Thursday, August 17, 2017

Poetry Friday--Reprise

As seen/passed around on FaceBook


All summer it's been cool
but just in time for school
the heat comes back,
like a big muggy bully.

One afternoon, regardless of the math lesson,
the air conditioning goes out.
Just up and leaves.
Walks out of the room without permission,

leaving the door open
for the bully to swagger in,
disrupt the lesson,
and make us sweat ourselves.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Luckily, only the part about the return of the heat is true. (knock wood) We have not lost air conditioning and we are grateful every day for it!

EDITED TO ADD: Got to school this morning...NO AIR-CONDITIONING! ARGHHH!! 

EDITED AGAIN TO ADD: It came back on just after the students arrived. We were cool again by mid morning. YAY!!

Kay has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at A Journey Through the Pages.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Messages from the Universe for the First Day of School


Seth Godin reminds us that we are in charge of creating culture:

"It's culture that pushes us to level up, to dig deeper, to do things that we might not otherwise do. It's culture that finds and encourages and pushes people to become better versions of themselves than anyone else expected to find.
What we need are caring human beings who will choose to change the culture for the better. 
Not all of it, of course. Merely the culture they can touch. The people they can engage with. The human beings they can look in the eye, offer to help, offer encouragement and offer a hand up. 
Once we reset the standard, it becomes the new normal..."

From Indexed

Monday, August 14, 2017

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: An Interview with Tracy Zager

The new book Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had is a treasure!  It is a huge book and filled with so much great thinking about what our math classrooms can and should be for all students.  It is one we are sure you will want to own. I've always loved math and I seem to have lucked out on teaching with amazing teammates and having a great math coach who know best practices for math learning.  Regardless of where you are in your work as a math teacher, this book has so much to offer.  It is a book we will both revisit over and over and. over in our teaching.

We were lucky to interview author Tracy Zager as there is always so much to learn from her.  Enjoy!

Mary Lee and Franki:  What person or experience has had the greatest impact on your journey as a mathematician, or math teacher or teacher leader?

Tracy: Elham Kazemi introduced me to the amazing world of children's mathematical ideas, and that changed everything. She got me hooked on listening to kids' thinking, on assuming that students are making sense, and on figuring out how to help students grapple with the next juicy idea. I'm so grateful!

Mary Lee and Franki: What's one thing you'd tell all kids about math?

Tracy: Math is not worksheets. Math is one way (like science or history) to ask and answer your own questions about the world.

Mary Lee and Franki: What's one thing you'd tell all teachers about teaching math?

Tracy: Most of us got a raw deal. The math classes we endured as students had very little to do with mathematics as a discipline. The discipline is so much more likable! Therefore, if we learn to teach math in ways that are authentic to the discipline, it can become a great source of joy in our lives.

Mary Lee and Franki: What's one thing you'd tell all principals when the teaching of math that they observe doesn't look like the way they were taught?

Tracy: If they seemed upset about the changes, I'd ask them how they feel about algebra or calculus? In my experience, the very same people who are adamant that there is one way to teach arithmetic also say, "I was totally lost in high-school math." That disconnect gives me an opening. I can begin explaining how arithmetic is the foundation of algebra, and that undertaking deep explorations of the operations in elementary school gives students a strong conceptual basis upon which much can be built. We don't want to lose kids in algebra anymore, and we want them to understand what they do. That's why we're teaching elementary mathematics differently.

Mary Lee and Franki:  What crossovers do you see between literacy and numeracy?

Tracy: Our stance to teaching and learning can be very similar across all subject areas. If we think students have interesting ideas (and I do!), then they have interesting ideas about stories and shapes, novels and numbers. If we think students should have voice and choice in school (and I do!), then they should get to read texts that appeal to them and pursue mathematical questions that interest them. If we think communicating is part of how we learn (and I do!), then students should read and write and talk in all school subjects.

Mary Lee and Franki: Which section of your book was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

Tracy: The reasoning and proof chapters were the most challenging because of all the work that has come before. People have been writing about proof since the Greeks, so I had to do a lot of consolidating and summarizing and hat-tipping, which left me in a narrow, constrained space to write. I'm proud of what I did in those chapters, but they were when I used Anne Lamott's "one-inch picture frame" idea the most. Each day, I wrote one little piece without worrying where it would go. Once they were drafted, I was able to piece them together in a logical flow and then revise (and revise and revise) it all into a coherent chapter. That's opposite my normal process, but in the case of proof, it was my only way forward. Starting from the big, sprawling ideas left me paralyzed and overwhelmed. In contrast, I felt completely liberated writing Chapter 12, "Mathematicians Work Together and Alone," because what I was writing was original. I was free to set the terms and organize the ideas--to start a new conversation. It was a blast.

Mary Lee and Franki: What advice would you give teachers for the first six weeks of math instruction?

