Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#sol14 A Mission.

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

Last week, I had the opportunity to be trained in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  
There was much time for reflection and developing a purpose for what you want to accomplish as you go through life each day.  

Here's mine in very rough form:

Lean in.  Reach out.  Help.  Thrive.  Be Strong.  Love all.  Commit.  Spread Joy.  Stay Rooted and Growing in Faith.  I'm enough.  Pet Dogs.  Take care of Family.  Create.  Innovate.  When it's time, say no.  Have a soundtrack.  Dance in the kitchen.  Cook good food, then share it.  It's okay to take care of yourself.  Run far, even when it's slow.  Write. Share.  

When it's time, I want to use some graphic design to make it pretty, and then post it.  Do you have a mission?  Are you good at graphic design/using fonts?  :)


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate! Week of August 16th

Discover. Play. Build.

I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.

A quick celebration before the day starts.  

1.  The prospect of efficiency.  I just spent two days being trained in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It was a fresh start that reminds me that I'm better with my time than I think I am, and it allowed me to reflect on what can improve.  

2.  School started!  The classroom physical space.  The new colleagues.  One of the things I love most about education is the ability to start fresh each year.  The anticipation.  

3.  I continue to celebrate my family and little people.  This week after spending a day at school so mom (that's me) could get her school on, we headed out to buy the newest Origami Yoda book.  As I pull into Barnes and Noble(it was close to school) my youngest yells out, "Hey!  Is this our independent book store?!?!?"  Needless to say, we u-turned it out of the parking lot and headed to the local book shop.  I celebrate that leaning into my community didn't go unnoticed this summer and made a difference.  We had a great conversation about how if we keep shopping at this local store, it will get huge!  :)

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#sol14 Because Kitchens are Made for Dancing And Growing Up

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

I was thinking yesterday about what my slice was going to be as we head back to school.  I tossed around all kinds of ideas about classrooms, community, and creating.  

But then, I read this post at Momastery.  If you haven't read it, go ahead.  I'll wait.  It rocked my world, and I've been thinking about it all day.  Go ahead and click on that link.  I'll be here when you get back.  :)

Okie-dokie, now that you are back, it was this morning as I was sipping coffee and rereading this post again, that my slice hit me.  I need to tell you what I love about My Kitchen.  

Here She is.  22 years old.  The floor?  Cracked in some spots around the edges.  The cabinets?  Outdated.  The coloring?  Totally neutral.  Completely cluttered.  Sometimes---it smells funny.  (Just keeping it real Slicers!) 

But in our kitchen:

This precious face celebrated his first birthday with carrot cupcakes and party hats in our kitchen almost 10 years ago.  We brought him home from the hospital about 6 weeks before we were expecting to.  The health care and nutrition we could provide him in our kitchen was easy and accessible.  (Even if it didn't seem like it at the time!)  He would love it if I would allow him to declare the kitchen his Makerspace and he could cover it in origami.  

This precious face took his first baths in our kitchen sink late at night.  The warm water that was readily available for him was calming and soothing for everyone.  We've overcome food allergies in that kitchen.  He's my dancer, and we've two-stepped across that floor more than once as dinner was cooking.  He also grabs one of those stools and parks it next to me.  "I'm your shoe-chef Mom."  

It's a chihuahua cupcake.  Don't laugh.  :)  Okay, you can.
Fresh veggies too.  

Food we need, and food we don't--it's waiting for us in our kitchen.  

Life's conversations and tough questions?  They get wrestled with in our kitchen.  

Morning coffee and thoughts for the day?  Waiting for me in my kitchen.  

Some people I love the most?  Usually hanging out in my kitchen.  

Uproarious laughter with friends?  In my kitchen.  

Homework/schoolwork/blogging?  Usually in the kitchen.  

Funny smells and big messes?  That's totally my kitchen.  

Love and Laughter?  Always available in my kitchen.  

As my mister and I have chatted about updates for Her, I really loved the perspective over at Momastery.  She might not need a makeover yet, just some more two-stepping and chihuahua cupcakes please.  

What do you love about your kitchen?  

Joy!  Kendra

Monday, August 11, 2014

Math Monday: Pre-Assessment

It's the first Math Monday!  I'm so excited to be participating and learning from others.  Thanks to Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for promoting more math conversations and discussions!

I was preparing for facilitating new teacher training in my district and stumbled across this quote from Rick Wormeli.

