Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Please walk

I prefer ‘rules’ in positive language. Why say “Don’t Run!” when you really mean, “please walk”. In fact, saying “please walk” would encompass no cartwheels in the hall as well, which is what I encountered this afternoon as a six year old was leaving school with her mom.

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Why not put the best spin on things possible? (Pun intended).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Annotated Top Ten

My students came up with a ‘Top Ten’ list of things I say. The complete list of sayings they brainstormed contained a mix of routines and reminders as well as peaks into my personality. To an outsider the list wouldn’t make much sense so here is the annotated version.

#10 “Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen!”
OK. That one is pretty obvious. I great each student, by name, as they enter my room. When the bell rings I enter the room while saying this.

#9 “Please finish the sentence you are on, put a bookmark in your book, and be ready to correct your DLR.”
Our first morning transition. They read, silently, after completing their Daily Language Review (DLR). This is the second thing they hear me say every. single. day.

#8 “Would you like to hear a G story?”
Having a toddler is amusing, but I don’t want to force her stories on them so I always ask first.

#7 “This is an independent activity.”
This statement is a simple way to get the volume turned off when they are getting too chatty. (I have also started making quips about their pencils, books, etc., being voice activated and asking where they have found such amazing technology.)

#6 “You or your chair?”
This is a choice I give my students. They can either keep their chair, all four legs, on the floor OR they can sit on the floor.

#5 “No elephants.”
It turns out that I talk about elephants in two, completely unrelated areas. We talk about labeling our ‘elephants’ in math. I have never had a math problem that the answer was ________ elephants. (It is possible, just doesn’t seem to come up in the problems we do.) So, as an attempt to remind them to label their work we talk about ‘elephants’. If someone gives an answer without the label I will ask “elephants?” Which they clue into pretty fast after the first couple of days of school.

This spot on the ‘Top Ten’ list has nothing to do with math. It is actually my way of reminding them to tread quietly on the stairs. Yes, this is ironic as elephants do walk rather quietly, but a herd of elephants is what was brought to mind as they take off up or down the stairs without thinking about how they are stepping.

#4 “Go away.”
I start out the year saying ‘You may go’, but somewhere along the way it turns to this – always delivered with a smile and used as they, happily, head to recess and lunch.

#3 “Go!”
This is my ‘word’. Instructions are given that can be completed once I say ‘the word’. Once everyone is on board with what is happening I say (or write) ‘Go!’

#2 “Bless you.”
If someone sneezes, and I hear it, these words come out of my mouth. It is absolute habit.

#1 “Bummer!” 
Ah, ‘bummer’. The simplest explanation would be to have you read about Love and Logic. It boils down to choices and the consequences for poor choices. Sometimes the consequence is known and all I need to say is, “bummer”. Sometimes the consequence is yet to be decided and “bummer” is the place holder until we have time for the next step. If they are unsure of what will happen I reassure them not to worry.  They know the consequence will come and they will get to have their say in it, sometimes more say than they want. “Bummer!”

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun.  Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Here is what I have read in the past month. I enjoyed many of these books for a variety of reasons. In fact, there is not a dud in the bunch.

Those with an # I would highly recommend.
An * indicates my ‘must own’ list, either for myself or my classroom library.

What was the book I was only 43% through last month? Here is it is. (When I went to post the link I found out it was originally published as three books. No wonder it is well over 900 pages!)
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni

The Green House by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett #

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern #

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Wonder by R.J. Palacio *
(Will be the assigned summer reading for my 6th graders)

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Inspired to Link

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Just two links this week…

This is an interesting study about the correlation between obesity and C-sections.

TED Talks to Inspire Conversation
"Especially the Talks In Under 6 Minutes series. These are great, snapshots of what could be longer conversations in short bursts. They come in loads of topics that could start a class discussion or kick off a meeting."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Little Girl, My Big Girl

My Little Girl
My Big Girl

You left babyhood long ago
toddling and talking your way into girlhood

A little girl who loves
to sing
to read
to dance
to giggle

And is drawn to Jesus

You play with your dolls or ‘cook’
build block towers or piece together puzzles
color or draw
snap pictures or jump
and then clean it all up

You are a natural encourager and nurturer
– always helping your friends and your dolls

Observantly, you notice how others are feeling
You breathe a sigh of relief when everyone’s OK
Glad when smiles are restored

“Good job!” is quick to come out of your mouth

You literally stop to smell the roses
or watch the ants
or search the sky for a plane or the moon

The breeze in the leaves or the lapping of waves
are caught by your gaze

You are a little girl - full of life and love, giggles and thought. Your imagination is becoming more and more active. I love listening to you tell me about the the things you think up.

