Saturday, March 18, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 18: Some Thoughts on Play.

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!


A couple of summers ago I read this book.  Have you read it?  I'll wait...go ahead.

When I started a new position around the same time, the idea of 'Purposeful play' really resonated with me.  I was in a situation where I could structure a framework that allowed for play throughout the day.

And then, at least 3 weeks ago, my Godmother asked in an email, "How is that emphasis working for you this year?"  (Side bar:  My Godmother lives in Michigan.  She is a retired 2nd grade teacher, working as a volunteer librarian in a school setting.  She knows public education and Lutheran education-where I am now.  I figure she is the coolest lady on the planet...)

After considering this question, I had several things I was thinking about.  I'll address a few in this post.

Maker Space:

Play naturally occurs here.  Yes, the idea of creating, collaborating and engineering is at the forefront.  However, first graders will create an opportunity for play.  As an example, 2 students created some origami in Maker Space a few weeks ago.  From that, there was an impromptu puppet show.  It really showed itself as dramatic play.  From that, there was the idea that they could take their show on the road!  From that, there were signs inviting people to see their show.  (They weren't pleased with me when I did say their stage couldn't completely block our doorway.  Shoot!)

For one of the students involved, this opportunity offered some time to work on negotiation skills in play.  For the other student, it offered the opportunity to work on some flexibility in thinking when playing with others.  This organic environment allowed for me to coach and model these skills in a setting that allowed for the students to grow and improve with a positive mindset.

Free Play-Storytelling-Writing:

I participated in the Global Day of Play on February 1st.  The premise?  You simply let the kids play.  And they did.  This day, the class as a whole only wanted to participate in dramatic and fantasy play.


The next day, with a little encouragement, one student wrote out the story that they played the previous day.
As I continued to consider this, the idea of play in Writer's Workshop kept swirling in my head.  As I consider next year, I'm outlining and considering how to incorporate puppetry and storytelling in my Writer's Workshop.

Math Choice-Literacy Block:

At first, I didn't think there was play here.  Only choice-because I was directing more of what they could be engaged in.  However, upon further reflection, I was noticing that there is play!  Hooray!

In these instances, the kids are engaged in manipulative play and play with rules.  (Games)

What am I trying this week?
I'm thinking about Social Studies.   We are beginning a unit on the Marketplace-basic economic principles.  I'm planning on some dramatic play as an experience before we talk about how money moves through an economy.  We'll set up shop.  Come buy your goods from us!

What's my role as a teacher?

Observation.  Observation.  Observation.  You have to get right next to the play and watch.  Listen.  And then it's a balancing act.  When are you quiet?  When do you jump in and guide?  It' can't work if you are watching from afar.   You can also connect your play and learning to standards very easily.  That is another post for another day...

Who is using play?  What is next?


Friday, March 17, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 17: A Wish Today And My OLW

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

A day for wishing!  

My wish for you is that you may fully tell your story...

Isaiah 41:10:  "Do Not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you.  I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

In December/January I wrote about my OLW.  Fearless.  
I think God has a big sense of humor. 

That girl writing?  So Brave. 
Not right now. 
I don't want to sound like an alarmist.  I'm okay. 
Just a point where there is nothing left to do but look up.
Isaiah 41:10 is my Fearless cry for awhile.
I'm thankful I can still have one.
(There's even a tiny fist pump in there...)
Also, I'm not really reflecting unless there is a YouTube video involved.  
Here we go...It's Country.  :)

Fearlessly Dreaming over here...Stay tuned.  


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 15: What She Ate Wednesday

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

I'm not really eloquent at writing about food allergies.  A couple of years ago, I tried to write about Li'l T's allergies here:

These days we are managing well.  We actively avoid:  fish, nuts, beef, and eggs.  We can eat:  dairy, wheat and soy.  But we know if there is trouble where to go first to make changes in what we are doing.  

Often, I get asked:  What Do You Eat?
Answer:  Too Much.  :)  

Well.  Here's an example of how we do dinner.  Specifically, a take out theme:

Stir fry some chicken breast strips and stir fry vegetables.  I used a garlic flavored grapeseed oil to do this with.  

I'm not a food photographer at all.  I keep thinking I should learn how.  Because I might write about food more if I knew how to document it well.  Thanks for understanding...

