Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#sol14 and #writedaily30 Come Together: A Reflection

SOL

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life on their blog.  Join us and link up too!

30 days ago, I took Linda Urban's encouragement and began to participate in #writedaily30.  Wow.  This was an amazing journey.  
For me, my guidelines were to just write.  Everyday.  Write something.  (More than a to-do list.)  I didn't give myself too many more guidelines than that.  I wanted to see what would happen.  

I bring you the good, the great, and the surprising from this journey!  

The Good:  I did write everyday this month.  Even when Christmas got closer, and more things clambered for my time, this resource really helped me a lot:
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It really is a book that has 642 prompts for writing.  When I was stuck, didn't want to, felt too tired, when we were traveling and sleeping in other spots, etc. I picked this book up toward the end and just wrote.  

So I met my goal, write something everyday, even when I thought I was busy, even when we were traveling, even when I didn't want to.    

The Great:  I used our blog to share more of our classroom story.  I had been wanting to share some things for awhile now.  
Writing has become like running.  If I don't honor it everyday a little, my day doesn't feel complete.  In these winter days in the Midwest, it's helped me bookend my days.  One end gets writing, one end gets running!  It truly has become an outlet that is a part of my routine now.  

The Surprising:  There were some surprising topics that emerged.  Some days I would wake up and the words just came.  Lots of my writing turned out to be spiritual in nature.  I didn't set out for that at all.  I'll be exploring how to share these writings, maybe.  I think I have an idea for a picture book.  (What?!?!?)  It's funny how having these topics and ideas feel like carrying secrets.  What do I do with them next? Or do we just sit quietly together and enjoy the journey that was December to get these ideas out?  

Who am I to give advice as a writer?  I'll give some anyway.  :)  
Just write.  Try it.  Put the pencil to the paper.  Type a few lines.  Some of it will inspire you as you write it.  Sometimes you can't close the notebook fast enough.  I'm a writer because I write.  Try this journey and see what awakens inside you.  

A Huge Thank You to Linda Urban for the encouragement she gave everyone who participated in this journey.  Her blog posts, tweets, and ideas were inspiring.   

Joy!
Kendra


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#sol14 A Christmas Past--It's Funny Now.

SOL

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life on their blog.  Join us and link up too!

I'm stubborn.  Headstrong.  When I get an idea, and I want to do it, watch out.  While I've learned to take this energy and use it for good, naturally, there was a time before I was mature (older?) where funny things happened because of my ideas.

We've been married for about 15 years.  Rewind to the first year in our first home.  Our second year of marriage?  (Maybe 3rd.)  A small 1950s ranch with blue carpet, built in bookshelves, and neighbors who took care of us because we had no idea what we were doing as homeowners.  

We had the dog.  Now we needed the tree.  Not just any tree.  A Real Christmas Tree.  I insisted on it.  I knew they needed lots of water.  What else is there to know?  

My Mr. wasn't sold, but we got in the tiny red 2-door Cavalier and rolled down the hill to the tree display.  

"I want that one."  

It is hanging out of our car.  It barely fits.  That should have been the first sign.  We drive back up the hill, like something out of a bad Christmas comedy.  The car is going maybe 7 miles an hour.  I'm convinced we are going to lose the tree.  We don't.  

We wrestle the tree into the house.  We place it in the stand.  
The top of the tree it bent over squished against the ceiling.  It's too tall.   

We wrestle the tree back outside.  We don't have tools-we're newlyweds in the suburbs.  But Mr. does have a tiny hand-held saw.  He begins to hack at the tree, and after a short while he begins to utter profanities under his breath.  But the base is sawed off.  A Small Victory!  

Another wrestling match, back inside the house.  After more wrestling, and more uttering, the tree is in the stand!  

Jackson the wonder dog (Puppy at the time), takes one lap under the tree.  It leans to the left, it leans to the right.  The tree ends up on the living room floor.  

Promptly after that, my tree ended up in the backyard wood pile.  In my head, I'm pretty sure Mr. hauled that tree out in one arm he was so frustrated!  (But really, I'm sure we wrestled it outside together.)

So, you will forgive us 15 years later, if we smile at your real tree stories.  :)  We are remembering our own.  And no, we haven't had a real tree since.  But yours is beautiful!  

