Monday, March 26, 2018

A Little Monday Inspiration

Principal ponderings...
I spent the weekend being inspired at the ASCD Empower18 Conference.  I was able to listen to and meet educators and leaders from all over the country and the world.  I was able to listen to Jill Biden speak about how the most important thing to her is that she is a teacher.  I was able to be moved to tears by Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers, who shared his message about connecting with kids and how it was teachers that helped him not be a statistic.  I was able to listen to some amazing principals/education advocates, such as Principal Salome Thomas El who believes that every child deserves to have someone be crazy about him or her.  I got chills listening to Baruti Kafele talk.  And I was lucky enough to listen in as one of my good friends, Lynn Colon, a principal in Virginia discussed how she works hard to create the Disney experience everyday at her school.  I loved hearing a session on design thinking, by Neil Gupta, a district administrator in Ohio, who stressed the importance of taking a humanistic approach when planning for change or problem solving in schools.  I also listened to, met and snapped a selfie with Kyle Schwartz.  She is the 3rd grade teacher who started the #IWishMyTeacherKnew movement.  I also sat through an amazing session where 10 Massachusetts educators did what is called an 'ignite' session.  They have 15 slides that are on the screen for 20 seconds each and each person gets basically 5 minutes to tell about something awesome being done in their school.  The slides keep advancing and you have to share your information quickly.  I think this would be great to try out at a staff meeting!  There was so much inspiration and awesomeness this weekend, and I am still processing everything.  I plan on writing more about specific topics and will share with all of you. 

For now, let me share a few inspiration video clips and quotes to spread the education excitement that I am still feeling after my weekend...

Principal Kafele puts out tons of videos!  Check out his website here:

And here is a clip about Kyle Schwartz and her movement of "I wish my teacher knew..."(Excited that she autographed her book for me!):

An important message from Principal Salome Thomas El:

Hopefully this little post has inspired you this morning.  Now how will you go pay it forward and inspire the beautiful kids in front of you today?

Currently reading:
I was very excited to get two new picture books in the mail this week.  The first one is a new book from Peter Reynolds called The Word Collector.  I love this book!  It's all about Jerome, a kid who loved to collect words. 
Such a great message to all at the end of the book...
The other book I received is called Rot: The Cutest in the World by Ben Clanton.  This book was recommended to me by a principal friend.  It's a funny story about a mutant potato who thinks he could be the cutest in the world. 

Events this week:
*Book Fair in the library all week.  Classes attend during their library time.
Wednesday - 3rd grade chorus practice @ 2:20, report cards should be completed
Thursday - Specific staff at CALM training, 2nd grade field trip to the Aquarium, Family Literacy Night and PTA Evening Book Fair Event from 6:00-8:00
Friday - Specific staff at CALM training, Report cards online for parents

Great things that I noticed last week:

  • The 1st graders did an awesome job at both the school show and the evening concert. 
  • Check out these 2nd grade penguins that I found in Ms. Hoke and Ms. Johnson's room! 
  • This 2nd grader was proud of all the facts that she chose to research and write about...all about amphibians.  If you look closely at the bottom, you will also see that she recorded her word count! :) 
  • I helped a kindergarten class try out an online fluency and reading assessment.  And then after the assessment I caught a kindergartner reading her book and using her pointer finger to follow along on the page!

  • Happened to be coming around the corner and saw this awesome 1st grader helping to create a bulletin board outside of his classroom. 

Check it out:
Slightly excited about the book fair this week...especially since besides awesome books, they have some cool shirts, cups, bags, etc.

Loved this message from Principal Salome Thomas El this weekend...

Monday, March 19, 2018

So Much To Read, So Little Time

Principal ponderings...

Normally, I spend time writing my own blog post.  Sometimes I get an idea and I start adding to it throughout the week.  Other times, inspiration might not hit me until Sunday night.  But besides writing blog posts, I also spend a lot of time reading other posts.  There are so many educators who are blogging across the globe.  And I love learning something new or having my ideas and beliefs challenged by these people that I have often never met.  Instead of doing a lot of writing this week, I want to share with you just a handful of the posts that I have read recently.  Read one or read all of them.  Enjoy!

I have been doing the March Slice of Life Challenge and besides writing my own slice each day, you are encouraged to read other posts and comment on them.  Here is one post that I enjoyed about the importance of being a teacher writer:

Do you know the writer David Sedaris?  Here is a post where he was interviewed and shared his advice for the writing process:

Love this post written by a high school teacher who spent a day teaching 4th grade!  He share his important discovery: good teaching strategies are universal, no matter the age or grade:

Wow, Travis Crowder's post about how powerful books can be is amazing!

