th graders love to write, and for that, I am grateful.  As a teacher who loves writing, it makes my job a lot easier.

One of my favorite things that I have done this year is teach them how to write Slice of Life entries in their writer's notebooks.  I encouraged my students to write these slices, even if they weren't "assigned."  Many of them did.

Now that March is approaching, I considered having my classroom join the Slice of Life challenge -- 31 days of dutiful slicing.

Were my 4th graders up to it?

Was I up to it?

I am a big believer in letting students have a say in what happens so I took that question to the students.  Their answer?  A resounding "YES!"

This week we are ramping up our slicing skills by being better "watchers" of our world.  We are also learning how to comment (something we haven't done a lot of in the past).  Later this week, my students will all receive their own Kidblog blog which is where they will keep their slices.

They are excited!

I am excited!

I created this sign to hang on our door to reminds ourselves of our commitment.  Feel free to use it if you would like.

Let the slicing begin!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Family Dinners {SOL 2-17-15}

Sunday dinners are a pretty big deal for my family.  It is how we end one week and begin another.

When I was younger, I remember Sunday afternoons with family gathered around.  Football games were on TV, cousins played, parents drank their Old Fashioneds.

And there was talk.

Lots and lots of talk.

I come from a pretty loud family.  We like to argue.  In our family, there is the feeling that he or she who is loudest is the most right.  It's just the way it is. It's not mean or anything, it's just the way we communicate apparently.

This past Sunday, we gathered at my aunt's house to celebrate my uncle's 75th birthday.  As usual, there were cousins playing, parents drinking Old Fashioneds, and golf (not football) on TV.  And there was talk with some arguing mixed in.  

          "...Nathan, be nice to your sister..."
       "...How's Nancy?..."
           "...Oh no....mom never did it that way..."
        "....I want to sit by Kara's boyfriend...."
    "....If you want to go to that sleepover tonight, you will eat your lasagna...."

As I sat at the dinner table, I took a moment to listen to the conversations going on simultaneously around me.  I thought to myself that to an outsider, this must appear like pure chaos, all this talking going on at the same time.

But then I thought, this is family.  This is my family.  These conversations are the weaving of a blanket that covers us all, holds us together, and keeps us warm.

I love that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Celebrating Love {2-14-15}

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for hosting this weekly celebration of life!

Since it's Valentine's Day, I am taking a few moments to celebrate love. (Cliche, I know, but I can't help it.)

* The love of my husband who has been my partner in life for 20 years.  Our love has grown, been tested, and made stronger over the years.  He is an amazing husband and father and I'm very lucky that we found each other.

* The love I feel for my two children.  They are both growing into amazing adults.  I am proud to be their mom.
* The love of my two dogs, Rosie & Toby, who "get me" better than anyone else some days.
* The love I feel for teaching.  I didn't become a teacher until after trying out several other careers (including being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years).  However, there is no doubt in my mind that I am living my passion every day.

* My love of learning.  Some people may feel that learning stops once you leave the classroom.  There may have been a time in my life when I felt this way too, but I definitely don't any more. 

What love are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Running Start {SOL 2-10-15}

Every February, the first graders at my elementary school participate in "Running Start," a program where they read 35 books out loud to someone else.  On Friday afternoons at 2:45, volunteers listen to the first graders read their stories, asking them questions about their reading to make sure they just aren't word calling, but really understanding what they are reading.  For most first graders, this is their first time reading out loud to an audience.

This year, not very many adults volunteered to help.  Our first grade team leader put out an urgent call to the 4th and 5th grade classrooms, asking for volunteers to help with Running Start.  I considered our Friday afternoon schedule.  At 3:00 on Fridays, we have Fun Friday (an extra recess, game time, etc.).  Would my students want to give up Fun Friday for six weeks to listen to some first graders read?  I decided to let my 4th graders decide so I asked if anyone wanted to volunteer.

Every single hand went up.

This past Friday was the first Running Start session.  My 4th graders reported for duty, ready to listen and question.  They took this job very seriously....more seriously than I thought they would.   They were patient, supportive, and encouraging of these new readers.  It made my teacher heart happy.

When my students returned to our room, they were all abuzz with stories about their first grader reader -- who they read with, how many books they finished, how they helped a little one figure out a new word. They recalled what their Running Start experience was like when they were in first grade and how it felt to be on the other side of the book this time around.

Then I overheard the best comment:  "It felt really good to help out."

No one asked about Fun Friday or complained that we missed it.

It sounds to me like we didn't.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Celebrating Beginnings {2-7-15}

It's Saturday, which means it is time to check in with Ruth and everyone else for Celebrate This Week.
This week I am celebrating new beginnings...

A new month
New creative endeavors
The sunrise coming earlier & the sunset falling later
The return of birds arguing at the bird feeder
New 'friends' for both my son & daughter (when did they grow up?)
A nomination for Elementary Teacher of the Year for my district
Each day at school is another chance
Always a new book to read

Sometimes we are so busy watching the endings that we forget to notice the beautiful beginnings happening around us.

What are your new beginnings?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snowy Sunday {SOL 2-3-15}

I am not a snow lover.

This is pretty ironic, considering I live in Wisconsin, the land of outdoor winter fun.

So far this winter, we had managed to out run Old Man Winter.  Our snow totals were pretty minimal.  

I was happy.

Then this past weekend,  Snowmageddon 2015 arrived.

It started Saturday night, snowed all day Sunday, and ended in the wee hours of Monday morning.  All in all, we totaled about 14 inches of the powdery stuff.  While this may not seem like a lot to some of you, to me it might as well have been 14 feet.

Apparently the snow plow drivers didn't get the message that they needed to get to work (or they were too busy watching the Super Bowl) because there was not one plow that went down my street between Saturday night and when I left for school on Monday morning.  Not one...

The drive to school on Monday morning was very interesting, but I made it.  My own children had the day off of school on account of the weather, but not me.  We had to call the neighbor (who had a snow plowing business) to come and plow out our driveway because our tractor with the plow broke. (Of course it did!)  Then my neighbor was kind enough to plow our road so we could all get out.  He definitely wins the Good Neighbor Award!
Winter is beautiful, but I just wish it wasn't so....wintery.