Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slice of Life

Today I realized my daughter is growing up. Living with Down syndrome has been a part of our lives for over 5 years now. Life moves at a different pace. I have come to love the pace at which we move with Emma. Today we moved forward. The pace quickening a bit. Emma has officially begun a potty training marathon. Today I learned Emma thinks of herself as a "big girl." I try to not baby her, but to hear her BELIEVE she is big makes my heart swell with love, admiration, and the realization that no limits should be place on children. Tonight as Emma prepared for bed, I no longer put a toddler to bed, but a big girl.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chapter 2 What We Know About Comprehension

During the 2008-9 school year I really experienced students who had not developed prior knowledge in what I thought were basic geography and social studies skills. I was shocked to discover the truth of the statement at the top of pg 22 “the prime determinant of understanding is prior knowledge.” I can remember sitting in Michelle’s (our site principal’s office) discussing my Oprah Ah-ha moment. I can’t expect my 5th graders to understand US History if they first don’t understand Oklahoma is a state in the US or their impact within our classroom community. I also noticed that students had a lack of experiences outside of our little suburb. For example, many of them hadn’t been to the lake. Most of them were so focused on their families and the upsets in their immediate lives they couldn’t concentrate on the importance of “manifest destiny” even if it was introduced with an experiential exercise.

As I am preparing my notes for my PLC on Thursday with SPED teacher, I began to ask myself if teachers really understand what comprehension is and what fluency is. Do teachers understand that fluency and comprehension aren’t the same thing? In Summer School, I had an opportunity to work with all types of learners, but specifically we worked with ELL students. The paperwork received on two little boys stated they were very good readers and they needed the program to maintain their current levels. After a few days working with them our team realized they were very fluent readers, but they had little comprehension. I believe the continuum on pg. 30 would really be beneficial to teachers (regardless of how long she/he has taught). It could easily be used as a visual for teachers of where your students are and where they need to go. Imagine how easy it would be to monitor their progress on that chart.
In response to the “going deeper” or “digging deeper” I found really patience on my part was a huge key. I needed to give them THINK TIME. Not of all us have light bulb moments. Some of us are percolators (like me) and just need time to put it all together. Teachers should respect that. Not rushing the process and letting my excitement for the activity or discussion interfere so that the meaning would come from the group.

I love how all the pedagogical reading I have completed in the last year seem to encompass one another. As I read this new book I am reminded of so many others I completed in the last year. Reading this chapter reminds me of the excitement of strategy work in reading, coupled by the changes in my writer’s workshop in the last 2 years, now I am wondering what changes will occur in my SS instruction because of this book.

Anxiously awaiting your thoughts and ready to read Chapter 3.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memoir Monday-Back to School

Beginning of the school year. New clothes. Paper. Mechanical pencils versus Ticonderoga #2s. The excitement of a new era. The annual getting our clothes for school shopping day. All the colors of the 80s-purple was my favorite. I have to admit in my own future 5th grader eyes--I was stylin'. Long blonde hair. Tall. Purple slacks. Striped shirt with lilacs and lavenders. I had to wear it. Even though school was two days away. I had to show my friends next door. So I snuck out of the house and road my bike over to their house. Except there must have been a rock. Something that made me wreck my bike. Skinned up knees. And ruined my new clothes. Devastation. Utter embarrassment. Mom wouldn't buy me new slacks. Instead she covered the holes with patches. Now granted they were "cool" patches, but patches nonetheless. What will the 5th graders think now? Well, I guess it could be a conversation starter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chapter 1 Kids Want to Know

If I can say one thing this chapter was affirming. I love the way diversity of thinking and learning is going on in the scenarios they present. I think that is something I see in my classroom all the time and really love about being a teacher. I appreciate the discussion about asking students to look back and reflect on their learning (pg. 3). As teachers I think sometimes that is easy to neglect as we keep our busy pace with kids. So how can we ensure we take time to have students be reflective? How would that look? Charts to compare and contrast, open discussions, turn and talk, reflective writing or illustrating? I certainly think that is something we need to incorporate in our community building in the first 20 days. I like the idea of the words, "What lingering questions do you have?" It is so inviting and at the same time makes you feel as if that is the expectation and it is ok to have lingering questions.
I began to think that book clubs (as we conduct them) are inquiry circles, writing partnerships can at times be an inquiry grouping, social studies groups are all about inquiry, etc.

So my question is this: In book clubs could we not ask students to explore, reflect, and write about theme, etc in a deeper way? Can we push our thinking on this?

The last paragraph on page 6 to top of page 7 really got me excited because I could feel many of these things in my classroom and observe them. Malissa you and I got to see this when both our classes came together to finish out the year in social studies and I feel we hit the nail on the head. We were facilitators of kid's learning.

What about that quote about fifth graders were spending 91% of their school day either listening to a teacher talk or working alone! I'd die on the vine if I had to conduct my classroom like that.

How about the top of page 14 as our motto: "We teach thinking all year, every year: we teach students how to listen, view, read, gather, and engage with information; we make sure students acquire cognitive strategies, weigh ideas, develop judgment, and build knowledge; and just as important, we help them to remember, care, choose and take action"

I can't wait to read what you all have to say.
Susan C

New Site~Bohemian Teachers

Some colleagues and I have started a website (Bohemian Teachers) to promote discussion about best practices in education. Our first book study will be Comprehension and Collaboration by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Stephanie Harvey. We want it to be a place for discussion of the newest ideas or book releases and to help us continue to push ourselves in educating our students. I hope you will join us. (Just so you know...I'm still waiting on my copy of the book to arrive from amazon, so don't let that be why don't join us!)

