Monday, October 31, 2011

Pursuing Perfection And Missing The Point

So this year we had a tiny robot for Halloween. For about 6 weeks anytime someone asked him, he said he was going to be a robot for Halloween. We don't know what precipitated this, but there was no wavering from the robot course.

So we thought about costumes, and together it became a family project to make the costume. So then we started to think and plan--sometimes obsessively(--what do you mean Target doesn't carry a 3T silver sweatsuits?!) We were going to get dryer venting for arms. The adults wanted to go all out, but the small boy just wanted to have "knobs" on the robot. It was the only thing that mattered.

When the moment arrived to prepare for trick-or-treating, he wasn't even going to put it on--after trying to protect parts of the costume all week, he wasn't even going to wear it! What's a mom to do at a moment like that? I smiled! I laughed to myself! I was glad I didn't invest time, money, or energy to get just the perfect sweatsuit--he ended up with mismatched attire anyway!

He did put it on once he saw other trick-or-treaters. He had fun--for 15 minutes. And then he headed home to pass out treats.

So what is the point?
Life and relationships and jobs and dreams rarely turn out the way we expect. Perfection is elusive, and it always will be. If that is what it is all about then everything is going to be disappointing. If we just go with what we have where we are, we will get to see lots of great people and enjoy sharing the treats of life. That seems like a pretty important point! We might get to enjoy some treats along the way, too!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Falling For Fall

I'm just loving this time of year.

I'm certainly falling for fall!

What are you falling for?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking At The World Like A Kid

One of my favorite things about hiking with someone who is two and a half ( and the most annoying part) is that Sam has to stop and look at everything. In the picture above he lay down on a bridge because he wanted to look at frogs. He did this for maybe ten minutes.

I'm surprised by how he can pick up and look at dozens of rock or leaves or sticks. It takes us a really long time to hike like this. Sometimes I'm surprised by the beautiful things I get to see that I would have just dashed by if I were walking alone. I'm also surprised that I don't approach life more like a two year old.

Everything is special and unique and worth a second look.

This is one of those lessons I'm learning from Sam.

What are you learning from the people in your life?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Doing For Others What I Wish Someone Would Do For Me

If you're a frequent flyer of this blog then you know that I'm trying something new this year--I'm trying to occasionally do for others what I wish someone would do for me. I keep having really cool experiences with unexpected results.

Here are 3 recent experiences I've had with sharing affirmations. I think my little affirmations are like fortune cookies for the heart and spirit. They have some miraculous powers that I'm not even going to pretend I understand. I had the above pictured bowl of affirmations on my craft table at the Fall Fest I did a few weeks ago. It was so much fun to offer them to other people. Then I had them available last week on conference day for me coworkers. Yesterday I took them to my professional development day meeting and shared them. Have a mentioned that teachers are much more hesitant to accept these than the average person walking by. (I have no scientifically valid data to support this, but. . .)

I have been inspired to do these kind of crazy and spontaneous actions by the amazing likes of Amanda over at Kind Over Matter and Patience at Kindness Girl.

What action have you been inspired to take? Who inspired you?

P.S. If you're looking for some lovely cards or a little gift, check out the card sets I just put up on the Brave Teachers Etsy Shop

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Everyday Math Daily Schedule That Works For Me

I have finally found it! (I believe the Hallelujiah Chorus should be playing in the background here.) I have found a daily schedule for Everyday Math that is really working for me and 24 4th graders.

If you are a teacher then you hear all the time that you should be differentiated more for you students. It will never be enough, but I do try. Last year I divided my class into 3 groups for math and tried to do three 25 minute rotations with a 10 min. introduction at the beginning and a 5 minute wrap up at the end. So basically I tried to teach the main lesson 3 times quickly everyday. It did NOT work!

This summer it just came to me. . . I would teach the main lesson to every one and then meet with 3 groups based on what they needed next for about 15 minutes each. My first group is the one that needs the most direction--they usually get a good 20 minutes with me. Often we are doing "independent" parts of the lesson together. I am also redirecting and refocusing that groups the most. At the same time group Group 2 is playing one of the games or doing a practice activity--sometimes just fact triangles. Group 3, the students who most benefit from struggling through to come up with good mathematical thinking are at their seats doing the independent part of the lesson and Math Boxes. This is the place where students also check their Math Boxes independently. (Above you can see how simple the Math Box check station is on the front of a cupboard.) I meet with them last and usually have the shortest time with them, and sometimes they are getting enrichment or an extra difficult challenge.

This is not a perfect system, but the majority of kids are benefiting more than any other way I've taught Everyday Math. I have to be creative with time. Math Lesson and Rotation 1 are at the same time block, but the other 2 Rotations are at completely different times of the day. We do NOT do Rotations every day--usually 4 days a week. Sometimes we have Math Lab Days (like Science Lab days) where we practice, investigate, and catch up.

I'd love to hear from other teachers how Everyday Math is working in your classroom.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Enchanted by Full October Moon

I've been so mesmerized by the moon over the past few days. It's been gorgeous! I'm enchanted!

What's enchanting you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fun Science

Last Friday I did a super simple and fun science experiment with my class. It's super affordable, and many kids can repeat the experiment at home because of how common the ingredients are. We are in the middle of a matter unit.

We called it Gas In A Bag. (I think I first learned about this in this form from a Science in a Bag book by Scholastic.)
This is similar to a volcano, but not messy.

Items needed:
baking soda (about 1T per kid)
vinegar (about 1/4 c per kid)
small paper cups (1 per kid)
zipper sandwich bags (1 per kid)

1. Each student place baking soda in baggie
2. Teacher places vinegar into little cups, and students place cup upright in baggie and seal bag shut
3. On the teacher's signal, students tip cup inside bag
4. The liquid and solid combine to form a gas, and most of the bags pop open.
(This can also be a time to talk about acids and bases.)

After this students made a sequence chart of the procedure. These were a great way to assess understanding of what happened. We have also been working on sequencing in reading, so it was a good connection.

Any other ideas of fun easy experiments related to matter?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wedged Between A Rock And A Hard Place

I've feel that I've recently been wedged between a rock and and a hard place. I've used lots of tools to try to wiggle myself out. It just wasn't happening. I've felt guilty that I'm not keeping up on sharing all my Reading Street Focus Wall stuff. I've felt the pull toward perfection and isolation.

On the surface I keep moving forward, but it's the deeper down stuff that has gotten me. I'm certainly finding my way--I think I should rephrase that because it doesn't feel like it's my way. I'm finding a better way--a different way out of it all.

Sometimes I'm surprised what feels like a big deal to me that no one else really cares about. Today my little mantra is, "Keep it simple." (This does NOT come naturally to me!!) It feels like such a positive game changer for me, but there's a part of me fighting it.

Have you had any game changing moments recently? What words are guiding you today?