Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/28/13

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is an opportunity for everyone to share their book journeys: where we've been for the week and where we plan to go next. To learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? with a kidlit focus, jump over to Jen Vincent's blog, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee Moye's blog, Unleashing Readers.

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Here's where Maddie and I traveled this week:

 Here's where I journeyed this week:

Al Capone Does My Homework 
Tuck Everlasting
Here's where I will continue to travel this week:
Better Nate Than EverEleven
Ella Enchanted
What are you reading this week?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

CELEBRATE! 10/26/23

Discover. Play. Build. 
Ruth Ayres has invited everyone to share a celebration each Saturday. What an amazing opportunity to reflect on all the good that is in life. The celebration can be about anything and in any format. I hope you'll join in!

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Celebrate #1 With parent/teacher/student conference on Wednesday and Thursday, the beginning teachers I mentor needed time to finish preparing for conferences and then meet with families. Conferences gave me an opportunity to take care of a bit of business with my job that involves being the project manager for my district's Collaboration Grant. I have at least another week of mentoring full time while managing the grant. This week I interview a candidate for the project secretary. Without going into the nitty gritty, I see light at the end of the tunnel. Things are starting to pull together and for that I am appreciative. 

Celebrate #2  Two of the teachers I mentor scheduled time with me during breaks in their conference schedules-both for very different reasons. One teacher wants to talk through an idea she has for a grade level PLC. The district we work in is spread out over an area the size of Rhode Island. In most of our schools, there are one or two teachers that make up the team at each school. Pulling teachers together from throughout the district to collaborate is not always easy so I am proud of and appreciative of this beginning teacher's leadership. Another teacher wanted to have me double score some of her math problem solving tasks using our state scoring guide. We used it as an opportunity to calibrate but more important was the conversation about her students' learning needs. I am so proud of these two teachers. They are both talented teachers but I cannot help but be excited that I get to be a part of their development as teachers. 

Celebrate #3  Maddie wants to be Dashi, a character from her favorite Disney show, the Octonauts, for Halloween. There are no Dashi costumes for purchase and Maddie has a mom who does not have a stitch of sewing ability. However, I am skilled when it comes to searching Amazon for various pieces of clothing and we have managed to slowly pull a costume of sorts together. Most of the items arrived Friday so as she put them all on her comments to me were, "I love it!" and "I am so excited!" I love the sweetness of her sincere appreciation - I looked at her and just saw a t-shirt, short skirt, tights...typical pieces of clothing. She saw it all as her Dashi costume. Maddie is amazing.

Celebrate #4  I made time to write this week. It wasn't much, but it was still time spent writing. I've been struggling to write stories about my dad to develop into a book for Madeline. I think part of my problem has been that I've been trying to write as if it's the actual book to be published instead of just getting ideas down on paper. For some reason, I randomly remembered a comment that I had heard or read from Donalyn Miller about just writing what you know: your work, your day, your child, whatever. I also had this recollection from my Teachers Write! experience where I did some of my best writing this past summer when I had something visual, tangible to look at. Put the two together and I had this epiphany that my dad stories could come from pictures. I pasted several photos in my journal and started writing. I wouldn't say that this week's writing is publish worthy but it felt good to be writing. 

Celebrate #5  Maddie and I both had good book weeks. I finished Al Capone Does My Homework as part of #virtualbookclub and Creepy Carrots and Z is for Moose for #SharpSchu bookclub. All three of these books were not on my book radar (crazy, right?!) and so I'm appreciative of these Twitter book clubs that keep me motivated to read books that I'm otherwise oblivious to. Our schools do not have librarians, rather media assistants who keep the school libraries open and assist with checking out books and managing computer labs), so Twitter book clubs are my lifeline. These book clubs become a lifeline for Maddie, too. Each month, the books that are the featured books for #SharpSchu become the books that she wants read to her repeatedly. Let's just say I can almost quote Creepy Carrots verbatim. :o) Maddie has an affinity for the book bags at the library with the book and CD in them. We've begun checking them out from the library. Kids these days know how to work the electronics with little instruction on how to use. Nothing surprised me more yet made me so happy to hear the sounds of a book on CD playing from her room - when I peeked into her room she was sitting on her bed following along in the book as the CD played. 

