SOLSC Day 23: Poor Birds!

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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!

Poor Birds!

I left school today depressed because of all the snow on the ground — again! Walking out the front doors, I looked and saw…some really FAT robins, hopping around in the parking lot. Poor birds! They must be so confused!

Poor birds in the snow, freezing

stupid snow again

When will we get back to spring?

BirdsinSnowyMarch

BirdMarch

Then I thought about something my mom said a long time ago; God will provide. So true! My depression turned to hope. If God can take care of these obviously needy birds, and he provides us a nice, warm home, then what do I have to do? Turn my frown around!

That’s just what I did!

SOLSC Day 22: The Best Interest of Students

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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!

The Best Interest of Students

I listened to a podcast today where Kelly Gallagher talked about his new book, In the Best Interest of Students. (Of course, I’m waiting for my copy!) In the first minute of the interview, Kelly addressed a problem with the Common Core State Standards, and I agreed. He stated that (for high school) the standards are actually quite good. (There is mention that the lower elementary grade teachers don’t seem to think that CCSS is good because they are not developmentally appropriate; since I am a middle school teacher, I’ll leave that for a different discussion.) This part of the podcast focused on “Lesson 2: Recognize the Standards by themselves are necessary, but insufficient.” Kelly explained: “The problem is, you can write down any standards on a piece of paper, but that doesn’t ensure what happens inside our classrooms when the bell rings.”

The lightbulb switched ON in my brain. Yes! I have my set of standards (although mine are Indiana State Standards) and my teaching plan, but if I don’t connect with the students, if I don’t teach them, and they don’t learn, then those standards mean nothing. One of our classroom walkthrough points for administrators (on teacher evaluation checklists) is that teachers should post the standards in the classroom and refer to them, so students will know what is expected.  I don’t mind. I typed them out and posted them on a bulletin board, and I showed them to the students. But we must not stop there! If my administrator checks that box (“Standards Posted in Classroom” or whatever it says), that doesn’t mean I’ve taught those standards. That doesn’t mean the students are learning them.

Teachers need to show students the purpose of deep learning — why those standards should matter to them. I’m thinking of a simple standard: “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English: capitalization, punctuation, and spelling…” Just because those words are displayed in my room doesn’t mean I teach them. And how should I teach that standard, anyway? With DOL sentences? Just as I was thinking about that, Jeff Anderson showed up in my Twitter feed. “I call DOLs & their ilk ‘correct alls’ because you get the same result as you would if you took a Correct All.” LOL! No, I don’t use DOLs. They don’t work.  My students can state any error in any sentence, and correct the sentence, in isolation. They do NOT practice capitalization and punctuation in their own writing. Jeff Anderson’s books are still my favorite mentor texts for teaching grammar and writing: Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing. If you want your work published, you HAVE to capitalize the “I.” (It takes the place of your name. Names are capitalized because they are very important and specific.) You HAVE to show the reader where your thought ends. (Period) Right? (Question mark) Your voice comes through your writing in the form of punctuation. Do you want to pause? How long? Use a comma, dash, ellipses, depending on the voice and tone you want to convey.

Back to the podcast: Teachers must teach the standards so students will learn (notice how I’m NOT saying, “so students will achieve high scores“). In practice. Every day. Out there in the real world. School is a place for learning and growing; if the “necessary” Common Core State Standards stop at the classroom bulletin board, then they are “insufficient.” And that is not in the “best interest of students.”

(The podcast mentioned is from Ed Talk with Dr. Bob Bravo, Interview with Kelly Gallagher, Monday Night Live, 3/9/2015. You can hear it on ITunes.)

SOLSC Day 21: Skipping

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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!

Skipping

The older you get, the more deeply words affect you. Think of the word “skipping.” When you are young, you learn to crawl, walk, and skip. Skipping is happiness. Skipping is innocence. Skipping is laughter.

Then you grow into adolescence. You’re a rebel. You don’t follow rules; you try activities that prove you are independent. Skipping is hiding (in the school bathroom — “cutting class.”). Skipping is fiddling. Skipping is secrecy. The connotation of the word shifts to a more negative tone than in the “good ol’ days.”

As an adult, skipping becomes more consequential. Skipping work equals unemployment. Skipping a red light means high-cost ticket. Skipping is illegal. Skipping is corruption. Skipping is guilt.  I’m sorry I skipped out on posting yesterday. Another failed day of the challenge, too tired to stand up, too busy to write.

Skipping is bad news!

 

SOLSC Day 19: Remember when…?

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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!

Remember when…?

I got home late (again) tonight and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t allow my friends to read one more boring story about how I’m either sick or don’t have the time to do anything. I decided to revisit this date from last year’s blog. It seems that lately people are curious about the past, with Timehop on Facebook, Throwback Thursdays, and such, so I thought I’d take a look.”