We steam a pouch of whole grain brown rice to go with it.  

There is sweet and sour sauce and orange ginger sauce to go with it.  

We also bake vegetable egg rolls and cream cheese wontons because you have to have some fun!  

When I serve food, I usually set it up on our counter like a buffet.  It allows family to build dinner that works for them!  

If you can eat the protein and vegetables-you have to take it.  (Guess what?!?!  I always serve a protein and/or vegetables that work.)

I'm wondering about more vegetable based meals.  Li'l T has been less than excited about plant-based milks we've tried.  (Rice milk is about our only option...even though he's had it for about 6 years...)
If he ate some foods rich in Vitamin D and Calcium, I'd back off...It's been something I've been wondering about.  But if you have an easy vegetable based meal you want to share with me, you can link below and I'll check it out!  

What have you had for dinner this week?


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 14: A Makerspace. (Even When There Isn't a Budget)

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

In October, I had the chance to attend LEA in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It was there that I listened to Matthew Bergholdt, an LCMS school leader, speak about Makerspace.  


But as I'm wired, I needed to let this swirl a bit before I jumped right in.  


I lingered in this book for awhile.  (Recommended in Mr. Bergholdt's presentation.)

I went to a Maker Space presentation in Kansas City about 2 weeks later in October at a Google Summit.  That one was fun, but a little discouraging.  You see, it began with, "My budget was $40,000."  What?!?!?!  Oh, I had a blast playing and experimenting and thinking what if.  But I was slightly discouraged.  For a minute.  Then I got over it.  

But my Maker Space budget?  $0.00.  
Challenge Accepted.

I take that back.  I had a gift of a classroom allocation.  (About 200.00)  I used it immediately to buy some Legos and Flats to go with them.  I'm assuming as one Maker to another, you might understand why I went straight for Legos.

Let's take a tour, shall we?

This is the space.  It's compact.  It is NOT fancy.  It's toward the back of the room, where a tall table, a table with wheels, and a hexagon shaped table all reside as well.  (Room for collaboration.)  The shelf came from my house, it was in our playroom and wasn't really being used.  

Yes, there is a sign that indicates it is open.  Most of the time it is.  Especially in the afternoon, it is almost always a choice.  I'm swirling around how to effectively keep it open during the Literacy block as well.  

Legos.  As a parent caught wind of the Maker Space, she offered up a tub of K'Nex.  They have motors and gears.  Yes, please. 

Tinkertoys came from my house.  I have an 8 and 12 year old, and they just don't use them as much anymore.  

In the blue basket?  Foam, bolts, washers, nails.  Now, clearly there are some safety issues here.  This year's class has remarkable self-control.  So they were receptive to the safety lessons that came with this basket.  They love to build robots.  The foam was left over from a craft.  The hardware came from Mr.'s stash in the garage.  (He's so cool.)

This basket has origami paper and directions for making basic origami folds.  The paper came from our stash at home.  

Cardboard and duct tape.  The duct tape I did purchase out of pocket.  It came out of our household budget.  

This basket has buttons and craft sticks.  Treasures found in "the closet".  

Paper of all shapes and sizes.  You can see the 
hexagon table in the background.  A lot of spontaneous writing takes place when this paper is out.  I love it.  

What about the kids Making?  Let's take a peek:

I usually encourage kids to work in pairs to practice collaboration.  But I don't force the issue.  

Sometimes it just needs to be a kid and his cardboard.  

An unintended consequence?  Certainly not negative, but reading the Lego directions has been a springboard for reading and writing nonfiction and technical ("how to") writing.  

But sometimes you just have to create from scratch.  

Next Steps:

I wish I had more space to display work, whether it is finished or in progress.  Could I really dedicate the back corner simply for Making?

I do have some technology.  How can we effectively amplify what is going on here?  Naturally, I wish I had some technology for the kids to connect with in their Making.  

I've been gathering resources from Twitter, Amazon, Pinterest, Other educators on other considerations and readings around Maker Space.  

 What I've learned:
You don't have to have a lot (or any) money to get this started.

There could be a whole post on the teaching points that occur organically within the Maker space.

The kids love it.  It brings them joy during their school day.   The idea that play is important work really shines here.

Maker Space is a process.  It might not ever be done.  I'm learning to be okay with that.

