Monday, December 21, 2015

The Power of a Song

Principal ponderings...
I loved this line that I read over the weekend, from Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace

       "But that is the power of a song.  It can keep you or it can make you want to go away."

For today's post, I am going to make it as auditory as possible.  Music has the ability to change our mood, make us cry, bring us together, and get us moving.  A song can be so powerful.  So  here are a few different songs to listen to today, save for later, get you through the holidays or just make you smile.

One of my favorites...

A new one that makes me want to dance...

Another new one that makes me tap my feet...

An oldie, but goodie...

It wouldn't be a song list without at least one Queen song...

Of course I need to include a Beatles song in the mix...

And in honor of the movie that just opened up last week...

So what songs do you love to listen to in your car, sing in the shower or think in your head that put you in a good mood?  How do you utilize the power of a song?

Currently reading:
I heard great things from the 4th graders about Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace, so I decided to start reading it.  It's another one of the MCBA books.  If you haven't checked out the book recommendation bulletin board on the way to the 4th grade wing, you should stop and read what kids are saying about the books.  I had actually brought the book I was reading to the School Committee meeting to read while I was waiting for the meeting to start.  One of the Swallow Union students who was doing the pledge saw what I was reading and was excited to chat with me about that book and other MCBA books that we had just read.  Hopefully we can plan some Google Hangouts between FloRo and Swallow Union 4th graders to have more book chats!  I am looking forward to finding some time to read more books over the break.

Events this week:
Monday - 10th Day of Giving...Give a hug, get a hug day!
Tuesday - 11th Day of Giving...Gingerbread, prizes and treats, oh my!
Wednesday - 12th Day of Giving...Wear your favorite festive outfit today!  Make it tacky or keep it classy, you choose!
Have a relaxing, enjoyable holiday break!  See you in the new year!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • 4th graders came down to share a poem that one of them had written.  Loved the poem and the illustration!
  • Several 4th graders from each classroom were selected to help deliver baskets to senior citizens throughout Groton.
  • I caught student council members loading up Mrs. Cahill's car with tons of donations for Transition House!
  • Check out the great recipe poems on display in the hallway heading towards the 4th grade wing!
  • And has anyone seen the Gingerbread Baby?  Kindergarteners have been on the lookout for him!  Miss Natalie told them that he stopped by and she gave him a teeny tiny bandaid for his booboo. :)

Check it out:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Every Kid Has a Story

Principal ponderings...
Each time I ever applied for a job, I rewrote my cover letter.  But I always kept the same quote in all my different cover letters.
        "Every child has a story to tell, and within that story is the secret to reaching her or him as a                learner.  Children's stories are windows into their uniqueness and clues on how to connect the 
         child and the curriculum."
                                                              --Herb Kohl
I loved that quote because it summed up my belief about working with kids.  Each student has so many stories.  Their stories make up who they are.  Sometimes we know some of their stories and sometimes we don't know their stories at all.   Getting to know each child's unique stories can help us make those important connections.  

I was thinking about children's stories and I started thinking about my own siblings and their unique stories that made up who they were.  My sister had lots of unique stories.  One of the earliest school related stories I remember happened when she was maybe in kindergarten or first grade.  She had taken a test and had let the majority of the test blank.  My mom was called in my the teacher to figure out what was going on.  They decided to ask my sister why she didn't answer most of the math problems.  She had answered the first one and the last one.  Her explanation...well, they were all asking the same thing so I did the first one and the last one because clearly you would know that I know how to do that whole page.  That was part of my sister's story.  She was never one to waste time or effort if it wasn't needed.

I will share another sibling story.  This one is about my brother Phil.  One day at school around Christmas time, they were working on a project.  Everyone in the class was making a reindeer face.  Everyone had a triangle piece of construction paper.  Everyone had two circle eyes.  Everyone had a red nose.  Everyone's reindeer looked the same.  Everyone, except my brother.  While the rest of the class had followed the directions and had a front view of a reindeer's head, my brother had decided that he wanted a side view of his reindeer.  So he only used some of the materials and had a final product of the side of the reindeer's head.  We were brought up in a house where creativity was encouraged.  So my brother's stories often involved thinking outside of the school box.

And my final story to share involves my other brother Carl.  This story actually happened when he and my brother were in daycare at a center.  My brother did not like going to the center.  So one day, he planned an escape.  He had a ziploc bag of goldfish.  He went and got my other brother and then proceeded to try to walk out of the center to go home.  He had decided that the best thing to do was bust out and run away.  Thankfully his plan did not work.  My mother was arriving for pickup around the time that he was trying to escape.  This story definitely sums up my brother.  He does not always like being told what to do.  Even as an adult, he continues to try to be someone who does not have to work for anyone.  He is also someone who loves being close to home.  And he is very close to and cares about my other brother...which is why all those years ago, he was not about to escape daycare without his little brother!

These are just a few stories, they all have many, many more, but my point is that each student in our school is made up of lots of stories.  By getting to know these stories, we can better understand our students.  We can connect with them.  We can connect them to the curriculum.  

