Yet….is now!

I have loved looking up at these butterflies all year:

They are pretty, but also help us remember that we are about possibilities in Rm. 202; we don’t know to do some things now–YET–but we will some day if we work hard and keep going.

I’ve been thinking about how/when we’d return to these goals (written during our first days of 2nd grade together), and Valentine’s Day seemed like as good a time as any.  Our focus was showing how we care about each other, and it’s definitely because of how we love and care for each other and work together that our yet has become now.  So we took some time to review them, and then make new goals to hang up and work on.

Kiddos took their butterflies and reviewed the goal they had written.  If they knew it was something they knew how to do now, they wrote “NOW I DO!”, along with the date, on their butterfly.  It was pretty exciting to see that almost all of us were able to celebrate achieving our goals, and we assured the others that their yet would come. 🙂  Check out how proud these kiddos are of their progress!

(There was one more, but he didn’t want me to post his picture. :))

After we took down our butterflies and declared our progress on them, we need something new to fill our wall.  It was looking a little lonely:

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So we got to work.  I don’t have the finished product to show you, because we’re still working, but here’s a sneak peek at what will go up here:

It will be beautiful for so many reasons!  I’ll share soon. Come back, will you? 🙂

Why I Don’t Make New Years’ Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Ok, well, yeah, I know–we’re three weeks into the new year already, but I’m just now getting time to sit down and write this post, thanks to another (unexpected!) snow day off from school.  Hope your 2014 is off to a bang!  I know mine has been great–although busy–so far!

As you probably expected from the title, I am not a fan of all of the resolutions that pop up around the end of December and beginning of January.  Not because I don’t think it’s a great thing to make decisions, or to vow to change things, but because I’m pretty sure that most people (man, I wish I had a statistic here–maybe I should look one up…) don’t keep those resolutions they make much past this third or fourth week of the year.  I guess there have to be some people who are really dedicated and last all the way into March or April, but there probably aren’t very many.

And so for those reasons I decided last year to NOT make a New Years’ resolution.  Instead, I make plans.  And yes, it’s probably just semantics, but since I’m a writer–and therefore a lover of just the rights words–I have chosen to do that instead.  I will make plans, take challenges and set goals.  I strive to change things so that I will be able to keep having my desired outcomes farther into the year than March.  Hopefully for more than just the year ahead–for many years to come.

This year my challenge comes in the form of running.  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, then you know that sometimes I can be labeled as a runner.  I know, it sounds funny, but I go in spurts.  Like I’ll be really gung-ho for 6 months (usually because I have a weight loss goal or race to drive me), and then I won’t lace up my shoes for the following 6 months at all.  Until another race or a few extra pounds motivates me again.

So that brings me to my challenge for this year: to run 500 miles in 2014!  I have many friends on Twitter and Facebook who are teachers, and the more I am there I am finding that many teachers are also runners–and  hard core runners at that.  I mean running-more-than-one-marathon-a-year runners.  Running-outside-in-a-blizzard runners.  Nothing-at-all-like-me runners.  But alas, I have taken the challenge to join this group of dedicated ladies and gents and give my all.  And my all is all I can expect, right?  I am probably not going to run a marathon this year (or maybe not ever), but I have taken a challenge, set a goal AND have a plan to make it work.  For me, it’s that last part that’s the most important.

Here’s the whole challenge:

2014 Run Teacher Run Challenge
*Run or work out at least 14 times a month in 2014.
*Post at least 14 times on run teacher run.
*Run at least 4 “real” or virtual races in 2014. (Or create your own with friends!)
*Run at least 400 miles in 2014. (Or create your own workout equivalent to miles.) (I guess somewhere along the way I changed this number.  Or someone else did, too.  No worries.  I’m in for 500!)

Sounds like a tall order since I haven’t run since before Thanksgiving (would you believe it was because I had a race coming up??).  But then my fabulous cyberfriend Shannon sent me a spreadsheet to use to log my miles and time and it was just what I needed.  So here’s how I’m doing so far:

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It’s not glamorous.  It’s not fast (just don’t do the math on how fast I run a mile, ok?), but it’s getting done!  And that makes me more motivated to keep getting it done.  I have to laugh actually, because today was supposed to be an “off” day because I have plans tonight, but then when we ended up with a snow day I got really excited because it means I can make time for a run today!  More miles for me!  And since there is accountability here (albeit “virtual” accountability via my Facebook group), I am pushed to make sure I do what I say I’m going to do.

