Monday, February 27, 2017

All You Need is a Book!

Principal ponderings...
March seems like a great month to focus on fostering a love of reading in our students.  March 2 is Dr. Seuss's birthday and National Read Across America Day!  I say let's start the month off celebrating reading and continue it throughout the rest of the month!

Check out this link for some little known facts about everyone's favorite, Dr. Seuss: 

Since we are kicking off a month of literacy love, let's do some Dr. Seuss inspired dress up days this week:
Wednesday will be crazy sock day in honor of Fox in Socks.
Thursday will be wear a hat day in honor of The Cat in the Hat.
Friday will be wear green day in honor of Green Eggs and Ham

During the 2nd week of March, I am excited that we are planning a Family Literacy Night sponsored by the PTA! Thursday, March 9 we will be inviting families to come to school from 6:00-7:30 pm.  There will be lots of fun literacy stations set up in the gym and cafeteria.  And we are planning to have some cozy reading areas set up as well where families can read together.  The PTA is planning to give away a Kindle as part of a door prize, and I am of course going to be giving away...books!  If you are interested in attending and helping out at a station, let me know.

During the third week of March, we will have our annual Community Reader Day.  Can't wait to have different community members come into classrooms and spread the reading love!  Towards the end of the month, I would love for the whole school to participate in a Dictionary Day!  Students and staff will choose a vocabulary word to dress up as for the day.  Look for more info about this fun day later!

How else can we spread the literacy love this month?  Have some ideas or want to share some awesome activities you have done in your classroom?  Let me know.  I am also planning on doing some surprises in the staff room...always looking for book recommendations...this is definitely the month to share recommendations with your colleagues!

Happy reading!

Currently reading:
I was excited to check out some audio books from the library in my town.  One of the books that I have started listening to goes along with my #oneword2017, create.  The book is called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  She is the author of another book that I enjoyed, Eat. Pray. Love.  One of the reviews said this book was "a must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life."  And that would be me, so seems like a good choice to read!

Events this week:
Monday - Welcome back!
Tuesday - 2nd grade and 3rd grade math sessions @ Prescott
Wednesday - Workout Wednesday!  Alisa will be Principal for the Day! Kindergarten am math session @ Prescott, Wear crazy socks today, 1st grade chorus practice @ 2:25, Staff Meeting
Thursday - Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! 4th grade and 1st grade math sessions @ Prescott, Wear a hat today, Liz at Superintendent interviews - 8:00-11:00, Kindergarten Orientation 6:30-7:30
Friday - Liz at MESPA Board Meeting in Marlborough, wear green today, Liz at Superintendent interviews 5:30-8:00

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Even after a snow day, the 2nd grade concert was awesome!  Thanks for Mr. Wiesner for putting on a great school show and an entertaining evening concert. 
  • I had so much fun watching different stations in Ms. Kinneen's gym class...everything from yoga on the mats to rope climbing to giant block tower building to bug smashing ball throws! 
  • I managed to pop in and see Mrs. Clark's class decorating some beautiful Valentine's bags.  And I did not get a picture, but I had fun going back into her class for World Read Aloud Day...the students seemed to enjoy listening to Gaston
  • Loved walking down the hall behind these two kindergarten friends on their way to deliver a message to the office! 
  • I was hanging out in Ms. Hoke's room and listened to some interesting how to books being written. 

Check it out:
Check out this great post about rethinking morning work:
Can't remember if I already shared this with you, love that Obama said books helped him survive the White House years:
And here's a great image to launch a month of literacy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Slice of Life Challenge

Principal ponderings...

For many years now, I have been following a blog titled "Two Writing Teachers."  They have several educators who write posts about writing and teaching writing.  In 2008, they started something called Slice of Life Challenges.  They challenge people to write and post short slice of life stories every Tuesday.  Then they started challenging teachers to get their students to spend the month of March writing a short slice story every day.  Every March, people all over the country participate in the March Slice of Life Challenge.  I have read people's posts each year, but I have never participated.

