Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ups and Downs

This past year has been one of ups and downs, much like the BlueStreak at Cedar Point. To get back into my blog I'm going hi lite a few of the ups and downs.

Before leaving for Syracuse,
 I went to a stylist
 for my new professional haircut.
Up - In September I found myself training to be a coach for the Literacy Design Collaborative. This collaborative has been established by a grant from the Gate's Foundation. It's to help educators who teach in the common core, math, science, and social studies, to cover the literacy standards.  Basically taking the pressure off the English teachers to cover ALL of the literacy standards for EVERY core subject, plus all of our other standards. Not only does it help cover the literacy standards, but more importantly it benefits students to learn different content reading and writing. If students are reading and writing in ALL core subjects then their reading and writing will improve across the board. Being an LDC coach takes me to new places like Syracuse, New York to work with elementary and high school teachers. I must say I have an energetic group of teachers that I'm coaching. They are quite passionate about teaching and have tremendous ideas. I also work with other coaches from the Columbus, Ohio area. These teachers are a wealth of information and support. I've enjoyed sharing in their passion and enthusiasm for teaching. I was already a strong proponent of kids reading and writing, and now I can share that with my colleagues and teachers across states. This brings me to number two on the list of ups and downs.

PaPa heading into the press box to
keep time for the football game. The
pressbox was named in his honor;
between his father and him they have
100 years of keeping time for the school.
Down - Sadly PaPa became really ill just after Christmas. Actually, right around Thanksgiving he began eating less and less. PaPa told me he was afraid he'd choke. My family watched helplessly as he gradually became thinner. We told him every day that he needed to eat three meals a day at the very least, but there's no telling PaPa what to do. Since I'm more than an hour away from him, I wasn't able to be with him nearly as much as I wanted. My aunt spent time with him every day, helping by driving him to numerous appointments, cleaning the house, mowing the yard, trying to get him to eat, ... In January PaPa complained that his foot hurt him. The doctor said he had gout and prescribed gout medicine. It seemed to help temporarily. By February PaPa rode in the ambulance to the hospital. There we were told his foot didn't have gout, but that the medicine he had been taking caused his kidneys to worsen. From the hospital he was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation. We thought he would be home within a month. PaPa told all of us he couldn't wait to go home. He wanted to be ready for officiating high school track. Within weeks he was gone. We were shocked. I am glad that I was with him in his final minutes on earth. I held his hand while my aunt and mom held his other hand. He was surrounded by his family. SInce the funeral we have been spending every weekend going through PaPa's house. Last weekend we finished. Now it's time to get ready for the auction. I don't know how I'll hold up watching MomMom and PaPa's belongings sold to the highest bidder.

My Reader's Notebook.
Each student kept a notebook
and read every day this year.
Up - Remember I read the Book Whisperer by Donalen Miller? Because of that book and Nancy Atwell's The Reading Zone I had my students keep Reading Notebooks this year. I devoted ten minutes to reading for fun for each class, each day of the week. That totals 50 minutes a week for reading, if my math is correct. I tested my students in reading at the beginning of the year to get a baseline. I then tested them at the end of the first nine weeks and repeated this process for each consecutive nine weeks.  I HAPPY to report that the majority of my students' reading scores have improved, some by five grade levels since we first began in the fall. ASTONISHING! I can't wait to see the results at the end of the year. I wanted to collect data, test results, to prove to myself and my administrators that reading for fun can improve a child's fluency and comprehension, thus improving their grade level reading. Some of my ninth graders were reading at a fourth grade level. Now many of them read at a ninth grade reading level. I hope the next teachers my students encounter will continue with reading for fun. I would love to see them graduate reading at a college level.

The Eifel Tower from a trip
I took with my best friend
as her French students.
Down-Up - Our school like many across the state must pass an operating levy next week. If the levy doesn't pass more teachers will lose their jobs. Earlier numerous teachers were RIFed in order to save money. One of those teachers was my best friend. The board and our superintendent decided to eliminate her program. She teaches French at the high school and middle school. When word got out that the French program was going to be cut, students cam out in mass to support her one of the board meetings. In fact so many people showed up that they had to relocate the meeting to the cafeteria. Students and parents spoke about why the French program was so important and what my best friend meant to them as a teacher. It's a good thing I brought tissues. Parents and students also inundated the superintendent and board members with emails and phone calls. Happily, as a result of the outpouring of support, the superintendent and the board are keeping the program in place, at least for now.

Much more happened since I last wrote in September, but that brings us up to speed. I've missed blogging. It's good to be back.

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