Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Invitation to the Kindness Challenge

I've been thinking a lot about the world today and how different it is from the world when I grew up. This leads me to consider my upbringing and my parents. My parents always taught me and my sister to be kind...to everyone. They taught us this lesson with their actions more than anything. We watched them. We noticed. We followed.

I'm grateful to my mom and my dad for teaching us this valuable lesson.

This world needs kindness more than ever. Today would have been my dad's seventy-first birthday. He died almost eleven years ago. It's important to me to remember my dad and to honor him on his birthday.
Last year, I assigned special "Dad Homework". It was ice cream for all. That was certainly a hit! You can read about it here. This year, I want to go bigger. My original idea was to complete 71 acts of kindness. Immediately, I panicked! How could I do that and keep track of it? That's when it hit me...I don't have to do it alone. 
This is where you come in. Will you do one random act of kindness to honor the memory of my dad? Hold the door for someone. Smile. Treat someone to a coffee. Let someone cut in front of you in traffic. Anything. And, if possible, could you share your story here? I'd love it if I could collect seventy-one acts of kindness. 
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Share this blog post. Share the request. How far can we make this go? The world changes each time we show kindness...and go ahead, have some ice cream too, it was Dad's favorite!

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you so much! 

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, November 7, 2017

The Journey of a Learner

One of my favorite things about school is the opportunity to finish and begin again. Friday marked the end of first quarter and on Wednesday, we begin second quarter. It's a fresh start. We will set new goals and begin new projects and our journey as learners will continue.

I've never thought about how a school year is organized and the importance of quarters before today. The delineation of a clear beginning and ending makes any long journey more manageable. It gives everyone a chance to stop and notice. As I pause in this journey, I reflect on what went well and what I can do better as a teacher. Guiding my middle-school students through that process is powerful and will help them set goals for themselves as learners.

These teacher work days provide opportunity to reflect on where we've been and set goals for where we will go next. While these work days are a gift, I miss working with my students. I miss our silly attendance questions and trips to the library and sharing from our notebooks. The quiet is good. It will end tomorrow when the students return, ready for quarter two and more of our journey together as readers and writers.  

Next week, my journey takes me to NCTE in St. Louis. I hope to see many of my blogging friends face to face as we continue our journey as learners and educators.

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.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Celebrating Gratitude

November is a time when I bring the practice of gratitude to my daily routine. Each day I share one reason for which I'm grateful on social media. It's simple. It's small, but it's powerful. Spending time searching for the good changes my perspective. We live in a world of pain and struggle where sometimes hope seems lost. Those feelings can be overwhelming, so instead, I spend my energy working on finding the grace in my world. When you look for gratitude, you begin to see it more and more. Here are some reasons for my gratitude:

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for sharing our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Choice in Assessment

I took a chance and tried something new today. We've been rehearsing and learning new vocabulary words for a few weeks and today we were showing off our knowledge...aka it was time for our summative assessment. I decided to give them three choices to show me that they owned these words. They could use the word in a sentence or write the definition or they could sketch or doodle the meaning of the word.

I was worried about the last choice. My worry wasn't for my students, my worry was for me. I wondered if I would I be able to see the mastery of the word in their drawing? The answer came to me in a resounding YES! It made reading over these answers interesting and fun too. I love sixth-grade readers!

Here are some of their sketches and doodles! Enjoy...







I celebrate choice in assessment. I celebrate the creativity of my sixth-grade readers and writers. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Photo Challenge

Over on Facebook and Instagram, there's a photo challenge going on. I love taking pictures and noticing things around me. It felt like it took forever for me to be challenged, but my friend, Jennifer, finally tagged me...

And so I began the challenge, here are my first six pictures...

One day at a time, I challenged my family. My sister and cousin jumped onto the challenge immediately. I love this picture! It's my sister's first stuffed animal and my niece's favorite stuffed animal sitting together...

My mom and one of my aunts really wanted to join in but didn't know how to make pictures black and white. Once they figured it out, they were off! Here are some of their photos...

My other aunt resisted because she had no idea what to do. Her actual words were, "You know I am incapable of this. What do I do?" With just a little help from me and my cousin, she started the challenge. I love seeing how others see the world and what they want to share. My Auntie Ann's photo made me howl! It's totally unexpected, a little gross, and so funny. That's why I wanted her to join us. Looking at the world through the lens of others is valuable. Here's her first picture...

This challenge ends for me today. Here's my final picture...

How do you see the world? Join the challenge. Take some pictures. Share them. Notice. 

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.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

I Celebrate Middle School Writers!

Yesterday was the National Day on Writing! It's my favorite holiday...well, maybe other than National Notebook Day in May. We were busy writing and celebrating writing in room 734. 

We started with a read aloud. It reminded us about the importance of telling our story. The new picture book, "Malala's Magic Pencil". I shared magic pencils with the students and we were off!

Choices included graffiti wall writing about #WhyIWrite or about books about writing. Students could write with unusual tools including blocks, play-dough, magnets, or a letter board. Some students wrote stories together, some wrote poetry, some created quotes and others found their own way.

We tweeted our writing like crazy! The excitement was palpable. One student said, "It's so much fun, it feels like the last day of school!" 

The rest of the story will be told in pictures. There are lots of pictures. I tried to capture as much of this day as possible...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why I Write

Today we will celebrate writing in room 734. We are writers. We will create new writing. We will share our writing in new and creative ways. We will celebrate ourselves as writers.

Writing is powerful. Words change the world. Our time together will begin with the story of a writer who changed her world and soon the world beyond her own, Malala. The picture book, Malala and the Magic Pencil, is a perfect read aloud for this day. 

I celebrate writing.
I celebrate our writers. 
I celebrate magic pens and pencils. 

Please come back to see the results from our day of celebration. How will you celebrate today? 

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