You are not really a big girl yet.
There are so many years of childhood still before you. I don’t want you to rush through any of it. Though you may not be a big girl yet, there are so many things you can do now, that you couldn’t do before. Mastering these new things feels big.

You can…
set the table
talk in complex sentences
remember so much
get dressed
go potty and wash your hands
climb just about anything
help anyone who will let you
put your dishes in the sink
use a ‘big girl’ spoon and fork
fold laundry
open and put on a band-aid
buckle your booster and car seats
put your backpack on
open and close doors
use a stool to reach something (like light switches and faucets)
choose your own outfits (and you really like to match)
remember loads of names and ask if you don’t know – names matter to you
talk on the phone
hug on Skype
Take pictures with your ‘cam-ee-ra’
hold passports
operate your ‘Pink’
put your dolls down for naps
play teacher with lots of Circle Time and “Who is here today?”
undress (though taking shirts off is still not easy)
tackle any stairs
change your dolls’ diapers
snuff out candles (change the light)
wash yourself
towel off
brush your teeth

The list will continue to grow as you do.

Happy 3rd Birthday to my Little Girl!

Neon Numerals-3 2 by rwwgub - Drawn by: rwwgub

Thursday, May 24, 2012


My general attitude is that it is better not to look. I don't check weather reports (it is going to be sunny) and I have a thermometer at home. It is hot. I don't want to know exactly how hot.

Thermometer Hot by palomaironique - Thermometer hot - Thermom�tre chaud - Thermometer heiss - Termometro caldo Drawn by: palomaironique

And then there was yesterday. I walked outside about 11:15 a.m. and it was like having a hot hair dryer pointed right at me. The breeze kept blowing and it was hot. I had to look.

Generally our hot is in the upper 30s. Yesterday was 45 (plus 90% humidity). Oh my! That is more than hot.

Kids weren't allowed outside for recess and the two grades that had outside activities planned (field trip to the beach and Greek Field Day) couldn't believe their 'luck' to pick the one day with a spike in the temperature.

Today it is back to the upper 30s. In three weeks I will be happy for the 'hot' 20s in the Pacific Northwest. (Or even better, the teens and rain.)

It's all a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prego Journey - Part 3

(Part one can be found here and part two here.)
As we were taxiing, a flight attendant approached me and asked if I was traveling alone. "Yes" I replied. "Please come with me." That can only be good, right? I grabbed my bag and followed him.

He took me forward to the next bulkhead, across the plane, and to an aisle seat. Alleluia! 34G was my new seat. I was so thankful! Now I knew I would survive this flight.

I said a multitude of praises as we continued to taxi.

I watched the woman in front of me, who had a baby, continually undo her seatbelt, stand up, and get into the overhead compartment for things for her screaming baby. Remember, we were taxiing. The flight attendants kept trying to get her to stay seated, and belted, and now we were on the runway. The baby screamed, the engines revved, and we were in the sky.

Some rights reserved by Jack Fussell

The baby finally quieted down, the flight attendants began prepping for meal service, and I was so thankful to be on an aisle. I realized I can never again board a plane with a middle seat assigned to me.

Then, a flight attendant shows up at my seat and says, "Come with me". I grabbed my bag and followed him forward, past the bulkhead, through World Traveler (economy plus), past another bulkhead, and into Club World (business).

He asked if this will be OK as I started to cry. I stammer out a "Yes, thank you".
"Thank you. (sniffle) Thank you so much. (wipe my tears) Your kindness has made my day. (sniffle, sniffle) Thank you!"

I sat in awe and tears for a few minutes before I started to figure out how the seat and features all work. I was immensely blessed to have the luxury of laying flat or sitting with my feet elevated or standing behind my seat and still being able to watch movies.

The plane touched down in Seattle. I waited for my wheelchair, still euphoric. Immigration and customs are a blur in my memory. What do I remember? We made it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prego Journey - Part 2

(Part one can be found here.)
I had my last waddle through duty free, sat and had a snack, and then headed to the gate. They not only had my doctor's authorization to return, but a new boarding pass - row 2 - always a good sign!

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I had been upgraded. I spend the flight from Amman to London in the front row with a wide seat and a foot rest. The plane, in general, was pretty empty, but I still kept my wanderings to the section in front of the curtain. :)

I hadn't asked for a wheelchair in Amman because the airport is so small and I know it so well, but I did have a wheelchair assistance request in for both London and Seattle. I was told to wait when the plane landed and someone would come to assist me.

