I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Sunday, November 30, 2008


This marks my last post in November. As of right now, I've done it. 30 posts in 30 days. Holy pajamas.

I took on this challenge to get myself more in the habit of blogging daily and I'm so glad I did. I started thinking more in terms of writing. I don't think I would have necessarily made so many connections between my daily life and its impact on teaching had I not had the underlying knowledge that I would be writing every day. I really appreciated the chance to get myself thinking about writing and sharing and audience every day.

On the other hand, I didn't accomplish one of the things I thought I would, namely, finishing some of the half written reflections that are lingering on my computer.

Over the past few years, I've discovered that I am a slow writer. I think part of that might be because often I write to reflect on something. If I haven't yet gotten "there" with a thought or an idea, then the writing stays unfinished until I do.

Similarly with this blog. There are very specific teaching or education subjects about which I've been ruminating for weeks or months now (curriculum requirements, teacher expectations, government involvement, inequity) and haven't made their way here into my blog because they're not yet finished thoughts.

In taking on this challenge, I expected that I would somehow complete everything in my finish this folder. Silly me. In my writing life, nothing is ever finished until it's ready to be, so I should have expected the same.

I do expect to finish them one day, but this has proved to me that even a commitment to daily blogging won't make me write something that isn't yet ready to be written. Interesting to undertake different experiences to learn more about myself, though, I must say.

To those of you that have followed this November journey, thank you so much for doing so. It's been interesting to meet some new people during the month and I'm looking forward to continued connections.

See you all in December! (um. decidedly less often, though.) ♥

Saturday, November 29, 2008

academic choice...

One of my teaching goals this year is to deepen my understanding of, my experience with, and my all around knowledge base with Academic Choice (one element of the Responsive Classroom). This element involves a three part process for children (planning, working, and reflecting) which builds upon children's natural curiosity and allows them a sense of autonomy as they make choices about their learning.

I've discovered that I'm pretty good at building Academic Choice into a culminating activity, a chance for children to showcase what they know. For example, just last week in my classroom we had Academic Choice time related to Benjamin Franklin. Children are expected to learn three specific pieces of information about him, so those were the three 'have to' elements of their work, but they were able to choose both the mode of representation as well as whether they showed other pieces of what they learned about him.

This was the planning sheet. Several children used the back to draw some of their ideas in the morning when they used this planning sheet. We planned and made our choices in the morning and used our time in the afternoon to get right to work. This way, children had some time to think about the work before they did it so they could have the full time for working.

This is the second year running that I've run these types of Academic Choice projects and I've always been really amazed at the depth of the students' work. My struggle is conceptualizing Academic Choice as an ongoing, daily activity. Children have a lot of choice in our classroom, but I want to figure out how to include all three componentsinto something that's more ongoing, rather than only with culminating activities.

As I try various things on this journey, I'll share them. Also, for those of you that are also part of the Responsive Classroom approach, what have you found helpful in your own journey with Academic Choice?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mr. Putter and Tabby...

On Wednesday, we read Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea. It's the second book about these two characters that our class has read and I can't say enough about how enjoyable these books are and how much my students love them.

Reading them is a unique experience because they have underlying themes that adults connect with and are so drenched with love that children just adore them.

That afternoon, at the library, eight of my children checked out Mr. Putter and Tabby books. Eight.

Guess it's about time to put a basket of Mr. Putter and Tabby books into our own classroom library...

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It's the tail end of Thanksgiving here in my house; we hosted sixteen people this year. Some have gone home, some are sleeping here, but we were all well fed, well conversed, and rather sated. Whenever I spend time with my family I'm always thankful for them, even the idiosyncrasies and odd uniqueness of us all.

Similarly, I find myself quite thankful for the internet and blogging... this ability to write about oneself, one's thoughts or struggles or successes... to find others out there with similar interests, with similar goals... to learn about each other... to learn from each other.

It's rather amazing when I think about it.

So, tonight, on this late hour of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the connections I've made here online, for the opportunity to both talk about teaching and read what others have to say. Have a wonderful night. ♥

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

class books...

I love watching the absolute hush that falls over my students when we premiere a book that our class has written...

I think part of it is the excitement of seeing the page that they made and the joy of seeing those by some of their best friends.

I think another part of it is being able to relive an experience or remember and connect to some learning they have already done.

Whatever reason it is, though, it is absolutely beautiful. Sort of makes me want to do nothing but make books and read them aloud all year long.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

my six year old artists...

