Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celebrating Far From Home {SOL 12-29-15}

Being far from home during the holidays can't be easy, especially if you are 16.

Some of you may know that we have an exchange student staying with us this school year -- Hannah from Germany.  Ever since Hannah arrived here in August, I have been amazed at her ability to adapt and thrive in our American culture.  She is an active teenager and has made some good friends here in America.  She has become a part of our family so much that we 'joke' about adopting her.

Leaving your home when you are 16 takes a lot of guts.  Being away from family and friends for 10 months to travel to an unknown place to live with unknown people requires one to be very brave. I don't think I could have done it.

I was worried that the holidays would deliver a bout of homesickness for Hannah.  But packages arrived in the mail from home, delivering cookies from grandma and gifts from her parents.  Hannah opened these on Christmas morning, cherishing each one.  On Christmas Eve, Hannah Skyped with her family as they opened their gifts.  She spent the afternoon visiting with family and friends.  There would be no homesickness because Hannah was able to be in both places -- America and Germany -- through the magic of the Internet.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Many Tiny Things {Celebrate This Week 12-19-15}

I have many tiny things to celebrate this week:

My husband, Jeremy, is learning to fly.  He has taken many lessons and is ready for his first solo flight.  While the thought of this scares the pants off of me, it is also is awesome to see his childlike excitement over this new adventure.

Holiday season is musical concert season!  Two holiday concerts and one Pep Band game kept me out at night, but I loved seeing the kids enthusiasm for their music.

Speaking up about something that you feel is wrong is not easy, but this week, I put on my brave big girl pants and did just that.

We are reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park for our read aloud and my students can't get enough of it.  Not the likely choice among 4th graders, they are recognizing that there are many amazing books outside of their regular reading repertoire. (And I am loving that it is nonfiction!)

Today, we are heading down to Chicago to see the lights and windows.  It has been MANY years since we've done this and I am very excited.

Wishing you many celebrations this week!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Celebrating Taking a Chance {Celebrate This Week 12-12-15}

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for gathering all of these celebrations each week.

Lately, I have tried to be more of a risk taker in my teaching.  When I first started teaching eight years ago, I taught the way I was taught...sage on the stage, keeper of knowledge, lots of worksheets.  But times have changed and I have learned that this style of teaching is not what's best for my students.  I needed to let go and let THEM lead.

This week I did just that.

This past week was Hour of Code, a week dedicated to setting aside only one hour to let students learn the art of computer programming and coding.  My principal asked me if I was going to participate.  Fear and panic overtook me....I don't know anything about coding, I thought.

But I decided to take a chance.

I muddled my way through setting up student accounts on code.org, found a tutorial, and let my students 'have at it.'

The results....were simply amazing.

We coded every day!  Students helped each other figure out what to do if they got stuck.  The room was absolutely silent during coding time because there was 100% engagement only to be followed by moans as I announced the ending of coding time.

I couldn't have asked for a better learning opportunity for my 4th graders.

I'm so glad I decided to let go, take a chance on something new, and let my students lead each other.

What are you celebrating this week?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Un-Doing {Celebrate This Week 12-05-15}

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

In this crazy time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the swirl and whirl of life.  You rush from one experience to the next without ever fully living any of them.  There are so many things that we feel that we have to do that we just "do" them without thinking.


This is kind of a funny word.  What, exactly, does it mean? I know there are dictionary definitions, but when I think about this word, I feel all sorts of blurry, rushed feelings about it.

This week, I have tried to focus on the opposite of of the word "doing"....un-doing....a conscious slowing down to enjoy the moments of life.

On Sunday, I began the day by going to a nearby Starbucks to work on my writing.  This was a first for me, but it won't be a last.  I loved sitting there, enjoying my tea, staring out the window, watching people come and go, and (occasionally) writing.  Lots of un-doing.
Sunday afternoon, I moved my writing to my favorite chair in my living room next to my Christmas tree.  I built a fire in the fireplace and spent the afternoon writing, napping, and enjoying the fire.  I worked on the prayer shawl I am crocheting for church and wrote a little more.  I was un-doing.
Yesterday, I took a personal day from work to finish my Christmas shopping. There were lots of un-doing moments here too.  I lingered over lunch, browsed among the books at Barnes & Noble,  walked the aisles of Trader Joe's looking for nothing in particular.  It was an unrushed and a completely enjoyable day because I did what I wanted to do and took time to slow down and notice.  Un-doing.
Please don't let the busy holiday season take you away without a few moments of slowing down and undoing.