I waited. I waited in my seat. I waited on the jet way. I waited at the gate. I wasn't waiting alone. There were two other people (and their companions) waiting for wheelchairs. One of them was trying to make a flight, in another terminal, in 30 minutes - crazy! I knew I had lots of time, but I wanted to get something to eat and I still needed a seat assignment. I also knew I could walk, if I had to.

After more than 30 minutes of waiting a delightful gal came to wheel me away. When we got to terminal 3 (after passing security with my very heavy carry on, due to all of the hard drives, cameras, etc.) she took me to a coffee shop to get a sandwich and then to the gate. I had her leave me there as I couldn't see the point in having her wait.

When I checked in I was told the flight was completely full, they only had a middle seat available. On a good day I am claustrophobic. On a very pregnant day when I had to be up as often as possible and need the bathroom every 20 minutes the situation was not looking good. I said I would wait and see in case something became available.

I waited.
They started pre-boarding.
I waited (and ate).
I waited and they began boarding.
I waited as it seemed the entire plane boarded.

Finally it was time for me to board and the gate agents told me there was nothing available except 49 B - a middle.

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I tried to not cry.

I boarded the plane and asked the flight attendant to le me know if there were any aisle seats. (My condition was quite obvious - I didn't need to explain it!) I stalled, but eventually had to get into my seat. There was a young man, traveling by himself in seat 'C' (the aisle). I explained that I would need to get out every 20 minutes for the WHOLE, ENTIRE flight. He didn't offer to switch.

At this point my claustrophobia started to kick in as well and I was having to try very hard to keep myself calm. I had no idea how I was going to make it for nine hours when I was nearly in a panic after three minutes.

We pulled away from the jet way and that was it. I was in a middle from London to Seattle.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prego Journey - Part 1

Because Pipkin was due June 24th and a due date is give or take two weeks and because if the baby was born in July and I had to have a c-section we would be out on the street before I could fly. I had to go to the States to have the baby. (We were really hoping for the baby to be born overseas and then they would never have to face the pressure of the possibility of running for the Presidency.)

Pregnant women are not allowed to fly after 36 weeks and my doctor wanted me on a plane by 34 weeks. I had a ticket for 34 weeks. That is when I said 'good-bye' to Jordan. (We had been living there for four years.)

image from International Committee of the Red Cross

With enough advance warning I had everything for my class was prepared. The weeks before I spent slowly packing my things and removing them from school. Sub plans were written, paperwork done, parties attended, and farewells with friends happened.

On the morning of my flight I had a bus request so I could say 'good-bye' to my husband at home (he didn't have the excuse of being pregnant and thus needing to fly early) and use the thirty minute drive to settle myself.

The bus didn't come and J ended up driving me to the airport. I let the tears come as we headed south on Airport Road. The tears were primarily as a tribute to the place we had loved calling home for four years and a bit for the unknown.

I knew I would need a porter when I arrived at the airport, both due to my pregnancy and to having several suitcases to check plus my carry on. The porter was great and soon I was standing in front of an agent, checking in - to leave Jordan.

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Anytime I traveled pregnant (Pipkin traveled by plane seven times in utero) they wanted the letter from my doctor, giving me medical clearance, and would go off to find a photo copy machine before returning and asking me to sign a waiver. Fine. These things take time. I waited.

I knew I would need the paperwork again in London so when they didn't come back I insisted that I really did need to carry it with me. They told me they would give it back to me upstairs (at the gate). That made me a a bit nervous, but I would do as they asked and make a stink, only if needed.

To Be Continued…

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Inspired to Link

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Can't imagine seeing this out our window, but from the looks of things we would have seen it from our first house in Amman.
image_thumb(Al Rai photo)
Lost In Amman


One more resource for teachers with built in ways to edit, add lessons, and assessments.


Romans 10:9 and my love/hate relationship with Christianity by my friend Stephanie at Pausing to Reflect. (I love her blog! It often gets me thinking.)

I love Jesus.

I hate that…

And she continues with her rant, going back and forth, until she stops to reflect on her own journey.


Susie of Arabia posts this video…

She recaps her life journey in Saudi Arabia since her birth in 1979 looking at the historical happenings of the country and how they have impacted her.


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My friend, Kimberlee, is blogging on a tough topic. This week's post is titled "Home"

We continue our series looking at the dark reality of sexual slavery and exploitation, with the intention of raising awareness—and money.