"DI is mostly about what we do ahead of time, not how we interact or conduct the lesson at the time.  There are some good aspects going on in the classroom, but that facilitation can only occur with purposeful and thoughtful planning.  I can make flexible decisions because I've already prepared the resources in anticipation of student needs.  Am I always prepared for everything? No way.  I get better with time, however."

In terms of mathematics instruction, my planning typically starts with pre-assessment.  I can only begin to plan instruction if I know students' strengths and areas for growth.  As an instructional coach, I had the opportunity to develop math pre-assessments with teachers.  Our purpose was to create formative assessment that would allow us to quickly gather information about students at the start of a unit and use that information to guide instruction for the unit and each lesson.  For instance, teachers wanted to be able to flexibly group students each day based on their understanding of the day's learning target.  At each grade level 1st-6th, we created an assessment, typically around 10 questions, to provide a snapshot of the unit's essential outcomes.

Developing the pre-assessments was critical.  However, as teachers, we know that sometimes we are "data rich, information poor."  Inspired by an idea from our Title teacher, we created a tracker.  This allows us to quickly input students' data and produce an instant visual that helps teachers to create flexible groups to meet students' needs.  Initially, we created our pre-assessment trackers in Microsoft Excel.  However, my district is shifting to a Google district.  Accordingly, it makes sense to upload the trackers into Google Sheets, which allows teachers to collaborate easily.  Here's an example:

Our pre-assessments and trackers are truly living documents that change as our PLCs dig deeper into essential outcomes and formative assessments.  But this has proven to be a very valuable jumping-off point!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

#pb10for10 Top Ten New Books I Checked Out at My Public Library

Picture Book 10 for 10 Day is one of my favorite blogging days!  Thanks to Cathy (@cathymere) at Reflect and Refine and Mandy (@mandyrobek) at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for hosting.  I always find lots of great new titles to add to my TBR pile.  

This year, I have tried to use my library card more and my credit card on Amazon less.  And, when I have done some book shopping, I've tried to shop at independent bookstores more.  (Check out Kendra's #pb10for10.)  My public library has several shelves -- nonfiction, juvenile fiction, and picture books -- where they display their new books.  Big B, Little C, and I always check out these shelves first on our weekly library trips.  The books even have little green "New" stickers on them!  New books = happy heart.  Here's my Top 10 list of new books I checked out from my public library.

The Most Magnificent Thing
Endless possibilities with my favorite picture book of the year.  It's one that I read and then decided to must own it.

Going Places    
Beautiful illustrations with a beautiful story.  I found myself recommending this to colleagues that I know are passionate about creativity.

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
I love books about books and book-lovers.  I didn't realize that Jefferson helped to rebuild the Library of Congress with his collection of books.  Lots of great quotes inset in the illustrations!  

E-I-E-I-O: How Old McDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen
This was fun to read aloud because of the rhythm.  I think it was wonderful for my kids to think about where our food comes from and our backyard garden.

Stunning book that explains an abstract science concept!  We reread this a few times to really absorb the illustrations.

Buddy and the Bunnies: In Don't Play with Your Food
Fun to read aloud!  Bob Shea is one of my favorite authors for my young readers.

Salina Yoon is an author I recently discovered.  We checked out several of her books from her library, including two from the New shelf.  This was our favorite!  It reminded me of Knuffle Bunny Free, and the teacher in me thought it couldn't help but think about using it to model making text-to text or text-to-self connections.  Big B and I spent a long time studying the end papers!

We got this book from library on Friday afternoon, and I have read aloud this book at least 10 times in the last 36 hours.  Little C has read the pictures at least 10 more times.  Oh, the giggling! (In fact, as I write this post, she's peeking over my shoulder yelling the title, laughing, and pretending to be cold.)  

Tea Party Rules
I may have squealed with excitement when I saw this book on the shelf.  I was so excited to read it after seeing it on Twitter and several blogs.  LOVE this fun friendship story!

Tools Rule!
Big B and I enjoyed the word play in this one.  Great teamwork message!

Happy reading!


#pb10for10 Top Ten Books I Purchased at An Indie Book Store

Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek have brought us #pb10for10.
Cathy's blog is here.  Mandy's blog is here.  Thank you for hosting all of us! 