Slice of Life~Drama Leads to Mommy Trauma

"You are going to have to wrap your legs around her," the doctor said matter-of-factly. He was so calm and acted as if this occurs in his office every day.

"Okay." Quickly I began to think how I was going to do this with a 5 year old in my lap and sitting in a small chair at the ophthalmologists.

I lifted my left leg wrapped it around her lower body, pushed her arms down with mine and tucked my foot behind my right leg.

I took a deep breath and prayed, "Dear Lord, let him have a speedy dripper!"

Emma's wailing. My heart is pounding so hard. My cheeks feel as if they are flaming.

"Done! I've never seen a kid who had such strong eye lids," he said with a smile.

I giggled and Emma said, "Bye!"

Should I tell her now that we will be back in 20 minutes after her eyes are dilated?

Bookish Talk

Hey everyone! Love the site name Bohemian Teachers! Great job Lynnelle!
Lynnelle and I have joked about this for sometime and felt like we are always a little outside the box in our teaching practice perhaps unconventional. In fact we like the view from there and this little tag "Bohemian Teacher" Lynnelle coined for us sometime ago and it has stuck. So if you are feeling a little unconventional and ready to try some new ideas based on best practice and current research you have arrived at the right spot. Welcome to this blog site.

We want to build a community of teachers who want to think about and ponder ideas in the field of teaching.

To launch we thought we’d start with the newest release from Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, Comprehension & Collaboration.

Susan C

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Possible Small Moments

Last week when I was reading through some of my favorite blogs I ran across Ali Edwards' post about the 12 scrapbook layouts that define you. I immediately began to think the 12 stories that would show the reader a piece of me. What would they be? What would they cover for me? For my students? For my colleagues who are on this journey with me?

1. Christmas Treasure Hunt: Christmas is my favorite holiday and this one is etched in my memory. My parents surprised my brother and I with bikes for Christmas.

2. Loves Lost: Family members who have passed, friends who have gone on..

3. Impact: How I got to be the person I am today.

4. Creating: how this is a vital part of me as a person and how important I do this whether it is in my house, scrapbooking, or photography, or in my classroom.

5. My favorite things: What I love right now

6. My beautiful girls: trying hard to capture the "stuff" not just the perfect picture

7. My passions: teaching, special education, advocacy, being your authentic self

8. Motherhood: mother to a child with special needs and mother to a child who is strong willed. Realizing that each day is new and I should learn what the day is supposed to teach me.

Still contemplating the others....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Slice of Life

We are so tired of the Oklahoma heat. This evening after dinner we went outside to "cool" off. We got out the Elmo splash pad, put on the swimsuits and I grabbed the camera. The girls loved it! Giggles, sand whizzing through the air, jumping through the water. Sounds of summer! Gracie is really loving the time outdoors and begins to experiment with catching the water in her mouth. Her face contorts as she figures out a way to make the water fall directly into her mouth. I giggle as I capture the moment through the lense and then she looks up. Sheepishly smiles, twirls so her ruffled tink swimsuit flies, and continues to figure out a way to catch the water droplets.

Visit Two Writing Teachers for more Slices of Life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A few slices of summer

Today as I was wishing Emma would stay in her bed I began to think of all the funny things that have happened this summer that I haven't blogged. So here are a few...

*We purchased a sand box for Emma and Gracie and they absolutely love it. Last week my parents were here for dinner and since it was only 95 degrees outside instead of 110 we went to play. Emma took her Papa by the hand and opened the door. "Hey, Papa, It's my beach!!" She yelled. Sure enough if you looked closely through a 5 year olds imagination you could see the steaming, soft sand and the hear the ocean waves (or in this case elmo splash pad). I love having children. It reminds me to see things through different lenses.

*Yesterday we went to the zoo. I packed the strollers, backpack and sippy cups and off we went. On the way there Emma began to sing. "Ha Bee, Ha Bee, Nana." I giggled. "Are you still singing Happy Birthday to your Nana, Emma?" I asked. "Yep!" she replied. "Ha Bee, Ha Bee, Nana. Zoo!! Zoo!!" Priceless moments like these will be cherished for a life time.

*Each day we could tell many Grace LeEva stories, but this one was just as cute as can be. We went by the tiger exhibit and I told Gracie what they were. "Mommy, BIG CATS!! meow!" I laughed out loud and the man next me drawled, "Yea, honey, but there a little big to keep indoors!" "Tank-too" She replied.

*Gracie recently switched from her crib to a toddler bed. I thought we would have the same battles as with Emma but I was wrong. She won't crawl in, but she lays down after you put her in it, pulls her blankie up on her head says, "Tank-Too, Night-night" and goes to sleep. Bliss!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ponderings-July 4th

Tonight as I picked daisies for my mom's birthday party tomorrow I listed to the pop,pop, popping of the fireworks and began to wonder how many woman during the Revolutionary War heard the rumble of what they wished was actually thunder but was the sound of fighting coming closer to them-to their family. I wonder what I would have done during that era? Would I have run or stood my ground to the red coats? I have little ones to care for...what would I do? This was very humbling. Many have fought for me through the hundreds of years of the USA's existence. I thank them and I am thankful that my little ones are snuggled in their beds-safe and sound.