Saturday, March 19, 2016

SOL #19 Looking for my writing voice

I thought about not writing today. I just haven't been inspired lately. I have report card narratives to finish. I'm in St. Louis instead of at home. I have somehow managed to write for 19 days, so I'm over halfway through the month. I guess this is how my students feel sometimes as they search for their voice and a connection to words.

Today we drove nearly six hours. Miles and miles of road, occasional traffic, farm fields. As we traveled further south we saw more and more signs of Spring....daffodils, magnolias, crab trees and redbud in bloom. It gave me hope that spring is here, perhaps my writing voice will return as well.

Friday, March 18, 2016

SOL #18 - Exhale

  Had to write plans early
  Am taking an emergency day Monday
  Late Thursday night getting ready
  Emergency day Monday

Thursday, March 17, 2016

SOL #17 - An Unexpected Absence

My daughter called me at school yesterday. She usually waits until after she knows I'm done with my day to call. She'll text, but not call. When the secretary paged my room to tell me to pick up my phone I wasn't sure what to expect. When my daughter was on the other end I was concerned. She called to tell me she was heading to urgent care and was not feeling well. My heart stopped. I went into "mom mode" asking her questions. Hoping it was only the flu.

Missouri is her new home. She's a first-year teacher and about a six-hour drive from our house. I can't be there for her as quickly as I'd like to be. Usually phone calls, texts, and occasional emails keep us in touch. It's not easy when I know she's sick.

It wasn't the flu. She had to get a CT scan. It showed an issue with her gallbladder. Surgery was needed. She's only in her 20s, so this surprised me. My husband and I did research, spoke to medical personnel, and came to the conclusion that surgery was the best action. She's scheduled for outpatient surgery Monday. We will be rearranging our schedules to be there.

Next week is her Spring Break, so she won't miss more time teaching. It's the week before my Spring Break and I'm already going to be out of my room Tuesday and part of Wednesday for in-district meetings. That's 2 1/2 days away from my class during a four-day week. I was gone one and one-half days this week too. Now I need to plan for more time out of the room. Family comes first, however I feel like I'm abandoning my own students. The Monday we return from Spring Break will begin PARCC. The timing isn't magical. I'll be up late planning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

SOL #16 - Civil War Study

We have begun our study of the Civil War. We start by learning about the many events leading up to this challenging time in our country's history. The Missouri Compromise, Abolitionist Movement, the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott Case, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, John Brown/Harper's Ferry, Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Birth of the Republican Party, and the election of Lincoln. So much to ponder.

I use January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco during literacy to help the students think about this time in history. There is so much to think about in this (long-not for little kids) picture book. Slavery, Paddy Rollers, the Underground Railroad, fear, acceptance and always wondering what if....
My students just can't understand why slavery existed, why people weren't allowed rights, how families could be torn apart.

We think about how different the North and South were at this time. One more agrarian, the other with growing cities and industry. A country divided.

Today I showed them some photographs from this time period. (It's the first period where photography was available.) I paired students and they each examined a picture closely. They wrote down the words they thought about as they gazed at the photos. Afterward they tried crafting poems using the words to tell about the picture. They did an amazing job and really looked closely. Their poems tied their understanding to their observations. Their work was thoughtful and deliberate.

As we move on to study the war itself I know they will continue to look deeply, pondering events and primary sources. I'm excited to begin this journey with my students.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

SOL #15 - Back in My Classroom

I was out yesterday for a workshop.
This morning I was out of my room scoring writing assessments.
I returned this afternoon.
My students greeted me and were happy to see me return.
I have expectations in my room, but somehow they don't think I'm as strict as subs.
Is it they know what to expect? Perhaps.
It made me smile that they seemed to miss me, I missed them.
We spent time writing.
We read/discussed a few well crafted pages about Dred Scott
and  Lincoln's view on slavery back in 1858 (morally wrong)
The students read the nonfiction carefully and sometimes questioned what was written.
I was back in my room this afternoon.
It's the place I belong.
I smiled.

Monday, March 14, 2016

SOL #14 - Pi Day and a Conference

     Today was Pi Day. I missed being with my math class to celebrate. (I wasn't there last year either because I had to be at a district meeting.) I knew they were in good hands, but I still wanted to be there. I was at a workshop 47 miles away with my team. It was one I was excited about, (Reading Nonfiction: Stances, Signposts, and Strategies - Kylene Beers and Bob Probst).  I had already read their book and implemented many of their ideas. I was torn - I wanted to be in both places at once. Alas, I wasn't with my students, but I did wear my pumpkin Pi shirt in honor or the day. I learned a lot. I can't wait to use more of the ideas from this amazing duo in my classroom. We even were able to take a picture with Kylene and Bob. (It was a fan girl moment.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

SOL#13 - A Day in the pool

Yesterday we spent the day in a classroom setting testing our knowledge of various aspects of Scuba. Today we were at the pool by 7:45 and ready for our hands-on training. We first had to swim 8 laps, then tread water for 10 minutes. Once that was finished we put on our gear and began the real work. We learned how to get in and out of the water, use a regulator, become neutrally buoyant and share air with our buddy. We had to take our masks off underwater and learn to get them back on releasing the water, put on and take off gear in deep water as well as at the bottom of the pool. We learned about releasing leg cramps and helping a tired diver back to safety. We also felt what it was like when air was shut off from our regulators and how to buddy breath. Just over four hours later we were finished and ready for open water classes.

It was a day where I stretched my comfort zone, concentrated and hoped I'd still be willing to embark on this new adventure. We have a few extra surprises:
 • My mask strap came off while I was under water and I had to remember to think and not react. (I fixed it with the help of the instructor without returning to the surface.)
 • My buddy's secondary regulator only worked in one direction. (When I shared air, I had none for a moment before putting my own regulator back in my mouth.) They never mentioned this in our training, so it was learning that took my breath away.
•My husband's regulator fell apart and he had to use his secondary. (This surprised the instructors just as much as it surprised us.)

But   We   Still Made  It!!!!

I'm glad this part of our adventure is over, that soon we will be viewing reefs and sea life rather than other scuba students, random floating hair and band aides and the pool bottom. I'm ready to swim in the ocean and explore the wonders there.