Sunday, June 17, 2012

Time and Tide Reflection


I don't usually get philosophical on this blog, nor do I ofttimes wax rhapsodic. But this is the time of year where I must. I love my career! I love my teaching, my practice, my profession, my students, my families, and my community! I can't imagine doing anything else that feeds my soul like teaching! I love the seasons and the time and tide of it. The great thing about summers off (other than it's awesome) is the ability to step back and reflect about the past school year. So here are my 5 R's to help with that reflective journey.

Relax
Before you can truly reflect you gotta relax. And it doesn't have to be a week at the beach (but that helps!) but it should be a seeking of solace. Quieting your mind, read (of course!), breathe, sleep (I did a lot of that) heal (I always seem to get a cold at breaks & holidays - like my body says "Oh, you have time now....here you go!) putter, get a massage, swim, garden - whatever it is that let's you let go is good. Disconnecting from social media is also helpful - going off the grid. I have a hard time with that - but it's lovely.

Reflect
Once you're relaxed reflect on the things that went well last year. Lessons that inspired, projects that showed promise, and programs that popped! Also think about the things that didn't go so well and how you could improve. Stay the course, or change it. However, sometimes, you can't change a situation but you have to learn to graciously accept it - and then work around it. One year I had a class assigned to my library due to over crowding - knowing that unless we had one year of it we wouldn't qualify for an extra "portable" so I had to grit my teeth & make the best of it. I ended up great friends with the teacher and we did co-teaching all year! The other teachers saw what we were doing and the next year when that class was in it's new portable, I had requests for similar lessons from all subject areas.
This year we had months and months where our library seemed like standardized test central. For MOD and makeup testing - where a few days our doors even had to be locked with big signs that said DO NOT ENTER. (That killed me!) Knowing of course, I wasn't the only one in my district or state going through all that helped. Finding acceptance that this was for the good of a needful portion of my kids helped, and also finding Ninja ways around it helped, too! Visiting the classrooms with carts of books - making my teaching "to go" or "on delivery" quelled my need for that teaching fix and kept me connected to my kids. But whatever challenge you face in your school - coolly reflect on it and move on.

Revise
Think about ways to effect real change and revise what you did from last year to the coming new school year. My Mom (an amazing retired gifted & talented Reading Specialist and English teacher) says that: "One of the BEST things about teaching was that every school year was a do-over! Every new school year was a fresh start." Don't dwell on the past look to the future! Choose ONE BIG THING to focus on next year. Join Twitter? Attend a professional conference? Better yet, PRESENT at a professional conference! Start a wiki? Pump up your Web Presence? Don't make it impossible, make it do-able! Set a reasonable goal for practice next year and keep it. Post-it wall optional!

Rededicate
Now this is the tough love time. Really think about WHY you are in this profession. Do you speak enthusiastically about what you do? Do you like, admire, believe in, and cheer for your kids? I know when writing I use a LOT of !!!'s Like I said in a recent interview for the excellent website Middleweb: "I always feel like Elaine in that Seinfeld episode where she has to take out exclamation marks, because I do use so many. Those and ellipses! Nom Nom.
A simple gift like these can make that re-dedication manifest. When you get one of these? Take a picture of it and keep a file folder of em for when you need that soul refresh. I have a manilla folder and a Flickr set called Happy. Works every time!
But let’s face it: If you, as a teacher or a teacher librarian, find that when you write about your teaching practice, and you don’t feel the urge to use an inordinate amount of !!!!!’s, then maybe you need to go re-kindle your passion or get the heck out. Our profession is so precious, our responsibility to our students is so great, that if you don’t have the proper enthusiasm and optimism for it then maybe some serious soul searching needs to happen – STAT!"

Rejoice
Celebrate your year! It's over.....and I'm sure you had some high points and some low ones. You taught and most importantly you LEARNED! Celebrate your successes and accept your failures. We all have them and frankly, my failures teach me MUCH more than my successes. We have the BEST job ever! Rejoice!
Final Thoughts:
On Time and Tide - not only is it a fav album by one of my fav 80's bands Split Enz...but it's about the pace of our lives. The lyrical dance of days. The time and tide of our school year. Embrace the seasonal gifts along with our kids. The start of a new year - new pencil fresh with all the infinite possibilities, the holidays peppered in the fall, Thanksgiving and time with my family, Christmas (or PC Winter Break) snow days...doing the snow dance in my kitchen wearing my jammies inside out, Monday bank holidays, and spring break. Oh spring break...my beloved pause where I usually go to our oceanfront beach condo in DE and spend a whole week...well, getting a jump on my 5 R's! Whatever it takes to re-kindle that innate optimism that brought you to teaching...take this time and FIND IT again or burn it brighter baby!
Now go out there and be AWESOME!

What kind of things do you to do to rededicate yourself to teaching? What did I forget? OR What is your favourite holiday?


Oh Tim & Neil Finn of Split Enz! - My teenage heart still swoons for you! I saw you perform in DC where you were the headliner & Duran Duran opened for you because XTC had cancelled their concert....you were AWESOME!
Split Enz and Duran Duran at Ontario Theatre (24 Jun 82)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Reading: Promoting Fun!


