Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Slice of Life Tuesday~News~

Honk, went my cell as I walked into my room. I'm sure that's my mom I thought. It was she said she needed to talk.

I knew my cousin was failing quickly so I picked up my classroom phone and dialed home.

"Lynnelle, do you want the news?" She asked.

"Of course, Mom," I replied. I knew I had said my good byes. I was prepared for the worst with my sweet cousin. My mind and heart were begin to believe it was real.

"He has tumors with lymph node involvement," she replied.

"What?I don't understand. Are you talking about the CT for Dad?" I ask. My mind reeling from the news. My ears beginning to burn and sound rushing into them.

"Yes," she said, "Lynnelle, the doctor's calling I'll call you back."

I clicked end. I sat at my desk. My mind racing with the same one word. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. My dad has lung cancer. This isn't good. Lung cancer is deadly.

I find myself walking down the hallway teachers passing me getting ready to meet the new parents and students in a few hours. I walk into my friend's room.

"Caroline, my dad has lung cancer," I sob. I begin to shake as the words leave my mouth. She holds me up.

My tears rush down my face soaking her shoulder. Her words of strength and truth whisper to me.

But all the while listening to her hushed tones of comfort my heart beats to the rhythmic tune in my head--cancer, cancer, cancer.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. I found out the details. Googled his chances. Slowly began to push down my fears, my pain, and my tears to welcome 55 new students and their parents to the 5th grade.

As 5:30 began to approach I could feel teacher mode begin, as my wonderful students arrived and I shook their hands and welcomed them. There presence helped me. The new lives who entered mine. I was able to help them at least for an hour. I hoped I helped relieve some of their fears and let them know I was ready for a great year because for a few moments I was able to relive my old normal. I knew when they left my new normal would begin.

*Please note that 3 days later we found out my father does not have cancer. He has another illness, but it can be treated. Thank you for your support.*

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saying Good Byes

A simple call
leads to numbness.

Life changes in a moment,
never to be the same.

Memories of our childhood,
flash in my mind
as I drive to the hospital
to say my good byes.

The smells,
the sounds.

Those reminders
of my other memories here.

I see my aunt
your mother.
How do you say good bye
to your child?

My heart fills with sorrow,
it aches.

My sobs echo down the hall,
they do not heal you.

You are not aware.
You are not there.
I love you.
I will miss you.

How do you say good bye?

My silent prayers,
Trying to erase the sorrow here,
You are broken,
You are hurt.

Why must we say good bye?

Our childhoods together,
Our smiles in the pictures,
You hid your pain,
You carried it alone.

I'm sorry.

Watch over us,
Watch over my babies,
May you feel love,
May you no longer ache with sorrow,
Watch over your mother,
She is burdened with the loss,
Watch over you father,
Who fought to keep you here,
May happiness find you now.

Good bye, my cousin.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I love the title, What We Know About Comprehension, because there is so much to know. I am glad they crammed it into one chapter.

From my earlier days working with K-2 kiddos I learned background knowledge is so vital. You could always tell the students who had never explored beyond their backyard, had conversations with adults, let alone been read to. Having just finished summer school in June and working with Reading Academy students (K-3rd grades) I had a dose of what it is like to work with students who are our ELA learners. Imagine arriving from a refugee camp and not knowing the language let alone the social customs. Talk about a need for background knowledge! I love the sense of urgency given to us when they write, "...we need to start teaching those specific strategies right now, to every kid we see, from pre-kindergarten through high school and in every subject across the curriculum."

So what about the research strikes you as important or of interest?

I am very struck by the idea of “transactional strategy instruction” (pg 26). I think the way we currently introduce strategies in our first 20 days is important. It’s like getting them out on the table and then we can talk about them specifically as we use them in read alouds, non-fiction work, and in novel studies. I also am intrigued by the idea of Block’s work referenced page 26 “processed-based” comprehension instruction, teaching kids to articulate the processes they used to make meaning.” I reflect here on our grand conversation circles when introducing our first novel, and subsequent ones, to students and how it is a time for exploring and modeling thinking, our own and students. This is where I feel I can get behind each students contributions and probe further. The other part is getting them to go beyond articulating their thinking but writing reflectively about it. Think about this as you begin this process in August. The student that responds to a point of inquiry and you ask them to tell you more or explain their thinking. Often their response can be dismissive, "Never mind." Or they seem non-verbally to demonstrate a feeling of, “Gosh did I get that wrong or what? OR I really blew that answer!” It can often be a deer in the headlight moment for the student. This is such a crucial moment for the teachers, this is where we must support and encourage student's who take the risk, to articulate the processes they are using to make meaning. With 25 others looking on to we have a captive audience and possibly a make it or break it moment with the students. We need to send a clear message that we value everyone’s contribution.

Teach for Understanding
I enjoyed this section.
Arthur Costa, “Learning to think begins with recognizing how we are thinking-by listening to ourselves and our own reactions and realizing how our thoughts encapsulate us.” Isn’t this one of our goals with our modeling comprehension strategies all along the way? We are showing the kids our thinking to perpetuate them to do the same thing. The use of sticky notes I think helps with this because it holds their thinking and helps them verbalize it when it is time to turn and talk.
The Comprehension Continuum is something I am going to copy to use when planning with teachers I love the teacher language. As a teacher I want this with my plans to reference as I reflect on my practices.

OK Girls help me out here what is our comprehension goal or mission statement?
Our goal seems to be to instruct students in ways that keep them thinking about their learning and applying that knowledge with themes from literature, and big ideas in social studies all the while merging their thinking with new information.

Finally I love the reference to Allington’s work:
1. Build in reading time. Students have to read. It is non-negotiable. My classroom mantra was: The more you read the more you know. The more you know the more you grow. I always shared with kids what research shows on reading and tell them that is why we have silent reading time in our class everyday.
2. Response principle. Students must respond to their reading everyday by talking, writing, and drawing about their thinking. Boy did this make you feel proud? We do this no question about it!
3. Explicit instruction principle. Amen

Chapter 3 collaboration love it!
Gotta run I am reading a novel Catherine Coulter's latest and it is soooooo good. It's calling my name.
Got my nose in a book,