The last four weeks I have literally and figuratively been ‘back to school’. It started with the writing and researching. Two of my best friends who recently retired with me last May, embarked on a writing journey together, designing units for kindergarten through 5th grade. For the most part we have integrated Social Studies with writing opinion. There has been a method to our writing frenzy. We believe that Social Studies and content writing needs to become a part of our Literacy block for two very important reasons:
50/50 LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT
We have felt like explorers running on terrain, not established before in our district. I guess bits of it have been brewing for many years. I taught on a team in Middle School in the ‘hay day’ of teaming. We all taught a block of Social Studies, English and our main subject. Mine was Literature, my friend Debbie taught Science and our Math colleague, who defected to administration, after three years of working with ‘designing’ women. We believed in integration and spent endless hours discussing how to build writing skills into all the subject areas. Our culminating team project every year was Science Fair. We all took part. We, loved those years of collaboration.
Fast forward twenty years, retirement, ache of missing school and this opportunity arrives, and in essence we are creating similar units for our teachers. Last week we started presenting them. There has been some bumps, but for the most part, I am in awe of the process. We are living writing process together. Over and over we research, write, revise (in the flow) and now it is ready to go out to all. It still is not in the last form, because we have invited those using the unit to give feedback and we will make changes accordingly.
Why does it work with my writing friends? This is what we all believe. I was reading this quote and it dawned on me. All three of us believe the following about learning.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. -Carol Dweck
I believe that a growth mindset is absolutely a quality that every educator needs to own. Our project together is reinforcing this to all of us. It is a labor or love and heart and we are also very humbled by teachers who have this mindset and are willing to ‘give it a go’.
DRUMROLL….I found my OLW this week! I have waited patiently for it to arrive and show itself. It appeared quietly, wondering why I hadn’t noticed it before this.
It is simple in size but has a big heart. It is playful, but not overbearing. It comes in many resplendent colors and is simple and solemn, in its standard black. Maybe you are thinking that this fifty-something is venturing into ‘tat land‘, I am not. I do admire the intricate and colorful ink masterpieces I have seen while riding the sub-way to Chicago. Sometimes I stare, and sometimes I will comment about how I love the artwork on another’s chest or arm. I digress here, a bit, but I do think that there is also something magical about ink on a page of paper. I want to create. I want to ink.
Today at church our pastor talked about planning our calendars using ink. Placing important details in ink, not pencil. Those important things gave me pause this morning. Yes, I want to carve out time to talk to God every day. It will be inked daily on my calendar. Yes, I want to carve out time daily to write. It also will be inked on my calendar. I wish to create time to do new things…find antiques, cross-country ski, and learn more about birds. These things will be inked throughout the year as I plan two months at a time. I will also continue to ink fitness in, even though it has become a habit. Unless I ink it in, there are no guarantees that it won’t be erased as my life, every once in a while, seems to crowd out even some of my ingrained habits.
Ink is not easily erased, it can be scratched out, but I hate the way that looks. I hate the way that feels inside. Ink can get messy sometimes, I will need to learn how to be content with that. Some won’t understand why I feel this need to leave a mark where there wasn’t one before. This year I will ink.
PS Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 11:18 …his word, is the word I want to ink in 2015.
for forty years I’ve been
to the little town bordering
tracks and river.
early on, the animal pelts hung stiff
from the rafters,
this city-girl averted
her glance… until
with you behind, in tow.
your bear hug,
encircled my frame,
I assumed you were quieter
like your son,
as grandma gabbed incessantly as
except for desserts
light as air,
we miss her, you and I
but you have learned to cook
George Foreman specials!
every Thursday night
you invite couples,
and the lonely,
they bring a pie…you hope,
you carry the burgers
with your massive hands,
the only thing bigger,
PS Last week we had a little scare. Grandpa called 911 because he felt funny and dropped his fork while eating. He has a small heart episode…scared us. This 85 year old has adjusted to life without my mother-in-law…it is still hard. But he would say, “I’ve still got living to do.” Winter is the hard season, because he can’t be out mowing his lawns. Love you…Grandpa. xo