Our principal has been on maternity leave since August, so our Assistant Principal has been the Acting Principal and we had a retired principal as our Acting Assistant Principal (so many titles!). Well, our principal will be coming back from maternity leave after Thanksgiving so we're preparing to say goodbye to the man that has been our AP for the past many months. The kids are really going to miss him.

In our class, we like to make cards. We make them for every child on their birthday (think of how amazing it is to turn seven and go home with an envelope full of brightly colored cards created by and written by every person in your class!) and for other people on other occasions, as well.

For our AP, we decided to make the cards a two day project. Yesterday we pulled out the watercolors to paint the front of the cards and today we will write special messages to him.

As I was laying out the cards to dry yesterday, I was struck by the sheer beauty of them. They're so varied in design, in what the children chose to create. Really, any of them could be framed and hung up on its own. So, I assembled them and took a photograph to share here.

Beautiful, aren't they?

Monday, November 24, 2008

watching the children...

Over the summer I made several posts while I was setting up the classroom. There was one area of the classroom that was rather an experiment -- this one:

note: you can click on any picture to make it bigger

You'll see our library area and a table over to the left. The table was very close to our meeting area (which we use for everything) and I wasn't sure if it would end up being a good spot for the table.

It wasn't.

With about six more bodies than the meeting area is used to, and with the needs of these students as they are, the kids needed more space and needed some other spaces to be more defined.

So, in October I moved the table and closed in our library area a bit more. It's worked out really well and the kids love it. The library is one of their favorite areas of the classroom (notice the two funky chairs there. That also helps.)

So, now the area looks like this: (pardon the blurriness)

Here is a better picture of the library:
The space is more defined with the small bookshelf jutting out, the chart stand with poems we've read, and the two funky chairs. Behind the waterfall bookcase we keep carpet squares, and will eventually be a Conflict area for the children to go and resolve problems together. I also keep the projector there out of the way, but it's easily retrieved for when we need it.

And a view from far away where you can see the easel and the (messy!) tools underneath that we use for almost everything. (We sit by the easel a lot!)(random: If you see the white tape on the floor where the funky chairs are, it's actually a guide for the kids so they know where to put the chairs so they don't get in the way.)

One thing I miss is the pretty curtains over the area, because it looked so lovely, but it just doesn't seem to make sense to keep the curtains and cover up the books...


So, all in all, it was a good experiment to learn from. Having a table there might work for a different class, or for this class at a different time. Just not now. I like watching and learning from the children.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

who's calling the shots?

We're in the midst of cleaning and straightening our house to get ready for Thanksgiving. In my flurry of pile decimation and dust attack, I found this book: Who's Calling the Shots: How to Respond Effectively to Children's Fascination with War Play and War Toys by Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Diane Levin.

I read this book more than ten years ago and found it incredibly helpful in thinking about how to support my students in their dramatic play. I think I'm going to stick it on my bedside table and re-read to see what jumps out at me during this read.

The first time I read it, the biggest thing that stuck with me was giving the children the chance to engage in the war play they were going to do anyway. I'd always thought it made sense to tell the children not to use play guns and always stopped any bomb or gun talk when I heard it. What I remember from this book was the fact that it advocated being there when children were beginning to engage in talk of guns and bombs and shooting in order to ask questions and direct the conversation, ie:

student: Boom! Bang! The bomb just fell on the building!
teacher: Oh no!
student: What?
teacher: What about the people inside? Where is the hospital?

and etc...

This was from a conversation that I actually had with a kindergartner years ago. We ended up using blocks to build a hospital and used a Matchbox car for an ambulance and we made sure to bring the people to the hospital for care. The point I remember from the book, was that often children need someone else to help make the consequences of various things explicit, because they don't always make the connections themselves.

I feel sort of like a fraud, recommending this book that I haven't read in ten years or so, but it was such a helpful guide for me, and I'd hate for it to get lost among all of the books being published now.

Also, I wanted to share this recipe for Play-doh that I found in this book. It remains, hands down, the best play doh I've made in all my years of teaching. It takes a little longer, because you have to cook it, but it is well worth it.

Cooked Play-doh
3 c flour
1 1/2 c salt
2 T cream of tartar
3 T oil
3 c water
(a few drops of food coloring or 1 t tempera paint -- mix this into the water if you want to color the play doh)

Mix ingredients in a large pot and stir over low heat until the mixture starts to thicken like mashed potatoes. Then, remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl or another pan and let it cool. When it's cool enough to touch, knead for a while with your hands. It keeps for a long time in a sealed container.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

button thoughts...

