M.A.G.I.C #SOLC Day 1

db4de-slice-of-life_individual

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Blog Challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here.

There is a magic to teaching and teaching writing.

M.A.G.I.C.

M= Mentor Texts

A= Authority

G= Gusto

I= Intention

C=Connection

A couple years ago in my little apartment,  I had a dream. An impactful dream of me up on stage giving a Ted talk. I had some clarity when I woke up and made the notes on my phone. Due to circumstances at the time I accidentally erased them when I reset my phone to factory settings. I have desperately been trying to recall the details and notes of this experience since then.

I remember being on the stage and talking about M.A.G.I.C.

Magic –

EVERYONE has magic inside of them.I have magic with students and you probably do too if you are an educator. If you are a writer, you have magic with your readers. People are drawn to the light inside of you. It can be annoying at times when people are drawn to you and you are an introvert but it is a GIFT.

Fellow teachers have expressed to me on multiple occasions and school corporations that I can get writing and learning from children that no one seems to be able to. It isn’t a magic spell but there is an enchantment. How do I do it? I don’t wave a wand (although I have my Harry Potter wand!)  I am authentic. I see my students. I listen to them. I see them as the little people they are with their own ideas – even a kindergartener. 

I am a reader and a writer and I exemplify these behaviors and students can see it. I do not ask them to do anything that I have not done myself already, or am willing to do. This is a mantra I use with adults and children. I do not believe in busy work. I believe in being transparent with students and it makes me happy. They know me, I know them. I listen to what they say and respond accordingly. I am not afraid to ask a question and not know the answer that will come from the students. I want to show students to struggle with new learning.

M= Mentor Texts-

To get to this magic you have to have use MENTOR texts. These are examples of writing you want your students to create. No adult writes a resume without Googling samples of resumes beforehand. You don’t write anything without immersing yourself in that genre. We should we expect any less from children.

A= Authority

You need to be a writer to teach writing. You don’t have to be published but you have to go through the process or as an educator you cannot help a young writer if they get stuck. You have to know what it feels like. I worked with a teacher that told me she started to write using her own writing prompts that she was assigning to her students. There were some that were not crafted as well as they could be and were hard for her – with 40 years of life experience to draw from. She decided through that experience she needed to modify if she had trouble with the assignment prompt. Then she told the students what she had done and why. It made a huge difference.

G= Gusto

You have to be excited about writing. There must be respect and a level of seriousness to the process.  When I teach writing I use writing materials from respected writing teachers in the literary world – not the teaching world. I quoted Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, etc. I did use a lot of Nancy Atwell too. I told the students my rationale. The students saw my writers notebook. They saw when I was excited about a piece of writing I was crafting with them. In the middle of the process, if the kids made a chart or wrote the group story and it wasn’t exciting then we talked about what we could do to make it exciting for our reader. We read everything like writers. My students knew the goal was for them to be real authentic readers and writers.

I= Intention

Writing lessons like any other need to be planned purposefully. The mentor text to read needs to be right for the writing craft lesson. The prompt needs to align with the book and the mastery objective you want the students to glean from the lesson. There needs to be intention in the routines for your writers to establish and how their words are shared. Intention needs to be there for conferencing. Teacher and student conferencing and peer conferencing.

I wanted my students to write even when they didn’t have to so I set up centers in my classroom for exploration. Books were placed in the classroom based on interest and choice. Writing and book making materials were everywhere. Innovation is also part of this section.

C=Connection

Relationships and a trusting culture are essential for students to write. Writing is hard. You know this to be true whether you write or you resist writing with your students. Sharing your own writing can go a long way to create trust. Writing with kids is a great culture builder.

No matter the level I use the gradual release model.  I make sure with my middle school students to always model the I DO portion, especially with writing. Then there is a small section of WE DO so students are able to show me they understand the task. Then it is off for the YOU DO.

I also carry a notebook with me almost everywhere. When I hear a student say something or I read over their shoulder I often will say “That is amazing! I am going to write that in my notebook.” Or I say, “I wish I would have written that sentence.” It is the same language I use when we are reading and I want to record something in the writer’s notebook. Then I write their words down.

Over the course of the month, I will be posted more in-depth posts about each of these sections.

Advertisements

Sunlight and Flowers #SOL18

Day 3 of Jim Knight coach training was yesterday.

There was a slightly different mix of coaches at this training. I drove into the city this time which was pretty stress free and the drive was full of sunshine.

We used feedback cards after Jim established a procedure for them. Red/Yellow/Green cards can be used with students to show answers really quickly and can also build community. Jim Knight said, “There is power in a collective response.”

