Monthly Archives: March 2015

#sol15 March 31 Onward! Type! Delete! Type! Post!

Slice of LIfe  This is my last slice  in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it next year!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

I type 
and I type
I select all 
delete

I try again
and delete and delete and delete

I have slices to write
even just from today
but nothing is working
so I delete and delete

I want to write about
surprise coffee from Mardi 
surprise support from Kris
the power of listening
and checking in with my class

There are ideas in my head about 
articulation and wading through words
and how writing is thinking 
and power 
a window, a door

I'd love to tell you about how 
bad I am at following through
how consistency is not my strength 
A month of slicing feels like 
success
pride
But then I'd have to admit that 
It's been a week since I really exercised
I. Need. To. Go. On. A. Run.  
(But, it's dark and I'm tired)

It's the last day of March slicing!
I'm proud 
And my mind is 
still
cluttered
with 
slices

So onward!
I'll keep slicing
and typing 
and deleting
and typing
and deleting
and typing 
and 
posting

 

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#sol15 March 30 Complaints

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

Feeling Complain-y today… And since I’m dreaming of ordering  this T-Shirt…. I figured I may as well write some poetry. 🙂

My skin, dry 
my house, a mess
my email?
A load of stress

My work, piled
high at school
While I'm at home,
a sleepy fool

My grades, due
My daughter has a cold
Laundry, clean but
I still have to fold

My nose, stuffy
I need to file a nail
Students owe me work
Please don't let them fail

My computer, wonky
It has a mind of its own
Making it hard for me
to do work, not groan

April, I need some time 
A meditation, a rest
But what will I get?
A standardized test

#sol15 March 29 Flashback

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

My daughter is on the couch with 100.4° temperature, miserable with a cold. I am trying to quickly clean the bathroom. She calls me and I yell “Hold on! I just want to finish this and I’ll be right there.”
As I finish scrubbing, my mind goes to a day years and years ago when I was doing dishes and my son kept calling my name over and over and over. I don’t remember the exact reason I was at my wits end with the whining and neediness. I do remember I said something like “Stop! Stop whining, ‘mommy.’ Hold on! I need to finish the dishes, and then I’ll be there!”
I think I had to repeat it because he called me again. And again. I finally walked to the living room, most likely with my eyes wide, my eyebrows up in annoyance at my 3 year old. (I think he was about 3, maybe 4). That’s when I noticed that there was a man on my porch, knocking on the screen door. That’s when I remembered that a psychology professor was coming to meet with my husband about a video project.
“I think he was trying to tell you I was here,” the professor said. I noticed (or imagined) a hint of raised eyebrows, incredulous that a mother could be so daft.
I don’t know why I’m thinking of this old story — I’m not annoyed that my sick daughter needs my help. My mind tries to make sense of my flashback, perhaps it was just my words:  “Hold on!” that brought it back. I wonder if the professor was judging my lack of mothering skills, or if it was just me. I wonder how many times I judge someone’s comments or actions without thinking about what they may have just been dealing with. It’s been a long time since that day, but if I met that man again, I would still have the urge to defend myself.  I would still want to say, “Yea, I was a great parent too… before I had kids.”

#sol15 March 27 Thanks for the Feedback!

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

“Thanks for the feedback!” Bo told us, as he handed us his card and we walked out of the restaurant.

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After our dinner, we had politely told Bo that we wanted to give him some feedback. We included how kind and helpful he and the rest of the staff were, and also the fact that the soup hadn’t been hot.

(DISCLAIMER: Food was excellent, service was great… soup was apparently just a bit cool. My table of friends would recommend this place in a heartbeat. In fact, if you are in Virginia for the UVABPI, go tomorrow! 🙂 

“We aren’t complaining. Just giving you some feedback that you can hopefully use,” one of us said.

He listened and apologized, and we all talked with him about how it was a timing issue. The restaurant opened under this management 3 weeks ago, and they are still getting their whole game together.

Our table of teachers explained to Bo that we had just spent the day learning about assessment. “We are sitting beside you,” we told him even though he probably thought that was a weird thing to say, considering we were seated at our table, and he was standing next to it. “We want you to use this feedback as learning. We can’t wait to come back and eat here again.”

Bo thanked us for our feedback and planned on using it to better his timing. Do your kids thank you for your feedback? 

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Assessment. Today was about assessment. I love that the latin root of the word assessment means “to sit beside.” This isn’t what many people think of when they think of assessment, even formative assessment. Carol Ann Tomlinson says that “on-going assessment for planning and feedback, not for judgment and grades…helps us teach better, and helps students learn better.” This idea that assessment informs our teaching is one that we should know as teachers, but we often forget. I think I can get caught up in all that assessment can  mean, and lose sight of how often I am informally doing formative assessment, and giving feedback. Today helped me solidify some ways to do my formative assessments.

If you are like me, and need a reminder of which kind of assessment is which, this gem from today may help:

CBHkaN-VIAA7W0k

Now at the restaurant tonight, we had already tasted the soup, but others were going to taste it too. So, I think our feedback can still be considered  formative. We didn’t judge (or complain) and we gave our assessment as learning (and we hoped they would work to better their timing). It looks like assessment is everywhere, right where it should be.

And that folks, is just another slice of Virginia!