Joy!
Kendra



Monday, December 22, 2014

Reading in the Wild-2 things that changed in my classroom after I read this book.


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I know.  Just like you, I was holding the book last Winter Break--shortly after it came out.  It was Screaming at me to read it.  And I did.  In two sittings.  And I may have squealed sounds of joy a bit while I was reading it.

Enter the Twitter chats, and the blog posts.  I'm pretty sure I read them all.
We loved it...yeah?  (Go ahead and fist pump here.  I just did.)

I'm a "Mull-er."  I will think, question, and process ideas for what seems like forever.  That being said, there are 2 strategies from Donalyn's book that have stuck with me since last year.  (The page numbers are places you can go in her book to read more about the actual strategy.  Don't have the book?  I'll wait while you hurry up and buy it!).

*Side note to help you understand me as an educator:  I know levels are important.  This isn't that post.  I follow a balanced literacy approach for my developing readers so I can differentiate and teach them what they need.*  :)

1.  Book Stacks. (page 137)

In first grade, we are learning that readers have plans and read A Lot!  Even at this young age, the book stacks have brought me closer to my stduents.  Here's what you might see:

  • If a reluctant reader is "stalling" or "fake reading", I might ask them what they are interested in.  If they say "trucks", I'm pulling every truck book I can find from my classroom and yours too.  I'll make a stack and let them choose which ones they want to read.  They can also physically see that there are more books to read, even if they don't take them all at that moment.  
  • If they tell me there is nothing to read in the library, I will pull stacks of picture books that I have used as read alouds.  (We have a beautiful library that has been curated by on of the best.)  Hashtags like #IMWAYR, #picturebookmonth. and #bookaday have helped me stay inspired to be looking for more to read.  Always.  
  • You want to read chapter books?  They are too hard?  You know that, you don't need me to announce that to you and the world. Instead, let me bring you some Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, Henry and Mudge, Fly Guy, Poppleton, etc.  Through book stacks, it has changed how I talk to students about choosing books they can access.  And they really do want to read what we recommend as teachers.  
  • It's important for me to note, that this has really preserved dignity in the classroom.  Everyone at some point is getting a stack from me.  It promotes community and reading.  There is a book for you here.  :)  
2.  Reading on the Edge.  (Page 11)

In Donalyn's book, she calls is Reading on the Edge.  In first grade, we call it "edge reading."  If you get done early?  Edge read.  If we are cleaning up/transitioning?  You might see some on the floor edge reading.  It's some of the most authentic reading that takes place during my day.  

Teaching this idea that you can make time for reading as resulted in--wait for it-- more reading. :)   They approach me in the morning--"I've done my calendar, can I edge read while I wait?"  (A secret--I have some that skip by the calendar work that they do as they are coming in during the morning bell time.  They go straight to reading.  Guess what?  I usually let them.)  In the afternoon, when there might be a science task to complete or 5 minutes before recess--"We'll edge read".  Here's what that looks like as we transition:

In the middle of this cluster?  A student who is reading to the others while we were transitioning to that back space.  What else am I going to do but stop and snap a photo of that?

If you walked in to my space, you might not notice these two shifts in reading.  But I have.  Students that might not have seen themselves as readers, know that I have books they can read.  They know that reading is for them.  Many more of my students will embrace reading now, because they know there is a book for them here.  

Joy!
Kendra



Thursday, December 18, 2014

4 Ways We Are Taking Care of Each Other This Week.


Winter Break is coming.  I have mixed emotions this year about winter break.  Am I anxious to rest?  Yes.  Am I anxious about many of my students and what will happen?  More than I ever thought I could be.

Some are anxious.  Some are tired.  Some aren't healthy right now.  (Flu be gone!)

As I learn and respond to what my students need as we approach break, I'm staying in our routine as much as possible.  But I'm also thankful I have these 4 strategies to help me out as I work on taking care of my students this week.  (And every week!)

1.  Academic Quiet.

I read about Academic Quiet in this article.
In our classroom several options are available:

  • The use of Wonderopolis to feed curiosity.  Kids draw, write, hypothesize as we study images. 
  • Reading.  Always reading.  
  • Resting if they wish.  
We try to keep this at 10 minutes, usually after a recess.  It's also a great time to use the restroom, drink water, and eat snacks.
During this time, I make time for strategy two.