Tracy: The beginning of the year is when you set your tone and establish your culture. It's when you convey what mathematics will feel like this year, and it's when you'll show kids what you value. Therefore, I suggest spending a good chunk of time thinking about what you value in math class. If you value collaboration, perseverance, and thoughtfulness, it doesn't make sense to start the school year with a silent diagnostic placement test, which emphasizes mastery, speed, and isolation. Instead, you'll want to start the year with tasks that drive students to talk with one another as they make sense. You'll look for tasks that hook kids on the satisfying feeling of cracking a good puzzle. You'll seek out problems that invite questions and wonders, not just answers. And you'll want to be explicit about the ways you see students working together and learning from one another mathematically.

Mary Lee and Franki: Do you have any new favorite math resources, tools or sites that we should know about?

Tracy: I think is a fantastic site that most US teachers haven't seen. And then I think the world of math teachers on twitter and blogs is the most marvelous professional learning community I know! Take a peek at the hashtags #iteachmath or #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere) to get started.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Year's Classroom: A First Draft

Moving classrooms always makes for a fun challenge. This year I'll be teaching 5th grade. Setting up in a new room always forces me to reflect on the space I want to create for student learning. I know the space will change incredibly once students arrive and we get started and who knows how the room will work until students arrive. So I know this is draft one of our classroom for the 2017-2018 school year and that it will changed with student input, etc. I tried to make things accessible to students while also creating a variety of spaces and options for student learning.

The classroom view from the doorway.  (Please excuse the trash can!). Hoping the room provides several space and seating options for student learning. I didn't put much up on the walls as those will fill once learning begins! (2 of the walls are magnetic which is a big plus I think!)

The back wall is filed with nonfiction. NF author, topic and series baskets fill up about half of the space. Other miscellaneous nonfiction are spine-out.  I know these baskets will change but this is just so start.

Picture books and picture book biographies are along the side wall.  I only brought in a portion of my picture books so far but plenty to start the year.

Graphic novels have their own shelf although it is already pretty full! I may need to add more shelving for graphic novels as the year goes on. We'll see!

This year, for the first time, I did not fill every space and bookshelf. As I get to know my kids  and we get new books, etc. there will be room for those.  The bins on the bottom are some of the student bins that will house book stacks, notebooks, etc. 

Because students won't have desks, these plastic drawers work well for notebooks, pencil pouches and other individual supplies. I have 3 of these placed in different spots in the room so that it will never be too crowded when kids need supplies. Kids will also have a magazine file size bin for books and notebooks,

I tend to use the front of the room/meeting area/shelf for books and baskets that connect to what we are doing. So #classroombookaday books will go here as we read them. Basket topics will change depending on mini lesson work and units of study. I like for these books to be easily accessible to students during unit of study and beyond.

Mostly fiction novels in this area. Many author baskets that I know will change and grow over the year.

Thanks to whoever it was who shared these great Book Recommendation Speech Bubbles on Facebook. They brought some needed color to the room and will also begin our conversations about recommending books, book tastes, etc.

The area where students store coats and book bags is also where my teacher cabinet is. Since I do not have a desk, I created a cart on wheels with supplies that I'll need for small groups and conferring. (Filled with things like highlighters, sticky notes, etc.). I also have a shelf  (to the right)free for things I'll need to store/use for planning, etc.

The classroom has 2 desktop computers and I wanted those to be more work-station-like. So both are set up in corners where kids can pop on when needed.

The 2nd computer is in the corner above some bookshelves.

Supplies are available in several places in the room but Math Tools, markers, pens, sticky notes, staplers, etc. are in this area.

I am going to spend a bit of time with The Space: A Guide For Educators that was recommended by Stacey Riedmiller.  I learn so much from books about classroom design. I'll also revisit The Third Teacher and The Language of School Design as I see how students are using the space. Looking so forward to getting started this week!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Poetry Friday -- New National Youth Poet Laureate!

Meet Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate!
"The unprecedented title, to be awarded annually, honors a teen poet who demonstrates not only extraordinary literary talent but also a proven record of community engagement and youth leadership," writes Maggie Millner.
At the age of 14, Amanda was the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Now 19, Amanda a freshman at Harvard, an advocate for the creative arts and writing in the lives of young girls across the globe, a published poet, an inspiration.
“For me, being able to stand on a stage as a spoken word poet, as someone who overcame a speech impediment, as the descendent of slaves who would have been prosecuted for reading and writing, I think it really symbolizes how, by pursuing a passion and never giving up, you can go as far as your wildest dreams,” said Gorman at the ceremony on Wednesday evening. “This represents such a significant moment because never in my opinion have the arts been more important than now.”
Here's a bit from her poem, At the Age of 18--Ode to Girls of Color:
At the age of 18 
I know my color is not warning, but a welcome. 
A girl of color is a lighthouse, an ultraviolet ray of power, potential, and promise 
My color does not mean caution, it means courage 
my dark does not mean danger, it means daring, 
my brown does not mean broken, it means bold backbone from working 
twice as hard to get half as far. 
Being a girl of color means I am key, path, and wonder all in one body.

