Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Weather Report: Reality or Myth - The Anticipation


It first showed up more than a week ago; the potential of rain. When there is rain in the forecast everyone here is glued to their weather app. It was forecast for Saturday night. We were set to go camping Friday and Saturday (our weekend). Rain is such a rarity that we don't have camping gear for it here, (as opposed to our camping gear in Seattle - rain/shmain). Knowing that a forecast is a moveable target that far out, I was just hoping it didn't creep up into our camping trip.

As we packed the car Thursday night the rain had been pushed into Sunday. Phew!

Often rain disappears from the forecast completely or diminishes to a 10 - 20% chance, which are not odds worth playing. When we got back from our time at Wahbah Crater the rain was still in the forecast, now for Monday night. Not only was it still in the forecast, but it was spread across many hours and with a 60 - 90% chance. I'll take those odds!

We don't get snow days here. An inch of rain annually is a strong dose. Our best chance of a day off, due to weather, is a heavy rain that is timed just right so that the transportation department decides it isn't going to send the buses out. The possibility had the teachers a buzz.

"Now it says the rain will last until 4 a.m."
"My app says 5!"

"We probably need it an hour past that, though." [sigh]

And so it went, but I have to admit, I figured it was wishful thinking. We also had a thunderstorm forecast for during the school day. Sure enough, on the way to school our usually vibrant blue sky was filtered by a blanket of clouds. The lighting in the classroom felt off as the sun couldn't be found. As we settled into Writing Workshop I promised my writers that if they focused on their writing, I would keep an eye on what was happening outside. If rain fell, and they could line up silently, we would sneak out of the building and enjoy it.


There's the proof! We were all excited for the few drops. After about ten minutes we snuck back into our room and continued with our writing. Surprisingly, it continued to rain. As you can see, this outside area is mostly covered so when it came time for recess, they headed out. The ground was wet and the sky (and roof) were dripping, but physical exercise is a great thing for the brain.

Then the fire alarm went off. I left the task I was trying to accomplish while they were out of the room and headed out the door to join my students (who were all lined up where they were supposed to be when I arrived). The volume was a bit louder than normal, but since they were squatting above puddles of water AND getting splashed on their heads, it was to be expected.

***

Comparing weather apps after school we knew there was a slight chance of the confluence of events that could lead to not having to go to school in the morning. I put a little extra work in my bag, locked the Chromebook cart, grabbed my abaya, and headed home with a bit of hope.

It is amazing what the anticipation of a possible day off school can do. Unfortunately it is not the same as a known day off school and the evening's chores still have to be done as the alarm will go off in the morning.

Turns out that my daughter did not share in our anticipation as she had big plans for school the next day. While visions of her next library book danced through her dreams, I was thrilled when the call came in saying that the Minister of Education had cancelled all school for the following day. I turned my alarm off and crawled into bed, only to be awoken by water dripping on my bed.

I hadn't anticipated a night of moving buckets, changing towels, and having no bed to sleep in that didn't have a leaky ceiling above it. A day off; the myth can be better than the reality.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Room: Before and After

One task on my 'to-do' list at the start of the year was to have an accessible Book Room for faculty. This is the space that has most of our books sets for groups during Reading Workshop be it Guided Reading, Strategy Groups, or Book Clubs.


BEFORE


There had been some organization, but they were not easily accessible. (Each book also had a level plastered to the front cover. The levels are now discreetly written inside the back cover.)


AFTER


Books are now visible. Each set is in a baggie. The sections are labeled by reading level. And the top shelf is empty since only one of us could reach it without a step stool. Additionally each teacher has clothes pins with their names to mark the spot they check something out from for easy returns. After scrounging around for magazine files that weren't being used throughout the building the only expense for this revamping was the cost of the baggies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Restraining the Eye Roll



Most families don't commute together. Since we all attend the same school we are piling into rushing through our morning to ensure we can pull out on time in the morning. We often listen to audiobooks, but prior to pressings 'play' we make sure that anything that needs to be said has a chance to come to light. 

Family discussions in the car on the way to school cover a wide range of topics, but I never thought I would hear, "Well. I know it could happen because I've seen "Barbie Princess Charm School" and they..."

I stopped listening and stifled my chuckle.


Now that I've had a chance to step back and reflect on her comment my first response is to chuckle and roll my eyes, but right after that I realize that the fact that she is completely engaged in the conversation. She is thinking about what we are saying and pulling from her experience to find a place to engage. 

Perhaps my parenting win for the day is what I didn't do. I didn't laugh out loud. I didn't point out the fictional aspect of the storyline she was relating to. I didn't comment on the probability of the absurd scenario that the Barbie Princess storyline.

I did press "play" and let Amber Brown take us to a different place.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Write! - Right?



You never know where inspiration will strike. Students have left the building. A colleague has left my room. I feel like all thoughts have left my brain. What is one to do? 

Check Facebook, of course. Lin-Manuel Miranda posted this quote...



I was inspired. Inspired to remember why we write.

When it is Tuesday, write. When people frustrate you, write. When your students are demonstrating their learning, write. When you demonstrate parenting failure, write. When life brings you a sundae with whip cream, cherry, AND sprinkles - write. When life brings you lemons, write.