2.  2 x 10  

Each day I try to spend 2 minutes each with a group of 5 kids; in a one on one setting.  Of course that's not the true strategy, but I wanted a structure to reach all students; not just the "tough ones."  The question, "How are you?" has lead to an array of stories, solved recess situations, and has brought me closer to my students.  Read more about 2 x 10 here.


A tried and true strategy in my classroom.  This month, we are partner sharing during share time so everyone has a chance to speak everyday. 

4.  Choice, choice, choice.  

There is choice in where to sit.  Choice in our math workshop.  Choice in how to create using technology.  Kids can learn self-regulation through choice.  (A belief statement.)  When the choice isn't working, it becomes a teaching point rather than a punitive measure.  But more often than not, the choice works.  

How are you taking care of each other this week?  (Or any week!)  
If you have a break coming up, I hope it's restful for you!

Joy!
Kendra




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Slice of Life-The Best Mile (or so) Ever

SOL

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life on their blog.  Join us and link up too!

(My class is working on Small Moments right now!  Here's one from me!)


On Saturday morning, I'm lingering in the fog that is both physical and resting on my brain after another full week.  The beautiful weather in Iowa means lots of running miles on Saturdays outside, and this past Saturday was no different.  Linger (coffee and blogs), Run Long, Shop, House/Family/Stuff.  A typical Saturday in December.  

Then, I hear these words, "Are you running mama?  I'll come too."  

Confession:  My heart should have sang.  But it didn't.  There was a fleeting (lingering?) moment of annoyance.  

This is my time.  My run.  My Saturday.  Long Run Saturday.  

But he's 10.  And I know that time with him is fleeting as well.  So I eek out a "Sure Buddy!"  

Then my 6 year old chimes in, "Me too Mama!"  At which point, I have to clench my teeth, but know that I can't leave him behind.  I coax my husband off the couch, so we can divide and conquer.  We are just sure that Li'l T is going to run out of steam on us in about .5 miles.  

We get dressed and already I see that I need to un-clench my teeth.  As he's pounding his chest, all 33 pounds of him yells out, "I'll do 15 push ups before we go."  And proceeds to push up like only 6 year olds can do.  I smile as I lace up my shoes.  I hope he always has this zest for life. 

Like runners do, there is a barrage of what to wears.  Hat or no hat?  Coat?  Gloves?  How many layers?  Do I need this technical shirt?  

As we head out the door, the fogginess lifts away.  Brothers chatting in the front, Parents unplugged in the back about how to finish Christmas shopping.  Good conversation all around.  Easy pace.   But there is a pace.  With a 6 year old.   

As we wind through the neighborhood, I'm noticing how hard Li'l T is working to keep up.  Only like a bobble head doll can do, his little head is bobbing from side to side, indicating he's getting tired.  "I'm fine."  

Big Brother leans over, "Are you okay?  We'll get you some water when we get home."  
Man, I love his compassion for others.  He coached Li'l T all the way home.  
"Get over to the right, that lady is walking her dogs."  
"Try not to race me up this hill."  

After 1.46 miles (of course I had to map it afterward), we round the corner for home.  It was like crossing the finish line at the half marathon in town!  And there were more push ups to prove it!

Mama learned the best lesson of all:  Our time.  Our Run.  Our Saturday.  
And the fogginess is gone.  

Joy!
Kendra




Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Monday! What are You Reading?


Link up at teachmentortexts.com and unleashingreaders.com to share what you are reading! 

3 Books That Helped Us Understanding Writing Small Moments.   

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These three books were so powerful in helping us as a classroom community see that the small moments come everyday.  I've always struggled a bit teaching this concept of writing small moments, however, these texts were crucial this year.  As we read around them, the students began to share stories of their secret hiding spots in the back yard, a found cookie jar that resulted in cookies, special family members, and their favorite ways to play in the snow.  I saw emerging writers understand that they have a story to tell, and they are sharing it.  

What am I hoping to read soon?  (As a first grade teacher, I'm just seeing the power in middle grade and YA reading, so I'm frantically catching up...forgive the familiar titles!)  I'm happy to be reading frantically to stay connected with my 10 year old, even if he doesn't want to read everything I pick up.  :)  

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Joy!  (And Happy Reading!)
Kendra








Sunday, December 14, 2014

Choice in Math...a Work in Progress.



