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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Looked Around My Room

I was on my way to work today thinking about this book I am reading (Conferring With Readers by Jennifer Serravallo) and a poetry class (Teacher Poets with Chris Lehman) I am currently taking. There is a simple structure when talking to kids, conferring with them, pushing them to the next step of learning. It's simple in my poetry class too as we workshop poems: Compliments, Questions, Considerations make up the structure of our conversation. I think I complicate things too much. It's just not easy squeezing all these parts into a 3-5 minute meeting with a student and then expecting that learning to take place after I leave. I looked around today and wondered if I am doing it right. That's not an invitation for you all to throw compliments my way, I mean I really wondered.
I looked around and I saw progress but not the kind of progress that the district, state, heck the nation expects. I looked around and everyone was reading, everyone. We are all in different places. Some are tearing through a chapter book a day, it's crazy how much fun they are having getting sucked into the story. I have other kids starting Mouse Tales and Frog and Toad. They are so excited. I have students setting goals like:  How many Mo Willems books can be read in one day? I also have some students who are still looking at picture books and engaging in shared reading in order to work on comprehension strategies because they are unable to process all the skills needed for reading accurately. (To clarify, they read very simple text that doesn't really have enough going on to make meaning). When I really think about it, I believe it is okay. Don't get me wrong, I want them to succeed, but I don't think that you have to read a level J in first grade to be successful in life either. Some of them will get it in second grade or third. However, the problem is that these teachers have added pressure as well and when kids come in "behind" it is stressful for everyone. How did we end up here? I don't know.
What do I know?
It's simple.
Conversation about books.
It's simple.

I saw this video yesterday on Facebook and I can't help but agree with every word. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Days Folding In On Themselves

Today was a day that began early and felt as though it would not end.
A poetry slice.

The day
a beginning
an end
it circles around me
I am the middle
and the edges never come together
but they exist
as I exist
one folding into the other
they lay together with no contrast
as days pass over each other
covering the twists and jolts
the ugly and the beautiful
the parts that would
distinguish the two
covered by the next day
and I am left with a smooth surface
each morning
a blanket to swaddle
all the parts of me
I hold it tightly
and wait for the end
as the beginning unravels
unfolds and begins

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If Not For Franki...

I wouldn't go to so many conferences! Franki is the one who always says to me, "Will I see you in February (March, April, etc.)?"

I wouldn't be making a Chalk-A-Bration shirt. Franki is the one who always says to me, "When will the shirt be done? I want one."

I wouldn't be as driven to make change. Franki is the one who always says to me, "You can do that!"

I wouldn't know so many educators and writers in the field. Franki is the one who always says to me, "Do you know (insert name)?" Or, directing her attention to the other person, "Have you met Betsy?"

I wouldn't have made so many purchases at MRA! Franki is the one who always says to me, "Look at this, you need this." 

I wouldn't have the large stack of "to be read" books in my book stack. Franki is the one who always says to me, "Have you read this?"


She's the bright spot in your day lighting the way for all of us to be better, more connected and excited about what we do. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Space

About a month ago I began thinking about starting a new blog. I sort of swept the idea away as fast as it came. I couldn't imagine having another place to write, but the little corners of my life didn't really always seem to fit the purpose of my other blogs. I have Teaching Young Writers, which was my first blog where I began a great journey into communities like Two Writing Teachers and explored my understanding of the teaching of writing in my kindergarten classroom. It was a corner of my world, but only one. I began slicing there anyway. Then poetry seemed to be taking over many of my slices and posts. I had joined in on Poetry Friday quite regularly and felt like I needed a spot for my poems. That is when I Think in Poems was born. From there I decided to start a classroom blog, Hubbard's Headlines to post my students chalk poetry and artwork as well as links for parents to useful tools for learning. Three seemed like enough, maybe too many already. But, along came the opportunity to blog with Stacey, Beth, Anna, Dana and Tara at Two Writing Teachers and another blog was added to my list.
SO, Why yet another? I needed a spot to put the other parts of my life. A place to store slices and journeys with my family. I needed another space and here I am at I'm Living My Words. I recently transferred all my SOL posts over to this blog because this is really where I want them to be. I want all my little random corners to land here for safe keeping. It feels good to have a place for all those bits of my life.
I'm sure I will still put an occasional poem and maybe even a slice about my classroom too! But until then it will primarily be for slicing.
Now onto a slice!

Today was one of those busy days where I felt like I might not get everything done and sure enough, I didn't. I have report cards hanging over my head. I had a poem to submit for an online poetry class. Barry Lane is coming to visit my school next Friday and I am making final preparations for his arrival. My daughter's room is a sty, (it's so bad). There is a ton of laundry to fold because my husband was sick all weekend and he is normally a huge help in this area. My son has an "at school field trip" with a lumber jack tomorrow and I had to get a snack for the big day. A bunch of little things along with the big things like work, dinner, playing UNO with my daughter, checking in on my son's reading life and having a conversation with my husband that wasn't interrupted (that was the hardest one). However, a lot of these things did get accomplished and I keep telling myself, "The day isn't over yet!" I also realize that the reality of my situation is some things will have to wait (my daughter's room being one of them...I did help her clean one corner however). Here's to all our to do lists! May we all be productive in the coming days! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mystery Trip Day!

When I was a kid on spring break we didn't take big trips. However, my parents still tried to make things fun and would take us on Mystery Trips. It was basically a day trip with lots of little stops at fun restaurants or activities close by. Though my sister and I often rolled our eyes a bit, we loved it.
I decided to take my kids on a mystery trip today to celebrate spring break!

We started here at a museum not too far from home.


Made a stop for lunch. 

Of course we needed to find a playground:

Found this adorable independent book store.

Then we rounded out the day with some ice cream.

And we are beginning to see the beginning of an eye roll! I got the message. We were done, after a quick stop for me and some much needed coffee!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poetry Celebrations and Opportunities

The world is alive with poetry and I am hoping to be smack in the middle of it, overwhelmed by it and excited by it. I have been perusing the internet to see what things are on the horizon this month and stumbled on to Jama Rattigan's blog, Jama's Alphabet Soup. She has a whole list of activities going on the whole month.

Then late last night I ran across a tweet from Stacey:

I got beyond excited and quickly visited Chris Lehman's site. Here is a portion of the flyer with the link to more information.

I plan on trying to get on the team. It would be so much fun to be in a writing group that focused on poetry. I really think it would stretch me as a writer of all forms. So, join in too or send me some positive vibes that I get a response of YES! Crossing my fingers.