One Little Word Reflection

Day 24 – March SOLSC #sol17

While searching through my “Slice of Life” folder on my computer, I came across a document I made after reading some blogs.  I wrote down ideas for writing structures to try and linked different blogs to use as mentors.  I came across the link to Jenna Hansen’s OLW reflection.  I read it again and decided this is what I need to write about today.

I came up with my OLW after reading lots of posts on Two Writing Teachers as well as seeing posts on Twitter.  I’ve been learning more about Mindfulness practices and have been trying to incorporate more exercises into my life, both at home and with my kids at school.  The word for 2017 that is I chose is Breathe.  I always feel like I’m rushing around, like life is moving too fast, and I feel my anxiety build in different situation.  I also have a lovely little girl who can feel like a handful at times, so breathe seemed like a good choice for me.  A way to slow down and calm myself.

Now have I kept up with my OLW?  No.  Have I checked in and reflected?  First time is tonight.  The idea I had in my head about this word as not come to life completely yet.  But these last few days have reminded me of why I chose this word and how necessary it is for me.  I’m finding myself constantly on the go (mind, body, both) and I know I’ve been less patient with my daughter.  I haven’t been reminding myself to breathe through frustrations and lose my temper too quickly.  Emma has always been the kid who stops to smell the roses (literally every rose) no matter where or when.  I’ve written a post about her showers and mornings.  She does nothing quickly or without reminders.  And this year in school (2nd grade), she’s been having reading difficulties and some attentional difficulties risen (well they’ve been there in some capacity all along, they just seem to be impacting her in school now).  She’s receiving reading intervention and is making excellent progress – YAY!  So now we’re trying to get a handle on the attention.   Being the teacher mom that I am, I’ve always had this attentional piece on my mind, but it’s still hard to hear it and take next steps.  (Breathe in, breathe out.)  I also know that she’s not losing focus on purpose.  She’s not trying to make me go bananas, but I do. (Breathe in, breathe out.)  In this past week, I have lost my patience too easily – if only I would’ve checked in with my OLW.

So now’s the time.  Now’s the time to refocus.  Time to focus on breathing instead of reacting.  Maybe I can get Emma to join me on this journey to remember to breathe when I feel anxious, frustrated, worried, or angry.  We can start our own Mommy and daughter mindfulness practices.  It can benefit us both.  Breathe, just breathe.

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Writing Partners

Day 23 – March SOLSC #sol17

I’ve always had my students partnered up during Reading Workshop, but have just recently partnered my kiddos for writing.  I’m not sure why I never really had them in established partnerships for writing.  But, after reading some posts about writing partnerships on the Two Writing teachers blog, my eyes were opened, and I decided to commit to forming writing partnerships with my first graders.

I started out by partnering them up with others whom I thought they would work well with, and not distract each other.  They met with partners, shared their writing, coached each other, but they never really seemed excited to meet.  Today, during morning choice time, I really watched them.  I focused my attention on who they were playing with, the ways they were interacting and talking, and started to rethink my decisions about the current partnerships.

While I sat there kid watching, I started to jot notes and group different kids together based on who they play with.  I was partnering good friends together.  Was this a crazy idea?  Were they just going to fool around?  Or were they going to have great conversations about their stories?  Were they going to help each other if they got stuck?  Then I thought about myself as a writer.  There’s been plenty of days during this challenge where I’ve gotten stuck and didn’t know what to write. And what did I do?  I read other posts on the blog or I asked my daughter for ideas.  I essentially looked for a coach or partner to help me through my difficulty.  I wanted to give these new partnerships a try.

So, I introduced them by gathering the kids in a circle on the rug.  I asked “Why have writing partners?  What can having a writing partner help us with?”  Immediately chatter filled with room:

“You can tell your ideas to them.”

“You can borrow ideas from your partner’s story if you’re stuck.”

“You can borrow ideas for your own story from your partner’s writing.”

“You can ask your partner for help.”

“You can read your story to your partner.”

“You can help your partner write words.”

“Ok boys and girls, well today I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before.  I watched you this morning and looked closely at who you play with and how you work together.  I made some new writing partners…and you’re going to be with someone you were playing with this morning.”

