education

What *is* Mr Rogers responsible for?

Mr. Rogers: Responsible for the Entitlement Culture?
I saw this article when I was researching for a lesson plan I’m writing.
Initially the title gave me pause.
Then my hackles went up. And y’all I mean WAY up.
To even suggest this goes against everything Mr Rogers!

Of course I had to read it because I was getting bent over a title.

One of the things I learned from Mr Rogers is I’m special because I’m me. I have a responsibility to bring what’s unique about me into the world and hopefully make it a better place.
Mr Rogers was pretty clear that I owe myself to the world, not the other way around.


What are we doing with what we have?
Would Mr Rogers be proud of us?

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performing arts + diverse learning styles = enhanced social studies lessons

I’m writing an essay for my Social Science Pedagogy course. It’s about how the introduction of visual and performing arts into social studies curriculum can impact and/or enhance the diverse learning styles of students.
This directly links to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence(s).

Truthfully, I’m fascinated by the theory of multiple intelligence(s), and I knew I’m an intrapersonal, linguistic, and spatial learner even before I understood this concept.
As a mom, and teacher, by simply paying attention, I discovered and studied the way children learn. Meeting a child where they are is one of the most critical aspects of teaching, and if you understand the way a child learns based on their unique intelligence/learning style, you can provide information in a way they can readily and eagerly receive it.

Social studies educators have the unique task of making geographical, chronological, and cultural content from the past relevant and meaningful to students. There is absolutely nothing simple about this process. History can be nothing but the dullest list events and dates. Finding a way to make it interesting takes mad skills. Therefore, it seems only natural to me that visual and performing art can be incorporated into curriculum to impact so many diverse learning types.
Especially when you consider that in 2015 Lin-Manuel Miranda gave every USH teacher in America one of the most diverse and extraordinary teaching aids in the history of, well, American History.

How does a Broadway hit in a social studies classroom impact diverse young learners perhaps musical and linguistic?
(My sad attempt to mimic the beginning of ‘Alexander Hamilton’ clearly I’m not a musical learner.)

But did you see what I did there?
I used my obsession with the Hamilton soundtrack to make a valid pop culture – education connection.

Y’all! This freaking musical was born to be a social studies aid.
By incorporating Hamilton into a social science curriculum, you’re directly impacting at least five of the nine intelligence(s) straight away. Not to mention presenting to young people one of the most important times in American history in an entirely modern and relevant way. There is no end to how using this show in social studies is applicable!

I have nothing to prove to y’all, but I’m enthusiastic.
I’m also sick of writing this essay, and instead of getting sucked into something ridiculous and random, (for example: youtube or social media) I chose to channel my excitement into something somewhat constructive in a place I can use my regular voice instead of my boring paper writing voice.

Thanks for indulging me, here’s a little something to stimulate whatever kind of learner you are.
It’s time I get back to work, cause I am not throwing away my shot!

Please listen responsibly.

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love not hate, and certain unalienable rights

Yesterday was a huge deal for women in my country. Women, no, not just women. People all over the country marched in protest. Marched in love. Marched because they could.
And I was greatly moved.
we-will-not-go-back

I debated heading downtown yesterday, but truly hadn’t made enough of a plan to get it together. I missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate, but I was able to spectate. And honestly, that’s perfectly acceptable to me. I experienced it and it continues to impact me.
I was saying to YBW today that I don’t regret not going. That I am truly humbled by being able to watch it happen. That I’m humbled and proud to know so many amazing human beings. That our first amendment is a living breathing thing. That hundreds of thousands of people were able to exercise that beautiful right to take to the streets to say and show what they’re passionate about.

Gloria Steinem’s speech reminded me of being a little girl in the 70s. I did not like that she called out Trump…but I liked other things she said.

I think Madonna needed to shut her mouth before she even opened it.
To me it’s not about how horrible Donald Trump is. It’s about showing the world how strongly (these particular) Americans feel about human rights.

A friend of mine posted about her mother and uncles participating in the March on Washington with Dr. King. That she was marching for the same reasons as they did. Marching to honor them. Marching for her young daughters.
I was amazed at photos and posts on social media! Girls I held when they were babies marching. Mothers of children I’ve taught.
It was truly awe-inspiring to watch.

