Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday SOL What are your questions?

 This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

This is the time of year when prospective families often drop by the school to check it out, to see if this is the place that they want to send their preschooler.

What questions will they have?
Will they wonder about the curriculum?
The pattern of our day?
The types of activities we do?
What project are we working on?
Are they wondering about our academics?
Will they ask, where is the math? what about literacy?
Are we teaching children to write?
What are the learning standards for preschool?

One young couple dropped by today, getting ready to send their firstborn to preschool.

They had two questions:

Is it a problem that my child takes a three-hour nap?
How will my child adjust to having so many classmates, when he is a quiet, introverted child?

I loved these questions!
These are parents who are thinking about their child,
and his developmental needs.

Right on!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday SOL Exploring the light tunnel

The Two Writing Teachers March Challenge has ended but the weekly Tuesday "Slice of Life" begins! Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

At Gathering, Melissa re-introduced the tunnel - one section now with special lights! The children were so, so, so excited about this - jumping up and down, hardly believing that this was theirs to play in. Melissa explained that she would work with a small group, just a few at a time...reminding the children that a cardboard tunnel would need to be used with great care.

I worked peripherally, at another center -
stencils, pastels, and watercolors.

I found it impossible not to
take notes...

This fun, playful tunnel became a experiential way to learn how
to move carefully and respectfully, one by one,
to wait for one's turn,
to not push one's way into front,
to allow others an opportunity to do something you want to do,
to take turns,
i.e., to share.


I hear Melissa,

"One at a time,"
"Follow the arrows."
"No, it's the other way."
"Remember, you are crawling through."
"You need to take a break and remember how you let those in front of you go first."
"Who's in front of you?"
"Yes, you are next."

Melissa joked with me at one point - "They almost look like little hamsters going round and round and round. Hopefully for nap, they'll be out!"

Well, naptime was pretty much the same as always...but, certainly, the morning exploration of the light tunnel was awesome fun!

Monday, March 31, 2014

SOLSC #31 To the month!

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

I thoroughly enjoyed this month of blogging. I am surprised and pleased at how I was able to squeeze in writing a post in the midst of my day... I have become an efficient blogger! My only regret is that I didn't get to comment on as many blogs as I had hoped I would; most days I managed just the three comments that we were each expected to offer. I am amazed at the many participants this year, and awed by the writing about teaching. I feel as if I had the pleasure of visiting many different classrooms (and homes!) this month. I plan to take the time to check out new blogs in the days ahead - even if it is already April and the challenge is behind us!

A big round of kudos to my colleagues and friends Latisha and Laura, who also took the plunge and blogged this month!! It was so, so fabulous to share the experience with you both.

Congrats to one and all on a great month! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers - this was awesome!


How can I not share something from the preschoolers?
Check out these art pieces by one of my students - left behind, forgotten, not that important to him. I found them at the end of the day. I find them fascinating in their precision, in their similarity. Whether painting or drawing, he is clear about his intentions. I'm pretty sure I know which student is the artist. I am filled with wonder - what is he thinking about? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

SOLSC #30 When a child is invisible

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


For today's slice,
I want to share the heaviness in my heart about
the disappearance of Relisha Rudd,
an eight year old girl who lives here in Washington, D.C.,
resident of a homeless shelter.
I've been thinking and praying about her since March 20th,
when my phone received an Amber Alert.
They believe her to be in the company of a "51-year-old janitor [at the shelter] Kahlik Malik Tatum."
She was last seen alive around March 1st.
The Amber Alert came out on March 20th.
My heart breaks.
What is community, when a child is invisible?
When it takes three weeks to notice she is gone?
What is community, when neither school nor shelter report this child's absence, for many days?
What is community, when there are more than 500 children in our local homeless shelters? In our nation's capital?
What is community, when a child is invisible?
What is community, when I have to search into the depths of the local paper to find any mention of her?
What is community, when I listen to local radio reports on the way to and from work, and her disappearance is mentioned not at all or deep in the broadcast, after
a missing airplane,
missing people in a mudslide across the nation from us,
the local elections,
the rainy weather.
What is community, when a child is invisible?
My heart breaks.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

SOLSC #29 Report card race of time

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


Another blur of a week concludes...report cards were due yesterday. For these, I write a personalized narrative for each child, focusing on their social-emotional and academic learning (actually - the nomenclature at our school is four "I's" - Intellect, Imagination, Inquiry, and Integrity). They are not a fast write, but one that each teacher puts a lot of thought into. We also don't have a "form" or set template for these - and we work very hard to make the report cards from each classroom look 'aesthetically' alike. Yesterday afternoon, the "pedal hit the metal," and Melissa and I raced against time to -

- incorporate our Principal's edits for each individual report card,
- "cut and paste" the school's letter head, the trimester summary, and the Art teacher's blurb for each individual report card,
- download the attendance data and add it into each individual report card,
- adjust the font [Book Antiqua, size 12] for each individual report card,
- double-check the final layout before printing,
- add the report cards to Dropbox,
- send them to the printer ... whoops, they all skewed at once - where? to what printer?
- run in different directions to check the printers on different floors of our school,
- retrieve the pre-addressed stamped envelopes
- visually scan, once more, for obvious errors -  name spellings, missing attendance,
- whoops, there are a few discrepancies - Melissa gets to work on correcting these and printing out a revised report card...

I sat at the table, racing against time, and proceeded to
- fold each report card,
- match child's name on report card to address label and stuff these
- seal the envelope,
- repeat: match child's name on report card to address label and stuff these; seal the envelope,
- repeat: match child's name on report card to address label and stuff these; seal the envelope,
- repeat: match child's name on report card to address label and stuff these; seal the envelope,

Oh, no.
All of a sudden, I am holding a child's report card, but the envelope it requires is already sealed.
Oh, no.
Whose report card is in the sealed envelope?

Deep breath.
Continue more tentatively...not sealing any more envelopes...I match the remaining report cards to envelopes.
All report cards processed, I had 3 empty envelopes and one child's report that matches an already sealed envelope.

I tentatively, cautiously, frustratingly,
open the already sealed envelope for the one child's report that is outstanding.
Voila - it has a child's report for an empty envelope.

Why are there 2 empty envelopes?

Hurriedly, desperately, madly,
Melissa and I begin squishing all the sealed envelopes - are any thicker than the others? Did I stuff two reports into one envelope?

Oh, my.
Who knows?

Finally, time running out,
we reprint the two reports to fill the remaining envelopes.

Then, we turned them in.
Making our deadline - yes, report cards completed by end of day.

Perhaps a couple of families will read their child's report plus that of another?
It is highly possible.
What have I done?
I made a real mess of things, that's what!

But, let's not be so negative -
maybe I just came up with a clever way for families to get to know each other better?

Friday, March 28, 2014

SOLSC #28 Everything matters

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

Naptime, yesterday, I observed one of my sweet students with her hair barrette in her mouth, and I instinctively, robotically, automatically,
stuck out my hand and demanded she give me the barrette -
"I don't want you to choke. I keep you safe," I whispered.
"I don't want you to take it," she cried.
"Just during nap. Then you will have it back," I explained, and I slipped the barrette ... where?
into my pocket?
onto the book shelf?
near the sign out sheet?
No idea. Didn't give it another thought.

There are so many of these motions during my day,
the instinctive, robotic, automatic.
Things I do that I hardly give another thought.

Ah, but she gave it lots more thought.
Not during the school day,
but at home,
in the evening,
with her family,
when she cried about how I had kept her barrette.

Oh my.

First thing this morning,
she came to me in tears,
"Please may I have my barrette back? I am not going to put it in my mouth anymore."

Yes, this matters.
Really, it does.

Everything matters.

the instinctive, robotic, automatic move on my part 
did not result in my remembering where I put that 
very small but important object.

"Yellow is my favorite color," she cried.

We searched together,
the book shelf,
the baskets at the doorway,
the sign-in sheet.
All my usual places for lost, mis-placed, "hold-for-awhile"objects.
To no avail.

Next  - I will go home and check the pants' pockets from yesterday -
may it be there!

"Would you write me a note, so that I remember to look for your yellow barrette?" I asked.

Yes, the teacher in me turned this into a pre-literacy moment!! ;-)

Here's her note!
Everything matters.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SOLSC #27 Abiyoyo meets some engineers!

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


A great day! We explored engineering for Pete Seeger's Abiyoyo...this story is a big hit with the children, and they threw themselves into creating devices that could stand up to this big giant!

(I apologize in advance for not having as many photos as I usually do for this work.)

Here's what I asked them to do -

Problem: Abiyoyo scares everyone away.
How to Solve? Make something that is not afraid of Abiyoyo.
Test: Place device on table.  Have student bang table with hands – see if device falls over.

We had a very busy centers time, with children very engaged at cutting tape, working with recyclables to create their devices. Here's what they made -

Shaan – a magic wand
Lily – a rocking chair with fire on it
Helen – a house for Abiyoyo
Jasmine  - a house with a kitchen and a bedroom
Seymour – a trap
Evan – a magic wand
Bernie – a trap – it looks like a candy store, but these are pills and it puts him in here and it gets covered by a net – it is a trap
Charlie – it’s a truck – it carries Abiyoyo away
Eloise – a cave that traps Abiyoyo
Amelie – this is a monster that scares Abiyoyo
Ashley – a store for Abiyoyo – I don’t know why!
Lavinia – this is a telescope so I can see Abiyoyo
Caroline – I’m making a trap for Abiyoyo – a trap and a sled. I catch him in the net, where the trunk is.
Micaela – It will make Abiyoyo get scared and run away. This rope and tape have super powers and make Abiyoyo smaller and be soft and nice
Ellie – it scares Abiyoyo and makes him disappear
Ian – this is Batman movie. Abiyoyo will be scared.
Hughie – this part comes up and saws Abiyoyo and smacks him
Zuren – A monster that can’t be scared of Abiyoyo
Ada – a Stop Sign, so that he doesn’t come by my house
Nico – a house to keep me safe
Alyja – something that is a sled, and I slide away and get to my house
Julian – I made a monster and his feet and his mouth

I will have to let you know how the engineering test goes - we never got to this part of the fun, today! There was too much building and creativity happening with the devices.

Too much creativity was the very best problem of the day!