This afternoon, we were getting ready for a wedding and my husband looked at the shirt I'd put on, shook his head, and commented,

"I could never understand why women have buttons down the back of their shirts..."

It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with one of my kindergartners. At the time I was wearing a long dress with buttons down the back. Our class was getting in line to go outside and there were a few of us waiting by the door for everyone else to finish cleaning. This student, Jaime, looked at my dress, and then thought for a while.

"Miz F?" he asked finally. "Do you live with your mom?"

"No," I told him. "I have some roommates that I live with. They're teachers -- remember I told you about them?"

"Yeah," he hedged and kept looking at my dress. There was something clearly on his mind, and it took a moment or two for it to click in for me. It did just as he asked,

"Then who buttons your clothes?"

I remember telling him that most of my clothes I buttoned myself -- and that this particular dress didn't have to be unbuttoned, but could be pulled over my head, like a shirt -- but if there was ever something I couldn't put on, I'd probably ask a friend for help.

I'd long forgotten this conversation, but it came back to mind today and made me smile because it's another example of the way that children's minds work in such interesting ways. So often, there are these puzzles that they try to figure out, and Jaime was clearly trying to figure out how I got my clothes buttoned when the buttons were in the back. He couldn't figure out who did it so he had to ask.

I think also, because that sort of thinking was so uniquely Jamie, it's a story that I've kept in my mind.

It does make me wish, though, that I'd started keeping a more frequent teaching journal years ago. How many stories have I let go of because I didn't write them down... how many learning opportunties have I forgotten about...

Guess it's a good thing I'm trying to do this now. ♥

Friday, November 21, 2008


Another quick post, because it's nearly 10pm and I am absolutely knackered...

We took a field trip today (I'll talk more in a future post), and one of the things that I was reminded of is that often, the journey is just as memorable for the children as the actual destination itself.

Today we went into Washington DC to visit the Capitol Visitor Center (before it officially opens to the public, no less!). It was brilliant, cold, exhausting and exhilarating.

When we got back to school and were drawing what we'd seen, just as many children drew pictures of what they'd seen on our bus ride as drew pictures of something from the Capitol itself.

Which, honestly, sums up a lot of what I believe is important in teaching and learning. It is so typically the journey in learning that is the most powerful, where the most growth and reflection occurs. Outcomes and destinations are fine -- important, even -- but certainly not more so than the rich journeys toward that outcome. I invite anyone to think about something they achieved and reflect upon the journey it took to get there. Probably? An important story lies within...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maybe... just this one time... I can come home from work and do nothing related to work for the rest of the night.

We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

little mountains...

Years ago I had a little girl that was on the playground, sitting on the bench and looking at her fingers.

"Look, Miz F," she told me, putting the tips of her pointer fingers and thumbs together. "When I do this, it makes a little diamond."

We talked about that for a long while, looking through the little diamond to see what we could see, even convincing some other kids to try it in the process.

What I took away from that experience (other than glee) was a reminder of how young children, almost above anything else, notice things. They are experts at it. They notice with their ears, their eyes, with how things feel, how they taste... anything. Everything.

I was reminded of this again today while walking back inside from recess. We were taking a short cut across the field when Rubiah turned to me and said,

"It's really bumpy under my feet. Like little mountains."

As I walked, I could feel what she meant. It has gotten a lot colder, so the ground is much harder than it used to be. Under my feet I could feel bumps and little ups and downs.

"It does feel like little mountains, doesn't it?" I said. "I wonder what it would feel like to a bug or an ant..."

"Probably like big mountains!"

How wonderful to hear such unique six year old insight into things. I love being reminded how interesting and intricate their minds are. ♥

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

what's in a name?

Currently, we're studying timelines in our class. The assignment was to cut out the pictures and put them in an order that would show a person's life. After students cut and arranged the pictures, I encouraged them to tell a story about the person's life: they could give the person a name and write about each part, or write a story the way they wished.

I walked up to Jack and looked down at his paper. At the time, it had the pictures in order and just his name and the letters "OWNK" printed underneath.

"Read this to me," I said, pointing to the word.
"It says, oink," he told me.
"Why does it say oink?" I asked. (note to self: silly question)
"That's her name," he said, matter of factly.

I nearly lost it laughing. Oink. Her name. Yup. I did encourage them to name the person and tell a story, never expecting that an animal noise might end up as a name.

