Thursday, May 31, 2012

What are you going to Read This Summer?

Another interesting linky, this time from The Clutter-Free Classroom - what are you planning to read this summer?

I am planning to focus on writing this summer. So several books on writing are just waiting to be read or reread - the main 2 are these:

"Day by Day" by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz

I receive the weekly newsletter from Stenhouse and it is always filled with great info, as well as opportunities to preview books online. This is one of them - I want to review it.

"The Art of Teaching Writing" by Lucy Calkins

I also plan to take part in the Summer Writing Camp (check out the info here at "Two Writing Teachers' blog - a great resource). It will be a perfect opportunity to develop my own writing skills and be involved in a writing community. It starts June 4!

Summer is my time to catch up on all the books I have been either piling beside my desk at home or listing in a notebook, that others have recommended.  Here are a few I am anxious to get into:

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana byGayle T. Lemmon

I am also planning on reading as many YA and picture books as I am able. I plan to frequent the library more often and check out books that I can use as mentor texts.

All in all, I am so looking forward to a summer of reading.

Be sure to check out the great lists from others here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Slice of Life Tuesday - a wee bit of a rant!

Rant alert!

Today the grade 3s began their EQAO assessments - these are the tests for all grade 3s and 6s in Ontario. It means 3 days of 2 -1 hour tests, in math, reading and writing.

No matter the reading level of the children, they must work independently with no help at all in reading, although questions can be read in math.  I have 2 little boys who are reading at grade 1 level and are in the process of being identified, but they must still write this #%$*## test!

One girl who is identified LD and uses assistive technology was a bit more successful, but she was so drained that by the afternoon she had a major temper tantrum and ran out of the building.

I have done these tests for over 15 years - my youngest who is 24 did the first one way back when it was 2 weeks! He received Level 1s and 2s and called himself stupid for months afterwards.

The worst comment I have received was "But you're a teacher, you're supposed to help". (and I still hear that every year)
Politics does not belong in the classroom and that is what this test is - a political tool to assess teachers.
I will be so glad for Wed. afternoon when we can celebrate that everyone is done and did their best.

Sorry - had to get it out.

Be sure to check here for other slices of life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Weekly Wrap Up

Creative time this week was mostly taking photos. I have been enthralled with our doves.  One flew away today, leaving the other to gather up his courage so that he can leave the nest. (The last picture together)

I did not work in my "Mess" book - hopefully I will get back on track this week.


I was able to finish a couple of swaps this weekend.

Mystery Abstracts:


Drawings for May
I have seen a number of bloggers who are taking part in the 29 portraits and I thought I'd try my hand at a few. Here are some of my portraits.
 (Sorry for the quality - tried to delete the 3rd and couldn't))

Cowardly lion

More Photography

Flowers and skies are my usual subjects, although birds have captures me lately.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shadow Shot Sunday

It is time once again to share shadows for that fun meme Shadow Shot Sunday.
Here are a few more from my yard - it has been a lovely week of lots of sun, so I got out to photograph several times.

Our doves are now almost full grown and ready to be pushed from the nest. It has such a joy watching them grow. I will be sorry to see them leave.

Be sure to check out all the great shadows here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Slice of Life - Baby Birds and flowers

It has been a gorgeous weekend - hot and sunny all 3 days of this 2-4 weekend.
We bought our flowers on Saturday and planted some yesterday and today. What a difference when gardens are filled with flowers!
We did not finish the new garden at the front, but we will gradually get it done this week. In the fall we had a huge tree removed and we have decided to plant a perennial, full-sun garden - something I haven't had in a long time.

Yesterday morning I discovered that our morning dove has hatched her eggs - 2 downy little birds could be seen.

Then this afternoon, as my hubby and his son were putting in the new fence they built by our cedar hedges,

 they discovered a robin's nest with babies. When I went to look, there were 2 little ones and a blue egg. New life all around!

 Check out other "Slices of Life"  here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shadow Shot Sunday

What a gorgeous start to a long weekend! It will be warm and sunny for at least today and tomorrow. In Canada we are celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday - our May 2-4 weekend! Time to put in the garden finally and probably barbecue later.

