Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jocelyn the Artist

Image 27/ 365: This is a parrot that I drew in 2nd grade. It reminds
me of the rain forest. 
Image 28/ 365: I drew this fish also in 2nd grade and it reminds
me of when I went with my family to the beach.
Hi, my name is Jocelyn and I want to be a famas artist for my whole life. I drew this fish and this parrot to show how I want to be a famas artist. Do you like it?  I only draw animals because I love all kinds animals.
Have you ever drew an animal before?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "Other" Blended Learning

Image 25/ 365. Independent cooks
Image 26/ 365: Not just cupcakes--a fun
summative assessment to demonstrate the
ability to read recipes, follow directions,
collaborate, and communicate!

With all the hype of blended learning and "new" ways of educating our kids, it pays great dividends to remember that our students need skills for life, and a chance to do things they might not otherwise have the chance to do at home. One activity with great value is cooking with kids, and it is easy to integrate with literacy. It's a delicious way to teach global literacy, and raise awareness of other cultures, too! The next time you read a book, think of how you can make something representative of part of the story with an edible or nonedible treat. (i.e., homemade salt-dough to create a relief map, or play-dough to mold animals you would see on a safari if you read a story about Kenya...) Yes, it takes planning, and yes, a little extra pocket funding, but this is also the tangible sort of learning that entices donors to help fund your ideas through grants. So many opportunities wrapped into one!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Compassionate Contagion

Image 24/ 365 Days of Awesome: Handmade Star of Hope, a la Wilson style.
For those of you who have been following our blog, you know that we have partnered with a 4th grade class in New York, thanks to a fabulous virtual network of folks. Our buddies were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, yet remained ever-so-resilient in the face of what could have been devastating situations. By the deft hand of their teacher, their bubbling and optimistic attitudes, and obviously a ginormous heap of hope, they are back in the swing of things at their "old" school.

Despite their own troubles (of which I'm sure there were plenty), they recently took the time to spread Hope to others through the Stars of Hope program. Just in case they didn't keep any for themselves (which I doubt they did), my students created their own stars for their buddies' classroom, so they can remember that others are thinking of them. And that we have Hope for them, too. This one just happens to be a shooting star, which I think captures the essence of a very special classroom at PS207.

Looks to me like a little compassion can be contagious....What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Octavio's Awesome Picture

Image 23/ 365: Octavio's drawing--a tremendous
source of pride for him--his "Awesome"!
Hi, I made this picher becuse I like Angry Brids. And I like playing video games about Angry Birds and this Angry Brid is one of my favrit because whin you click on the screen the Angry Bird will go faster.
I drew this picher becuse this is how they look like. Do you like Angry Brids? Do you like a certin Angry Bird?
Do you play video games too and watch TV shows?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What do you see in the moon?

Image 22/ 365: The magic of a full moon--does it enchant others like it does us?

There's no doubt about it--a full moon is magical in many ways. As we begin to study about the Earth, its moon, and other areas of the Solar System, we are also reading about ways other cultures view the moon. Many Americans say they see a "man in the moon", while other countries may see a rabbit, a pair of hands, or even a fox.
We would like to know what our readers from other countries "see" in the full moon when they look at it? Do you have any superstitions about full moons? Or famous stories or folktales from your country about the moon?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Middle School art upon return to their old school. There is no
place like home. True or False? :) 
Kids at PS/ MS207 (Howard Beach, New York) are back home, readjusting to classroom life as they once knew it. Of course, there are some things as far as tech goes that aren't quite the same, but Teacher T.F. is making sure her kids are resiliently moving forward. A personal thanks, T.F., for representing the teaching profession with such panache, and for modeling character in all you do with your kids!

The photo above is from their Middle School art projects--don't you just love all those ruby red slippers? What would you wish for if you could click those heels together?

Below are some pictures and part 2 of this amazing story.

Their banner, with all of the other communities inspired so far.
I imagine this banner will be full before long!