I read comments written by women who question the motives. And I began to wonder what that must feel like…to not be at all impressed by something that began as a facebook post became hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children standing up for freedom.
not-all-women
This was posted by a woman I’ve known since we were nine and ten years old.
What troubles me about my country being so polarized is that this march was perceived as a “We hate Trump” rally.
Now sure, some of those people do hate him. Some of them are simply exercising their first amendment right. Some are truly all about the preservation of basic human rights.
It feels to me that this woman I’ve known since I was a little girl is focusing on hate and ‘party lines’ rather than perhaps considering that it’s not about hate. That it may be about something more.
That perhaps it might be better to strive for some unity rather than remaining so deeply divided.

This dad and his little daughter in Annapolis know what’s up.
equal-greater-than-divided

I don’t worship Hillary Clinton. I truly felt as though the election in November was a decision between the lesser of two evils. Yet, I couldn’t in good conscience abstain from voting. I could not dishonor the women who came before me in that way.
I don’t idolize her. I don’t demonize him.
I just want to believe that all the hard work that was put into building my country will be honored by everyone with political power.
Though I understand that concept of “not my president” I think it’s awful. He is our president. We have no choice now. Like it or not, if you’re an American citizen, he is your president. Acceptance is where it’s at. You can accept without liking it.
We must stop perpetuating this whole ‘us against them’ mentality. Divided we fail! We are all Americans. We are all human beings.

I’m so proud to be a woman.
A woman in a country in which women have had the right to vote for less than one hundred years! This is a bigger deal than most people ever stop to consider!
What those Suffragettes went through so women could vote…
What the Greatest Generation when through during the Second World War…
What those men and women went through in the time of the Civil Rights Movement…
What same sex couples went through for marriage equality…
What the LGBTQ people are going through to be respected as human beings…
I believe so strongly that we cannot ignore our past. We must honor it. And if we can, we must learn from it.

I read one remark (written by a woman, mind you) that the march seemed to be all about being able to have an abortion. And I thought, ‘Wow are you truly missing the point! It’s about the unalienable rights of all human beings.’ At least for me that’s what it is.
Being able to have an abortion is no longer an issue of concern for me. But it is for my daughters. It is for girls I’ve taught. I don’t believe abortion should be used as birth control. But I do believe every person should have the basic human right to choose what to do with and for their own body.

What the men and women who came before us went through to get us where we are is worth honoring. What those men and women did yesterday is worth honoring.
There will always be haters. On either side of any topic.
But for me, yesterday was about love.
Love for human beings.
what-could-go-right
What can go right if we let go of hate and embrace each other?

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

shouting from my soapbox

I saw an article this morning on Scary Mommy: Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess.
A Kentucky kindergarten teacher got a $12,000.00 grant to install ‘pedal desks’ in her classroom for (wait for it…) “when kindergartners get tired of sitting still.”

I BEG YOUR PARDON!?! (or: WHAT THE EVER-LOVING F**K!?!)
Kindergartners are five and six years old! Five and six! Is there ever a time when they DO sit still? They need to move their bodies! Their brain development relies on that!! How can they be expected to learn anything ‘strapped’ to a desk?
Is this simply another example of the misunderstanding about recess? Recess is about social interactions and imaginative play in addition to movement and exercise. Some of the most important social-emotional development happens when children play together freely.
Recess is a time for unstructured play. Children learn to respect and appreciate each other’s feelings by cooperating and taking turns. They understand that there is a natural give and take to play. If play is designed by one child and doesn’t evolve in a way the all the children like, two things can happen. They’ll either walk away which forces the change in play or they will discuss the changes they’d like to see. More often than not, the entire group will work together to create play that pleases everyone. These children practice negotiation and cooperation without even realizing it.
I’ve focused on social and emotional development and completely ignored the benefits of play to gross and fine motor development. But that seems more obvious to me.

Children need to move their bodies fairly regularly! I’m forty four years old and need to move mine often!
A classroom can and should be a place where you can move about and have different kinds of learning centers.
I know it’s hard to “meet each child where s/he is” but it’s easy to create a safe and authentic learning environment where students and teachers can move their bodies to help the teaching and learning process.

