Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things About Me...

I was tagged on facebook to write 25 random things about me. I figured I'd publish the list here as well...

1.I love to cook. Food Network is probably my favorite tv channel. I take the ideas and make up my own recipes.
2.It really bothers me when the ‘ou’ combination is pronounced ‘oo’ like in the words soup and group.
3.I love my family, and love how it grows every year. It was fun growing up with four brothers, even better to get some sister-in-laws, and absolutely the best to have all nieces now, but hopefully a nephew soon!
4.I don’t like to clean, and wish I could hire someone to do it for me.
5.I consider my parents to be two of my best friends, and hope I can raise a family like they have someday.
6.Day drinking is the best kind! Especially at Irish pubs.
7.I HATE driving. It makes me nervous because I don’t trust other drivers. My most proud driving accomplishment: I commuted from Conshohocken to Woodbury, NJ everyday from August – November.
8.I follow a gluten free diet, and try to convince people they need to follow it too!
9.Harry Potter is the greatest series of books I have ever read.
10.I don’t like olives, but am obsessed with pickles.
11.I DVR every show, and fast forward through commercials.
12.Whenever I order a sandwich or burger without a roll the waitress asks Kevin if he wants a roll with his…when the waitress walks away Kevin always makes a comment.
13.I am a teacher.
14.I believe that everything happens for a reason.
15.I am a huge Phillies fan…I love the whole team, but my fav is Jayson Werth.
16.My favorite part time job was working at Starbucks.
17.I own a pair of black sneakers that I wear to work with black pants…they are shiny Nikes. I think teachers should be allowed to wear sneakers everyday.
18.I love to laugh, and love to make people laugh.
19.My husband is a saint to put up with me…97% of the time I am happy, but I do yell for no reason, and can be extremely cranky when I am tired or hungry.
20.I drink water constantly.
21.When I start reading a book I find it impossible to put it down until I finish.
22.I am thankful to have so many great friends in my life.
23.The only time of year I go to McDonald’s is when they sell Shamrock Shakes.
24.I love to read about the art of teaching reading and writing, and believe it makes me a better teacher.
25.Life is so much better spending everyday with the man I love.

Moving into a New Community

In November my husband and I moved to a new town. Honestly, this is the first time in my entire life I have relocated to an area where I am brand new. I have spent the past three months looking for my new favorite pizza place, finding a nail and hair salon, trying new restaurants, and getting to know and understand the lay of the land.
Last night I attended my first Community Education class. It was an exercise class, and I went all by myself. I felt alone walking into an unfamiliar place jam packed with ladies in their twenties to their sixties, but was soon talking to some ladies (they were quite a bit older than me, but still took the time to welcome me!) The exercise class was fun, and I laughed with my new acquaintances. When I walked out of the class I felt really good about myself. It takes courage to try new things, especially on your own.
As a teacher I encourage my students to take risks. I am excited to share this story with my students, and hope it will help them take more academic risks in the classroom.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Wordle

Can you tell which story we focused on during the month of December?

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alt="Wordle: december evergreen"
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I know this has been around for a long time, but I think it is really cool to see a cloud of words. I created a wordle about my bridal you can see the most important words (Kevin and Rose) are by far the biggest. This would be a great way to see if you overused a word in your writing, or to pull out the main idea.
Click below to see my wordle.
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alt="Wordle: weddingstorybridalparty"
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Henry's Freedom Box

In November another teacher in my school approached with with an idea to perform a play in order to celebrate Black History Month at our school. She gave me a copy of Henry's Freedom Box, and I transformed it into a play suitable for our classes. I have a copy of it saved in school, I'll be sure to make it available to you as soon as possible.
Today was our first day of practice, and the kids were eager to begin transforming this story into a play. Thanks to Jill, our students went back in time through the music and clothing she had to help them envision themselves in their roles. We need more white aprons for the girls, but for the most part, the costumes we've created are perfect for our purposes.
When I was reading this story to my students I asked them to scrunch up like Henry did to fit in a box. Since the kids were sitting on the rug I told them they had to fit in one square on the rug. I thought this would help them feel more like Henry, I thought it would help them walk in Henry's shoes...then when we went down to Jill's room she had he box we are going to use for the play. One of her students got in the box, and as I looked at my kids faces I could tell they "got it!" By seeing a student scrunched in a box, and by actually scrunching themselves up they understood how uncomfortable and scary the situation was for Henry.
After we finished practicing, I asked my students to write in their journals - Would you mail yourself to freedom? Put yourself in Henry's shoes...Would you mail yourself to freedom?
Henry's Freedom Box

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Wait is Over!

I am the type of person that can't put a book down once I begin it, that enjoys watching a television series on DVD so I can find out what happens without waiting week to week, but every so often I can't help but have to wait for the next book or television show. And, tonight's the night for LOST.
I began watching LOST halway through season 1, jumped onboard, and have never looked back. I listen to podcasts, rewatch episodes to prepare for the next week, and discuss my predictions and theories with my friends. LOST is a great story that never ceases to amaze me.
Even though I don't like waiting to see the conclusion of LOST I am proud of myself for sticking with a television show and watching the traditional way. When I taught middle school I looked forward to my Thursday conversations with several students who were also fans of LOST.
I believe an effective reading workshop can provoke the same feeling of excitement in the classroom. When students are engaged in a good book they are eager to share it with a friend, or his/her reading response journal. Last year, one of my students read "Twilight" and journaled to me throughout the story. I recently finished Twilight and pulled her journal to read her comments about the story...her last entry about the book described how she felt when she finished, and how excited she was to purchase "New Moon" at the book fair. Even our most reluctant readers can't control the urge to wait sometimes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mosaic of Thought

"Children need to learn letters, sounds, and words, but simultaneously they must be learning about the meaning held in those symbols on the page"
I received the second edition of Mosaic for Christmas, and just finished reading the first chapter. This chapter reaffirmed the way I teach reading in my classroom. Last week I focused all of my read aloud time on stories about Barack Obama. I purchased Barack by Jonah Winter I usually spend 20-30 minutes a day reading aloud to my students (2/3 beginning readers)The first day I introduced the book we went on a picture walk. My students know they are allowed to comment freely during a picture walk...these were some comments
"Wow, what a cute baby", "Where did "A rock" (Barack) grow up?" "It looks warm" "Why is he by himself?" "Is he crying?" "Look he's giving a speech"

I was so impressed with the quality of comments from my students. We wrote down several of our comments and questions about Barack's life, and my students shared what they already knew about Mr. Obama. Then, I began reading his took us 3 read aloud sessions (I would guess 30 minutes each) to get through the story because my students had so many comments and questions about Barack's life. I believe this is what Ellin Oliver Keene is trying to convey in her first chapter, and by the quote at the beginning of this post. The conversations we (my students and I) have about reading allow my students to grow as readers. None of my students could have read this book on their own, but choosing a rigorous text for our read aloud exposes my students to higher level thinking and vocabulary. I am anxious to read Barack Obama Son of Promise Child of Hope with my students and compare the two books. (The first book is factual, the second is a poetic account of Barack's life)

My First Post

My New Year's Resolution was to begin a professional blog about my experiences in the classroom, my interactions with other teachers, and my thoughts on education in general. I know New Year's Resolutions are to begin on the first of the year, but I have never been prepared enough to start anything new on the first of a new year...isn't everyday a new beginning? I have, however, kept up my other New Year's Resolution - read at least one current event article from the New York Times or other reliable news source. I believe my two New Year Resolutions will enable me to become a more informed citizen and more effective teacher this year.