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Saturday, April 19, 2014

 CELEBRATE Three

I'm joining Ruth Ayres to Celebrate this week. Click on the Celebrate button to link up or read other celebrations.

Today I am celebrating April vacation. I am celebrating the time to: 
  • Read
  • Write
  • Laugh with my children
  • Finally feel caught up on house chores
  • Drink coffee in my pajamas
  • Take a shower every day
  • Eat healthy food so I feel better when I return to school
  • Contemplate how I can move my teaching self forward
  • Show my husband how much he means to me
And breathe...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

 Conferencing about Writing

I am in the midst of a University program called the Maine Writing Project. I am writing more than ever and as I write, I keep thinking about how I teach writing in my classroom. Of course, this is exactly what the program is designed to do.

I have made a mental note to do some research on how to use writing portfolios with next year's first grade. I am sad that I didn't do that this year, but I will be ready for next year for sure!

The thing that bothers me the most right now is my conferencing (or lack thereof) with my students about writing. I just can't seem to find a system that works. I need to work with them individually for the most part, but it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I can't get through more than three kids in a day and that means it takes me two weeks to conference with the whole class. Two weeks for first graders is like two months. They have already written many stories by then. They want to share each and every one with me. So lately I've been trying to speed up my conferences but then I find myself correcting the papers and demoralizing the students which for sure isn't my purpose. I have to be honest, this leaves me feeling inept.

When I try to conference in small groups as I see several bloggers saying they do, I don't feel the time is well spent. I try to identify one goal like finger spacing or spelling words on the word wall or character development, but they are all so different. They are different as learners. They are different in their development as writers. Their stories are completely different. It's exhausting because there is always one kid who is a master at getting all of my attention and we become a movie for the other members of the small group.

I need to figure this out. I have read two National Writing Project papers about the topic:
Working with Beginning Writers
Finding the Black Ninja Fish

I have also read blog posts.
Writer's Workshop and Conferring by Mrs. Wills
Mrs. Meacham's Writing
First Grade WOW Writing Conferences
Thank God It's First Grade Writing Conferencing
Forever in First, Revision

I watched this video and didn't love it, but thought I could use some of the ideas.

I am working on a plan to put together exactly what I do and share it on here. I wholeheartedly believe that the only right way to do something is whatever it is that you can maintain. If I keep starting other people's ideas and never continuing them, then it isn't right for me. I was digging around in my professional books (I have lots) and happily discovered this gem. I haven't read it yet, but I plan to tonight.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

 CELEBRATE Two

I'm joining Ruth Ayres to Celebrate this week. Click on the Celebrate button to link up or read other celebrations.

1) I'm celebrating completing my first Marzano iObservation for my district. I got stellar marks and feel like I really put my all into this. I am very proud of the work I accomplished this year both with my students and with my colleagues.

2) I also got my 3rd Quarter report cards completed early. I am celebrating that I was so organized and together this go around that I had the information I needed at my fingertips for 3rd Quarter reports. Thanks Evernote and google docs!

Monday, April 7, 2014

 What am I reading?

For me
With my first graders as a mentor text for writing realistic fiction
With my 8 year old son
With my 6 year old daughter

Saturday, April 5, 2014

 CELEBRATE One

I have decided to commit to Ruth Ayres' Meme Celebrate. Click on the picture to learn more.
http://www.ruthayreswrites.com
1) I am celebrating my husband coming home. He has been away for two months at a work training. I have missed him way more than I thought I would. He is a great partner and parent to our children and we are so glad to have him back home.
2) I am also celebrating my current teaching life. For the first time in a long time I love my work. I can't see myself anyplace else. I have amazing colleagues at this new job whom I trust and who make me laugh and reflect.  Most days I can't wait to see my class. They also make me laugh and reflect. I love how much they trust and love me. I am so lucky.
3) I am celebrating my current reflective writing life. I am becoming the kind of writer I've always wanted to be. It is a part of who I am now and a part of my daily life.

4) I am celebrating my ability to reach out and find help when I need it. I wanted to change my focus on my personal blog and get some new ideas for my classroom blog, so I used my new understandings from the book above (Thrive) and found someone who had what I wanted. Carrie Gelson (There's a Book for That)writes two blogs that I think are great. I contacted her on Twitter (@CarrieGelson) and asked for her advice. She gave it willingly, honestly, and in a thorough way. I can't thank her enough. I feel like I have my next steps in front of me and that makes me feel calm. Thank you Carrie!

Monday, March 31, 2014

 Critical Reflection

I can't get this image out of my mind. I've been trying hard this year to really reflect on how and why I teach what I teach. I recently found this graphic and keep coming back to it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

 My Digital Life

I have a regular life. I wake up at about 6:30am with my kids. We get dressed and come downstairs. Breakfast. Pack bags with winter clothes and lunches. Head to school. Home. Homework. Dinner. Bath. Reading, reading reading. Bed.

But in between all this normalcy I cram in a whole lot of digital life stuff.

6:15am Open eyes, grab iPhone on bedside table to check Facebook, Twitter, personal gmail, school gmail, blog comments, and weather.
6:45am Check here to find out if I can freeze PB & J sandwiches for the kids.
 6:55am Scan Bloglovin for blogs I follow regularly. Check Facebook again. Check email again.
7:10am Open Evernote to add notes about ideas I have for a blog post for my classroom. Today I wondered if I might be able to make a digital book with kids' newly written poetry and them reading it to add to the blog.

7:20am Check website for phone number of violin place for lessons for my daughter. Check gymnastics website to see if they accept kids on a rolling basis. Check my kids' online school account to see if they have enough money for lunches in there.

7:40am Google smoothie recipe and move on to make this for breakfast.
7:45am Head to school.

8:00am Pull lesson plans and morning work on to iPad.

12:00pm Check University website to see if anyone has responded to the story I posted last night.

1:00pm Google math mad minutes and print so that kids can practice timed addition and subtraction. Google poetry paper to see if anyone has something out there (for free) that I can use for this unit.

2:45pm Pull up classroom blog and help kids reflect on our day and post about it. Make sure star student has blogged for the day via an app called Easy Blogger jr.

3:00pm Check email and Facebook.

5:20pm Google ways to make cauliflower soup, change mind and use roasted cauliflower recipe instead. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Check current blog post to see if there are any comments.

6:45pm Go on Amazon.com to order next book in the series for son's night time reading. Decide to have it go directly to his Kindle to surprise him with a new book tonight.

8:15pm Tweet a question about creating a digital book of student written poetry that could be posted to blogger. Read and research ideas sent almost immediately back to me.
8:30pm Respond to email from the day. Take pictures of poetry that kids wrote today. Test out a couple of apps to see if they might work for digital book.

8:45pm Go to online class to see if anyone has commented on piece. Read someone else's piece and click on link to TEDtalk about Trust. Copy and paste the url for this video and send to a few teachers who will appreciate it.
9:00pm Decide to work on a blog post about my digital life.