Learning By Listening? Not Me!

It’s Tuesday and I am sharing my post with the great community over at Two Writing Teachers.  Take a peek and consider joining in!

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Ahhh.. the aroma of a new car…

It had been eight years since I last enjoyed that smell, so I tried to take in every single moment of owning a new car.  But with that fabulous new car came the fact that in eight years cars had changed with so many more newfangled features that I would have to learn.

I was slightly anxious as I walked into the dealer to pick up my new automobile.  The dealer guided me around the car to review each and every button and knob.  His mode of delivery was one that did not mesh well with my learning style, with him sitting in the drivers seat, and I listening anxiously in the passengers seat.  As he rambled through his list of things to know, I was screaming inside “Let me try! I learn best by doing!”

The salesman continued through his list while I sat trying to take in all the features: camera assist back-up, Bluetooth connections, driver assist eye technology, and oh so much more.  My mind was spinning with all his talk.  I simply wanted to touch and activate the buttons right after the directions were given.  His typical routine didn’t allow for that.  He only wanted to tell me and check it off his list.

So now I must find some time to go through the manual and re-learn, no learn, which button to press when I get stuck in the snow, or want change the settings on my dashboard, or discover how to adjust the steering wheel to fit my long torso. Yes, you guessed it, I learn by doing  and not by listening.

As teachers we know the power of knowing and teaching to our student’s learning styles.  Wouldn’t it be nice if car dealers did the same?

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Flexing Muscles

It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers today and each week.  Take a peek and consider joining in!

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Flexing Muscles

Each weekend I try to devote some time to taking a mental break from the rigors of the weekday tasks.  I am a better teacher and coach when I have been able to take that break and give myself  time to forget about the to dos of the work week. This past weekend was no exception.

The three day Columbus Day weekend called me to embrace the glorious weather and get outside a few more times before the colder temperatures settled in.  I decided to join my daughter on a long bike ride on a local path. Before I began this trek I had to dust off my bike and inflate the tires because unfortunately I did not spend any time riding this summer. I was excited to begin but slightly anxious about my lofty choice of rides.

As I rode along my muscles immediately began to tighten.  It was then that my mind circled back to a parallel to reading. (So much for a break from school related thinking!) As I peddled I drew connections between my muscle cramps and the hard work a student needs to accomplish when he/she is learning a new strategy or skill that will eventually propel the reading forward. The work is difficult and the muscles must flex even more as the new learning is first tried out, much like my first mile of biking.

I continued down the trail and I began to get into a groove. My muscle aches subsided and there was seemingly less stress on the calves. Similarly my readers need a little less muscle strain when they get a slightly more comfortable with the new skill, trying it out with teacher support and eventually while the teacher stands nearby. The muscles that were stretched at first are now more relaxed.

In the last half-mile I need to push myself once again as I approach a final steep incline.  I am beyond exhausted but I want to rally to the end and not give up. My daughter and I push each other to make it to the top without the embarrassment of having to walk our bikes.  We finish with gusto and celebratory high fives!  Likewise my goal for readers is to take what they learn in small group instruction and apply it to every text on their own.  They too must rally to transfer these new skills and push their muscles to the end so that they can experience the sweet victory of independently reading with greater ease and hopefully with greater joy and celebration.

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The beautiful vista at the end of the trail.  Now turn around and  head back home – 14 miles to go!

My Saturday bike ride was grueling and my muscles screamed out in pain the next day, but the ache was lessened thinking about the joyful conquering of a difficult task. My hope is that I instill that same joy in my growing readers as they flex and expand their reading muscles and reach to higher and higher peaks in their ability to read and understand text each and every day!

 

Stink Bug

It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers by linking my slice of life story to their site.  Take a peek.

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Stink Bug

“Ewww!” I mumbled to myself as I was driving across town yesterday.  I overtaken with  this funky smell and I didn’t know where it was coming from.  The road crews were busily digging up the street so I assumed it was related and I continued driving along.

