A Moment in Time

Although it has been many years, you are as close to me as you were the last day I saw you. I remember the sparkle in your eyes when you would smile at me, the intensity in them when you were searching me for more than the words I was saying, and the peace I would find in them when I just needed a friend.

I discuss my thoughts, and share my deepest emotions with you even now. You are the heart and soul of me, my closest friend and the one I will always look to for confidence, encouragement, and someone to believe in me.

I pray you have found peace, happiness and love. There is an emptiness in my life that cannot be filled.

Sometimes you have to move on. . .

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Good Teaching

Whew! It has been a busy couple of weeks. I have been asked to facilitate several different PD sessions, at sites and with our site coaches. I’ve enjoyed it, and really love to teach and build capacity, it’s always difficult when it happens all at once. For starters, our school board was recently presented with our latest benchmark results in math and the results of the Scholastic Mathematics Inventory (SMI) from our students in grades 5-8. These were not good, and the board has become quite interested in K-12 mathematics. This is good news for me, although, it creates a steady stream of needs. I am quite in demand at sites and in coaching meetings.

First, at one of our Title 1 sites I walked teachers through a coherence activity for the CCSSM in comparing and ordering. I took this set of vertically aligned standards and cut them up, asking teachers to put the correct standard in the correct grade column. Although many of them felt that this should end at grade 2, they soon realized that so much of the work done in K-2 prepares students for success in fractions and other topics in grades 3-5. It was a great exercise, and the teachers were having some wonderful discussions about how to plan lessons, monitor student understanding, and best of all, that they needed to know more than just their grade level standards.

In our coaches meetings I have been working with the MS and HS specialists to create some workshops around performance tasks and the SMP. We started as a whole group for one meeting, asking the coaches to come up with the SMP and then to discuss how they should be informing instruction and embedded into teaching. From there we broke up into grade level groups and worked on some performance tasks, discussed classroom activities and routines that would lead to success on these tasks and increased comprehensive understanding in mathematics. Today we looked at student work, discussed how the student responses helped us to understand what students knew and understood about the mathematics, and implications for classroom instruction. There were some great discussions, and coaches had some “AH HA” moments in looking at the student work. I sent them back to the student work several times, and they realized that one look wasn’t enough, more became clear as they looked and discussed the work in detail. They also talked about how important it is to look at student work together, to calibrate grading and inform instruction, as well as for review and re-teaching. We also talked about lesson and unit planning and how this information could help to plan more strategically, and help teachers to understand where the low entry point may be for many units and topics.

Finally, I am being asked to come out to sites to lead grade level groups in assessment analysis and strategic planning based on assessment results. This is very exciting, and while I love working with these teacher groups and enjoy teaching them how to do these things and collaborating with them, we have 19 elementary sites and I just can’t do it all. I’m really needing to build a strategic plan for increasing the capacity of the on-site coaches to do these things, and to increase their knowledge.

July Challenge – Family Follow-Up

Yesterday my husband and I went to Discovery Kingdom with our daughter and granddaughters. We had a good time. My husband and I rode a couple of rides with the girls and went on the bumper cars with them because they were too small to go on them alone. My daughter is expecting her third baby August 7, but we all feel it’s coming earlier than that. She looks ready to have the baby any time, so obviously, she wasn’t going on any rides. 

We spent eight hours at the park, to all our surprise, but the girls had a lot of fun and were behaving well. One of them brought a friend also, and she was also well-behaved. 

I have only one complaint. Taking your family to one of these parks is like readily handing over all your money to a bandit. The cost to get in, eat, and stay hydrated is outrageous. It cost us $44 each just to get in, and that’s because we bought our tickets ahead of time on-line. Water was $4 a bottle, and a bucket of chicken was $48. What family with young children can afford to do this very often? It’s really too bad. When my kids were young we lived in Southern CA and went to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm quite a bit. It was much more affordable. 

I’m glad we were able to go and have a day with the kids, but it will definitely take a bit to recover from the outing. The weather was wonderful also, 82 degrees. A really nice day. 

July Challenge – Taking a School Break

Today my husband and I did some much needed work on our yard. It was nice to just pull weeds, water plants, sweep, trim, and enjoy the yard. It has been a long time since I have done work like this, rather than thinking, planning, grading, organizing, etc. and it was nice not to think as hard as I usually do. I have a tendency to push myself very hard, and it’s hard to stop and take a breather. 

We are now watching the A’s vs Giants baseball game, and it’s a nice way to end the day. I’m going to cut this one short and enjoy the game with him.