Showing posts from April, 2016

#SOL16 Who's Ready for Kindergarten?

He hopped down the sidewalk on one foot, his joy and excitement bubbling over with each step. Just across the street we walked, but like another world- kindergarten. The first orientation for parents and students. How strange it was to be on the other side of it now- for ten years, I taught kindergarten and stood at orientations, smiling reassuringly about this milestone. Sitting in the cafeteria and listening to the principal and school specialists talk about kindergarten, I tried to hear what wasn't being said as much as what was. Tears fell as the psychologist read this poem . Letting go is not as easy as I made it sound when I gave the pep talk to parents.  There was a packet and many, many papers. There was a book (I f You Give a Dog a Donut ) which was lovely, I thought. There was a list of sight words and a conversation about early literacy profiles and being picked up for reading if you  score low. Worry filled my heart, because my sensitive, bright boy is so very hard

#SOL16 Poems Hide

Sunday night, I participated in the #Read4Fun chat on Twitter. The topic was poetry, and the chat brought to mind some of my favorite poems. A long-standing favorite of mine is " A Valentine for Ernest Mann" where Naomi Shihab Nye writes, "Poems hide."  Today, I found a poem hidden in the oversized, dusty Nemo that has been sitting atop the mailbox in my classroom. Nemo originally came from the board walk of the Jersey Shore, where I surprisingly won him in a game in the summer of 2004. Nemo lived in my kindergarten classroom for a long time. Now he lives in 3rd grade and he's part of the background, largely ignored. My third graders and I were writing poems today, beginning with an image first. I brought in some objects from home and invited them to look out our classroom window, too, for ideas. At first, the room was chatty and I worried they weren't focusing, but soon they all found spots and there was a quiet hum of kids really working. I sat

Learning Outside of School #sol16

Two Saturday mornings ago, I received an email from a parent in my class. My student had been inspired by a school assembly called "Bash the Trash", where musicians used recyclable materials to make musical instruments. The buzz from many of the teachers, including myself, was that the assembly was a little quirky and not our favorite. Some of us felt ourselves being lulled to sleep as the recyclable instruments were played. But you just never know what is going to resonate with a student and this assembly really did for one boy in my class.  With his dad's help, he created musical instruments out of soda and water bottles and cans taped together. He wanted to make a video of himself playing his instruments and his dad even joined him in the concert. Then, he wanted his dad to send ME the video. It was adorable, but also made me stop and think about the nature of learning in today's world: We need to give kids lots of different experiences, including ones that

#SOL16 The Word Gap

I tweet. I vox. I even snapchat now. But I haven't really embraced podcasts until the last couple of weeks. After reading a great post by Kimberley Moran about the podcast her students created, I knew I needed to listen more to podcasts. I couldn't really envision a way for my students to create their own podcasts or even why they should do that until I saw the value myself. Now I can say I am a podcast lover! One of the podcasts I started listening to was Penny Kittle's Book Love Foundation Podcast Teacher Learning Series . Today I listened to a podcast about teachers as leaders. During the conversation, a teacher shared how being part of a local site of the National Writing Project gave her confidence with her writing and support as she learned strategies to teach writing. Penny spoke about the model of teachers sharing with each other as being so powerful and how the Writing Project remains the most favored professional development.  This was music to my Writing