SDAWP Fall Conference 2013

This morning I spent a wonderful morning at University of California San Diego (UCSD) attending the San Diego Area Writing Project’s (SDAWP) Fall Conference.  I was able to attend 2 amazing workshops, but the best part about the morning was going through it with my friends.  Four of my colleagues from work were able to attend this morning’s conference as well.  I am so fortunate to have people at work that I can share ideas with.  We can talk about how we are using the new information we learned with each other.  It’s nice to have others around you who “get” it.

The other thing that I enjoyed from this morning (besides the workshops) was seeing my SDAWP friends from the Summer Institute.  I was able to reconnect with friends I made and ask them how their school year was going so far.  It was like a reunion and there were many hugs given during the continental breakfast before the workshop began.  In a few months we will be getting together again to plan the SDAWP Spring Conference.  I am sure it will be a lot of hard work, but I know we will also have fun because we get to work with each other once again.

As far as the workshops went, I attended a workshop lead by Aja Booker, teacher from San Diego Global Vision Academies Middle School.  Her workshop was called Writing Strategies to Support Complex Text.  Wow.  I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation.  Aja gave us strategies we could use in our classrooms tomorrow.  The strategies she shared will help students gain a deeper understanding of challenging and difficult text.  Even though the presentation was geared towards 3rd-8th grade, I believe I can adapt what she shared to meet my needs in 2nd grade.

I also attended a workshop given by fellow blogger, Barb Montfort (Wear the Cape).  Yes, I finally got to meet her in person!  I have been following her blog, so it was nice to talk to her in the flesh.  Her workshop was entitled Embracing Uncertainty:  Exploring Digital Tools for Digital Writing Purposes.  As educators we would not wait to teach literacy.  Therefore, we should not wait to teach digital literacy either.  I learned something about mindset from Barb.  There are two kinds of mindsets-fixed and growth.  When you are of a fixed mindset, you avoid challenges and give up easily when faced with a problem.  You find reasons why something cannot be accomplished and you ignore useful negative feedback.  On the other hand, people with a growth mindset embrace challenges, persevere, look for people who can support them, and listen harder.  I realize I want to be of a growth mindset.  Barb encouraged everyone to embrace technology, especially when it comes to digital writing.  I, myself, would have never considered getting a Twitter account or even starting a blog.  But, here I am.  Thanks to SDAWP Summer Institute.  Here is a picture of my friend embracing Twitter.


If you are still wondering if you should get a Twitter account, here is an informative article written by Kim Douillard, director of SDAWP, entitled Why Not Try Twitter?

It was an eventful morning.  It reminds me of what I need to do next in my classroom with writing.  Once again, I am energized.  I cannot wait for the Spring Conference!


How Lucky Can I Be?

I am very fortunate to have people around me that I can call girlfriends. Two events this week reminded me how lucky I am to have these women in my life. There are two groups of gals I get together with on a consistent basis. When life gets hectic, these women are there to help me slow down my pace. They help me realize how important our connection really is.

Last night I spent a wonderful evening with girlfriends who belong to my book club. We decide on a book to read and then we gather at someone’s home for dinner, wine,  and conversation.  We lovingly refer to ourselves as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Party.  One evening, when the book club met at my house, my husband made a comment to us.  He said it didn’t sound like we were talking about the book.  It’s true.  Some of our conversation is based on the book, but the majority of our discussion is based on what is happening in our lives with work (we’re all educators) or with family.  Most of the women in this group I have known for 24 years.  That’s a long time.

On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to enjoy a Girls’ Night Out with my neighborhood girlfriends.  Again, we try to get together once a month to enjoy a movie or celebrate birthdays.  We have even gone on vacations togther.  On several occasions we have traveled to New York City for a fun girls’ weekend.  While there we run through Central Park, see a Broadway show, and shop at Tiffany’s for a bauble or two.  On Thursday night, we decided to see Lee Daniel’s The Butler.  The movie was great, but I just appreciated the company of my friends.  We all have children who are the same age and fortunately, our kids are also good friends.  Even our husbands enjoy the occasional Poker Night together.

I am so glad to be a part of both of these groups.  It’s always nice to know that these women will be there to support me through anything.  The friendships I have with these wonderful ladies is so valuable.  I love and appreciate them everyday.  I hope everyone gets a chance to experience friendship like I do.  It is priceless.  I am one lucky lady.  🙂

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I had been talking to a good friend of mine on the phone.  In the course of our conversation, I mentioned how I was worried about my class this year.  We just completed the reading and language portion of the fall MAP test.  Needless to say, my scores have me a bit worried.  My friend told me that we just need to get rid of the word, “worry”, from our vocabulary.  I thought easier said than done.

When I was asked to teach a 2/3 combination, I worried about how I was going to make it work.  Over the summer, I heard the song, Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley.  This was a perfect song to use for my opening song in my classroom.  It would remind me that I didn’t need to worry about a thing because every little thing was going to be alright.