A little further down the road I felt something tickling my neck.  I figured it was a tag from my new jacket rubbing against my skin so I reached around my collar and couldn’t feel anything suspicious and returned my hand to the wheel.  The tickle feeling continued.  As I was searching for the source I felt something on my hand move.  That’s when I glanced over to my hand and realized it was not a little strap but rather a large beetle.  I squealed and quickly flicked the bug off my hand.  Where did he go?  I didn’t want to be surprised again, but I also had to concentrate on the road.  A bug is one thing, but a car accident is quite another!   I was rather distracted with one eye on the road and another looking around to find the mystery bug.  I arrived at my destination and pulled into the parking lot where I spotted the rather large bug was crawling on the front seat.  After putting the car into park I reached across the front seats, opened the car door and swatted him outside.  He made a quick exit out into the fresh air, which made me wonder who was happier to be let free.

As I settled back into my seat I noticed the scent had returned to my car.  I’ve seen these stink bugs around the building at school , but never had I ever experienced the aroma they leave behind.  Despite the many hand washings I still detected the slightest whiff of stink bug on my clothes all day long.  I am not certain anyone could smell the remnants of the stink bug incident, but I certainly judged it as a stinky day!

Stink Bug Facts & Information from PestWorld for Kids

Stink bugs facts thanks to: https://pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/stink-bugs/

Originally found in East Asia, stink bugs were not even reported in the United States until the late 1990’s! They get their name from an unpleasant odor released when you crush them or when they are protecting their homes.

  • Size: 3/4″
  • Shape: Triangular
  • Color: Brown, gray or dark green
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Yes
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Stink bug
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hemiptera
  • Family: Pentatomidae
  • Species: Halymorpha halys

Diet:

Stink bugs eat leaves, flowers, fruit and crops like soybeans. They also eat other pests, such as caterpillars.

Habitat:

Stink bugs live in orchards, gardens and farms.

 

Dear … Coffee

It’s Tuesday and that means it is time to join the community of writers over at the site Two Writing Teachers to share in the writing joy.  Take a peek and consider joining in!

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Dear … Coffee

Please note that the brand name has been removed to protect the innocent.

I love your coffee.  I really do.  I switched away from the little pods in June and I’ll never go back.  Partially because you don’t make your coffee in the little plastic cups, you only package your grounds in small bags with the intent to be brewed as way coffee should be brewed.  The aroma of the grounds early in the morning sets me off on the right foot.  And the scent of that coffee brewing fills my house with a fragrance that makes me yearn for my first sip.  I know… all good things must wait, like coffee, brewing the way it should!

But when I went to the cupboard today I noticed you changed your packaging.  Gone were the two little tabs that opened and then closed your bag. In their place was a little tab to pull open.  I am sure the tab was designed to keep an air lock and thus allowing for the coffee to remain fresh but this morning I struggle to yank the tab free from the package and rendering me unable to open the bag.  Without my coffee I feel weak and unable to think.  I am left with a still tightly sealed bag.  How do I pry open this zippered top?  More wrestling happens and finally I see the grounds.  I attempt to slip in my trusty scoop but lo and behold it doesn’t fit in the small opening.  I wrangle with the bag and decide it might be best to pour the coffee into my scoop.  Successful but messy.  Coffee made and time to clean up.  I place the scoop in the bag for tomorrow’s dose and the bag won’t close.  The opening is much smaller than the previous package.  I push and shove and finally jam the scoop into the bag.  “This coffee better be worth the inconvenience!” I mutter.

Ahhh… the first sip.  OK, yes it is worth the hassle.  I guess all good things must wait and yes, good things can be improved upon too. I approve!

 

Floating Along

It’s Tuesday and I’m sharing my slice of life story with the community over at Two Writing Teachers. Won’t you join in?

Floating Along

I first saw the float on a warm afternoon about a week ago as I was looking out my living room window. It wasn’t a flimsy tube rather a rather fancy variety with head and arm rests. My first peek of that float had me looking twice because I thought someone was resting on it, but being a cool evening I looked again and confirmed it was simply a runaway float.

The air was still and I spent several minutes watching the craft drift slowly in a rather willy nilly manner. I was mesmerized by the seemingly lack of direction and walked away to eat dinner. My curiosity had the better of me so as soon as I finished dinner I peered out the window only to see the float had crossed the lake and was rounding the corner beyond my house.

As I watched the tube drift out of sight I wondered who it belonged to and whether or not they were missing their fancy float. Maybe the owner’s didn’t even know it was gone. As the tube disappeared around the bend I thought maybe the tube knows its way home!

For two days I watched with intent the travels of this float. Many times I thought it crazy that I would spend so much time transfixed on an inflatable float but there was something drawing me in, keeping me focused. Maybe it was the pleasant distraction from the hub-bub of the start of the school year, an escape from the ordinary. Whatever the reason I was hooked.

On day three the float settled in to a spot on the rocks in the middle of the lake. There it sat for two days seemingly content in this new home away from home. I figured this would be it’s final resting place. Mother Nature had different plans however because late that night a storm blew in with wild winds causing the once calm lake to be covered with white caps. I lay in bed in the dark of the night wondering how the float was fairing on choppy waters. The next morning I immediately looked out the window to find that the float was no longer stuck on the rocks. It had disappeared.

It’s been a week now and I haven’t seen any evidence of my floating friend. I stare out the window and wonder where it could be. Was it rescued by it’s rightful owners? Does it sit deflated at the bottom of the lake? Or…maybe, just maybe, it bobs happily along the surface in a hidden cove enjoying the last gentle breezes of the summer.

Blueberries

It’s slice of life Tuesday and I’m sharing my post with the teachers over at Two Writing Teachers. Join us!

Blueberries

Last week I took one last summer get away and visited family in Asheville, North Carolina. On one of our days together we decided to hike the Art Loeb Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway. As we started our trek my son raved about the wild blueberries they found trail-side a few weeks prior. We were all hoping there would still be some of that delectable fruit for us to enjoy on this summer day.

Sure enough on the loop back down when we were all tired and slightly cranky, we stumbled upon bush upon bush loaded with just-ripe berries. We walked and picked and picked and walked. Handfuls at a time were enjoyed fresh off the bush. The flavors melded in my mouth bringing a smile to my face. Some times I’d eat a bunch at a time, other times I’d savor one tiny berry alone.

As we were walking and nibbling, I realized that when I was eating a handful of blueberries the flavors all blended together and it took away from the sweet flavor of the blueberries.  However when I slowed down to enjoy each berry one at a time I could savor the unique flavor of every morsel. From that point on I relished each berry one at a time, making my trip down that beautiful trail one I’ll remember for quite some time.

As I dive into another school year I would like to take the lessons learned on the trail and  recall my blueberry experience.  Much like I discovered to appreciate the unique flavor of each morsel, my hope for this year will be to slow down, listen, and appreciate the intricacies of each individual, and the unique talent each one brings to the table.  I believe that investing in such a practice will allow me to enjoy the trials and trails that come my way this school year!

‘Twas the Night Before…

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Two Perspectives

‘Twas the Night Before…

“What is that sound?” I mumbled to myself while rolling over in bed this morning, searching for the source of the noise.  As I turned toward my night table I realized the sound was growing in intensity.  It was then that I realized the noise was my gentle alarm playing sweet sounds to awake me on this first morning of school.  The alarm sounded foreign to me because it was the first time I had heard that melody since the last day of school in June.   I had tossed and turned most of the evening checking the time fearing that my alarm clock would fail me on this important day, first at 2:33 a.m., then at 3:45 a.m., and finally at 4:42 a.m. So when I was in a deep slumber at 5:32 when the alarm rang I realized my first day jitters were at work creating havoc with my sleep once again.  These first day jitters are nothing new to me causing loss of sleep since my earliest recollection.

When I was younger these jitters manifested itself in nightmares about missing the bus.  I still recall waking in a heavy sweat after dreaming about my unfruitful chases after the bus flying past my house and down the hill as I frantically waved my arms and yelled “Hey! I’m right here!”  As I grew into middle, high school and even into college, the first day of school dreams changed to losing my locker combination, struggling with the numbers in the dial, either not recalling my combination order or forgetting the numbers all together, leaving me unable to open that metal door to access my much needed supplies.

I am grateful those nightmares no longer keep me from sleeping these first anxious nights before school begins. However apparently my first day jitters manifest themselves in other ways causing me sleeplessness as the big day approaches. Despite these night before jitters, I always managed to succeed in catching my bus, opening my locker, and waking on time to make that first day one of great success.

As I begin this year filled with new challenges to grow, stretch, and learn, I feel hopeful that regardless of these first day jitters, and lack of sleep,  everything will turn out just fine!