Friday, May 27, 2016

I Believe...

Blogging is a strange form of writing. It's public. I value authenticity, but sometimes being authentic and transparent isn't possible on a today...instead, I'll say this…
It's been a tough week. I've encountered a few situations that have challenged me...some expected and some unexpected. Dealing with all of this at the end of a busy school year makes it harder, because I'm also tired. Worn out. Why show up today to celebrate? I believe in it.  
That's what this week has taught hold onto my beliefs, especially when challenged. "I believe..." It's easy to say that. It's harder to live those beliefs. This week I struggled through, but I remained true to my core beliefs and that's something to celebrate. What else do I believe? 
I believe everyone has a story.
I believe in grace and gratitude.
I believe today can be the best day.
I believe tears are cleansing.
I believe crying with a friend is better.
I believe in setting boundaries.
I believe teaching is about building relationships.
I believe it's more important to listen than to talk.
I believe that coming home to the love of a dog is the best therapy.
I believe in friends showing you who you are when you've forgotten.
I believe writing is how I enter the world.
I believe walking a labyrinth calms the mind.
I believe quiet is healing.
I believe in asking for help. I believe in celebrating struggles & successes.
What do you believe? 
Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Monday, May 23, 2016

We Are Readers!

As the school year winds down, we are reflecting back on ourselves as readers. I stumbled upon a great project on the Notice & Note group on Facebook. Students are making videos of their reading lives.
We are looking back into our reading logs. We are searching for books read months ago. We are taking pictures of our favorite places to read. We are creatively turning these things, and more, into a video.
Watching my students get so excited about this project inspires me. It's May 24th. We only have a couple of weeks left of school. Today, each class worked diligently for an entire hour on their projects. (I have no pictures because I was working alongside them.)
I love watching them use their voice in the video. I love watching them pose for their pictures. They asked if they could use all the pictures I took this year, so a student showed me how to upload them to Google Photos. Yes, a sixth grader showed me an easier way to share the pictures. What's better than that?
Every year we review our reading logs and talk about how we've grown as readers, but this project is requiring more. They are talking with each other about books. I hear, "Remember when you read that?!?!" or "Oh, that was the best book!! I want to read it again!"
The passion for reading is evident in my classroom. My students are readers. I can't wait to share the videos with you. (I'm making my own too. Can't wait for you to see that, too!) Coming soon...
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb 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, May 21, 2016

Celebrating a Week of Ups & Downs

What's the saying? Life is like a roller coaster. This week has seen ups and downs...and I'm tired. I celebrate them all here today. DOWNs... More rain. State testing. End of year exhaustion.  Allergies.  UPs... National Notebook Day! Time spent with friends.  Students falling in love with their notebooks again.  
New possibilities. A former student who sees me in the hall and lights up.  Two students starting to write their own book. (One of these students insisted that she hated writing at the beginning of the school year!) That same student publishing her hundredth blog post for the year. (Now, she's on her 103rd post.) Voxes from friends. Moderated a great Twitter chat about Genius Hour Another makerspace lesson in class this week. (I'm writing more about that soon.)
When I sit down and look at my week, I see so many positive things. I'm surrounded by good friends. Work is crazy, but good. The week ended at my new favorite place, the Michael Helene Salon. Lauren cut my hair again and I like it better the second time.
I've never felt comfortable at salons and it's rare that I return to the same one. I'm excited to have found a place where I feel comfortable and heard. She is funny and passionate about hair and so talented.  I begin this rainy Saturday celebrating new haircuts, new possibilities, and good friends. I'm off to meet with some of these friends to make plans for the summer invitational institute for the Northern Virginia Writing Project
Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Falling in Love with Notebooks!

Today is National Notebook Day! This holiday is made for me. Unfortunately, we can't celebrate in class tomorrow as we are testing, so I began the celebration today. The past couple of weeks I've noticed students complaining about notebooks and forgetting notebooks. I thought about it and realized that we aren't using them enough. Wednesday, I posted this on the board...
In each class we spent some time reacquainting ourselves to our notebooks. It took some time. We perused our pages. We picked out special entries. We started to write and play in our notebooks again. Two students said, "Ms. Haseltine, I get it! I wrote better today than I have in a long time." These same two students stumbled on an idea for a book and started drafting and planning. Oh, the magic of notebooks! During the next blocks, we continued our journey back to notebooks. We wrote about ordinary objects that are around our classroom every single day. Some students wrote descriptions, some wrote poems, some began stories...they all wrote. They felt powerful and energized. As we ended, I heard the noise every teacher loves to hear, "Awwww! Can we have moooooorrrrreee time!!! Plleeeeaaassseeee?!?!" Here are some pictures of my students working and their writing...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Notebook Trouble

I have sad news. Many of my students have fallen out of love with their notebooks. I noticed this last week when I said, "Please take out your notebooks." and that was greeted with moans and groans. Uh-Oh! Today we began our journey back to our notebooks. Check out my blog post tomorrow for National Notebook Day. We are falling in love with our notebooks again. Here is a sneak peek...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Preparation. Our state test is later this week and today we talked about testing. I asked the sixth graders to write down words about testing. They answered with words like SCARY, LONG, BORING, HARD. They expressed fear and worry as well as determination. We turned the conversation to attitude and I asked if attitude, their attitude, could have an effect on the test. They decided that attitude is a big part of success.
Talking to sixth graders about big ideas like attitude and anxiety...these conversations stay with me and inspire me. I'm impressed with their awareness and maturity.
We took two pieces of paper out. On the first, we wrote the word TEST. We made lists of words that we connected with testing. When we finished with our conversation, I invited the students to rip these papers and throw them away. We talked about how this symbolized the power they had over the test.
The second piece of paper is for them. I asked them to write a letter to themselves on the day of the test. I reminded them to include messages they'd want to hear before going in and attacking the test.
I love these letters. They are as varied as my students. Some of the letters are a page long with lots of details and encouragement. Some letters are funny and make me laugh. Some letters are simple and to the point. I believe in my students. I believe they are readers and writers. No matter what the numbers on the test say, I know they believe it too. 
Here's one of my all time favorite excerpts...
Yes, a grade on a test doesn't show who you truly are!
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb 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.

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...