So, yeah, it’s probably semantics, but hey, words have meanings for a reason, right?  And that’s what synonyms are for–making sure you have just the right word.  So join me in making plans and setting goals instead of making resolutions this year.

What have you planned to do in 2014?  How will you make that happen?  I would love to hear about your goals and dreams!  Believe, I’ll join your cheering section as you begin your journey!

Book by Book…

Yesterday we talked about the journeys that readers take.   Today we talked about how readers can make little goals along the way to help the goals in their journey seem more attainable.

We talked with our elbow-partners about goals that they’ve made, and when we shared out from our conversations, we realized that we had made goals that fit into 3 basic categories: goals for at school during RW (like reading 30 pages before the end), goals for at home at night (like reading 2 hrs before bedtime or “scheduling” it for after dinner or before bed), and goals that span the whole week (like finishing a certain number of books each week).  It was a great conversation that helped us all better envision how to have (and keep) a growth mindset.

Then I was ready to give them a goal of my own.  It is a year-long goal, and is definitely a pretty big one: to read at least 40 books, in a variety of different genres.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 8.47.27 PM(Remember how I read The Book Whisperer this summer?  This challenge and genre requirements came from there. 🙂 )

I put this slide up on the ActivBoard and waited for the reactions.  To my surprise (is it ok to say that?), no one freaked out.  No one cried, and no one seemed discouraged!  I was really expecting at least one person to say that this was an impossible challenge, deciding already that they were doomed to fail.  But beautifully, what happened instead were a variety of responses somewhere along a continuum of “only 40? I thought it would be more like 150!” to “on 40?  I know I’ll read more than that this year!”.   I loved it, too, when one sweet friend looked at me, slowing nodding and smiling, seemingly saying “I can do that, Mrs. Bearden! I don’t know how yet, but I know you’re going to help me.” 🙂  And YES, my friend, I will help you!

But then my favorite part happened.  My friend Brittany (remember her from that big pile of books yesterday?), who had been talking to Grace, looked at me and said, “Mrs. Bearden, you’re going to do this, too, right?  You’re going to read 40 books with us?”  I was a little surprised, because I was surprised that she asked.  But I was SO GLAD that she did.  It would have been one thing for me to say that I was going to join them–which I was planning on doing anyway–but it’s a completely different thing when it’s their idea.  Now it’s OUR challenge instead of just mine.  And we’re going to accomplish it together, book by book. 🙂

Everybody Loves Reading!

Or at least they will when I’m done with ’em! HA!

One of the most important goals of the beginning of 5th grade–or any grade–is to help kids get to the place where they love school.  Really love it.  This is the case with the beginning days of my Reader’s Workshop as well.  Unfortunately, I have students that come to me and can honestly say that they don’t read because they want to.  They read because they have to, or they don’t read at all.  Boo. 😦

So in addition to conversations about how our Reader’s Workshop will function (like we had as we filled in this chart the other day):

Kids worked in pairs first and then we discussed together our thoughts about what Reader's Workshop looks and sound like, and how that helps us as readers.

Kids worked in pairs first and then we discussed together our thoughts about what Reader’s Workshop looks and sound like, and how that helps us as readers.

we also have lessons that give kids chances to see themselves as readers, and to see what is possible for them–no matter where they are starting.

Today we started with a conversation about mindset (growth vs. fixed) and tied it to this quote:

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We talked about how every reader is on a journey, and those journeys look different for every person.  We talked about how having a growth mindset–believing that we are capable of achieving great things if we keep trying, changing and making mistakes–helps us on our journey.    Then I described one reader’s journey from short, picture books with few words to reading Harry Potter using this pile of books:

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While the scenario was hypothetical (I know…sometimes stories I tell at school are made up.  Don’t sue me. 🙂 ), it is very much like what real readers do, and I wanted my readers to see that there are steps that they can plan to help them get from where they are to where they want to be (which in this case was the desire to read a Harry Potter book–a very real goal for many readers!).

After I told the story of how this reader traveled through their journey and after I piled these books high in Brittany’s arms (who so kindly volunteered to play the role of the reader in my story), I had everyone think about whether they saw themselves somewhere in this pile of books.  Maybe they were already on a similar journey to this one.  Or maybe they were starting in a different place.  Regardless of the answer, their next step was to consider their own personal reading journey and write about it.
I want readers in my room to understand and appreciate that we need to think past the book we’re reading and onto the next book and the next book and so on (I’m working through Reading Ladders to help me help them with this right now).  Everywhere has somewhere they can go!  Here’s to a remarkable reading year in Rm. 202!