Mirrored & adapted from my MHMS Daring School Library Blog
Keep Reading: Summer Reading for Kids, Librarians, & GAMERS!
I love loaning my adorable kids (my students) over to my local public library for the summer. We're A+ partners and they love my kids, too! Of course not as much as *I* do but pretty close! We just had a representative from our Howard County Savage Branch Library come out to talk to our 6th graders - I set her up in our MHTV Studio & videotaped it (yes, w/a VHS! Our distribution center is still analog) We did the first show LIVE, with a presentation of the HoCo Summer Reading game and 2 booktalks with my 2 amazing media helpers Desiree & Chyna!

And then we put the tape into the distribution center so that the English Teachers could call up & start the video at any time to show their classes!
Every year I promote to our kids the Summer Reading Lists to the kids in several way. What is cool is that the lists are created collaboratively between our district teacher librarians & a young adult librarian from our public library. I did it one year -I think it was 2007 (we all take turns) and it's a wonderful way that we can show a united front of reading to our kids, patrons, customers, parents, and our community! The HoCo library also supports us by making sure to order extra copies for all the books on the list.
Promoting Reading Fun
How do I promote the list? We do NOT print a copy for every kid any longer...we're GREEN in our county. So we promote it on our TV Show with videos & PSA's and on our MHMS Learning Wiki. I also try & come up with a way for the kids to keep in touch with us during the summer with a challenge!
And for this year, we've got a fun idea for kids to show off their summer travels & reading destinations! Or just wacky & creative reading location or position! Think of it as ---READING in the XTREME!
Our "Weirdest Reading Destination" contest & challenge invites you to take a picture reading in an strange, odd, fun, exotic, silly, preposterous, or even WEIRD place or position!
Here's how I pitched it to my kids on our blog: Are you reading on the sand "Downy Ochen, hon?"(for non-Baltimoreans that's on our Chesapeake Bay Eastern Shore of Ocean City MD, & Fenwick, Bethany, Dewey, & or Reohoboth beach DE!) Are you reading in a camping tent? On the top of the Empire State building or Eiffel Tower? Are you reading on a trampoline? While skateboarding? (watch out!) Are you reading on a bench outside MHMS with the yellow Angry Bird plushy friend? Oh no, that's Alex! Or are you reading upside down while eating an apple?! Oops! Nope, that's Maya! YAY! You don't need to travel far to be creative because you can read ANYWhere!"
I urge the kids to send their picture my summer email giving their name, grade, location, & book title! Coolest pics will win an iTunes gift card, be featured on the Daring School Library BLOG, & a get bundle full of Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) paperback books! (Only valid for registered MHMS students incoming 6th, and rising 7th & 8th graders)
Summer Reading Lists Are Below!


You can download our summer reading list PDF's from our MHMS Learning Wiki! Or Click on the PDF's below
2012 Summer Reading ListsSummer Reading for Middle School Peeps & their Parents!

Final MS 2012 Summer Reading.pdf

Summer Reading List for Short Fries (Grades 4-5)
Final 4-5 2012 Summer Reading.PDF

Summer Reading List for Parents & Teachers
Final Adult 2012 Summer Reading.PDF

Summer Reading Smugmug SLIDESHOW!
All Pics are Creative Commons - but please give attribution


Download FREE Bookmarks!

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Summer_Reading_Bookmarks12.doc

Visit our A+Partners & Good Friends at the Howard County Library for their Summer Reading Game!

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Join the June 7th #SummerReading Tweetfest!
As blogged about by my mentor Joyce Valenza and the amazing Mr. Schu --- Katherine Schulten, editor of The Learning Network, is hosting an all-day Twitter discussion about summer reading on June 7. What’s on your reading list this summer? Guilty pleasures? Assigned reading? Audiobooks? Perennially popular series about dystopian survival games, a boy wizard, or a wimpy kid? Maybe even The New York Times Whatever you’re planning, and whatever your thoughts on the notion of “summer reading” in general, we invite you to take to Twitter on June 7 and tell the world.What can you say on June 7? Well, Katherine recommends the following topics on her posting, check it out!

Summer Reading for Gamers
Isn't it nice when you have two friends from two different groups and they find each other through you & discover they are kindred spirits? It's like Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE! Form a of a Cool New Blog! Well, I had that singular joy when the brilliant librarians and gamers and friends Matthew Winner aka The Busy Librarian & Jennife LaGarde aka Library Girl became fast friends! YAY! Now they've gotten together to create a cool new blog for readers AND gamers! From their first post:
"Level Up Book Club, a home turf for open discussions on the gamification of schools and school-based instruction. Join us by reading the current monthly selection and participating in posts and challenges. Leveling up is a strong possibility. Stats boosting is guaranteed." Join in the fun by getting in on their first Task 1: PHOTO CHALLENGE: “Meet Your Bookclub Follow them on Twitter! @MatthewWinner @JenniferLaGarde Cheers!

Credits:

"Weirdest Reading Destination" idea inspired (and totally pilfrered!) from the London Public Library! Who kindly put the picture at above on Flickr Creative Commons!
Thank you! Follow them on Twitter @londonlibrary!!!!

Summer Reading Weird!
So, I got the idea of the title of school library posting from the movie: Ghostbusters II- a Classic! Peter Venkman: "Next week on "World of the Psychic". Hairless cats... weird".

I invite you to leave comments:
How do you promote summer reading to your students? How do you create your summer reading lists? Please share your cool & fun summer reading ideas to us! Thank you!
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