I Am A Writer: A Slice of Life

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15


     Today is a big day.  Not only is it Day 31 of the Slice of Life Challenge, but it is also #PostitivePostItDay on Twitter.  What do you get if you combine the 2 things?


     I end this challenge with a Positive Post It to myself.  I am a writer.  All month, I have been copying and pasting the same text to the top of my blog.  "This month, I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own)."  But, as the month comes to a close, I am starting to see that I am a writer. 

     I write on my blog, usually for myself, but with an awareness that there may be an audience out there.  This challenge helped me remember that.  It was so much fun getting comments from others, and leaving comments for writers.  Sense of audience is important, for us and for our students.

     I write better narrative than I did at the beginning of the challenge.  Specifically, I better learned how to document my children's moments through words.  I need to get their blog going again.    

     I have realized that writing poetry does not scare me anymore, but it did a year ago.  

     One of my goals was to write more from from different perspectives.  I did not do that much this challenge, but I do see other peoples' perspectives better after reading slices by others.  I just need to keep slicing, perhaps on Tuesdays.

     I have remembered to slice every day, despite missing the time deadlines a few days.  I have reminded myself what goal setting can be.  Within goal setting are some failures, too.  But I remembered not to give up, and have a purpose beyond prizes.  My purpose was to write.  I feel like I did that.

     So, thank you Slice of Life and TwoWritingTeachers.wordpress.com for making me a writer.  Thank you, fellow slicers, for reading my posts but also inspiring me along the way with your writing.  It is powerful to share your voice with the world, and I am so grateful that a handful of people took the time each day to read my thoughts.  What a fun month this has been!  

(Graphics by Ashley Hughes)



     



     


Once Upon A Time: A Slice of Life

Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

I sat down to write my blog post at the same time my daughter decided to share her book with me.  She told me an elaborate story across many pages about princesses.  When I decided to try to co-author a story with her, this is what happened. 

(I'm in bold, my 5 year old is in italics)


     Once upon a time, I don't remember.

     Mom, you can't write "I don't remember." That wasn't part of my story!

     Once upon a time, there was a princess named Belle.
She lived... Mom, that wasn't the part.  Now it's time for....  MOM, you messed up my story again!
Why are you typing all the things I say?  

     OK, so tell me the real story.

    There once was a princess named Belle.  That went to Florida.  That's all I remember.

Written By: Mom and Daughter

Toy Pensee Poems: A Slice of Life

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

I was inspired by a fellow slicer and the random toy scenes I discovered around my home this morning.
*This slice was inspired by this post from a fellow slicer:
https://lettersfromcoachk.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/slice-of-life-day-26/


Minecraft
LEGO brick made
Crafting things without a mind
Empty on the kitchen table
Where are those LEGO heads?


Parked toy
White hotel bus
Waiting for some travelers 
Playmobil van, LEGO driven
Who needs a new windshield?

A line
From big to small
Carnivores walking slowly
Long journey to the bathroom sink
Ferocious and playful


Nap time
Night for the knight
Laying on a blue lawn chair
In a castle tower bedroom
What will he dream about?

















Traffic
Cars all jammed up
Rear ending an alien
Creeper behind the wheel on top
Hope there isn't a fire!


Pirates
All laying down
With a big green dinosaur?
Neverland is full of magic
Even dinos are friends.
    
It isn't a mess if memories are made in the process.  :)




This is My Jam: A Slice of Life

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

I am exhausted today.  After a long week, and a day filled with birthday parties and watching children play, I am out of steam.  So, in my laziness, I turned on my Dancing with the Stars episode from this week and the theme was "My Jam Monday."  

So, here are my jams.  

In no particular order...

Today (Smashing Pumpkins)
Friday I'm in Love (The Cure)
Groove is in the Heart (Deee-Lite)
The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra)
Crazy (Patsy Cline)
Into the Mystic  (Van Morrison)
Welcome to the Jungle (Guns N Roses)
Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead)
PYT (Michael Jackson)
Harvest Moon (Neil Young)
Fool in the Rain (Led Zeppelin)
These are Days (10,000 Maniacs)
Take on Me (A-Ha)
Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)
Dancing Queen (Abba)
Winter (Tori Amos)
Nothing Compares to U (Sinead O'Connor)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (U2)
Hold On (Wilson Philips)
My Best Friend (Tim McGraw)
Just to See you Smile (Tim McGraw)
Mirrors (Justin Timberlake)
E-Pro (Beck)
Days Go By  (Keith Urban)
Ray of Light (Madonna)
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)
Come on Eileen (Dexy's Midnight Runners)
In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
Don't You (Forget About Me) (Simple Minds)
No Rain (Blind Melon)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)
Lightning Crashes (Live)
Ice Cream (Sarah McLachlan)
Jump Around (House of Pain)
Landslide (Dixie Chicks)
Thankful (Josh Groban)

I think that might be the set list for my life so far.  I think I need to make a mix tape.  