Is It Friday Yet? (Originally written on this blog March 19, 2014 — One Year Ago)

I feel like I am in 1700s Massachusetts — the Battle of Bunker Hill/Breed’s Hill. I’ve climbed, ready to attack; I’m a “Minuteman” — ready to work in a moment’s notice. Monday and Tuesday flew by. I kept up, crossing each task off of my to-do list, and I got done with everything! Then Wednesday arrived.

Wednesdays are true “hump” days around here. Hump. Slump! Oh, my goodness! Today is trudging along like a camel in the desert! Slowly stomping along, I am moving forward. I’m writing this piece during my lunchtime, because I think once I get home I’m going to pass out on the couch. Grinding, winding, minding my business, just to get over the hump.

The rest of the week should go fast. I am hopeful that Friday will bring about smooth sailing, lasting through the rest of the spring. I am ready to get over the humps (Wednesday AND winter’s weather hump). I’m ready to blossom in spring, and into 2014 Indiana! The Revolution is over, right?

Well, I am NOT happy with the results of this search! I sound like an old record: too much to do, not enough time. I am supposed to celebrate this year: living my dreams, cleaning the clutter, living “lean.” That’s it! I’m starting anew…tomorrow.

 

SOLSC Day 18: Meet the Author

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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!

Meet the Author

Our students received a rare treat today. We walked to the auditorium and sat to watch a slide show. Wild animals and beautiful scenes of Alaska entranced the otherwise squirrelly bodies; enlarged eyes stared at the screen. Paul Greci came back to town as a visiting author, meeting students giving a personal book talk for a new library book at the school: Surviving Bear Island.

 

Surviving Bear IslandPaulGreci031815He read chapter 1 aloud, which was awesome, because our students love read alouds anyway, but to hear the words from the writer himself was the best! Then Mr. Greci took several questions from the audience. Some students wanted to know what our school was like when he attended (yes, he even went to our school as a young man!), what color he liked best, and even what sauce he preferred to eat with chicken wings. He told us that living in Alaska is adventurous, and he didn’t appreciate a moose licking the windows of his car! (Moose tend to hang out in his garden.) More focused writing/”what’s-it-like-to-be-an-author” questions led to surprising answers (it took him a total of 10 years from idea to published work for this book!). How much money does he make? Well…students were not too impressed with that answer. They’ll just stick with becoming basketball stars! LOL

What a wonderful experience, to meet a real, live author of a published book —  it made my job easy today! What do I want you to do now? READ! WRITE!

 

SOLSC Day 17: Irish Fun

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Slice of Life Small LogoThe Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Irish Fun

Since I live near Notre Dame University, I tend to become “Irish” every chance I get. Current Irish fun includes following the NCAA basketball tournament. The men’s basketball team defeated North Carolina to win the ACC Title, and they will play their first NCAA game opposite Northeastern on Thursday at 12:15 pm (I’ll be at school! How will I watch? LOL).  It’s always a blast to cheer on the ever-popular ND women’s team; they earned a Number 1 seed in the NCAA tourney, playing at home on Friday night against Montana. We’ll definitely watch that one!

ND basketball Joyce Pavillion

Irish and wanna-be Irish citizens young and old celebrated St. Patrick’s Day today. The city was abuzz with news of the day’s traditions: corned-beef-and-cabbage dinners at local restaurants, green Mardi Gras-style beads, and green T-shirts for the “wearin’-o-the-green.”

School children wrote limericks, stories, and articles, and read books about leprechauns, rainbows, and St. Patrick. I heard stories of boys chasing the ND leprechaun into the woods, only to find NO GOLD at the end of the rainbow path! (Fun stories!)

ND leprechaun

Yes, “being Irish” is fun! I wonder if my life would be better if I could travel to Ireland? 🙂

 (pictures downloaded at und.com)

SOLSC Day 16: Notice the Moon

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Slice of Life Small LogoThe Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Notice the Moon

When I walked out to my car this morning, I noticed the crescent moon shining brightly over the field across from our row of houses.

At first, I saw a halo around the moon, and I thought, “Well, I’d better enjoy today, because it’s going to rain in 3 days.” (science class flashback: precipitation usually occurs 3 days after seeing a halo around the moon.) I looked up again at the southern sky. I looked at that halo more closely.

The circle seemed almost like a rainbow: the inside, closest to the moon, was white. As it spread out, it turned slate, and then white again. It was like a painter was trying to blend the colors together. Then on the outside, I squinted because I couldn’t believe it. I saw a variegated pink outline. Amazing! The moon had caught my eye, but I stopped to pay attention. Dr. Beers would be proud of me, as I “noticed and noted” this moment in time.

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