#TeachersWrite-Monday Morning Warm-up

So today’s warm-up was to write about the realization our main character has that propels the emotional part of the story.  Here is what I am slowly but surely writing about.

This is a story about a sister who realizes that happiness isn’t about having it all; it’s about appreciating what you have. So, she has to work to repair a relationship with her sister, her parents, and the love of her life after getting pregnant by the boy next door who is in love with her sister. 
This story is important to me because I think today’s society struggles with the need to have it all.  We tell students they have to be the best, the thinnest, the prettiest, the most popular, the most athletic, the smartest, the best personality, the nicest-and if you are lacking in any of these areas, well there is a pill or lotion or self-help book or video workout series or tutoring app/service that can help you “be all that you can be”.  Maybe instead of trying to be the best in the eyes of others, we should worry about being the best “me” I can be.

 

Developing a PLN on Twitter

This summer i have taken on a couple of new challenges.

1. I am working on an Action Research to develop a way to get kids more engaged in research, writing, and presentation tasks.
2. I am developing my first “true” PBL experience for my students where the final product will be a novella they can share with friends and families.
3. I am developing a PLN on Twitter.

The last challenge is going to have a tremendous impact on my classroom and the first two challenges like nothing I could have imagined.

I got on Twitter because my students told me I should get on Twitter. They said I used so much technology already, I should be on Twitter and they would all follow me~okay. What they thought they were going to get by following me I have no idea but I got an account 2 years ago, followed 5 people and never opened it again.

This past semester our principal asked everyone to get out their phones and tweet #ILoveAKBecause to get a positive vibe brewing those last weeks when the testing gets high and the moods get challenging. I looked at my Seniors and said, “OMG I have a twitter I can do this too!” and I did.

That is how I got started in Twitter. I spent the first couple of weeks thinking to myself Why do these kids constantly tweet ridiculous pictures and thoughts? This is worse than some of the nonsense on Facebook. And then one of my Edmodo groups challenged us to tweet about Edmodo’s new Snapshot app.  I did and then followed Edmodo. Then the real fun began! All these “teacher people” started popping up in my feed, and they were full of exciting, innovative ideas! I started following and following and following…and now I am so excited for the best year of school yet!

My suggestion for getting started is looking for people in your district to follow, authors, presenters at conferences you have attended, presenters at conferences you wished you could attend, school district leaders.  Anyone who can add to your ability to engage students is perfect for your PLN.  You can also follow Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher and her Daily Tweetpaper for tons of 21st century twitter ideas!

Last night in a twitter chat, #edtechchat, I learned about ProjectED which has contests for the most interesting video portrayal of a word/definition. Those wheels started turning and I was thinking of remediation techniques for Knight Time. This morning a tweet came across from a colleague about doing a 3-2-1 video/technology introduction-what a great way for my homeroom students who have been together for 2 years already to share what they did over the summer. And if their summer wasn’t exciting, they can simply tell us about themselves. What an awesome idea that came from looking at my Twitter feed and 3 short back and forths with a colleague I have never met. Check this link out: Student Challenge-Video Introductions.

 

This past week I learned all about why the unions are upset with education as it is right now.  I watched videos, replied to tweets, and DM’d direct questions to people in the know. And while I don’t agree with all they are frustrated with, it did open my eyes to some of the obstacles other states and teachers face.  It also opened conversations about how teachers handle these situations and still manage to do the best for their students.  These conversations lead to collaborating and developing of ideas and sharing of techniques and the next thing you know, you have a new way of thinking about how you engage students.  It is an amazing way of developing your craft and getting excited about your classroom.

 

If you teach and you haven’t tried a Twitter chat, go online and look for a # that ends with chat! #cmsk12chat #edchat #equipchat #tleadchat #mschat  I have jumped in a ton of them and get so much out of chatting with my new PLN friends!

 

Working with Time #TeachersWrite

She stared at the + on the tiny screen. Her knees bobbed up and down as the reality of the situation settled deep in her stomach and made her feel sick. What was she going to do? The tears started flowing slowly, one at a time and then the deluge let loose.

Suddenly a knock on the door brought her back to reality as Peter called softly through the door.

“Sadie, are you okay,” he asked sweetly.

What would she do? They were only 18 years old. Her parents would kill her and then him. Could she have a baby? Could she have his baby? Her mother loved her and was pretty cool about almost everything, but this was a bit much. This was probably going to push the limits of Mom’s cool factor. This was going to ruin everything.

Sadie wiped her nosed and sucked in a deep breath. “I’ll be right out, Peter.”

Sadie 10 years earlier
It was the first day of 2nd grade and Daddy had walked us down to the bus stop like he does everyday. Today was Maddie’s first day of kindergarten and she was getting on the bus with me. As we stood at the corner waiting on the bus, another family came to stand with us. They were new and must have moved in down in the cul-de-sac this summer. I had never seen them before.

Their daddy walked up and shook my daddy’s hand and said his name was David Mercer. His boys were Peter and Cameron, and they had just moved in last week. The boys were in 2nd grade and kindergarten just like me and Maddie. I looked over at Peter. He was okay. He looked like he liked to play outside and that was cool because that’s what I liked to do.

The Dentist

Okay Moms, you take your kids to the dentist every 6 months and it stinks, but it is manageable, right? So, here was my experience today…

3 kids
1 special needs with ventilator support in a wheelchair
1 Mom
1 nurse
TOTAL CHAOS!