The events may be small, but for me are reasons to CELEBRATE!
Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BE the Role Model - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted by Two Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.
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Madeline Taylor Sachiko Becker, February 3, 2010

The best day of my life thus far was the day my daughter, Madeline a.k.a. Maddie, was born (sorry, babe...but, marrying you is a close second). Madeline was honestly named after Ludwig Bemelmans's book Madeline. I had actually wanted to name our daughter Abigail (meaning my father's joy) but Mark said to me, "I've always loved the cute, little girl on the book. You know, Madeline." Be still my beating heart! Name our daughter after an adorable children's book character? Why, yes! And so, our daughter was lovingly named Madeline.

The best day of my life also became the scariest. Nothing scary about her birth, per se, but scary in terms of the reality of becoming a parent. I was 39 when Madeline was born and my husband and I knew she'd be our only child- he's 8 years older than me so feels the age factor as much as I do when it comes to raising a child. We both knew we had one chance to do this parenting thing right.

I don't think that there is anything special about the way I raise my daughter. I believe that I want the same things for her that other parents want for their children - I want to raise a child who knows that she is loved. I want her to know that making mistakes are ok - you've got to take chances and do it wrong in order to learn and grow. I want her choose her own path; although, I'll be honest and suggest things like, "you know could be a marine biologist," as we walk through the Marine Science Center. I try hard not to push her in stereotypical "girl" activities-she wants the trucks instead of the dolls then that is what we get her. I actually think she is a good blend of the Mark and me - she can climb trees, dig in the dirt, and be rough and tumble with dad and then come join me for quieter time reading books and writing.

I would say that I am like other parents in that I want to raise an intelligent child. I never want to inundate Maddie with too many learning activities and not enough time to just explore. I tend to be really structured and rigid and only see certain ways to do things so it's been a real lesson for me to back off and just let Maddie BE. I try not to be the helicopter parent...I do catch myself in the act though. That was kind of a bird walk...anyway, one of the most important things that I've done with Maddie early on is reading with her. We read to her when she was in the womb. We have read to her every day since we brought her home. Books are an item that we do not skimp on - we have stacks everywhere. Maddie is friends with Library Linda at our local public library. I am proud of the exposure that she has and will continue to have to books.

In May of this year I had to come off of my high horse in terms of thinking I was such a great parent because I read to my child every day. I had this epiphany that Maddie never saw me reading. And, honestly, I wasn't reading for pleasure that often. I got out of the habit of reading and I'm not really sure how or why. After connecting with a few other educators on Twitter who were avid kid lit readers, my reading life has changed considerably. (Bird walk alert! If you are not on Twitter then you need to be. I've met some AH-MAZING people that have really nurtured and supported the reader and writer in me.) As a result, my daughter now sees me buying my own books and checking out books for mama from the library. She sees my book stacks are as big as hers. She has always loved being read to but now I observe her picking up books to read on her own. Honestly, I saw this behavior from her more, I believe, after began reading in front of her more.

When we travel, we travel with books. I used to just pack books for Maddie. Now, I pack books for me, too. I believe that in addition to reading to Maddie every day that I need to set the example for her about the importance of making time for personal reading - that reading is not always for an assignment and doesn't have to be only part of the night time routine. Reading is a special time to relax and enjoy the adventure on the pages. It's important for me to be Maddie's reading role model. 
My little reading buddy

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/21/13

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is an opportunity for everyone to share their book journeys: where we've been for the week and where we plan to go next. To learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? with a kidlit focus, jump over to Jen Vincent's blog, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee Moye's blog, Unleashing Readers. 
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I have to say how appreciative I am of the comments from friends and colleagues that resemble this, "I like knowing what you are reading." All of you are the reason I woke up at 12:30 a.m. with the panicked feeling of "you were supposed to post your Monday reading!" It's been a busy month as I took on a new job half time-I'm still in a transition so am mentoring full time while trying to get my new job going thus the missing Monday posts. Thank you to all of you for motivating and inspiring to get back in the Monday habit. What you see posted today is several weeks in the making but will get you caught up on where our book travels are taking us.

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Here's where Maddie and I have been this past week:

My audio book travels:
Here's what's up on deck with audiobooks:

Tuck Everlasting
Here are my books in progress:
Twitter bookclubs I'm excited for this week:
Al Capone Does My Homework
#virtualbookclub on Monday 10/21

Creepy Carrots!
#sharpschu book club on Wednesday 10/23
Z Is for Moose
#scharpschu book club on Wednesday 10/23
What are you books are you reading and listening to???