I love Laura Robb's post about our hunt for the "magic bullet" where she asks what is it that will help increase reading achievement scores?  Her answer...books!  And here she lists 15 reasons why kids deserve the best books:

Here is an interesting post by a Twitter friend of mine.  She talks about how for some students spring break can make them anxious:

Thanks to Maureen for sharing these two articles through Twitter.  The first one talks about taking a more play-based approach in the early grades: And the second one is an interesting post about what how skills like ability to collaborate with others are more important in the work force than occupation-specific skills:

And one more...this post was written!  Here is a short article I wrote for Principal magazine about mindfulness in schools:

These are just a few of the posts that I read recently.  Have you read some good posts?  Have you been inspired to write your own posts?  Blogging is a great way to reflect, share ideas, or simply decompress and get the thoughts in your head out!  Check out others' writing and start contributing your own words!

Currently reading:
So this pretty awesome friend of mine, Dianna Fulreader, gifted me with...more books!  I guess she knows me well.  One of the books she gave me is called This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Even though I am reading a few other books right now, I jumped right into this one.  Looks like it's going to be a good one; a quote from the back of the book "a beautiful novel about the unexpected curveballs of parent and sibling relationships and the limitless boundaries of family love."
Dianna also gave me this great picture book: Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters by Barack Obama.  I can't believe I didn't own this book yet!  It is a truly beautiful book, one that I can't wait to read to my daughter. 

Events this week:
Monday - Liz and Melissa at a Women in Leadership Conference, Read-a-thon officially starts!
Tuesday - 1st grade chorus practice from 11:30-1:00, Liz and Luke at a K-12 science meeting from 2:30-4:00
Wednesday - 1st grade school show from 9:30-10:05, Staff meeting at 3:30 in the cafeteria
Thursday - 1st grade chorus concert @ 7:00
Friday - Liz and Melissa at SLT meeting from 8:30-11:00, Book Fair being delivered and set up

Great things I noticed last week:

  • K students managed to squeeze in their animals in winter enrichment program even with 2 snow days! 
  • Caught a 2nd grader utilizing digital-blocks to help him solve some math problems. 

  • Mr. Smith was talking with students about character development and making some predictions about the read aloud.

  • Students were doing some science experimenting in MskerSpace. 
  • Community Reader day was a success!
  • And all of the students did an amazing job this weekend in Shrek! 

Check it out:
I think I probably gave you enough material to check out in my post above!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Reading + Giving = Awesomeness

Principal ponderings...
FloRo is going to do a read-a-thon this month!  The Student Council members did a great job brainstorming and planning what will happen over the next several weeks.  I am excited that the students decided they would like to raise money to give to an organization called Reach Out and Read.  This organization is a wonderful non-profit that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

I have worked with an company that will help us with the donation side of the read-a-thon.  Parents will be able to share the link to a site and family and friends can donate money through the site.  We will be able to track how much money is being donated throughout our read-a-thon.  Our goal is to hopefully raise over $5,000 to donate to Reach Out and Read.

The Student Council has set a goal of reading 2,500 books over the course of several weeks.  We decided that K and 1st grade will simply count one book as one book.  2nd graders will count 20 pages as one book.  3rd graders will count 30 pages as one book.  And 4th graders will count 40 pages as one book.  For every 5 books that any student reads, they can come to the office and receive a raffle ticket.  At the end of our read-a-thon, we will be drawing names of students to be Principal for the Day and Assistant Principal for the Day.

We will be giving out charts, similar to our kindness thermometers last year, for classes to keep track of how many books they are reading.  The Student Council came up with the awesome idea to make the charts look like books, pages, book spines, etc.  They are a very creative group!  If we reach our school-wide goal, there will be some interesting things happening to the principal and assistant principal.  Something about a human ice cream sundae!?

I will be sending more specific information to each classroom through an email, but I wanted to first share through here and get everyone thinking about our FloRo Read-a-Thon!

Currently reading:
I just started reading a book called Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  The author of this book is Pernille Ripp, a 7th grade teacher, who writes and speaks about her passion to get kids to love reading.  She blogs regularly on her website called 'Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension.'  I highly recommend that you take some time to read what she writes.  Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, Pernille speaks for the kids, all kids.

Events this week:
Monday - Kicking off the FloRo Read-a-thon! End of Trimester 2 (report cards will be available March 28)
Tuesday - Oh no...please no more snow!
Wednesday - Play Preview at 2:15 in the PAC
Thursday - Community Reader Day!
Friday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served, parent conferences during the afternoon

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I caught some 2nd graders from Mrs. Wenz's class launching their straw rockets they created.  Students were excited to measure how far their rocket could fly! 
  • Check out our March Madness Book Bracket in the lobby!  Thanks Melissa for creating it.  Wonder which books will move on to the elite 8 this week?! 
  • If you were in the hall around 10:45 each day last week, you might have seen the 4th graders trying out their marshmallow catapults!  There were some very interesting and different designs, many which really made those marshmallows fly through the air quite a distance.  
Check it out:
Just a few articles to check out about reading...
And I have shared this before but it's always a good one to revisit...Donalyn shares tons of resources and research about the importance of independent reading...