Math is a place I look at every year in my classroom.  

I started to write about the whole journey.  My original blog post read more like a novel than a blog post. The whole journey could be a book.  Here are the notes:  (You're welcome)  :)  
  • I've been really reflecting on math instruction for 6 or 7 years now.
  • I've taken inspiration from my super colleagues, many resources, coaches, staff development, great resources.  (Think Debbie Diller, Kassia Wedekind, The Sisters, etc.)  
  • I've tried and it's failed a lot of times.
  • #nErDcampMI was a turning point for me in offering choice in math.  I was in a session on math, sitting next to super colleague Annie, when Katie Muhtaris asked this question, "What is the pinnacle of choice in math?"  I immediately scribbled that down!  Yes!   This is what I'm wanting to achieve!  
  • Annie and I talked about that most of the way back to Iowa.  
When school started in the fall, I sat down with more super colleagues and began to hash out what choice could look like in the math workshop.  Here's where I've landed so far:


It's a choice board for our current unit.  Students are allowed to choose their math work in between mini lessons.  The board is "designed" based on kids and concepts needing to be explored from the unit we are in.  I know it's not pretty.  The visuals are meaningful for the kids, we designed them together.  

The choice is wrapped around mini lessons based on what is needing to be covered based on district pacing expectations.  

For example, the measuring up in the right hand corner?  Instead of teaching this as a whole class with everyone moving at the same pace, I taught the proper way to use the tools and the children practiced this in a mini lesson block.  On days they are interested in it, they can work through any of these choices involving measurement. So I've seen the proper technique of measuring tools from students, I have a structure to help those who need it, and the students who were truly interested in it, spent several days trying it out.  

They are allowed to work on one choice the whole time.  We have worked to understand that "Mathematicians keep working."  If I think a student is stalling out in a choice, I simply say, "Tell me about the math you are working on."  And then we talk.  :)  If I can introduce a concept to reengage them, I do.  If I think it's behavior, I redirect and we move on. 

Any assigned work that is considered a "have to" is allowed to be done at their own pace.  I've been taking more of a careful look at what can be done independently, and where can I let go of everyone working together at the same pace.  

So a math block usually looks like this:  (I set a timer for now to help me learn my pacing in a workshop setting that is new for me)

Mental Math/Warm Up  (5-10 minutes-ish)  
Choice time.  (15 minutes-ish)  *I pull groups based on academic need at this time.*
A mini lesson whole class (15 minutes ish maximum)
Choice time.  (15 minutes-ish)
A mini lesson whole class (15 minutes-ish maximum)
Choice time. (15 minutes-ish)

To know what groups to pull I used a pre-test that teachers in our district designed, our post test, and some daily data that I take.  

An example of how choice makes a difference:


This picture is an example of some work that was being explored.  I know the girls were counting bags of collections.  (Tiny animals, etc.)  They are trying to add these large numbers together.  I know from their data, they are ready to see how to add 3 digit numbers together and I have a note to see them next week and work with them on place value, base ten blocks, and adding 3 digit numbers.  They developed this work. They had ownership in it, and the conversations were more powerful than if I had stood up and tried to teach 3 digit addition to the whole class.  

This is new work for me too!  So far the information I have is kids are learning.  They are counting, they are engaged in the math process.  

I'm not sure I've reached the pinnacle yet!  But we are getting closer...
I'm thankful for an instructional coach that I can process this with along the way.  

Do you offer choice in math?  What does that look like in your classroom?  

Joy!
Kendra 














Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Celebrate Post!


I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.  And then join in!

This week; I celebrate food.  We've explored a lot of recipes this week together as a family.  I love the creativity and hospitality that can result when food is being prepared and shared.  It just slows everything down.  It brings people into my kitchen, which I love.  

The photos are from the links to the website.  My food photography skills aren't good yet, I'll keep trying.  :)  

3 recipes I made this week:


Sweet Potato Risotto from realsimple.com #myplate #vegetables #grain

Verdict:  Epic. Fail.  I stirred frequently.  But the potatoes didn't get done.  And there was a weird vinegar smell/taste/ohmystartswhatwentwrong?  We still celebrate this because it was funny, and I couldn't even make my kids eat it, because it went so wrong.  For us, this has become the "remember when mom made that?" story.  But I think it has potential, so you should try it if you are good at risottos.  

