Duck into Third Grade

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Down the Yellow Brick Road!

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Down the Yellow Brick Road!

Dorothy had a lot of decisions to make as she trekked to Emerald City. We’re all traveling on some kind of road and we are all headed somewhere…unless we stagnating which let’s hope that is NOT the case. Be proactive, DO SOMETHING!
Dorothy found one friend that was in search of a brain, at times in our lives we could all say we identify with Scarecrow, we are able to do something but think we can’t…words are powerful. What have you been telling yourself lately? Say only positive remarks to yourself and others. Train your brain to always be learning so every day is an adventure. Let’s think about what we CAN do, not what we cannot.
Next, our galavanting gal met a tin woodsman who was in need of a heart. Once again we can identify with being kinder, gentler, and helping those in need. Do we get too busy? Do we think it is all about us? Reality check…Do something from your heart today for someone who cannot repay you.
Last but not least, Dorothy met Lion, fearful not fearless, cowardly not courageous just like Scarecrow filled with cannots instead of cans. Is it easier to whine ‘I can’t” than try and fail? Isn’t the fear of failure paralyzing? Why are we afraid of failure?
Dorothy learned a lot from her comrades. The people around us can teach us so much if we are willing to notice. Seize the opportunities that come our way. What if Dorothy had just stayed in Munchkin Land where it was safe? Let’s start down that yellow brick road and as Yogi Berra said, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” : )


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Reading Wildly!!!

Season your summer with variety!

Season your summer with variety!

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Gifted Hands

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Summer brings that extra time we need to read wildly! If you need motivation to do just that go to a Donalyn Miller workshop and prepare to be inspired! She presents the facts in a plain and simple format. She’s done her homework which gives teachers the evidence that supports what we all know to be true…one must read to improve one’s reading skills. As one of my third graders put it, “You need skills to pay the bills.” Donalyn shares research that proves voracious readers end up with better jobs later in life. I know it’s not earth shattering but it validates the gut feeling many of us share. The educational world seems to focus on standardized testing…Why? How does all the money and time spent on testing and test prep benefit the kids? Which will broaden the world of children, reading or testing???


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Compass Points, Flubber Fun & Fond Farewells

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IMG_1994The last day of school is always emotional because our time together has ended. There are lots of hugs and tears as each student exits the classroom for the final time. This year was a bit different because we made flubber the last day and that got our minds off the finality of day. The kids had a blast! What a great way to use up all the leftover glue!
Yes, we still had some tears but we had a lot giggles too.

I reread Each Kindness the day before and on the last day I read Amazing Grace. We had previously completed the compass points routine together on Freedom Summer but on the last day the groups got to choose between the two books and work together to make their thinking visible. Here is a brief overview of compass points, another simple routine from the book, Making Thinking Visible.

First, students label a large piece of paper with the following:

N=Needs, E=Exciting, S=Suggestions, and W=Worries

Next, they discuss how to show their thinking.

Then, they write it down.

Finally, the students share their responses. My favorite part!!!

Their thinking was very deep and this was the very last day of school! Most people consider this a wasted day but believe me it was not wasted, it was amazing! I wish I could show all their compass points but high tech I’m not!

I had such a kind class this year and I give a lot of credit to their parents (kind notes from parents is always a plus!) I also believe in the power of words & choosing just the right books to read that match each individual class. It is vital, especially for those that had some behavior problems at the beginning of the year, I was blessed to see the grow and change from a hooligan to a helpful human being, AWESOME! There was one student, in particular, that the class kept mentioning over and over how he had improved, he now believes in himself and wants to be his best self! Students benefit greatly from hearing quality literature that gives kids something to think about and connect to the real world.

Every year the books I read and the class I have shape my teaching for that year. I want to grow as an educator and as a person. Having talked less and listened more this year than ever before, my class taught me so much! Here is a short list on what I’ve learned:

1. It’s OK to make mistakes, that is how we learn.
2. Yoga is a great way to start our day together.
3. Other good ways to start the day, a poem or a song (they learned all the military songs and the song Inch by Inch and they could recite E. A. Poe’s ‘Eldorado’!) We read
other poems too but these were their favorites so they asked for them again and again.
4. LISTEN! I taught them H-halt what you are doing, E-Engage, A-Anticipate, R-Replay and
they retaught this to me over and over. After anyone shared a poem, book, or report they wanted to replay to prove they were listening. LOL! They like to show what they know!
5. The test does not define us. I showed them this video and they said it, wrote it,
lived it over and over.

The list goes on and on but I need a coffee break!
May your summer be an adventure,
May you fill your brainpan,
May you strengthen old friendships,
and make some ones if you can!
May each day be blessed, a delight and a joy,
And please try to reduce your consumption of soy! 😀