Showing posts from June, 2015

Hellos and Goodbyes #SOL

"So many faces in and out of my life, Some will last, some will just be now and then. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again." -Billy Joel, "Say Goodbye to Hollywood"
Teachers are lucky enough to get two New Years' celebrations.  Like the rest of the world, we have January 1st as our calendar new year, but we also end the school year and then get a fresh start a couple of months later.  Here on Long Island, school ended on June 25th and my birthday is June 29th, which makes June a time of endings and beginnings for me.  As I turn a year older, my school year comes to a close, leading to reflection and goal-setting for the year ahead.

It's been a time of goodbyes and hellos in our family too.  We said goodbye to our red Acadia, the car we bought when we knew our family was expanding, when my son Alex was not yet two years old.  Alex picked out our new silver car (still an Acadia- we are loyal to the brand!) but did…

Let It Go: Teaching Considerations from "Frozen" #sol

As the summer officially begins, hot, hazy, and humid, I have been reliving the eternal winter of Arendale as my daughter Megan has rediscovered the movie "Frozen."  I know everyone is over it already, but Megan has decided we need to watch "Frozen" several times a day, sometimes beginning it again just as it ends.  She needs her Big Elsa doll and her Little Elsa doll to sit with her while she watches it, and scattered on the living room rug are little statues of that knave Hans, Olaf, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven.  I can't tell you the utter angst Megan experienced when Little Elsa went missing and several trips upstairs and downstairs did not yield her return (At the time of publication, Little Elsa has yet to be found).  

This might be a little bit of a stretch, but as I have been watching "Frozen" on repeat, I hope you will go along for the ride with me.  I am going to name something that happened in "Frozen" and the possible teaching implica…

Farewell Letter to Students #sol

June 25th is the last day of school. Final grades, report cards, literacy profiles, organizing, and packing up the room are some of the essential "to-do's." As I embark on starting and completing these tasks, I don't want to lose sight of bringing a sense of joyful closure to my community of third graders. I want them to feel good about our year and our work together and I want to leave them with the lasting idea that they are all important and special.

I have gifts for them. I asked each student to come up with a positive word or trait to describe each classmate. Then, I compiled the words to make a special word cloud for each student, using Tagxedo to create different shapes. I bought frames to finish the project. (Thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration)

I also purchased a book for each student as a gift. Deb Pilutti, author of Ten Rules of Being a Superhero, was kind enough to donate awesome Superhero bookmarks, which I will wrap with each book. 

So all that is left…

Homework on Trial #sol

Homework, Oh Homework..

The Case Against Homework 

Will anyone rise to the defense of Homework, 
on trial for killing the joy of learning?

Certainly not the students 
who groan as they copy down their assignments,
rush through their worksheets without care,
or conveniently "forget" their books in school. 

Surely not the parents who,
between cooking dinner
and driving to basketball practice 
and religion class 
and gymnastics,
have the unpleasant task 
of making sure
Homework gets done. 
They feel just a twinge of guilt 
signing the reading log,
not at all certain if their child read
but desperate to get Homework 
and one more thing
checked off their list. 

The teachers, you say, 
The teachers must be willing 
to speak on Homework's behalf?
The teachers hesitate, 
thinking of their many wasted hours
 standing in front of the copy machine
cranking out endless worksheets of misery. 
The teachers are buried under paper, 
Workhorses with rolling carts,
 transporting stacks of paper
which sit in haughty pile…

Always On My Mind #sol

My mother texted me last week after spending an evening at my Grandma's house. She wrote: "G found a small manila envelope Grandy saved in a drawer. In it are all the write ups about you! She wants you to have it so I will give it to you to keep. He loved and was so proud of you. Even after all this time he is giving to us."

It was the kind of text that takes your breath away, while your eyes fill with tears. This was the envelope my grandfather, Grandy, saved in his drawer. The articles are neatly clipped and focus on a service recognition I received my senior year of high school. I didn't know Grandy had saved these clippings, but it shouldn't surprise me.
He was there for everything, the first 20 years of my life. He was a postal inspector who was able to retire at 55 years of age, so he was around whenever we needed him. Pediatrician appointments, early school dismissals, dance recitals, concerts, awards nights. Sunday night dinners and nights on the porch overl…