Sprinkle Cookies, Arroz and Tostones: A Slice of Life

Friday, March 27, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15


     Lunches made.
     Book bags packed.
     Coats on.
     Shoes on.
     In the car.
     Garage door opens.
     What is that white stuff on the ground on March 27th?  No time to switch to boots.  I have a dual language site visit to get to.  Evan's little feet will be just fine in shoes.

     I pull into my parent's house and unpack the kids.  I walk into the kitchen and hear my dad call from downstairs, "Hey... Do you take Harlem?"  This can't be good.

     Slight Panic

     After I reassure him that Harlem is not my normal route, he motions to the TV and I hear that a northbound section is closed.  No worries!  LaGrange Road is my route.  Wait... Did they just say that LaGrange is also closed northbound?

     PANIC 

     It will be ok.  I can take Roberts Road.

     Oh wait.  Everyone else in the world also took Roberts Road.  Including that semi towing a semi that almost drove into me.

     How can less than an inch of snow close both of my major routes to work?!?!

     My excitement for the dual language visit starts to fade away.  Lucy is waiting at school for me to carpool because I am the world's worst parallel parker and this visit involves street parking in the city.  I can't do that.  But I also can't make Lucy wait.  I sadly send the text.  It seems that this visit isn't going to be part of my plan.  Disappointment consumes me.


     Luckily, I am bringing treats to school, and there happens to be a box of gourmet cookies on the passenger seat.  I rip open the seal and eat one, hoping the sprinkles will make me feel better despite my sadness.

     As if those sprinkles were made with a touch of magic, Lucy tells me she will wait for me.  Not only will I be able to learn from others, but I am reminded of the fact that my coworkers are amazing.  Lucy was willing to be late just to make it possible for me to be there.

     This.  Traffic.  Is.  Going.  Nowhere.

     A few more pleas for Lucy to leave without me, but she is insistent that she will wait.

     I think I need another cookie.

     2 hours later, I make it to school and we start our trip to the city.  The whole ride there we talk about the amazing things we have going on in our building, and we appreciate the rolling clouds and the emerging sun.  Believe it or not, it's like a new day has started.

     Because of Lucy and her patience, I was able to see amazing things at Erie Charter School.  Even more special to me, though, were the conversations I got to have with my own D100 family about our bilingual program and our transition to dual language.  Somehow, on the Paseo Boricua, surrounded by deep conversations and the arroz con gandules and tostones, the snow melted and the sun started to shine.  New understandings formed.  Stronger relationships were developed.  Pride was evident everywhere.

    It turns out collaboration and good Puerto Rican food are stronger than the snow.  Siempre.









 

   

Little Things: A Slice of Life

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15



It's the little things in life that are the big things...

Iced caffeinated gratitude on my desk this morning  

Tweet references from teachers out of the blue

People in your life willing to help you with problems, big and small

Joy in learning (for teachers and students!)

Random conversations about great novels and Disney movies

New books from a book order in my son's back pack

Theater viewing of the Breakfast Club, 30 years after it was released

Screws that {literally} fall out, because the world is an imperfect place

The LEGO that I just stepped on 

Blog posts done, even if hours past the deadline....

It's the little things.  :)








Culver's: A Slice of Life

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15


CONFESSION:
All month I have considered writing a slice from the perspective of someone other than myself.  I have chickened out every time.  With this being Day 25, I figured it's now or never.  Here is a slice about our lunch at Culver's, from the perspective of the single man who was lucky enough to be sitting at the table right next to the one my kids picked out.

________________________________________________



     Oh great.  A family is going to sit by me.  I hope these 2 kids are quiet.  They seem small, though.  We shall see.

     "Mom!  Don't forget to get my ketchup and mustard."

     Kid, could you have just walked over to your mom?  The condiment table isn't that far away, and walking there would be better than shouting it across the restaurant.

     The mom walked back to the table with their milks and straws and her own pop.  She passed the other pop to her husband, and her son immediately started asking her to read a book.  

     "Please, Mom.  Start Junie B. Start with the first chapter.  Mrs. Jarz read us chapter 1 today, but start again.  They are going to call her Pinky Gladys Gutzman in this book!"