A reminder soon-to-be posted in the community
that hope is a tremendous thing...(Image 21/365)
This is definitely a double dose of 
happiness from New York--1) our new long-distance friends have moved back to their school after having been displaced by Hurricane Sandy AND 2) are generously helping others through the Stars of HOPE project. 
I had never heard of the Stars of HOPE, but thanks to T.F. at PS207, I have learned that it's an inspiring art project, simple in its execution, yet one that packs an emotionally optimistic punch for communities stricken by disaster. For 2-3 days, kids paint multicolored wooden stars with messages of hope and what they think might be inspiring to others. That in itself is empathically powerful, but that's not all. The stars are then placed around the community of the disaster-stricken community so that everyone can be reminded of the hope and goodness that exists in the face of disaster. What a simple way to empower children to nurture hope. 

Wooden stars, pre-inspiration. 

This is an excerpt from their website: 
The Stars of HOPE project is sponsored by New York Says Thank You Foundation, an organization that helps to rebuild communities around the U.S. affected by disaster as a way of saying “Thank You” for all the love and support Americans gave to New Yorkers in the days, weeks, and months following September 11, and Groesbeck Rebuilds America, a Texas-based “Pay It Forward” organization committed to aiding and rebuilding communities affected by disaster. The Stars of HOPE project is run by firefighters, police officers, educators and other volunteers from Texas, New York, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and many other states. We have all, in some way been the recipient of a helping hand from others after experiencing a disaster in our own homes or communities or having been positively impacted by the idea of Americans helping Americans.

Friday, January 18, 2013

NASCAR Awesome

Today's images of goodness come from a North Carolina dad who shares his passion for racing with his daughter. These pictures were taken in Charlotte, and you can certainly tell how happy she is to share this experience with him. Thanks for sharing your Awesome, D.A.! Just click on the link below to view Image 18/ 365. 
PS--Danica Patrick, look out!

NASCAR Awesome

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Creative Value of an ELL Buddy

Day 15/ 365: Notice the variety of math problems, including symmetry,
plus writing, for each day of the week. 
One of the best strategies for helping a newcomer ease into American school life, is to assign a "buddy" (or more than one), who helps explain procedures, instructions, and perhaps even some basic content. Although it can be a big responsibility for some, buddies who speak the same native language as a newcomer can help ease transitions on multiple levels. Some buddies may even assign themselves, as the one who created the above papers.

Today's image is of 2 pages from a homework packet that a "Teacher-to-Be" (3rd grade student) created in December for our latest newcomer. She painstakingly cut out paper and taped pages together for him to practice all sorts of basic math facts, symmetry, days of the week, and even a maze! She created this, then she proceeded to grade it all. (note the checkmarks and aceppted comment!)

I don't have to tell you how wonderful it is when students are so helpful, fueled by intrinsic desire to ensure success of others.

What are some of your strategies you have used with newcomers in your school/ class?

Monday, January 14, 2013


Good morning! Today, as we practice presenting information to others, we wanted to share about our breakfast. We eat in the classroom now instead of the cafeteria, and everyone at our school receives breakfast. There is something different to eat nearly everyday! Students eat breakfast between 7:30-8:00 a.m., and then we start right away with class.

 Can you name all the parts of this breakfast? What do you think the students' favorite breakfast food is? How is this similar to or different from your breakfast?



One of the best ways to enhance language learning is through even small opportunities like these, where kids can talk to a "real" audience, and describe or explain something they are familiar with!

By the way, this is our image for Day 14/ 365 Days of Awesome! How can you not smile with these great kids?!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Students Taking Ownership of Their Awesome

Day 9/365: Students taking ownership of their Awesome.
You know those days--those moments--when you so fervently wish you could bottle up an emotion forever? Along with a student's expression?

Yep, the kind that--as if by magic--intensifies joy whenever you retrieve it--that pure, unadulterated joy a student has when he/she is pure-t* proud of his/her success.......Forget caffeine--that's what comprised my energizing jolt first thing this morning.

Oh, how I wish you could've been there! One of my quietest boys, with his dimpled, toothless grin, came into my room first thing today, knelt down to root around in his bookbag, and--Voila! Out came a handful of pictures of his version of "Awesome" in his world. They were all pictures of his family together, and he explained each one to me--the most I'd ever heard him talk at one time without prompting. I couldn't stop hugging him, such a proud Mama Hen I was.  I hadn't assigned anything specific to the kids; we had just talked about where to find goodness around us, and what it meant to seek the extraordinary. We had come up with ideas--quite a range, actually, and then through the week I showed them "my" pictures. We talked a little more about perspective and "lens", and how viewpoint-- not only of an author, but anyone--can certainly make things interesting.