I started kindergarten in our country’s bicentennial year. I realize things have changed since then.
I remember my kindergarten class had a housekeeping area, a “writing center”, dress-ups, blocks and interlocking bricks for math. Sometimes we sat in chairs at big tables and other times we sat in a circle “Indian style” on carpet squares. We got read to and we honed our social skills through play. I could already read and write when I started kindergarten, but that’s just me. I remember loving being at school. It was fun and I actually realized I was learning. I was in half-day kindergarten and there was time for learning, snack, AND recess!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had individual desks and chairs in their kindergarten classes. But they were grouped into fours in the center of the room to make room for the play based learning centers. Interestingly they were similar to the ones I talked about in my kindergarten classroom. There was a math center with big and little blocks and clocks to play with. I loved that! Little and big hands to move around the numbers. There was a writing center with crayons and markers and colored pencils. (Any scribbling is the beginning of writing.) There was a little kitchen and a mirror and babies.
Thing 1 was in kindergarten twenty three years after I was and there was still learning through play in kindergarten classrooms. Her teacher told me: I need them to walk into my classroom and be able to recognize their name and write it in some way that I can read it, even if it’s not right. I need them to be able to recognize number up to twenty. I need them to know their colors. The rest is up to me and the first grade teachers.
Thing 1 could do all those things, even though she wrote her nine letter name in a mix of capital and lower case letters. She was already reading a little. She was the only white girl in a class of nineteen kids. I was thrilled that she was going to experience that much diversity!
(There were 33 countries represented in our elementary school of 500 students.)

From the pedal desk article:

“Our kids need recess, not pedal desks so they can move while they work like little bots. Seriously, is this real life? Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves.”

I believe in asking that question. But the people answering it are not educators. They don’t know what’s best for children. Here’s a thought: what if we have educators creating curriculum and education policy? Politicians designing this country’s curriculum can’t see past test scores. Gotta keep up with the Chinese and all that rot.
But in Peter Gray’s article, Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less, he writes:

“Educators in East Asian nations have increasingly been acknowledging the massive failure of their educational systems. According to the scholar and author Yong Zhao, who is an expert on schools in China, a common Chinese term used to refer to the products of their schools is gaofen dineng, which essentially means good at tests but bad at everything else. Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative, discover or pursue their own passions, or develop physical and social skills. Moreover, as revealed by a recent large-scale survey conducted by British and Chinese researchers, Chinese schoolchildren suffer from extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, depression and psychosomatic stress disorders, which appear to be linked to academic pressures and lack of play.”

What’s sad is teachers have no real choice. This woman was trying to make the school day better for FIVE and SIX year olds(!!) while accomplishing the unrealistic and inappropriate goal the government set for when these children leave her classroom.
There is something inherently wrong with this country’s education system. How many lives will be negatively impacted before something changes?
Childhood was snatched away from children. They’re forced to learn and do things at ages when their brains aren’t actually developed to do them. This skips natural and necessary building processes in the brain! And they can’t go play!
My heart breaks.
And my hackles go up!

Categories: education, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

observe. accept. love.

Some you may know of the app facebook has that shares memories. It’s called “On This Day” and it shows things you’ve posted on that day in previous years.
I don’t check this all the days, I just happened to do it this morning because of something someone else posted that involved me.

Here’s a post from this day two years ago:
dancing girl at great falls
While we were at Great Falls today, I saw this little girl jumping from rock to rock singing, “I am awesome!” (The tune was precious.) Her mom just watched…she didn’t say anything and the little girl didn’t do anything but jump and sing about how awesome she is.
This is why we shouldn’t be saying, “Good job!” Or sometimes not even, “You did it!”
She didn’t need anything from anybody. She knows intrinsically that she is enough…I want to be this little girl please.

Seeing this post stimulated the memory of how moved I was in the moment watching this little girl. She didn’t need anything from anyone. Her mother stood nearby watching, but said nothing. Not “that’s not safe”. Not “way to go”. She said nothing. She observed. She accepted.