 It is also the Preakness today - and there is a possibility a Canadian horse could win the second jewel of the crown! The jockey Mario Guttierrez is such a humble guy with a great head on his shoulders! Go MARIO!

It is also time to share our shadows - it was a perfect morning to capture some.

Be sure to check out the great shadow chasers here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Slice of Life

I had such mixed feelings over the past 3 or 4 days.

It has been four years since my Mom passed away and the first Mother's Day I did not feel the terrible ache. I still miss her so much, but the ache is less.

I also had all my children come for supper Saturday evening - a first in a very long time. It was such a treat to see them all together and to be able to share a lovely meal with them. They even brought a beautiful flower arrangement.

I phoned my sister on Sunday and it was a blessing as we have not been more than acquaintances since before my Mom died. We actually talked and shared and I even had tears. It felt so good.

Then there is the lady from church who is in hospital with cancer and a blood clot in her lung. So vibrant less than a month ago and now struggling.

From one extreme to another. So many emotions over the past few days.

Then today, just being able to talk to my minister about all these disparate feelings and events. It just felt good to talk and be heard. Thank you C.

Be sure to visit here to read other Slices of life.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

This day is always bittersweet. It is the fourth Mother's Day without my Mom. But it is the first in a long while that all my children were home to celebrate with me. It was lovely to have them share dinner and reminisce.

(Created in remembrance of my Mom)

My Mom was a loving, kind woman. She had a knack for caring for others. I still miss her so much.
This poem was quoted in church this morning and it made me think of my special Mom so much.

Love: A Variation on a Theme

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
but have not love, I am a housekeeper not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
but have not love, my children learn of cleanliness -- not Godliness.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.

Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.

Love wipes away the tears before It wipes up spilled milk.

Love picks up the child before It picks up the toys.

Love is present through the trials.

Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the
child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adult hood.

Love is the key that opens salvation's message to a child's heart.

before I became a mother, I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God's perfection of my child.

As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the
greatest of all is love.

Jo Ann Merrell

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer Bucket List/ Assessing the year

Two School linky parties this weekend really intrigued me:

Another One Bites the Dust.

It is usually about this time of year that I start reflecting on the year and start planning for the year ahead. I start a notebook and over the next few weeks, I jot down ideas and thoughts.
Knowing that I will be having a split class next year - a 2/3, instead of a straight 3, has me already planning changes.

Amber of "Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher" is hosting a fun linky party that has us listing 3 things that were great and 3 things that were not so great about this school year.

What was Great and what  I will continue next year:
1. Large blocks of independent reading time. The children are usually reading 30 minutes of "just right books" each day. If for some reason it is shortened (or heaven forbid it is lost), we must make it up later in the day. I have seen huge jumps in reading skills in almost all of the children.

2. Writing letters about their thinking about reading. As often as I can, I have the students respond to a book read, something from their reading or pose a question about a book or author. I always respond to them. I love this back and forth letter writing and I have seen real growth in their connections to texts especially.

3. Read alouds. I love holding my class in the palm of my hand as I read aloud from a chapter or picture book.  We have an ongoing list in our room of all the books we are reading. Right after their final break, we meet on the rug and I read 1 or 2 chapters of a novel each day. They loved "Because of Winn Dixie" and "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" especially. We just  finished "Stone Fox"  and have started "Charlotte's Web".
I use read alouds for many intros to math, science and social studies.

What was not so great and I would like to change:
1. Too many papers and files and books! Often when  I need something I know I have, I seem to spend too much time searching. I want to work on organization of "stuff" this summer.

2. Spelling. We do not have a set spelling programme and with a split next year, all the 2s and 3s will have to work together to improve our programme.

3. Fitting in Daily Physical Activity (DPA). In Ontario we are supposed to have 20 min. of DPA, especially on the days when there is no phys. ed. As Grade 3 is a testing year (EQAO), I find it a challenge to fit in all the necessary skills and subjects. Next year I would like a set time of DPA every day - 10 min first thing and 10 min during math.