After I composed myself, I told Jack, "Don't forget to write about each part of Oink's life."

He giggled at me when I said it.

"You named her," I grinned.
"It just sounds funny when you say it."
"I think it sounds funny when anyone says it."
He considered that. "Yeah, I think that's right."

Then he wrote the story. About Oink, of course. I wonder if she'll appear in any writing during our Writing Workshop...

Monday, November 17, 2008

democracy in action...

Our hermit crab died a week ago. :(

So, we mourned and examined the dead body, which was highly interesting to my students. Don't worry, though, we examined it through a plastic bag and didn't actually touch it.

An appropriate amount of time has passed, so today we set up some voting booths and got to vote for a new pet. The question was:

Please circle the pet you would like our class to have. Circle only one.

The grand total -- (click on the image to see it larger)
Fish = 18 Hermit Crab = 4

I guess the Hermit Crab didn't make as much of an impression as I thought it did...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

what do you think?

This may be a strange way of making this count for NaBloPoMo, but I'm going to do so anyway.

I write to communicate, to straighten my thoughts, to reflect, to come to a conclusion, to share, to do so many things. I do a lot of personal writing, a lot of public writing. I was even telling a friend this weekend that if I have a strong reaction to something, I will often write, write, write, and then email it to myself. Most of that writing never makes it anywhere-- it is ultimately personal -- but serves a specific purpose for me.

Now, while I write for myself, when I post something here, it is with the knowledge that someone might read it and a conversation or a small interaction might result. A lot of blogging, for me, is the interaction. Sometimes the interaction is related to a specific thought or idea, but many times it is meeting another teacher/writer/reflector and building a new connection.

And so, I ask...

What would you like to see me blog about?

I can't promise to write about everything, but now that I've said that blogging is about interaction, how about I put my money where my mouth is?

Have a great night. ♥

Saturday, November 15, 2008

getting there

On Friday I sat in the middle of our Writing Workshop with tears in my eyes.

I've mentioned before that my class this year is one of the most difficult (for a multitude of reasons) that I've had in thirteen years of teaching. There were moments not five weeks ago that I would sit and look at some of the chaos in front of me and think, Will we get there?

I have such faith in children, such a deep respect for them as important people, yet I don't always share the same faith in myself. I pretty regularly have doubts about my ability to manage that or organize this or develop curriculum for that...

The great thing? People around me do have that faith in me. Any time I was silently going over something that hadn't gone well, someone at school would have something positive to say -- something they'd seen me do, or important thinking they heard one of my students doing, or a kind, real act of compassion one of my students showed. I think that really helped keep refilling my reserve level of strength and faith in myself that I could help our class move forward, develop into the community I know we can become.

My friends, I really stepped back today and saw them. It was a beautiful moment, to be able to sit back and watch these children, purposeful and diligent (for the most part), getting to this work of writing.

One boy finally finished his book about interesting coins -- along with a table of contents that is barely readable to anyone other than a first grade teacher, but gloriously exhibits his own style.

Another girl put aside a story that was just not interesting anymore to try some humor. She always makes us laugh and decided to try her hand at that in writing today.

Benicio, who couldn't hear a lot of sounds in the beginning of the year and never left spaces between words, wrote a three page story about Halloween with spaces, many high frequency words spelled correctly, and punctuation.

So, yeah. If I ever had any doubt about the fact that we'd get there... I don't anymore. I certainly know that it's not going to be all wine and roses, but I see it now. I get it. We're well on our way.

And that's a beautiful thing. ♥

Friday, November 14, 2008

organizing books...

I found this great idea on another teacher's blog here. This preschool teacher found a way to display books in a way that made it easy for her to see what was missing, but also empowered the children to put books away independently.

It was rather perfect timing to have found that this week, because I was just thinking about a way to reorganize the book display shelf in our class library. We were trying to put too many books on the shelf, I think, and the 'puzzle' aspect of it was not letting the kids be successful.

So, one morning I pulled all the books off and rearranged them -- grouping books if possible -- and then typed up the titles and taped them to display.

Here is how it looks:

It was exactly what my students needed. First of all, they know that the book will go back into the space from which they got it, so putting it away won't be hard. Also, they get to match letters and words, which six year olds just love. I also see them showing this sense of satisfaction when the books are put away and it looks neat and attractive -- they seem more proud of our library area these days.

I really love learning new and clever ideas from other teachers. We have such a wealth of knowledge to share with one another, don't we?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I can read that...