They all turned at looked at each other and oh, the smiles.  There was gasping and cheering and smiling.  I just couldn’t help but notice the ear to ear smiles.  Of course, before unveiling these new partnerships, I had to have the chat  about the responsibilities of writing partners and that if they stop doing their writing jobs, then I will have to switch partners around again.  They nodded their heads in agreement and said “we can do it!” (so much enthusiasm).

I took out the list of partnerships – “Ready?!?!”  As I read through the list, their faces lit up as they made eye contact with their new writing partner.  Before I could even get the last names out of my mouth, they were up and almost ran to get their folders.  Off they went to a meeting spot – some on the rug or floor, others at tables.  I gave them the freedom to choose how they were going to work with their partners today.

Instead of pulling strategy groups or conferring, I just watched, noticed, and jotted.  The excitement in the classroom was incredible.  I have never seen my kids so motivated and enthusiastic about writing.  Yes, they get excited for mentor texts, moan when writing time is over, and many proclaim their love.  But, today was different.  The energy in the room was extraordinary .  Their voices were a little louder, but there were animated conversations, story planning, and drafting – a wonderful Writing Workshop.  Writing partnerships will be a permanent part of our Writing Workshop.

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

7 Reasons

Day 22 – March SOLSC #sol17

Tonight we went out to dinner and I had a conversation with Emma about what I should write about tonight.

“Emma, what should Mommy write tonight on her blog?”

“Write about me!”

“Well since you’re 7, I guess I could write 7 things I love about you!”

“Yeah, Mommy great idea.  Write 7 things you love about me or that you love doing with me.”

So here goes…7 things I love about Emma and/or I love doing with Emma:

  1. Her smile – it lights up the room and warms my heart.  It reminds me of my dad’s smile.  When she smiles, her eyes “smile” the same way my dad’s used to.
  2. Her laugh – when she really gets going, she immediately gets hiccups.  She always had hiccups when I was pregnant with her.  Maybe she’s always been laughing.
  3. Her strong-will – It makes me a little bananas right now, but I know it’s going to take her places.
  4. Her kindness – She might not always display her kindness towards me, but when I see her with other people, it is evident how much she cares about others.  She hates to see her friends sad.
  5. Her hugs – She really knows how to hug my neck.  She also knows when she needs a hug and doesn’t hesitate to ask for one.
  6. Her determination – She knows what she wants when she wants it and will make sure she gets it.  Of course, this can be one of those things that makes me nuts, but when I try to look in to her future, this is a quality that is going to take her places.
  7. Her ability to see the joy in everything – There are lots of times when I can’t hide my sadness about not having my dad around and often Emma is the one to bring me back.  Just recently we were at the zoo, and I was talking about how much fun he’d be having with us if he was here and she turned and said “Mommy, he’s right here with us.  I just know it.  He’s probably right next to us.  He’s always with us.”  When I’m sad, she helps me see the joy.

She’s only 7, but sometimes I think she’s wise beyond her years – especially when it comes to our faith and spirituality.  She really is an amazing girl and I need to focus on that – especially when she’s driving me crazy.  I’m so glad she coached me with an idea tonight.  It made me reflect on just how wonderful my girl is!

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Six word stories

Day 21 – March SOLSC #sol17

A while back I came across a post that made reference to Ernest Hemingway’s six word story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.  It made me remember the book I bought after a supervisor mentioned it at a meeting: Not Quite What I Was Planning – Six Word Memoirs, and I dug it off the shelf.  However, then I forgot all about it and just rediscovered the book tonight.  As I sat and flipped through the pages, I thought I’d give this six word story a try. Once I got started, I had other ideas popping into my head.  It’s hard to tell a story in just six words, so I told lots of six word stories.

Wife, mom, teacher:  happy, fulfilled, exhausted.

Have two brothers: Younger one’s good.

Found my soulmate in Staten Island.

God’s greatest gift – my beautiful daughter.

Only one daughter – more than enough!

Stubborn little girl makes mommy drink.

Lost my dad – heart’s still broken.

Striving to be strong, like mom.

Feeling more like a writer. Amazing!

Writing every day makes me happy.

Took the writing challenge.  No regrets.

First Grade – never a dull moment.

What’s your six word story or stories?  Give it a try!

