Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DWP #34/SOL: WARM {10.17.17}

Mother Nature certainly knows how to spoil a party.

This past weekend, we went to see our kids at the University of Minnesota. Saturday night, we had tickets to the football game to see our son in the marching band. This was Band Parents' Weekend and the band had been rehearsing their halftime show for the past two weeks so they could dazzle the parents.

The weather forecast was not looking good -- in the low 50's with rain forecasted to begin at 4:00 pm, right when the band activities started before the 7:00 kickoff.

Sure enough, just as we left the hotel at 3:00, the rain started. We layered up our clothes, donned rain ponchos, and set off for the stadium. We weren't going to let a little rain spoil our fun.

By the time we got to the stadium, the rain was coming down a bit harder. Neverminding that, we followed Ryan's tailgate band around the parking lot as they played for the fans.

The rain kept up through band inspection and their pre-pregame show. It was now raining so hard that the woodwinds didn't carry their instruments for fear that they would get wet and cause swelling damage.

Finding our seats in the stadium, my husband reminded me that I was never going to be allowed to pick seats again because we were literally in the nosebleed section. (Really?? Okay!)

The football team cleared the field and the band came out for their pre-game show. They played one song and were lined up to play the national anthem when an announcement came over the stadium loudspeaker:

Ladies and gentlemen: Lightning has been sighted in the area. Please evacuate your seats and take cover in the concourse area immediately. 


We trudged back down the stairs and joined the rest of the crowd in the concourse area (which would not have been fun if you suffered from claustrophobia.)
The rain came down in buckets. The wind started up. It was a mass of humanity. It was not fun.

There was a man standing near me who had apparently had a bit too much of the celebration and passed out from the heat and lack of fresh air. I called 911 from my cell phone, not sure how to tell the operator where we were in the crowd for her to send help.

Twenty-five minutes later, they announced that the storm had passed and we could return to our seats.

But there was more disappointment waiting at halftime -- the markings on the field were getting too washed out from all the rain that they weren't allowing the marching band to perform. After all of this, we weren't even going to get to see the band. (Insert sad face emoji here.)

We were too soaked, to frozen, too exhausted to stick around. We went back to the hotel where there was one highlight to the day -- we remembered to leave the heat on in the room before we left.

Monday, October 16, 2017

DWP #33: ADJUST {10.16.17}

Change is hard.

Perhaps it is the pain that sometimes accompanies change that makes it so difficult. (I would say this pain is usually a mental discomfort, not necessarily physical discomfort, but sometimes it is.)

Sometimes in life, though, we do not have a choice about changes that happen.  Sometimes, change is just a part of life.

When my kids both left for school at the end of August, I really struggled with my empty nest. I didn't know what to do with myself. I spent a lot of time talking to the dog. I maybe ate a few extra carbs. I crocheted a lot of washcloths.

But they've been gone now for six weeks or so and I've adjusted. I would even say that I've adjusted so much that I actually enjoy being an empty nester now.  Christmas break may be a different kind of pain...

What I marvel at in this whole change thing is how we can go from thinking the world is going to end to being really okay with our new reality. How does that happen?

Time helps.

So does chocolate.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

DWP #32: GREEN {10.15.17}

This weekend took us on a nice drive from southeastern Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit our kids in college. 

I was looking forward to the drive to see some fall color. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much. 

As the flat land of rural Wisconsin gave way to the rocky dells in the middle of the state, most of the trees were still green. Moving farther west toward the Great Mississippi River and Minneapolis, there was a bit more color, but not much.  A hillside might have a yellow or orange tree tucked among the green, but that was about it.

The funny thing is that on the evening news, the anchor said that the area was in peak fall color right now. 

Peak fall color is green?

I thought that was peak summer color.

Friday, October 13, 2017

DWP #31: CERTAIN {10.13.17}

These are the things that I am certain about when it comes to teaching writing:

1.  Students need to write -- a lot. Yes, this takes time. No, you should not hover.

2.  Telling students what to write about does not necessarily make them better writers. They need choice.

3.  While writing can be assessed, grading it makes me cringe.

4.  Writing gives us authority. It makes our thinking concrete. It is our way of sharing our ideas with the world. It demonstrates our uniqueness.

5.  The writing process is not circular and orderly. Expecting students to go from prewriting to drafting to editing to revising to publishing in that order is NOT how real writers write. We jump all over the place before we get to the end. Take down the charts and clips.

