Grateful Slicer, Day 30

I am a grateful slicer, a new slicer in 2017.

Thanks to all those who have read my posts this month and left kind, helpful and quality comments.

A special thanks to my regular visitors, Aileen Hower and Erika Victor. You have each been a cheerleader to keep me writing on this journey! It seems I could always look forward to your helpful and encouraging responses. When I didn’t feel like writing, or thought I had nothing to say, I somehow knew you would notice. Thank you!

Although, I didn’t make the full challenge, I did manage to post each day. I forgot to add my link to the SOL website a couple times, and I had a week of little to no commenting! All in all, it’s been a great adventure, and I look forward to keeping up my writing with the weekly Slice of Life Tuesday challenge.

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?

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.

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.

Breakfast

“Another breakfast, Peggy!! Why are you so kind to me?”

“Where is your water bottle,” she asked, not worried about answering my rhetorical question.

“It’s on my desk. Right there, with the rose from our Mother’s Day assembly in it,” I answered.

“OK, you can’t drink out of that one, but you need some water,” Peggy told me this morning, as I enjoyed eating the generous and healthy breakfast she brought me–a cheese sandwich, yogurt, a kiwi, a tangerine, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, an egg, and a granola bar (from her daughter). Soon there was water too.

Yesterday, she brought me the breakfast in the picture below, and she promised another breakfast for tomorrow.

Why? My husband has been in the hospital for the last four days, and I’ve been with him. Of course, I didn’t have time to really cook, but I have certainly had time to eat thanks to the loving gifts of so many sweet friends–Peggy, Vinolia, Victoria, Molly, Georgina, and more coming in the next few days.

Thank you, friends, and thank you, God, for such a warm hospitable place I get to call home.

Delicious breakfast from my dear friend. #green #cy365 #t365project

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on

So many blog posts!

I have been spending the last three hours publishing my students’ blog posts, with a few distractions. It has been my first year blogging with grade 5.

I never had so much enthusiasm with grade 7-8 when I taught them blogging. They were older, more capable, and native English speakers, but they were also more reluctant. Now I have 50 students, English language learners, busy with lots of homework and a testing kind of culture, yet so many of them choose to write and comment from home in the evenings and weekends. It’s been great fun!

Today, the busyness with my class blog, plus the fact that I spent the day in the hospital is making this my Slice of Life post. (I was in the hospital with my husband, who is recovering from some medical issues–not all resolved yet.)

 

 

First Floor

I had a memory today of when I first moved to Bahrain. I had only been driving for a month or two, and I took a solo trip to the mall, where I was to meet some teachers for lunch. I was told the restaurant, Yellow Chile, was on the first floor. I wandered around the mall for 15-20 minutes or so looking for the restaurant. I was early, so I didn’t have to be in a hurry. I was just enjoying the mall, assuming I’d get to it eventually.

Finally, I realized I needed to find it since I began worrying that maybe I went to the wrong mall. I asked someone, and she told me, “It’s on the first floor by the cinema.”

From the confused look on my face, she may have realized I was speaking American English. She pointed UP the escalator.

When I got to the restaurant, I asked my friends about it, “I thought you said the Yellow Chile was on the first floor!”

“It is!” they said.

I just thought that was weird to be sitting on the second floor and have them calling it the first floor. I don’t know that I said that, though. There were lots of cultural differences back then that kept my thinking off-kilter, and I usually didn’t ask as many questions as I really had.

Fast forward three years, and today I was walking in the hall in my building. I use the stairs and elevators all the time, and I know which floor I’m on at any given time.

I live on the fifth floor, but it literally is the sixth level. When I stop to think that my building is a six-story building, like I did today, I’m reminded that is unusual. For the most part, however, I don’t think about it anymore, it’s just become what I’m used to now.

I wonder if when I go back home someday, I will think the way floors are named in the U.S. is weird and have to get used to that again.

I’m walking across the second floor bridge, but in the U.S., wouldn’t that top floor be called the third floor?

Continue reading “First Floor”

Bread and Butter Sandwich

This is a throwback Thursday post from Teachers’ Write last summer. This has been quite a week for me. I need to kick start my writing, but for today: this. It’s an autobiography of me as Jo in the lunch room with my bread and butter sandwich.

“I don’t have a sandwich,” she said, with furrowed eyebrows, her hazel eyes staring deeply across the table. That sycophantic six-year-old boy always tried to ruin her life!

“No, teacher. I saw her sandwich, and then it was gone. She didn’t eat it. I know she didn’t,” he said with a smug smile.

Jo held the bread and butter under the table with both hands, willing it to compress into a smaller space. It’s NOT a sandwich, she thought to herself. She gazed directly at the teacher.

“OK, children. Don’t fight. Your mom packed it for you, so eat all your lunch,” the teacher said, distractedly, as she hurried to the next table to deal with spilled milk.

Jo’s shoulders relaxed, and she loosened her vice grip on the bread and butter “sandwich.” She stealthily moved her brown paper lunch bag under the table. Then Jo stuffed the squished wax paper-wrapped remains into the bag with her other lunch waste. Bread and butter is not supposed to be folded. Bread and butter is what you eat at home, not at school, she brooded.

Originally published here.