Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Slice of Life - Laminators Are Like Life

I had a parent volunteer in my room this morning and I was explaining to her how to use the laminator for postcards we are getting ready to send to Rwanda, Africa.  She had never laminated before so I had my hands going to help show how the rollers move and you slide in the paper between.  I think my speech probably started to speed up as I imagined the rollers going fast.  

I personally like to laminate everything on slow.  I think it creates a better seal.  I was sharing this with her and told her my best tip is to put the laminator on pause, just stop it so it doesn't keep rolling.  When it keeps rolling, I feel like I have to go so fast and then I end of wasting lamination because I can't line everything up.  I shared with her it's really great because you can stop and put things on pause to set up another batch  of cards to be laminated.  She commented to me, "this sounds like my life.  A pause stop button would be great."

Her comparison was perfect.  Life is busy and sometimes we do feel like we are rolling from one thing to another.  We all need a stop/pause button to realign and not be wasteful.   

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting and fostering our writing community.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

#If Not For Franki

I'm not sure Franki knew I was stalking her so many years ago.  I was trying to be very undercover about it.  I didn't keep any written records so this is all from memory and the year went not noted.  I had switched school districts I was teaching in and looking for some professional development while getting additional hours beyond my masters degree for salary advancement.  I attend a Literacy Connection meeting and realized I might have been the only person from my district there.  I sat at a table near Franki and Max Brand.  Yes, I was undercover stalking him too.  I lingered a bit when the group started forming small study groups.  I really wanted to be in a study group with Franki and Max.  Her friend in need radar must have been on and somehow I got invited to join their study group!  This is the beginning of my journey with our kind, warm hearted Franki.

#ifnotforfranki - I may not have kept going to the Literacy Connection on my own.  For several years I went in hopes of connecting with her and Max.  It worked and I am a better teacher from my yearly learning with this wonderful group of local professionals.

#ifnotforfranki - I wouldn't be writing for Choice Literacy.  At the Literacy Connection one year, I had written a piece that she said, "this could be an article."  My reply, "no way!"  Franki's reply, "I will email it to Brenda Power and then she will be in contact with you."  My work and friends via the Choice Literacy uplifted me professionally and personally.  They continue to do so today and I'm honored to call them all my friends.

#ifnotforfranki - I didn't have an anxiety attack when Choice Literacy came to do some video taping in my room.  She made it sound very easy and of course talked up how much fun it would be.  

#ifnotforfranki - I wouldn't have transitioned from teaching K to 3rd without reading her professional writing on reading and guiding everything I did back then.

#ifnotforfranki - somewhere along the way I made a twitter account and joined the fun.

#ifnotforfranki - somewhere along the way when I transitioned back to K, I created this blog.

#ifnotforfranki - I may not have fallen in love with the NCTE conference.

I could pinch myself daily.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have met a mentor of mine in person and talk with her as a colleague and a friend.  I told Franki once she was an infection.  Her spirit, inspiration, and motivation is contagious.  Except with this infection we don't need any antibiotics we just need to touch base with Franki again when we start to feel a bit out of kilter.  She is bound to agree with you or help push your thinking to get you back on track and/or rising to the next hurdle on your journey.  

Thank you Franki.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading Globally

Have you ever found yourself looking for books to help expand your student's view of the world?  Have you ever found yourself looking for books to help your student's develop respect for differences among cultures?  Then, Reading Globally, K-8 Connecting Students to the World Through Literature by Barbara A. Lahman, Evelyn B. Freeman, and Patricia L. Scharer is the book you need.  This book is filled with wise advice for using children's literature in various curriculum areas.  

Global literature is needed for children to develop their natural curiosity and show them opportunities they could have.  Global literature is needed to help student's think about others and accept differences.  Global literature is needed to help children experience right and wrong, exploring equality issues.  Social, economic, environmental, world health, national security, and immigration are all areas global literature can foster thinking and compassion for.

Global literature is defined as, "books that are international either by topic or origin of publication or author.  This is different than multicultural literature where "books that portray parallel cultures within the United States."  Global literature has two goals; students need to see themselves in realistic  life experiences and know there are life experiences different than their own.  

As we think about our busy days at school, the thought of adding one more category of books to try and fit in and use can be overwhelming.  That is why Chapter 2, Literary Theme Studies and an Integrated Curriculum is an important chapter to read.  The next few chapters give examples and book titles for using global literature in language arts, social studies, science and mathematics, and the arts.  The book ends discussing questions teachers have raised as they try to embrace using global literature.  The first step in using global literature is to find a book that you can replace representing life different than that found in your classroom.  

