Tuesday, October 10, 2017

One More Time

It's Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  Won't you join in?
One More Time

The beautiful, summer-like weather we have been experiencing in New England this October has allowed me to capture a few more stolen moments of summertime. This month I found myself saying over and again "just one more time."

Just one more time to...
    watch the sunset on the boat
    kayak across the lake
    swim to the rocks
    jump off the dock
    float on the tube
    eat on the deck
    read on the lounge chair
    splash in the water

Just one more time... 

until next summer.

    

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

You Can Do It!

It's Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  Won't you join in?

You Can Do It!

My brother in law Joe, stopped by last Saturday while I was cleaning my garage.  He was commenting on the recent repairs made to the roof and siding of the garage. I lamented that I still had to solve the issue of the water dripping down from the gutter.  "That's a simple fix  Chris!" At which point he quickly and excitedly described the steps I needed to take to get the downspout into place. He even offered to cut the gutter for me once I got home, knowing that I probably didn't own the right tool.  There was no hesitation in his voice.  He had confidence in my ability to get the job done.  After listening to his enthusiastic directions I wanted to jump into the car and drive right to my nearby home center to get started on the task. 

Later I thought about this interaction as a great teaching move.  Joe had laid out the installation in simple steps that were easy to follow.  His enthusiasm was contagious and encouraged me to get started NOW.  What I most appreciated was his enthusiastic and  encouraging way that gave me the sense that I could do this repair job on my own. I felt confident!  His offer to cut the gutter, was that little assistance that could be put in place once I got started.  I know that Joe could have easily said he would do the job for me, but he encouraged me to do it on my own.  He had faith in my ability and gave me the tools and where-with-all to get the job done.  

The teaching moves I want to emulate are: giving simple steps, talking with enough enthusiasm and  encouragement to bring about confidence, and finally providing assistance when using new and special tools.  Thanks Joe, for providing me with the tools, know-how, and can do attitude to get the job done.  You provided me with that reminder of how I should approach my students when they encounter difficulties.  

By the way, I'll be down next weekend to get that piece of downspout cut!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My One Little Word

I am proud to be writing this blog as part of Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Won't you consider joining us?

My One Little Word


269 days ago I wrote about my one little word.  This word that was going to be my driving force for the 365 days of the year 2017.  This word that would propel me to a better place. This word would make its way into many of my slices.  This little word was joy.

269 days ago I wrote with such enthusiasm about keeping this word at the fore front of all my thinking and being. And yet today, I realize I was not diligent about keeping my one little word present in my day to day thoughts.  

269 days have past and have I experienced joy?  Yes indeed.  I just haven't written much about the experiences.  The quick moments of joy are just that, quick moments.  I know from experience that when I do capture these joyful moments in writing, the joyfulness expands and fosters even more joy.

269 days in 2017. Some joyful moments captures, others lost.  My favorite joy of late?  The sight of my grandchildren running down the driveway with open arms waiting for a big hug from me.  Is there a greater joy that a hug from a loved one?  I think not!

269 days of joy, wrapped up in two arms, and one blog post.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Four Blessings

I am proud to be writing this blog as part of Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  





Four Blessings

Shortly after my husband died, I received a blessing bracelet from a dear friend.  The "instructions" that came with the bracelet suggested you touch each of the four white beads while silently thinking about persons or things that you are grateful for, with the hopes that the more blessings you name, the more you would find.  I followed the directions and found comfort in naming those people and things that lifted me up in a time of such great need. I thought about my family, my home, and the colleagues that came to my side.  I reflected on the graceful heron that flew overhead at just the right moment, and the smiling children that we greeted at the door each morning.  I was finding blessings all around me, thanks to that bracelet, and I became more aware of all the gifts in my life.  

After some time I stopped wearing the bracelet, taking it out occasionally on a blue day to remind me of those wonders in my life.

But yesterday I took that bracelet out to wear again because sadly, the friend who gifted me with this bracelet lost her battle with cancer.  Putting that bracelet on my wrist suddenly took on a new meaning.  I decided for now to dwell on the gifts my friend shared with me: endless fortitude, genuine care for all she came in contact with, a gentle sense of humor, and deep love of family.  Those are certainly wonderful gifts to hang on to, and gifts that will carry me through these heavy days.

Today I say: Thank you for the love and care you gave to me and to so many others. I am blessed much more than four times because of your presence in my life. 



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Can't I Write?

I am proud to be writing this blog as part of Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  Check it out! 

