Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Words Worth Remembering July 25

The most important words today are..
Happy Birthday to my wonderful 16 year old daughter! I can hardly believe it has been so many years already. I love you, sweetheart!
cake I wish I could do for tigs
from Pink Cake Box
And, since it is Wednesday, here are a few more....
I'm telling' ya!
from the daily love
Pinned Image
from facebook
Pinned Image
from creamy life blog

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Reading Tip #1

Have you been reading every day so far this summer? I hope so! I have been inhaling books like you wouldn’t believe. I have been reading a novel a day pretty much. I am so grateful for our public library. Imagine if we didn’t have that amazing resource! We are so, so, so lucky to be able to read so many wonderful books.
I wanted to take a minute to send out a reading tip for parents. I really want the students to maintain or increase their reading abilities over the summer and that means doing some thinking and talking about their reading!

Beginning readers often get so involved in decoding the letters and words that they forget to stop and think about their reading.
I tell them that reading is like a sandwich.
On one slice of bread is the words - being able to read them and know how to say them properly.
On the other slice is the comprehension or understanding what the words mean and how they come together to form ideas within a story.
You have to have both sides of the sandwich for it to be complete, for it to make sense and be a proper sandwich.
So, today I want to talk a little bit about comprehension. There are different strategies good readers use to help them comprehend what they are reading. I will be going over many of them this summer. But for today we are focusing on...
 Good readers make connections in three ways.
  • They connect the text to something personal about themselves (text to self)
  • They connect to something out in the world (text to world)
  • They connect to another book (text to text)
Making connections gets our schema working. Connections make a book more meaningful and they help us to enjoy what we are reading even more.
I think that making connections is one of the easiest strategies to use - especially the text to self type of connection. We all have life experiences and so we are all capable of finding something within a story with which to connect. I find that the older I get and the more my schema is filled with life experiences, other books, trips, information etc. the more I make connections in my reading without even having to stop and think if I have a connection. It is just there!
I am going to walk you through an example of making connections with a very simple story. Imagine I am reading the book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (I am pretty sure that there is not a child or parent in our continent who does not know this story).
Goodnight Moon

As I read, I stop every few pages and ask myself “Does that make me think of anything else?” or think to myself "That reminds me of..."
Each time I can answer or fill in what it reminds me of, I have made a connection! Just like that!
Here are some of my connections:
    Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation
  1. This book makes me think about when I was little and my nanny, Wilson, would read to me. I still have my first hard copy of this book given to me in 1974. (text to self)
  2. This in turn makes me wonder about other children, in other countries reading this story. I wonder if they have this book in places like Africa. And, if they do, is it a prized possession?(text to world)
  3. The cow jumping over the moon reminds me of l the nursery rhyme it came from (text to text)
  4. The title makes me think of the book Goodnight Ipad which came out recently and which I read to my class, not in book format, but on the smartboard. So 21st Century!!!! (text to text)        
  5. A bowl full of mush makes me think of all the cream of wheat I ate as a child.(text to self)
  6. The ending where it says goodnight to the air and the stars etc. gives me a lovely, comfy feeling. It reminds me of the feeling of childhood. (text to self)
  7. The little old lady rocking in the room makes me think of the rocking chair that my Grandmama had on her back porch (text to self)
So, you see how reading something can make your mind go in all different directions? Most of the connections a young reader will make are of the text to self variety. Or, at least, they will probably be able to think of these more easily. Often I find that when reading one story, it will make a child think of another story (text to text). This is especially true of fairy tales. Text to world connections can be a little trickier for the beginning reader. It just depends on their personal life experience and how much is already in their schema.

Parents, you can help your child to make better connections by sitting down once or twice a week and reading to them. Pick a book that your child wants to read (it does not matter if they can read it or not) and then read out loud to your child. Stop every once in awhile to share a connection you make with the story, stop every once in awhile to ask your child if they have any connections. 

