Monday, March 19, 2018

So Much To Read, So Little Time

Principal ponderings...

Normally, I spend time writing my own blog post.  Sometimes I get an idea and I start adding to it throughout the week.  Other times, inspiration might not hit me until Sunday night.  But besides writing blog posts, I also spend a lot of time reading other posts.  There are so many educators who are blogging across the globe.  And I love learning something new or having my ideas and beliefs challenged by these people that I have often never met.  Instead of doing a lot of writing this week, I want to share with you just a handful of the posts that I have read recently.  Read one or read all of them.  Enjoy!

I have been doing the March Slice of Life Challenge and besides writing my own slice each day, you are encouraged to read other posts and comment on them.  Here is one post that I enjoyed about the importance of being a teacher writer:

Do you know the writer David Sedaris?  Here is a post where he was interviewed and shared his advice for the writing process:

Love this post written by a high school teacher who spent a day teaching 4th grade!  He share his important discovery: good teaching strategies are universal, no matter the age or grade:

Wow, Travis Crowder's post about how powerful books can be is amazing!

I love Laura Robb's post about our hunt for the "magic bullet" where she asks what is it that will help increase reading achievement scores?  Her answer...books!  And here she lists 15 reasons why kids deserve the best books:

Here is an interesting post by a Twitter friend of mine.  She talks about how for some students spring break can make them anxious:

Thanks to Maureen for sharing these two articles through Twitter.  The first one talks about taking a more play-based approach in the early grades: And the second one is an interesting post about what how skills like ability to collaborate with others are more important in the work force than occupation-specific skills:

And one more...this post was written!  Here is a short article I wrote for Principal magazine about mindfulness in schools:

These are just a few of the posts that I read recently.  Have you read some good posts?  Have you been inspired to write your own posts?  Blogging is a great way to reflect, share ideas, or simply decompress and get the thoughts in your head out!  Check out others' writing and start contributing your own words!

Currently reading:
So this pretty awesome friend of mine, Dianna Fulreader, gifted me with...more books!  I guess she knows me well.  One of the books she gave me is called This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Even though I am reading a few other books right now, I jumped right into this one.  Looks like it's going to be a good one; a quote from the back of the book "a beautiful novel about the unexpected curveballs of parent and sibling relationships and the limitless boundaries of family love."
Dianna also gave me this great picture book: Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters by Barack Obama.  I can't believe I didn't own this book yet!  It is a truly beautiful book, one that I can't wait to read to my daughter. 

Events this week:
Monday - Liz and Melissa at a Women in Leadership Conference, Read-a-thon officially starts!
Tuesday - 1st grade chorus practice from 11:30-1:00, Liz and Luke at a K-12 science meeting from 2:30-4:00
Wednesday - 1st grade school show from 9:30-10:05, Staff meeting at 3:30 in the cafeteria
Thursday - 1st grade chorus concert @ 7:00
Friday - Liz and Melissa at SLT meeting from 8:30-11:00, Book Fair being delivered and set up

Great things I noticed last week:

  • K students managed to squeeze in their animals in winter enrichment program even with 2 snow days! 
  • Caught a 2nd grader utilizing digital-blocks to help him solve some math problems. 

  • Mr. Smith was talking with students about character development and making some predictions about the read aloud.

  • Students were doing some science experimenting in MskerSpace. 
  • Community Reader day was a success!
  • And all of the students did an amazing job this weekend in Shrek! 

Check it out:
I think I probably gave you enough material to check out in my post above!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Reading + Giving = Awesomeness

Principal ponderings...
FloRo is going to do a read-a-thon this month!  The Student Council members did a great job brainstorming and planning what will happen over the next several weeks.  I am excited that the students decided they would like to raise money to give to an organization called Reach Out and Read.  This organization is a wonderful non-profit that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

I have worked with an company that will help us with the donation side of the read-a-thon.  Parents will be able to share the link to a site and family and friends can donate money through the site.  We will be able to track how much money is being donated throughout our read-a-thon.  Our goal is to hopefully raise over $5,000 to donate to Reach Out and Read.

The Student Council has set a goal of reading 2,500 books over the course of several weeks.  We decided that K and 1st grade will simply count one book as one book.  2nd graders will count 20 pages as one book.  3rd graders will count 30 pages as one book.  And 4th graders will count 40 pages as one book.  For every 5 books that any student reads, they can come to the office and receive a raffle ticket.  At the end of our read-a-thon, we will be drawing names of students to be Principal for the Day and Assistant Principal for the Day.

We will be giving out charts, similar to our kindness thermometers last year, for classes to keep track of how many books they are reading.  The Student Council came up with the awesome idea to make the charts look like books, pages, book spines, etc.  They are a very creative group!  If we reach our school-wide goal, there will be some interesting things happening to the principal and assistant principal.  Something about a human ice cream sundae!?