That was two years ago, so I decided to use the song again for my opening song this year.  It is still a good reminder for me not to worry so much.  I just need to keep doing what I am doing and hopefully, everything will work out.  I must continue to use this as my mantra because I just found out I was accepted to the SDCOE Tier I Administrative Credential Fall cohort.  Although I am excited by this new challenge, I realize I will need to come up with the tuition cost.  Something else for me to worry about!  Oh wait a minute, I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I need to take a few deep breaths and remain calm.  Everything is going to be alright.

Flower Science

This week my class has begun a unit of study on plant life cycles.  Second graders need to understand the concept that living things grow and change.  On Monday, we opened a lima bean seed to see what was inside.  Students discovered the seed coat, the germ (baby plant), and the cotyledons (food for the germ).  My students were interested and engaged.  I think some were grossed out by the sliminess of the bean seeds.  I had soaked them in water earlier in the day to make it easier to open.

Over the weekend, I purchased a bunch of white carnations.  I planned on doing the food coloring in the water activity so the students could see that the stem’s job is to carry water and nutrients to the other parts of the plant.  On Monday, I put several drops of blue food coloring in the water, understanding that it would probably take several days for the blue coloring to travel up to the white carnations.  Here is a picture of the flowers on Monday (I am embarrassed by the messy table behind the flowers!).


On Tuesday, we did not have time for science.  Howerver, today we were able to read about the different parts of a plant and what their jobs were.  We discussed the stem.  I looked closely at my white carnations and didn’t see much of the blue food coloring.  You could see some blue on the edges of the flower, but it was very faint.  Here is a picture of the flowers today.


You can see a little blue on them, but not a lot.  I was surprised that not many children knew that the carnation would turn blue.  They were able to get a closer look at the flowers as we lined up to go to lunch.  They were so excited to discover a little blue on the carnations.  There were a lot of, “I see it!”  And, “Where?”  And again, “Right there!”  It was comical.

I am going to leave the flowers in the blue water for as long as I can before they start to wither.  Hopefully, we will get to see more blue in the white.  The flowers were definitely a welcome additon to the classroom.  A teacher at my school commented on how it brightened up the room.  I had to agree.  It will be sad to see them go.

Missing In Action

I feel terrible.  I have not been able to post anything to my blog in several days.  I have even dropped the ball on the photo challenges I have been participating in with SDAWP Photo Voices.  I have been challenged by my 2nd graders this year.  It has gotten to the point where it has taken up my free time at home!

As a fellow blogger, Texas Teaching Fanatic (KaylaShook), stated, “There’s nothing quite like beginning-of-the-school-year tired. I know this will get better, but right now I’m pooped!”  She totally wrote what I feel.  I am pooped.  More and more I am finding out that my students have needs beyond the academic.  It has literally zapped the energy from me, and it takes a lot to do that!

I must remember why I became a teacher in the first place.  I know I am going to make a difference in my students’ lives.  I have to stop thinking about everything as a challenge.  I need to start enjoying what I do in the classroom more.  I think that is the reason I am so tired all the time.  I am reminded by a quote by Deepak Chopra.

The past is gone.  The future is not here.  Now I am free of both.  What am I
choosing right now?  Choose joy.

I need to remember to choose joy.

Hot, Hot, Hot

It has been hotter than Hades where I live. Since I don’t have air conditioning, I have been trying to find ways to keep cool. Most of my day has been spent in my car driving my kids to all their activities. The positive thing about that is my car has a/c! We do have ceiling fans in my house. But, I think they just circulate the hot air around.

My goal today was to move around as little as possible, but with three kids and three different schedules that was virtually impossible. To top that off, my husband has been out of town for a week. So, it was up to me to get the kids where they needed to be and picked up on time. Fortunately, my husband will be home tomorrow afternoon. I hope the weather cools off, too.

It’s 9:00 P.M. I just got done picking up my daughter from marching band practice. She actually got out early. When she called she asked if we could get frozen yogurt. I was all up for that. A trip to the yogurt shop was a great way to end the day.

The Radical Leap Re-Energized

This evening my friend, Christie, and I had the opportunity to listen to Steve Farber speak.  He is the author of the book The Radical Leap Re-Energized.

I read the book at the end of last year and was inspired to change the way I thought about work.  The main idea is that cultivating Love generates Energy inspires Audacity and provides Proof (LEAP).  In order to be an extreme leader you must love what you do in the service of people who love what you do.

During the course of the presentation, Mr. Farber challenged us to think about 4 guiding questions.

  1. Why do I love this and how do I show it?
  2. What do I/we really do here?  What’s the “higher meaning and purpose” in my/our work?
  3. How are we going to change the world of our students, staff, etc?
  4. Do I/we really want to do this (L.E.A.P.)?

Just thinking about these questions made me really think about how I can change the way I do “business” at work.  How will I interact with the people I encounter each day?  What energy am I giving?  The questions helped me remember why I actually wanted to be a teacher.  It also made me think about why I might want to be an administrator.  I should not be afraid to take the L.E.A.P. in my daily life.

At the end of the presentation, Mr. Farber left us all with one more question to ponder.  I write it here for all of you to do the same:  What can you do right now to change the piece of the world you are in, regardless of the people and the circumstances around you, for the better?