     "PINKY GLADYS GUTZMAN!!!  I love this book, Mom.  I think I am going to change Goliath's name to Pinky Gladys Whatsman.  Wouldn't that be awesome, Mom?"

     "Come on Mom! Start reading the chapter!!!"

     Did this mom really bring a book to the restaurant?  Well, that's a new one.  

     The mom read a chapter, with full fluency and feeling.  The children were quiet and attentive listeners, nibbling on french fries and pieces of corn dog in between laughter.  Every once and a while, they would erupt in loud laughter over something that the book character did.  The mom came to the end of the chapter, and attempted to put the book down and eat her own lunch.

     "MOM!!!  Keep reading!!!  Read about the barber shop!"

     "It isn't a barber shop.  It's a beauty shop.  She just thinks it's a barber shop," the little girl said disapprovingly.    

     "Come on Mom!" the boy said as he started to cry loudly.

      "Evan, moms should get to eat, too."

      "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"  

      The dad didn't say a word.  He just kept eating his burger and fries.

     OK, I think I have had enough.  His tears are not helping me digest this meal.  Time to throw away my food and leave story hour.   That Junie B. sure is funny, though...

_________________________________________________

     

Sets of 5: A Slice of Life

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

5 fingers on a hand.
5 toes on a foot.
5 cents in a nickel.
5 sides on a pentagon.
5 lakes in the Great Lakes.
5 oceans in the world.
5 musicians in a quintet.
5 children in quintuplets.
5 branches in the military.
5 vowels in the English language.

And, today...
5 years old is my daughter.

Happy Birthday, K!

5 Years: A Slice of Life

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

     The doorbell rings.  

     "Mom!!  Where are the party hats?  My guests are here!" 

     One after another, our closest friends and family put on Minecraft party hats as they were greeted at the door.  My daughter was really concerned with getting the perfect party hats yesterday so we went to Party City to find ones, because we can't have a party with out them (even if they don't sell Minecraft ones).  I was up until early this morning adding the finishing touches to the party.  Today, she made me decorate hers again with a 5 and her name, to make it extra special.  She is, after all, the Birthday Girl.

     All week, we had been preparing things for the big event.  We made decorations with Steve and the Creepers, and a pin the carrot on the pig game.  We made treat boxes with Minecraft-ish things inside, like a blow up torch and diamond bubbles.  We even picked out candy for her first ever piñata and she has been SO excited about that.  

     Today was the day we got to decorate her cake with all her mini figurines.  She blew out her candles before we sang to her because she was so excited that she forgot about the song.  We let her do it again.


     Today was the day she dressed up like a dragon halfway through her party, because she was playing dress up with her cousin, Abby.  She kept it on for games and presents.


     Today was the day that she got to play her party games, and whack that piñata as hard as she could.  She is one fierce little dragon.


     Today was the day that she finally got to have ditalini noodles for dinner at her party.  Her favorite!  She also had 2 (little) pieces of cake...

     Today is the day that she couldn't pick her favorite present because "they were all pretty good."  And she meant it.  Even the duplicates made her giggle with joy.  


     Today is the day that we celebrated my 5 year old.  I'm just not sure how 5 years went by so fast.







Snow in Spring: A Slice of Life

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15

Dear Mother Nature,

Hey there.  I'm confused.  

My little girl was just telling me that Spring is finally here!  They were learning about it at preschool, and she was SO proud to teach me something new.  It is really awesome to see her learning news things, and acting as a teacher for us all.

Then, I found this.
How am I going to explain this to her?

Snow should not be in the forecast after the first day of spring.  Perhaps your past week was just as busy as mine, and you just have your dates messed up now.  It's ok.  Go ahead and adjust, and blow those snow clouds right on out of the sky (perhaps north to Canada!).  We all make mistakes.  No flakes have fallen just yet.  There is time to fix it.

April showers bring May flowers comes to mind as I type this letter.  Don't forget that cute little rhyme!  Flowers can't grow in April when the ground is still frozen at the end of March, silly.  

Thanks, Mother Nature.  

Love, 
Leah O'Donnell

P.S.- Hey, any chance we can get a double rainbow over our house like the one we had last year?  That was pretty amazing.  It would be the perfect apology for the snow nonsense.  

 

Iced Coffee Nightmare: A Slice of Life

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15
    
     Today were were running errands for my daughter's party tomorrow.  So much to do!  We had to run to a few places and get some must needed supplies before the big event.  New photo card, a giant 5 shaped mylar balloon, candy for the piñata, bakery sprinkle cookies... Real must haves.