I will be sending more specific information to each classroom through an email, but I wanted to first share through here and get everyone thinking about our FloRo Read-a-Thon!

Currently reading:
I just started reading a book called Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  The author of this book is Pernille Ripp, a 7th grade teacher, who writes and speaks about her passion to get kids to love reading.  She blogs regularly on her website called 'Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension.'  I highly recommend that you take some time to read what she writes.  Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, Pernille speaks for the kids, all kids.

Events this week:
Monday - Kicking off the FloRo Read-a-thon! End of Trimester 2 (report cards will be available March 28)
Tuesday - Oh no...please no more snow!
Wednesday - Play Preview at 2:15 in the PAC
Thursday - Community Reader Day!
Friday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served, parent conferences during the afternoon

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I caught some 2nd graders from Mrs. Wenz's class launching their straw rockets they created.  Students were excited to measure how far their rocket could fly! 
  • Check out our March Madness Book Bracket in the lobby!  Thanks Melissa for creating it.  Wonder which books will move on to the elite 8 this week?! 
  • If you were in the hall around 10:45 each day last week, you might have seen the 4th graders trying out their marshmallow catapults!  There were some very interesting and different designs, many which really made those marshmallows fly through the air quite a distance.  
Check it out:
Just a few articles to check out about reading...
And I have shared this before but it's always a good one to revisit...Donalyn shares tons of resources and research about the importance of independent reading...

Monday, March 5, 2018

In Her Eyes

Principal ponderings...

With the recent school safety issues happening all over country, including the tragedy in Florida, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what has happened and what could happen.  I have been fielding questions and suggestions from parents through email.  I have been talking with principal friends of mine through social media.  I have been talking with fellow moms and friends about the unfortunate reality that is the world I am raising my child in right now.

The thought that kept popping in my head was how do I look into her eyes, my daughter's eyes and tell her that everything is going to be ok?  How do I look into the eyes of our students and promise that I will keep them safe?  How do I look into parents' eyes and tell them to trust me?  How do I look into my teachers' eyes and tell them that I will keep them informed if something goes wrong in the building?  How do I look into my husband's eyes and tell him that I'm not scared of what could happen?

I think about the safety of my child and all of the children at our school.  And then I think about a great song by a great singer from long ago, Patsy Cline.  Here she is singing "If I Could See The World (Through the Eyes of a Child)" :

If you listen to the line in the song above, you hear her sing that "there would be no trouble and no strife" if we could just see the world through the eyes of our children.  Interesting that as I was looking up information about this song and about Patsy Cline I learned that today is actually the anniversary of her death.  Her plane crashed on March 5, 1963.  Thankfully, her music lives on.

I try to picture what my daughter sees, what does the world look like through her eyes?  I am grateful, that at this point, she does not see the violence and the tragedies happening across the country.  But I know the days are numbered for her innocence.  I am already mourning the loss of her being this little baby that I can wrap up in my arms and protect from the rest of the world.  We choose to not watch the news in our home so I don't really worry about her catching a glimpse of something by mistake.  She has seen me cry as a reaction to students who I don't even know losing their lives.  And when she asks me "why are you sad mommy?," I just wipe my tears away and tell her I'm ok.  

I try to picture what our students see, what does our world look like through their eyes.  It's certainly not the same world I saw as a child.  Unfortunately, I know that they have seen and heard about so much awfulness.  They have seen sadness and violence on the news.  They have seen and heard adults, parents, friends argue and debate about what should be done while awful things happen in schools just like the one they attend in the meantime.  There are too many "should be's" and not enough "already done's."

I look into my daughter's eyes and into the eyes of our students and I see a future full of opportunity, wonder, hope.  Looking into her eyes and seeing the future reminds me that we all need to work together on the problems of the present.  

What can we do to make sure we continue to see a future full of love and hope in their eyes, a future that looks better than the present?

Please take 2 minutes to listen to this great teacher, Trevor Muir: 

Currently reading:
I started reading another professional development book called The Wild Card.  It's written by a husband and wife who teach together at The Ron Clark Academy.  And it's all about finding your creative breakthrough and being that wild card teacher for your students...the one who is willing to take risks and do whatever it takes to create amazing learning experiences for students.
We also got some new books at our house which have been enjoyed at bedtime, and I plan to bring in for some read alouds.  One fun one which has tons of animals and lots of rhyming is called Pandemonia.  
Some of you may have heard me read aloud Nibbles, the Book Monster.  Well Nibbles is back at, chomping his way through the book called Nibbles, the Dinosaur Guide.  Such a fun read aloud.  Kids will want to try to catch Nibbles before he eats his way through all of the pages! 

