Archive for November, 2009

Making a Difference

Today I ran across a video that really touched me.  I started to watch it because it reminded me of what the Fourth Grade teachers did with our Digital Storytelling session last week.  As I watched, I soon decided I needed to share it with you, and to tell you thank-you for making a difference everyday in the lives of our students. 

When you view it, you might want to be alone–it will tug at your heartstrings.


Being Thankful

What an exciting time to be in education!  Last week the fourth grade teachers did an amazing job with Digital Storytelling.  They created their stories with PhotoStory 3 and used the pictures to support details and add voice to their writing.  Technology opens up a whole new world for us.  The exciting part is the thinking that goes with how to use the technology to allow our students to  do something they could not do without it.   The writing our teachers produced was full of voice and supporting details–will we see the same results with our kids?  I am thankful to be in a district where technology is becoming more available for us to use.

There are so many reasons for us to be thankful this week!   I hope you get the chance to visit with family and friends this Thanksgiving, and you find some time for yourself to rest and relax.   The halls of the elementary schools show how hard you and your students have worked this year, and the displays on the walls leave tracks where your teaching has taken our students.  I am thankful to be part of a faculty where students do come first.

As I sign off this week, I want to leave you with a new interactive reading site.  It was recommended on one of my favorite sites, and it does look promising.  Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday Mornings in the Ozarks

j0438525This morning as I sit at my computer writing to you, my mind keeps moving to the stack of new journals I want to read.  The email notifications about my online journals draw me to get a cup of coffee and just browse.  Early Sunday morning is my favorite time of the week.  I wake up early, get a cup of coffee, and find a comfortable place to look at my professional reading.  This morning, however, I have to curb that inclination and get my work finished so I be part of the family activities planned for this afternoon.

I couldn’t help but look at one of my favorite writing websites for just a minute. . . and I am glad that I did!  There is a new K-1 site on WritingFix.  Be sure to scroll down to the pictures of the books and click on one.  The authors of that site have created 6 Trait lessons for the books pictured. 

Here is a quick link:

Last week we started our book study on The Daily 5 and CAFE.  We have a great group of people from across the district, and I am looking forward to our Monday morning conversations!  One of the best features of our book study is the fact that it is made up of teachers from across the district.  What a wonderful opportunity for us to share our thoughts and ideas. 

Don’t forget to check out the resources and other pages on our blog.  As you let me know you need things, I am trying get them posted for you to use.  There are also a few new contributions from you on the lesson plans wiki.  Remember, we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel–let’s share what we create!

As I get ready for my busy Sunday, I want to take a minute and tell you how much I am enjoying working with you.  You are truly a group of hard-working, dedicated teachers, and I feel blessed to be a part of you.  Have a happy Sunday!

All the Places to Love

Boy Hugging Golden RetrieverThis week I have been looking at my writing resources and thinking about Thanksgiving.  I hope all of you have tried out the Writing Fix website I linked to our blog earlier this year.  It is a wonderful collection of writing ideas.  Here is a good lesson for this month as we begin to think about Thanksgiving, family, and places we love.

We have several exciting things happening right now.  Tomorrow morning we begin a book study on The Daily 5 and CAFE.  Teachers from across the district are joining together to discuss and share ideas about reading in our classrooms.  Another exciting happening for us is the sharing of  resources you are doing with your Smart Notebook files.  Be sure to check often to see what your colleagues are adding!

This week promises to be a beautiful time in the Ozarks.  I hope you take time to enjoy the weather!

Settling In

j0178919When I was in the classroom, I always looked forward to having the first round of  parent-teacher conferences finished.  I knew that my year was about to settle down just a bit.  The fall round of DRA was finished, my writing samples had been assessed and I was using them to guide my instruction, and Guided Reading was up and going.  The month of November always seemed to flow as I settled in and tried to refine my Reading and Writing Workshops.

I think my job as a teaching specialist is about to settle in also.  We have given the DRAs and taken our writing samples.  Our District Literacy Team is working to come up with anchor papers for us to use with our writing program.  Guided Reading is for the most part up and going at Willard.  The Reading Assessment Walls and the Math Diary Mapping are both up and going.  Investigations is  underway.  Matt and Rachel have been working to help get everyone comfortable with the technology.  We will spend our next months refining what we are doing, and using what we learn to make instruction better.  I will have more time to plan with Matt and Rachel, as well as more time for working in your classrooms. 

One of the things I am most excited about is the wiki we are using to add the interactive lessons or activities you are creating.  This is a place for you to contribute.  Matt, Rachel, and I will also contribute, but the goal is for this to be a place to share what you are doing district-wide.  If you create a Smart Notebook lesson, try it with your students, and it is successful, please email or let one of us know and we will get it on the wiki.  Eventually, we will have a wealth of resources to use.  I will continue to add web sites and resources to my resource page, and  Smart Notebook files will be added to our wiki.  Many of the Smart Notebook files I add to the wiki will be on the K-4 Resources page because they can be used and adapted to the reading and writing levels of your students.  Be sure to check our Squeaky Bats(Vocabulary-Spelling-Word Work) and the Story Log (K-4 Resources) on the wiki!

I hope this is a time for you to settle in with your class and begin refining the work you started.  Try to take time to enjoy the process!  Happy November!