Monday, August 18, 2014

Generational Hands

My first Slice of Life - wish me luck.  :-)

My father has given me a gift that keeps on giving...the gift of music.

I have vivid memories throughout my entire life of dad sitting in front of the organ banging away on the ebony and ivory keys to a synchronized drum beat and tilting his head back with eyes shut and singing as if trying to raise the roof.

As a young boy I would get lost in those musical moments.  I'd stand behind dad and really listen and watch to see which keys he would press and when.  I paid close attention to the intonation of his voice as he played the low notes and then shifted to the high ones.  In time, I began to understand his melodic stories that would unfold in front of him.

He was sowing seeds that I am now reaping.

After dad turned the power button off and slowly walked away I would carefully crawl up onto the slippery wooden organ bench.  I'd place my fingers over the same smooth keys just like dad did. I'd tilt my head back and close my eyes just like dad did.  In time, I would be able to sing those same melodic stories just like dad did.

I'm 43, married with kids, and still sliding up onto the slippery wooden bench and sitting down to tickle the ebony and ivory keys.  Although I'm singing my own melodic stories now I am clearly reaping what dad has sown.

Often, while I find myself lost in a musical moment banging on the keys with my head tilted back trying to raise my own roof, I slowly look out of the corner of my eye.  There they are!  My own children.  Watching, listening, dancing along with their dad and going on the magical musical ride.

I suppose just like my dad, I too am sowing seeds.  I hope and pray that my children receive this gift that keeps on giving and maybe someday they too can sing their own stories.  

My Sister and I - 1984

In 2010, I had a chance to get a recording of Dad doing his "thang" and for a moment I joined in.

Gavin at the Piano
My Son Gavin - Age 4

Amelia at the Piano
My Daughter Amelia - Age 2

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Firsts, Lasts and Important Events

Some Firsts
Roller coaster ride
Lost a tooth - frisbee
Kindergarten - naps and knuckles
Ice skating on Waneta Lake
Driving the boat alone
Barefoot waterskiing
Trying to waterski
First Day of School
Stitches - foot in Virginia
Bike riding - exploring and going out of bounds
Sledding down Maplewood

Some Lasts
Last Day of School
Saying Goodbye to Grandma
Grandma and Grandpa get married in the hospital

Some Important Events
Graduation at Parris Island
Water Skiing Keuka Lake
Dad playing the organ growing up

One of Lucy Calkins' narrative lessons is to think of firsts, lasts and important events in our lives to generate ideas of what to write about.  The lists should help writers not just come up with an idea but help them discover something that really matters to the writer.  Go deep.

As I was jotting down ideas I was trying to think of firsts, lasts and important events that my fifth graders could potentially relate to.  I of course have vivid memories of my wedding and the birth of my children but would my students benefit from these examples?  Perhaps not.

At any rate, as I was creating the list I was forced to go down memory lane.  I had to reach back into my history and pull little bits and pieces of my past life to the surface and toss that idea around a bit.  The one that sticks for me as of right now is the very last one I came up with; Dad playing the organ when I was younger.

Making music is a big part of who I am and it comes from all the time I spent as a kid listening to my dad playing the organ or the acoustic guitar.  Music is one of the gifts my father has given to me.

So my next post will be the actual narrative I will write about this important event in my life.  For now, it's time to ponder.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Chess Club

During the winter months our incredibly brilliant P.E. teachers started an early morning intramural class. The kids showed up in droves.   The parents dropped them off at school a bit early and they ran down to the gym to join their friends and get a little exercise and have fun before school.  

So I got to thinkin'... during those times when the intramural class is not in session that I could start a Chess Club.  There are a few logistical components to sift out but all in all it seems like a completely doable project to dive into.

Why Chess?
There's plenty of research that clearly shows the benefits of teaching and playing chess. Here are a few bullet points.

  • problem solving skills
  • cognitive development
  • critical thinking
  • creative thinking 
  • self esteem
  • memory
  • organization

The benefits go on and on.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

People of Sparks

Here is the Google Doc I've created for Chapter 10 of Jeanne DePrau's People of Sparks.

Feel free to use it as you'd like.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Google Calendar for Lesson Planning

Google Calendar will be my plan book of choice for the 2013-14 school year.  Why not?

I live by the calendar.  It keeps my professional and personal life ultra organized.  I look at my calendar throughout my entire day.  I set reminders for myself so I'm never late (insert sarcasm here), share events with family members or friends, and even embed calendars in our class website.  It just makes sense to my brain to use Google Calendar for my lesson plans.

There are many options available within Calendars that I'm confident that no matter the situation I'm sure I'll find a solution.  You can:

  • insert links
  • move plans in case of snow days
  • multiple views - day,  4 day, week, month, and yes even yearly view
  • share
  • embed
  • color code

Actually, I will have a couple calendars this year for school.  One for the students and families that will be embedded into our class website and the other for my detailed lesson plans.

If you're interested in this idea check out the endless tutorials to get ya started.  Below is the video that helped me out.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Mrs. Pierson - Every Kid Needs A Champion

"Can we stand to have more relationships?
Will you like all your children?
Of course not and you know your toughest kids are never absent.
You won't like them all and the tough ones show up for a reason.
It's the connection.
It's the relationship.
And while you won't like them all the key is they can never ever know it.
So teachers become great actors and great actresses.  
And we come to work when we don't feel like it.
We listen to policy that doesn't make sense.
And we teach anyway.
We teach anyway because that's what we do.
Teaching and learning should bring joy.
How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risk who were not afraid to think and who had a champion?
Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them who understands the power of connection and insist they become the best that they can possibly be.
Is this job tough?
You betcha! Oh God you betcha but it is not impossible.
We can do this, we are educators, we were born to make a difference!"