Slice of Life Tuesday: Snow Day?

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Slice of Life Small LogoIt’s the middle of February and much of the country had snow this winter, but we are still waiting for our ration here in South Bend. The east coast even had a blizzard in January, and Boston was supposed to get 8 more inches, according to the meteorologists. Currently my driveway has about 2 inches of white coating.

The weather forecasters are preparing TV viewers for 5-8 inches of snow in our area. Earlier today, it was snowing — big white flakes — for about an hour. This evening, it’s quiet again. I’m pretty sure unless the wind picks up or snow starts falling again soon that we WILL have school tomorrow. The media frenzy around snow days
Snow Day bookmust be big business. Personally, I’m ready for that early spring the groundhog predicted last week.

I’m planning to break out my favorite winter read aloud soon. When will it be a SNOW DAY? (Snow Day, by Lester Laminack, waits on the shelf, ready to go.)

Thanks for Playing! Update from Slice of Life Tuesday: Playing Games

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you all for playing “Two Truths and a Lie” yesterday during Slice of Life Tuesday. You Fellow Slicers are so much fun!

Many of you guessed correctly! Tara, Elsie, Julieanne, and Dana (Yes! You are right!) all said #3 was the lie. I thought that WAITING would win the Caldecott Medal. It did land in the Honors group, and I was very happy to find that FINDING WINNIE won. What a great time we had, trying to guess the winners.

Did you have fun guessing? I would like to especially thank Linda for guessing that #2 was the lie, but alas! I failed — big time! — during teaching this week. Some weeks are just like that, but I’m having a hard time recovering, for sure. #1 was the distractor (I figured). Now that I’m a grandmother, I suppose I could look older, but “No Way!” I’m much too young. He He ha ha…

Have a great weekend. Happy end-of-the-semester to you!

 

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Why I Write

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Welcome to 2015’s National Day on Writing! Follow the writing celebration at #WhyIWrite and #DayonWriting on Twitter. Thank you to TWT Blog for supporting writers of all ages. We appreciate you!

Slice of Life Small Logo10 Reasons: Why I Write

I write to record my thinking

I write to note interesting research.

I write to show love.

I write to remember.

I write to pack away memories for later.

I write to organize myself, my belongings, my world.

I write to communicate with my peers, my students, my friends, my family.

I write to tell my stories.

I write to direct others.

I write to add enjoyment to my life.

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Start With the Why

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During the summer, I attended the All Write Institute which advertised the theme, “Start With the Why.” I’ve been thinking about the WHY today as I prepare to start another school year. I’m torn. I want to get back to work, but I would love to read more books, have more time to travel, and get household activities done. So…here are my WHY lists for both.

WHY go back to school?

Ok, let’s be realistic. I need the paycheck again. But “I’m in it for the money” is not what teachers say. First, I want to share all the wonderful lessons and book titles I learned about this summer. I read many books, wrote a little, made new friends, attended functions, and traveled, and I want to tell others about all of it. Second, I miss my friends. (Students sometimes come to school just to see their friends. Teachers do, as well!) Third, it will be nice to be on a productive schedule again. I haphazardly complete tasks when I know there’s not a deadline. I look forward to school; I can socialize with students and colleagues, continue to grow in my practice, and help students to grow and learn, too.

WHY stay home?

I’m still trying to live my One Little Word this year, LEAN. I need to finish cleaning the clutter in my office and in the empty bedroom (formerly home of my daughter–who has moved out on her own). In the spirit of cleaning, we need to finish the home projects, and I cannot wait to get them done. It’s going to be fabulous! Other reasons to stay home? More Reading! More Writing! (Oh, wait. I can do that at school.)

Yes, I am looking forward to going back to school now. WHY? It’s going to be a great year!

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Lifelong Learning

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Slice of Life Small LogoLifelong Learning

Wonderful educational events happened here this week. All three girls received As for their summer school classes, two of us are reading and writing (to hopefully publish soon), and I’m leaving tomorrow for the Scholastic Reading Summit! As I continue to work on my teaching and learning goals, I signed up for the School Librarian test this week, too. I just can’t stop talking about authors and books, and to add that credential to my license will be awesome! I love being a lifelong learner, and I’m so happy that my kids are, too!

My teaching goal for the school year is set: help my students become lifelong learners. I am reading texts by other teachers about FUN in school, Genius Hour, project-based learning, and other marvelous ways to make school a better place for learners.  Teachers are spending this summer traveling to conferences and workshops to learn more, to be inspired, to plan for their students’ successes.  Wow! Amazing days are ahead of us, I can feel it!

I will use three strategies to meet my goal of building lifelong learners this year:

1) I will use time in my classes to read aloud, talk about books, and write. My students and I will read and write together, and share our processes to produce great works. We will use our favorite mentors — authors we love — to help us. Reading time will be used for reading; writing time will be used for writing. Talk is important, and sharing with each other will be fun.

2) I will allow choice in the classroom. I always have provided choice; I believe that students are more engaged and more focused when they work on what is personally meaningful to them. I will strive to offer resources from different media formats, as I am allowed. I hope to start students blogging, and I have already asked permission to upgrade our technology in the classroom. Students will choose projects that enhance everyone’s school experience.

