Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Taking Attendance

I never used to take attendance in class. Wait, that's not true. I never used to call out names and wait for "here". Never. Ever! It felt like a waste of precious time, so I skipped it. I'd check visually and move on to beginning class...until this year.

Opening a new school, I promised myself that I'd make changes, grow, and try new things. Flexible seating was something I'm trying this year (and loving, by the way), but with flexible seating came a new problem. I couldn't do a quick visual check to see who's here and who's absent because they are changing seats every day. Attendance. UGH! 

Then I thought, how can I make attendance valuable time in class? The Attendance Question was born! I am not the creator of this idea, but I must say I'm LOVING the daily attendance question. Why? First, it gives me the opportunity to learn names because I'm saying each name, every single class. Second, an unexpected bonus is that it builds community. We all answer the same question (and if you are in my classroom, you are expected to answer it too). The question often sparks some debate or discussion amongst students. Finally, it's an additional idea for our notebook journey that begins our instructional time together. I've seen many notebook entries that have been inspired by our attendance question. 

My favorite part of this process is the unexpected answers that I get from my sixth-graders. I'm learning that I make assumptions about my students because I'm often surprised at the creativity and thoughtfulness of their answers to a simple question. Here's an example, last week our question was "If you could go anywhere, where would you like to go?" It was a student submitted question. As I was typing it into the slideshow, I felt disappointed because I thought it would be a round of the beach and Disney. Nope. Some of the answers included: my grandma's house, home, the stone age (hahaha), and even heaven.
I loved the answers so much, I asked them to jot down their answers on a chart. 

These students are thoughtful and creative and brave to reveal these answers. Yesterday's question instigated some arguments...chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter.

The conversations that were shared...the memories, the inspiration for writing. Attendance. It's become a favorite way to begin our time together. 

Here's our question for today, what would your answer be? 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Launch Complete!

Friday was a big day in room 734. We launched our blogs. Sixth-grade writers are now sixth-grade bloggers. We've started later than ever...I was frustrated with the late start, usually, I like to launch blogs in the fall. 
(Learning Snapchat, but this is how launching blogging feels sometimes.) 

Everything was ready. I managed to procure a cart of laptops. Instructions were clearly published in google classroom. We were ready!

This day is one of my favorite days of the whole year. I know what my students are capable of and how creative they are, but by the end of this process...many of them know it too. 
I guide them through the creation of the blog path (the URL) and the naming of the blog. I leave clear instructions for creating and submitting a post, but everything else is up to them.
My instructions are simple: PLAY. Discover. Investigate and share what you're learning. For some students, those instructions are scary. They want to find the "right" answer and there is no right answer. Instead, they need to be persistent and collaborate to create a unique blog that represents them and their story. 

Earlier I mentioned my frustration with beginning so late in the year. This is a brand new school and blogging was something that fell through the cracks for me. I was annoyed at myself for not following through on blogging in November. I tried to launch in December and January and found I wasn't able to get it done, so here we are in February.

I noticed a big change in launching this year. Students were more confident in their problem-solving skills. They were able to work together and on day one they were working on some advanced blogging skills, like personalizing their blog and adding images they created themselves.

The energy in the room on launch day is palpable. There's a buzz. Everyone is engaged and busy. I love the moans and groans I hear when I announce class is ending in 10 minutes or 8 minutes or 5 minutes. They don't want to leave. "I can't believe I made my own blog today." That's a statement I hear over and over again!

Some students have been blogging all weekend and a few even blogged on our snow day yesterday. They are sharing their stories. I'm proud. I love to read their blogs. Once we've blogged for a few days, we will open the blogs to the public. Audience motivates writers.

Interested in seeing some of what my sixth-grade writers created?!?! Here are a few screen shots...enjoy!
Book recommendations! YAY!

Look at all of these posts!

Telling the story of our classroom & Bob the fly!

Love this blog header!

Post inspired by mentor text post.

Our blogging journey has just begun! I can't wait to see where it takes us!

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.    

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fresh Start

Today marks the beginning of a new quarter...a new semester. Beginnings feel fresh and new-filled with possibilities. There's an energy around beginnings that's palpable and motivating. I wonder why.

The school year can be a long haul. There are days when things feel stressful and I get overwhelmed, but this moment means that I get to look back and reflect on all we've accomplished. I also turn my eyes forward and see what else there is left to do. 

We have made it to the halfway mark of the opening of a new school. It's been hard, and rewarding, and fun, and frustrating...through all of it, I've grown and learned so much about myself as an educator and a teammate. I wouldn't trade one single moment, even the stressful ones. 

Today I go to school and it feels like a brand new blank sheet of paper. Where we will go from here? What can we accomplish now? I'm ready to go! 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We Are Telling Our Story

This blog post has been requested by my seventh-graders. "Ms. Haseltine, a lot of people follow you on Twitter, right? A lot of people read your blog? Will you write about us?" How could I say no to that?!?!

One of the classes I teach is an elective, Communications, and this year our class has created an original news show for our morning announcements. 