My years of early childhood training have given me a different way of looking at the world. At children in the world. The need to have freedom to take risks. They learn through play. They learn through risk taking. They don’t need to be praised every forty-seven seconds. They don’t need a trophy for participating.
They need to feel safe. Safe to explore. Safe to try. Safe to play. Safe to learn. Safe to experience that all-important “I did it!” moment of accomplishment.
It’s obvious to me that this little girl felt safe.
It’s obvious to me that her mother felt safe.
She let that child (who was not yet school-age) take risks by jumping on those rocks. Her mother knew she could fall and get hurt. And that wouldn’t have been fun for anybody, but the little girl would have learned from that. She would have known how to have sturdier feet the next time. She would have jumped more solidly.
That little girl’s mother said nothing while she sang and jumped from rock to rock and back again. But even more interesting to me is that the child never said, “Watch me!” She was completely focused on her task, jumping from rock to rock and singing: I am awesome! It didn’t matter to her if her mom was watching. It didn’t matter to her that she was or was not praised. She was working hard and she was having a blast doing it!

“Watch me, Miss Robynbird!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from a child in the last two years.
I cringe every single time one of them says it.
I have said: You can do it. You don’t need me to watch you.
At first they didn’t understand, I could see the deflation happen in their little bodies. But over time, they began to understand that I trusted them and I made the environment safe enough that they could try anything. They began to ask their peers to watch, this created opportunities to build their cooperation skills. Created opportunities for them to mentor each other.
I feel good about that.
I’ve said: You did it! more times than I should have. But never will you hear me say: Good job! I might say: Well done you! Give me five.

YBW and I had a conversation about praise. He believes everyone wants to hear it. I couldn’t agree more. But my point to him was praise causes people to look outside themselves for validation. They’re not motivated my curiosity or desire to try/play/learn. They’re motivated by and for someone else.
Of course we all want an “attagirl” once in a while. Working hard and not getting recognized sometimes feels icky. But praise is a double edged sword. The other side of praise is criticism. I grew up with enough criticism for three kids and precious little praise. In all honesty, I’d trade praise and it’s ugly twin to feel safe enough to try without anyone’s opinion.
When I work hard and finish a job well done I feel that sense of accomplishment. I experience my own “I did it!” moment.
Would it be nice to hear praise?
Absolutely!
Do I need that praise?
Not really.

We’ve created a new generation of kids that thrive on praise. That are motivated by praise, by participation trophies. That graduate from high school only so the principal has numbers that grow.
What if we took a giant step back and took a page from the mom’s book?
What if we observe?
What if we accept?
What if we love?

I want to be that little girl. I want to be enough for myself like she is.
I want that for all of us.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just you wait, Henry Higgins. Just you wait.

I haven’t written anything in a while. I just haven’t been feeling well…or feeling like writing. It’s not an excuse…it just is.
Monday starts my last two weeks in my classroom. While I’m sad to say goodbye to my babies, I’ve never been happier to leave a job in my life. And that’s saying something. I used to run the nursing department of a home health care company. Every day on the way to work I would fantasize about being in an accident. Not enough to be hurt, enough to not make it to work.
It’s not the kids, I adore them. Even the ones I don’t actually like. It’s the way the administrators (None of which have any early childhood experience.) never bother to ask the most important question.
What’s best for children?

I ask that question every single day. And I do my damnedest to answer it.

It disgusts me that they are treated like chattel with dollar signs on their chests. Is that what’s best for children?
If parents knew how decisions regarding their children’s care and education were being arbitrarily decided would that be acceptable?
But some parents don’t care. Their careers, their lives are more important to them and they’re content to believe the hype as long as someone looks after their children all day long.

No one gives a damn about emergent curriculum. Or learning through play. Or brain development.
Is that what’s best for children?

I’ve never been truly satisfied at this school. I’ve had moments of great joy. But I’ve always known it fit me ill.
It’s made me question my passion for early childhood education. It’s made me question my love for young children. I’ve been wrestling with “hanging up my spurs” for quite some time. It fascinates me that something beyond my control made the decision for me. Is the stress from this job really creating the sickness in my brain?

Perhaps I’m just a whiny crybaby? Perhaps I’m just lazy? Perhaps I simply don’t want to have to go to work everyday?
I’ve asked myself these questions. With the exception of the first one, the answer is no. (The answer to the first question is: occasionally.)

It’s occurring to me as I write this that as bad as that other job was, this one goes against my personal beliefs. That just might be why it feels so much worse. I care so passionately about young children and their beginning education that I absolutely cannot participate in the degradation of the most important time in a person’s life.
From zero to five years is when everything we need for our entire lives starts being built.