Benicio has been learning English for slightly more than a year. He is completely dedicated to learning and takes everything I say very literally, obviously trying to put it into practice with his own learning. He is, quite honestly, amazing. The progress that he's made in the past ten weeks is remarkable.

Yesterday in the library, our librarian was reading Duck at the Door aloud to my class. She turned to one of the pages that was mostly an illustration, and in the center of the page were a few words in a regular size font and then "Duck" in larger letters.

I heard Benicio whisper, sort of in awe of himself, "I can read that!"

And then he did: "Duck."

I can scarcely imagine what he'll be doing by the end of the year. I sort of can't wait to find out... ♥

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

frog stickers and inspiration

See the picture?

No, it's not an audition for hand-modeling, though the pose strikes me as a bit odd now that I look at it. (Look, ma, I've almost quit biting my nails!)

You probably can't help but notice that strange little sticker, yes? Well, it's there for a reason. Several years ago, I had this glorious imp of a little girl in my class. She was loud, energetic, full of love, completely desirous of friendship, and rather exhausting. As the months passed, I noticed that my normally overflowing reserve of patience was often tapped with her by the end of the day.

One night, I remember thinking really deeply about her, wondering what it was that tried my patience so. Every thought made me realize that it was not her intention, nor was it her fault. Yes, I'm blessed with a greater than average dose of patience, but she wasn't setting out daily to whittle it away.

That night, I started remembering little stories of her: snippets and images, her voice and her smile. By the time I went to bed, I had her fully on my mind and I couldn't stop smiling, thinking about her absolute glee about school and learning and me, her teacher.

I woke up on a mission. I knew it. I knew all these little, glorious things about her and by the end of the day, my patience was so thin that I wasn't remembering them. I realized that I needed a way to remember the bits of her that warmed my heart, so I could also support the parts of her that helped tire me out.

That's where the sticker idea came from. Putting a sticker on my hand was essentially tying a string around my finger. Every time I saw it, I thought of this little girl and all of the details that made her amazing. Now, I talk with my hands (more so than most humans in the world, probably), so you can imagine how often I saw that sticker during the day.

It was exactly right.

I spent the day remembering all of her, so that even during the moments that would have tired me out, I was able to hold onto her very essence and help reframe it -- for her and myself.

As for the visibility to her and other kids... well, I collect frogs, so when students saw the little frog sticker on my hand, they commented, but thought little of it. I just said it was there to help me remember something.

And remember it I did.

I honestly can't say where the sticker idea came from -- but that's often a theme in some of the greatest moments of teacher-inspiration, isn't it? A momentary brainstorm that ends up being just right.

So, there you have it. When I need to remember something, when I'm trying to break a habit, or start a new one, that's what I do. I stick a frog sticker on the fleshy part of my right hand and go about the day.

I'm sharing it here because, well, I love hearing about the little things that people invent to achieve a goal. Perhaps this will catch on and sweep the world! Maybe in a few months we'll see world leaders wearing frog stickers on their hands in the middle of important peace summits... maybe we'll see Wall Street execs wearing frog stickers during important financial meetings.

Maybe I should buy stock in frog stickers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

real writing, real kids...

I want to thank my good friend and former (*sniff*) colleague Ms. Swamp for pointing out this book about Barack Obama: Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes. I think I'm going to stop by the bookstore on my way to dance class today to see if I can pick up a copy for my class.

Ms. Swamp -- or "Swampy" as I like to call her -- shared a book that her class wrote together about Barack Obama. My class will probably write a book in the future as well. Currently, during our Writing Workshop, many students are writing about the election, the candidates, or about going to vote with their family.

I thought I'd share some of their writing:

This is the cover of one little girl's book.

This little boy is writing about Obama and McCain. We talked about the speeches after the election was decided and how both of them used some of the traits that we talk about at our school (from the Reponsive Classroom's CARES).
They used cooperation and assertion, responsibility ...

This little boy's book reads like a letter. When he's done, I sort of want to send it to Obama...
Barack Obama, you're a nice person and you are friendly.

Barack Obama, you are a nice person and you are smart.

I'll try to upload some more another day. I am just truly blown away by the sheer need some of these children have to write what's going on for them. It's rather inspiring. ♥

Monday, November 10, 2008

a trail less travelled...

Yesterday on a long walk throught the back trails of our neighborhood, my husband and I walked up a steep embankment and came to a road.