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Dinner time

Day 20 – March SOLSC #sol17

A few times a week, we go to my mom’s house for dinner.  Since my dad isn’t here anymore, I have this strong desire to always check on her and make sure she’s eating and ok.  I worry about her more now than I ever did when my dad was still alive.  I know she’s a grown up and can take care of herself, but I want to take care of her a little bit.  After all, she took care of me for many many years (and still does in many ways).  Tonight’s dinner wasn’t our typical dinner where one of us cooks, the other helps, and vice versa.  Tonight there was a pleasant surprise in her kitchen.

My mom had called me and told me she was stuck working later than she thought.  at work.  No problem, I picked up the few things we needed from the store and got Emma from her after school program.  We got to the house, and I went right to the kitchen, took the things out of the bags, and got started.  Interestingly, while I was doing all this, Emma was sort of following me around (definitely not like her).  Whenever we get to my mom’s house, Emma jumps right in to playing with her stuff – all of her stuff.  But today was different.

“Momma, can I help you with dinner?”

I was taken aback by this question.  Whenever I ask her to help, I usually get an eye roll, grunt, and “no thank you” – with attitude.  (That attitude is going to take her places one day, right!?)  

I turned around, looked right at her, and said, “Wait you want to help me with dinner?”

“Yeah.  I can peel the carrots.  I know how to do that.  But I don’t want to stand over the stinky garbage can.”

I got her down a bowl to put the peels in.  She peeled all of the carrots and then started on the potatoes.  I couldn’t help but watch her and smile.  When my mom walked in, she stopped and stared too.  A huge smile came across her face as well.  “I’m making peel salad!” Emma shouted.  And then the giggles ensued!

My mom jumped right in and started making the gravy.  I cut up the carrots and trimmed the string beans.  Emma continued to peel the potatoes – but couldn’t wait to smash them. The three of us were all working at our “station” at the counter.  Emma stopped, looked up and said, “Hey look, it’s a mom, daughter, and granddaughter making dinner together,” and got back to peeling.

A simple observation for the granddaughter.  A moment that will be held close to the hearts of the mom and daughter.  Three generations of strong-willed women making dinner together – without arguing!

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Sunday – Zoo Day

Day 19 – March SOLSC #sol17

I’ve been feeling a little blah these past few days.  I can only take so much of the gray, gloomy, cold, rainy, and snowy days.  I was in need of some fresh air and sunshine.  It was about 45 degrees, the sun was shining bright, so off Emma and I went to one of our favorite places – The Bronx Zoo.  Since the ground was still snow-covered, and it was chilly, I wasn’t sure what animals we’d be able to see.  But we set out on our usual route – Emma and I are creatures of habit apparently.

First stop – Bison.  As we were standing there watching them graze, Emma turned to me and said, “Momma, we’ve never been here with snow on the ground.  You should write about this today.” (my little inspiration)Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 4.45.35 PM

It never occurred to me, until she said it, that we never visited the zoo with snow on the ground.   This was a first for us.

Second stop – Tigers.  Back and forth, back and forth through the snow he paced.  I would’ve stayed there watching him walk all day, but Emma had seen enough and was ready to move on.
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Third stop – the Polar bear.  “What do you think Emma – Will he be awake or napping?” We see him napping more than awake.  Sometimes I worry when I see him napping so much – Is he lonely?  Is he depressed?  Does he need a friend?  No need to worry today, he was awake and roaming around his habitat today.  “Momma, he’s awake.  Maybe he likes the real snow.  It probably feels like his real home now.  You know there’s lots of snow and ice where polar bears are from.  Hi big guy!”

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Fourth stop – up the stairs to the Brown Bears (keeping with the bear theme).   In the summer, we see these guys playing in the water or wrestling around.  But today, they were up on the rocks, sitting, walking, staring.  Two of them seemed like they were going to play, but nope.  “Momma, look.  That one is trying to tap the other one.  I think they’re gonna play.  Wait, nope, they’re gonna sit.  Oh, there he goes walking away.  See that one sitting, she has lighter fur by her nose.  She must be the oldest.  I think the other three are the younger ones.”  I just love listening to her noticings and theories.

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Fifth stop – The zoo cafe.  We needed a little snack and hot coco after our excursion so far. Emma is such a people watcher, a natural observer.  She was sitting, eating her pretzel, watching people, and smiling.

