Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making Thinking Visible

After many times of talking, modeling and showing how to make your thinking visible while reading students couldn't apply the demonstrated and practiced skill independently.  Today I did a quick mini-lesson.  Four different examples of visible thinking were presented to the group. As a class we compared and contrasted the passages that were highlighted, written on or left alone.  It was unanimous...the passage with highlighted phrases and written thoughts was showing the best thinking.

Next I "tested" their application of the skill in their own reading...YEAH! Every single student demonstrated their understanding through highlighting important information, and writing notes to provide personal insights, thoughts, or questions.  They all proved they could determine importance and main idea through thinking and answering questions correctly.

I have been  teaching through mini-lessons for many years, although, often my lessons weren't so "mini".  I am finally realizing that when I make my lessons short, sweet and to the point they can apply the task or concept on hand.  When I give them too much information, I lose them. 

Lesson learned!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Be Someone's Hero

Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge ...
I am excited to explore my newest passion, writing,
with slicers from Two Writing Teachers.

A hero is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.  (

My hero?...I have a number of people I admire, look up to, and aspire to be like.

I am a big fan of authors. Sharon Creech, Kate Dicamillo, Eve Bunting, Linda Urban, Tim Green, and Donalyn Miller are just a few of the many talented writers that I truly respect. It is evident through the images they create through writing that they are talented, dedicated, hard working, creative and have a passion for what they do.  They are an inspiration. Today our classroom had the pleasure to meet a hero via Skype. Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of a favorite book of mine, One For the Murphy's was kind enough to make time for us and share her story, her personal story as a young girl, mom and writer. Lynda is an artistic writer.  When you read her words you live the character's life.  Thank you for your honesty and down to earth nature.  We were honored to be invited into your life as if we were old friends.  An inspiration to me and my students.

I have never met Amy Block, mother of 9 children. I know of her and her amazing family from her blog Building the Blocks . She uprooted her family from the United States and is now living, teaching, and creating a ministry in Guatemala, where two of her children were born. It takes faith, courage, and compassion to lead the life she has chosen. Her dedication to children of the world is commendable and selfless.  If we could all possess just a fraction of her compassion the world would be a better place.

A strong man who has an unconditional love for children and sports would describe my dad.  Unfortunately it was not until I was older that I saw the love, attention and interest for his grandchildren that I understood his strength.  His nightly calls to talk, question, read and sing with his grandchildren modeled what was important, they were.  His grandchildren are the light of his life.  He follows and watches (when he can) every sporting event they participate. He brags to his friends about how smart his grandkids are.  Even now when recovering from a stroke, the best therapy is seeing his grandchildren. His eyes light up with recognition, his mouth turns up into a smile, and a story emerges from his lips about his grandchild. He shows the strength and determination to learn language again so he can again model the traits of what is important in life.

My mom, is amazing.  She is giving, generous, and strong.  She never forgets a birthday, sympathy or congratulations card even when trying to manage my father’s stroke rehabilitation.  She never fails to present a gift for a new baby, graduation, or birthday even when she’s overwhelmed with doctors, therapists, and medications. She cares for grandchildren, a dog, the house, the yard.  She does it all even when she’s exhausted andworking part time as a substitute teacher. My mother makes every person in her life feel special. Putting others first makes her a heroic person in my eyes.

Thank you to my heroes for being who you are and inspiring others to be themselves.  If I could encapture the generosity of my mother, the strength of my dad, the courage of Amy and the ability to create images with words as authors do, I would be one hell of an amazing person.  I would be someone’s hero!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Foto Friday ~ Self Timer & Trimming Tool


In learning how to maximize my understanding and correct usage of operating my Nikon D3200 to the best of my ability, I have decided to take it S-L-O-W. Each week I will focus on one or two camera features (depending on the complexity). I will read information and practice using the feature(s) in my picture taking.

Week #4 ~ Point and Shoot Photography
                ~  Self -Timer
                ~ Trim Tool

I am seldom in pictures since I am usually the one behind the camera taking the photos.  I took time to familiarize myself with the self-timer feature, so I could capture family and class pictures that include me :).  It was so much fun running and posing in pictures with my kids and students.  Although I definitely prefer NOT to be in the photos.

