Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Hope It's Not Too Late!

I just wanted to let my readers know that frequently I visit this really great website to get ideas for teaching Writer's Workshop. One of the writing coaches that I know helps write the site and I so love hearing what she is doing in my corner of the world. But, she also co-writes with a teacher that teaches 4th grade out east. I love to hear from teachers in the trenches doing some of the same things that I do. I also love both of their passions for teaching writing! If you would, please stop over and visit the Two Writing Teachers! You won't be disappointed!
(I just hope that I am not too late!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oh, my word...

So I have TIVO here at the house and was going through the guide and found a k-2 Workshop training show. Please, I have no idea who it was or where, or when, not even why? I just hit record. I sat and watched the program one night when I didn't have anything better to do and really hit upon some great information.
One thing that really stood out to me was this one statement that she made(again, don't know she was?): She mentions that in a workshop setting, during a mini lesson teachers are teaching a skill, strategy, procedure, some form of information for the student. Teachers don't teach motivation in that mini lesson. The procedures and routines that are run within our classrooms are the motivation. That is why it is so necessary for students to be able to find materials, books, tools, and anchor charts so easily. Our placement of things has consequential effects upon our students. It can either provide more time for reading and writing or take away time for reading and writing. Effective teachers ask, what needs to be display and where will it be most effectively displayed?
It made me ponder these questions:
Are my materials and tools where they need to be?
Are my kids wasting time looking for all that they need?
How can I utilize my space better?
Is my word wall, anchor charts, books, etc. at a place where students can use them readily?
Are my procedures and routines creating a motivation for students to want to read more or write more? Is my environment motivational?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bumps in the Road

Lately, I have been hitting some bumps in the road. Personally, my body is tired and sick, that is getting better. Last week however, when I was at my sickest and at school teaching my kids were CRAZY! It was a rough week. They forgot procedures, they couldn't remember to be quiet when the teacher was talking, they just haven't been motivated to learn. My youngest daughter awoke on Saturday morning with a drippy nose and nasty cough. Wonder where she got that from? I didn't want to do it but was forced to take Monday off to play nurse. (She's getting better though, thank goodness!) Today, another indoor recess and my kids were awful! We had to stop a lot to regain composure, we struggled with doing even the mundane things. My girls have begun to squabble, and use unkind words...
Wednesday will be different. When Kathy Collins wrote her book Growing Readers she gives descriptions of units that a first grade teacher could teach with regards to Reading Workshop. One of the neat things that she does in the book,and I can only assume in real life,is anticipate "he bumps in the road." Now I did not anticipate this bump in the road. Usually after holiday the students are different. Here is what I have decided to do about these bumps:
1. Spend a day going over procedures. All procedures, don't miss anything.
2. Get back to the basics of the workshop classroom. Go over the promise, again, and again. Get out the book Oliver Button is a Sissy, and Molly Lou Melon. Discuss how to be "nice," again.
3. Read aloud, read aloud, read aloud. We have to reestablish our sense of community.
Anybody else got any suggestions?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lessons I am learning...

You know one of my goals for this year is to be more intentional, I also have stated that I really have a desire to train others in my profession. I am growing and changing in my teaching and I really have found something that I believe in when it comes to the teaching of reading and writing. I am not sure how all of this plays out for me, I am sure that I will find the answer in this coming year.
This week though I was struck with a blow that stung but after pondering the situation I began to realize that my time will come. This week the blow came not from negative words but, just a sentiment that made me realize that others are just not ready, they are not there yet, and that is something that I must learn. Something I am learning...

I guess that I am learning that my vision is not necessary the vision of others. The optimist in me had her ballon deflated, however, it doesn't mean that it lost all of its air. I still need to move forward with MY vision and if others want to go along for the ride I will enjoy the company. I must only do what I can.

These are the lessons that I am learning...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take a peek at my week...

Monday- a tickle that has been in my throat for a couple of days turns into a slight head congestion. A little loss of voice, and tired.
Tuesday- Full head congestion, slight fever, and I took the afternoon off school. I called the doctor, thinking, "he'll just tell me it's a cold..." Nope, by Tuesday afternoon I am miserable, I head to the doctor to discover- I have bronchitis. Antibiotics and a strong decongestant are prescribed. I feel crappy!
Wednesday- back at school, wondering all the while, "why am I here? why did I come?"
-We have to start on writing nonfiction all about pieces.
-I have to teach quarter past and a quarter till in Math.
-I missed them so much over break, now we are back and I am SICK!
Thursday- Thank God in heaven for antibiotics, I feel 100 times better than Wednesday. Not %100 but I am getting there. Today I reteach my lousy lessons that I taught on Wednesday. Nothing like seeing your lessons bomb when you feel like a person trapped inside the phlegm ball. Crash and burn baby- Thursday, we soared above the cloud cover.
Friday- Yea, we're going to take it easy, catch up on stuff we didn't get to over the week. It should be a great start to the weekend.