3) I will assess my students fairly and help them to meet the school and state standards. I know that standardized testing will not vanish (I wish!), but I will also provide meaningful formative and summative assessments where students can be challenged and grow without fearing “the test” in the spring.

I want school to be fun again. I want my students to experience education that leads to a productive, successful adulthood, beyond my classroom. I want my students to be lifelong learners, like me.

 

 

Reflections From the All Write Institute — #6: Dinner with Seymour Simon

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Reflections From the All Write Institute — #6: Dinner with Seymour Simon

“What an amazing opportunity!” I told my family as I planned for All Write. My mother-in-law was listening to the conversation and looked up from her chair, “What? You’re going to dinner with another man?”

“Yes, Mom. And probably 60 other people.” She did not understand. Who was this guy? Why was it so special to have dinner with him?

SeymourBooksForMe

Seymour Simon’s works are some of the most beautiful and interesting books for science, and nonfiction in general, that I’ve ever read. I remember teaching 5th grade, reading Wolves, Volcanoes, and The Brain over and over. (Did I mention that he has written over 250 books for children, Mom?) He hosts a fabulous website, he’s on Facebook and Goodreads, and even has a famous app called “Science Fun to Go.” Yes, it was an honor to have dinner with him. We even got to meet his wife, and we asked her how could she possibly put up with all of us google-eyeing her husband! She laughed and was very understanding.

Seymour Simon talked for a while about making paper airplanes, teaching the students in his class to make them just right, so they would fly far across the classroom. He even held outside flying contests on the school grounds. He wrote a book about flying paper airplanes.  Traveling back in time, he told us the story of riding in a propeller-powered aircraft, and how he was so scared. I was there with him — his words so eloquent — his story so upsetting to the stomach (LOL). Fast-forward to the present: he told us about teaching, writing, and some life lessons learned along the way. (A friend sitting next to me at the table leaned over and said to me, “There just aren’t many great storytellers left.”) I believe she’s right. This is an experience I will share with my students, for sure.

Seymourtalks

“We are story.”

“Start with the Why.”

Everyone has stories to tell. Lives matter, and sharing experiences is just one way to carry on our culture to the next generation(s). Students should find value in telling tales and listening to stories.  It’s truly a one-of-a kind experience, and I will start my school year with storytelling.  I cannot wait to share Seymour Simon’s talk with my class. It’s almost like I want school to start sooner than planned. Please check me out; do I have a fever?

 

 

 

Down Time

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Sitting. Reading. Thinking.

Down time.

Driving. Talking. Playing.

Down time.

Thinking. Playing. Dreaming.

Down time.

Playing. Dreaming. Sleeping.

My Down Time Day.

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Celebrating

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Slice of Life Small LogoCelebrating

The Fourth of July, vacation, time to spend with family, sleeping in, staying up late, and homework? Yes, I am celebrating late tonight — thinking about how much I’ve done this summer, how much I’ve grown professionally and personally.

The fireworks at Newton Park were fabulous. I’m so glad that my daughters went with me, even after the rest of the family stayed behind due to exhaustion from playing sand-court volleyball (which was entertaining to watch). The girls are almost grown now, and they won’t be with me on these “minor” holidays forever. I have to enjoy the time while I can. (Hey, I’m NOT old!)

Fireworks2015Vacation time is so relaxing, yet busy! I’ve spent time with my granddaughter each week and my husband was off work this week, so it’s nice to see him again. I’ve stayed up late, mostly to watch movies and read, but also to eat S’mores by the campfire.

Passion Small BW Photo campfire from AshleyHomework? Yes! I have homework. Since I signed up to use the All Write Institute as a 3-credit “class” (to renew my teaching license next summer), I have spent time reading, studying, reflecting, and writing about teaching and learning. Literacy education is such a fascinating topic for me. It really is! I love reading and writing and I want to share my passion each and every day. I am learning from professional development opportunities, too.

RSBookMany blogging friends and current colleagues have helped me learn to use more technology in my personal life. I switched back to my iPad mini for some e-reading and other productivity tasks, and I started “voxing” on Voxer (a walkie-talkie-like app on my phone), which is fabulous for collaboration with teachers from around the country! I love being able to talk to people and hear their voices and feel their presence while I think, read, and write.

voxer-logo-blackI am celebrating life tonight! Fireworks, vacation, family time, reading, writing, technology — Whew! Now, I must settle down and get some sleep!

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Currently…

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Slice of Life Small Logo
Currently…

Watching “Royal Pains” season premiere, because after reading George (by Alex Gino), I became more intrigued by some differences between other humans and myself. Then, after listening to the incessant jabbering about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, it seems the media is obsessed  with the topic of transgenders. I just wanted to see how USA Network was using this media storm to gain viewers this summer.

Reading my syllabus/requirements for the EDU 517 Elective Workshop credits after attending the AWESOME All Write Institute last week in Warsaw. I will be blogging about the All Write sessions the rest of this week on my blog here at http://www.readingteacherwrites.com. Check in daily to share in my enthusiasm for continued learning about reading and writing!

