As the school year turns the corner and rounds for home, I was thinking about what to give my son’s math and science teacher. She is fabulous, he loves her, and she is also my partner teacher. I love her, too, and wanted to get her something special. The theme for her classroom this year is owls, so when I saw Rachel’s post about her Hogwart’s Express shawl I decided to
copy be inspired by her good taste.
Photo by Susan Ashcroft, the designer of Hogwart’s Express.
My yarn has come in the mail today, so I am sure that I will cast on tonight and knit like crazy to finish it before May. The only problem is I have a lovely teacher’s helper who also needs a knit shawl. I will have work fast. Maybe I will stalk Rachel’s queue for more ideas…
One of life’s great mysteries is how my little, rural community can have the BEST public library with the BEST librarians. But, as with most of life’s other great mysteries, I try not to think about it too much.
However, when I see a book like William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher on the New Books shelf, I have to wonder if there is Divine intervention involved. As a fan of both Star Wars and Shakespeare, I might have squealed a little. (On a side note, parental enthusiasm, once so cherished by a toddler, becomes embarrassing to a 9 year old.)
My first thought was that some clever writer had combined the two cultural phenomena out of love for both. How cute and funny. But, upon reading the Afterword, I learned that there is a very real literary connection between Star Wars and the play of William Shakespeare. Since my reading class had just found similar themes in Aesop’s Fables and Native American folktales, with rich discussion about how this could be possible, I was thrilled to read about the connection. I won’t tell you what it is, get the book and read it yourself, please. This book makes me want to teach literature to older students so that we can really get into Shakespeare. I will have to settle to teaching my own personal student here at home. He already likes Star Wars, and we are working on the rest. Happy reading!
As I attempt to navigate the Common Core State Standards with my fourth grade students, I have found a teacher, author, writer, and blogger who makes the challenge a little easier. I first heard about Emily Kissner on the Choice Literacy Podcast when she spoke about her book, The Forest and The Trees. I liked what she had to say so much, I bought the book and subscribed to her blog. Then I found her Teachers Pay Teachers store and have been so pleased with her products on summarizing, main idea, and poetry. Her thoroughness and attention to detail make her teaching products very helpful to me (and based on the results in my classroom so far) and my students. Soon, I hope to have time to finish her book and learn even more.
Image Source: http://www.heinemann.com/products/E02642.aspx
Today I am thankful for the human ability to look back and reflect. This gives me the chance to become a better follower of Jesus, a better teacher, a better wife and mother. I took some video of my teaching today and while it is painful to listen to my deep southern accent, watching it gives me a chance to objectively assess my weaknesses as a teacher and to listen in on some of my kids’ conversations that I missed when working with other groups. With the busy pace of modern life, there is not as much time for reflection as I would like, but I am grateful for the opportunities that do come my way.
As I reflect on my first semester of teaching fourth grade reading this year, I see that my students are getting very skilled at using reading strategies in a whole group discussion, in small groups, and in isolated pieces of text. But, when asked to read and think about a piece of text that requires multiple strategies, or to apply these same strategies to their writing, they have trouble. Part of this situation is just the need for more practice, but I can’t help thinking that there is more than I could be doing to support my students as they internalize these skills of good readers and writers. To this end, I have found a few research articles that may shed some light on how students transfer skills across situations. Next Monday I will summarize my findings here. In the meantime, please comment if you have any insights into supporting students as they expand their toolbox of reading and writing strategies.
This year I have much to be thankful for; my health and family, friends, a home, food to eat, clothes to wear, a job I love, hobbies I enjoy, and hope for the future.
Below is the second pencil skirt that I have made from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. The fabric is a nubbly wool blend from a big box fabric store.
I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate American Thanksgiving) and a very happy day if you are elsewhere in the world!
Today I am thankful both for the progress my students are making in learning to be better readers and writers, and for the strides that I am making to be a better teacher and human being. If we all continue to make tiny steps forward, then we will read the finish line together.
By blucolt (start/finish line) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I woke up Thursday wondering how I would get everything done in time to Trick-or-Treat. An assignment was due for my online course, grades needed to be put into the computer grading program at school, I needed to exercise, lesson plans needed to be written, and then the phone rang. School has been cancelled in our district because of heavy rains and some flooding. No one was hurt and our school was not damaged, but some of the roads were covered in water. I was immediately grateful for the extra time at home to take care of some of the above tasks that were pressing. The weather cleared by noon and we were able to join cousins for some costumed fun. One bag of candy and a sleeping boy later, I am grateful for the extra time that I was given today. Happy Halloween if you celebrate it, Happy Fall if you don’t.
My class is reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and THEY LOVE THIS BOOK. I cannot keep the other books in the series on my shelves. The text is above many students’ reading level, but they are so hungry for the story that they continue reading. It helps that the second book in the series, Sea of Monsters, has just hit the big screen, and The Lightning Thief has audio book and graphic novel versions to give support to students who need more help. This novel has great foreshadowing, context clues, humor, and vocabulary; a teacher’s dream!
Today I am thankful for the gift of community. I live in a rural area and have known some the locals since my childhood. This strong sense of belonging is one that I cherish. But my physical surroundings aren’t the only access to groups of like minded individuals. Web 2.0 has led to a growth in authentic communities of knitters, sewists, runners, teachers, and crafters. The mix of face to face interaction with the ability to connect with large numbers of people with similar interests has the potential to create bonds across all areas of life. I am thankful for both my ‘in real life’ relationships and for the friendships that I have formed through this blog, Ravelry, and other social media outlets.