My question this have you learned about the unique stories of each student in your class?  How has this information helped you better understand how to teach them?

12 Days of Giving continued....
Monday - Surprise Prize Giveaway Day!  Dianna will be giving away prizes throughout the day.
Tuesday - Cupcakes make everything better...I will be baking some yummy cups of cake for all of you.
Wednesday - Staff Breakfast...who likes breakfast pizza?!
Thursday - Check your staff room mailbox...I will be leaving you a special surprise.
Friday - Inbox Zero...No email from me all day today and no email all weekend!  Woohoo!

Currently reading:
I finished listening to Tuck Everlasting.  It is such a good book to listen to.  I recommend getting the audio version or reading it aloud to some of the upper grades.  It's also a great book to just use a portion of when teaching writing.  The figurative language is phenomenal!  We celebrated my daughter's birthday this weekend and surprise, surprise...she got lots of books!  My favorite was the set of classics in board book form that you got from her aunt.  Can't wait to read all these with her!
Of course, I am pretty sure her daddy will enjoy reading this new set with her...

Events this week:
Monday - Last Latin class @ 3:30
Tuesday - High School Band Performance in the PAC @ 9:30, School Council meeting at 3:30
Wednesday - Jackie Reis, Media Relations Coordinator for the Commissioner, shadowing Liz in the morning, Staff Meeting @ 3:30, School Committee Meeting @ 7:00 - School Improvement Plan presentation
Friday - High School Chorus Performance in the PAC @ 9:30

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Students and staff have given so much to our community service drive.  I didn't get to grab a picture of our Student Council prepping the baskets and sorting, but they have been getting everything ready to distribute this week.
  • Students enjoyed participating in Hour of Code activities in the lab and the library.  
  • On the half day, paraprofessionals across the district participated in a variety of professional development, including this one on executive functioning hosted by our very own Dianna and Maureen.

  • Teachers have been enjoying the 12 days of giving...Friday we had lots of people in comfy clothes! 
Check it out:
Sue had shared this post that a teacher had found, I wanted to share it again...positive math mindset!
And a great clip from Kid President...Life is Like a Comic:

Monday, December 7, 2015

12 Days of Giving

Principal ponderings...

Educators are givers.  They give their time.  They give energy.  They give students extra help.  They give kids a hug when needed.  Educators give other educators ideas.  They give parents information and support.  They put in long hours and spend their own money on supplies and books for their classrooms.  They give out knowledge and show students how to gain their own knowledge.  They give band aids and ice packs.  They give smiles.  They give life lessons along with science lessons.  They give pats on the back.  They give stickers and smiley faces.  Educators are givers.

You are all givers.  It's part of your job description.  It's part of who you are.  And since this is the season of giving, I have decided to do a small act to try to recognize and thank you for what you do throughout the whole school year.  Starting on Tuesday, I am going to do "12 Days of Giving" for Florence Roche educators.  Some things you will know in advance and some will be a surprise.  Here's a sneak peak at your 'gifts' for this week...

On the first day of giving, your principal will give to you...something good to eat
lots and lots of yummy sweet treats.
On the second day of giving, your principal will give to you...not a single email to read,
that will you give you more time indeed!
On the third day of giving, your principal will give to you...breakfast drinks for all,
hot cocoa should keep you warm in the hall.
On the fourth day of giving, your principal will give to you...a dress down day,
Sweats, slippers, jammies...hooray!

Tuesday - Check the staff room for some afternoon sweet treats to perk you up!
Wednesday - Inbox Zero...I promise to go the whole day without adding a single email to your inbox.  Hopefully the time you would normally spend reading my emails, you can find something else to do!
Thursday - Drinks in the morning...who wants hot cocoa, hot cider or hot coffee?
Friday - Comfy, cozy day.  Feel free to dress comfortable today.  If you want to wear your jammies, great.  If you want to wear sweats, even better.  If you want to throw on your favorite t-shirt and jeans, go for it!  No need to get dressed up today!

Wait until you see what next week brings!

Currently reading:
During my drive, I am currently listening to Tuck Everlasting.  
I read a pretty funny picture book at my library called Everyone Loves Bacon.
I also found a good picture book about two friends, one who loves to read and one who hates to read, and how they help each other.  It's called Library Lily.

Events this week:

Monday - Latin Class @ 3:30
Thursday - Student Council Meeting @ 8:30, District Curriculum Half Day, 12:15 dismissal, Teachers will be working on math at SU

Great things I noticed last week:

  • One 4th grade classroom and one 1st grade classroom have been trying out standing desks...maybe we will see more of these in future classrooms?
  • Thumbs up for Mrs. Kavanagh's class who was learning some new words!
  • Yes, those are shoes on the table.  Mrs. Goddard's art students were working on foreshortening.  Can't wait to see the final product!
  • Mrs. Lanctot's class made some great reading strategy posters to hang in their classroom.
  • The Holiday Fair was a huge success!  Once again, Mr. Wiesner managed to wow everyone with each grade level concert.
Check it out:
A post about quiet writers:
And as I continue to read and think about mindfulness, here's my quote for the week...