SOLSC Day 31: It’s Over?

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Slice of Life Small LogoTHANK YOU to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the AWESOME March Slice of Life Story Challenge! It’s over already?

It’s Over?

March has 31 days, but it sure seemed like this March has come and gone in the blink of an eye! I find myself thinking, “It’s over?” Missing 3 out of the 31 days makes me feel a little disappointed in myself, but I did my best. More importantly, I’ve met some new bloggers, kept in touch with some pals from the past, read some awesome slices, written a few decent posts, and had a great time! Thanks again to our wonderful hosts at Two Writing Teachers!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” 

Dr. Seuss

We are on our own now, and we’ve learned a lot. I hope you will keep in touch on your blogs! Maybe we can even steer in the direction to meet soon. I decided to go to ILA, Writing in Warsaw, and Boothbay, Maine! (I am dreaming. Maybe dreams DO come true.) Keep dreaming, hoping, and…writing! I’ll be there to read your stuff.

 

 

SOLSC Day 29: Not Yet

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Not Yet

My granddaughter says, “Not yet” when she wants to stall, avoid, or wait a few minutes. I’m thinking of her tonight, as I wait impatiently for spring break.

Should I make lunch now? Not yet.

Should I get the laundry done? Not yet.

Should we get some spring clothes and bathing suits ready for the trip? Yes, we should!

Should I make dinner? Not yet. We have to drop off the car first. Maintenance day Monday!

Should I go to bed? Not yet. I have to see if the Notre Dame women’s basketball team wins.

Have a great week everyone! If you’re going back to work tomorrow, take it easy and have a low-key day. If you are on spring break, have a blast! If you’re waiting for spring break, like me, remember: “patience is a virtue.”

 

SOLSC Day 28: Not What We Wanted

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Not What We Wanted

Well, Notre Dame lost in the Elite Eight. That’s ok. They almost beat #1 Kentucky. They played tough, earning the respect of the country. They lost by only 2 points. Not what we wanted.

My granddaughter called me earlier. She was “sad.” “Mommy’s watching her show, but I wanna watch my show.” (Mommy in the background: “You watched your shows all day.”) Aw, that’s ok. I told her, “Let Mommy watch her show this time.” She cried, “Nooo!” Not what she wanted.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want. There’s always something else to make up for the loss. I wanted to go to New York today for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion. I wasn’t able to attend; the schedule just wouldn’t work this spring. Not what I wanted. That’s ok. I got to spend time at home — relaxing, visiting family members in person and via phone, and enjoying my day on Twitter (following the reunion, of course).

To all those TCRWP teachers: send me your notes! 🙂

 

SOLSC Day 27: Weekend!

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Weekend!

Just sat down for the night. Wait…the laundry is still in the dryer!

Irish are going to win (maybe?)…We couldn’t squeal any higher!

One kid packed for Florida, the other one waiting until next week.

Dog is barking and crying; can’t find enough food to eat…still trying to seek.

So tired from the long day, but I’m happy to say…I got my writing post in on time…Hooray!

(Good night!)

SOLSC Day 26: Spring Plans

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Spring Plans

Spring brings about change — in weather, in activities, in attitude. This spring I have several plans. Let’s call this my public “to-do” list:

* Clean this house! My OLW (One Little Word) this year is LEAN. I want to keep decluttering; I’m getting there.

* Spruce up and repair the outside. We need some maintenance on the house, especially since all of our gates along the fence are broken. Planting flowers would add some much-needed color to our house.

* Travel: spring break in Florida, coming right up! Yay! I cannot wait to experience some of those wonderful rays of sun and the pool.

* Exercise outside. This is the perfect time of year to set new goals for my LEAN body. I want to work out with the track team at the school’s track. I can’t run (knees), but I could sure do for some brisk walks. My husband plays softball, so maybe I could help him warm up by playing catch or fielding some softballs during the team’s practices.

* Get ready for SUMMER! I hope to stay active this summer. It’s so much better for the mind, body, and soul. No more sicknesses!

Now that I’ve written it down, it should all happen. Let’s see if this strategy works.