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#sol15 March 26 A Slice of Virginia

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

Imagine my delight, when nearing my hotel, I saw this sign:

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Look closely, slicers…

 

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That’s the HOME. OF. THE. VIRGINIA. SLICE.

So what are my Virginia Slices so far?

Carol Ann Tomlinson uses a great analogy to curriculum. “Standards are not a curriculum. A textbook is not a curriculum. A pacing guide is not a curriculum. These things are ingredients for creating a curriculum.” If you take a grocery bag with meat and tomatoes and onions and spices, you can use those ingredients to make a base for a lot of different meals. Just like you can use the elements of curriculum to make many different engaging curriculums. 

This is a perfect, smart analogy, of course. But again with all the meat! Where are the Virginia Vegetarians? So far in Virginia, I’ve seen signs of spring, and meat.

Flowers.
Flowers.

 

Meat.
Meat.

 

 

 

 

And of course my real slice is the amazing Carol Ann Tomlinson. My word. I could listen to her for days.

I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotable quotes:

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Can’t wait for tomorrow!

#sol15 March 25 Learning

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

Tomorrow I'm going to learn.
Best Practices
Differentiation
Carol A. Tomlinson

Today I learned. . . 
To say goodbye to my kids before school... for 4 days. Four!
 (extra hugs)
To have a quick car ride 
  (stories from Jodi)
You can eat a vegan meal at a restaurant full of meat
   (portabella mushroom, hold the cheese!)
People talk about meat a lot 
   (oh well)
to laugh as much as possible 
   (easy peasy)
How to slice when my computer is acting wacky 
   (fast)

#sol15 March 24 Sometimes

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

 

Sometimes.

Sometimes, you let your kids have “Make your own sandwich night” for the second night in a row. Sometimes you let them watch a show on a weeknight. Sometimes you don’t even stop to clean up the toys (or ask them to.)

Because, sometimes you have a meeting after school, and errands after that. Sometimes you have to pack for a conference, and finish sub plans. Sometimes you are starting to get a cold and you are trying to fight it off.

Sometimes your slice is just that, a slice of sometimes.

#sol15 March 23 One of those Mondays

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

One of those Mondays
you know the ones
It starts with a yawn
as you race out the door
you carry your bag of grading
unopened
back to school
your coffee is cold 
during math
right when you could really use a sip
and you,
your patience is depleted
right when your students could really use some

One of those Mondays
you know the ones
mindful breathing to start the school day
and you 
you laugh through the chaos
you make more coffee 
"Sorry I have so many questions!" a student laments
and you say 
"That's my job! Please! Ask! Ask more questions!"

#sol15 March 22 Strangers

Slice of LIfe  I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing! 

 

We walk into the science center party about  5 or 10 minutes late, and I search for the hostess. I have no idea what she looks like, and only two or three guests are familiar to me.  All the faces around me look serious, stern, busy. So many strangers.

A 5 year old’s birthday party can be a stressful place to be. We finally find the hostess, or at least I think it must be her. She’s holding a present, and talking to someone else. She introduces herself to me with an “Oh, you must be E’s mom?” I’ll get to hear a lot of that this afternoon. “E’s mom” is a nice label to have, it’s just odd not to know anybody. The entire room is full of so many strangers.

IMG_0505I focus on E, and playing. The science center is a fun place that we don’t get to often. We sit at the magnet block table, and as he builds a house, I tell him I want to make a two story house. A little boy walks over and asks to play. “I want to build a Toy Story house too!” he grins. At least kid strangers are cute. He walks away distracted by a friend, and Evan smiles at me, “A Toy Story house instead of a two story house? He must be too young to know the difference.” We got up and walked to the party room, through so many strangers.IMG_0508

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I think, when H was in preschool, I knew everyone. For a year and a half, I was home with baby E,  able to volunteer at the school, stop and chat in the parking lot, and attend events. I was a co-chair on the board so I was very involved. I knew the kids, I knew the parents, I knew the siblings. It felt comfortable and friendly. I’m good with comfortable and friendly. I’m not so good with so many strangers. 

After we walk into the party room, a mom looks at me and asks, “Are you E’s mom? He’s so sweet. I love him! He plays so nicely with everyone.”  I can’t even reciprocate the comment with one about her children, because although I caught her mentioning  twins, and I noticed when she pointed them out at the party table… I don’t know what to say about them! They’re cute? Well behaved for the last 3 minutes that I have been aware of them? So I smile and laugh with her as we watch the kids make shark tooth necklaces. I find myself wondering which of these parents would be my friend if I were a staple around the preschool this year? And, I find myself remembering my old preschool mom friends from years past. Some I still keep in contact with on Facebook, or see out and about, but others have moved, or moved on. I miss those familiar faces as I look around at so many strangers.

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Most days I am chill about my work schedule. I mean, aside from being busy and crazy. And, aside from never having enough time. . . and most of all aside from missing my kids during the day (and wondering why the people I love the most in the world and I spend most of our days separated.) But, most days, the nitty gritty of the schedule doesn’t bother me. I’m okay that I don’t do school drop offs, or pick ups. I’m okay that Mr. Thought is the one to do field trip chaperoning, and that I have to take personal days if I want to attend special performances. But I feel bad, guilty, and off as I look around at so many strangers.

Some people must be good at this party thing. They must make small talk, and jokes, and not be stuck inside their head, wondering what the other people think of them: the mother who is never at preschool. To them, I’m the stranger!