Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Genius Hour Rocks #SOL

 The bell rang.  The students milled toward and out the door with “Byes” and “Thank yous.”  

One student lagged behind, chatting with his friend.  He is quiet and rarely has much to say, so I cleaned up and started to pack up for rehearsal.  I did not think he was hanging back to talk to me.  

A few seconds later, I looked up, and he was standing alone at my table patiently waiting for my attention.  A smile crept across my face.

“What can I do for you?  Do you have a question?”  I asked.

“Well, I have three things I could do…,” he went on to explain three ideas he had for his Genius Hour project.  Mind you, I did not understand most of what he was talking about because they all had to do with technology, coding, and computers.  I am most definitely ignorant in those areas.  

However, that did not matter.  Usually, this student is silent, slow to begin work, and hesitant to write.  Today, he was animated and excited about his work.  This student was hooked by Genius Hour.  

Other students want two pursue two passions.  They couldn’t decide on one topic and would be willing to work at home to do two.  Work at home at the end of the year?  

I first saw this idea in Betsy Potash’s Spark Creativity newsletter, and I decided this was the year to give it a try.  Let’s end the year by spending time learning and doing something about our passions:  bearded dragons, lashing, collages, voice acting, musical instruments from around the world, origami, chess moves, coding, coping strategies, and many more.  

I hit the jackpot on day one:  a student came out of his shell and others wanted to do extra.  Genius Hour rocks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Leaving Our Mark #SOL

 Our school returned to full in-person learning on April 26th, the day after our April break.  Our principal asked us to think about what our "first day" back would look like and what we could do to build a new community of learners in our classrooms.  

I planned some engaging activities to bring our two cohorts together, but I knew I wanted to do something different to commemorate our year and learning and growing together for the first time - if even for a short while.  

My niece is a student at Mass College of Art.  I have watched her learn and grow into an amazing artist.  In March, she was working on a "graffiti" project for school.  She shared her project and idea with me, and right then, I knew I had found a way for us to leave our mark on this year.

Original project

Simple, meaningful, and fun.  As each student entered our classroom, I had them sanitize, press their finger on the ink pad, and leave their mark on a tree.  98% of the students thought it was cool and thoughtfully found their place on the branches.  One reluctant student came back out when he saw the enthusiasm of the other students.  

Now, they want to sign the back of the board.  Eventually, we will find its more permanent home.

For now, it greets me at the door.  Its green thumbprint leaves are a symbol of the seventy-five students that come in and out of that classroom door and have left a mark on this tree and my heart this year.  

This pandemic year has been memorialized on that tree, and each print is a reminder of the strength and community of readers and writers that learned and grew together during an unprecedented year.

NOTE:  I will upload a photo of our class tree tomorrow.  I forgot to take a picture.

I plan to put the quote "We can do hard things" at the top.    We have reminded ourselves of this all year.  

Friday, May 7, 2021

Joining Spring

 For some reason, I feel like I have been hiding inside, missing out on the changing of seasons, on the emergence of spring.  

Well, Spring, here I come.  I plan to step outside each day, rain or shine, to enjoy your beauty.  

I also decided to join in on the Poetry Friday fun for the first time, too.

Birds frolic amidst
branches, causing showers of
pink flower petals.

Buzzing in the white
flower canopy above,
bees at work

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Thank You Slice of Life Writers #SOL21

Sometimes something ordinary

Looks quite different as words on a page.

I have flexed my writing muscles,

Creating stories from my

Everyday life as a teacher and mom.

Offering these snippets from my life

Feels liberating now.

Lucky me to have found so much

Inspiration from other slice writers who also 

Furnished supportive comments, which

Encouraged me to keep writing and sharing.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful platform to share our stories as part of the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Not Sure About Napping #SOL21

Napping comes highly recommended by my husband, my friends, and my colleagues.  

I came home today and found everyone out for a walk, so I decided to take advantage of the quiet and empty house and give it a whirl.  I had hoped it would refresh me and/or provide me with some ideas for writing. 

Forty minutes later, I woke up to the door closing.  Eventually, I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed, for I was warm, still foggy, and happy where I was beneath the covers.

Unfortunately, no ideas had emerged from my nap, and I was still sleepy.

The sun was still shining and it was fairly warm, so I ventured outside, hoping the fresh air would pick me up and get my brain working.  I was observing my surroundings and looking for something to spark an idea.

Instead, all I could think about was what I would do if it were not a school night - all of which involved more relaxing, not correcting or planning.

So, if it were not a school night, I would:

  • sit outside by a fire with a glass of wine
  • binge-watch this season of Grey's Anatomy
  • hunker down under a blanket and read, but probably fall back asleep
  • work on a puzzle
I know.  I could do these things on a school night, but I was hoping the nap would give me the energy to:
  • go on a walk
  • correct for an hour
  • plan for tutoring
  • clean the kitchen
  • fold the laundry
I am not sure about this napping thing.  While it gave me an idea for a slice, all I want to do now is crawl back into bed.  That is what I call sleeping.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Dismantling Did Not Happen #SOL21

 Getting ready for a show is stressful.  There are several pieces that come together at the end during a normal year - blocking, props, costumes, set, lights, sound, and cast party.  A pandemic show added sanitizing, distancing, filming, serving, and emotions of a different kind.  

No one really knew what to expect on this "show" day.  

It was a day I will never forget, mostly because of the joy and pride that gleamed on every single face throughout the day.  The camaraderie was unlike any other year, and I know we will all miss our time together after school.  

Today, it was a quiet remote Monday after the "show."  My plan was to dismantle the stage and put things away.  

I walked into the dark, empty auditorium and stopped.  It was silent.  There were no joyful voices.  There were no bodies to remind to stay apart.  I was alone.

I turned on the lights and stepped onto the stage; our enchanted bookshop was in a bit of a disarray.  

I managed to pack up two boxes of books.  I placed them on a cart, closed the prop room door, turned off the work lights, and left.

Apparently, I was not ready to dismantle the world we had all worked so hard to create.  

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Walking with the Rain #SOL21

 I went walking with the rain today.  We had a wonderful conversation.  I think it enjoyed our time, too, because it kept coming down harder and steadier.  I almost turned to go home, but I enjoyed the banter.  The rain listened and helped me decide a few things and let me process other thoughts.

  • I am going forward with book groups with my 7th-graders.  
  • I am going to have my 8th-graders interview each other about this last year and document each other's thoughts.
  • I am going to try a Genius Hour!
  • We need to pursue an end-of-year musical for our theater students.  
  • I see signs everywhere about Ashley's college future and hope for good news for my girl.
  • This time next week, I will be planning a trip to either Wisconsin or Florida, hoping for the former.  Could the colder weather be a sign?
  • I am excited for my niece's graffiti artwork to be a place for my students to leave their marks this year.  

I was soaked by the end of our walk, but I love the rain.  Its drops trailed down my glasses, reminding me of the many thoughts we discussed.  Now, it soothes me with its pitter-patter on the roof, encouraging me to crawl under the covers to let it sing me to sleep.  

It brings life to many things, including my thoughts.  Thanks for traveling with me today, rain.  I needed someone to talk to.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Genius Hour Rocks #SOL

  The bell rang.  The students milled toward and out the door with “Byes” and “Thank yous.”   One student lagged behind, chatting with his f...