I was discussing with a couple we know, the brain situation and leaving my job under medical advice. The husband (Who is an engineer.) said something to the effect of: But all jobs are stressful. The wife (Who is a teacher at an elementary school.) replied something to the effect of: Teaching is so stressful. It’s not like other jobs. You can turn your brain off occasionally while you’re working. But we never can.
I agreed and said: I am almost constantly engaged with my kids. My brain works even harder than my body does. When a child comes to me with a question or is excited about an accomplishment, I have to be ready to go! I have to give that child my undivided attention while being completely aware of the others.

Most people have no real understanding of what early childhood educators do. It’s not quantifiable but it lays the foundation for every single moment of learning.

I’m going to step down off my soapbox.
I’m going to enjoy the last two weeks with my babies before they move into the “junior kindergarten program”.
I’m going to walk away with my head held high.

It occurs to me in this moment that I haven’t been writing because I was filled with all this poison. It was making me fell unwell. It was making me cranky.
Well, I’ve just spewed the poison it onto this page and I actually feel a great deal better.

Am I crazy?
Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Are personal beliefs and principles so sacred that to go against them makes one ill?
Don’t we skew our principles a teeny bit just to make it through each day?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy…

I am going to take time in September and October to heal my brain. (I’m extremely stubborn so I plan to do that through the sheer force of my will.) I’ll take that time to finish wedding planning. I’ll spend a good deal of that time with my own precious Thing 2.
And when YBW and I come home from our honeymoon, I’ll find a new job. One that suits me and that I suit.

I’m reminded a little bit of Eliza Doolittle: Just you wait ‘enry ‘iggins. Just you wait.
My brain is Professor Higgins. Life is Professor Higgins. And just like Eliza Doolittle, I plan to show my brain and the world what’s up!

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imagination spools

Two of my little students came to me this morning: Miss Robynbird! Come see what we built! Hurry! You have to see!
(Kinda hard to say no to that!)
Two little blonde heads bouncing with excitement as we walk to the back of the classroom together. And then I see what they built!

20150722_085940

Tell me about it. I say to them.
He says: J and I built it together!
She says: We used all the spools.
I see that. Can you tell me more about it?
She says: They’re all in a line.
He hugs me with joy: We did it!


20150722_085946

I know nothing of their intent.
I don’t know what they think it was.
All I know is that they did it together and their pride was BIG!

You know, when it comes right down to it, I don’t really need to know any more than that.

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storytelling part four (classroom fun)

Friday’s heat advisories kept us indoors so we made our own fun. I got down off my soapbox and let the kids do what they wanted. After expanding our construction zone to somehow encompass the entire back half of the classroom they cleaned up and came together ready the write a story.
I encouraged the worst possible story in the history of all stories and they did not disappoint.

(email title)
total global destruction

Well…sort of.

Miss Robynbird told us how proud she was that we were able to make a story without any bloodshed, so much so that today she challenged us to make the most horrifically terrible story possible! We’re talking fire, flood, famine. We’re talking dragons, dinosaurs, witches and sharks. We’re talking destruction of TOTAL GLOBAL PROPORTION!

During the planning process we shouted out things like:
witches potions
dinosaurs
dragons
sharks
villagers
fire

KR-J asked to begin the story, and it went a little something like this:
Once upon a time there was a scary dinosaur and there was a villager. And the villager found the dinosaur.
AO:
And then there was another dinosaur. A dragon came and he blow fire on the grass where the dinosaur was. A witch came from where the villager was. She said, “NO DRAGONS BREATHING FIRE!”
VS:
Another witch found a villager’s house and saw a cloak and put it on then she went to the dragon and the dragon ate her and she “spelled” out of the dragon and found her body again.
RC:
Then another dragon came and the villager…he saw crocodiles…they are by the water…he was trying to be careful by the bridge, but fell in the pond and the crocodile is gonna eat him. Then the villager got out and runned away from the crocodile.
ZB:
Then what happened, there was a shark, and he was bad and ate some people and there were other people and they went on a bridge and the bridge broke and they fell in the water then what happened, was the dinosaur got the people and stomped on them and they was squished.
JH:
More people ran into the forest and into their house and the dragons blowed their house. Then they run into the bridge and they fell into the water and the shark get ’em.
EY:
The dragon and shark…the dragon saw a knight guard…he tried to fight the dragon and he fired the knight guard and eat him.
Miss Robynbird turned to TK: Bring us home.
TK grinned:
Then there was a bridge that was broken and the shark at the broken pieces and a dragon breathed fire on more people and then stepped on them and they were dead. And then he ate them.