Listening to my daughter laugh in the next room. She is so adorable! Even as a teenager, I feel that when she is happy, I can be happy, too.

Making dinner in the microwave. I did not stop today!

Planning to get some work done in this SHORT summer we have! Today I babysat my granddaughter (who is a pleasure), and I will see her again Thursday. Tonight I mowed the long grass. Tomorrow I will take the dog to be groomed — a long-past-needed chore! After that, we need to complete some odd/handyman jobs at home, and I HAVE to find time (when it’s not raining) to have a garage sale. I will take some more time for professional leaning at the ILA Conference in St. Louis next month. I cannot wait! Then it’s back to work (so soon?).

Loving that I do have some time off this summer to do these other tasks and activities, as well as get some rest.

Is Reading Slowly a Bad Thing?

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I am a slow reader; I am NOT a bad reader. One of the facts of life from this past school year seemed to stem from the students who read more slowly thinking of themselves as bad readers. Personally, I read more slowly than other people I know for two reasons:

1) I want to note every detail in my head; I enjoy the book more when I notice the author’s style or specific plot events broken down into small moments. I like to get to know characters intimately (in fiction) and study a topic deeply to become an expert (in nonfiction).

2) I have some ADD issues, as well as headache issues that lead me to distractions during reading or even physical sickness that affects my speed and focus. When I have a headache, I actually must stop reading for a while.

Choosing an enjoyable book is not my concern; I love books and reading and I have a list a mile long (measure it!) of “to reads” that I know I will treasure and share with others. Comprehension is not a problem; I understand what I read and I can discuss a book with a friend for a good length of time. It’s that pace — but the speed of reading is only one part of the task; pace does not determine the intelligence of the reader.

What actions can slow readers take to keep themselves reading and loving books? Here’s my personal plan: First, I ask myself why I’m reading slowly. Next, I decide what to do about it. Finally, I relax and read. Students can do the same. Knowing what one can do about the distractions met during reading time can help a slow reader still love reading and become a successful life-long reader.

Ask: Why do People Read Slowly?

My reasons above are the two that I have discovered again and again in the classroom as well as in my own life. I am a detail dame — I must know everything!  Wanting to know more about a character or an event aids comprehension, helps the understanding. That is a good thing! Remember, the point of reading is to make meaning. If it takes a little more time to do, then readers should accept their fate. By slowing down to notice more, readers become more intelligent and enjoy the book more than if they just skim along, saying they are reading just to keep up with others in the class, group, or book club.

People with ADD, ADHD, and other attention issues will have problems in reading due to focus or stamina, not necessarily pace. When a person cannot focus, it will throw off the pace, though, and recognizing there is something that a reader can do about it will help the situation. For example, like I mentioned earlier, when I get a migraine, I have to stop reading. My brain in my head will not allow me to make meaning because I am not healthy at that moment.  It doesn’t mean I’m a bad reader; it means I have to take time off and return later to the task.  That’s okay! There are strategies a person can use to maintain focus or help pick up the pace again.

Decide What to Do — Focus and Pace of Reading

Three of my favorite strategies for keeping the reading focus and pace are:

a) Break the reading into smaller chunks. This helps focus and comprehension because the brain can think about a bit of the text at a time. The reader has less stress, which means more time to take it all in.  When I focus on a paragraph, section, chapter, or even a smaller phrase, I will easily gather the information I need to grasp the meaning. People with poor memory, attention deficit problems, or those who want to slow down to gain more realization can “chunk” the text to be successful.

b) Change the reading environment. Some people do not work well in noisy environments. Some cannot work without background noise. There are others who cannot sit straight up in a chair. More and more, students in classrooms need a place where they can read that is just right for them. Many of the first lessons in a reading classroom surround choosing the right book and getting the right mindset for the reading task. This includes finding a spot where the reading — and therefore meaning-making — can take place. I cannot read in the kitchen area; I will look at the dirty dishes in the sink or discover the dog’s water bowl is empty. Students at school may choose the hallway or a corner of the room on the carpet for their reading space. Readers must be able to read, so a comfortable reading space is a must. Once a spot is found…

c) Set a goal for reading. Whether a person finishes a certain number of pages, or reads for a certain amount of time, it is important to read during reading time. I cannot count the number of research studies, articles, or case studies I have come across that address this issue. It’s the attitude, the mindset, the belief of “mind over matter” — I have to read now! Leave me alone.

Relax and Read — Ahh!

Once a goal is set, a place is found, and reading begins, there is no end to the enjoyment found in delving into a story or topic. Lifelong readers know that reading is a gift; falling in love with reading begins when the stress of how to read ends.  For myself, I know what makes me a slow reader and I accept the challenges that await when I sit down. Slow readers are NOT bad readers. Keep calm and read on!

Resources:

Newkirk, T. 2010. “The Case for Slow Reading.” Educational Leadership 67 (6): 6-11.

Serravallo, J. 2015. The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

 

 

 

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