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Celebrate! 10/19/13

Discover. Play. Build. 
Ruth Ayres has invited everyone to share a celebration each Saturday. What an amazing opportunity to reflect on all the good that is in life. The celebration can be about anything and in any format. I hope you'll join in!

My week started with my mom leaving after spending a long weekend with us. That, in itself, is no reason to celebrate, but what is is the fact that before she left she made sure ALL of my laundry was done and the kitchen was clean. Thanks mom!

This week I was able to meet one-on-one with 20 of my 21 beginning teachers that I mentor. I appreciate the relationships that I have with "my" beginning teachers: they are hard-working, dedicated and eager to grow and improve. As I support them through a process of reflection, they have taught me so much about being reflective. I celebrate each one of them and the growth they've made already this school year (it's only October!)

During a one-to-one conversation with a beginning teacher, the teacher shared with me her use of the picture book The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes with her her students. This teacher teaches Art and used the book as a way to talk about how "mistakes" can be incorporated into the art. She talked about the student engagement (they were mesmerized by the book) and the connections that the students were making to her personal art that she's shown them where she's made a "mistake" and incorporated it into her work. When I asked her where she got the idea from, she replied with, "you". I meant the idea for the specific title, but was excited that she picked up on my constant book talks and found a way to use picture books in her classroom.

I am transitioning out of half of my full time mentoring job in order to take over as the project director for my school district's Collaboration Grant. There are lots of things that stress me out about my new role, but it's one of those good stresses - it's nothing I dread. I celebrate the fact that this position is another career pathway for me. There is a lot for me to learn about the grant and I'm excited.

Last night, my husband, my daughter, and I went to my nephew's Homecoming football game. He's a freshman this year and I couldn't be more proud of him. Six years ago, when he and his family returned to our area, he was having extreme anxiety "issues" and it was actually a struggle to get him to school. I look at him now and see a young man who doesn't fight against going to school AND he plays sports (which also means he's keeping his grades up). 

Another reason to celebrate the Homecoming football game was the time with family. The "other" Beckers, my husband's brother and wife, parents of my nephew mentioned above, are not just family to us but friends. I love how excited Maddie is to see her aunt and uncle and cousins. Maddie spent most of the game crawling all over her uncle and cuddling with her cousin, Sara, and her Aunt Tracey. As an only child, I appreciate that she bonds with family.

To round out the week, Maddie and I wanted pancakes for breakfast this morning. With no milk in the refrigerator, I was ready to call it quits on pancakes until I remembered the almond coconut milk in the pantry. Thank goodness for the Pinterest smoothie recipe that called for almond coconut milk-we made the pancakes with it and I found that I really liked the nutty flavor that the pancakes had as a result. The greatest benefit? No disappointed 3 year old over pancakes. 

It's been a good week and I love having the vehicle to just look back at my week and reflect on the things that otherwise wouldn't stand out as reasons to celebrate.
What do you celebrate this week?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BE Easy on Yourself - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted by Two Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.
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I have a full time job. I mentor 1st and 2nd year teachers in my school district. Wait a minute! I'm a wife and mother of a three year old. I have two full time jobs. :o) However, just over two weeks ago, I applied for another job that would change my full time mentor job to half time while I take on the responsibility of coordinating a grant for the other half of my job. 
I ended up being hired for the grant coordinator position and am pretty excited about it. In Oregon, we have SB290, which changes parts of teacher and administrator evaluation significantly. The grant, known as the Collaboration Grant, provides money, in essence, for my school district to implement a blueprint that we designed the past two years in order to align evaluation, professional development, career opportunities, and compensation. It is truly a collaborative effort between the teachers' union, building & district administrators, the superintendent, and the school board. I feel strongly that my school district is making great strides in building and sustaining a comprehensive and continuous system of school improvement and organizational growth. As a 20 year educator in my school district, I see great potential in the opportunities for personal and professional growth through this work.
The half of my mentor job that I am vacating for the remainder of the school year has already been filled by a colleague that I admire and respect. But, now I look at the 21 beginning teachers I mentor and I have to determine who I "give up" to go to the new mentor. It reminds me of the time that students from two classrooms were divided up and put into a new classroom in order to lower class sizes after the school year started (there were 37 students per class that year in 3rd grade-ouch!). It's gut-wrenching to realize that the people you've developed relationships with, the "kids in your classroom", are going to someone else.
There's a transition that goes with leaving one job and going into another. Right now, it feels like adding a job on top of another one until the logistics get figured out. I have another colleague, that has coordinated the grant in the past and is AH-MAZING, who is extremely helpful and supportive, but I have this incessant need to do it myself...
Which brings me to my next thought: the grant coordinator shoes I'm filling are large. I start to experience self-doubt - am I good enough? Will I do the position justice? I am coordinating how much money (more than I did as a building principal)? What did I just get myself into?
And, another layer is the coursework I'm taking...that I'm required to take in order to maintain my administrator credential. A credential that I am not even using right now (Sense the whiny tone? Snap out of it, right?!). Truth is that I may need that credential again so I NEED to make sure that I am current and legit.
The final layer is missing out on things that are important to me - time with my daughter (honestly, 24 hours in a day is not enough with her :o)) & husband, time to clean my house or cook a home cooked meal (not out of a box), time for reading & writing, time for my blog. I feel the pressure - some of it self-induced. Some of it just part of change. I have no complaints, really, I just feel stressed. I need to present with family when I'm with family. I need to stop multi-tasking and focus.
My epiphany through my therapeutic Slice of Life blogpost it that I'm NOT Superwoman(NUTS!). I need to cut myself some slack. I need to be easy on myself. Everything will take care of itself. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Discover. Play. Build. 