This year...I am challenging myself to do the March Slice of Life Challenge.  My #oneword2017 is create so it's time for me to do more creating in the form of writing.

Here is a link where you can find more information about the Slice of Life challenges:

March is a long month.  31 days where I am going to try to write a slice of life story every day.  I need to take some time over February break to get myself ready for this challenge.  I plan on setting up some posts early, reading other slice stories for ideas, and building writing time into my schedule.  How about you?  Want to join me in this challenge?  Maybe you can't do every day or maybe you can.  I know I have talked about this before, but it's true...the best teachers of writing are those teachers who are writers and practice writing.  (Don't take my word for it.  Read about it in this article:

If you don't have a space where you blog, then set one up.  I use Blogger.  There are plenty of other free platforms like Wordpress, Tumblr, and LiveJournal.  If you are not ready to put your writing out there in the internet word, you could also go the old fashioned route and write your slice stories in a journal.

And then the next step?  Write.

Are you ready for the March Slice of Life Challenge?!  I am!

Currently reading:
All this snow means that I have been enjoying snuggling under the covers with some tea and reading!  I realized I have not been reading as many of the MCBA books this year so I brought home a copy of Bliss to start reading.  There's baking and magic spells in this book.  Seems like a good combination!  I have read about a third of the book and have been enjoying it so far.
Emerson's bedtime request the other night was a classic.  We enjoyed looking at all the ducklings and the different places in Boston as we read Make Way for Ducklings.

Events this week:
Monday - Snow Day!
Tuesday -  Happy Valentine's Day! 2nd grade School Show @ 1:30 in the PAC, School Council Meeting @ 3:30
Wednesday - Liz at DESE Instructional Support Convening during the day, Superintendent Search Meeting 5:30-8:00, 2nd grade Concert 7:00 @ PAC
Thursday - World Read Aloud Day, Learn more here:
Friday - Grade 3 Electricity Safety Program, Curriculum Half Day, dismissal at 12:15, no lunch served
**Enjoy your Winter Break!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Everyone was excited after the amazing Super Bowl win on Sunday!  Go Pats! 
  • Tuesday was the 100th day of school!  I loved seeing some of the creations these 2nd graders were making by turning the 100 on their paper into something else. 
  • Even with a crazy snowstorm in the middle of the day, no afternoon kindergarten, and worries about getting everyone home safely, I managed a smile on the 100th day. 
  • Two days with delays and a no school day due to a blizzard all in one week!?!  And how about this surprise...Mrs. Fulreader was teaching PE class! 

Check it out:
More info about the Slice of Life Challenge:
Here's a great list of science picture books, good for content and mentor texts:

Monday, February 6, 2017

It is Worth It

Principal ponderings...

Ever have one of those days where things just seem to go wrong?  Ever teach a lesson and think...that stunk?  Ever have a week where you doubt yourself and think maybe I am in the wrong profession?  My answer to those questions is yes!  In fact, last week was one of those weeks.  There was absolutely a lot of good that happened throughout the week, but that was overshadowed by bad and sad news, days where I felt unproductive, and really, really tough parent meetings and emails.

And then a combination of things happened this weekend to help snap me out of my funk.  First, I had the chance to spend a day with other MA leaders from across the state at an edCamp.  What is an edCamp?  One of the participants just blogged about it.  Read about it here.  I helped organize this event which is a free day of PD.  It was so re-energizing to get to attend impromptu sessions and talk about topics like "unconference staff meetings", social emotional learning and peer observations.  I learned about so many great resources and ideas!  It was a Saturday spent talking about work, but it was a really a day that fueled my educational soul.  And after a tough week, my tank was definitely running low!  (There are some upcoming edCamps for educators coming up...check out edCamp Boston, tickets are available today!  This event is free, but it is so popular that they have to limit the tickets they give out.  There is another edCamp in March that is put on by a principal friend of mine.  Check out edCamp North Quabbin!

