Saturday, July 26, 2008

Childlike wonder

This morning I was out of bed by 7 to run some of the bike paths I feel so fortunate to have in my new neighborhood. I grabbed the newspaper at the end of the drive as I walked into the house after a cool run. I love having time to search through the paper (something I don't always have time to do) so I was anxious to sit and read articles that interested me. Many articles caught my interest...a few Obama articles, Katie Smith (former buckeye basketball player) heads to her 3rd Olympics ( I can't wait to share in the excitement of the Olympics with my kids) and then I happened to come across an article about the recent death of Randy Pausch, author of the Last Lecture. I remembered seeing Pausch on Oprah sharing his story of cancer but more importantly his outlook on life. As I read the article, I cried looking at the happy photograph of Randy, his wife and his young children. Then I kept reading and remembered how brave this man sounded. He was quoted as saying "If I don't seem depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you." The words that clearly made me reflect the most were..."you have to decide if you're a tigger or an eeyore. I think I am clear where I stand on the Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It's just too important."

Working with 6-7 year olds on a daily basis is one of the gifts I have been given to help me hold on to "childlike wonder." Don't you just know the feeling he is talking about? I feel it in the classroom as I envision the energy of 20 first graders watching me carefully pick up a caterpillar creeping through the grass and place it on my arm or their eyes when I read them a new book that are anxious to hear. For me, I am fortunate to have "childlike wonders" happen at home too with my boys...seeing a deer quietly wander through the backyard or when my five year old turns scientist in the kitchen mixing and combining to see what his final concoction will be. It is the "childlike wonder" that keeps us going, learning, sharing and talking. Only 29 days until I share my days with friends who will help me learn more about that wonder.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You have to check out the link

After taking time to actually link to the peak at Debbie Miller's new book, Teaching with Intention, I felt I had to quick post about how I was engrossed in her first chapter. WOW, WOW and more WOW! If you haven't gone to the Stenhouse link at Year of Reading that Franki provided, just do it!!! I wish I had this book before school started. You'll find yourself envisioning as Debbie describes a third grade classroom she visited in Cincinnati,Ohio. Go now!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No teacher talk

No teacher talk was the agreement we made as my mom, my two sisters ( we all share the love and the profession of teaching in common) and brother (my brother is not a teacher but appreciated our intentional pact to leave work talk at home) spent 5 days away in humid, hot Florida. Our little get away has been fabulous. We had a ton of time to catch up talking, reading, lounging and just being ourselves. There were times that teacher talk (you know the talk about the classroom, books, kids and ideas we are having) would creep back into conversation and mom would often confront us and remind us that we were leaving it at home for a few days. I love teacher talk but I appreciated her reminders. It helped our conversation center more around each other and our lives. We thought out loud quite a bit with my youngest sister who is newly engaged envisioning colors, invites and all the exciting details that are attached to planning a wedding. We talked about our troubles and worries. We laughed and regressed back to silly antics of childhood. It was a true vacation.
I know that after today "teaching" will be a constant on my mind as the days to school beginning grow closer. With 5 full days without the Internet, email and "no teacher talk," I feel like my head is clear and I am ready to think through anything!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The 2 Sisters

Thursday was the first day this summer that I was off duty as mom. I spent my day at Darby Farms here in Columbus listening to CAFE wisdom from The Sisters. CAFE stands for comprehension, accuracy, fluency and expanding vocabulary, the menu and system that guides their instruction for readers. I loved learning about their creative system for growing their readers. The Sisters were so personable and very funny. I was fortunate enough to share lunch with them and they talked about how their new book about CAFE in the classroom should be out this fall. Their previous book The Daily Five ( fostering literacy independence in the elementary grades) is available now. Here are some of the big ideas that I came away with as I begin thinking about next year and reading workshop:

1. Keep it short: mini lessons, conferring time ( Brain research indicates student's age reflects how long kids can pay attention)

2. We are guiding reader's through strategy instruction not just doing guided reading with a leveled book

3. Teacher's are on a journey...we have to trust where we are and respect where other's are

The Sisters are also featured on one of my favorite sites for educators and coaches...Choice Literacy. If you haven't signed up for the weekly newsletter (The Big Fresh), now is the time before school starts!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This is the Way: a reading/writing workshop find

I like to find books that I can use for both reading and writing workshop. It is nice to find a picture book that kids can jump into after a read aloud and begin reading because it has the support that early readers this case repetition and rhyme. This repetition, in my opinion is another support or craft that primary writers can easily model and try in their own writing. THIS IS THE WAY by Charles Fuge, is one of those books that I am anxious to try this upcoming year in the classroom. Here is more of what I liked about it...

-the pictures are bright and bold

- it is about animals and how they move ( kids will love acting and sounding this out)
This is the way the elephant walks BOOM BANG CRASH! This is the way the dinosaur stalks SNARL HISS GNASH!

- it rhymes

-lots to notice and picture read and infer especially on the last few pages (this is where kids can help think through what happened in the story)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Reading Club

Click the top right x and then play to view the voice thread is public but I messed up as I tried to embed it onto my post.
In this voice thread, you see my own kids winding down from a reading club event we hosted at our house. What you will have to visualize is a group of energetic boys ranging from K- 4th grade who came to enjoy a morning of reading, eating and playing hockey in the basement. Another mom and I hung out with 8 boys for about 2hours on the last day of June. The kids were anxious to "play" roller blade hockey in the basement and they hung out there until everyone arrived. Once we had the whole crew, I introduced some of the newer books we purchased this summer as well as some of the favorite picture books from my classroom. My Larry suggested a read aloud and I began the morning with a new Batman book. I then encouraged the kids to find something new and read. Some kids read alone; others read with a friend. My friend and I targeted readers we wanted to support and the 4th grader read to the Kindergartner. It was casual. The kids walked to the kitchen for fruit kabobs, cookies and juice when they wanted a snack. When the individual reading broke up we ended with a read aloud. The kids wanted to hear Scaredy Squirrel. Of course more hockey was next. I was happy that we spent time with friends not just playing sports, riding bikes, swimming or at the park. I know some kids even left with a short list of books they want to read next.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 1...Back to School?

Today I opened the mail to find the first back to school ad this summer. In the past, I remember sorting through newspaper fliers and advertisements AFTER the 4th of July but July 1st? Don't you think the stores rush us a bit?