So, we arrive and are called back in minutes. I had just pulled out my book and the tabs I was using to mark, when the hygienist came to see us. Pens, highliters, and tabs hit the floor while she waits….crickets are squeaking in the background while I collect all the stuff from the floor.

Off we go!

Jake goes into a private room while the girls hit the games on the counter to the side waiting their turn. I have to admit at this point that I have no idea what they do in that office! I know what they do to Jake. I love our dentist, Dr. S is the BOMB! And I am sure they are doing what they are suppose to be doing because we haven’t had a cavity yet-but still, what happened out there is a complete mystery because i am in the special room with Jake.

The hygienist was awesome with Jake today. She kept encouraging him and telling him to open his mouth-FYI, he CANNOT open his mouth! You are doing it for him! And he knows this because he is a SMART kid! But, honestly she was trying so hard that I couldn’t correct her….even Scarlett whispered in my ear, “Mom. doesn’t she know he can’t open his mouth?” Out of the mouths of babes!

Then the blood came. That girl was going to get EVERY LAST SPECK OF PLAQUE she could find! It was her mission! She was not going to allow Dr. S to find a speck of anything bad on poor Jake’s teeth! I was getting concerned. He doesn’t chew and so I was worried her zeal was going to loosen a permanent tooth-what then? We managed to turn his bipap prongs around so he could breath while she tortured his mouth. That boy WAS A TROOPER! The doc said EVERYONE was good to go! REALLY-those girls are the worst brushers in the world and they are clean! SERIOUSLY!

We got out of there-Mel got stuck alone in the elevator, a new drama!-and went to Chick-fil-a for lunch, by CVS for Jake’s meds, and then home. Here is where my experience changes from that of a typical mom-I was worn out! I got him out of the van, into the house, up to his room, and then I crashed on the sofa! Who knew a trip to the dentist would be the equivalent of running a marathon!

Breathe deep-6 months til our January appointment!

Siblings-#TeachersWrite Monday

The house is settling. The television is blaring a summer favorite, “Under the Dome.” I love the story line of people being trapped inside a place where they can see the outside world, but they can’t escape each other. And they need each other. Reminds me of a classroom, and a family.

I love summertime and being at home with my three kids and getting to have a ton of interaction, but I am use to seeing 30 kids for 90 minutes and then rotate-so 24 hours with my kids can be extremely challenging. Take today. I was working with Jake who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a physical disability that does not affect him mentally, on his Stanford Achievement Test. He was trying to decide if he was going to share his answer with an “unhunmnmnm” or an eyebrow raise; Jake can never make this easy on us, but he insists on having his way or he closes his eyes and ignores us, and we have to finish this test.

His sisters were suppose to be cleaning their room-which it appears included throwing heavy animated animals at each other. “Owwww” and hysterical crying disrupted our testing and in ran the 8 year old. “She threw this polar bear at me,” she sobbed with an occasional ear piercing dream inserted and the obligatory nose snort.

“I did not,” Scarlett retorted. “I threw it at the bed and she just happened to be between the bed and the toy.” Summer can be exhausting!

But, as I sit here listening to the show and my kids through the monitor, I am reminded why I had kids in the first place. When they are quiet and getting sleepy and all in the same room, the girls looking out for Jake and making sure his movie is running, he is warm/cool enough, and that he doesn’t need something to go to sleep.

I think about when they work best together is when they are doing something for someone else, and the quiet upstairs continues. This is part of why I had kids, to give a good person to the world who would look out for those who can’t and make difference. A person who was in-tune with those around her and put herself to the side to make sure they were taken care.

Unfortunately, these other people who need the girls’ help, do not include each other! My poor ears…..

Mining Our Memories – #TeachersWrite

As she stood behind the garage looking at what she and her friends had accomplished over the past hour, she felt a sense of pride. They had worked hard to complete this masterpiece.

They had discovered that handheld paintbrushes would not allow them to get high enough on the wall and that the driveway brooms could reach much further up.

They had run out of mud and one of the boys had come up with the idea of pooping and using that instead-it had worked perfectly.

They were done, and it looked phenomenal! The entire back of the separate, white garage was covered in dark brown. The entire thing! The mud, and poop, clung to the white boards, the off-white cask of the paint coming through, but pretty much the back of the garage was brown.

Melissa stood back and looked at her friends with such a sense of accomplishment. They had worked as a team, critiquing areas and making sure every inch was covered. They had plotted and schemed and overcome problems. And finally, an hour later-an entire eternity if you think of it from a 4 year old’s point of view-they were done.

Her little brother, Jeremy, came toddling back where they stood and looked at her project. In his quiet little 2 year old voice he said, “Mom’s coming and she be mad.”

“No she won’t,” she insisted. “We made this.”

“OH MY GOD!” and then a screamed exploded from her typically calm mom. And then the SWAAP of her hand hitting Melissa’s rear end. The sting that followed wasn’t that bad because she was wet and clothed in the backyard, but it was the prelude to what was to come and it didn’t bode well for her ability to sit later. Her friends scattered, all four of them, and left her alone with her mom. She couldn’t blame them, but this was going to go South quickly.

Melissa’s mom grabbed her upper arm in a vise and dragged her into the house. The shower was cold, but went quickly, and Melissa was tossed in her room to wait for her dad. She sat quietly and still, very very still, on her bed waiting for her dad. Maybe if I don’t make a sound, they will forget I am here.

What Melissa didn’t understand is why her mom was so mad. They had gotten all of it covered?