When vision meets phlegm, it is an ugly combination!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My One Little Word for 2008

Last week I posted this quote from Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength:

The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our VISION is what we become in life.
-Tony Dungy

My word for 2008 is: Vision.
I have pondered the word and this is what I think:
1. Vision takes careful planning. Things become intentional when you plan them. You must have future goals, aspirations, dreams in mind when you plan. It takes vision to foresee them and then plan the steps to accomplish them. That is intentional planning.
2. If you are a visionary then you are open to, conscious of, and optimistic about change. You keep yourself abreast with the newest and latest trends, ideas, and gimics that could either hinder or enhance your vision. A visionary is open to change.
3. Others see you as someone that is willing to listen, challenge, add to their own ideas. You become a sounding board for great or bad ideas from others. Because of your vision people look to you for guidance. You foster a sense of their own vision.

Who benefits from my word vision? How will this change my profession, home, and personal relationships?
-I will be more intentional about my time with students, parents, family, friends, etc. which will give back to them quality time vs. quantity time. It will help me prioritize what is the most important things that I need to relay to those closest to me?
- I will feel in control of situations because I am intentional. Planning, organizing, and making priorities will help me set my vision into action.
-I will learn how to better say no to people, and situations that I don't see as part of my vision. This will be hard at first but, again, it will be intentional.

So, I leave you with this picture, someone from the outlaw side of my family. Gosh, I love my new camera!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Christmas to remember

Sophie was thrilled to receive her very first Easy Bake oven. I remember the cakes and brownies being bigger! She thinks that it is just fantastic to be able to bake her very own things! Aunt Sharon came and helped make some fantastic cakes with us! Yummy!!!!
Here is our dear Aunt Sharon from California. Bless her heart she came and played with my two girls. They adore her and can't wait to see her soon. She is such a positive person in their life who showers them with so much love and attention. We love her visits and hope she will always feel welcome in our home.
Mommy got a new digital camera, Sydni is here tired of my incessant picture taking. Actually this is Sydni the techno girl, she has her MP3 player, her own digital camera that is in her lap, and the infamous Webkinz! Yea, even that squawking McCaw! Lots of noise, just her style!
Just the girls on Christmas. I'm sure they are sick and tired of me putting them together to take pictures. I promised them that the novelty will wear off for me.
Our final picture with dear Aunt Sharon. We were so sad to see her leave. She will be sorely missed by the girls, and the adults too. Merry Christmas to us all, and a happiest New Year!!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shhh... It's a secret!

I'm not sure that I've mentioned it before. I think I might have brought it to you from my husband's perspective, I'll just let you in... I LOVE FOOTBALL! Not many woman do, I can watch a lot of football on Sunday. I watch Monday night football faithfully, my favorite is the Fox Pregame show with Terry, Howie, and Jimmy. I am a football fan. Ask me a question, I bet I can answer. Here is another tidbit, sometimes, when I am commuting back and forth to work, during football season, I listen to ESPN radio. There I've said it, my secret is out of the bag!

So, you can imagine my elation when Santa brought my husband this book, "Quiet Strength" by Tony Dungy. Now there is nothing greater than Tony Dungy. He is coaching at his finest, more importantly, he is a fantastic father, contributor to society, and what an amazing football coach. Being from Indiana, loving the the Colts, wow, I am in heaven reading this book! Tony Dungy grew up in Michigan, the child of teachers. This upbringing taught him that he desires to hire other assistant coaches and personnel that are good teachers! He is very inspiring. One of the quotes I came across today left me inspired. I related it to our struggle as teachers, here is the quote:
The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our VISION is what we become in life.
-Tony Dungy
Another Tony Dungy saying that I think is very strong is, "No excuses, no exceptions." These words have really got me thinking about my vision, my improved future, that I am creating. A clear vision helps others perceive their expectations and their purpose. It allows them to take responsibility for their actions and propel them into changing their course. As we closed on this year, thinking about school I felt positive about the change that has begun within myself. My vision has fueled my commitment. I am ready to foster an environment that helps my students achieve their excellence.
That word VISION helps a person keep their eye on the prize, whatever the prize may be. I think that my new word for the year 2008 may be the word: VISION...