Saturday, January 31, 2015

Celebrate! Teachers in January.



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


From this Teacher-Mama to Educators Everywhere:

Hold Strong.  You are Enough.  It's the end of January.  You may have endured:  inside recess, staffing changes, crazy state budgets, mandated testing and the scores that come with it, spreadsheets...this exhausting list could go on.  And it sucks sometimes.  

But two nights ago at dinner I asked 2 precious boys what they loved about school.  Once we got past Lunch and the definition of a chicken ring; here's what they said:

"I love projects.  I want to do more projects, so I work hard on math so I can do as many as possible.  I can create things.  Big Things.  She lets us create.  Let me show you a Russian dance."  (From a 10 year old boy who is beginning to enter the one-word-utterance-phase.)

"Computers!  I can do math on them."  (From a 6 year old who was so excited to let me know what he loved about learning I had to shush him because his brother was uttering more than one word; and I had to hear it.)  
 
Dear Teachers, we don't thank you enough.  For the time putting efforts in when you could have been with your family, on the couch, reading, sleeping...the list goes on.  For the time you put in to connect with all the students.  My Sons thank you when they are talking over each other to share about their days.  

For the work that is daily, important and often overlooked.  Let's face it--sometimes best practice often sits quietly in the background; and we don't see it.  

So often we remember you at Holidays and the End of the Year.  It's kind of funny really---"You change lives.  We show you our unending gratitude by giving you...gift cards for cheesecake."  

You are so much better than cheesecake. (Yes, cheesecake.)  There isn't enough cheesecake in the world to show you how much we celebrate you.  

Dear Teachers, I offer you Thank Yous and Love and Celebration here at the end of January.  There isn't enough of any of this to show you how much we celebrate you.  But I will say it anyway...Thank you for continuing to show love and consistency.  Here's some cheesecake.  :)  

Hold Strong!  You are Enough.  

XXXOOO and Lots of Joy!
Kendra

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Slice of Life: A Creed.



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

Last Fall, as I was nearing the end of a grueling grad class; I had to pick up a book.  You know, to read.  I'm so lucky it was this one:

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I read it in two sittings.  Now I could go on about the lessons to be learned; the power of women; the power of story.  It could go on.  But my slice isn't a book review.  You already know that this book is amazing. In the book; Jacqueline Woodson writes a creed toward the end.  A statement of belief after experiencing her life.

Once, not too long ago, a visiting pastor shared with our congregation that a creed is spoken boldly.  Clench your fists.  Look in your friend's eyes.  Say it with Gusto!  Now, I'm Lutheran.  So I'm pretty sure by the time he got to Gusto--some people had passed out from all the excitement.  :)  I came to Faith later in life; so excitement in church doesn't scare me.  This day was a little bit confirming about who I am as a person of Faith. (That could be a series of slices people!)

So, I had written a creed for myself.  Just a quick write; a statement of beliefs.  Then I had tucked it away with my fall graduate work.  Enter spring graduate work, and a chance to open up the notebook where I write down outlines, etc. before I post them online.  And I found it:

I Believe in God.
I Believe in Love.  All the time; Choose Love.
I Believe in slowing down as much as you can.  That's when life happens.
With that; I Believe it's okay to be bored.
I Believe in laughing uproariously.
I Believe in snacks with friends.
I Believe that my life needs a soundtrack.  A Good One.
I Believe that a good nap can solve almost anything.  (Eat a snack when you wake up.)
I completely Believe in the power of coffee.
I Believe in loyalty.
I Believe that what goes on in a long run can heal you--inside and out.
I Believe in Miracles.  Even Today.

Jacqueline Woodson's book has stuck with me.  I highly recommend it.  If it inspired you in anyway, I would love to hear about it!

Joy!
Kendra



Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


What are you reading?  I would love to know!  Link up with www.teachmentortexts.com and www.unleashingreaders.com.  

More Mock Caldecott this week!  