A lot of the conversation was around relationships.

We learned how to use several data collection measures which are awesome and actionable. I have used several over the years but these were deep and focused.

One of the specific strategies we talked about was creating a learner-friendly culture. Bill Stickland opened a school that has beautiful things everywhere you look, a building that is full of sunshine and fresh real flowers.

Image result for bill strickland make the impossible possible

He believes that change can only happen if you see change, including your surroundings. I have the book on hold at the library and am looking forward to it coming in.

Many of the conversations throughout the day continually reminded me that little things matter to ALL people. The thoughtful note, the smile, the nod, the acknowledgement of you being in front of someone…and the sunlight and the flowers.

How do you make your learner space inviting? This could be a writer space or a teaching space. What are your sunlight and flowers? Enjoy them today and share with someone else.

Image result for sunlight and flowers

Slice of Life: HOPE #SOL18

Image result for hope

Hope is a concept that has come up several times over the last couple of weeks. At my FABULOUS Jim Knight training for coaching HOPE is an integral part of the IMPACT CYCLE for coaching. It is a HOPE that teachers and students can get better at what they do and learn.

Jim Knight says there are 3 attributes for hope:

  1. You need to aspire to some type of goal
  2. You need a pathway to get there
  3. You have to have agency – the belief you can get there

Anne Lamott also has a new book out called Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. She wanted to write a book about all the hopeful things she knew in a world that is surrounding us with negativity and hopelessness. I picked up this book from my library holds yesterday and cannot wait to dig in. Solinet is another author who has thoughts on hope.

Image result for hope anne lamott

What do you have to say about hope?

I hope to have an impact in my job every day. I have hope that the 8th grader I am teaching to read will continue to grow from his pre-primer level. I hope that the sense of peace and connection that has been nurtured over the past weeks will continue with my fellow coaches. 

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.”– Samuel Smiles

Henry’s Questions #SOL18

I often use Todd Henry’s questions when I am coaching and when I am reflecting with fellow writers. Here are my answers for today.

What are you working on?

I am working on my novel in progress for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). I am 45, 000 words in. I can see the finish line of 50,000 by Friday. It has been so much easier this year with the support of my Storyaday group of writers.

What is inspiring me?

I have been reading Kathy Fish’s flash fiction. I really would like to get into one of her flash fiction workshops. I will try when she offers it again. It fills up quickly.

My husband and I watched a documentary about Bill Murray and how he starts random acts of fun. It was inspiring to keep myself open and available.

My Storyaday writer group is inspiring me.

Two Writing Teachers is always inspiring for teacher blogs and prose.

Where do I need prodding?

Right now, I don’t need any external motivation. I am internally motivated for the moment. 

Thankful #SOL18

My Regular Run Route on the Bike Trail

I am thankfully off this week from work. The days are for rest, reading, fun,  and writing. Last weekend, the family played homemade Jeopardy and Pictionary. The children even made questions to test the parents knowledge of our children. We rocked it of course!

This morning I watched Friends show bloopers and laughed harder than I have laughed in a long while. The laugh that feels like you are doing an ab workout.

I am thankful for time and weather to allow me to run. I have logged 10 miles in two days. I forget how the runs fuel my creative mind. I thought of poem lines, new clubs for school, an ending for my novel, and other essay topics. 

I am thankful for my writing. I am to 35,000 words for my NANOWRIMO which is National Novel Writing Month.

I am not just thankful this week. I am thankful every week. This week allows me to be extra thankful for what I have in my life. 

What are you thankful for?

Snowy Morning #SOL18

Attach41142_20181109_062910

The first snow descended yesterday as I drove home from work. The tiny flakes sprinkled my windshield and melted from the warmth of the car. It continued to happily come down throughout the evening. Dinner was pot roast and homemade bread which made for a perfect evening.

This morning the roads are shiny reflecting the lights of the cars as they plug along. The blue sky was light just before the sun came all the way up. The grass looks like it has powdered sugar sprinkled on it.

Snow makes me happy

Winter makes me happy and the coziness it brings.

As I pulled into the parking lot it rained leaves to remind me that we are still in fall, not yet winter.

#happy moment

sols_6

Where is the Daylight Saved? #SOL18

bright daylight environment forest
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Routine is engrained in us.

We have the patterns we engage in because we love them and patterns we follow because we have to. Ultimately, I understand that the “have to’s” are a choice as well but we don’t want to have an accident or get fired.