Why Can't I Write
Why can't I write
Why can't I write

Is it because I am thinking about the universal screener we are rolling out, the training we are completing to go along with that, the new schedules, the new teachers I want to meet with, the stack of books that need to be inventoried, stamped and distributed, the contractor who hasn't returned my phone call, the dust on my bedroom furniture (ok - I wasn't really worried about that), dinner plans?

So - yes - maybe my brain is full - too full.  But isn't everyone's brain full?  Aren't they writing a slice each week?

Why can't I write?

I really don't have an answer except I am not focused on writing at all. And I need focus to write.


Why can't he write?
Why can't she write?

Is it because he is thinking about a new classroom, new friends, new bus route, new routines, new shoes that don't fit, or no new shoes like everyone else, buying lunch in the cafeteria, snack time, and recess problems.

Or maybe it is because her brain is full of other stuff and she isn't focused on writing at all. And he needs focus to write.

Hmmmm.  

What do we do when we can't focus enough to write OR when our students aren't ready to focus enough to write. 

I am dwelling on this tonight, but would love to hear your thoughts too!



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Power of We: A Reflection on the Celebration of 60 Years of Marriage

I am proud to be writing this blog as part of Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  Check it out! 



The Power of We: 
A Reflection on the Celebration of 60 Years of Marriage

We traveled from near and far to the scenic and historic resort, The Mount Washington Hotel, for a long Labor Day weekend. 



We gathered 3 great grandchildren, 8 grandchildren and their spouses, 3 sons and their wives, and of course the guests of honor and the hosts for the weekend, the parents.


Showing off our t-shirts - #partyhatson


We hiked, biked, walked, laughed, cried and laughed some more.


We toasted to many years of happiness and to the upcoming additions to our families (2 more great grandchildren - Yeah!).
3 great grandchildren
We rose early to board the Cog Railway to ride to the top of Mount Washington, the "home of the world's worst weather" only to experience the world's worst weather - zero visibility, rain and 66 mph wind gusts!
It was beautiful at the base!
We had to quickly take this picture for fear of our camera blowing away



We ate and ate and ate some more - and then we played some great games, including the The Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed Game and Cards for Humanity.




We marveled at the beauty and grandeur of the White Mountains and the wildlife it sustains, especially the bear that poked around while we had our family portraits.



All of this because two people fell in love and fostered this family focused on we. They have celebrated love and life, overcome great loss, and walked gracefully through the years, all 60 of them!  What a celebration and a testament to what true love is all about!  

We thank you for all of this and We love you Lois and Bob!













Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lessons Learned at a Writing Retreat

The idea came to me months ago - a teacher's summer writing retreat - held at my lakefront home, where teachers could sit leisurely and write and think and spend time discussing toolkits and student engagement.

The retreat wound up being one of the highlights of my summer. The six of us wrote, and laughed, and even cried together.  We wrote and read our small moment stories and our not so small moment stories.  We supported and commented and read some more.  And then we reflected. 

What did I discover today? 

The answers were very similar among us all:  

  • I need to write more.
  • I want to capture those small moments in a journal as they happen so I won't forget.
  • Talking about writing is extremely helpful.

Then the big question was asked:  How will the work of today guide me as a teacher of writing? 

The answer was unanimous:

I need have have my students write more, journal more, and talk more!

I call that a successful writing retreat!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Letter to My Grandson on the Occasion of His First Birthday

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers and I'm posting along.  Won't you consider joining this community of writers?




A Letter to My Grandson on the Occasion of His First Birthday

Dear George,
Happy 1st Birthday!

I can not believe that you are 1 year old today! I recall that hot August day last year waiting for that call to say you have arrived.  And finally you did: All 8 pounds and 15 ounces of you! You were a true bundle of joy that loved to be rocked and rocked and rocked.  You needed to keep on moving, and still do!

How delighted I was to hear your name for the first time: George David.  Named after two very important men in our lives: your great grandfather and your grandfather.  Both of these men have the same twinkle in their eyes. Both of these men love adventure and travel.  And both of these men are looking down on you and smiling at the love and joy you are bringing to this family!

George, you are quick with a smile and a hug.  Your chunky cheeks beg to be kissed over and over again.  And apparently you love these kisses too, as when I stop you always lean in for more.  Don't stop being a love bug!

And you are so friendly too: saying hi to everyone that passes your way, especially your own reflection in a mirror or window! Don't stop being so friendly!

You are a mover and an explorer, frequently wondering what's behind that chair or around that corner.  Your curiosity keeps us running and laughing.  You are indeed a Curious George!  Don't stop wondering!

