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Category archive for: Slice of Life

A Story…a Stop…

Posted in Slice of Life

What if I had a story to tell? A story set in motion long ago. Most of the characters and settings have changed; the plot has ebbed and flowed over time; but the theme…the theme is the same…always the same.

Author’s note: It is late. I am tired. And lacking the kind of pizazz needed to write from the heart. So this is my slice of life for today. No finished or polished piece of writing. No images. I will continue tomorrow…or perhaps start anew.

 

 

Answer Me This

Posted in Slice of Life

Every day, Monday through Friday, I am given a specified number of minutes to be with my students. I’ve counted them…over and over again…185. 185 minutes a day, Monday through Friday.

Those moments? Those moments are a gift to me. Each. Little. One. I guard those minutes vigilantly, knowing they can quickly be snatched up when I momentarily look away. Stolen by time suckers.

I am passionate about making sure, then, that the time they spend in our learning space is beautiful, purposeful and full of inspiration. When they leave at the end of the day, I have two wishes:

Wish #1 – That their love for learning has grown at least a smidge of an inch, preferably more.

Wish #2 – That they more fully know, appreciate and embrace the uniqueness of who they are.

So, if you were me and you were given 185 minutes to create spaces for learning that nurture true, authentic learning, as well as a healthy belief in oneself, what would you want your readers and writers doing?

Answer me this.

 

Our Reading Lives

Posted in Slice of Life

 

Reflection.

John Dewey said,

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Think about that for a moment. If that’s true, what are the implications for our learning spaces? How much time do we devote to reflection? At a time where there are not enough hours in the day to do everything thrown our way, how do we find time to reflect? Those are the questions that have been meandering in my head all year long and so, I have made an attempt to bring reflection to the forefront as often as possible.

We are currently reflecting on our reading lives over the past 7 months, to help us set goals to grow as readers. We took a look at our reading logs, considered the “I Can” statements for the third trimester and made observations after reviewing the “You the Reader” inventory. Here is a screenshot of part of the inventory:

I then asked the kids to create some kind of visual of their reading lives and to include the following:

The experience has been powerful, both for me and the students. On the one hand, it provides me with glimpses into my learners, giving me new ways of seeing my students. The benefits are incredibly significant for the students, as it gives them a chance to reflect; set stretch goals; and probably most valuable of all, it helps shape their understanding of who they are as learners.

For me, the trick now is to continue to embed reflection in everything we do. I have a long way to go to truly make this part of our normal, everyday lives but I’m a big believer in these words:

I’m sure I’ll blog about this topic again. Stay tuned…

Connecting with Warriors

Posted in Slice of Life

Back in 2009, I started something that has forever changed my life…Twitter. It didn’t take hold right away but rather with fits and starts…in fact, I was an on again, off again lurker for the first few months and it took time for me to truly understand the immense possibilities this tool could bring to my professional life. But then, when it hooked me, it really hooked me. Throughout the years, I’ve made the bold claim that I have learned more about teaching and learning from the people I connect with on Twitter than in all the years of formal education put together…and I’m not kidding.

Since returning to the classroom, I’ve added some new voices to my network, including Donalyn Miller, Kristin Ziemke, Dr. Mary Howard, Angela Stockman, Katie Kraushaar, Kylene Beers, and Jasper Fox to name a few. Anyways, recently I found inspiration from a post by Katie Kraushaar, detailing how she had her students reflect on their reading lives. So today, that’s what we did. We started to create a sort of roadmap of our reading lives, beginning way back in September. We reviewed and reflected on reading logs, reading inventories, “I Can” statements and other artifacts from our journey thus far. The next phase of this experience asks students to create a visual to represent their reading lives. I will share some of the work the kids have done tomorrow.

Needless to say, though, I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today had I not been able to connect with such incredible thinkers, innovators and warriors. There is tremendous power in becoming a connected learner. Look for a post on my search for finding ways to connect my student learners with other learners from around the world.

Experiences…

Posted in Slice of Life

After the report cards are done comes the best part. Planning. I love to plan for my students; it’s the best gift I can give them. It fills me up unlike almost anything I’ve ever done in my life.

I think it was 6 or 7 years ago that I came upon the following words by Jane Bozarth:

“So how would our creations be different if we literally began framing them as experiences rather than courses, and I don’t just mean metaphorically. What if a university or college began offering “experiences” and instructors came asking for us to develop a new experience for students in their subject area?”

A major mind shift occurred when I read those words and I have been on a journey ever since…a journey that completely re-imagines the way in which I think about learning and school. See, I don’t think most learners yearn for “activities” or “lessons” or “courses”. I think they hunger for information and connections and answers that are as unique to them as they are to the world. You simply can’t box it up and tie a bow around it.

Here’s the challenging part, though; how do you create experiences out of standards and rules and schedules and endless distractions? How do you create experiences that respect the uniqueness of each of your learners…that opens them up to be the best version of themselves. Now that…that is the question I’m most interested in. That is what keeps me passionate about being a teacher, even after 30 years.

Experiences. I love that thought and while I haven’t yet found the answer to the “how”, I know I’m getting closer. It looks, sounds, smells and tastes like what happens when my class moves into Studio Time. More about that later…

Filled up

Posted in Slice of Life

It’s 10:43 p.m. on a Saturday night. That’s late for me. I’m a “hey-look-it’s-8:30-p.m.-and-I’m-tired” type of girl. But I did say I’d blog for 31 days straight…so here goes.

A slice of today? It was yummy. Let’s see…

I…

  • caught up on some much needed sleep (Oh, how I adore sleep)
  • went on errands with the love of my life (Bill Harrod)
  • tried out a new restaurant (Spoon and Cellar…really good)
  • worked on report cards (Love the kids)
  • blogged (As you can see)

That’s a pretty good day, right?

Found this today and it reflects how I feel right now:

Feeling abundant…and tired.

Still…

Posted in Slice of Life

My slice? Grades. High Grades. Low Grades. Missing Grades. Grades. Grades. Grades.

I’m all for providing learners with feedback. It happens everyday, all day long in our classroom. And yes…parents need information about their children. Still…

Today, the end of a trimester and the usual mad dash to make sure everything is turned in, calm fears of trouble at home and tears. I match each tear with one of my own.

Tomorrow…more. Now? Sleep.

Other Worlds

Posted in Slice of Life

As I grow into my age, I find myself looking for moments of stillness…quiet…solitude. So it seems natural, then, that one of my favorite “slice of life” moments is the time we spend reading each day. We refer to it as “iRead” and it’s magical. We’ve had independent reading time all year but recently, we lengthened the time, renamed it “iRead” and added plenty of time to share our storied journeys with each other.

It’s time. Undercurrents of quiet buzzing pervades the learning space as readers meander in and out of our classroom looking for the “just right book” and the perfect reading spot. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, we enter a state of flow and everything around us ceases to exist. We enter other worlds, where anything can happen and surprisingly often does.

 

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