Reading Routines

IMG_0261-2The month of May is bittersweet to me.  It is filled with beginnings and endings.  I am sad to say goodbye to our students and know that when they return to us in the fall they will seem a foot taller!  I am sad to say goodbye to friends and colleagues that I enjoy thinking, laughing and growing with daily.  However, I am excited to say hello to summer.  To not have a demanding schedule to follow, to have time to be outside in the warm sunshine and soak it all in, to play with my children and of course one of my favorite indulgences – reading!  I love a good summer read at the beach, I love to dive into professional readings, but quite honestly I must tell you that I also enjoy reading to and with my children.  Don’t get me wrong; we read all year long, but to me, summer reading is the best!  During the school year we have such busy schedules and seem to be on the move that our reading time seems to be mostly done at night before they go to bed. Continue reading

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#Whatmatters

Dear CSD Community,

Each week we send a “week ahead” email to our staff that charts out both the details and big picture for the week ahead. We share articles and thoughts that are on our minds as leaders in hopes of inspiring our staff and ourselves to be at our best for the students and entire CSD community. Today, at the start of Spring Break, it strikes us that the words we shared this week with staff are just as relevant to you, our amazing parents. We know that just like our teachers, you give selflessly on behalf of your families and on behalf of this school community. We cherish the fact that you embrace our commitment to inclusiveness and that you, like we, care about the lives and welfare of all children rather than just our own. Continue reading

Learning License

When I was sixteen years old I wanted nothing more than to get my driver’s license.  My dad insisted that I needed to first learn how to drive a manual car.  If you grew up in the rural part of North Carolina as I did you called it a straight gear!   I remember practicing for hours in my high school parking lot, with my father in the passenger seat.  I would try to push the clutch in to start the car and let it out at just the right moment when you push the gas to make it go.  Up and down the street we would drive, and on and off the car would turn because I could never seem to find just the right balance between clutch and gas while trying to simultaneously shift the car in gear.  I am surprised that little car survived my education! Then, one day it happened.  I got it!  Continue reading

The Importance of Volunteers

“Successful schools foster partnerships with parents, respect cultural differences, and promote community involvement “(Taylor, 1997).

As Leslie and I prepared for our last open house for this year, I was extremely grateful as I looked around at the many parent volunteers who came to help us with the tours. In our open house presentation, we discuss the importance of volunteerism at our school. We know we cannot do all that we do without parental support and volunteers contributing to our school community. Our school mission states that teacher and parents work together to create an inclusive community of learning.

In the Basic School, the circle of community extends outward to embrace parents, who are viewed as the child’s first and most important teachers. A partnership is created between the home and school and is strengthened when the child formally enrolls, and continues from kindergarten through high school (Boyer, 1995).

Continue reading

Making History Come Alive!

When I was a child one of my favorite subjects was history.  Don’t get me wrong I surely did not enjoy the part where my teacher made me read a section out of my history book, answer questions, memorize and sequence events, and then regurgitate them back out to her.   Actually, those activities transformed some of the most fascinating events ofholding-hands all time into mind-numbingly boring experiences for me.  What really sucked me into history was the fact that it was a story.

The person I consider my greatest history teacher was my grandmother.  She was an amazing story teller.  I have vivid memories of her pulling out article after article that she had carefully clipped and saved on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  She kept these newspaper articles in a special book, in a special place, almost as if they were gold.  She would recount every detail of that fateful day in American history to me with a crack in her voice and tears in her eyes.  She helped me make a connection to this event, and Continue reading

Educate the Child, Not the Label

Recently I was scanning through my professional articles when the title, “Educate The Child, Not the Label” caught my attention. This blog post written by Haley Gottlieb on the ASCD Smart Brief blog had me sit straight up with full attention. For the past several years I have felt passionate about this topic. Quite often you may hear me ask, “ Ok, so now that we know this diagnosis/label, what are we going to do differently for this child?” Our belief and philosophy is to teach the whole child. This means we look at each child’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development. If we only look at one area, one label, or one assessment, we are not meeting the needs of our children. Continue reading

Gifts Where You Least Expect Them

I have always loved a good story. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mom reading the Velveteen Rabbit, James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte’s Web to me. My dad could read Bread and Jam for Frances like nobody’s business, and he could make up a story on a whim without blinking an eye. So for me reading was always about a good story. I have vivid memories of learning to read when I was in first grade and feeling like I was not smart. I had to drudge through stories in a basal reader about Sandy and her dog Bing. These were not stories, to me they were torture. Bing and Sandy never did anything fun like the characters in the books my parents read to me. They never ate Chompo bars, and they certainly never went on an adventure in a giant peach! Day after day I would trudge through Bing and Sandy stories and long to read real stories in big thick books about real characters and the adventures they had. I would secretly get big books Continue reading

The Power of Reading Aloud

What if you spent the first day of school doing nothing but reading aloud to your students? This was a question posed to me by one of my principals early in my teaching career. It was a very interesting thought to ponder, especially to a young, fresh out of college teacher. I often think about that question at the beginning of every school year, spending a whole day reading aloud! What would it be like, how would my students react, would spending an entire day reading aloud to students be a day of instruction well spent? Continue reading