Meatball Patty Melt

Verdict:  A Keeper!  They took a long time.  But we had someone sitting at our counter who we are getting to know as a friend and had great conversation while I put these together.  And my dad is an Organic Farmer, so getting to use farm to table meat makes me feel good about serving it to people.  


quinoa, black bean, corn tacos2
Verdict:  A Keeper!  It makes so much!  The boys liked it.  I liked it.  Great as leftovers.  As leftovers for lunch, I ate it with some cottage cheese on the side and 1/2 an avocado.  It seems to freeze well too.  And my Li'l One doesn't always appreciate a lot of meat at dinner, so this gives us some proteins without the meat.  He gobbled it right up!  

I hope you have much to celebrate too!  Enjoy your week!
Joy!
Kendra

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

#sol14 Reverse To Do Lists

SOL

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life on their blog.  Join us and link up too!

Yesterday=a full day.  I know it was.  Sometimes the days blur by so fast, I wonder if I've really Done anything.  

Somewhere along the way of connecting, talking, and reading I've picked up on the strategy of the "Reverse To Do List"  You know, at the end of the day, instead of focusing on what you didn't get to, list all you did accomplish.  Then celebrate that.  It's enough.  So I bring you a bit of mine from yesterday...


  1. #WriteDaily30 writing with coffee, a notebook, and my purple pen.
  2. Getting ready for school.  (Think lunches, hair, conversations about how to fix the glasses--again.)
  3. At school.  Setting up for the day.
  4. A Morning Meeting.
  5. 2 Guided Reading Groups-where I observed a transition from mimicking and repeating to strategy use and monitoring!  (My day could have ended there.  That would have been enough.)
  6. A great discussion on how to discuss sequencing without talking about Everything in our Shared Reading.
  7. More groups-reading about insects and standard measurement.  Great conversations here too!
  8. A Read Aloud from our library and some uproarious laughter.
  9. A bit of wiping down tables.  (5 kids were gone.  Germs Be Gone!)
  10. A mini lesson on Tiny Moments.  (Thank you Lucy Caulkins.)
  11. Watching, Observing a group of writers.  It just makes me smile.
  12. Lunch!  Which means a quick peek at colleague's math data and some discussion on communication.
  13. Math-A jump back into trying out some strategies and structures to promote choice.  
  14. Email.  All the email.  
  15. Recess duty.
  16. Science.  We screened various sizes of rocks to see how the materials work.
  17. Dismissal, an important phone conversation.
  18. More Email. Reviewing day with colleagues.
  19. Picked up kids!
  20. Set up 10 year old on code.org.  He's so excited.
  21. Ran for 30 minutes.  
  22. Dinner.  
  23. Cut sweet potatoes for tonight's risotto experiment.  :)
  24. A little more email.  
  25. Changed sheets on my bed.  
  26. Reading, snuggles, bed for all.
As I reflect on this, I didn't even put in all the things I wrote down yesterday. It reminded me that we do a lot everyday!  

Dear Educators,  (And Mamas and Papas and Friends)
You are enough.  You do enough.  

Joy!
Kendra



Sunday, December 7, 2014

2 Tools I'm Using to Promote Authentic Use of Technology with my First Graders


A Story:  A Girl and The Devices:

After a whirlwind of graduate work in technology this semester, it’s time.  It’s time to share the tools that have surfaced in my work and research to encourage authentic technology use in my classroom.  For a couple of years now, I've used apps on iPadsI've used websites that were “educational”. Kids were consuming a lot!  Not all bad, but I knew there could be more. 

Enter 2013, and this book comes out. 
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 Go ahead and check it out, I’ll wait!  It begins to awaken the idea in me that technology use can be more than a math fact app and once a week in the computer lab.  Many things happened, and I wanted to share them with you all, but I couldn't get it down into words.  And I still felt like I was spinning my wheels. 