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I'v really tried not to steer the class opinion, but I may have steered as we were reading this one.  The excitement was palpable.  

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We loved Sparky today too!  
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I'm so glad I previewed this story.  (I used up my ugly tears in the first read!)  This story is touching.  

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My students have been enthralled by stories of peacemakers.  I cannot wait to share this story with them.

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Friendship?  Family?  Dogs?  I'm in!  

I'm still reading:

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I'm enjoying it.  If you are an educator, I hope you'll understand when I say I've been doing other things at night-right or wrong.  

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Also-there is this graduate school reading.  I'm reading an updated edition.  Does that count? 

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This is still next in my pile.  

Joy!
Kendra

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebrate! A Fast Post!



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


Dear Celebrate Friends!  I can't wait to see what you've been up to!  That part will come later, as soon I'm going to be running 2 beautiful boys to basketball all day.  I'm adjusting to having to think about 2 of them with this schedule.  It's definitely messed with my Saturday groove!  :)  And it's not even that intense...but there is much to celebrate!  Let's go!

1.  Let's Celebrate Some Food!  Here's a link for spaghetti and meatball subs.  We broiled them. (No George Foreman since 2001.)  Anytime the family can agree it's good; we celebrate that!

2.  Our Mock Caldecott work.  This week one of the books we read was Louise Loves Art.  

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The students are so amazing at predicting and celebrating great stories!  We've read several for our Mock Caldecott work; but I loved it when One Little Friend leaned over and said, "This one is my favorite so far."  

3.  My Math Block.  I blogged about the choice time in December as I was processing a few things.  As I continue to work on this, some more pieces are coming together. (More on that later.)  Math is becoming almost as cool as Literacy in my classroom.  There is freedom to work and explore math concepts, and I think it's working!  

4.  Kindergarten Basketball and their coaches.  I mean, last night at practice, I was watching how gentle the coaches were.  "Okay Buddy, don't forget to dribble!"  "You can't hit your buddy to get the ball."  "Okay Buddy, but you have to dribble."  We Celebrate the people who give their time on a Friday night after a long week of work to mentor these little Kindergarten Friends.  

I'll be checking in again later to see your links!  Have a great day!
Joy!
Kendra

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Still Thinking About Kids, Data, and Teaching.



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

So...last week I was required to complete a "screener" on my students.  The State will keep a database for me and we can progress monitor anyone who's not meeting "The Expectations".  Yesterday my day was spent analyzing the first round of data.  Now it's mulling inside of me.  I'm reconciling with data this morning, and a few other things. 

 It's important to note while we were looking at this initially yesterday, we received nothing but time to ask lots of questions, and lots of encouragement.  There was that feeling of spinning and turning; yet as I think about that more, I'm okay with that.  It gives us time to reflect on what we are doing.  

There are beautiful faces attached to those names we were looking at.  They love super heroes, Pokemon, Mo Willems, and Recess.  They cheer when it's pancake day in the lunch room.  They want to master things like yoga poses we do together and the monkey bars.  They bump into each other when they line up and announce there is pushing, hug each other when there are tears.  Tell me that I'm the best teacher they've ever had.  (I might be their 2nd or 3rd teacher...I'll take it.)  :)  

I've been reflecting on the work of my heroes in education. (Lucy Caulkins, Donalyn Miller, Jennifer Serravallo, Debbie Miller, Marie Clay...the list could go on.)  You might notice some verbiage down here that sounds like these heroes.  I've been mulling and flipping through pages over the past few days.  

A List of Thoughts on Assessment I've had in the past 24 hours:

1.  I can't lose sight of who they are.  They are not going to grow up to be the child who scored __ __ % on an assessment.  They are going to grow up to make an impact on this world.

2.  My daily assessment is so important.  It must be authentic and in real time.  It matters.  

3.  Books.  Lots of books.  If the books are too hard, I need to encourage better selection.  "Let's find books that make you feel strong as a reader."  That's from the Art of Teaching Reading--page 123.  