My self-timer pictures were taken after I placed the camera on a sturdy surface (no tripod). I had 10 seconds to quickly find a spot with the others posing. When setting up the shot, looking through the view finder could be tricky.  My face was often twisted and squished against the surface.  I had to manipulate how to look through the viewfinder to be sure all subjects fit in the frame.  I was successful in including the people, but the centering was off, and extra items also seemed to just appear in the pictures. I know that a tripod would benefit when trying to take self-timed pictures or if I decide to get serious about photography. However, my real goal is to become a better amateur photographer. :)

Flipping through the photos which I jumped into clearly needed help.  I decided it was time to learn another feature on my camera, the editing mode, specifically the trim tool.  I manipulated most pictures by zooming in and centering the people.  They are not the best shots, but sometimes we have to sacrifice getting a great shot and just be part of the fun.

I am so glad I chose to learn about my camera in a slow and prescribed manner.  Passion Time is allowing me the time to read, explore, learn, and retain information about my camera that I never would have done.  Power to Passion Project!



Until next week . . . Smile :) Sonria :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Screen Free Week

Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge ...
I am excited to explore my newest passion, writing,
with slicers from Two Writing Teachers.

This past week my family observed Screen Free Week.  Surprisingly I did it! I was screen free all week and enjoyed it.  My kids were successful until Friday night when they were invited to watch a movie at our neighbors.  I welcomed the break, so I bent the rules for them.

The guidelines state no screen time including television, movies, video games, computer & texting.  Television, video games and texting are not a problem for me since I do not partake in watching, playing or texting anyway (I text very little, and did allow for emergencies). My down fall is the computer. I am on my ipad way too much.  I read educational blogs and write a personal and classroom blog, but sometimes I am on it for no real purpose. I find myself checking and rechecking emails or tweets or playing Ruzzle.

During the week I allowed myself to check my e-mail in the morning and afternoon at school for work and kid scheduling purposes.  My slice of life, I hand wrote, but gave myself permission to type and submit it for the week.  The only time I felt a pull to get on the computer was when I questioned something and wanted to research information. The one true benefit of the Internet that I love and missed is having information at my finger tips and being able to obtain it.  Instant gratification.
I am so glad that I took a break from my computer this week.  I knew before, but now have evidence that I do NOT need my computer as I have used it in the past.  I want to change my habits so that I limit my computer time to mornings, at work and evenings when kids have gone to bed.  I do not want my computer time to take away opportunities to be with my children, exercising or learning new things through different avenues. 

It is so easy to get sucked in to the quick access of technology.  I am glad I participated, noticed and am changing my computer habits.  It will be better for me and my family.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Foto Friday (Monday)**

In learning how to maximize my understanding and the correct usage of operating my Nikon D3200 to the best of my ability, I have decided to take it s-l-o-w. Each week I will focus on one or two camera features (depending on the complexity). I will read information and practice using the feature(s) in my picture taking.

Week #3 ~ Point and Shoot Photography
                ~ Auto mode and scene modes with zoom lens

I was excited to try my attachable zoom lens and be able to get right up close with the subject even when I was physically far away.  My regular lens ranges from 18mm - 55mm.  My zoom lens starts at 55mm and extends to 200mm.

When using a camera where the zoom is build in I never really knew the lens size I was using when taking distance shots.  I zoomed in and out until it looked good in the frame and snapped the picture.  Now that I have two lens I need to be aware of the type of shots I will be taking and the distance and range of pictures I intend to captured so I will attach the correct lens (or I could carry both lens and switch lens, but that seems like extra work). 

Having removable lens with varying distances I really need to know and understand the range when taking pictures. I experimented with my zoom lens.  I learned that taking pictures in the classroom or at a town parade do lend it self to a zoom lens.  I had to stand further back from my subjects to fit all of the detail into the frame.  I am thinking that a ceremony,  graduation or concert would be ideal when you can not get close enough to the subject, but you want the closest picture possible.

I still don't feel like I have good feel of when would be the best time for me to us the zoom lens in everyday situations.  I look forward to practicing and becoming more in tune with estimating the distance I should set my camera at when taking photos.

Below are pictures taken during the 2013 Spring Festival.  We had loads of fun and there was plenty of activity to capture on film.

** I am publishing this entry today because of Screen Free Week.

Until next week . . . Smile :) Sonria :)