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Showing posts from December, 2010

To My Daughter

OK. My daughter read a recent post I wrote on this blog and she says I'm too hard on myself. Instead of beating myself up about what didn't go well in my classroom she wants me to celebrate all the things that do go well. So, here it goes, my end-of-year present to myself - a list of all the positive things that have transpired this year, not in order of importance, with little or no additional commentary from me.

1. A parent who could not attend the recent literacy session I did for families asked when I was doing the next one because she'd heard the first one was very informative.
2. Our last Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting went really well; I shifted the focus to teacher practice and pedagogy.
3. My students freely give each other appreciations during closing circle.
4. My most challenging student is gradually and successfully becoming a valued and valuable member of our class.
5. Five students have made considerable progress in their spelling developmen…

Closing Circle

At the end of the day we have a closing circle in my classroom. It is intended to give the children and me a moment of quiet and reflection at the end of the day in the same way that morning meeting energizes us to spend the day learning and playing together. Depending on how much time we have for closing circle - I find that 5 - 7 minutes is just right - we may do a quick check in about our day by putting our thumbs up for an excellent day or thumbs sideways for a good or OK day. If we are not rushed then I will may ask the kids to answer the following question: what will you share about your day with your families tonight? Lately, we've been doing appreciations or thank you's. The only provisos are that you appreciate someone who is present in the room, that you start your appreciation by saying, "(Child's name), I appreciate you for...", and that you look that person in the eyes as you speak to them.

I've noticed that the children's comments ha…

Student Reflection

At the end of every marking period, my grade 2 team asks students to give themselves report card marks on a modified one-page sheet with descriptors similar to those on the report card that teachers are required to complete. The children score themselves on a scale of 1 - 5 in the same way that we teachers do on the report cards. As part of my doctoral work I am reading an article entitled, Rewriting narratives of self: reflections from an action research study by James Pauline, Educational Action Research, 7: 1, 85 - 103 in which the researcher recounts his back and forth use of quantitative and qualitative data, and how the qualitative data gave him more useful and interesting information than was available from the quantitative data. He especially remarks on the fact that the numbers and rankings gleaned from the quantitative data are beside the point to the information he gets from the conversations, written reflections, and comments of his research participants. While he init…

Morning Message

Last month I attended the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference in Orlando, Florida. I am one of three newly elected members to the Elementary Section Steering Committee (ESSC). The NCTE annual conference is one of my favorite conferences. It provides for three days of excellent professional development and conversation, and the possibility of meeting like-minded educators who continually explore their practice in order to improve it. And, it's an opportunity to catch up with old friends. I always learn a lot when I go.

This year I attended a session where a first grade teacher shared how she uses morning message to build classroom community. I was so energized and excited by her presentation that I decided to try this out in my classroom. I told my students about this session and that I wanted them to write the morning message from now on. I told them that I thought their messages would be more interesting than mine and that it was a way to tel…

Every once in a while

Every once in a while a student does something wonderful that sends my head spinning. Usually, this incident is out of character and even though you hope he'll do this precise thing he's just done some day, you're just not prepared for it when it happens. You hope that it will happen even if you are not the one to witness it. But you don't hold your breath because you might just be disappointed. When it does happen you suck in your breath and hold it there for a moment not believing your ears and your eyes. But, there it is. The moment you've been hoping for: a student takes the initiative to verbalize his appreciation for someone else without being prodded, enticed, encouraged, coached or any of the other things we do in the hopes that, if we do them often enough, they'll stick.

"What a great holiday gift," someone said. So true!