I was definitely starting to feel better after Saturday, and then I received two emails that reminded me that it's all worth it.  The first email was from one of our parents.  We have had her child at FloRo since he was in kindergarten and now he's a 4th grader.  Being able to look back and see how much he has grown over the years is truly remarkable.  We are in the business of helping kids grow and learn, but sometimes we forget to stop and look back at where they started and where they are today.  This parent did exactly that for us.  She sent an email to all of the teachers and staff and administrators who have worked with her child.  She is grateful for what everyone has done for her child, and she took the time to let us all know that.  Not all parents do that, but when they do, it sure puts a smile on my face.

The other email I received came from a 20 year old sophomore studying illustration at the Mass College of Art and Design in Boston.  I was her 2nd grade teacher.  She searched my out, and found my address, not an easy task since when I taught her I was in a different district and had a different married name!  In the email, she talked about wanting to reach out to me for a while.  She has been holding onto a postcard that I sent her after teaching her, saying that I hoped she would send me a copy of her first book.  When I had her in 2nd grade she loved to write and she loved to draw.  She wanted to thank me for helping to encourage her creativity at a young age.  She said she might not be sending me a copy of a book she wrote, but she certainly plans on sending me a children's book that she illustrated someday.  She told me that she still has the stories she wrote and the pictures she drew in my class in her room at home.  Her main motivation for writing me this weekend was that she had just been to a speaker, Timothy Basil Ering, who has illustrated many books.  In fact, he illustrated Kate DiCamillo's book, The Tale of Despereaux.  I read that book to my 2nd graders, and this student remembered loving listening to that read aloud.  She took that as a sign to reach out to me.  And I am so glad she did.  With tears in my eyes, I read her email out loud to my husband.  Funny thing is I have one of the poems she wrote, kept it all these years because I just loved it.  I can't wait to tell her about that when I write back to her.

So it was a rough week last week for me.  But this weekend I have been reminded that it is all worth it.  When it seems like things aren't going well.  Or when you are discouraged.  You have to remember that you are making a difference.  We have the ability to change lives, impact students, guide them towards an awesome future.  So those bad days or weeks...they are worth it.  Just stop and think about where your students have started and what you have done with them.  Hopefully that will help turn those tough days around.

And can be down 28 to 3, score a bunch of touchdowns, add in some two point conversions, go into the first ever Super Bowl overtime, and win the game!  A bad first half of the game, does not mean it's over.  All the's worth it!

Currently reading:
I am looking towards reading a new book that I just added to my Amazon cart: Escaping the School Leader's Dunk Tank.

Events this week:
Monday - Alisa, 4th grader, Principal for the Day!
Tuesday - Happy 100th Day of School! School Council meeting @ 3:30
Wednesday - Workout Wednesday! 2nd grade chorus practice @ 2:20, PTA Meeting @ 7:00
in the cafeteria
Thursday - 2nd grade chorus practice @ 2:25
Friday - Liz at Superintendent Screening Committee Meeting 5:30 - 8:00

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Thanks to Luke, Audra and Julie for setting up a technology meet and greet in the library on Thursday.  Teachers got to see the green screen in use, traveled to Antarctica through virtual reality glasses, and played with some fun apps.
  • Global School Play Day was so much fun!!  Loved popping into all of the different rooms and seeing kids playing all sorts of games.  Definitely looking forward to more days of play. 
  • Have you seen the rope climbing that has been going on in the gym?  Check out the "born to climb" sloth cards...way to go FloRo students, trying hard and reaching goals! 
  • Mrs. Nissi's 4th graders were working on creating complexity in their characters during writer's workshop. 
  • Audra Kaplan, the digital learning coach who will be spending time at FloRo, was spending some time in Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Smith's class.  Students were working on adding photos and comments on kidblog. 

Check it out:
Some good points about essential edtech:
This Wednesday night, join the #MESPAchat Twitter chat!  We have Todd Nesloney, author of Kids Deserve It, moderating the chat!  Starts at 8:00.