Spring

This morning, as the sun’s rays began to peek over the horizon,  I awoke to the beautiful melody of birds singing their jubilant springtime song. As I listened to their chorus, it was almost as if they were welcoming me to the beginning of a new day. The music and golden hue that cast itself through my window filled me with a sense of hopefulness and an energy I haven’t possessed in quite some time. It was as if the the new day’s dawning awoke a piece of myself that had been in hibernation the last few months. Today, those cobwebs were brushed away, and I was once again filled with hope and wonder, and a fresh, new outlook on life.

 

 

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We need to lower the bar a little…

I just got home from my 6th grade daughter’s Invention Convention.  This “convention” is actually an annual statewide competition aimed at inspiring children to find solutions to everyday problems. According to the website, “Invention Convention envisions a day when EVERY child in Ohio has the chance to follow their natural curiosity, invent creative solutions to problems, and be inspired to achieve their highest level of personal accomplishment. Through these efforts, Ohio’s future will be brighter and its workforce more capable and productive.” On the surface, it sounds absolutely wonderful- I mean… what parent wouldn’t want their child engaged in critical thinking and utilizing STEM skills to  design and implement products to make a brighter future?

Parents that have to “win at all costs” is who… the parents that, instead of allowing their child to do all of the work, live vicariously through them and design a developmentally impossible product in the “name” of their child.  This was my daughters third year participating, and I must say, each year more and more parents cross the line. All too often, the projects with parent CEOs come out on top, and in turn, set unreasonable expectations, discouraging those students who completed the actual project as intended (or was it truly intended that way?) I mean seriously, there were projects “created by third graders”  worthy of MacArthur genius grants! (what 3rd grader do you know that uses liquid nitrogen and thermal coils?!? Yeah… me either!)

Parents, it is time to step back and let your kids stretch their own minds and utilize the creative thinking skills they are developing in school. There is a huge difference in “supporting” and becoming the CEO of their project. Supporting them means listening to them, responding to the struggles and frustrations they are having, but not taking over and completing the entire project for them. Contests such as this are designed to give children a chance to shine… allow them their moment- your time has passed. What benefit is there for your child if they win but yet did little in the actual creation? In my opinion, it sends a message that their ideas aren’t good enough but my ideas as a parent are. I know that is NOT the message I want to send to my daughter.

Tonite I stood back and watched, listening to other students attempt to pitch products that they clearly did not design. They stumbled through words that were inaccessible in their vocabulary and looked to parents to help clarify their meaning. Their products were amazing… things that could truly end up being awarded millions on shark tank some day. But, they clearly were not developed by the young students that were posing as the inventors.

In contrast, my heart swelled with pride for all of those students that put their entire heart into their invention. I wanted to go around and award my favorites to the ones with the crooked signs, glue splattered display boards, handwritten product guides, and developmentally appropriate inventions. These are the kids that are the real winners in my book… they are the ones that will come away from this project with a growth in knowledge and understanding of a developmental process that will stay with them throughout their lives.

From determining a need, brainstorming a solution, designing a product and the actual production of their invention, these two girls learned to work as CEOs, project managers, laborers, editors, and even janitors by the end of the project. In the process, they learned to use their critical thinking skills to adapt and amend and even eventually scrap one item from their product line. They burnt fingers on hot glue guns, misspelled a few words, glued tears on their trifold, reattached gems on their display right before their presentation, and ultimately, grew closer as friends. This is what this contest should really be about… and thankfully these two “got it.”

I am so proud of the invention that my daughter and her friend created, and although they were not chosen as winners, this project developed more within each of them than any medal or trophy ever could have. Tonite I allowed myself time to take it all in as I observed two confident girls, now turned inventors, rise to the occasion. They expertly explained their invention, their step-by-step process and garnered interest from numerous spectators. Afterwards, both supported the other inventors, congratulated the winners and complimented many others. They were the epitome of a team… with the entire gymnasium as their teammates.

6 Word Stories…

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I love the idea of 6 word stories. This style of writing is believed to have been invented by Ernest Hemingway whose famous 6 word tale “For sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” is credited as the first 6 word story. These simple words have now inspired millions of writers… myself included. For today’s writing piece, I decided to give this style a try.

This is Me

*Long. My day. In a nutshell.

