Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Smashed Flower Pot and my Son's Kind Gesture

I came home yesterday to find my favorite blood red Gerbera Daisy had fallen off our outside table.

It might have been the gardeners, but not likely, or the wind, but it has survived stronger winds, or a neighborhood cat trolling the backyard since my dogs were inside.

Regardless of how it happened, my initial reaction was complete dismay! I had nurtured this little plant back to health after finding it near death at a local nursery; it was my version of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

As I expressed my shock out loud, my son, who is very sensitive to my feelings, came rushing over to inspect the damage.

Ever the optimist, he said, as he handed me the lone surviving daisy, "It's okay, Mom! Now you have a flower for your hair!"

He is so apt at seeing the positive in every situation! I wanted to remember this kind, healing gesture, so I asked him to take a picture of me with the flower in my hair...

And, here is a final shot of my precious flower, given to me by my precious son...

So, my Slice of Life today came dressed as a lesson: find the potential in every situation! If you can't, try to view life through the eyes of a toddler :-)

Read some more slices of life and share your own at Two Writing Teachers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reading-and-Writing or Writing-and-Reading? My A-ha! Moments in ECE Research

As I have shared in previous posts, much of my teaching experience has been with upper elementary students, specifically 5th and 6th graders. While I have had my share of struggling readers and writers, providing intervention and accommodations as necessary, I never really took the time to understand the emergent phases of reading and writing.

Now that I have my son, I am eager to learn more about the early phases of learning to read and write. In my quest, I have come across some epiphanies, "light bulb" or A-ha! moments, that I would like to process by writing down. In all honestly, I am a little ashamed to share some of these insights because I feel that I should have intuitively known them, but for the sake of full disclosure, I am sharing them all:

  • Writing is a precursor to reading. What!?! I always thought reading came first because writing is a much more difficult skill to master. However, my research has shown otherwise! The amount of research supporting the correlation between writing and reading leads me to believe I have been approaching my interventions and accommodations for struggling readers and writers all wrong! Looking at my son's development, though, I can see how this is true. When he was resistant to learning his letters during our read-alouds, and even more resistant to "read" because he didn't know the letters, I began finding fun ways to encourage his letter recognition, such as writing on our Menu Board. He seemed more eager to learn how to write letters than he was to read them. Now that he has engaged in writing activities, he is showing more of an interest in "reading", whether by taking a picture walk, reading from memory, or a using combination of both:   

  • The teaching of reading and writing (in keeping with my research, perhaps I should change the order of my words to "writing and reading") proves most effective when done with authentic, meaningful activities. From some of my less scholarly, but no less relevant, research, I have found ways to tap into my son's natural curiosity and inspire him to want to write and read. Rather than just memorize letters and sounds, we are using real-life experiences. I knew I disliked using the "spelling-a-word-ten-times" strategy with my elementary students for a reason!
  • Children are never too young to start learning how to write. I've always held the belief that a well-written person is usually a well-read person (although, this tends to conflict with my recent findings that writing develops reading....hmmmm), but I didn't realize this applied to infants and toddlers. The simple act of reading out loud to my son from birth (actually, since utero) was planting the seeds for his development as a writer. 
I'm sure many of you already knew most of this information, but I hope you found something of value here. I would love to hear any more insight and wisdom from those of you with experience in emergent writing and reading to help me discover what develops first, reading or writing?

This is just one Slice of Life shared at Two Writing Teachers. Stop over and read some more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Sign of Autumn

We found our first sign of Autumn this morning: a mini-pumpkin growing under the protection of its leaves. The discovery made me nostalgic, as do most things about Autumn.

Autumn has always been my favorite season, though I've never really sat down to write why. It could be because I love back-to-school time, or the fact that a new football season is upon us, or even because tourist season comes to an end and we get to enjoy our beach again without all the crowds.

But, what it really comes down to is the feeling that Autumn brings; it's like coming home after a long trip away or slipping into comfy pajamas after a long, taxing day.

I have most of my fondest memories during Autumn: going shopping with my mom and sisters for that coveted first-day-back-to-school outfit, bundling up for the first chilly morning, bringing my parents to my classroom for open house and peering out the windows into the night, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood with my mom, and watching Sunday football with my dad.

I love Autumn and the nostalgia that follows, so this first sign of it is a welcome sight :-)

Share your Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers