Chocolate Read Alouds #SOL

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When was the last time you read aloud to someone?

When was the last time someone read aloud to you?

My commute used to be two hours per day. (Now it is 10 minutes! That is an upgrade). I become reliant on podcasts to try to satisfy my insatiable quest for knowledge. It also seemed like a reasonable activity to pass the time with.

I struggle with audiobooks. There are few books I can tolerate the whole text on audio. I find this odd. I also have an internal fight with myself about whether audiobooks “count” as reading. I have seen the research that the brain doesn’t know the difference, but my reading mind has a different opinion.

The Overdrive app from the library is the way I choose to sample audiobooks. I keep trying. The one book I have listened to with success is The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern.  If you have not read it, and you like magic and adventure I highly recommend it. The Starless Sea is also a treasure.

I made the connection that audiobooks and podcasts are simply me being read aloud to. Something that is a cornerstone of my classroom, and probably yours as well. There is nothing that inspires and sparks conversation and writing like a good piece of text.

There is an art to reading aloud. There is a pizazz that is needed. It should not be tortured or boring or “just something that needs to happen.” The magic of reading comes through your voice and expression and is a good read aloud. I think this is what I search for in a podcast as well. The voice matters.

Reading and writing are so connected aren’t they? I tell students all the time to please write how they talk because I do not want to read the same pice of writing from my class. Anything can be boring if you have to read it 20 times!

When I was a reading specialist I was honored to know a woman who would read aloud in a meeting and transport us into the book. She was a wise reading specialist and full of experience that I learned from every time I spoke with her.

Lester Laminack can also read aloud to me any time and I am transfixed! His book, Saturdays and Teacakes is a wonderful picture book memoir.

There is a quote that reading aloud should be like chocolate, not vitamins – or maybe I just made that up. Read alouds should be treats, and sometimes just done for fun. Yes, as teachers we are always looking for the craft lesson. Fun is a lesson too.

We cannot encourage reading for fun if we never model it.

I like to think that I listen to podcasts as a substitute for being read aloud to. It makes my heart happy and my soul too.

The magic of read aloud is a talent that many teachers possess and is key to exciting children to read. I hope that I continue to find audio books that are worth the time. Any suggestions in the comments are welcome!

This Spring, reading aloud looked different for my students. Many links to authors reading their books and Bitmoji classrooms with themed read alouds were used. I also read aloud on Screencastify which was a whole new experience. I never realized how many faces I make to emphasize the sentences!

However you read today may it be fun! You never know though – you might get inspired along the way.

If you need something new to listen to my podcast on Friday will be all about education. Pop on over to Soundcloud and take a listen. The Accidental Inspirationalist is always less than 10 minutes! Listen Here!

Priming Script

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After my intial thoughts about priming in kindergarten there was a larger response than I anticpated.

After more thought I decided to make a script to try. This is a rough draft and after I try it with kids I am sure it will be revised. I am hoping this will give others an idea of what I am thinking.

I have done priming myself for 4 days and can tell you it is amazing. There are YouTube videos of Tony Robbins leading priming exercises if you wish to try some for yourself. I imagine it would be easier to do with the audio cues rather than trying to read it.

Priming Script

Good morning! Today we are going to start our day in a very special way. It is going to get our brains ready to learn and be at school. I bet it will even make our learning conversations that much stronger.

Everyone, please stand. Excellent. We are all going to take a deep breath in…hold it, hold it…now let it out. Good.

We are going to do that again but this time when you breathe in I want you to raise your arms like this: (model bringing arms straight up clapping hands at the top, over the head)

Then we are going to breathe out and bring our arms back down like this. (model for students)

Let’s do this three times.

Breathe in 1

Breathe out

Breathe in 2

Breathe out

Breathe in 3

Breathe out

Great – how do we feel?

Wonderful.

The next part is I want you to think of a something you are thankful for. It could be something big or small. It could have been a hug from your mom this morning, your breakfast here at school being super tasty today, the last time you saw your Grandmother. It could be something that happened not long ago or something from a long time ago.

You can close your eyes if you want. I want you to think about that memory and pretend you are there all over again. Like a movie inside your brain. Try to see yourself. Feel what it was like in the place you are remembering. Remember what it feels like.

I see big smiles! The room already feels different, doesn’t it?

Take a deep breath in again – try to fill up your lungs with as much air as you can like you are filling a balloon inside your chest!

Ok, now I want you to think of a time you were really happy. Remember is just like when you did with the time you were thankful. It might have been a birthday, a party, going swimming, a hug from someone, your pets, whatever makes you happy!! Think about how you felt. Take yourself back to that moment! Oh the smiles are even bigger this time! 

Ok, now we are going to think of a time you were proud of yourself. Now this would be something you did that someone in your family noticed you were doing and told you how happy they were with you. Maybe you cleaned up after your dog, or you helped your sister. Maybe you did a really great job at something and you were so happy with yourself. Think of that moment now. 