Be sure to check out this great linky here.

My Summer Bucket List

Love the idea of creating a bucket list for the summer. Here in Ontario, we have to go right to the end of June -the  28th with kids and the 29th a PA Day.

Here are just a few of the many things on my list for the summer :
1. Creating - ATCs, art courses, small art projects - I want to create every day.
2. Professional Reading- There are a number of books I want to read and reread. Daily 5, CAFE; books on writing especially.
3. Taking a teaching course- would like to get my Primary Methods Specialist. Another teacher will be taking it and it will be much better working together.
4. Reading, reading, reading! So many books to read!  I have been making piles to read!
5. Reorganizing my files and units. I will be teaching a 2/3 in the fall and need to plan for the new year.
6. Dance daily!
7. Have some weekend fun times with my husband. This summer we may not be able to take holidays when we usually do as his plant has put a hold on holidays for July and August. But there are so many places to explore on weekends. I am looking forward to planning and visiting interesting places around.
Be sure to check out the Linky Party here.

Shadow Shot Sunday


Time to share shadows once again.

Be sure to check out the wonderful shadows from around the world here. You too just might become addicted to the pursuit of shadows!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Slice of Life - Loss of Maurice Sendak

I couldn't believe how saddened I was to hear about the death of Maurice Sendak. His "Where the Wild Things Are" was a treasured book. I still read it to classes today, especially at Hallowe'en.

 There were so many wonderful books that he wrote.
I have used his books for so many things - reader's theatre, art, but especially for writing - whichever book I turned to, there were always lessons to be learned.

Reading tributes to him today I was made aware of what a full life he had. 83 years.
You will be missed by all those who were read your stories.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Weekly Wrap-up

I was able to do some art this week but in small doses. Tiredness seems to be my companion this week - as well as school stress (less than a month to Grade 3 EQAO assessments!)

It was week off from ATC creation but I've started a new monthly challenge - a sketch or drawing  a day. I enjoyed creating the collages for April but wanted something different for May.

Drawings (3 of my favourites)
May 1 - a watercolour horse, inspired from "Wild Horse Winter", a picture book by T. Honda
May 2 - a puffin using sharpie pen, from "Little Burnt Face",  a picture book by Lock and Kennett)

May 5 - as this was Kentucky Derby Day I did another horse, this one inspired by Raoul Dufy's "Ascot" painting from 1935

(This would probably count towards a "Messy" page - lol. Just had fun with the abstractness of the watercolour.

"Mess" vs "The Happy Book"
This week I just could not get into "Mess" - I did want to create and play around but nothing really appealed to me from the book (Liz Wright is holding a  book club with Keri Smith's book "Mess" - lots of fun!)
Then I remembered "The Happy Book" which I had participated in last year at Jamie Ridler's.
I still had lots to do in it  tho - so I did a few pages. Helped with the frustrations and tiredness!


Favourite colour red:

I am enjoying the shortness of the challenges - I don't have to spend  a lot of time to have some art fun.
Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shadow Shot Sunday

This morning has turned out to be lovely - cool but sunny, after the cloudy rainy last few days. A perfect day for shadows! I did not have to go farther than my back walk and porch.

I couldn't resist the peeling paint with the shadows!

I had to include a photo of little Fluffy and the morning dove nesting on the ladder on our porch wall. I haven't been able to catch her off the eggs yet to see what they are like. But I am able to walk right up to her and take pictures.

Be sure to check out all the shadows from around the world here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Slice of Life

This weekend I attended the wake of a former student's mother, who committed suicide at age 31. The little girl was only 10, being raised by her grandmother as her mom had drug and mental health issues.

Too often lately, children are being impacted by the bad choices or the poor parenting of their parents. The schools then must support these needy children as best we can.

The older I get and the longer I am in education (over 35 years), the more and more angry I become at the lack of support for these young children. Who can learn when their lives are so disrupted and uncertain?

As a society we need to step in sooner and provide support and/or loving, secure homes for these children. Too often cuts are made to the very programmes that would give these families needed support.

Sorry - had to vent.

I am linking with my first "Slice of Life"