Tuesday, December 27, 2011


A friend of mine noticed that I haven't blogged since August. With the move to a new home over the summer and fall, I have to tell you it was hard to keep up. Blogging has taken a back seat to keeping up with organizing a new home space, taking care of my family and my students. I didn't realize how much I have missed it until my husband and I began talking about the changes that our family has undergone in the last 6 months. We reflected on the pros and cons of our life. My biggest complaint was the time I have lost writing and thinking with others through blogging. So, I am excited but a little anxious (hoping I can keep up with my personal goals for writing 3x a month) about coming back to writing, reading and learning with you.

I thought today, I would share some of the beautiful representations of tradition made by my first graders this year. After reading books like Every Friday, The Relatives Came, My Forever Dress and The Hat that Clara B. Wore my students were able to think about what tradition means in the character's lives as well as in their own lives. We had much discussion about tradition and
I invited students (and their parents) to post pictures of their family traditions in a google presentation doc.
This google doc allowed me to introduce students to a new tool for technology, allowed students to collaborate and witness a document being built over time and also allowed them to easily share and explain their traditions visually to one another using our projector.

After sharing and talking about our traditions, I asked students to think of a (picture) symbol that would represent a tradition that was meaningful to them. For example, Surabhi created a traditional Indian dress to represent her tradition of dressing up on special occasions, Jason choose a tray of cookies to represent his tradition of making cookies for Santa, and Tiya chose a diya (clay lamp filled with oil) to represent lighting lamps on Diwali. All of their symbols uniquely representing the special tradition celebrated with their family.

I modeled how to sketch and plan their symbol on paper and then introduced them to embossing on heavy gauge foil (an idea I grabbed from Family Fun magazine) with wooden pencil like rods. The students later colored their embossed symbols in with colored sharpies and then wrapped them up as a gift for their family.

I think you might agree that their creations were amazing. My class this year has embraced opportunities for showing what they know by drawing, building and creating. I have found myself looking for new ways to meet their needs as writers, readers, mathematicians and scientists where they can use their ideas and their hands to create. It is challenging me to build new traditions for the students in my classroom.


mary b. said...

So glad you are back. I always enjoy the literature connections to your class activities.

Moving is a big transition - but you have been missed. I look forward to your Jan. post regarding mentor text in a digital workshop. Your reflections get me thinking!

Cathy said...

I was sooooo excited to find your post waiting in my reader. I have missed your voice in the world. I learn so much from you about literature, technology, and keeping the voices of children alive in our classrooms.

I know it has been a busy six months. Life has a way of pulling us in many directions. Whether you write 3xs a month ---- or when inspiration strikes (or time allows), I will always smile to see your post appear in my reader.


Katie Dicesare said...

Mary and Cathy-
Your words filled my heart with the energy for sharing and connecting that I have been missing.
Thank you both for reading,

Maria said...

Your ideas inspire me in my classroom especially the idea of google docs sharing. I have never tried that in my class yet I read so much about it. Welcome back--can't wait to read more about your digital workshop in January.

Mary Lee said...

I'm chiming in on the Welcome Back chorus! I've missed you, but I could always imagine how very busy you were. You have set yourself a very reasonable writing goal. Smart girl.

lindsay said...

So glad you are back! Will you post some photos of your classroom? Thanks!

Mandy said...

Perfect timing, just what I needed as I think about discussing traditions with my K students. Thanks for the great titles and Google presentation idea. So, glad you are back!

Bianca Runge said...

This is a great ppost