Total global destruction was a SUCCESS!

(Teacher’s Note: YBW asked me if any of the parents found this inappropriate. I laughed. These parents absolutely LOVE this stuff. They think these stories are wonderful. I am blessed to have parents with senses of humor. They are blessed to have teachers who encourage creativity and critical thought.)

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

storytelling part three (classroom fun)

Thursday was about educating parents a little bit.
Sometimes I worry that they don’t understand why I don’t seem concerned that some of these kids can’t write their own names. Some of these kids can barely recognize their own names.
Guess what. That is OK!
Know why? It’s developmentally appropriate.
I don’t rush reading and writing.
I have a child in my class who can write her name but doesn’t know any of the letters in her name. Please tell me how that is remotely acceptable?
So I stick to my philosophy. Kids learn best through play, through authentic experience. They learn when their brains are developmentally ready to learn. And three and four year old brains (for the most part) are not designed to read and write.
Some of my kids can do both. Some of them can do neither. This is me explaining to parents why either one is going to be just fine.

(email title)
Do you know what we know?

We wrote a story today and guess what!?! There was no bloodshed! Nobody got eaten! No death! No destruction! No mayhem!
And guess what else? It kind of made Miss Robynbird a little bit sad. She realized she kind of likes it when we create a great story and then destroy it. And here’s why…

She doesn’t think we know this, she’s not sure you know this, but we are learning SO much when we write our own stories. (bloodshed and all)

We’re learning parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
(We mostly use the first four, but we’re big fans of conjunctions too.)
We’re learning basic parts of a sentence: subject, action, and sometimes an object. (Isn’t it great when the action is bloodshed?)
We’re touching on things like adverbs and adjectives, we’re exploring the ideas of conjunctions and prepositions.
We’re doing these things because we know every story has to have “subject” and often times we choose something familiar like a princess or a witch. A pronoun is when we say ‘she’ or ‘her’ or ‘they’ instead of ‘the witch’ or ‘the princess’.
Then we will talk about what that subject is doing which is the action.
Oftentimes there is an object, like a dragon, or shark. These can be subjects too, but we don’t really use them that way.
We use the words ‘then’ and ‘and’ a LOT and those are totally conjunctions. That means they hook the parts of sentences or stories together.
Sometimes then is a preposition too.
We’re not yet super awesome at verb tense, or pronoun perfection. We sometimes don’t quite get it exactly right, but we’re working on it, and we’re having SO much fun!

We’re not being told this is what we’re learning, but when we start a story with a queen and then half way through start saying princess, Miss Robynbird and Miss J remind us that there isn’t a princess in our story. This keeps us on track with our subject.
We sometimes forget where the story is taking place, too. We start out in the woods and then try to say that a shark comes. But we remind each other there isn’t any water in the woods for a shark to be.
This is real literacy!
It doesn’t look like elementary school grammar.
It isn’t us deconstructing sentences.
But it really is us learning.
We weren’t sure if you honestly knew that. We weren’t sure if Miss J and Miss Robynbird understood that we realized that.
We just wanted you to know that we know what’s up.
Now that we explained that cool stuff to you, wanna hear our story?

VS:
Once upon a time, a princess comed and a prince comed and a witch comed and and dragon too! And they loved bread so they ateV bread together.
EY:
The prince, and princess, and witch ride on the dragon to Wegmans to get more bread, chocolate chip bread. And they got grapes, and sushi, and broccoli, and tomatoes, then they went back home and ate all that.
DA:
They went to the baseball game and played with all the kids. Then the witch was flying her broom around. And they went to Target on their way home.
RC:
The witch put the princess in jail and they played basketball and after that, some tennis.
ZB:
Then the princess didn’t go to jail, but…what happened was, a big big monster came and the princess trapped the monster. And then the witch, prince, dragon and princess played some more.
SL:
They locked the monster, but he had a key. So, he got out of the trap and he made they breakfast and left. Then he went to Target and said goodbye to Target and go home.

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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