Happy First Birthday George!  I love you more and more each day.

Love, Bebe



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#cyberpd - Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: week 4


Week 4 - The final week of the #cyberpd book study on Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton

I am once again amazed at how social learning is!  If I had to read this book on my own this summer I would have been overwhelmed with the contents of this book.  I would have taken notes, highlighted text, and stickied page upon page.  My learning would have been immense, but it would have been my thoughts on this idea or that.  And I probably would never even consider how to bring this to life in a classroom.  

Because of this wonderful #cyberpd group, I had to wanted to go deeper.  I needed to synthesize and reflect on my reading before creating my post.  My learning grew by leaps and bounds because of the time I spent dwelling on what I read.  But more importantly I was "privy" to the deep-thinking of so many wonderful professionals.  Reading through the posts each week made the learning even more profound.  I now have access to a classroom of deep thinkers at all times and forever.

I am so grateful for this #cyberpd group.  You have shown me the meaning of real reading and given me the opportunity to participate in a wonderful learning community! Thank you!

Below are my thoughts for this final week.  I am sorry for the light colors!



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#cyberpd - Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: week 3


It's week 3 of the #cyberpd book study on Vicki Vinton's book: Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading.  I am once again synthesizing my take aways and quotes using a sketch note technique and in the process I am learning how to simplify my thinking in a visual format that will be easy to recall the big gleanings from this text come fall.
This week I am also adding a few lingering questions to my notes. I welcome any help or ideas to guide me in answering these questions.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#cyberPD 2017 - Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading - Week 2

It's week 2 of the #cyberPD reading of Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  I once again challenged myself to sketchnote my thoughts and ideas from chapters 5 and 6 and was amazed at how much time I spent synthesizing and re-reading.  I do judge I was "diving deeper for meaning" in the process.  I am not certain if the sketching is slowing me down or the deep thinking that sketching requires is more time consuming.  Regardless I am doing extra heavy thinking about this book - more so than I have in a long time. Skimming a professional book is fine sometimes, but I am enjoying this deep read.  More importantly I am relishing this community of thought-provoking individuals.  Thank you #cyberPD!

My thoughts in visual format



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 6, 2013

It's Slice of Life Tuesday!  I am honored to be part of a community that supports and celebrates writing.  Want to join in the fun?  Go to: Two Writing Teachers to learn more.

July 6, 2013

I felt alone
4 years ago
Single in a minute
A widow
I worried about being
Lonely

But really?

3 children
2 + more grandchildren
Endless family 
Generous friends
Unlimited hugs

Alone?

I am blessed
With a legacy
Many memories
Great hope
Unfailing friendship


I am surrounded 
With Faith
With Peace
With Joy

I am Blessed 
I am Thankful
I am...


Friday, July 7, 2017

#Cyberpd 2017 - Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading - Week 1

I am excited to read the book Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton this summer and be part of a collaborative discussion on the contents of the book with the wonderful participants through #cyberpd. 
This week we focused on thoughts from the introduction through chapter 4.  My book is chockful of yellow highlighting so now I am tasked with synthesizing the most important points from these 53+ pages.
I was intrigued by the various methods other participants were using to jot their thoughts down, but sketch-noting hit a chord with me.  I am not certain if there is a right or wrong way to sketch-note, but I thought I'd use my new set of colorful markers and jot down a few quotes and key words.  I am embracing the diving in and trying something new - it may be messy but it helped me synthesize my key thoughts for this section of the book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Peonies and Thank Yous

It's Slice of Life Tuesday sponsored by the wonderful team at Two Writing Teachers.  Won't you join us?
Peonies and Thank Yous

I stooped down to take a whiff of a bouquet of peonies the other day and an image instantly popped into my mind...
It was the last day of school and I was dressed in a cool summer dress. I was holding a bouquet of peonies for my favorite teacher, a gift for helping me learn and grow that year. The blossoms were fragrant and sweet smelling. My mom had cut them from her garden that morning so they were still dripping wet with dew.  She wrapped the bouquet in a damp paper towel and then covered the paper towel with foil so the stems would stay cool until I got to school. The foil was rough against my hands as I rode the bus to school, but it was all worth it when I saw the smile on my teachers face as I handed her my peonies and whispering a soft thank you.  It was the only gift we could afford, but it was from the heart.  And with her smile I knew it was worth more than gold.

This week I must find a way to say thank you to a colleague that I admire more than gold. She mentored me in a gentle and caring manner and was there for me in my darkest of days.  How do I thank her?  I recall the warm smile I received from the few stems of peonies and the whispered words of thanks.  Maybe a stem or two from my garden will do, but I think I will add my whispering words of thank you by way of a letter, telling her of all my appreciation and admiration. 

