SOLC11: Waiting

March 11, 2016

As a reading interventionist working in kindergarten, first, and second grade, my daily teaching requires persistence and patience. Progress is often slow. I wish I could speed up their learning, but when the moments sparkle, I become excited. My heart races and inside I am jumping up and down. I cheer with the kids, give high fives, fist bumps, and sometimes a “whoohoo”!

I have a couple of kids who I can’t get too excited with. They would clam up, so I usually just smile. One little girl stole my heart the first time she hugged me out of the blue. S is unique. When she came last year, she wouldn’t speak to anyone. Then, she began to whisper to friends. Interventions were put in place and we waited. One day as I returned my interactive writing group to their class, she hugged my legs tight. No smile. No words. Just a hug.

This year, she smiles at me. She hugs me. She shares stories. All in whispers.

Daily working with her, I wait on her. She is gaining decoding skills, but her processing is almost double the time of other first graders. I just have to wait. She doesn’t ask for help and we are working on that. Wait time is hard for me, but it provides her with enough time to be the champion of her learning.

I am waiting. I am waiting to hear her real voice.


SOLC9: Rule

March 9, 2016

“I hate that rule!” he yelled, arms folded and face scrunched up. “That’s stupid and everyone is trying to get me in trouble!”

I listened and nodded, motioning for him to follow me. This first grader struggles.

At the beginning of the year, the outbursts happened several times during the day and there was no relationship. Today, he was mad but willing. He yelled, but know I understand. Fewer words needed to be spoken at this moment, but much was being thought. What happened this time? What does he really mean? How can we get him calmed down and back to class? How can he understand school is about everybody, not just him? What happened last night? How can I help him detach the two?

He walked with feet stomping and a kick or two on the lockers. Frustrated. Time never goes quickly in these situations. It seemed to take forever to get to my room, but at least he was walking. We’ve been through this before.

Thirty minutes later, tears, Kleenex, more yelling, more crying, head down. Quiet. Time. Face calm. We talked. I listened. He understood. Apology ready, we headed back. Quick hug and he went settled in to his desk.

I’m a reading interventionist. I teach kids to recognize sounds and how those sounds create words. That process takes time and is rewarding.

I’m a teacher. I teach kids to get along, follow rules, apologize. I’m safe. I parent. I smile. I care.

Tomorrow, he may melt down again. But he may laugh and read and sneak a quick hug. That process takes time and is definitely rewarding.

Technology and Writing {Celebrations}

October 26, 2014
Displaying photo.PNG

Tellagami allows you to record for 30 seconds on the free app. They love seeing the animated character.

Celebrating my learning from the Digital Literacy Workshop last Saturday. Thank you to Ruth Ayres, Colby Sharp, Franki Sibberson, and Bill Blass.

As a Title I teacher, working with small intervention groups, I have not incorporated much technology into groups. This week, my students were introduced to two apps. Although I’m still fumbling with the technology, their energy for improvement has increased. My spirit was lifted. I was bubbling with joy. My students were proud of their hard work. My goal in using technology is to increase my students’ motivation for persevering through the hard. No, I don’t have it all figured out, but the little I did, have my kids asking for more.

Tellagami app is a favorite. We work on fluency frequently and the children are more than willing to reread for fluency when they know they will be recording on the Tellagami app.

Displaying photo.PNG

The children alternated writing their sentences on the iPad app, Primary Writer, while also practicing in their notebooks. Simple but energizing.

Primary Writer is the other app bringing enthusiasm to learning.


The Teachers’ Lounge

October 20, 2014

Kids wonder what happens when teachers get together. They pass by the room with the sign Teachers’ Lounge and try to peek. Jerry Pallotta portrays adventurous activities for teacher relief in What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge. Wouldn’t it be fun to walk through the forest during lunch time? As I reread the book, I noticed Howard McWilliam gave some clues from the paintings on the wall. Several match the adventures the teachers have.

After reading the book, kids could draw and write what might be happening in the teachers’ lounge. It would be fun to hear what they think.

Below is a video of the book, narrated by a student. The quality is good. It definitely gives you a preview of the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge:

  • Wonderment – what is happening?
  • Interjection – Yikes
  • Sentence Structure – simple text as well as complex sentences with clauses
  • Plural possessive
  • Magic of 3

Little Red Writing

October 13, 2014
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub is a must-have book to encourage narrative writing in young children. From the beginning, my attention was captured. Like a mystery, clues are interspersed throughout the story. Melissa Sweet’s  mixture of fonts, mediums, and cartoon frames create added action and intensity to a rather predictable fairy tale.  As a mentor text, you will be able to teach story elements while Little Red is exploring her story. As a fractured fairy tale, this book creates a great compare/contrast lesson with the actual fairy tale. It is an example of how children can also gain ideas for their own stories from books.

The play on words is brilliant. Each scene, short but with depth, creates the opportunity for discussion about narrative basics, tension, balanced description, and focus. The element of surprise brings a twist to a rather known fairy tale.

Little RedI must say, I wondered if Ruth Ayres had collaborated with Joan Holub. At the end, Little Red’s teacher encourages her to “Write On!”, a phrase I hear Ruth extending to us all.

Have fun reading this tale!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Little Red Writing:

  • Story elements
  • Idioms
  • Types of genre on the same subject
  • Compare/Contrast texts
  • Vocabulary


Beginning of the Year Reflections

September 30, 2014

Reflections from the beginning of this school year …

Teaching and learning should be filled with joy.

When I decide to smile and be positive, students reciprocate.

I’m not going to always like the kids I work with. This doesn’t mean I have to let them know it.

One kid in group drives me crazy; he doesn’t have a fruitful past. I decided to enjoy him PRIOR to small group instruction. Because I am positive, he can’t wait to come group. Me: I don’t mind him so much anymore.

Kids love books. They just need to have someone to cheer them on.

I like sharing books with kids. Correction: I LOVE sharing books with kids. I believe my excitement ignites interest in students.

I miss reading a story to a class.

I realized my heart hurts when I am not able to read to children. Thus my blog has been silent.

Intervening with children is hard work. I smile a lot.

A question that drives me: what am I doing to help kids get from where they are to where they need to be?

I want to create joy in learning.





My Assistant {SOL}

July 1, 2014
Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

For the past three summers, my youngest son has been my assistant during summer school. Tim doesn’t have any extra training; he’s just a young man who is willing to help. His first year of helping, I modeled how to catch the kids acting appropriately. I remember hearing him stop mid-sentence, “Tom, stop ta…. I notice how Sam is standing quietly with his voice off. I notice Sally with her eyes on me.” After class that day, Tim said, “Hey, catching them being good really works.”

I finished teaching kindergarten two weeks ago and wouldn’t have survived without Tim. My hat is off to kindergarten teachers. These kids are inquisitive, attention-seeking, and energetic. During a read a loud, the kids would be captivated, participated, and definitely cheered for more. We had fun.

The kids loved having Tim's full attention.

The kids loved having Tim’s full attention.

During small group instruction, Tim would circulate among the students who were reading independently from their book bags. He doesn’t know any specific strategy except for listening. Tim would ask them questions and encourage each on a job well done. He also helped keep the kids focused. I loved capturing him one morning listening in. I wish I had Tim during the school year, to be a live audience and respond positively to the efforts each kid makes. Does he plan to be a teacher some day? Maybe not the professional kind, but he’s definitely learning the life lesson of assisting others.