4.  What can they do?  Answer:  It's a lot.  Find that and build from there.  

5.  I need to continue to empower myself and not get bogged down with numbers and color-coded spreadsheets.  

6.  Emerging readers are awesome.  Approach that with a spirit of amazement and awe.  It's so cool.  

Whew!  I have some work to do today!  :)  

Joy!
Kendra


Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

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  Link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers
We love connecting with you and hearing about what you read!

Our School Librarian is one of the best.  He's organizing our Mock Caldecott.  He's given us the guidelines.  He pulled the books so they were available to us.  He's promised pizza to the class that chooses the winner.  :)  (Want to make friends with me?  Say Pizza!)  

So this week my class will read:


My Firsties Loved Flora and the Flamingo.  I can't wait to see their reaction to this!

Those were not tears in my eyes when I read this book last summer, a bee was stinging me!  Seriously, this story is lovely.


I wasn't familiar with this book until I saw a buzz on Twitter.  Thanks Friends!  


This story is charming and lovely.  

There are other books for me to read the following week!  Then let the voting begin!  
I'm excited to see how my students respond to these selections.  

These aren't all the selections for us.  I'll read more next week!  

I'm also reading for myself:
I'm now a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell.  

Next in my pile is 
I'm working through some grown up titles to share with my family.  My sister keeps sharing titles with me.  I keep letting them pile up!  My 2015 goal is to focus on that pile...

Joy!
Kendra




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Slice of Life--A Brain Dump. :)

 

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


I always start writing, even when I don't think I have anything to write about.  Something ALWAYS comes from that.  

I wanted to slice about a lot of things.  I couldn't get any of them organized in my head this morning.  At all.  I had a wakeful moment at 3 AM, which is making it hard to organize anything this morning.  
So here are my ideas, in no special order.  Discuss.  :)

1.  This weekend, my oldest son, "Big A" had a situation that reminded me how hard parenting is going to be in the next 10 years.  It resolved itself nicely.  But involved friends stealing from Li'l T.  (Big A's little brother.)  But Mr. and I had to charge at that one head on, advocate, call people awkwardly...all stuff I'm not good at on the weekends.  Parents of bigger kids, here's to it.  We got this.  I'm learning it's really about letting go, and not being able to micromanage everything they do.  By the way, I'm super proud of "Big A," and the things he said and did.  That might end up being a slice next time.  

2.   My Fine State has required state testing now for 1st graders. (All students really.)  It's connected to a reading initiative passed by the state.  The whole on grade level by 3rd grade thing.  I don't care for it. (In a nutshell.)  I'm struggling with how to be compliant, and dedicated to what is asked of me.  I want to stay tentative and learning.  And yet, I know what's best for the kids in my classroom.  I don't think this initiative is it.  Right now, I'm overwhelmed with the process and it's totally cutting into the "January Magic" that happens in first grade where they all grow up into students overnight. (Where are my first grade teachers at?  Does it happen in other grades too?)

3.  I have been working out a lot in January!  My little goal for January work outs was to just do some and not fall off the work out wagon now that it's beyond cold here.  Yoga, Elliptical, and Outdoor running make a great combination.  

4.  As I write daily, it's funny to notice the emotions around that.  It's also really become a spiritual journey for me.  After looking at that journey in the past few years, I love that it continues with writing!  

5.  I'm considering the idea of unlikely friendships in reading.  The kids really seem to have grasped on to this.  Favorite books?

6.  I loved #1stchat on Sunday.  Lots of discussion around Choice in Math.  Thoughts?  

I think this is it.  It's time to charge into the day.  
Joy!
Kendra

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Celebrate!




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

This book:

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This book was gifted to my class.  I had planned to read it in two settings.  But the kids were so enthralled, we read it in one.  They were also enthralled with Owen and Mzee.  I just love it when we come together with books.  The theme of unlikely friendships is such an important one.  I'm contemplating how to build off of this even more.  

Wednesday it was too cold for school.
I did a lot of reading.  Writing too.  
I was thankful for the time to reset as we eased back into school this week.  
I think this made the week more successful for my Little Friends.  


I celebrate Saturday mornings where this happens:

I usually write or blog before every one is up and around.  That didn't happen today.  So Sportscenter is on, Breakfast is being made, Li'l T was roaming around looking for "Something To Do."  Pretty soon, is this what he landed on.   He's across the room from me working this out.  

Here's To Weekend Celebrations!
Joy!
Kendra


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My One Little Word for 2015

Slow.

Slow down and notice what is happening.

Be slow to speak (and quick to listen).

Slowly plug away at those things that will make our lives better.

Recognize that the change process is slow.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Little Extra Reading Magic

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers.  I'm linking up for the first time!

Reading adds a little extra magic to Walt Disney World, a.k.a. The Most Magical Place on Earth.
Big B & Little C with Belle, a fellow book-lover
This summer, before leaving for our first trip to Walt Disney World, I purchased the Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters to use as an alternative to the traditional autograph book. (Thank you, Pinterest for the link to this idea!)  Big B enjoys the "encyclopedia format" of nonfiction, and I figured it would be less likely to just sit on a shelf.  Win, win.  

I packed coloring supplies and bubbles and downloaded apps like Heads Up to entertain us in line, but we rarely pulled these items out.  Lines=Reading Emergency.  Every time we had a few minutes in a character line, we whipped out the book and read about different characters.  We read the Maleficent page at least 28 times...I became very fluent.  Haha! Suprisingly enough, Little C liked to read about the villians, but absolutely refused to actually meet a single one,

In the line to meet Anna and Elsa, I looked up to see Little C listening and six little princesses reading along with us.  They had gradually scooted over and created a little reading circle, sitting and smiling together.  Perhaps it is because I miss my classroom reading community, but it was a magical moment for me.  No matter what, no matter where, kids love being read to.

My heart exploded each time I watched Big B and Little C meet a character.  (Mentally, I picture it growing three sizes like the Grinch and bursting out of my chest.)  Their smiles were filled with pure joy, and Little C was especially fascinated with meeting her favorite characters in real life. Little C would often show and talk to them about their picture in the book.  Donald Duck was excited to see he had a page to all by himself and declared that he was #1.  Little C informed Elsa she wanted ice powers so she could make a dress like she was wearing in the illustration.  Reading will forever be a part of those magical moments...which only further proves that, to quote Walt Disney, "there's more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island."





Annie

When Books Calm the Storm.


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

Yesterday was our first day back after 2 weeks of winter break.  
The students were amazing.  Engaged.  Slightly tired.  Ready to Work.

Then, it started to snow.  And I mean Winter Storm-Wind Blowing-Only Can You Get in the Middle of the Midwest Snow.  And when the snow-blowing started outside my window?  Forget about it.  Snow Blower 1-Mrs. Limback-0.  

When you are 6 and 7, there is nothing more amazing then the snow that flies through the air when the snow blower roars by your classroom.  I know as their teacher, this is a distraction that you celebrate, embrace.  And yet, the classroom keeps moving.  It moves best when there are books.  Here are 3 books we read yesterday in the middle of the first major snow at school:

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This was a great book to remind us to be kind to one another, even if it doesn't seem fair.  If you know first graders, you know that Fair is important.  We had an amazing discussion about kindness and sharing.  A great way to start our time back at school and rebuild our community.  


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While stuck inside for recess, we shared Art and Max.  We giggled.  We cheered when Art (Arthur) was put back together.  We looked at that page again and again.  And then we painted. 

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And at the end of the day, when 3 kids hugged me announced they were tired, and asked to go home; we sat down and read this story.  Spoiler Alert:  Our favorite part was when we realized it was the cat telling the story.  


If you are keeping score--now it's Snow Blower 1; Mrs. Limback 3.  :)  I know how to calm the storm.  Get out the books.  



Joy!
Kendra






Saturday, January 3, 2015

Celebrate Enough!



