Archive for February, 2013

Simple Healthy Choices

A few weeks ago someone sent to me the picture of window washers at a children’s hospital dressed as super heroes. Apparently for a week or so, these actions occurred all over the country making national news. These were simple creative acts that touched the lives of so many children looking for smiles. What an incredibly simple thing to do that drew national attention! Even today, I pull up one of the many pictures and am moved by the spirit of these window washers.
The more often we send out positive messages the more hope we can find. I have enjoyed these last few weeks of our healthy choice marathon. Students have been encouraged to make healthier choices. These healthy choices are not just in the form of exercise but simple food choices and making time to read, simple acts that make us happy and healthier. Our staff has also been involved in the marathon. Each Tuesday members of our staff have walked or run after-school. I have been so appreciative of the teachers that have even come by my office to try to coax me out to walk. On Wednesdays we have been offered food for our mind. Healthy ideas to help bring us focused on positive choices. Parents and members of our community have taken their time to share with us positive and healthy ideas to make us grow.
All of these are simple positive choices that we make. The spirit in our school is positive and excited for healthier living. Everyone is buzzing about the 5K on Sunday. We might not be walking around dressed as super heroes, but we are trying to find small ways to be happier and healthier. We are trying to help our children see that very simply, we can find ways to smile and share joy. And one way to do that is to take care of ourselves.
I look forward to seeing many of you out enjoying life on Sunday afternoon at our 5K. Please don’t mind my red cheeks and loss of breath! And I hope that many more find ways to make small healthy choices that make your life happier.

Adjectives at work

At the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, there are signs that I have always loved. As you walk into their indoor nature area rather than placing placards to not walk in the natural areas, they list a pile of adjectives for the word walk. So the sign says something like, Please do not mosey, meander, trot, step, etc. in the natural area. Another sign to request no eating will say, please refrain from snacking, munching, chewing, nibbling, etc. How creative!
As I look out my window, I am watching Ms. Arch’s fifth grade class prepare to play the Beach Ball Bop Challenge for this week’s healthy choice marathon. As Ms. Arch battles blowing up the beach ball, her students mill around. I think of those signs because yes, the students are just not standing. They are milling, fluttering, hopping, wiggling, giggling, and forever moving. The energy they give off is incredible. Eventually the beach ball is filled and the students began to play the Bop.
This makes me think how our students are constantly adjectives at work. Children do not walk the hallways, they sneak, wander, flash, skip, slide, twist and dance to wherever they go. While in class, they do not just sit and listen, they engage, question, wonder, wander, explore, experiment, zone out, tune in, participate, hide.
Children are incredible gifts to adjectives. They live with such energy and intensity. They are honest to each emotion they feel. I love our school because I believe our teachers allow our students to be fully themselves. I love the community that we have created that makes it safe to be a child. I love walking the halls and classrooms seeing the multiple adjectives overflowing from each individual child.
I look out the window again, Ms. Arch’s class together cheer for their accomplishments in the Beach Ball Bop. What an incredible story to watch. Looking at a group of fifth graders working as a team to accomplish a goal. Ms. Arch hops and bops with them. What great motion they do together! They are absolutely adjectives at work!

Lights, Camera, 21st Century Action

Monday morning I found myself on the JYJ news. I went to the “newsroom” early to find where I was to be in order to draw teacher names for some Hurricane Tickets that were given for their Teacher Appreciation Night.
What a buzz going on! It felt like Ms. Yale and Ms. Kreigsman were speaking a foreign language to the students. And the students replied, responded and understood. The efficiency they handled change when I walked into the room was incredible. A group of multi-age children were sitting preparing to read their stories. The students who work the behind the scenes magic were quickly adding my part to the screen shot. Their technical skills were amazing to me.
As I sat down next to the anchors for the news that morning, I expressed to them how impressed I was. They just grinned and probably didn’t see anything unusual.
I can’t help think about this daily feed that our students have to real world experience through participating behind the scenes in creating the news to seeing it stream live into their classrooms every morning. What an incredible real world experience! Do I think that all students who participate in the news will become our next news anchors in real life? Maybe and maybe not. But the skills they are practicing to think quickly, handle change, learn how to improvise are incredible.
Every morning, I see another way that our staff creates opportunities for 21st century skill learning.
If you have the chance, stop by for the news one morning. You too can be impressed by this student driven action!

Book Talk

I generally am not a fiction reader. I don’t know when the transition happened for me, but I no longer enjoy reading a fictional story as much as I enjoy reading biographies, autobiographies, travel journals, and mainly books on education. Yes, I know how this sounds! But this past month I visited with a couple who started talking about a book they had both recently read and were now reading the second book in the trilogy. Both independently started a conversation with me at different points in the evening. They continued on about how it had captivated them. Perhaps it was the link to history that intrigued me or just the fact that they both mentioned the book, but the next day while I was out at a store I picked up the first book. Their book talk made me curious.
Immediately I became captivated. This historical piece of fiction really grabbed my attention and I found myself trying to steal moments in my crazy schedule to just sit and read. After putting the kids to bed, I would disappear. AND I found myself wanting to talk about the book as I read. I also found myself researching more about the historical parts of the text. I became involved.
This interaction I had with the book made me realize how our students want to have these same opportunities. As our beginning readers become more involved in story, they want to talk about it. Our youngest readers will re-read stories they enjoy. They want us to re-read the story as well to them. Our older students need the opportunity to connect and talk about the story. This makes the story alive.
Maybe not all of our students have that internal motivation yet. But providing opportunity to allow them to talk about the thoughts they are having about a book helps them to be more engaged.
I encourage families to talk books with your kids. Not only modeling to them that you are a reader… (either electronically or with paper from emails to the latest news, we are all reading.) Talk about the stories and your reactions to the stories you read. And ask your child about the story they are reading. Dig into the details. Why do they enjoy it? Why do they think it is boring? Why has it interested them?
Providing that book talk encourages our students to see that reading is a life long event.
When I travel, I always notice how many people are reading. In airports, on planes, on trains, on city buses, on the subway, people carry their novels, Kindles and Nooks, magazines, and newspapers. This action of reading is life long. Begin today to set your own child on that journey. Have some book talk.