Sixth stop – The Bug Carousel (Bugousel as Emma says).  This stop served a double purpose- An enjoyable ride but also a warming station.  In the winter, they make this an indoor ride equipped with amazing heat lamps.  Every time we come to the zoo we have to ride on the carousel.  It’s a tradition now.  We sit on side by side bugs.  Today, Emma sat on a Monarch caterpillar and I was on a beetle.  We also benefited from substantially shorter lines today!

Seventh and final stop – The Sea Lions.  We passed by the rhinos on the way to the sea lions, but just gave them a quick look.  We had been hearing one of the sea lions barking since we first arrived at the zoo and were waiting to see them.  Saving them for our last stop actually worked in our favor – it was feeding time!  These sea lions are smart cookies and don’t need a watch.  They knew what time it was and were waiting and barking on the side of the pool where the trainers come with the food.  It was amazing.  Clyde is the lone male and loudest in the bunch. There are two sea lion pups who played with their fish more than they ate it.  But, Clyde, he was devouring fish one gulp at a time!

This was the perfect way to end a weekend and start off a new week.  I’m so glad that I put the Sunday “to do” list on hold and enjoyed this day with my girl at one of our favorite places.  Sunshine, fresh air, and animals turned both of our moods around.

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Currently

Day 18 – March SOLSC #sol17

I saw a couple of “Currently” posts this week on different blogs, so I decided to give it a try today.

Currently…

Watching:  March Madness, CSI reruns, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, The Zoo (not all at once of course)

Listening:  sneakers squeaking on the basketball court (yay March Madness), my mom talking to her dog, my daughter singing the song from Moana, and all country music

Appreciating:  All of my blessings!  My daughter, my husband, my mom, my brother, my father-in-law and momma, my friends, my home, my job, my health, and the list goes on.  When I stop and think about all that I have, I really am a lucky lady!

Loving: My girl and her cuddles;  Hot tea on this cold gloomy day; snuggling by the warm fire, my life.

Eating:  Irish soda bread, muffins, grilled chicken wrap with fries (not really the healthiest choices today!)

Drinking:  Peppermint tea with honey

Wishing:  The sun would come out and chase away this gloomy, snowy, rainy, weather.

Planning:  Presently – what to eat for dinner, guided reading lessons for next week, and tomorrow’s “to do” list.  In the future – A trip to South Carolina to see my father-in-law and the family.  It’s been too long.

Reading:  Sadly, not one book for myself.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!  But, I am reading lots of blogs and always reading professional texts and children’s books 🙂

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Differing Points of View

Day 17 – March SOLSC #sol17

My daughter, Emma, is 7 years old.  She’s just a kid.  I’m obviously much older than 7 and no longer a kid (most days) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have different views about things.  When she learned about opinion writing in first grade last year, her favorite line whenever she didn’t like what I said or disagreed was “well that’s just your opinion.”  She still uses that line today, just not as much as she did while in the middle of that writing unit.  The other night, when she was in the shower for what seemed like forever, I started to think about our differing views on the simple task of taking showers.  I’ve been meaning to write about it since then.

Showers –  my point of view:

For me, showers serve a clear purpose  – to wash and rinse your body.  If showering in the morning – a time to wake up and rejuvenate,  then wash and rinse – quickly. If showering a night – a time to relax a bit, then wash and rinse.  When I became a mom, they were my little break or escape from reality – before Emma was able to open the door and walk in.  Now, showering is just another job I do.

Showers – Emma’s point of view:

For Emma, a shower’s purpose is very different from mine.  Yes, she knows she has to clean her body, but it’s not top priority.  For Emma, showers are like a vehicle that can transport you to another land – a land where imagination runs wild and time stops. It’s a place to practice singing every song your brain can think of and even making up your own songs.  It’s a place to practice music – Did you know that snapping your fingers in the stream of water makes a very different sound then when you snap out of the water?  It’s a time to let the water continuously run down your body for at least 15 minutes before even touching the soap (and even then your mom has to say “did you use soap yet?”).  It’s a place to do science experiments (not sure how the medicine dropper and petri dish get in there). One of your science experiments might even be “How to make your very own 2 in 1 shampoo.”  All you have to do is just dump half of the conditioner down the drain, and then add the shampoo to that bottle – ta da 2 in 1.  It’s a place to get lost in thought and talk to yourself.  Finally, after several (and I mean several) check ins and reminders, it’s a time to wash your hair and body – with soap (and the tiles).

Obviously we see showers in different lights and they serve a different purpose for us.  We both get cleansed, but I’m always rushing and she knows how to enjoy her shower time. Her long showers do drive me a little bananas – especially when it’s bedtime.  But maybe, just maybe, I’m a little jealous.  Maybe, I want to be more like Emma.  I want to get lost in the shower, relax and let my imagination run wild (and not worry about time).  Yup that’s it. I need to make time to be more like my daughter. To stop and smell the roses and not be driven by time. Grown ups need to learn from their kids. Relax and sing in the shower – Just don’t be late for work!

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

A slight misconception

Day 16 – March SOLSC #sol17

I just finished two days of Parent Teacher conferences.  I had many amazing conversations with parents that weren’t just about academic growth.  We talked a lot about social emotional learning and placing an emphasis on developing the whole child.  In my classroom I focus a great deal on being kind and respectful.  I firmly believe that both academic and social development is essential in order for children to be successful.  It was so great to hear so many people want to know about how their child treats others and not just how much progress they made in reading.  People are going to befriend you if you’re a kind person; not because you made great progress as a reader.

While I was having these conversations with parents, I couldn’t help but think about a specific time where my emphasis about kindness may have actually caused a teeny problem.

Let me set the scene – Four children were playing memory at a table during choice time. They set up the game, argued a little about who was going to go first, but then got started.

They were playing and chatting when all of a sudden I heard a little girl say, “Hey you can’t do that?”

I didn’t interject – just sat back to listen.

Again the same little girl said (a little louder), “You can’t do that.  That’s not fair.  You can’t help him.”

I then went over to see what was going on.  “What’s going on?  What isn’t fair?”

The first girl said, “She keeps helping him.  She’s telling him where the matches are.  It’s not fair.  You can’t help people find the matches.  That’s not how you play the game. That’s cheating.”  She was clearly not happy with the situation.

I did what I do in most situations – tried to get the other side of the story.  “What’s going on?  Are you telling him where the matches are?”

She looked at me and shook her head up and down, and said quietly,  “I was just trying to be kind and help him find matches.”

And that’s when it hit me.  I couldn’t help but smile at her.  She was doing exactly what we talk about when we talk about ways to be kind.  Whenever I say “What does it mean to be kind?”  One of the answers always is “being kind is helping others.”  Only in this instance, helping another player find matches in a memory game, was actually not being kind to the other players.  I explained to her that the object of this game was to make your brain stronger by learning to remember where matches are and whomever has the most matches at the end wins.  I could see her processing this information in her mind.  Either she didn’t know how to really play the game or she was just super focused on being kind.  After we cleared up that misconception, they went on to play and have fun.

Lesson learned – when teaching kids about ways to be kind and helpful, make sure to role play scenarios that show when being helpful is actually helpful, and when it might not be.

There hasn’t been anymore “help” during the Memory games.  Now there’s a little more competitiveness coming out!  That’s a whole different lesson for another day – How to be a kind competitor!

 

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!

Reflecting on the halfway mark

Day 15 – March SOLSC #sol17

Milestone celebration!  I made it to the halfway mark!  Yay!  I can’t believe that I almost didn’t participate in this Challenge because of my fears.  Fears that have been with me forever.  Fears that have developed over time. Fears about being able to do it – to write every day.

I wanted to stop and reflect on this halfway mark but I realize that I’ve been reflecting all along in some way – even if I wasn’t recording it.   I’ve been learning about myself as a writer through this experience.  Here’s what sticks out so far:

  • I actually DO enjoy writing and expressing myself through my writing.
  • I’m learning what “Writing from the Heart,” truly means.
  • I’m definitely more motivated to write because I know people from this great community are going to read what I write .  (audience!)
  • I’m more comfortable writing narratives, but also enjoy experimenting with poetry.
  • I look forward to people’s comments on my posts and learn from them (feedback!)
  • I benefit from looking to other bloggers as mentors.  I may not have tried different structures or poems without my mentors.
  • I am finding ideas EVERYWHERE! Ideas pop into my head all day long and I jot them into my writer’s notebook.
  • I look forward to writing every day (and reading other slices too)! It’s become one of my favorite times of my day.

As I write down this first reflection, I’m already seeing the connections between what helps me as a writer and what helps my students.  I’m looking forward to the second half of this challenge and what else I learn about myself as a writer (and reflect on it too)

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for created this amazing writing community!