On my Twitter feed today came this wonderful invitation from Ruth Ayres to share a celebration each Saturday. The celebration can be anything. 

I love this opportunity to focus on the positive - especially when you've had a week like mine where there are no complaints but there's nothing that jumps out as particularly extraordinary.

My 3-year old wanted to sign up for her first junior cheer camp offered this past week as part of Homecoming. As with all firsts, my mom made sure that she was down her for the quick performance.

I love to watch Maddie with her grandma. With my own grandmothers, there was never any doubt that they cared and loved me, but my mom as a grandma is everything that my grandmothers were not. Sure, there's the tangible spoiling that mom does for Maddie - this kid wants for nothing. My mom is on the floor playing with Maddie (despite the fact that it's not so easy for her to get up off the floor), cuddled up on the couch watching yet another episode of Maddie's favorite Disney show (the Octonauts), or snuggled up in bed reading a book together. All of these are things that I never experienced with my grandmothers. Those relationships were far more formal.

So, on Thursday night, as I watched my mom patiently waiting for the pre-game show of little junior cheerleaders to begin, I had this real appreciation for who she is and how much she loves her granddaughter. Now that I am a mother, I get it that all of this really stems from a deep love that she has for me.

I cannot help but celebrate my amazing mom.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ocean Literacy: Clown Fish by Carol K. Lindeen

With the Pacific Ocean as our backyard, one of my school district's initiatives is to have "the most ocean literate students in the nation". My school district has partnerships with local science agencies such as the Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatchery Research Center (just to name a few) to focus on our ocean literacy initiative. To find out more about our efforts visit K-12 Ocean Literacy.

What's this Nerdy Book Club girl's contribution? Book reviews, of course.

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We had our Ocean Literacy Symposium yesterday at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. It was no big surprise to my husband that I spent money at the aquarium gift shop buying books. I selected Clown Fish by Carol K. Lindeen with Madeline in mind because she has been hugging a clown fish stuffed animal in bed (a gift from Grandma). 

Clown Fish (Under the Sea (Capstone Paperback))
Title: Clown Fish
Author: Carol K. Lindeen
Publisher: Capstone Press
Publication Date: January 2004, 2006
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction
Goodreads Summary: Fasten your flippers, we're diving into an underwater adventure! Dazzling color photography and simple text reveal the amazing world of creatures living under the sea.
Grade Level: PreK-2
Kristin's thoughts: When I read this with Maddie, she snuggled in tight for a good look at the photographs. The photography is vibrant and detailed in a way that Maddie asked questions about the other sea creatures in the photographs - I love how she was so curious and behaved like a little scientist with her questioning. She even went so far as to try to compare clown fish fins to human hands. The text is simple so held Maddie's preschooler attention span and would be a good fit for emergent readers. I am excited that this book is also available in Spanish.
Curriculum Connection: Clown fish live in coral reefs which are not found in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean off of the Oregon coast. It would be interesting to compare the habitat of the coral reefs to our rocky, craggy, volcanic reefs. Perch and herring would make for good comparisons to the Clown fish for size and their adaptations that allow them to live in their specific environments.
Mentor Text Moment: I found a couple of examples of similes in the text.
Clown fish are about as big as a person's hand.
Sea anemones are animals that look like flowers.
I gave Clown Fish 3 of 5 stars. I liked it.