Events this week: 
Monday - Student Council collecting breakfast items for Loaves and Fishes this week
Tuesday - School Council Meeting @ 8:00, Wachusett Regional School District visits FloRo from 9:00-11:00
Wednesday - Dr. Chesson visits FloRo in the am, Grade 1 chorus at 2:20, Staff Meeting @ 3:30 in the cafeteria
Thursday - Community Reader Day!
Friday - Melissa presenting at MassCUE, Liz at SLT in the am

Great things I noticed last week:

  • In preparation for our literacy month in March...check out Ms. Kinneen's amazing bulletin board!  Love it!
  • Mrs. Wallace and Mrs. Garden had fun delivering SPARK incentives to one lucky winner in each classroom.  This K student jumped for joy when she heard her name called! 
  • Loved seeing all of the Seuss-inspired attire for National Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday! 
  • Mrs. Taylor's class was having fun playing around with some new programs for their interactive board during calendar time. 
  • I caught Mrs. Kavanagh's class having way too much fun making slime! 

Check it out:

Monday, February 26, 2018

Do You Have the Write Stuff?

Principal ponderings...
Did you know that March is coming at the end of the week?!  We are more than halfway done with the school year, and it always feels like time speeds up during this part of the school year.  I am excited that March is going to be all about literacy at Florence Roche.  We begin the month with National Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday.  We will have a Seuss-inspired spirit day.  On March 8, we will have Community Reader Day.  The student council is helping me plan a read-a-thon where we will donate money to an organization related to literacy and books for kids.  We are also planning a family literacy night, and then at the end of the month we will have the Scholastic Book Fair here!

March also means it's time for the Slice of Life Challenge.  You may remember that I wrote about this last year.  This is a challenge that I completed last year, and I plan on tackling it again this year.  The goal is to write a slice of life story every day during the month of March.  That's 31 little snippets of your life.  I surprised myself last year and wrote everyday.  I also provided comments and feedback to other people's posts.  During the break, I went back and read every post I wrote last March.  I am so glad that I have those stories written down and enjoyed reading and remembering.

So what do you say?  Do you have the 'write' stuff?  Will you make a commitment to write every day during the month of March?  You can create a blog to do your writing on or you can simply do it for yourself and write in a journal.  Read more about the challenge here:

We all want to be the best teachers we can be for our students.  And to be a good writing teacher, you need to actually write.  You need to practice writing.  You need to write so that you have writing to share with your students.  You need to write so you can reflect on your teaching or simply reflect on life like I did in a lot of my posts last year.  You need to write so that you can get your thoughts out, so that you can have written memories to go back to and reread and remember.  I know as educators, we all have a lot to say, considering all that has happened in our country over the past few weeks.  This is the perfect time to share your voices, share your opinions through your writing.  Write so that others can read and agree or write just for yourself so that you can make sense of your thoughts.  No matter the reason, just write.

Here's the link to the blog where I will post my daily writing.  And if you want to read what I wrote last year, feel free:

This blog post was just posted yesterday, and I felt it was perfect to share with you as we talk about writing and the power of our words:

Who is ready to take the challenge with me and write through the month of March?

Currently reading:
I had fun doing lots of reading over the break and even managed a visit to my favorite bookstore.  I have been having fun reading this new picture book at bedtime:
This is a cute story about a little dog named Emerson who tries very hard to control his bark.  My Emerson loves reading about a doggie who shares her name!  I also enjoyed reading this YA book about a girl loses her mother to cancer and then spends a summer in Florence, Italy with someone who may or may not be her father.  
I also had an Amazon box arrive at my house this know what that means!  More books!  Here's a new professional development book that I started reading.  I am in a Voxer book study, talking about this book with educators from across the country. 

Events this week:
Monday - Welcome back!
Tuesday - Liz attending district Crisis Team Meeting @ Prescott 1:00
Wednesday - Grade 1 chorus practice @ 2:20, Chucky Cheese Night, PTA fundraiser from 3:00-8:00
Thursday - Kindergarten Orientation Night @ 6:30
Friday - National Read Across America Day and Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss!  Spirit Day - wear anything Seuss related!  Half day, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Loved seeing staff come together to work on our book puzzle!  I will be gluing this one together and framing it.  Thanks to all who helped, and a big thank you to Deb R. for making a new piece to replace the missing piece. 
  • I enjoyed stopping in and listening to this 3rd grade class as they did a reader's theater version of a really great non fiction picture book.  Jill...I can't remember the name of the book!  I need to add it to my library!  
  • The 2nd grade concert was awesome!  Thanks to the 4th graders who also performed.  And of course, Mr. Wiesner...once again, another enjoyable concert! 
  • Saw some great informative writing displayed in the 3rd grade hallway. 
  • Did anyone get a chance to hang out in the gym before break? I certainly did!  Wow, Ms. Kinneen...the Olympic themed activities you set up were amazing.  I tried my hand at the FloRo biathlon, scooter skiing, and curling! I think I need to practice more before I can be a medal contender. 
  • Loved seeing the 1st and kindergarten voting for favorite picture books.  Be on the lookout...we might just be doing a March Madness book version in the front lobby this month! 
  • Thank you Melissa for helping us have fun with feedback and dessert tasting!