We looked at each other for a moment, not knowing exactly where we were. It took a minute, looking around at the landmarks, until I realized that we were standing on the side of a relatively major road in our neighborhood.

As soon as I figured it out, we both sort of laughed and nodded, realizing that it couldn't be anything but that particular road, based on where we were and the relationship of everything around us.

The point I took from that experience is this: I came upon something so completely familiar -- a road I travel on every day -- and yet it took me a few moments to recognize it when I approached it from a different direction.

What an important lesson to remember in teaching. How often are my students approaching something from a different perspective, a unique one that is not my own, and seeing it in a way that I might not see? Similarly -- and I think good teachers do this well -- there is a profound importance to anticipate various ways children might be approaching new or familiar learning.

How often do I 1) recognize when this is happening (remembering that it might be happening at any time) and 2) give them the time and direction they might need to make a learning connection on their own, rather than make it for them? Hopefully the answer is a large one.

For example, if I know that Benicio can read the predictable words on our Morning Message and I know that some of those words will be in the new book I'll be giving him during Guided Reading, I should recognize that he might be at a similar precipice and give him the tools to figure out that the word in front of him is one he knows, rather than do it for him.

He certainly has the tools to do it himself. :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Several weeks ago, our first grade classes took a field trip to a local county park, a nature center with a pond and a stream and a fantastic trail for walking. During our nature walk, my students took great pleasure in kicking the fallen leaves up as they walked, crunching them underfoot, and just generally making a lot of noise with the leaves.

Today my husband and I went for a long walk through the trail in our neighborhood and beyond. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and the leaves were in full glory all along and across the trail. It was a great walk. Also, I discovered something. I am about twenty-nine years older than my students, and apparently...

Crunching and kicking and making a great deal of noise with fallen leaves just doesn't ever lose it's appeal. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The eagerness, curiosity, imagination, drive and enthusiasm of the six year old is perhaps never again matched in quantity or intensity during the life span.

~Chip Wood, Yardsticks

I don't know how many of you are familiar with this book, but I highly recommend it. I've owned it for probably ten years; my copy is tattered and falling apart and I really ought to invest in a new copy one day. Every time I pick it up I find something new.

This book details every age level from 4 - 14, and looks at the typical behavior/development in four areas: Physical, Language, Social, and Cognitive. It also looks at curriculum connections and discusses some things you probably *shouldn't* do with that particular age level. It's only about 8 pages per age level, but full of insight. Truly.

I love to share it with families throughout the year to let them see what an interesting age their children are at.

The quote I led off with above? Oh yes. Six year olds are incredible in the way they are pulling everything in and trying to make sense of everything around them. Every age level has its own unique and amazing characteristics, and I love that different people find such pleasure in different age levels. Imagine if every teacher liked only nine year olds? Where would the other age levels be?

I was thinking about some of my students this week and how uniquely six they are and it reminded me of this book. I'll try to recommend some of my other favorites over the next months.

Have a lovely night. ♥

Friday, November 7, 2008


How awesome is that, huh? Eleven different languages spoken in the homes of my students.

The world is an amazing place.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

organization struggles

In my quest for organization, we reorganized the tools in the writing area. It's always amazing to me the vast differences between each class of children. Some classes have a natural sort of ability to keep areas of the classroom clean and organized and some classes need specific, detailed, clear instructions. Sometimes it's only one or two children that need the support.

Well, this year's class needs as much routine and structure as I can possibly give them, so...

Our Writing Tools!

Some notes: the pencil sharpener is only open in the morning and at the end of the day, otherwise the noise is completely distracting. We also have two class jobs for children to be the one that sharpens the pencils. You can see two cans in the back of the station for sharp pencils and ones the need to be sharpened. It's a system I developed a few years ago and works well, so I keep it going.

You'll notice that the paper clip and sticky note containers are empty for the moment. This is deliberate. First, we haven't put those tools out yet. Secondly, it allows us to make a big deal when we are ready to put the tools out because the kids have seen the empty containers for a little while already.

Anyway, I think I might take some pictures of different areas over the next week or so and document them here. I find that I am, without a doubt, an organized person living in a disorganized person's body, so it's a near daily struggle for me to keep things in the right place. Creating classroom organization that works is a fun challenge for me, and definitely something I wish I was better at in my personal life.

How about you all? How do you deal with organization? Are there systems that you use that you find particularly helpful or that you're proud of?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

election results...

Something tells me that I'm going to remember the conversations I have with my students this week for a long, long time. ♥

*pumps fist in the air and dances in glee*