6. Revision is where the magic happens. Drafting should be quick -- simply getting our ideas down on paper before we lose them.

7.  Students need time to talk to other writers to share their writing and get feedback. Don't skip share time or undervalue writing partners.

8.  Students write best when their teacher is a writer too. You don't have to write a book, a blog, or anything more than simply putting a few words down on the page or computer document regularly.

9. Opportunities for teaching writing can happen in every subject throughout the day. You can teach writing during your read aloud (see my tips here), in math journals, or in science logs. Specials teachers -- there are ways you can have students write too.

10.  Writing for an authentic audience makes all the difference.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DWP #30: SMART {10.12.17}

It amazes me how my dog can be so smart and so stupid at the same time.

She is so smart that she knows when we are leaving the house, long before we even grab our keys. When she senses this, she puts herself in her kennel. She is not doing this to be helpful. She is doing this in the hope that we will not see her laying around and think that we already locked her up. Then when we are gone, she will have free run of the house. 

Very smart.
Yesterday, she tried a new trick.

She managed to get the zipper open on my purse. (Very smart) She rooted around inside my purse and managed to grab a container of Breathsavers mints. She carried the mints into my bedroom and shimmied herself under my bed where she proceeded to get the container open and eat every last mint. Minty breath aside, sugarfree mints and sugarfree gum can be toxic to dogs. (Very stupid) Luckily, she is fine. (This is also the dog who ate a whole box of Valentine's chocolates -- also not so good for dogs.) She must have a stomach of steel.

Sometimes, her smartness gets her in some real trouble.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DWP #29: RULE {10.11.17}

I cringe when I think about the kind of teacher I used to be, when I first began teaching. Not knowing any better, I taught the way I was taught:

I had a red-yellow-green behavior clip chart for my 4th graders.
I kept kids in from recess for not finishing their homework.
I assigned a reading log.
I killed a lot of trees from copying worksheets.
I gave rewards for passing an AR quiz.
I didn't "have time" for teaching writing and allowing my students 30 minutes of independent reading time every day was out of the question.
Classroom rules were posted before the students even walked in the room on the first day.

Whew....I cringe again just reading that list.

Maya Angelou got it right when she said: "When you know better, you do better." I think this quote sums up my growth as a teacher. Thank goodness!

Take the classroom rules, for example.

When I first started teaching, my list of rules was probably quite long: Raise your hand to talk; No talking when the teacher talks; Use the bathroom on your own time; Do your best work; No cheating.

Blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully, I began to know better and do better.

Rules became expectations and there became fewer of them. We came up with these expectations as a class, not just me telling the students what they were.

Eventually, we thought it best to just live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as we want to be treated. This led to many rich conversations and "family meetings" when things were not going well and the classroom community was affected.

In reality, no one really likes rules because they take away our choice of self-direction.

Maybe the world would be a better place if we all just treated each other the way we want to be treated.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

DWP #28/SOL: DOOR {10.10.17}

While visiting Papa Ed this morning, we came across the game show, "The Price is Right," on TV.

I haven't seen this show for at least 25 years, but it used to be one of my favorites to watch growing up. The host has changed, Bob Barker handing over his stick-skinny microphone to Drew Carey, but the games are the same and it still amazes me how the show can just hand out free cars, bedroom makeovers and cold-hard cash with such reckless abandon to contestants who simply spin a wheel.

If life was only that easy....

One of the games we saw involved the contestant getting to choose from one of three doors. Two of the doors held fabulous prizes -- a whole-house vacuum system and a trip to Colorado -- but the other door was a bust -- no prize.

The contestant carefully weighed her choices. She looked to the audience to see which door she should pick. (Like they could really help her...) She picked Door #2 and is now packing her bags for a trip to Colorado.

Lucky her!

If you have been following my #DWHabit (Daily Writing Habit) journey, you may know that this past week, we made the very difficult decision to put my stepdad, Papa Ed, into a nursing home because of his Alzheimer's. Seeing The Price is Right this morning reminded me of what we've been through this past week.

Before us stood several doors of options for him:

Door #1 was that we do nothing and continue to care for him at home.
Door #2 was to find a care facility that offered respite daycare services.
Door #3 was to find residential care for him.

Which door should we choose? Which one was the best for not only him, but my mom? We consulted our family and medical professionals as we weighed our choices.

We picked Door #3 and I really do feel that we won the big prize. After this period of adjustment that we are going through, we will know that we did.