Check it out:
In case you missed this at our staff meeting before the break, here is a video of our students sharing what they love about their teachers and their classrooms.  Thank you Audra for helping with this little project!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Feel the Love

Principal ponderings...

Since it's the week of Valentine's Day, it makes sense to be feeling the love at Flo Ro this week.  There are many things that I love about our school.  Let me share the top 5 things that popped into my head...

1. I love that when I walk into a classroom I often see students collaborating with each other.  That collaboration can take different forms.  Sometimes it's table groups working together to solve a problem.  Sometimes it's small groups working on an informational unit project.  Sometimes it's partners working on writing and recording a book buzz with iPads.  I love to see students connecting and learning with each other.

2. I love that I see students help each other, both in the classroom and out of the classroom.  Students will volunteer to walk with a friend to the nurse after a fall on the playground.  Students will volunteer to explain an assignment to someone who was out of the room.  Students will help each other carry library books back to the library.  I love seeing students show that they care about about each other.

3. I love that our staff support each other.  We have had so many people battling the flu, colds, sickness, etc.  And staff have jumped in to support, whether that means taking on a different duty, covering a class, bringing a co-worker a coffee or any number of other kind gestures.  I love that FloRo staff truly cares about all of the members of our school family and finds ways to support everyone.

4. I love that when I walk into a classroom I often see teachers presenting the curriculum to students through multiple means.  One group might be practicing a math concept using manipulatives.  Another group might be working directly with the teacher.  Another group might be independently exploring a topic on a Chromebook and preparing a presentation about the topic.  I love seeing teachers get creative with how to present the curriculum and as a result, seeing all students benefit from creative teaching.

5. I love that when I walk into a classroom students are excited to share their learning with me.  They are proud of what they are doing, and they are often bursting with excitement about a book they just read or an opinion piece they just wrote.  They light up when you ask them to explain their thinking.  It's like I can almost see their brains growing!  I love that our students truly love school.

Now it's your turn to feel the love for FloRo.  What do you love about our school?  What do you love about your job?  What do you love about our students?  What do you love about your classroom?  What do you love about how you teach?  What do you love about how your students learn?  Take some time this week to reflect on these questions.  Write down your answers or tell someone how you feel.

Feel the love this week FloRo!

Currently reading:
Apparently it is "I love to read" Month.  How did I not know this?!  Probably because every month is I love to read month for me!  With Valentine's Day coming up, I reread one of my favorite Valentine read alouds...Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch.  Mrs. West was looking for a good Valentine book, so I searched my library at home and found this one.  After an anonymous Valentine is delivered to Mr. Hatch, his life is completely changed.  It's a heart-warming story for this week!
I finished The Hate U Give this weekend, such a timely, tough, powerful read.  Definitely not for our elementary students, but you might want to read it for yourself.  And I picked up a professional development book that I began to look at over the summer but abandoned.  Lately, I feel like I need this book right now so I am diving back into it: Escaping the School Leader's Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown.

Events this week:
Monday - Grade 2 chorus rehearsal 1:25-2:55, Elementary curriculum leadership meeting 12:30-2:00
Tuesday- Grade 2 school show 1:30-2:05 @ PAC
Wednesday - 2nd grade chorus concert @ 7:00 - PAC
Friday - Elementary curriculum half day, 12:15 dismissal, staff meeting 1:00-1:45, team time

Great things I noticed last week:

  • 3rd graders in the library were eager to spend time reading their book choices. 
  • Mrs. Lanctot's 1st graders made a list of all of the things they love about 1st grade! 
  • Even though we had an early dismissal, global school play day was still a hit! 
  • We celebrated the 100th day of school!  
  • These kindergartners found me in the library and were proud to show me what they did not know 100 days ago! 

Check it out:
Check out this link.  It contains podcasts from the various 2017 Teachers of the Year where they share experiences that shaped them as educators, very inspirational!
When we return from break, it will almost be March!  I will share a post next week about the slice of life challenge that I did last March.  I will be preparing to participate again this year.  Anyone else up for the challenge of writing everyday in March?!  Check out this link here to read more about it: