Slice of Life Tuesdays: Rewind

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Slice of Life Small LogoRewind, But It Still Fits

I am recycling today, literally cleaning out the paper clutter, and revisiting some posts that still pertain in 2015. This is a special poem I created with my class last year with a mentor text. It still resonates with me today. I will use it again. Go forth, and save the planet!

My Poem for the Students

Forget that we started class before eight. Forget your pencil? No, I won’t wait! Forget the answers on the test? Forget to act your very best?
Forget the author, forget the plot. Forget which book was great, or not. Forget to walk straight in the hall. Forget to pick up the basketball.

But don’t forget the fun we had. (Don’t forget to ask for new IPads!) Don’t forget to help each other; she’s your sister, he’s your brother. Don’t forget to think of me whenever you use the Power of Three.

Don’t forget the lessons you learned, about thinking, dreaming, and how you turned…work into the fabulous grades you earned.

Forget about Ellis Island, Russia’s pogroms, and geography’s many, many miles. But don’t forget —

— I’ll miss your smiles!

This poem was inspired by Kenn Nesbitt’s “What to Remember in School” (from Aliens Have Landed at our School, 2006)

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Time’s Running Out

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Slice of Life Small LogoTime’s Running Out

It’s hard to believe, but the school year is almost over. We have a few precious days left for inspiration, creativity, and learning. How will we use our time?

Of course, we will assess. It’s testing season, and the standardized tests will take up much of our time and energy. I don’t want my focus there. Testing is not inspirational or creative. I pledge to use my time on the following literacy activities:

1) Reading Aloud. I love sharing stories, poems, and articles with others — students and colleagues. I will read aloud each day. Research shows that reading aloud inspires students, encourages thinking, and helps overall achievement.

2) Talking about Reading. When students are allowed to share, students learn more. Plus, students are tired of the teacher talk. I know. I talk too much. They are sick of me! I will offer time for peers to discuss their favorite scenes from books, question each other’s choices, and reflect on their own readings. Talking about reading is a great way to provide students with a voice in the classroom. Each voice counts.

3) Writing and Sharing. Students in my classes love free writing time. No assignment, per se — just write. The most creative, inspirational stories I’ve read are from this laid-back, yet structured time. Once testing is over and assignments are completed, it’s time for students to show what they know. It always amazes me…they know a lot! And don’t forget sharing. Sharing time provides a purpose, a captivated audience, and much-needed fun.

The last days of school are stressful. As teachers, we try to get all the teaching in before time runs out. Reading aloud, talking about reading, and writing for the purpose of sharing are worthwhile ways to spend time with the kids. Time never runs out to grow life-long learners.

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: End of the School Year…Finally…?

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Tomorrow is the last school day with students before break. Wow! What a year. I wrapped up with an interesting meeting with my partner teacher and our principal. Yes, it was a long year (thanks to the snow days!). Yes, we are ready for a break. But we are also looking forward to the next school year — an exciting new adventure awaits!

Thank you to all of the students, parents, and colleagues that made this school year one for the books. I appreciate all of you!

A little poem to leave with you:

Forget that we started class before eight. Forget your pencil? No, I won’t wait! Forget the answers on the test? Forget to act your very best?
Forget the author, forget the plot. Forget which book was great, or not. Forget to walk straight in the hall. Forget to pick up the basketball.

But don’t forget the fun we had. (Don’t forget to ask for new IPads!) Don’t forget to help each other; she’s your sister, he’s your brother. Don’t forget to think of me whenever you use the Power of Three.

Don’t forget the lessons you learned, about thinking, dreaming, and how you turned…work into the fabulous grades you earned.

Forget about Ellis Island, Russia’s pogroms, and geography’s many, many miles. But don’t forget —

— I’ll miss your smiles!

This poem was inspired by Kenn Nesbitt’s “What to Remember in School” (from Aliens Have Landed at our School, 2006)

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: More Reflections, Please.

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“Teachers must be critically reflective about their practice to improve.” — Frank Serafini

I have poured over ISTEP scores since last Friday when the preliminaries were sent to schools. Yep, I have a LOT of improving to do!

I asked students to do some reflective work as well: I surveyed them to review and choose the books that should stay (and go!) in the classroom library. I discovered the best advice they have for upcoming 6th graders through honest “advice columns.” I observed that they are ready for summer break! (It’s ok, I am, too!)

Soon, kiddos! Soon! In the meantime, we will talk about books, we will write, and we will share our last field trips together.

Then, when the little ones are sleeping in on June 12th, I will be critically reflective, and plan for next year’s improvements.

Curriculum Tip Tuesday: It’s Time to Have Fun

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Schools everywhere are winding down the school year in May. It’s spring, and better weather is here. The sun is shining, jackets are thrown on the playground black top, and students and teachers are searching for ways to fill the long school days. The standardized testing windows concluded, but there is still more time to learn. What can schools do to keep up the school spirit in May and June?

Have fun!

This is the perfect time to do class projects you wanted to do all year, but were too busy. Students would love to read the books they want to read, practicing the skills and strategies they have learned over the course of the school year. Wouldn’t it be great to research something you have always wanted to know, but never had time to ask and find out? Students can do “I-Search” projects, smaller versions of the research paper, based on what they really wonder and question. Art projects can be more intricate — there’s more time for creating during the spring.  Another idea is to write letters of introduction to the kids in the lower grade levels. “Advice columns” can help students publish their writing authentically, and the younger students can practice fluent reading (of the columns) while finding out what they need to know about “survival” in the next grade. Math and science teachers can create games of skill and strategy and hold competitions, such as “Minute to Win It-“type games. There are so many ways to learn and grow in the spring!

Students should feel a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and wonder during the last few days of the school year.  Low-stress, engaging, and FUN activities can leave a student looking forward to summer, and maybe even hoping for school to start again soon!

 

 

SOL Tuesday: Getting ready to party!

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I am ready to party! May is my month: my anniversary, Mother’s Day, and my birthday. Memorial Day…end-of-standardized-testing windows (a great celebration!)…friends and family graduations…retirement parties. There is so much to do in May!

Party time!

I was just thinking about celebrations. Our school will celebrate spring and ridding ISTEP from our computer lab schedules. I am personally celebrating life events with my family. My colleagues and I are meeting at our favorite local hangout on Friday to celebrate a friend’s retirement after teaching “forever.” There is so much to do in May!

Party time!

Celebrating spring weather (finally!) and the opening of the pool on Memorial Day weekend all just make me smile from ear to ear. Party time! I hope that you have many celebrations on your plates this spring. I wish you the best! All of you who are ready to party… let’s get it started!