Archive for April, 2014

Family Gathering

The last few days I have found myself out and about and running into Joyner families. I love the idea that there are so many of you that I have the opportunity to experience some of life outside of the building walls. Tonight in fact I ran into not only a JYJ family but a former Joyner mom. It was so much fun to catch up and to connect.
These opportunities to run into the students gives the students the opportunity to see me in a bit of a different light. Often I have my family with me so my kids see me as someone other than mom. My students look at me with a curious eye as my youngest usually starts to wrap around my leg with a bit of shyness. I might even appear human to them.
My worlds connect and I love it.
Tomorrow night is the Night of Nonsense. This is a fun event that our JYJ Family comes together to laugh. Teachers have been laughing down the halls as they plan their performance. Ideas are swapped. And anticipation for some of us that just aren’t performers rises.
I am looking forward to our students having another opportunity to see their teachers a bit more human. We are out of the classroom mode. We are not in charge. We aren’t watching their every move. At the Night of Nonsense, our children are watching our moves. Our students get to see us let down our hair. And we all together will laugh.
And the laughter will be welcomed and received with gratitude.
We do this night as a thank you to our JYJ family support. We hope you enjoy and we hope you forgive some of our craziness. We are only human!

What’s all this about Fluency?

This is the time of year that many of our students are really making gains in their reading. They have confidence and are willing to try new books. They see length as a big deal. Chapters are even a bigger deal. Children are thrilled to walk out of the library with a book that just looks older!
And then teachers tell students to continue to work on their fluency. To be a fluent reader, students flow through text with expression and articulation. The easier the texts comes together for a student, the easier it is to comprehend what they just read. If a child stumbles, then by the end of the sentence or paragraph they might not even remember what was at the beginning. So yes, teachers make a big deal about fluency.
What does this all mean for a parent working with their child? I think fluency is one of the best strategies to support with your kid. Pull out favorite stories from when you used to read to them. Ask your child to read to you. Remind them that it was a favorite story you liked to tell to them. Point out that you would love to hear them read it to you. Give them the book to practice. Tell them how special you think it will be to hear it with their voice. Give them time to practice so they can shine and perform for you. Then find a special place to snuggle in together and listen to your child read. Enjoy it so much that you ask them to read it again and maybe again.
Remember how you read that same story over and over again at night to them? Now it is their turn. Ask them to read it to you again. Suggest they read it like their teacher or like their favorite cartoon character. Using different voices keeps them engaged but also helps them to feel words flowing. Call up grandma on the phone or your friend or sit the dog down to read. Give them opportunities to build that fluency of text. It really will build their confidence too.
Fluency is not something I grew up with, but it is something that I have learned as a teacher is so powerful. And as a parent, I have learned creative ways to help my child enjoy it as well. Have fun revisiting old stories. And just sit back and enjoy hearing words fly from your child’s mouth as they do one of those amazing talents… read!

Welcome Final Quarter!

Spring break was fabulous and hopefully a wonderful time to rest and enjoy our family together time. Now we are looking at our last quarter of the school year. Warmer weather has finally crept in. The pollen is blowing outside my office window even as I write. I find it more difficult to bring my own children inside in the evenings from wanting to play outside. Spring sports are kicking up to high gear. The sun shines a little longer at night. All that being said, we have some distractions that will start to try to trip up our last quarter of learning.
As I have met with the teams this week, we have talked about how we can maintain that focus for our students to learning. This is our critical time. We have taught a lot and students have learned. And now students have to start manipulating that content even further. Final assessments will begin mid-May. This is that time to show off all that they know. The work will be more complex as they are using their new knowledge.
So I encourage you to keep maintaining those expectations of reading each night. Hit the pillow at a good time. Keep those structures that you know are successful for completing homework. And when you hit that front yard to play, think about ways to support their learning. Talk about what they see and hear, building vocabulary and description. Encourage them to write about it. Ask what they know about the science of spring. Even playing outside are opportunities for students to show off what they know and encourage critical questions about the world around them.
Enjoy those flowers and keep on learning! Happy Spring and let us enjoy our final fourth of the school year together!