"B" took ownership of the idea, applied his own twist, and took action. He is now going to help me devise a display, on our door/ wall, to encourage other students to do the same.

This is precisely the answer to my reflections this week--I love looking for the goodness around me, but I feel like I've been taking this challenge alone. Yes, there's inherent benefit, and yes, there's a likeminded online #edugood group, but I wanted (selfishly?) for my students to understand the power of this, too. Firsthand.

Stay tuned as we get more discussion rolling about how to make this journey more inclusive. And just what it means to "spread the awesome." In the meantime, practice finding the extraordinary in the most unlikely places in your world, and feel free to share images with us!!

*pure T is one form of late 18th century southern slang for "genuine", "very", "really", "completely"--as a linguist, I do love the flavor of different phrases. :)

As always, please subscribe to our blog so you can follow our 365 Days of Awesome!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Goal setting with idioms

Day 4/365: Setting goals with an idiom. Appreciating the goodness
when students "get" new concepts and can apply them. :)
I introduced the concept of idioms yesterday with the phrase "knock your socks off", and the first thing I asked students to do was copy down a simple sentence using the phrase. ("This year I'm going to knock your socks off!") Next, they drew a quick sketch depicting what they thought it meant. This is one example of student work, where the student drew herself throwing my socks into the trash! She wanted to throw them but of course I dramatized the difference between throw and throw away--she now knows that I don't like socks lying on the floor. (If only my son would remember that, I'd consider myself an accomplished teacher!) :)
Today they learned the actual meaning of the idiom, we decided upon a kid-friendly definition (hers is on another page) and then they completed sentence frames about how they will knock my socks off this year! Lots of thinking went into this one--reminding me that setting goals needs to become a much more explicit and continual concept for my 3rd graders. We don't just set goals and knock people's socks off at the beginning of a new year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good to be back

Our first day back after winter break, and this is what I started my day with. 
Bad days don't stand a chance against their smiles and the hugs they give--sure wish I could share.

Day 3: Smiling faces, eager to learn.

I know the challenge didn't reeeeally specify the number of images/ photos per day, but this was what greeted me on the way home tonight. I couldn't resist because it made me stop in wonder. A beautiful end to a busy day! 
Day 3: A beautiful NC sunset.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Assessment on the fly

Thought it would be fun to upload the last few weeks' worth of my blog posts into Wordle just to see what words popped up. Keeping in mind, the more words are used, the larger they are in the word cloud...Have a look.
Day 2 of 365 Days of Awesome: Reflection to start us off in the right direction. 

What I take from this is that kids are (whew!) my primary focus, but so are "others", "love", "caring", "words", "writing", "together", "ideas", "pictures", and "art", to name a few. Which is great because those are things I want to focus on in my classroom! 
What I see in much smaller font than I wanted are the words "learn" and "reflect", so this tells me I need to hone in more on what my students are actually learning, rather than just the activities they are doing. It also highlights a need for me to provide time for students to reflect more on their own learning.

See? Who knew that a word cloud could be such a useful reflective tool? Assessment on the fly!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Lens (aka, 365 Days of Awesome)

Day one: Plan, hope, and get ready for your Amazing Year!
From, Ms. Wendi  :)
For my kiddos. And friends. And family, too. Here's to a New Year, in which the extraordinary can be found in the ordinary when you seek it.
So, our quest during this 365 Days of Awesome, students of mine, will be to capture the extraordinary positives, no matter how small or unlikely--with a photo or image each day:

  • random acts of kindness, 
  • snippets of joy, 
  • emotions of all kinds, 
  • things you see "anew",
  • times of gratitude, and 
  • things that make you stop and wonder in amazement

Let's seek them out at school and at home, while encouraging others to do the same...and watch what happens...

What do you predict will happen when we do this? Who do you plan to invite on this journey?

Visitors, please leave your own thoughts in the comments section below--we would love to know your predictions!