Showing posts from August, 2016

#SOL16 Kindergarten!

Dear Kindergarten,

You and I- we go way back. 2003 to be precise, when I became a kindergarten teacher. Man, I didn't know what I was in for! There is no exhausted like  kindergarten teacher exhaustion in the first few weeks of September. I quickly learned singing is survival in kindergarten and we sang throughout the day! Back then, we painted, played, celebrated. We had Teddy Bear Tea Parties and a Q and U Wedding. I thought I would always be a kindergarten teacher.

Was it you who changed or I? Maybe we both did. When I came to you, I was single and still a relatively new teacher. You were pre-Common Core and much more relaxed. As the years went on, you became more rigorous. Less play. Tests. Quadruple the amount of sight words expected to be learned. I got married and had two children. We went our separate ways- I left you for the upstairs third grade classroom and pushed you out of my mind.

Till now. You see, Kindergarten, my son, Alex is about to join you. A different town, a di…

#SOL16 The Hard Questions

"Mommy, will we go to Heaven at the same time?"

Megan is cuddled up next to me, in my bed, as I try to get her to fall asleep while simultaneously keeping up with the #nctechat about writer's workshop. Her own little princess bed in her pink and green room down the hall is alone again (naturally) as she prefers sleeping next to me. It's a hard habit to break and this summer we've gone backwards. As I am tweeting on my phone, Megan, at 3 years old, decides we need to have a philosophical conversation about life, death, and the afterlife. 

"Why did GG die?" she asks.
"Where did GG die?"
"Will I die?"
"Can Simba come back?"

 (Simba was my in-law's dog who recently passed away this summer. Megan would bring him bones each time she visited.)

I don't know the answers. My heart aches when she asks if we will die at the same time. I can't imagine life without her and don't ever want to leave her, either. She says she doesn…

#SOL16 Ditch the Dojo?

Last week, Dr. Mary Howard posted this on Facebook. My initial response, which I wrote as a comment, was this: 

I also dislike public shaming systems but I've used Class Dojo and don't find it to be like that. I don't publicly display the points. I've tied the dojo dollars into a class economy where kids get paychecks and can purchase brain break coupons or the right to sit in the rocking chair at reading time. Paychecks were given privately so students weren't aware of how many points the others received. I did give a certificate to the high dojo scorer of the week and many times it was a student who put forth a lot of effort, despite academic challenges. Class dojo makes it easy to be in touch with the parents and send them pictures and class happenings in real time. They also have a great video series on growth mindset that my students enjoyed and sparked good discussions. There is no public shaming in my classroom and class dojo has been a positive 
way for me to…

#DigilitSunday Crafting Digital Media

Crafting Digital Media is such an important topic because I think our students are really looking for opportunities to create! I am still in the early stages of learning how to do this myself, so I think I've held the reigns on crafting digital media, sometimes not allowing my students to do the creating part. For example, we used a green screen through the app Doink for our persuasive speeches last year (third grade). I took the video of the students talking and I did the work of creating the new background through the app. I learned a lot! But did the students? This year, I would like to "let it go" (Thanks, Elsa) and teach my students how to do more of the digital creating.

Part of teaching them how to craft digital media is also modeling and showing them possibilities. As I prepare for a new school year, one task is to send home a letter introducing myself, asking for supplies, and communicating about the year ahead. I decided to make a Google slide presentation about…

#SOL16 Do You Want To Be Great?

In Teach Like a Pirate (2012), Dave Burgess asks, "Do you want to be great?" (145). He goes on to say, "Could it be that wanting to be great seems egotistical or selfish? Let's destroy that idea right away. First of all, your greatness in the classroom doesn't negatively impact or inhibit anyone else's opportunity to be great. This isn't a zero sum game. The pie is infinitely huge. In fact, your greatness only enhances the opportunities and possibilities for others. By being great, you are raising the bar and providing a model for others to emulate. Being your best possible self contributes to the school culture necessary to create the environment for greatness to flourish" (145-146).  

Do you want to be great? This is the conversation I've been having with some educators I admire, educators who are shining lights in the field. I've been thinking about Dave Burgess' ideas around this topic. He writes, "To ascend to the level of great…

#DigiLit Sunday Preparing for a New School Year: Purposeful Use of Tech Tools

Thank you to Margaret Simon for bringing us together to share our thoughts on Digital Literacy on Sundays! 

My new third grade students will be heading back to the classroom in one month, as school officially starts on September 6th. While one month can feel like a long time away, I'm starting to slightly panic that time is running out for me to learn all I wanted to this summer and jumpstart my planning and preparation for the new year! Last year was my second year teaching third grade (after many years teaching kindergarten and previously 6th grade). I tried many digital tools last year, and this year I want to refine what I've been doing, teach the tools more purposefully and provide more consistent use of digital tools to increase student agency and engagement. 

Here are a few ideas I have:

Begin the year with launching a shared class blog through our class website: Last year, I launched our class hub, thanks to what I learned from Cathy Mere in #cyberPD. This year, I want to…

Mean People #SOL16

I am no saint, although, rumor has it, they did play the song "Goody Two Shoes" for me when it was my turn to light a candle at a friend's Sweet Sixteen many years ago. I might have had that reputation. Now, at 37 years old, I am not claiming to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Many areas need improvement. But, the one thing I can say about myself, unequivocally, is I am not mean. I never deliberately try to hurt anyone and can't imagine trying to inflict pain. Yet, I've come face to face, as most of us have, with people who act, well, mean. 

Why? How do you get an ounce of joy knowing your words and actions caused someone heartache? What part of you delights in hurting someone, maybe even someone who trusts you and has been vulnerable with you? What went wrong in your life that being mean feels okay and acceptable to you?

We teach our students about being "bucket fillers" who help other people get filled with joy and love. We say being a &qu…