Monday, March 5, 2018

In Her Eyes

Principal ponderings...

With the recent school safety issues happening all over country, including the tragedy in Florida, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what has happened and what could happen.  I have been fielding questions and suggestions from parents through email.  I have been talking with principal friends of mine through social media.  I have been talking with fellow moms and friends about the unfortunate reality that is the world I am raising my child in right now.

The thought that kept popping in my head was how do I look into her eyes, my daughter's eyes and tell her that everything is going to be ok?  How do I look into the eyes of our students and promise that I will keep them safe?  How do I look into parents' eyes and tell them to trust me?  How do I look into my teachers' eyes and tell them that I will keep them informed if something goes wrong in the building?  How do I look into my husband's eyes and tell him that I'm not scared of what could happen?

I think about the safety of my child and all of the children at our school.  And then I think about a great song by a great singer from long ago, Patsy Cline.  Here she is singing "If I Could See The World (Through the Eyes of a Child)" :

If you listen to the line in the song above, you hear her sing that "there would be no trouble and no strife" if we could just see the world through the eyes of our children.  Interesting that as I was looking up information about this song and about Patsy Cline I learned that today is actually the anniversary of her death.  Her plane crashed on March 5, 1963.  Thankfully, her music lives on.

I try to picture what my daughter sees, what does the world look like through her eyes?  I am grateful, that at this point, she does not see the violence and the tragedies happening across the country.  But I know the days are numbered for her innocence.  I am already mourning the loss of her being this little baby that I can wrap up in my arms and protect from the rest of the world.  We choose to not watch the news in our home so I don't really worry about her catching a glimpse of something by mistake.  She has seen me cry as a reaction to students who I don't even know losing their lives.  And when she asks me "why are you sad mommy?," I just wipe my tears away and tell her I'm ok.  

I try to picture what our students see, what does our world look like through their eyes.  It's certainly not the same world I saw as a child.  Unfortunately, I know that they have seen and heard about so much awfulness.  They have seen sadness and violence on the news.  They have seen and heard adults, parents, friends argue and debate about what should be done while awful things happen in schools just like the one they attend in the meantime.  There are too many "should be's" and not enough "already done's."

I look into my daughter's eyes and into the eyes of our students and I see a future full of opportunity, wonder, hope.  Looking into her eyes and seeing the future reminds me that we all need to work together on the problems of the present.  

What can we do to make sure we continue to see a future full of love and hope in their eyes, a future that looks better than the present?

Please take 2 minutes to listen to this great teacher, Trevor Muir: 

Currently reading:
I started reading another professional development book called The Wild Card.  It's written by a husband and wife who teach together at The Ron Clark Academy.  And it's all about finding your creative breakthrough and being that wild card teacher for your students...the one who is willing to take risks and do whatever it takes to create amazing learning experiences for students.
We also got some new books at our house which have been enjoyed at bedtime, and I plan to bring in for some read alouds.  One fun one which has tons of animals and lots of rhyming is called Pandemonia.  
Some of you may have heard me read aloud Nibbles, the Book Monster.  Well Nibbles is back at, chomping his way through the book called Nibbles, the Dinosaur Guide.  Such a fun read aloud.  Kids will want to try to catch Nibbles before he eats his way through all of the pages! 

Events this week: 
Monday - Student Council collecting breakfast items for Loaves and Fishes this week
Tuesday - School Council Meeting @ 8:00, Wachusett Regional School District visits FloRo from 9:00-11:00
Wednesday - Dr. Chesson visits FloRo in the am, Grade 1 chorus at 2:20, Staff Meeting @ 3:30 in the cafeteria
Thursday - Community Reader Day!
Friday - Melissa presenting at MassCUE, Liz at SLT in the am

Great things I noticed last week:

  • In preparation for our literacy month in March...check out Ms. Kinneen's amazing bulletin board!  Love it!
  • Mrs. Wallace and Mrs. Garden had fun delivering SPARK incentives to one lucky winner in each classroom.  This K student jumped for joy when she heard her name called! 
  • Loved seeing all of the Seuss-inspired attire for National Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday! 
  • Mrs. Taylor's class was having fun playing around with some new programs for their interactive board during calendar time. 
  • I caught Mrs. Kavanagh's class having way too much fun making slime! 

Check it out: