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Showing posts from May, 2017

#SOL17 Homework and Used Cars

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Words matter. This, we know. Words paint a picture in our mind, giving us positive or negative feelings. The words "hot chocolate"? Instantly makes me feel cozy, warm, and happy. The word "dentist"? Dread and pain come to mind. 

When I was younger, cars that were not new were "used." Somewhere along the line, that became "pre-owned." How much lovelier does "pre-owned" sound than "used"? Would you want a "pre-owned" car or a "used" one? 

I've been thinking about "homework" quite a bit and the connotation it has. Who wants to do it? No one. It conjures drudgery and something to just get through to be able to enjoy the rest of the day. As a parent of a kindergarten student who has to do homework, it is our worst time of day. Tears flow. Frustrations bubble. 

I know the research says homework is not effective in elementary school but I also know many parents have not read that research and expect ho…

#SOL17 Dear Self: Please Excuse This Blogger

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Dear Self,

Please excuse me (us?) from our weekly blog post. I know we've committed to writing here at least once a week because it is important to stay in the writing habit. We (I?) believe in writing and know that teachers who teach writing make a difference for students. 

It's just, this has been a busy week. A hectic weekend, rolled into a rewarding yet exhausting professional day of learning. A long drive home in the rain. Two children to feed and get ready for bed. By the time 8:30 pm hit, Kathleen (She? Us? You?) could barely keep her eyes open. Every good intention was made to wake up early, exercise, then write this week's post.

Except the alarm was on silent and Kathleen woke up with a start, half an hour later than expected. She chose to exercise, because, well that's been a big priority. She was just about to get her post done when Megan (4 year old daughter) started crying and the clock said she was already late for her morning shower. 

Then a busy day at work…

#SOL17 Advice from Walt

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On Saturday, I took part in a Writing Marathon at Walt Whitman's Birthplace as part of the Long Island Writing Project's Saturday Series of workshops. (That's Walt looking rather proudly over my shoulder.) I've been a Long Islander all my life and shopped numerous times at the Walt Whitman Mall but never visited his birthplace before. The weather was gray, chilly and rainy, but May meant there was still greenery everywhere as I explored the house where Walt Whitman lived until he was four years old. 

During one part of the Writing Marathon, I came upon the opening to Leaves of Grass, entitled "This Is What You Shall Do":

"Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone who asks, 
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others,
Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence toward the people
Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
Or to any man or number of men,
Go freely with the…

#DigiLitSunday Summer Slide

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As a teacher, what do I want most for my students? My fondest wish is that my students become caring, passionate, engaged, educated citizens who are curious, think critically and seek out knowledge. Is that really asking too much? Of course, this is what I aspire to be, too- the kind of person who continues learning, growing, and uses that knowledge to make the world at least a little bit better. 

The whole issue of "summer slide" is, for me, like an iceberg. There is so much below the surface that we need to think about. If students stop learning- stop reading, writing, and thinking- when not in school, what are we really teaching? Are we teaching for compliance? Are we teaching students to fill out reading logs but despise reading, to just wait for that period of time when reading can, in their opinion, blissfully stop? Isn't our mission- all year long- to inspire students to be learners, thinkers, and yes- readers and writers? 

Each year, I get a list of the reading lev…

The Writing Strategies Book Study: Goal 6- Elaboration

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My four year old daughter knows how to ELABORATE. She tells me detailed stories of her school day, her make believe doll stories, and even retells stories I've told her about when I was younger. She includes many details and even interesting language! But elaborating in writing isn't something that comes easily for many of my third grade students. 
I am taking part in a collaborative book study of Jennifer Serravallo's The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers, organized by Kelly Malloy.  The Writing Strategies Book is divided into goals and each week, another educator blogger is sharing about that goal. You can find previous ones here:
Goal 1 (Composing with Pictures) Goal 2 (Engagement) Goal 3 (Generating and Collecting Ideas) Goal 4  (Focus/Meaning) Goal 5 (Organization and Structure)
The goal I am sharing this week is Goal 6- Elaboration. Jen says, "Elaboration is the specific information a writer uses to develop her topic. Elaborat…

Adventures in Dog Sitting #SOL17

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We are absolutely, positively, not getting a dog. So don't even think it.
We spent the weekend dog sitting my brother-in-law's chow chow, Rylee. My children, Alex and Megan, were beyond excited to be dog sitters, since they beg me quite often to get a dog. My son even wrote a letter to the Easter Bunny, hidden in a plastic egg, asking for a dog. It's enough to break your heart and break down your resolve to NOT get a dog.....well almost enough. Not quite enough. Because we cannot get a dog. 
A dog is a big responsibility and a big expense. A dog needs time and attention- both of which I am short on. It's hard enough to give my children the attention they deserve- how will I have anything left over for a dog? So no, no dog.
But there have been moments where I felt myself soften ever the slightest. When Megan came out of the shower and we opened the bathroom door to find Rylee waiting outside, looking for us.....well that was kind of cute. The way she follows me when I walk…

On the Bench #SOL17

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The calendar still read "April", but Saturday was a sneak peek into summer. The air was warm as the sun beat down on the three of us as we arrived at the "sandy park"- the one with sand on the ground by the playground equipment. My son, Alex, inching closer to seven and my daughter, Megan, newly four, took off their sandals and ran to play. 

It occurred to me, for the first time ever, that I could watch them from the bench. They could easily navigate this playground and I didn't need to be right next to them. Alex has been independent for a while, but I've been trailing Megan up till now. I took a seat on the bench and watched them play.

Then it happened again, on Sunday. Megan was able to play in the basement, on her own, with me upstairs in the kitchen. Alex was on the computer- also fine without me right near him. I was able to cook and prepare some food for the week ahead while everyone was happily occupied. Astounding. 

For so long, I needed to sit on the…