Monday, March 16, 2009

"Everything you need is already inside."


I have been spending a lot of time at lately as I log my hours of running on their website. I have entered and accomplished my first challenge of 25 miles. I have been documenting my times and setting goal after goal after goal. This quote came to me in an advertisement and I quickly jotted it down, placing it in my writer's notebook.

Mulling it over for the last couple of days I have finally found why it is so meaningful to me at this time. Today, I stayed home from school to take Sydni to the doctor, my husband arrived home at 3:00 and by 4 I was out running in the afternoon sun. I struggled during that 2:63 miles. My mile pace was high, I was supposed to run 3 miles and only could make it 2:63. I felt like my legs were lead, and I was seriously considering vomitting. I gave up!

Later, when I put my kids to bed I decided to take a walk with the dog. Lucy is my smallest dog, but she was meant to be a sled dog, she can pull someone literally anywhere she wants to go. Tonight, she wanted to run and boy did we run! We paced each other for 3:50 miles, my pace 8'11'' per mile. I darted home and realized, "this was in me all the time."

My students have been with me for 1year and half now and I am slowing dreading the time that is quickly ticking by us. Each day is another day that I will never regain with them. Today I decided that I need to share this quote with them. I know they are not runners, I know that they are 7/8 year olds, but I want to share these meaningful words.

What they need as readers is already inside: they have the skills, they know the language, the fix up strategies, and they have word power. Its time to set goals. I am excited to have them set reading goals for the end of the year. I am excited to see where they want to head. I am ready to let them lead, supporting them in their learning.

My writers need a little more support, but they are coming right along. They are so observant as readers that when they write they are willing to try different writing styles and forms. They write so freely, and they share so willingly. I want to set some goals there too but I want them to know that I support them completely.

Ultimately, I want them to know that I didn't give up. Today, it ate at me, this stinky run. The rest of the afternoon and evening I was restless, I couldn't wait to get back out there and see what was inside of me. I wanted to see what I could do! I wouldn't let it rest for another day, it had to be resolved today. I want my kids to know that giving up is not an option, that trying day after day is hard work. Work that is hard is worth doing, over and over until our goals are accomplished.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Day With Debbie Miller

So Thursday night I stayed up late thinking I would have trouble sleeping anyway, and I was right, I awoke 20 minutes later than I wanted on Friday morning and flew through my routine. I arrived later than I wanted to my classroom but I still wasn't late. Debbie had not arrived yet and so I busied myself in my room making sure everything was perfect. My stomach was not a ball of nerves, I was not nervous, but I was jittery. I was anticipating the day, I was hoping she would approve of the work I had done with my students, I was hoping she would see my anchor charts and affirm my work. (Weird huh?)
I helped others find the room we would be filling, I talked with my friends, and then there she was walking down my hallway. I introduced her to some colleagues, showed her where she would be speaking, and then took her luggage to my van. When I returned to the building she asked to tour my room. She walked in and took a circle around my room, we discussed the individuals that would be attending today, and then made a decision about what they needed to see her do in my classroom. She decided that they would benefit from seeing my room as a room where Readers' Workshop had been in place for a long time. What an affirmation that my work is apparent!
The time arrived my students gathered on the rug, she read them the Alphabet Tree by Lee Lioni, and then dismissed them to go "happy reading." My students went dutifully to their seats, got their books out and began, and Debbie Miller had true conversations with my pumpkins. I stood back and reflected what I was learning from this whole experience.
-I need to live in the moment during workshop, I cannot let others things seep into my time. I need to be in the moment so that I can really listen. I need to sloooooowwwww doooowwwwn!Listening is very important and I need to be better at it!
-I need to read Choice Words by Peter Johnston. I feel like I am careful about what I say with children but that I am still learning. Researching this more can only make me better.
-I think what my facilitators learned is that this sort of reading instruction is the most important, and it doesn't fit into a little box that McGraw Hill is selling. Reading and thinking go hand in hand.
"If we teach kids to be readers and thinkers the assessments will show that." -Debbie Miller.
They have some really challenging thinking that is going to come from this workshop! Talk more about that...and keep me posted ladies!
-I have a lot of work ahead of me, I am challenged by her thinking, challenged by her words. I think that if I didn't come away feeling that way, then she would feel like she wasn't doing her job. She challenges me, in every way imaginable, and I relish in the fact that we all challenge her. She is a lifelong learner, not the master of it all. I like that about her.
As I dropped Debbie off at the airport she hugged me and told me what a pleasure it was to spend this time together. It was the experience of a lifetime, one I will cherish for a lifetime. It was a chance to challenge my beliefs, question their alignment, and continue practicing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Day With Debbie Miller

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Debbie Miller in Warsaw Indiana. She is such a soft spoken speaker but she is mighty with her words and they pierce to the very being of a teacher's soul. This year has been a rough year, we have been thrown a lot of "new" stuff. Every administrator begins a conversation with, "I can't believe how much we've thrown at you all this year," and yet they still keep throwing...
I needed to sit and absorb what she had to say today. We get so bogged down with this crazed world we call education. We zoom around dibbeling and dabbeling, and TRCing and creating assessment after assessment, and before we know it we miss the point. We haven't stopped to listen to anyone, let alone the children in our classrooms.
I feel like a piece of salt water taffy stretched thin, but today I felt like someone started to walk me back to center. Debbie says that we must make this workshop all about being in the moment, planning surface or deep structure lessons that are explicit enough that they create the unpredictable. In this unpredictable situation we can come alongside children and guide them. It's about slowing down and listening to them think aloud, and modeling what that language is so that they can use it later. It's about creating a place of comfort that makes them believe that they are valued beyond measure, and that books have brought us to this epicenter. This is real teaching.
Here is what I have decided that I need to work on with my students:
-I would like to guide them more in their response in literature.
-We need to strengthen their partner work, really modeling this because I haven't done enough of it with my students.
-Sharing, we could stand to think more about the way that we share with one another.

I leave you with this quote that I loved from today:
"Sometimes we have to give children our words until they find their own."
-debbie miller
March 2009
I have more to share with you after Friday, you see Debbie Miller is coming to my school, and my classroom, and she will be working with my students. You'll pardon me if I am walking on cloud 9, but my hero is coming to town!