I am sure this community will agree - words from the heart are worth more than any gift. Words are gold.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#joy #blessings

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at The Two Writing Teachers blog and I post along with a community of other writers desiring to share the craft of writing.  Join us!



#joy #blessings

Multicolored tubes splayed across the yard
Damp bathing suits hanging willy-nilly from the rack
Boat waiting to be covered
Cushions to be put away before it rains
Empty water bottles and seltzer cans laying on the table
Glasses in the sink filled with melted ice cubes
Dirty dishes on the counter
Full dishwasher waiting to be emptied
Towels on the bathroom floor

So many things screaming at me for attention...

But it's all worth it after a weekend of fun surrounded by children and grandbabies.
#joy #blessed



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Learning a New Language

It's Tuesday and I am joining the Two Writing Teachers for their weekly Slice of Life post.



"Hey Chris, want a boat?'  asked my brother-in-law Joe.  "Now that I closed on my house in Maine I don't need it any more.  Would you like to use it for the summer and see what you think?"  

Living on a lake usually means you get a boat, but my idea of boating is a quiet ride on a kayak.  I really never saw myself owning a boat... with a motor... that needs gas... that requires maintenance...that means $$$. So when Joe asked me to take his boat I certainly had a lot to think about.  
With the gentle encouragement of my kids I decided to try it out for the summer.  Last weekend Joe took me out for a spin on the lake and to get my first lesson.  He spoke about watching the trim, taking care not to cover the vents from the fumes of the out-board motor, and making sure that I turn on the fan prior to starting the engine.  He shared that I might have to add another cleat to the dock and that on sunny or even rainy days I could put up the Bimini top. Many of these words I had heard before but not in terms of marine craft. It was like he was speaking a new language to me.  I just smiled and went along for the ride. 
When I got off the boat I realized that I had so much to learn. While my kids were calling me Captain Bebe (my name for grandma) I judged I was Captain Flounder, struggling to take it all in and beginning to feel overwhelmed.  It took some effort on my part not to drown (pun intended) in all the new information but rather remember that I needed to slow down and take the learning step by step. I take consolation in knowing that I am fortunate to have so many people around me that can teach me the ropes and I need to look to them to gently guide me to success because I can't do it on my own.  All of this new information required me to be patient and allow myself some scheduled time to practice with my teachers at the ready.  I can't do this on my own, I need the help of the experienced boaters by my side until I have mastered driving the boat, or at least feel confident enough to have a go at it on my own.  I am not there yet by any means, but I am charting the course with the help of my great teaching friends.

I couldn't help but think of the parallels to my students and how they learn.  I wonder: Do I sound as if I am talking in another language when I am teaching a new skill or strategy?  Do I drown them in vocabulary?  Do I leave them to sink or swim? Do I patiently let go or hang on too tight? My experience learning to drive a boat reminded me that I will be more cautious when I release the independence over to my students.  I think about the need for more check-ins, either through observations or questioning to ensure that they are ready to take the next steps.  I need to make sure I explain the new strategies and skills in a way that makes sense to them, and break down the steps into manageable pieces so as not to overwhelm them.  All this while carefully thinking about the balance of letting the students do the work so they can experience the success and not me. 

Like me, most children want to feel successful.  They want to speed through the waters and reach their goal. Sometimes this will take some hand holding and small steps and other times our students will simply take off quickly and surprise us all. Each of us are individuals with differing needs and backgrounds.  Knowing those needs is part of the challenge of teaching.  For me, when it comes to boating it will be slow and steady wins the race! 




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lily of the Valley

Each Tuesday I write a slice of life story and join my writing friends and my writing community created by Two Writing Teachers.


When I chose joy for my one little word for 2017, I promised to write a slice a month about my word. I didn't expect it would be easy to stick with this goal but I knew that making this promise I would more readily see the joy that is in my life. I know joy is all around me, I just need to slow down and look a little closer to see it.  I didn't however expect to find it in a small vase of flowers.
The other day as I was walking into the house my eye caught a small patch of lily of the valley flowers in a side garden. They had just bloomed so I went over to take in their aroma. Instant joy filled my nose and travelled right to my memory bank with thoughts of my grandmother. I could picture that yard so vividly, with her in the gazebo surrounded by the little pips of lily of the valley flowers filling the air with their sweet scent.
I walked over to my patch and pulled out a few stems to place in a small vase for my coffee table. I chose an old bottle and filled it with water in preparation of holding the flowers. I sat and watched the tiny bubbles on the inside edge of the glass. The air bubbles caught the sunlight streaming in the windows and shone like diamonds in the bottle. 
I sat back and smiled a joy-filled smile at the sight and aroma that filled my senses. It was a joy that traveled right to the depths of my soul.  A sweet and pure joy. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Vision

It's Slice of Life Tuesday!  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for providing a forum and a community for writers!




This weekend I finally found the dedicated time to work in my garden. I had waited an entire year to get accustomed to my yard and finally I was ready to dig in and make the changes to create the yard of my dreams. The first area I wanted to make over was my pathway to my neighbor's house. My vision for this area was clear: add shade plants such as hostas and ferns to surround and soften the old pink wrought-iron chair that graced the garden walkway. I grabbed my tools and gloves and started separating the hostas in the yard. I added a few daylilies to the mix and  voila, instant garden path with a pizazz. I stepped back after a few hours of hard work to admire my handiwork. I realized then and there that having a clear vision and the available resources to accomplish that vision made everything happen.

I think that is true for many areas of life - vision and resources make most things a reality!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cooking Lessons

I hosted 12 guests for a Mother's Day brunch this past weekend.  I chose making brunch because the menu can be so varied with sweet french toasts, to savory quiches, to just right eggs, all delectable choices to cook.  The down side is the lack of oven space usually keeps me from going too wild with new dishes.  That is why I chose to use the crock pot to cook an overnight bread pudding on Saturday night. I have made these easy bread puddings before so it's simple to be creative by changing out the flavors and literally dumping new combinations of seasonings and fruits in at whim.  For this weekend's brunch I thought I'd try a bread pudding of raspberries and cream cheese. I was dreaming of the flavors as I quickly added the ingredients rather willy nilly into the pot.  I hit the "cook on low" button and went to bed, knowing that sometime in the early morning hours I would awake to the smell of sweet goodness! 

Six-thirty in the morning and I awake to smell something cooking, but not the usual sweet smell. I made my way downstairs and opened the lid to find a brown ugly mess with a smell to match.  The raspberries looked pale and mushy, the cream cheese was curdled and the bread looked overcooked with burned edges.  I unplugged the unit, tucked it aside and turned to plan B, oven french toast with some Irish soda bread I had stashed away in the freezer. This time I chose to follow a recipe. 

I felt fortunate that I had other ingredients available to save the day.  Just like in my classroom, I had to make due with what I had to make the best of the situation.  I am happy to say everything turned out fine thanks in part to being open and to being flexible!


Thank you to the authors of the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Tuesday Slice of Life. I love this community of writers that can freely write and grow together.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Writing Engagement and Book Spine Poetry

I discovered book spine poetry during the March Slice of Life Challenge and immediately fell in love with the simplicity and whimsical nature of this format.  As I described in my slice, I shared my stack with a colleague and she wanted to have a go at this poetry writing format with her class, but she wanted to wait until later in the year.
  
Yesterday was the "later in the year" date. The classroom teacher had told me the students had earned a reward and they wanted to write all day long, so she thought this was a perfect time to break from their realistic fiction series books for a day and dive in with poetry.  
I introduced the lesson by asking students to turn and talk, sharing what they recall about writing poetry.  I leaned in so I could judge what I needed to reinforce before letting them compose their own poems. Today I reminded students that poems do not have to rhyme and that poems can be silly or serious.  After clarifying these basic concepts we explored a few of the books pine poems that I found searching through google images. The students were hooked!  I placed a tall stack of hard cover books (easier to see the spine) on each of the tables and said our celebratory "Off you go!"  

The buzz in the room was exciting as they walked back to their tables to work with their new writing partner. Some students quickly stacked the books and made a poem.  Others read over each title with care.  I was very aware of how each student's personality rose quickly to the top for this project, with some children creating wildly and others being very strategic and concrete. Many of the children approached this writing activity by simply stacking books and thinking they were done. When asked what they thought the poem was about, they eagerly went back to work arranging and rearranging.  Others pushed themselves to think about creating a poem that made some sort of sense. 

Once their poems were built, students were instructed to either take a photo or video of their stack to upload into their class SeeSaw account.  Many of the students chose to record themselves reading their poem.  They were so delighted that when it came time to stop to go to music class, they moaned, signaling their high level of engagement.  

Book spine poetry was a great break for this group of students and charged them up to continue writing in new and fun formats.

How do you foster writing engagement?