I do have to warn you between the text and the resources of books listed on the CD in the back, your book shopping cart might be bursting at the seams.  I'm excited to share global literature will be a new label and category of books I will be sharing with you.  


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD?

HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD? by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak is a beautiful nonfiction picture book.  The warm earthtone hues are soft and inviting.  I seriously wanted to know more about this book because of the illustrations.  Kenard Pak used watercolors and digital media tools to create natural images to accompany the text.  

In the background of this story, the reader will follow a boy and a girl as they walk and play outside.  The boy and girl encounter numerous birds flying overhead and often observe an action they make as they fly, along with their sound.  However, they notice the nesting bird doesn't make a sound.  The nesting bird is a robin and sits for a very long time until a special event takes place.  I love how the message of patience and quiet brings good things.  

The end of the book as an interesting way to present information.  The last two pages are a question and answer format titled, A Word with the Bird.  I can see my students asking these same questions and having the answers written back with the voice of the robin is an interesting format for reader engagement.  This format might also be a format for sharing nonfiction learning.  HAVE YOU HJARD THE NESTING BIRD? would be a good book for a unit on backyard life science.  

Thank you Alyson for hosting Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday.  I've been stalking since the new year, sharing nonfiction on Wednesday, and thought I should link up becoming an active participant.  I got a bit sidetracked with my Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March, it feels good to be back.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Slice of Life - Hey, Low Fuel!

Today I read two beautiful and important words!  Low fuel.  You can read my slight frustration over the placement of my gas gauge in a previous post, I love my Honda, but not my gas gauge!  One week ago today I got a new van.  We upgraded our van and yes, if you live in a minivan world we got the one with the HondaVac system.  You read that right, I have a vacuum in my minivan.  It will come in very handy but today I found a feature I think that is equally handy.  When my gas gauge got low, the center information screen read LOW FUEL in large orange letters.  Where I keep my right hand on the steering wheel blocks the view of the normal gas gauge in the bottom right corner.  Having this notification clear, crisp and simple is perfect.  Having this notification right in the center of my view is perfect.  Now let's hope when I try out my HondaVac system I give it a perfect review.  


                           

When I saw this photo I thought these two words could relate to teaching this year.  It's been a hard year around the country as people figure out the Common Core and what that means for children and our instruction.  It's been a hard year in the world of assessments, at any grade level.  It's been a hard year in Ohio with Student Learning Objectives and increased teacher evaluations.  It's been a hard year with budgets cut yet everyone expecting the status quo to remain the same.  Maybe just recognizing sometimes we are running on low fuel and we need to refill is necessary.  The HondaVac system is a perk in my new minivan.  I think we need to make sure we all know the perks in our lives and make sure we take time to refill.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for hosting and nudging us to capture a bit of life - fostering a writing community.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Celebrate This Week

Sometimes we have to stop and celebrate just one day.  Birthdays are a gift and each year is a blessing.  So, today I am sharing goodness throughout my actual birthday.  I'm so glad it's a day with my family and spring has arrived.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrate This Week

I'm in!  I'm here and I do have things to celebrate!  I wasn't holding out when Ruth started Celebrate This Week.  I was actually sitting in the presentation she was giving when this little seed started to rumble this past fall.  I've watched from afar, I've read what others are celebrating weekly, and yet I didn't jump right in.  Fast forward to today and I can't be afar anymore.  I ended my spring break trip a day early and we drove straight home from Florida to spend today with Ruth and my Literacy Connection colleagues.  As I listen to Ruth today, I know celebration is purposeful, needed, and necessary in many aspects of my life.  Here are a few celebrations from my week.

1.  Spending time in temperatures double of Ohio right now, surrounded by sunshine has nourished my soul.

2.  Spending time with my immediate family without schedules and free choice all day long was fun.

3.  Watching my daughters and husband interact with my in-laws brought smiles and laughter to everyone.  Having grandparents far away is sad, so our time together is precious.

4.  I got to read 5 books!

5.  I re-created the habit of walking each morning and yes got up today to walk my two dogs in colder temperatures.

6.  Ending my spring break with an energizing group of teachers brought together by The Literacy Connection and the amazing Ruth Ayers will guide the last seven weeks of school and what might come my way.