*Mother of three. Wife of one.

*Surfing the internet. How I procrastinate.

*Tim, Micah, Addie, Silas. My life.

*Teacher, dreamer, God believer. I am.

 

and… my attempt at being insightful

*Lost in a book. Found myself.

*Education is freedom. Or is it?

*Is faith believing? Or believing, faith?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming

Have you ever had a dream

one that seems so real

that you wake up and can recall every little detail?

 

A dream that lets you not just see

but taste

touch

and smell

everything going on around you?

 

One that you aren’t sure

you will ever actually wake up from

because you have no idea

that you are actually dreaming?

 

 

What if it really wasn’t just a dream?

 

 

What if we could choose;

make a conscious effort

to go back in time

through our dreams

and

revisit a piece of our past?

 

What if

through our journey,

we could

makes amends

or close a door

whose openness has haunted you

your entire life?

 

What if we could

go back

and spend precious moments

with those that we love,

Letting us once again

re-live that slice of life

 

 

knowing

how fleeting time can be.

 

Would you choose to dream?

 

 

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Together

I decided to take the day off

not to do house work

or catch up on the pile of reading I have to do

 

I decided to take it off

to be together

with my husband

the love of my life

 

We didn’t do anything spectacular

but yet it was just what I needed

all that mattered

was

we were together

Nap time

One of my favorite weekend activities is my Sunday afternoon nap. I do understand that makes me sound old but heck… I don’t care how old I sound if it means I get to have this time of restoration. Doesn’t the Bible itself command us to take a day of rest?!?

Ode to the Sunday nap

Oh Sunday nap

your arms so warm

as you envelop me into your dreamy embrace

 

My eyes heavy

from the burdens of the week

I can hear you calling me

every so gently

beckoning me to take off my burdens

and rest

in you for awhile

 

I pull the shades

enshrouding my room into darkness

and crawl under the covers

the weight of which

gently presses against me

comforting me…

as though I am being protected from the world

 

It doesn’t take long

for your power to take control

of all of my body.

I can no longer resist

your calming whisper

urging me to relax

and let go.

 

My breathing gently slows

and my eyes shut out the escaped rays of sunshine

and I finally find rest

in your arms.

 

Thank you Sunday nap

you have given me to strength

to face the new week

that lies ahead.

 

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Class Project

I am currently in the midst of an insanely crazy semester as I try to knock out my remaining 3 reading endorsement classes in one fell swoop. Already halfway through two of those courses, this week began a new 6 week intensive course that moves at the speed of a jet liner at full throttle. As I sat and stared at the remaining 20/ 150 pages I needed to read by tomorrow night, I asked myself, “what the hell were you thinking” and cursed at myself for adding more craziness to my life. Unfortunately, this is a common thought running through my head… I seem to think I can do it all when in reality… yeah… you get the picture.

Anyway… for this particular class, in addition to all of the reading, I have to complete a 20 page (by the time all of my information has been added) graphic organizer/ reading guide as evidence of my growth and understanding pertaining to the topic. Now I know what students hate completing reading guides. My head feels like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth from text to computer and continually searching for the last paragraph I completed. Even if no other learning comes out of this course (which I am not saying will happen but just in case…) this class will definitely make me think twice about the assignments I require for my students in the future!

As if those two requirements were not yet enough (because you know… I have ALL the time in the world these days…) this particular chapter also requires me to design a student project encompassing an author visit and writing pieces to welcome them to the school. While I was annoyed at the length of this assignment, it at least allowed my head to take a break from the constant back and forth AND it forced me to apply my learning into a creative project that could foreseeably be used in a future classroom.

Without going into detail about my design, I just wanted to share how hard it was to choose just ONE author to invite to my school! I could have made a case for a dozen or more… but I finally settled on Patricia Polacco as she often puts into words, the type of teacher I someday hope to be. Having her as my inspiration, this project went from frustrating to free-flowing (actually doubling the required length) and one that I would someday love to be able to put into motion in the future. How absolutely amazing would it be to actually have something like this come to fruition? I know… big dreams but I guess I will never know unless I try!

Now I would love to hear from you! What author would you like to invite into your classroom? How would you have your students welcome them? We can make reading and writing exciting if we try… lets all start to think outside of the box and see where inspiration can take us!