She has taken Serey's story and written it as a poem. It is very moving as it tells a human story of sex slavery. Please visit. Every comment is generating donations to help.

Not Your Typical A.U.P.

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Collaborative, reflective projects are things I enjoy. They provide the opportunity to look at how and why things are done and then step back to see what would work best for a given situation. COETAIL Course Two gave me the chance to look at our Acceptable Use Policy as well as those for other schools.

Things I noticed while looking at A.U.P.s for both international schools and schools in the States…

  • sometimes they are broken down by grade level – ECE, primary, upper grades, MS, and HS
  • some appear outdated referencing things like digital bulletin boards
  • some are very negative – all “Do Not”
  • some pose things in a positive light – “I will…”
  • many are very long

I worked with two other teachers (both at the same school), sharing some examples I had found and reading through their draft. My biggest suggestion to them was to rephrase their policy into positive language, which they did. (I am not naming them because they don't know what is coming next and may not want to have anything to do with what I am about to say.)

After all of this reading and reflecting, collaborating and sharing, something wasn't sitting right with me. I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I was on a COETAIL, Big Marker, 'conference call' in which Jeff Utecht made a comment about how nice it would be if the A.U.P. just said, "Do No Harm".


My brain has been churning on it ever since. That is exactly the kind of A.U.P. I envision. I have sat down several times to finalize my proposed A.U.P. and write this post, but it doesn't make sense to me.

  • Why can't it be about making good choices?
  • Why do we have to spell out what all of the possible choices are?
  • Aren't we trying to encourage thinking?
  • Don't we want students to have to think through their actions before they act?
  • What if some new technology appears during the school year that isn't covered by the A.U.P.?

So, if anyone wants to use it, here is my proposed A.U.P. (I am sending this link to my new principal.)

Make Good Choices.
(Consequences available for poor ones.)

Mommy Bracelet

     again and again
     and again and again and
miserable, tired, and sick

So excited you are there and growing

     Excuse me, I'm going to be sick

We dream and imagine who you
     are and will be
We plan and pray
We are becoming a family of 3

Though I am sick


After 7 months I am rarely
     sick and you are obviously there

Then the itches start
     and DO NOT STOP

Not with scratching
Not with lotion
Not with ice cubes
Not with sleep
Will I itch for the next five weeks?

3 a.m. - potty time
Wow! I really had to go

Oh my
No way
You aren't supposed to come for a month
(and your Daddy isn't here)

Can't stop you so here we go

Pain and push
Pipkin turns to Grace


On my first Mothers Day I was given a bracelet, my Mommy Bracelet. It was a gift and a thank you for carrying, birthing, and now trying my best to help raise our daughter. I wrote this poem to remember how I got here.

'Pipkin' was our in utero name for our baby because we didn't know the gender before birth.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

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Four and a half months later and I can tell you there will be changes in my world next year. (I alluded to this here.) In December our superintendent called me into his office to tell me he wanted to move me to middle school for next school year. (There are a few reason, but they have not all been made public yet so we'll leave it for another day.)

I am certified for middle school and have known that I would like to try it sometime, but I was not looking for a change now. The principal I work for had been great and I didn't want to leave elementary until she moved on. (Part of international school life is that we are primarily a transient bunch.)

Another thing, my husband has been the middle school / high school principal. I didn't want to step into working for him. (We can do it, and have, but others can be uncomfortable with the situation.) Our school is expanding therefore next year he is only responsible for high school and we have hired a new middle school principal.

This is where I start to get excited. I look forward to working with Nate (the new principal). Also, it took a couple of months, but my position if finally firm, which I am delighted about. I get to teach sixth grade Language Arts. (Yes, I get to keep these and these kids!) Next year we will be implementing the workshop model for reading and writing in the middle school, another exciting development to be a part of. And, as AERO standards are being launched to align with the Common Core I get to venture down that path as well. On top of it all the sixth grade teachers have been finalized and I think we will build a great team.

So now, as we are at the time of the year when planning is as much (if not more) about next year as it is about finishing the five remaining weeks, I start to envision my new sixth grade life.

Ch-ch-ch changes!

Words of wisdom and advice are welcome and solicited!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Inspired to Link

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'We've gone way beyond Apartheid' Frank Barat's interview with Jeff Halper.