 

SOLSC Day 25: Making Sense of Sentences

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Making Sense of Sentences

I read “Let’s Get Higher Scores on These New Assessments” by Timothy Shanahan in this month’s issue of The Reading Teacher (published by ILA). The journal really hit the spot with me in March. My school is so wrapped up with raising test scores that it’s easy to get sucked into the “test prep” mode of teaching. Every year it happens: “What are you going to do to prepare for ISTEP?” Well…I’m going to teach my students to read, to think, and to show what they know. I’ve never been one for “test prep” strategies, such as workbooks of reading passages with attached comprehension questions, written by testing companies to supposedly get kids to higher achievement levels. I know they don’t work; I’ve known for years. Shanahan stated, “The problem with this very popular approach is that it doesn’t work…It’s as effective as pushing the elevator button multiple times to hurry it along or turning the thermostat to 90 degrees to make a room warm up faster.” (460)

What does work, then, when it comes to passing standardized tests? Shanahan recommends teaching students to tackle those reading passages in a manner that will help them to show what they know. Once students know how to play the testing game better– once they have clear strategies that work — they can perform better. These approaches will help students to take action when they don’t understand. Students can have some control and power over these readings, and face their demons head on. One of the strategies is to teach students to “make sense of sentences.” This basic sentence know-how will help students to achieve.

First, students should read the difficult sentence and ask a couple of questions: 1) Who is involved? and  2) What is happening? I remember learning The Shurley Method 20 years ago. The “Question-and-Answer Flow” had students ask (after reading the sentence): “Who or What is (doing the action)?” Then they ask: “What is being said about (the “Who” or “What”)? For example:

The young boy ran quickly.

“Who ran quickly?” (The boy)      “What is being said about boy?” (he ran quickly)

This is a very basic account of The Shurley Method; there’s much more to the question-and-answer flow. My point (and Shanahan’s premise) is that once students know how sentences work, they can figure out what the sentences are telling them, and, therefore, answer questions and comprehend more easily.

Another strategy is to teach students how to take sentences apart in meaningful ways. In the example above, students can use the questioning strategies to help them to find the subjects and verbs. When moving to longer sentences, Shanahan noted that students can “break a sentence up at the punctuation points and at words like and, or, and that.” (461) Commas in sentences have a purpose; knowing how to break the parts down, and then reconnect them, aids comprehension. The article used a long sentence, as would a standardized testing passage. For my purposes here, I’ll use a passage from our current social studies textbook,The Western World:

“Italy remained divided into small states until the mid-1800s. At that time, a rise in nationalism, or strong patriotic feelings for a country, led people across Italy to fight for unification. As a result of their efforts, Italy became a unified kingdom in 1861.” (Holt McDougal, 531)

In this passage, “nationalism” IS “strong patriotic feelings for a country” (vocabulary). Once students know how to break up the vocabulary word from its appositive, they understand that the sentence actually defines the word, and then sentence as a whole becomes easier to handle. The last sentence has a dependent clause: “As a result of their efforts…” A student should say, “What? What is the result?” They can look for the “finish” at the end of the passage.

Shanahan presented more techniques in the article; I’m using his guidance for my mini lessons. Teachers can teach students ways to read text so that they understand and can help themselves towards success. When teachers teach the transferable strategies of reading, students will learn. “Test prep” then becomes “reading prep” or “learning prep” — something that the students can use every day of their lives, and not just on tests. Timothy Shanahan provided instructors with sensible methods to help students become stronger readers. He mentioned a few excellent strategies; I chose “making sense of sentences” for this post, because that’s what I’m currently doing with my students. I hope to see students’ standardized test scores improve, of course. I really hope my students will use their new-found knowledge to become strong, life-long readers and learners. A teacher can only teach, and hope.

SOLSC Day 24: Reader, or Writer?

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Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers (www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com) for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Reader, or Writer?

Today I feel more like a reader than a writer. I’ve read some fabulous posts on interesting SOLSC blogs. Thank you for sharing your stories with us! All of you are so inspiring and thoughtful with your words. I really want to read today, and not write. I’ll write about my “to do” reading:

Finish: Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone, co-creator of Twitter. (This guy is amazing!)

Read Again: Brown Girl Dreaming (Woodson), Charlotte’s Web (White), Sisters (Telgemeier), The Tiger Rising (DiCamillo), and Divergent (Roth)

Read the First Time: Turn Right at Machu Picchu (Adams), The Crossover (Alexander), Echo (Muñoz Ryan), Fish in a Tree (Hunt), there are so many titles! If I listed the rest of my books on my shelves I want to read, I’d be here until midnight!

I’d rather go back to reading. Please excuse me. Good night!

 

 

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