Our first show.

I confess that I had no idea where to begin, so our amazingly creative IFT (Instructional Facilitator for Technology) joined us and helped us find a beginning.

We jumped in on December 4th and we haven't looked back since! Students pick their assignments and create new and interesting news segments. They take their phones and find places around the building and then they film themselves. Each day there's a producer who takes all of the segments and edits them together.

What they create...I can't believe it! It's all done by the students. Filmed, edited, produced...all by students. Today we will share our nineteenth show with our school and we can't wait!

It's proof that students have a story to tell. My job is to provide support and sometimes guidelines, but my most important job is to encourage them to take risks and try something new! The energy that bubbles up when new ideas are floated is amazing. They are applying problems solving skills on a daily basis. Their solutions are rarely my solutions...often they are better.

This is what school should look like. Students creating a final product that's shared with the world. Students telling their story, in their way, with their words. Students solving problems and finding new ways to do things. This is what communications class looks like.

Last week, I had students bring in extra resources to use with our broadcast and another student created real news badges on her own. They are owning this project and making it their own. I can't wait to see where we go next!

Now that the news is up and running like a well-oiled machine, we are ready to tackle our next project...passion projects. Their assignment: Change the world.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Life is all about perspective, isn't it? I've been thinking a lot about choices and perspective lately.  We control what others see in our lives...

What do we choose to share? Do we share the failures or only the successes? Do we share the messiness of the process or the beauty that only appears at the end of a long journey? 

Earlier this week, I shared this picture of my writing space on social media. Proud that I was working towards my goal of daily morning pages, I wanted to share this with my writing tribe, so I posted it. A friend made a comment to me about how perfect that looked. I told her, "You should see what I cropped out...I cut out the messiness and only left the beauty. 

Authenticity is something I value. I work to share both my failures and my successes, but I strive to focus on the potential. Where can this bring me next? How can I grow from this? But, I find when I post pictures, I often crop out the messy and unorganized parts of my space. 

What does that say to those who view my pictures? Do they believe that my entire home is this lovely? Does it make them feel less because they don't have a spot like this? That's never my intention. I want to share my best and make a good impression, but at what cost? 

So here I am, telling you that what I share with the world is only part of the story. We all have a story to share and we decide what we share with the world, but since I do share parts of me, I'm going to work on being more authentic. 

Here's the full picture of the room with that lovely writing space...
This is my view from my writing chair.

Here's the rest of the room. It's a room in progress, filled with boxes and stuff that needs to be organized...

My word this year is MOXIE. I need this MOXIE to share these pictures. It's showing the mess. It's hard, but it's necessary. This reminds me of a quote, "Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle, or your middle to someone else's end." Tom Hiller.

Remember that we all have a story worth sharing. As the author of our own story, we decide what we share. Have some MOXIE...share the mess and the beauty.

Bella is enjoying her mess. We have so much to learn from our dogs. 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

75 and Ten

New year means new beginnings. Today I began creating my 75th notebook. I've been notebooking since 1982 and a few years ago, I counted. Seventy-five notebooks. It's quite a number. I almost let that number intimidate me in choosing this next notebook. I finally settled on this...

A new notebook means I get to begin a new story. My last notebook was small with lined pages. I do not usually use notebooks like that, but it was a risk and I thought I'd try it. I've been craving large, blank spaces where I can write and doodle and think. A new notebook allows for a fresh start and I can't wait to begin number 75!

 With this new year also comes a new word...my tenth "One Little Word". I can't believe I've been choosing words for ten years. WOW!

Is it just me or is the choosing becoming more difficult? I feel this pressure. This year I was almost in a panic. I need to have more faith. My word always finds me. Each word touches my life in a unique way. 

This year I wanted something that would nudge me. In reflecting on this past year, I feel like I let fear slow me down, and sometimes stop me in my tracks. My word needed to do something to motivate me to push through the fear and to give me the courage, the confidence, to continue on my own path. 

It came down to two words: GUMPTION or MOXIE. I picked MOXIE. It came from a book I read this year by Jen Hatmaker, Of Mess & Moxie. I tweeted her and she saw it! 

I loved that book and I'm going to reread it now that Moxie is my word. I jotted about it in my notebooks...

Once I decided, I used my new word as the title for my 75th notebook...

I can't wait to see where my word takes me this year. MOXIE is powerful and sassy. I could use that. I'll be writing about it and reflecting on it in my notebook. What word have you picked to guide your year? 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Blog Post in Pictures...Holiday Family Edition

Time spent with family is good for the soul...

Here they come! I love getting to meet the bus, especially on the day of my arrival!

Intense concentration going on here!

Auntie tried to braid her hair...this is my second or third try. 

Wrigley gets so excited he leaps onto the bay window to see who's coming!

Hard to get him into pictures this year, so I'm happy to get this one!

Last day of school selfie! 

I swear, I have more family here, but I adore my time being an auntie. More family pics coming soon. I hope you get a chance to enjoy time with your family this holiday season.