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


Oh the One Little Word.  Last year, I learned much about myself as I embraced the word Strong.  


These thoughts below I shared a few days ago as I was clearing out my head on New Year's Night.  

My One Little Word:  Enough. 
This word has been following me around now for awhile. 
As a staff we did some training in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People earlier this fall, and that's when this idea of Being Enough appeared.  And it hung around.  

  • It's a part of my vision:  I'm Enough.  You are too.  Let's dance.  
  • I'm Enough because of Love.  You are too.  
  • I do Enough everyday.  (Let go of the guilt.)
  • There is Enough Joy for all of us.  
  • Get Enough rest, veggies, and exercise.
  • I can say Enough when I need to stop.

This has also resulted in some questions I can ask myself when things feel out of whack:
  • Are you with Your People Enough?  (The ones who love you the mostest...those are Your People.)
  • Are you organizing and preparing Enough for the day?
  • Are you saying Enough to technology when it's time?
If you are an educator (or a human) with family and friends, I think you understand when I say it's easy to feel like you aren't doing enough.  But you are.  It brings me to the idea:  How can I encourage others to see that they are Enough too?

Enough is a Celebration of who we are and what we do everyday!  

If you have a word, I would love to read about it if you are sharing those thoughts.  Share a link with me and I'll check it out!

Joy!
Kendra


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Late Day Blogging=An Assortment of Thoughts and Ideas on 2015.



In between the reading, and the moving from the couch to the chair for more reading, I peeked at Twitter.  And man, you guys have some great ideas!  I'm inspired just watching you process.  I too have been processing, and have a couple of thoughts to share here...consider it an unclogging of the traffic jam inside my brain.  :)  Here we go:

1.  My One Little Word:  Enough.

This word has been following me around now for awhile.

  • It's a part of my vision:  I'm Enough.  You are too.  Let's dance.  
  • I'm Enough because of Love.  You are too.  
  • I do Enough everyday.  (No more guilt!)
  • There is Enough Joy for all of us.
  • Get Enough rest, veggies, and exercise.
  • I can say Enough when I need to stop.
This has also resulted in some questions I can ask myself when things feel out of whack:
  • Are you with Your People Enough?  (The ones who love you the mostest...those are Your People.)
  • Are you organizing and preparing Enough for the day?
  • Are you saying Enough to technology when it's time?
If you are an educator (or a human) with family and friends, I think you understand when I say it's easy to feel like you aren't doing enough.  But you are.  Enough is a Celebration of who we are and what we do everyday!  


2.  #nerdlution15

It was #nerdlution that made blogging more of a hard habit for me.  I'm so glad-it allowed me to connect with educators I wouldn't have otherwise.  So, in the spirit of knowing I already do Enough, here is a goal to share with #nerdlution15 folks:
  • Continued daily writing.  I am well on my way to making daily writing a hard habit.  #writedaily30 helped with that immensely.  Daily writing means more than a to-do list.  It's been really fun to see what has come from that.  I want to keep this momentum going.  


3.  Finally,  A Reading Plan.

Now, Goodreads was an awesome find for me in 2014.  Thanks Nerdy Book Club!  Based on what I did over there, I have about 25 novels picked out to read this year.  I won't list all the titles here, and here's why:  most of them are adult titles, and I know many of you are looking to stay up on MG and YA books.  Believe me, I will scatter in what you are tweeting and blogging about.  I've read some Amazing things because of what you are seeking out.  (Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo...you know...Awesomeness!)   But My People (My sister, sister in law, mama, etc.) are giving me books to read, and they are piling up in my bedroom.  Time to get busy and read.  :)  But to get started, today I've finished this treasure that I snatched up at the library:

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Not an adult title, but amazing! (And the book birthday and my birthday are the same!)  My heart is breaking, and yet it's not.  
But seriously, those titles from my family and the ones that I've purchased and not read...



Finally, I wish you an awesome 2015!  

Joy!
Kendra