I don't care if your child is already reading chapter books. Create a time when they listen to you read and ask them to tell you their connections. Don't just leave them reading on their own all the time and assume that they are understanding everything that they read. Chances are very high that they are not!!!!!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer is Here and the Livin' is Easy

I have been officially on holiday for 3 days now.

I am going through my usual work withdrawal. Does anyone else do this? I get cranky and don't know what to do with myself for about the first week of summer and then I settle into a new routine. Not fun for me but really not fun for my hubby and daughter!!!!

Of course, I still have work to do at school. I need to finish cleaning up the classroom, packing things up so that the custodians will do a deeper clean and purging for the move next year. And, then there is the bookroom.

Ah, the bookroom. Filled with a gazillion levelled book bags that all have to be inventoried. By moi. I could just leave it but I don't want to come back in the Fall and have to do it then (September is crazy busy enough already thank you!)

Plus, it really needs to be up to date for the big move.The good part about doing it in the summer is that I can bring my ipod and amp up the tunes while I inventory. It shouldn't take more than a day or three.

I actually don't mind doing the inventory. It is the dust I hate. What is it about bookrooms and dust? I don't think this one has been properly cleaned in forever. I mean, if they won't clean a shelf in the classroom unless it is empty, what are the chances that they will clean the shelves in a bookroom filled with book boxes? I am guessing....nada!

So, on my last day of classes with the students, the parents in my class gave me an appreciation gift. It was so sweet and thoughtful.

I know that there are different camps on the whole teacher gift thing but, I have to say, I don't think that there is anything wrong with giving a teacher gift. I work really, really hard and it is truly wonderful to have that hard work acknowledged by the families in my class.

One year, at my last school, I got a Taj Mahal made out of popsicle sticks. Another year, a gift card to a local mall. Yet another year, I got a wonderful book filled with photos from the year. And, still another year, I got a huge vase and each child brought me a flower for the vase. It was beautiful. I still have the vase and it is filled with all the stones and shells I have found on my journeys.

The gifts are not all super expensive nor are they always practical (I mean, where exactly does one keep a 2 foot tall replica of the Taj Mahal made out of popsicle sticks?) but they always, always come from the heart. I know this and I appreciate the gesture (big or small) in the spirit in which it is intended.

I feel so honored that families gift me with their children for 6 hours each day, 10 months of the year. There are probably days when I see more of a child than their parents do (I know that this was true of my daughter when I had to work late and would get home just before her bedtime) and I realize how special the relationship between a teacher and child can be. 

I also realize that, often, I make an impact without knowing. Case in of my little ones this year, who had me vacillating between wanting to hug him and shake him for most of the year, went to the principal the other day to ask if he could be with me again next year. Was I shocked? You bet! I fully expected him to think I was an ogre for always being on his case but, instead, he very seriously told the principal (and later me) that he does not want to leave me. How sweet is that? And, let me tell you, his wanting me to be his teacher again was a gift that hit me right in the heart.

Anywho, I digress...back to the gift from my class.

This year, I got an amazing flower bouquet from my class with a lovely card. At first glance, I thought it was paper oragami and was just glad that I was finally getting a plant I can't kill BUT.... when the parents told me to look again, this is what I saw...

It is made of money!!!!! How freakin' cool is that?!?! My class parent put it together for me. Isn't it loverly? And, oh so, clever?

I would love to say that I kept it to admire for awhile but, no, I took it apart and took myself off to the running store where I invested in the brand new pair of running shoes I have been wanting (but not willing to spend the money on or, rather, but spending the money on my teenager instead!) to get for forever!

And today I took myself off to the gym and wore them for the first time. So, not only did my class show their appreciation with their lovely gift but they are helping to gift me with better health as well! So, a big, huge, enormous, stupendous THANK YOU to all the kids and parents in my class. I will always remember you as my last group of turtles. And, hopefully (fingers crossed), I will be a tad fitter when you see me next!!!!!