As I journey through graduate school, I find myself in a technology course that is required by the college.  I emerge with more of a framework and a foundation of how to integrate technology into the classroom without making it the event.  But I’m not posting all of the work here, because there was so much.  I was still struggling to put it into words to share our story with you.  What changed?  Read this website.  (Go ahead, I’ll wait again.)  It was Katie’s post on 3 ways to use social media that made me realize, I could start by sharing 2 tools that have shaped my classroom.  These ladies are once again showing you what the work can look like in a classroom daily.  And I also didn't post my research project.  (Your welcome!)  J

2 Tools I use in My Classroom to Promote Authentic Technology Use. (AKA: A Classroom where Technology isn't THE event Anymore.) 
1.      Kidblog.
a.    Yes, you might be too.  That’s awesome!  For me, right away I noticed that kids had a purpose for writing.  While we are still a private site, they are learning to connect in ways with each other that they hadn’t before.  Some choose to blog every chance they get during our literacy block.  On a daily basis 5-6 students blog at a time if they wish.  Here’s a screen shot of how a student simply started writing about a leadership trait we had been studying. 



b.    We also use a laptop cart approximately once a week (and as needed), where I can give prompts and ask for comments to check for understanding on different topics, or I can just see what they are thinking about. 


c.    This is a great place to start a conversation proactively about digital citizenship.  My students know and discuss how being nice online is just as important as being kind on the playground.  We used this series of books by Shannon Miller to help us start the digital citizenship conversation.  These books gave me words, when I wasn't sure what to say.  (Side note:  After watching from the sidelines for too long, I’m so thankful for these texts to get us in the game as primary teachers.  We can start having this conversation early and take a more proactive approach.) 


The books we are using to teach digital citizenship.  


  2.    Write About This

a.    This app has brought some capable, yet reluctant writers out of the woodwork.  Students are using the technology to create writing and blog posts. 
b.    Sometimes they write in their notebooks after opening the app and discussing with each other.  Sometimes they type directly into the app and take a screen shot so I can read it later. 
c.    The conversations they are having about helping each other with technology and ideas for writing are amazing.  Here are some shots of what students working on writing might look like now:
This day, one of these students became an expert on the app and coaches and writes with other students as they try using this tool for writing.  

A conversation about digital writing and writer's notebooks.  Then, they wrote. In the background-notice the blogger.  :)  


Of course there is data in my classroom to show improvement in letter formation, correct word sequence, letter-sound correlation, etc.  And all of that is important. 
 But my students are now becoming empowered and inspired to create and experience learning in new ways.  And I'm so honored to be a part of their journey.  

My message to you is if you are spinning, keep trying things!  Start small!  Share your story a little bit at a time.  Together, we can grow our students to create and learn together!   


Joy!
Kendra

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Celebrate!



I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.  And then join in!

Much to celebrate here!  I hope the same is true for you.  

1.  We have more lost teeth!  I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, but Li'l T has lost his second tooth.  What I'm really celebrating is how he embraces the little things and makes them big.  Of course it was at bedtime, and we had to get him up to pull it and stop the bleeding.  And of course, he had to snuggle with us in bed for awhile and watch House Hunters.  :)  He gives us stories to tell.  I love that about him.  

2.  #WriteDaily30.  If you are on Twitter, Linda Urban has encouraged us to write!  Read more about that here in one of her posts.  Most of my writing this week has been in my notebook.  And I've emerged this week with an essay that came out of no where (well...it came from Somewhere...)   with a spiritual theme.  What?!?  This is going to be a great 30 days of exploration and writing.  

3.  Earlier this week, I read Otis by Loren Long to my students.  You know, Otis:
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The kids were amazing.  There was gasping when the big yellow tractor shows up.  Several calls for Otis at the end when the calf is stuck.  And an audible cheer when Otis saves the day.  Oh my stars, this was one of those moments where I wanted to grab another book and watch it happen again.  But I didn't.  I celebrated their love for exploring stories instead. 

4.  Family Traditions.  
We are a little family of four in the middle of the Midwest.  We love celebrating Christmas with all of our family, and we are so blessed to have family all around us here in the middle.  As our little family grew, we worried about all the "stuff" at Christmas. And we are never home on Christmas Day, so our little family of four needed some time to share together. So My Mr. came up with this idea:  In Advent, we are purposeful about taking one night a week to stop and reflect on waiting for Christmas.  We may attend a church service, or our 10 year old might read devotions and scripture to us.  Then we each open one small gift that follows a simple theme.  Our theme this week?  Books.  :)


I celebrate my own Nerdy Book Club.  :)

I hope you have much to celebrate this week!