EDUC 573: Week 2–Edmodo and Twitter

Hopefully it will not come as a surprise when I say that I am a life-long learner.  I feel like it oozes out of my pores, and that if you spend more than 5 minutes with me, you get that vibe.  At least that’s what I hope.

And so I also hope that it’s not a surprise that the learning I’m most interested in these days is related to technology.  I’ve written about some of it already , in the form of how my kids are blogging, and I’m sure that somewhere farther back I explained how I got to the place that I am now with using technology in my classroom (and if I haven’t, I’m sure I’ll decide to write about it!).

This post is the second one for the class I’m taking right now: EDUC 573–Applications of Technology.  It’s a requirement for my Masters; even though my focus is not tech, it’s a topic helpful to every teacher these days.  And even in just two weeks, I’ve already learned about and tried countless things!  I’m beyond excited about “having” to do things that I’m interested in doing anyway.

So that brings me to my goal from last week.  I was most excited about beginning to use my blog “in-the-moment” and pledged that I’d try something on it the next day.  Which I did, indeed.  This week my class reflected on themselves as learners and wrote their own goals, and we used the blog for our ActivActivity in math rotations two different times this week.  And so far I’d say I LOVE IT!  Kiddos loved seeing their work all right there in one place (rather than all spread out on their individual blogs), and I loved it for the same reason.  We could quickly review what we had shared, and compare our thinking.  There have already been several other suggestions for how we might continue to use this together.  Love that my kiddos are such great thinkers, but I love even more that they know I’ll listen to and incorporate their ideas into what we do.  It is, after all, OUR classroom, not just mine. :)

The topic this week was related to becoming familiar with and beginning to use learning management systems in the classroom.  We investigated both Moodle and Edmodo, and considered how they could be used in the classroom to enhance the learning that’s already happening.  And that’s the key, I think, to any tech that you’re using–it should complement the learning goals you already have.  It should be the learning goal, nor should it come first.  I also think that it’s key that whatever you add be easy to use.  And for that reason, I am excited to start playing around with Edmodo in our classroom.

Edmodo is a learning management system that is comparable to “Facebook in the classroom.”  It’s a safe, private, focused way for a class to communicate on a topic, and has countless features useful to teachers, students and even parents.  I think that the first thing I’ll do (after a suggestion from a colleague) is give them some time to see what it can do.  I am sure they’ll figure out alot of the ins and outs very quickly.  Next my plan is to start literature circle conversations on Edmodo.  We’re just about to start them anyway, and it would make sense as a starting place.  I’m excited to see the difference in depth that may happen when kids have a chance to put their thoughts in writing this way.  And as always happens, I’m sure someone will come up with a great idea for what to do with it next.

Aside from the LMS, we also read the article “Taking the Digital Plunge” by Bill Ferriter (2009).  And while I originally focused in on a quote about how quickly finding like-minded learners helped me want to jump in and get my feet wet with tech, this one might even be more meaningful:

Connecting with colleagues online has helped me explore skills and dispositions necessary for
networked cooperation—skills like finding partners beyond borders, making my own thinking transparent,
revising positions on the basis of feedback, accessing valuable information from colearners, and
creating shared content. It has profoundly changed the way I learn.

This week alone, I’ve signed up and am starting to use Edmodo, created the template for my eportfolio, added over 50 links to my delicious account, and planned a Mystery Skype for next week with a teacher in my PLN on Twitter.   I believe these are all powerful tools that used by both me and my students to make connections.

I’m excited to see what continues to come out of this learning I am “having” to do here.  It’s so much fun it doesn’t seem at all like work!

What have you learned this week about technology?  Have you read “Taking the Digital Plunge?”  What did you learn?  Have you tried Edmodo, Twitter, delicious or Mystery Skype?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

ActivActivity–January 14-15, 2013

Today’s ActivActivity is related to the Math Warm-up we had the other day:

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Your job today is to come up with a story that uses FRACTIONS and has an answer of 3/4.  Work together with  your group to write one, and if you have time after that one, write another!  Leave your story in the comments for this post, and be sure to leave your names!

Goals 2013

Good morning, friends!  So here we go: our first in-the-moment and let’s-show-our-thinking-on-the-blog post!  As we get started this morning, follow these directions:

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 8.15.50 AM

Now you try!  Think of a specific, measurable goal for YOU for 2013, and leave your idea as a comment on this post.   Don’t forget to leave your name!  Good luck and happy goal planning, friends!  I can’t wait to see what FABULOUS things you come up with. 🙂