 I was encouraged and reminded several times this spring and summer about buying local.  For me, it's about leaning in and getting to know the stories of the people in the community.  So this summer, I made the commitment to myself to spend the money locally.  All the picture books that I bought for school, home, or other use were purchased locally!  

As I share the books with you too, I also wanted to share the names of the shops I purchased them at as well, so you can check them out if you get a chance.  

From Chapters in Seward, Nebraska.  (www.sewardchapters.com)

This is a beautiful book.  I adore the illustrations.

When a worker found out I was a teacher, from Iowa, we connected immediately.  She brought this book right to me.  It takes a trip down Y-31, a real county road in Iowa.  Even living in Iowa, the schema and background knowledge needed to understand this book fully is amazing.  The possibilities for conversation are endless.  And the illustrations are stunning.  (Can you tell the farm has my heart?  I Love this book!)

From Bookbug in Kalamazoo, Michigan (www.bookbugkalamazoo.com)

Enter #nErDcampMI.  Annie and I both blogged about this awesome experience several times.  There were other nerdcampers there as well, and it was a delightful time.

Having what I believe is a tiny ninja in our house sometimes, Li'L T connected with this book immediately.  Ninja sneaks up on the dog, sneaks cookies, sneaks away from Granny's kisses.  Is there anything that can stop this ninja?

Peter Brown is a genius.  I wish he could have been in my classroom last year with my special friends.  He would have connected with all of them.  I can't wait to read this book with my new friends right away in just a few days.

From Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa.  (www.beaverdalebooks.com)  

The owner was so patient with us.  I made my family come with me on a Friday afternoon, just to see what this bookstore was like.  We spent a ton of time in there!  (And we bought more than one book of course, but for this blog, here's the most important one.)


This is a beautiful calming book that I've been looking for!  From the strong smart female, to a lesson on following your dreams, to the idea of sitting and observing your surroundings; I cannot get enough of this book.

From The Book Store in Des Moines, Iowa (http://www.downtowndesmoines.com/businesses/866)

A note about this store:  When I told my husband we were going to shop there, his first words were, "It's so small!"  Small, but mighty.  I wanted to take pictures of his stacks and boxes of books everywhere, because I loved it so.  It was our first time in, I didn't want to seem like a weird, crazy book lady.  (Wait....what?!?!)


Be still my heart, when Li'l T holds this book up as if he's found gold.  (I'm still struggling with his love of Captain Underpants.)  Of course this beautiful book came home with us right away.


I mean who wouldn't?  A great story about playing pretend.  And I'm a first grade teacher.  I love Mo!

I've loved this book for a long time.  Showing Fergus as a good dog, even when he's just being...well...a dog.

2 books that came home with me sometime, and I can't remember when or where; but it was one of these stores.  :)  Find a local book store and play along!  


A heartwarming and lovely story about making new friends, and treasuring your "old ones".  Perfect for the beginning of the school year.


I love Beekle.  He's an imaginary friend waiting to be discovered.  After being overlooked again and again, he takes off on an adventure.  Tonight, as I was reading Twitter, Dan Santat suggested this would be a great read aloud in the first few days of school.  I agree.  Amazing idea!

So, the top ten books from the indie book stores I visited this summer.  This tiny experiment/adventure taught me to take time to see my community, or whatever community I'm in.  It's also challenged me to consider where else in my life I can spend more money locally.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Celebrate! August 2nd

Discover. Play. Build.

I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.

I'm celebrating some familiar stories.  

However, with the growing kids, comes the ability to run with them in our family. And I celebrate that.   
From our run on Friday.  He's asking about running more races, running in high school (Wait?!?! What?!?!?!)  and when can he do longer races with mom and dad.  (Soon enough Buddy).   Oh my heart sings that we are doing an activity I love together, and he seems to really enjoy it.  

Here he comes today to meet me with more fruit snacks.  :)  Be still my heart you little runner you.

2.  Modern Amenities

This pile of dirt is all that remains of a 5 hour power outage on Tuesday.  I'm celebrating the beautiful weather we had (I sat outside and read), and the fact that this is an adventure for us and not the norm.  At times like this, it calls me to reflect on how I can be using what I have to serve others more.  

3.  Quiet Time

My nest for reading and writing.

When Ruth told the story of her summer, she was essentially telling mine as well.  Everything has turned into an unexpected adventure, and it didn't go at all like I envisioned.  So, in these last days of summer, I'm celebrating that I am getting some days to read and write and reflect.

What are you celebrating this week?