Do you Make?  What advice do you have for me?  What else do you want to know?


Monday, March 13, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 13: Our Wonder Fair.

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

So last week, before Spring Break, we celebrated National Lutheran Schools Week.  There were many learning experiences to be had, a lot of community building, and a lot of fun celebrating what we get to do everyday!  

One of the things I learned last year, was a project during this week would be perfect for the classroom.  Because you are in and out all week long.  Nothing really goes according to a traditional schedule.  It's quickly becoming one of my favorite weeks of the year!  

We've been studying nonfiction as readers and writers.  It seemed perfect that we would do some research and share that with our community at the end of the week.

So we got busy:

We used a graphic organizer to record what we would be studying (student choice), what we already knew, and what we were learning.  Each student worked to learn 3 facts they would want to share.  Only 3, because I really wanted them to internalize what they were learning, so they could share it with peers.   

We used Wonderopolis, Book Flix, and Pebble Go to learn some facts.  We also used books from the classroom library.   (Also, it was pajama day when we were researching!  We should always research in our PJs!)

Then it was time to share!  We wrote books and made posters.  After the staff was invited, we waited.  Then our Mighty Mustangs from Preschool to 4th grade came!  We had a great authentic audience to share our facts with.  We shared where our resources came from, and we answered questions from our peers.  

It was a great way to close our study of nonfiction and connect with our school community.  

A wish?  More technology, so students could have this as an option to share their learning.  Taking the Amplification to a new level.  :)

But it was a great day of sharing our learning.  


Sunday, March 12, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 12: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

I've been sitting here for a moment trying to decide how to write about what I'm carrying right now.  It's not time to share the whole story yet.  But it's finally hit me.   Time to write.  

A couple of weeks ago, Lil T stopped me in my tracks.  We were watching state basketball on TV.  When the All State Dance Team came on, I flippantly made a remark about how I wished I had learned to dance when I was younger.  

My 8 year old says, "It's not like your life is over.  You can still learn how to dance."  
It stopped me in my tracks.  And it might have been dust, or it might have been tears.  I'm not sure...but Wowza.

Fast Forward to today, when Mr. and I are out running.  Talking about those Pie in The Sky Dreams.
Because sometimes you just have to.

I love what I do.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  But when I grow up I want to:

1.  Open a book store in the historical part of town.  With a lunch counter in the back.
2.  Build a house on the corner where the family land is.  1/2 a mile from mom and dad.  Get a job in that county and live in the country.
3.  Get an RV.  Take a year, just one, and Unschool the kids.  Travel the Midwest.  Take in some nature and landmarks with school on the side.
4.  Consult with new teachers.  Listen to them.  Work with them.  Offer coaching when necessary.  Celebrate with them.  (Is this a job?  I mean...a stand alone job...beyond mentoring...)

I like things to be in groups of 5, but won't force that for this one.

Li'l T's words ring true here too:
It's not like life is over.  You can still learn how to dance.

What do you want to be when you grow up?


Saturday, March 11, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 11: I'm Going to The Party!

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!

I'm coming to the party Leigh Anne!  Don't know if you are invited or not?  You are.  Read more:

We are headed out to the Iowa District West Volleyball Tournament.  And the Mustangs are in the tournament!  (Yee-Haw!)

  • A side note to say, yesterday, I put my 12 year old in a minivan with a trusted friend.  And if you are in a community where you can get a text that says, "It's a long story, but the boys ended up staying with _____ last night,"  and it doesn't cause any stress?  You are in the right community.  
Now, I must get ready for the party, because the tournament is 2 hours away, and girl needs to drink coffee and eat breakfast.  

Here's what I'm bringing to the party:

1.  Pillows:  I noticed Leigh Anne was bringing hers, so I'll bring the 3  I sleep with.  (No judging.  I'm almost 40 and get heartburn at night.)  :D  

2.  A Book from my TBR pile:  I'm eyeing Mosquitoland by David Arnold.  It was a gift at Christmas time.  

3.  I'll bring PopChips-I tried the sour cream and onion flavor this week, and really liked them.  

4.  Henry's Hard Soda.  I like the Ginger Ale flavor.  

5.  I'll bring some LuLaRoe Leggings.  Yes, I'm one of those.  I will buy leggings at your party.  :)  

Have a great day Friends!