Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Slice of Life - My Reader

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers blog every Tuesday. 

It's a cloudy afternoon in Maine, and the ground is covered by a new coat of fresh white snow, the first of the season.  We sit not quite side by side on the couch, me leaning against the back, her snuggled under her Mickey blanket against the pillow.  A library copy of Joy Cowley and Nic Bishop's Red-Eyed Tree Frog sits open between us.  The book was checked out for first grade wonderers but hasn't yet made it to the classroom, claimed instead by the curly-haired wonderer at home.  Her eyes go from questioning to amusement as we read through the little frog's day.  "He sleep all day?" she asks, wondering what kind of silly frog would do a thing like that.  Choruses of "What's that?," her favorite question, accompany nearly every page.  She giggles at the katydid--"Silly bug"--and her eyes go wide when the frog jumps to escape the boa snake in a dramatic double page spread.  The frog goes back to sleep as morning comes to the rain forest, and as I close the book, I hear "Again!"  Later she will pick it up on her own, talking her way through the pictures.  "Frog sleep all day."  "No eat caterpillar."  "Jump!" "Frog go to sleep."  My baby is a reader.

One red-eyed tree frog
plus one wide-eyed two-year-old
makes reading magic.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Holdout Joins the #nerdlution

I'm not sure when this #nerdlution thing started, but somewhere in the neighborhood of Thanksgiving night, a bunch of people on Twitter decided to make resolutions together to commit to for the next 50 days.  What started as a couple of tweets snowballed into a full-fledged Nerdy resolution revolution, with new people joining the community every few minutes.  From my couch, I briefly got excited reading the resolutions that people were making:  writing every day for 30 minutes, walking/running/exercising for 30 minutes, even 100 pushups a day (go @iChrisLehman!).  The competitive part of me that doesn't like to be left out wanted to shout my own resolution from the rooftop to match theirs.  And then the logical part of my brain took over and announced, "Great ideas.  But that's not going to work for you."

This part of my brain was totally right.  There are seasons in everyone's lives, and I am not currently in a season where I can commit to these kinds of resolutions.  I'm not in a position to start a new exercise program right now, much as I'd like to.  I know that I could try to commit to writing for 20 or 30 minutes every day, but I honestly don't have that time to spare without taking more time from my two-year-old and my husband.  So, as I watched #nerdlution after #nerdlution pass through my Twitter feed, I gave up on the whole idea.  "I can't do this," I thought.

But the idea wouldn't let go.  I got thinking about what this would mean in my classroom.  Sometimes I like to think of my Twitter PLN as a big class--we are a diverse group with different learning styles and different ideas who have come together by building our community and sharing books.  That pretty well reflects my first grade class as well.  What would happen if I asked my first graders to set goals?  Would I encourage them to set the same goals, or would I differentiate, helping each student to set a goal that worked for her, that pushed her to a new level?  I would never accept "I can't do this" from a student.  I returned to my resolutions to see how I might differentiate for myself.

In reading through the #nerdlutions, I saw patterns.  Most people were choosing two resolutions, one having to do with improving health and one having to do with leading a more literate life (through reading or writing).  I started thinking about what I could commit to daily and feel fairly confident about experiencing success.  Here's what I came up with:

  • Drink more water each day.  I know, this sounds totally simple.  However, I'm not good at hydrating throughout the day, and the health benefits of this one are myriad.  
  • Write a haiku every day.  I want to live the life of a writer, but I also know that time is precious.  I wanted a writing #nerdlution that I could do on my lunch break, or while I'm cooking supper, or quickly before my daughter wakes up in the morning.  Haiku are one of my favorite things to write. (I got a reputation for writing snarky ones in some of my less-interesting undergrad classes.)  They are also kind of a gateway drug--I think that the more I am thinking like a writer, the more I will write.  Whether this means in some kind of a notebook or more blog entries, I don't know, but we'll see where it leads.  For now, I'm committing to a daily haiku.
So, I'm in.  Thank you, Twitter PLN, for giving me a push once again.  Only the Nerdiest among us set resolutions going into one of the craziest times of the year, but we're in it together.  Here's the first of my 50 haiku.  

Writing #nerdlution:
Fifteen syllables a day.
I can handle that.

P.S.  I drank half a glass of water while I wrote this post.  I've totally got this.