Be sure you read the whole poem!

Here she is, performing Mirror, Mirror:

Read more about Amanda here and here and here and here.

Margaret has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Endpapers That Reward Readers

In Which the Endpapers Explain What Endpapers Are

In Which the Endpapers Make You Laugh

In Which the Endpapers Make You Wonder

In Which the Endpapers Give Away the End of the Story

In Which You Need the Endpapers 
In Order to Understand the Story

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Power of Family

The power of family: You do what's right 
even if it wasn't your first choice.

by Lesléa Newman
illustrations by Maria Mola
Lee & Low Books, 2017

by Jennifer Torres
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

by Patricia Reilly Giff
Holiday House, 2017

In Sparkle Boy, the adults are support of little brother Casey's desire for sparkly glittery things, but big sister Jessie isn't so sure...until older boys tease her brother at the library and she comes to his rescue.

In Stef Soto, Taco Queen, Stef wants nothing more than to be free of her family's food truck...until her family's livelihood and her father's passion are threatened, and then she fights to save it.

In Genevieve's War, it's 1939, and although her grandmother is prickly and difficult to get along with, Genevieve decides stay and help her rather than go back to her home in America. This decision leaves her trapped in occupied France (Alsace) as the Nazis get closer and closer. Even when she has the chance to escape a second time...the pull of family is strong enough to turn her back once more to her grandmother.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Foster Families and Adoption

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
The man who never reads lives only one." 
George R.R. Martin

by Caela Carter
HarperCollins, 2017

by Nicole Helget
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Dial Books, October 2017

by Melanie Crowder
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017

Each of these books is the story of (or a story that includes) foster care and/or adoption. These are lives I never would have lived if it hadn't been for these books. I never would have experienced the trauma, the questions, the shaky identity, the need for acceptance.

These are books that help readers to see that all families don't look the same, and they help readers realize that family does not have to involve shared genetics.

The quest of the characters in Forever, or a Long, Long Time shows how every foster home and family differs, and what love does and doesn't look like. Same with the quests of the characters in Three Pennies (including the owl who is looking for a family and home).

The End of the Wild includes economics (rural poverty), the environment (fracking), and immigration (Somalian refugees) along with issues of foster care.

The story of Ada, Jamie, and Susan continues in The War I Finally Won, the sequel to The War That Saved My Life, with the boundaries of "family" explored to include Lord and Lady Thornton, Maggie and Jonathan, as well as a German Jewish refugee girl, Ruth, and...well, in order not to provide a spoiler, I'll stop there.  :-)

Friday, August 04, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Cutting Yourself Some Slack, GMH Style

Photo by Karsten Würth (@inf1783) on Unsplash

My Own Heart
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.

There are a whole slew of reasons why this is the poem for today. It showed up on The Writer's Almanac on July 29, a day when I was feeling like all the work I'd put in for a fundraiser was not going to be enough and the whole thing would be a spectacular failure. (It wasn't. It also wasn't a huge success, but I'm learning to live with good-enough.) It showed up on the brink of back-to-school, and seems as good a reminder as the poem Carol shared last week. While hers was about work, this seems to be about cutting yourself some slack; leaving comfort some "root-room," remaining open to joy sizing "At God knows when to God knows what." And, just...Gerard Manley Hopkins, who makes me slow down to dig out the beauty and meaning in his poems, and who rewards me the way an un-wrung smile (God's or anyone else's) can break through the cloudy skies of life and light up a "lovely mile."

Donna has the Poetry Friday roundup this week -- Padlet style -- at Mainely Write.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Amy Krouse Rosenthal: A Beauty Salon

Amy Krouse Rosenthal was the one with the yellow umbrella on that night back in August of 2008 (8/8/08 at 8:08 PM) when she beckoned the lovely and made a cool 18th thing with the folks who showed up. She didn't just make that 18th thing. She made her way into our hearts.

It seemed more than a coincidence when hubby and I were in Chicago recently, that a yellow umbrella shone out when I took one of my many requisite shots of "The Bean."

And when I learned from Lisa (Steps and Staircases) about an exhibit at the Carrie Secrist Gallery in Chicago (through August 12), Amy Krouse Rosenthal: A Beauty Salon, I knew we would have to go.

It was amazing. Inspiring. Heart-wrenching. And lovely beyond words.

Thank you, AKR, for all the good you did and all the beauty you brought to the world. You left far too early. We'll do our best to continue to beckon the lovely and make amazing things with/in/of our lives.