[This one may be a little harder for 5-year-olds. I may add one of the memories at a time and not do them all at once over the course of a week. Showing some youtube videos covering emotions may be helpful as well.]

The last one, I want you to think of something you want to do in the future. Maybe it is get your mom a special present or you miss someone and want to see them. Maybe you want to make a goal in soccer or be able to do a cartwheel. Imagine yourself doing this thing you want.

All these happy feelings have made our classroom feel so wonderful! I want you to think about these positive feelings and then think of someone you love that we can send them to. We are going to imagine all these wonderful feelings like a blue light that is blasting out all over the school, the town or maybe even the whole world.

FANTASTIC!

Ok, everyone open their eyes if you had them closed and then do a little stretch.

We are now ready for our day!

Please feel free to comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Back to Zero

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Fourteen days ago I made the decision to take back my health. I know how to take care of myself. Many times we know what to do, we just choose to not do it. There are short term and long term consequences to this thinking.

Now taking back my health is a true statement, but a consequence of this idea is also weight loss and that is on purpose. This is the heaviest I have been in years. As someone who prides herself on her appearance, looking in the mirror 15 days ago was a hard pill to swallow. I have allowed myself to emotionally eat. I have allowed myself to think, “Just one more piece won’t hurt.” Let me tell you – it hurts.

One decision I made was to drink at least 64 oz of ice water a day. We are White Sox fans and have souvenir glasses so that makes it easy to measure. Two of those babies filled up do the trick. Once I made the decision, it was easy. My brain knows when I make a decision that is what we are doing. The weather here has been hot so drinking the water has been simple. I also choose water over any other drink.

I also decided to go back to intermittent fasting. This works for me. I know it because I ate this way before I knew it had a name. I am going to play with the different types of timing schedules. I typically do the Warrior schedule which is 20 hours of fasting with a 4 hour eating window. I am intrigued by the 24 hours of fasting 2 days a week.  The last 2 days I have waited for the 24 hour mark since I last ate and have noticed significant body changes. I am uncertain if it is due to the 24 hours or just that I have been fasting for 2 weeks!

I have weight to lose from the stress of the last couple of years , major transitions, and the coronavirus sheltering.

I am moving everyday as part of this plan. I run and walk. I have affirmations I write for myself everyday. I went through Tony Robbins’ The Body You Deserve Workbook. I also have habit stacked push ups and movements from Chalene Johnson’s workouts. I do these several times a day.

I was too embarrassed to weigh myself. I have a number from the health check as part of the requirements for my new teaching job. I have pants that didn’t fit two weeks ago.

I am making progress and am happy. It is working. I feel better and have more energy. Soon I will be back to the size I am supposed to be and all those pants in the closet will fit again.

It’s not easy, but I know I will never go back to where I was.

Future Plans #SOL20

I received the email a couple of days ago we are not returning to school this year. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this news. I am glad to know. I am sad I will not get to end the school year with my students. I worry about what everything will look like in the fall.

Last night I started planning for August. I pulled out my slides and materials I plan to teach in August. I reviewed protocols and two picture books I will use for instruction the first three weeks of school. I thought about how my classroom is arranged. I thought about skills block lessons and what lessons I will be able to pull students for one on one.

I need a teapot for my first week’s lesson so I will look for one over the next couple of months once the thrift shops open. There is a Llama Llama book I do not own that I need that I will look for as well.

BTW – Don’t you love thrift shops for finding things for your classroom? Old toys, sorting items, books, costumes – the possibilities for creativity on the cheap abound! It is always an exciting trip.

Yes, I am sad we are not returning to school but I am going to use some of this time for planning for my new classroom in the fall.

Yes, I keep forgetting what day it is but I know it’s Tuesday because of the fabulous Two Writing Teachers site.

Yes, virtual learning is not idea but today my class meeting is a scavenger hunt! I am excited and cannot wait to ask my kindergarteners to find a fork – among other items!

#FMF NOW

Every Friday I set the timer for 5 minutes and write what the word Kate chooses spurs in my mind.

Ready….set….go:

Everyone is using the word NOW during this crisis. Funny that it took a pandemic for people to focus on the present. People are worried about the future in a whole new way with a special tint of darkness — but, is it really all that different?

Humans like to fancy themselves predicters of the future — just look at the calendars we kept before we were forced to stay at home. Fear is the anxiety of what might happen that we conjure up in our minds.

The bottom line is we don’t know any more now how the future will look than we did before the pandemic. There is still uncertainty. There is always uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen anymore now than we did before. Some people deal with this feeling every day because of the hardships and obstacles they have in their lives.

We have to just control what we can. We have to pivot when we get new relevant information.

Mother Nature has put us all in a collective time out to think about what we have done. We have all been sent to our rooms. Some people still do not get it. They haven’t changed their behavior, they are still having parties, they are still standing super close and chatting. Will they be the ones that get sick? Maybe, maybe not. There is too much unknown to predict and it doesn’t matter anyway. We cannot control that aspect of the scenario.