We have to try to match the political process, the political reality, because it is unprecedented in the world. Another term is "warehousing" because I think that captures what's going on better than apartheid. Warehousing is permanent. Apartheid recognizes that there is another side. With warehousing it's like prisons. There is no other side. There is us, and then there are these people that we control, they have no rights, they have no identity, they're inmates. It's not political, it's permanent, static. Apartheid you can resist. The whole brilliance of warehousing is that you can't resist because you're a prisoner. It's like prisons. Prisoners can rise in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That's what Israel has come to.


My daughter won't need this for many years to come, but I still found them interesting to read…
A Third Culture Kid’s Guide to College
So, here are our words of advice, the things we would’ve told our freshman year selves, if we could. It’s not dressed up, it’s not loaded with research. Honest thoughts, in our own words, from real Third Culture Kids.

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Prior to college will come graduation. Michael Smith at Principal's Page shares,
My Graduation Speech, which I loved.

Adults in your life don’t tell you the whole truth, especially when you are graduating from high school or college.  They are just happy you are not in jail.

Plus, they love you.  They have to.  It’s the law.

They also don’t want to tell you the truth because they don’t want to watch you cry like a junior high boy.

So I’m going to.

I’m not here to completely crush your hopes and dreams, but it’s probably going to happen so you might as well sit back and take it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Purple Play Dough

An entire weekend before us. What to do? Daddy was working (someone has to be on campus for things like basketball tournaments) and I was trying to keep us engaged without having to go out in the heat. (Yes, summer is here.)

A couple of weeks ago G had a friend over. They decided to dive into the Play Dough. We had one, tiny container, which was perfect when it was just G. With a friend I needed to find more. Sorting through the plane toys stash I found another tiny container. They had a blast.

The problem was that the new container was very crumbly. It didn't seem to bother them when they were playing, but it was a pain to try and clean up. The two colors got mixed in the process, which I figured would help.

It didn't.

The garbage was the only remedy for the sprinklings of fuchsia Play Dough that remained each time she played with it. But we couldn't be without Play Dough. I guess it was time to start making our own.

Do you know this book?
Product Details

It was given to me as a baby shower gift. (Thanks Auntie Lisa!) I used it loads when G was little as we figured out what foods to introduce and how.

The surprise about this book is that there are also loads of recipes for once they are no longer babies and a section titled "Fun Stuff!" This is where I got our Play Dough recipe. I chose this recipe because it does not take any cooking an only needs flour, salt, water, and coloring.

We don't have salt in our house. We never use it, for anything. Remember we were trying to avoid being out in the heat so walking to the store in the middle of the day was not on my list of activities to undertake.

Thankfully we have wonderful neighbors and we able to borrow salt. (Today, at the store, we bought salt, just for Play Dough, and 'returned' the borrowed salt and gave them some purple Play Dough.)

We need another trial, or two, until we reach perfect consistency. G will still count our first attempt as a success…

I only have purple paint (washable tempura - the flip lid bottle). Luckily she has never had more than one color of Play Dough at a time in her life.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring Has Sprung


Today brought the first day of school, in May, and something happened. Within thirty minutes I came across two students who made the following brilliant choices.

CIMG1962 IMG02755-20120501-1443_iwatch

Scenario 1:

My students were packed up, back packs waiting in the hall, students in line with water bottles, and ready to head to P.E. I watched them file out of the classroom. Something about the last student to leave caught my eye.

I noticed a flash of yellow (they wear uniforms without any yellow). The student was trying to grab their sweatshirt while keeping their arms crossed. It didn't look natures. The yellow looked very much like paper from a legal pad. Where they taking notes to P.E.?

I called the student over, asking them what was in their hand. They unfolded their arms and I was surprised to see a ball of lined paper in each hand.


I put my hands out to take the paper and was shocked by the weight of the paper. I took a peak. Ah, yes. Now it makes sense. I had seen the piles. Caught glimpses of flying objects. But really? All of these to be shredded down and used in one, 45 minute, P.E. class?

Not sure how they thought they were going to pull that off.


I asked what they were for (perhaps there was a logical explanation for taking eight hidden erasers to P.E.). They didn't want to answer.

No worries. Finding out they came from "home" I turned and walked back into my room. The student can wonder what will happen next.

They will find out soon enough, I emailed home and copied them in.

Scenario 2:

I was still shaking my head from the encounter when I entered the office of a colleague. They showed me an iWatch with a touch screen and the space for an SD card.

I bet you can guess where this one is going.

Yup, the student knew they had some assessments and needed a little 'help'. The photo was taken to educate teachers about the latest crib sheet options. (You're welcome)

Spring has sprung definitely sprung. We better hold on because it is only going to go downhill from here.
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