Daylight savings time is a break in the routine that is out of our control. I read the articles about how certain states are trying to end this practice. I had read someone state it was expensive that I thought was odd. There are added wages for certain jobs because they work overnight. Doesn’t that even out for the company when we spring ahead though?

I am not sure we are saving anything – why is it called that? Yes, there is the sun in my eyes on the morning commute now and it is dark when I come home. I didn’t save any sunshine. It isn’t in a bottle that I can open when I need it. It isn’t in a Sunshine bank account that I can withdraw from.

I have said before:

Daylight savings time is JET LAG with NO TRAVEL

As always, in life and in teaching there are adjustments to be made. In a week, I will be used to the new routine, but I will still be searching for the sunshine.

sols_6

 

 

Simply Tuesday #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individual

 

My refrigerator masquerades as a freezer in my office. It likes to pretend. This is normally helpful for quickly making my Diet Coke cold or keeping “emergency” lunches on the days I forget to pack my sustenance.

However…

It is not a good thing when you forget you had an extra can of DIET COKE in there overnight. When you open the fridge to enjoy the frosty beverage you find frozen coke all over the bottom and a bulging can that looks like something from a horror movie.

20181030_074617.jpg

 

Then you kick yourself for being in a hurry the afternoon before and not remembering to take the can out of the fridge to avoid this situation.

Oops…I am more upset I lost a can of Coke rather than the mess!

#SIMPLYTUESDAY

 

 

 

Genius Hour Update #SOL

sols_6

Yesterday I met for a second time with my 7th graders who are participating in Genius Hour. The 45 minutes was the highlight of my school day.

This is what it looked like:

  • The students finished their analog planning on the sheets
  • Whip Around Share Out
  • Assignments were given for each group of what they need to do before next Monday – mostly research.

I am super excited about the projects and how they are shaping up!

Here is a sampling of the projects:

  • Two students are planning The Random Happiness Project
  • Two students are planning a motivational presentation to be broadcast for the entire school
  • One student is making a People of Michigan City presentation to show what our community really looks like
  • One student wants to raise awareness of elephant poaching and to give people 3-5 action steps of what they can do to help

Notes:

  1. It is interesting that one of the most talkative girls is having trouble narrowing her big picture idea to an actionable list. She wants to jump in with both feet and no plans! It is very telling for her process. A place I need to intervene.
  2. The buzz of work, while the time was clicking away, was energizing. You know that buzz when great ideas are flying around the room – THAT was what my room sounded like yesterday at 11a.m.
  3. Two projects sounded the same when they did their “elevator pitch” in the whip around but we unpacked it and came to realize the end results were different: one focus was truly happiness and the other was motivation. The audiences were different as well. It was a great discussion about focus and intent.
  4. I need to take some pictures of the students. We were so busy I forgot! They are so excited about this time and I hope to capture that feeling in their expressions.
  5. I am loving this process because it is teaching students to be lifelong learners which is a basic philosophy I have had since I started teaching.

What is exciting you about education today!?

Are you a Genius? #SOL18

 

sols_6

 

#Thisitheyear

This is the year I will start programs for students.

I started Genius hour yesterday with a group of 7th graders.  My school moved to block scheduling this year which allows the opportunity for remediation and enrichment with students during an Impact time. I am taking advantage of this time opportunity!

I conducted a writer’s workshop a few weeks ago which was successful and took place during a consecutive 5 days. Genius hour will take place over 6 weeks. The group of 10 students meet once a week to work on their projects.

I introduced the concept to the students last week and they were able to sign up. No one had heard about the idea before I spoke about it but they were very excited it was inspired by Google. I told them a few facts and then listed several ideas of projects that could think about.

Genius hour is time for students to pursue a personal interest, make something, and share it with the world. It could be a program, a blog, a game, a video, or anything they imagine. It can solve a problem or showcase a study.

Yesterday’s agenda:

  • Video 
  • Brainstorming
  • Joined Google Classroom
  • Read aloud: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spears
  • Discussion about perseverance and making things that don’t look like what is in our heads
  • Students took 16 personalities test

 

Cover art

This is another video I found helpful about general concepts about Genius Hour.

Results of day one:

  • One of my students wants to make a motivational video to share because she feels it is needed. She is thinking about staging it like a TED talk.
  • Several students are thinking about starting programs or clubs for their fellow classmates
  • Several students are thinking about starting fundraisers for local community organizations
  • One student is thinking about a photography project.

They are all THINKING and wanting to CREATE! It was a glorious day and I cannot wait to see what the end of 6 weeks looks like!

What have you created today, no matter how small?