Oh, the Memories!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Day 9 of #btbc16
Favorite Student Memory from 2015-16

FB quote of unknown origin that deserved a Word Swag
     I call myself a rainbow spotter.  I like to looks for rainbows, both literal and metaphoric.  I love seeing old ROY G. BIV actually appear, but I also just tend to look for the good when I am feeling down.  Metaphoric rainbows, if you will.  That results in a lot of favorite student memories, not just one.  Here goes, in no particular order.

This moment happened during an F&P test of a 5th grader.  
It was a lovely (boring) book about the internet, and one of the questions was about a topic the author should have included.  This young reader started talking about kids' use of devices, and how there is more to the world than just playing games on technology.  She said, "You don't need to beat your Flappy Bird score people.  You need fresh air, too."  I went and Word Swagged it, and gave it to her in a frame at the end of the year.  She has said many really great things over the years.  The timing of that one just struck me.

I also Word Swagged another 5th grader...  
We had just had a classroom conversation with his 5th grade class for the very first time, and when we finished he said across the room, "This conversation was like a scrabble game.  We just kept building on each other."  It was a totally un-prompted reflection, and a very accurate statement.  I went straight to my office to Word Swag that as the bell rang, and also gave that to him in a frame.  I love that he saw the value of other peoples' ideas.

This moment happened after we close read these images in Separate is Never Equal in 5th grade.  
We were working on having a classroom conversation, and we had just looked at these images.  
We then formed a circle as a classroom, and I said, "Does anyone have an idea to get the conversation started?"  A rather quiet student raised her hand, and I called on her.  "Mexicans are not dogs" was her idea.  A 4 word statement led to the best lesson of the year.  (I intend to blog on this more later.)  

One of these boys was a very reluctant reader when I had him as a 2nd grader.  Fast forward to 5th grade, and this group of heterogenous readers picked their OWN novel to read and were having a student driven conversation you could hear across the room.  This photo happened when one of their teachers and I noticed their engagement.  The smile on the face of that reader is PRIDE.  
Pure #edujoy.

This moment happened after our first Battle of the Books.  His team won the contest, so they got to pick a book of their choosing from Scholastic.  He chose ECHO.  We gave them their books at the celebration for all participants, and one of the students asked if the winning team had anything to say. This young man stepped forward and said to a room full of readers, 
"It might take me 2 years to read this, but I am going to do it."
The next day, the book was on his desk with a bookmark already in it.

I was walking down the hallway and noticed a student reading a book that I happened to be reading with another class.  She also happened to be on my favorite chapter!!!  I LOVE chapter 14 of Number the Stars.  Love.  So, I asked her to read it, and I'd be back to discuss it.  I came back the next day, and we had a conversation about the deeper meanings in the chapter, and she related it to her work with the signposts.  Then, she started asking me if I read some other titles.  I literally opened up my computer, went to Amazon, and put new titles into my cart, 
thanks to book recommendations from a 4th grader.  

This moment happened when I walked into a kindergarten classroom at the end of the year, and three or four kids came running over to me.  "We found him!  We found him!"  The truth is, after reading The Thank You Book, I realized that I had no idea where the Pelican was in the Piggie and Gerald series.  Well, these kinders found him for me.  

Walking down the hallway, I saw two classmates 
reading the same title independently, yet near each other.  
Then, I saw their pencils.  
One of them had gone to the store and made a pair of 
matching pencils with the title of their book.  

This 4th grade class had just finished reading The One and Only Ivan as they transitioned to a non-fiction reading unit.  I walked into the room, and a boy suddenly appeared next to me.  "Mrs. O'Donnell, we found Ivan."  He opened up Actual Size, and showed me Ivan's hand.  
Of course, I had to put mine on his.  

These young ladies had just finished presenting to the staff at a PD meeting.  They are iSWAT students who were giving teachers tips about using tech.  When the meeting ended, they got to eat a bagel because we had happened to have treats that day at the staff meeting.  In order to let them finish, I brought them into the new PD room.  These young future leaders sat in that room, nibbling on their bagels, and asked about the kinds of PD we give in that room with a light in their eyes.  These girls were making plans.  :)

What happens when you put three boys who don't work together academically very well on a typical day, but replace the topic with one that is relevant to them?  These boys worked collaboratively to do a character analysis with text evidence.  Proud of these young padawans.  

This year was the first year I had the opportunity of being interviewed by student reporters.  This was my first interview, by two promising future news media members.  They had their press passes, notepads, and iPod touches ready for our Family Reading Event.  So awesome.

Don't let the Pigeon read in the halls.  Never mind, let her.

This moment is about the day I gave my personal copy of The Marvels (which I cherish) to a 5th grader who is a promising artist and writer.  I told her that his book shows the potential of art and words meeting, and that she is filled with potential to do something great with those two ways to tell a story.  She looked confused, and then I pulled the book off the shelf.  She actually gasped and said, "That's beautiful!" in a soft voice as she saw the gold embossed pages.  
I knew I had made the right choice.  

I stopped into this kinder classroom to see their "shark week" projects, and ended up laughing hysterically at the musical rendition of a shark attack.  I wish I had it on video.  It was adorable. 
(I also learned a few things from them about sharks.  Yes, kinders are researchers too.)

This moment is of 3rd grade students working collaboratively to debate their self-created animal's survival skills, in a tight huddle of awesome language use centered around NGSS and CSSS standards.

This moment is of a former student who came back to support his younger siblings at their end of the year awards assembly.  He used to be shorter than me.  He isn't anymore.  :)

To close, I'll leave you with another student memory that is an appropriate farewell.  
It is the raw footage of her Mars newscast sign off.  

These memories could not have happened 
without their teachers sharing their students with me. 

(I reserve the right to post about more special memories as I remember them.  This was fun.) 

Thank you.


  1. Great memories! Thanks for sharing!

  2. so many great memories leah. I loved this post. we should make it a monthly ritual post for everyone!