     The truth is, getting everything done before tomorrow was going to mean a late night, so I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and for the real must have: an iced coffee.  It was our last stop before getting home.

     When I got home, I put the bags on the kitchen table and started to get dinner ready.  I was running around the kitchen and did not hear my children, just 5 feet away, argue about how my daughter could not see the TV.  Mind you, the TV is downstairs and was not on.  I'm not sure why she had to "see it" but I guess she did.  And, her method of clear vision was to shove my stuff off the table.  Starting with my brand new iced coffee.

     I heard the thud of the cup, followed by the thud of my phone.   Every drop of the coffee, along with the ice cubes, was spread in a cold, tan lake across the tile.  Lying in the middle was my phone, which I grabbed as quickly as I could.  Then, it seemed that almost half a roll of paper towels was needed to wipe up from caffeinated friend.  Such despair filled me.  They say don't cry over spilled milk, but in a moment like this I knew the saying would not be true regarding Dunkin Donuts beverages.

     So, here I am, 11:52 CST, typing this slice, because I did not have my coffee and I fell asleep putting my children to bed.  Now I did not make the eastern time zone cut off, but I had to slice away on Day 22.  I have a list of things to do now, including creating Minecraft party supplies for my daughter's 5th.  So, it is late, and I am groggy, but I kept my streak going.

    Perhaps I should have gotten a straw and tried to drink it off my floor.  That would have really made a slice to remember.  Oh well.

Giant Mistakes?: A Slice of Life

Friday, March 20, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15


Major mistakes?
Big blunders?
Mighty misunderstandings?
Massive misinterpretations?
Enormous errors?
Fantastic faux pas?
Incredible inaccuracy?

What kind of mistakes would you have to make in order to need an eraser that big?

     Today, I went on a site visit to a neighboring district to see their dual language program in action.  My district is starting to make some changes so that we can move our bilingual classrooms towards a dual language program over the next few years.  I saw many things that changed my understanding of a bi-literate classroom, some of them pretty enormous.  I will be processing some of the things that I saw today for a while.  We have so many things in place already that will help us as we move towards these changes, but much to learn ahead.

     The image that I decided to blog about, though, was in the first classroom we went into this morning.  It coincidentally happened to be the sister of one of my former 2nd grader students (who is graduating high school this year and has been accepted to 4 colleges! #proudteacher).  On the middle of each of her clusters of desks was a shared supply cup containing some pencils and a giant pink eraser.

     It made me think about the message that eraser could send to our students...  

     It could be the message that "YOU need to fix your mistakes, and you all will make a TON of them."  

     Or, it could be "Mistakes are part of OUR shared life, so notice them and learn from them."

     Every mistake we make is the path to new learning. Life is full of mistakes, and therefore learning opportunities just waiting to be found.  In fact, the only constant in life seems to be change.  As we make major changes, planning and preparation helps us to make fewer major mistakes, but mistakes will always still be part of the process.  It's what we do about those steps off the path that makes the difference.

     As we move toward dual language, or continue to implement workshop model or 1:1 technology integration or full inclusion with coteaching, we need to remember that mistakes are just a part of the process.  Missteps happen along the way, and can ultimately take us to learning that far surpasses our originally intended path.  If our goal is simply to make our instruction the most beneficial for our students, and we just keep working toward meeting their needs, then we are moving in the right direction.  When we step away from our focus on the students, only then will that eraser need to fix our ton of mistakes.  If we keep students' best interests as our focus, then those mistakes will only lead us closer to our goals.

Energizing enlightenment
Refined reflection
Intentional illumination
Useful understanding
Lasting learning
Watchful wisdom

Perhaps having a growth mindset helps us see opportunity in our mistakes,
for both our teachers and our students.

     I appreciated the visit today for the district's shared insight on not only what is working for them, but also what didn't work so well.  Honest reflection is a powerful thing.  I especially appreciated the team of people who were there with me from my own district. Thanks +Gissel Escobedo +Jean Suchy +Liliane Gelacio +Lucy Carrera +Sonia Peralta +Jane Bagus for the conversations today.
     





St. Baldricks: A Slice of Life

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 
#SOL15


What does family look like at a school?

Working together for a common goal.

Putting others before yourself.

Raising over $1400 in 8 days for Childhood Cancer Research.


Our assistant principal, +Bill Davini, challenged our students and staff to raise $750 for St. Baldricks.  He told them that he would shave his head in front of the whole school if they did it.  They far surpassed his goal, and raised money for children in need. 



Thanks, Mr. Davini, for reminding children the value in 
raising money for a good cause, 
teamwork, 
and keeping your word.