Appreciate what you have. Pivot and reflect. Journal, read, write a list, call a friend, make a flexible plan for the next two weeks, but please STAY HOME.

Treasured Memories

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Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the Two Writing Teacher challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

In my life I have been blessed with lots of treasured memories within the different compartments of my life.

The first time my son laughed a real laugh.

The day I met my stepchildren and feel in love with them instantly.

Getting keys to my house.

The gift of Dairy Queen blizzards given to me as a wooing technique.

My school winning a national award and a reading program award.

The phone call that offered me my new job.

My first acceptance of a short story to be published.

Receiving notice I had secured a spot in the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Just making this list makes me feel better today!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome back to Sunday. What a week this has been. How are you holding up? How is the wheel of emotions treating you?

If we were having coffee I would tell you this was the first week I had no school. When I left school last Friday the plan was to have school until at least Wednesday, then the plan changed by Monday. I have enjoyed the time of rest, learning and connecting.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I moved this weekend. It had been a long preparation and I am glad for it now. One more errand to the old house to get some things but 99% of the items are moved.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote every day. I revised a lot and sent pieces out. I connected with several writing groups this week on Zoom which was lovely time spent.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I went through my camera roll and was able to reminisce about all the activities we have planned for the kids at the houses we have lived in. American Ninja warrior courses set up in the house, scavenger hunts, dinners, games, picture concentration, and slime. Oh my goodness the slime. We went through a phase where we were making it at least once a week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my writing mentor Caroline Donahue has been sending videos through Instagram that have made my day all week. Friday she talked about using tarot for her writing. It was a great reminder and brought warmth to my heart. I know she isn’t the most comfortable with the format but I appreciate it so much. She is hosting a Zoom call on Sunday and I am looking forward to that conversation.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I went for a nice walk yesterday. The sun was shining and the air was chilly. I am considering running again. I will have to work up to the distances I have run before.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am skeptical about it being spring. I know the calendar says it is but it doesn’t feel like it to me. It might be the virus isolation, forgetting what day of the week it is, or just resistance to the transition. I do love winter and the coziness and hygge of that season.

What are you thinking about this week? Do you have any coping strategies for being shut-in?

A Question of Childhood

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Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the Twowritingteachers.org challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

My childhood was not full of trauma and I was privileged. My parents have stayed together which was unusual among my friends. When I was little I spent a lot of time at my maternal grandparents. Every vacation and weekend was spent with them til the summer of my 8th grade year in school.

I also spent the majority of my time from age 2.5 to 5 at my Oma’s house. That is my recollection anyway. I had friends in the neighborhood I played with outside every day. They all thought I lived there permanently. I did too. Whenever I went “home” it always felt like I was visiting my parents just waiting to go back to Oma’s.

When it came time for me to go to kindergarten I was upset that I had to go to school in my parent’s town, not my grandparents.

At this point in my life I wish I would have started and continued my school life in my grandparents town. My life would have turned out a lot differently if I had followed that path. When my friends found out I was coming to school with them, the relationship changed. There was a lot I missed out on being there on the weekends after school started.

I cannot go back to that time and the decision was not mine to make but it would have been interesting to see the trajectory if that was the path had been chosen for me.

Reading and Publishing

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Welcome to Friday!

Today is an exciting one! Big things are happening and my story is published at Storgy! You can read it by clicking the link below.

Artist Folly by Tammy Breitweiser

Throughout the TwowritingTeachers.org challenge (and through the year on Tuesdays) I watch for certain posts to come to my inbox/feed. Here are some of the teachers I read every day:

https://litcoachlady.com/

All three write beautifully and have their own style. Another thing in common is they all are inspiring.

Who are your GO TO follows/reads?

What Do You Want to Know?

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I am up early for #5amwritersclub accidentally. In the first phase of this isolation I am craving books. I am considering ordering this one:

Image result for brevity flash fiction

I am writing and reading every day. I did venture out for a short period yesterday with my son because I needed boxes and paper towels. I interacted with some of my writing friends online. I submitted as well.

There is focus when you are in the middle of a self imposed challenge. You can read more about that here.

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

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The obvious answer right now is to know how long this pandemic and the consequences will last. To know how long I will be out of school might be helpful.

One of the mantras I live my life by is “Everything is temporary.” I have learned temporary is an amount of time that can feel long but be short or the opposite. Time is a human constraint and Mother Nature has her own ideas about it. I feel the universe is telling everyone to slow down and rest. Life moves forward and I have the choice as to how I frame that time.

Many of my friends are anxious about this whole situation and I feel guilty to admit I am not. I am taking it as it comes in the present moment because I cannot control it. I am honoring this time as the gift it is. I cannot say as time stretches on I will feel the same way. Being told to stay home is not a punishment to me. I know people feel uneasy about this factor but it can honestly be the difference between life and death depending on your health and who breaths the same air as you.

What would you want to know?