Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

30/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Individualized Spelling, Slice of Life #29

So, I got up early this morning. It’s 10:30 p.m. on the East coast in the U.S. I have almost made it through the month of March and my first Slice of Life, 2017. I don’t want to quit, so I’m writing this quick post. Quick because I also promised myself and my students that this day I would give them the list of spelling words that we made together. Individual students and I chose words based on ones they misspell in their work and vocabulary they chose for themselves from their last story.

Here is a partial list that I am now going to type up with names and print off for my students to add to their notebooks:

8 students

I know this is impractical. There has to be a better way because I won’t do it like this weekly or even biweekly. As is usually my style, I tend to experiment and then tweak it to improve.

I even realized if I would have written more neatly with space between, I could have just sliced this paper and given each a handwritten list after taking a photo for my records.

I just took a break and started looking online for resources:

In a blog post by teacher Angela Bunyi on Scholastic.com, the book Words Their Way came up.

I have some studying to do to find a way to make this work.

Any suggestions for individualizing spelling?

28/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Owning Our Learning

In a Slice of Life post by Carol Varsalona this week, I was inspired to ask again my essential question about education:

How can I empower students to own their own learning?

Carol called questions like this burning questions. This is a burning question in my professional life. I’ve been saying it and trying it since 2011, when I first learned about Alan November’s book called, Who Owns the Learning? I struggle in my current situation because teaching and learning are much more traditional and academic than what I’ve been used to. I sometimes feel I am going uphill in a rowboat.

I don’t ever want to give up, but sometimes I struggle passing the learning torch on to my students.

I am trying to help students own learning, but to tell the truth I’m a little discouraged now. Here, perhaps as a reminder to myself, are some things I’m attempting:

  1. Self-assessment checklists of learning
  2. Tests can be retaken after students master the material
  3. Student learning presentations to parents by students instead of parent teacher conferences
  4. Students have a safe place to own their strengths and weaknesses, where they don’t have to pretend to be something they aren’t
  5. Authentic audiences for student work–pen pals, a global audience through global projects, Twitter, and our class and individual blogs
  6. Less emphasis on grades
  7. Figuring out problems instead of easy answers
  8. Student classroom jobs
  9. Students believe: “All are students, all are learners”

I would appreciate any advice. What am I missing that I need to try or renew?

Here are a couple of images that inspired me today:

Never stop asking questions.

A post shared by Edutopia (@edutopia) on

Image by Bill Ferriter with CC BY 2..0 license.

28/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

The Princess and the Pea

Last night, I was reminded of the old story, The Princess and the Pea. My husband is trying to heal a bad back and looking for just the right mattress.

Since we have a memory foam pad on our bed, last night’s experiment was for him to not use the memory foam. We just folded the pad over onto my side of the bed, and I fell into a big soft pillow, falling right to sleep like a princess.

However, like the princess in the story, my sleep was disrupted with a bit of tossing and turning. Unlike the princess, it was not because I felt some foreign object through all the mattresses. I felt a bit smothered by all the softness.

Tonight we’ll try something new.

22/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

You Have Set My Feet in a Spacious Place

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but I read Psalm 31 tonight. It’s a great passage for when you are sick or down. Here are some selected verses before I go to bed for the night.

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.

21/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

It’s Mother’s Day in Bahrain

Another day of external review / inspections at our school. It’s been a lot of work and a bit of stress. Today I forgot all about my writing, and spent all evening getting my students’ Mother’s Day posts up and running for the moms. It’s now almost bedtime, and another busy day tomorrow.

For those reasons, today I’ll share my students’ Slices of Life with their sweet mamas and a picture of this lovely coffee cup I got from Hussain for Mother’s Day.

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