I need to carve out the time to write regularly. It is what March is great for. (Can I get an 'Amen!'?) I make the time to put the discipline into the rest of the year - perhaps not everyday, but more than screeching because it is Tuesday and I haven't written.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Morphing of Time



Character Day at school morphs into Halloween in the evening. "I'm late! I'm late, for a very important date!" as I carry a clock around with me, forgetting about the bunny ears and tail poof until a five year old exclaims, "She's a BUNNY!" in a stage whisper to their classmates. A community in which kids can run from house to house as parents saunter behind in conversation - homemade treats are still safe and appreciated. The moon glows and the pool lights glisten.

Somehow November is up on the calendar in my classroom. How is it possible that we are approaching the end of first quarter? If first quarter has flown this quickly it will be June when I next stop to think about it.

It feels like Monday (2nd day of the week in these parts) and Thursday (aka Friday to most people) all at the same time. I'm not sure how this is possible. I do know that when I realized my Wednesday morning meeting is tomorrow is how the reality of it being Tuesday and thus "Slice of Life" time already came as a surprise.

The days are shortening and I keep expecting those who mess with their time to change my timezone bingo, yet it hasn't happened yet. A childhood of October 'fall back' is engrained in my expectations so I'm thrown off kilter.

How is time going for you?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hashtags and a P.S.



"Family snuggles are the best, hashtag: so are my parents."

"Hashtag! What do you now about hashtags?!" I asked my eight year old.

As the grin spreads from cheek to cheek she grabs a whiteboard marker and goes into teacher mode with her easel.

"P.S. ia a note you forgot to add and hashtag is an exclamation!" she explains while she writes "#" and "P.S." in purple.

Teacher mode continues, "Hashtags are exclamations. Things like 'ice cream is best' or 'I love Hamilton'. A P.S. is like a note you forgot to write. In order to add it you put 'P.S.' first."

#  exclamations!

P.S.  note

She's never heard of Twitter, yet this third grader has an accurate working knowledge of these literary devices.

I stopped to do some research as I was writing this because I was curious the real history of each of these possibilities.

P.S. originated in the mid 16th century from the Latin post scriptum: after write.

2007 was the first time a # was used on Twitter and three days later a blogger called it a "hashtag". Twitter began hyperlinking hashtags in 2009 and the term reached the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014.

#daughters #parenting #writing

P.S.
I suppose it makes total sense that my daughter knows what a hashtag is and should be a little more surprising that she has a clue about a P.S.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This One

It's volleyball season, which means loads of volleyball around here. Friday we spent the day in Jeddah dashing between two schools - the girls' tournament at one international school and the boys' tournament at another. 

(Abaya on. In car. Through security. Abaya off. Cheer, cheer, cheer. Check schedules. Abaya on. Dash out of one gym. Repeat the process.)

At one point, during the boys second set with a team they had played (and lost to) twice previously during this tournament, they found themselves down - by ten points. Now, I get being tired, but they had won the first set so dropping this set would force the third - not a rest. If they lost this game they were out. If they won, they went on to play in the championship game.



Cheering fiercely for our boys to get their head in the game (cue High School Musical) I kept yelling, "This one! This point!"

As I watched communication break down and the ball take an angle that was better in a physics experiment than a volleyball game, I found myself thinking philosophically. Then they won that point and the next one and the momentum shifted and I was swept back up in the intensity of the moment.

I find myself thinking back on that set and how it applies to teaching; taking each day as a fresh day, "this" day. Sometimes thinking of teaching in terms of 'days' is still too huge. There are times that days are seemingly unimaginable chunks - both for us and for our students. We need to be break them down into even smaller bits of time. 

For students, maybe "this point" is writing the next sentence, solving the current math problem, recording one bit of data from an experiment, jotting  a sticky, or respectful comment in a group conversation.

For us, maybe "this one" is a deep breath before the next thing comes out of our mouth to re-direct a student or the pacing of today's mini-lesson, or trying another approach with the manipulatives. 

In all cases, for students and teachers, some of the "this one"s are going to go awry. Some of them will be aces. How do we keep our energy up and ourselves focus - letting all the previous 'points' fade from our minds and approaching "this one" as a series of focused moments to victory?

Join the community at Two Writing Teachers and Slice with us!

Monday, October 2, 2017

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

You will notice that September's list is sparse. After SO much reading for my #bookaday challenge over the summer I took a bit of a break from books. That's not to say I wasn't ready, loads, but it was mostly digital content; blogs, news, etc.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Finishing Summer Vacation #bookaday Challenge

What Are You Reading?


Well, it isn't Monday and I didn't get my books listed to the link. I DID manage to read #bookaday throughout my entire summer vacation, for which I am feeling accomplished.



Monday, July 31, 2017

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here is my July list as my #bookaday continues for summer vacation. My favorite Middle Grades book out of the bunch is All Rise..., favorite YA is Exit, Pursued by a Bear, and there were loads of Picture Books I had to add to my collection.



Kristi's bookshelf: july-2017


goodreads.com