Monday, December 22, 2014

My Name is Auntie Chelle!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
In school, I'm known as Ms. Haseltine. When I am home with my family, I'm Auntie Chelle.
It's so much fun being Auntie Chelle! I get to be silly and laugh. I have interesting conversations. I make silly faces.
I play games. I go on adventures! I act as a jungle gym.
Monday night I got to take a car ride and see Christmas lights!
I was flabbergasted with the amazing lighting displays! After, we stopped at a family favorite, The Pizza Shop, for a cheesy concoction! Mmmm!! While we waited for our food, we practiced our writing...
Jack is writing in my notebook.
"See what I wrote, Auntie Chelle?"
Jillian can write words too!
Here are some of the words that Jack knows already!
 Today Jillian and I get to spend some time together! YAY!
We are so excited!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating Breaks!

Thank you to Ruth for the opportunity to celebrate every week!
Today I am celebrating taking a break. Life moves so quickly, it's important to stop and look around. That begins today. I may blog, but I am giving myself permission to take a break. Wishing all of you rest and relaxation and a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

One to the World

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
Our county has a new superintendent. His name is Dr. Eric Williams. A big initiative that he's brought to our county is One to the World. Dr. Williams comes to our county as a blogger and very active on twitter. He models what he wants to see in classrooms, which is connecting our students to the world...the real world.  Last week he shared this initiative with the school board. I attended the small informational meeting. In this presentation Dr. Williams and Dr. Breeden, Dr. Contartesi and Mr. Flynn all presented about One to the World and BYOT.  Dr. Breeden shared three examples of schools and students that were already demonstrating the ideas of One to the World. My students and I were one of those three examples. That was quite an honor! She talked about my students connecting with authors via twitter and social media and the impact that made on their learning.   Dr. Williams talked about what One to the World means. One point that really struck me was when he said it will mean, "...recapturing the joy of teaching and learning." Students will own their learning and they will be connected to the world! During the presentation, Dr. Williams asked the school board members to participate in a Todays Meet chat to help process their thoughts and share their questions. Throughout the presentation, he'd give them a graphic organizer and a purpose for listening. I almost forgot I was at the school board meeting. I was watching a teacher at work...a teacher passionate about his subject.  Dr. Williams wants teachers and students to share meaningful learning experiences that are grounded in the curriculum using all of the tools available. He wants to "get our of their way"...and let the teachers run with the technology already out there. He wants to support our students and the teachers. I am grateful to work in a county where the superintendent really gets it! Thank you for your leadership Dr. Williams! And to Dr. Breeden, Thank you for a wonderful representation of my students! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday Blog Posts

Thank you to Margaret Simon for starting DigiLit Sundays. Join us here!
This past Friday, I asked my students to blog (write) for five minutes...and ONLY five minutes. Like so many good ideas, I borrowed this from someone else. One Friday about a month ago, I noticed the post on Ruth Ayres' blog was tagged, Five Minute Friday. I clicked the link and found Kate Motaung's blog. I tried Five Minute Friday myself and enjoyed it. The idea stuck in my head until this week...I shared it with my students.
I wanted to make it meaningful for my sixth graders. While reflecting about including this in my plans, I thought back so many years ago to the summer I participated in the Northern Virginia Summer Writing Institute. While watching presentations from these talented and creative teachers, they would ask the participants to write. "For the next seven minutes, write..." Every time this happened, I FROZE. I can still remember hearing pencils scratching furiously on pages around me. I worried. I wondered, "How do they know what to write? I can't think. Where do I start?" Then I sighed and continued the barrage of anxiety, "I've wasted two minutes. I'll never get anything down on paper. I'm a terrible writer." I often faked my way through discussions on what we just wrote because the time sent me off on an anxiety-ridden journey. That was so many years ago. And it rarely, if ever, happens to me anymore. I wondered why? Why am I able to write on demand now? Why couldn't I do it then? One word...Practice. 
I've been writing so much since that summer. I've attended so many presentations, but most importantly, now I write WITH my students. Practice. Practice. Practice. It doesn't make perfect, but it gives me faith that the words will be there. They will come. I needed faith that in myself. THAT is what my students need. Faith that the words are in them! 
This Friday we talked a bit about what Five Minute Friday was and because it was the first time, I showed them a video to prep them before we wrote. The topic was, "Look for the Helpers". I borrowed that phrase from Mr. Rogers and showed a video that explained what he meant. 
After the video, I gave the students a minute to turn & talk. Next, the blogging started. I set the timer for five minutes. I blogged on the screen while my students were writing because I knew this would be hard for some students and I wanted them to have a model. 
After the timer sang, my instructions were to close computers and let's talk about this. I asked one question, "How was that process?" Some LOVED it! They finished in five minutes and it seemed easy because it was only five minutes. (I hadn't anticipated that and that response made me so happy!) Many students really didn't like it. Some reported hating it! Their reasons included: 
"I didn't know what to write." 
"I was confused."
"It took me four minutes to figure out what to write and then the timer went off."
"I want to write more." 
"I need to finish."
"It was hard!"
We talked about times in life when we will have to write on demand and we won't have all the time in the world to finish. I informed them that Five Minute Friday was here to stay...and I gave them permission to post or not post their writing for this week. Many posted their writing and included an explanation of Five Minute Friday.
I found their writing clear, succinct, thoughtful, sometimes funny, often personal and just plain good! Here are some examples. Stop by my class blog Crayons & Pencils, if you'd like to read more!
My Everyday Life
Francine's Life Blog Nolan's Sarcastic Blog

Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrating This Week

I love celebrating on Saturday mornings! Thank you to Ruth for providing a place to celebrate. Join us here
This week I celebrate Christmas socks. Wearing Christmas socks makes me happy...they put me in the holiday mood.
I celebrate finding just the right gift for my family and friends. Inspiration came late this year, but I feel like I've found some meaningful and fun gifts for those I love. 
I celebrate Bella and her new bed. I finally found one that she likes. 
I celebrate slowing down as much as I can. This month can get chaotic and crazy, but I'm working hard on staying focused on being calm and thoughtful. 
I celebrate a new One Little Word. I think I may have a new word picked out, but I am open to suggestions. Past words include: mettle, engage, embrace, build, author, and risk. For more information about One Little Word, click here
What are your celebrations today?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Slow Down!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
I need my brain to slow down. It's on auto-pilot during the day. Teaching, meeting, making decisions, conferencing, listening. All of these things are happening in my classroom. When I sit down to write, to read, to grade, I can't. The neurons in my brain continue to zoom around there like a hummingbird and I can't concentrate. I can't focus. This is a problem. 
Today during my final block of the day, we wrote brain dumps. A brain dump is a free write, but brain dump is more fun to say. This is where you keep your hand moving for the entire writing minutes today...and you write continuously. Brain dumps get the stuff out of your head that's blocking the really good stuff. It gives you, the writer, a place to put all of the worries and concerns you have. This way you are able to write all of those interesting and creative ideas that are hiding in the back of your mind. No judgement during the brain dump. If you think it, you write it. No worrying about correctness. Write. Write. Write. Release your stream of consciousness. 
Once we discussed the ins and outs of a brain dump, I set the timer for seven minutes, sat at an empty student desk to join them, and we were off. I wrote and wrote and wrote and so did the sixth graders. 
After the timer sang our end, we discussed our feelings and thoughts about this process. Students answered thoughtfully about this experience. 
"I started full. Emptied out. And now I'm full again."
"When I started, I felt bad. Now I feel good."
"I had no idea this is how I was feeling before I started writing." 
While I needed the writing time, it seemed the students did too. I'm impressed at their reflective statements. This short time of writing didn't change the world, but it changed us. More brain dumps coming soon. You should try it!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Thanks to Margaret Simon for the Digital Literacy link up every Sunday! Join us at her blog!
Loving the site Thinglink! It's a free site where you can add links and text to photos. I'd played around with it last year, but I discovered it was blocked at school. Bummer! Last week I found out that it's now available at school. Woo Hoo! I used it to show links to fellow class blogs...
Here's one I made about myself last year... I can't wait to let my students loose on this site and see what they create! I'd love to hear ideas for other potential uses in the classroom. 

New School Retreat

This school year brings changes for me as I'm transferring to a new school. It's a brand new school. It's still being buil...