Joy!
Kendra

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#sol14 My One Little Word.

SOL


Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life on their blog.  Join us and link up too!

I was stuck this morning on what to write about.  
I puttered in the kitchen, contemplating if I should write.  (Of course I should write...silly...)

Just like that, some ideas about my OLW developed.  
My word:  Strong.  
Here's how Strong showed itself to me in 2014:

  • it showed itself in the creativity that was used last January and February (and March?!?!) when it was so cold, we would go for days without playing outside.  
  • in the deep breathing that took place when students were asking for love in the hardest of ways.
  • in winter runs when it's me, a headlamp, and a face mask.
  • in a graduate class that was intrusive and unsettling.  
  • in a girl who learned to ask for help from the people she loved the most and learned that together is better.  
  • in a girl who learned to say no to the extra and yes to what really matters to her.  
Funny, because I thought that Strong would have resulted in:
  • industrious, organized days.  
  • a clean house.
  • dinner freshly made every night.
  • more exercise.  
  • a louder voice in the work I'm doing.  
This was a fun journey.  Next year, I'm contemplating crafts and reminders of what I'm experiencing.  I would love to document the journey even more.  (And some OLWs are starting to surface already!)

Did you have a OLW?  If you blogged about it, send me the link, and I'll check it out!  

Joy!
Kendra

Monday, December 1, 2014

#writeDaily30 Things I'm Learning About Myself in Grad School.

The idea of #WriteDaily30 is over here on Linda Urban's website.  Not everything I write for #writedaily30 will end up on this blog, but today's will.

My goal for #WriteDaily30 is to clear out a list of ideas that I've been holding onto while I completed a graduate school course.  If it doesn't end up here on the blog, I will tweet out some ideas using the hash tag.

The course?  Technology.  120 hours of course work later, I've emerged with:

  • hair that needs to be highlighted.
  • a weird desire to cook.  I've only been checking out cookbooks from the library recently.
  • a reflection on what I'm learning about myself.
1.  I Love School.
  • I loved looking at assignments, and seeing how they can improve my practice in my classroom.  (Really.)  This class has allowed me to try out some new applications and Kidblog for my students.  I'm not sure I would have completely pursued these things without a framework to do so.  
2.  ...But I don't love Busy Work/Meaningless Work.
  • If I couldn't make a connection to my classroom--I dubbed it meaningless.  Pretentious, I know.  But I'm working with little lives everyday.  That is my priority.  Not the history of how the internet works.  As an educator, I became keenly aware of what I'm asking my kids to do in my classroom everyday.  If it's not meaningful-it's out!
3.  My Husband is Awesome.
  • In that way where the work that needs to get done for our family just does.  Not once this semester has there been talk of who is doing what around the house.  (I call is score keeping.)  In our family, it's been reaffirmed that if you need support or are reaching for a goal and need time, that is what you are going to get and no one is keeping score.
4.  I'm not sure how I feel about online learning.
  • I know, I could design my work hours/load essentially.  But I love to connect with people, and that's harder in an online situation sometimes.  I love Face time.  (Not that app on your phone, the kind where you actually sit across from someone's face.  I emailed, skyped, and shared Google docs.  But I'm not sure how much connecting took place.  
5.  I'm stronger than I thought. 
  • With a full-time job, a family to hang out with and love, and other daily "things", sometimes I felt like all I was doing was sitting in front of my laptop and missing the good stuff. I considered dropping out of the course I was taking, and more than once considered just leaving graduate school all together.   The concept of being "enough" really resonated with me this semester.  When I think back on how we managed this together, I'm pretty proud of how I came through.  
6.  The celebration at the end will be well earned.  
  • Oh my stars.  There will be cheese balls and fruit snacks for everyone to last for 3 days.  
7.  My Friends Too!
  • The ones by my side who are taking these courses with me, and the ones who are just being forced to listen to the work, and still come over, I'm forever thankful for their friendship.  
If you are in graduate school right now, keep it up!  If I can do it, anyone can!

Joy!
Kendra