Saturday, September 12, 2015

Celebrate Saturday

Just making it through another hectic week to a Saturday, seems like a great reason to celebrate. It was a four day week, so why am I so exhausted?

Monday was Labor Day. It was also the season opener for The Ohio State Buckeyes!

It was a sleepy start to the work week on Tuesday, after staying up late on Monday night to watch the Buckeyes win 42-24 against Virginia Tech. So I'm thankful for that victory and I'm thankful for a chance to relax today and watch them beat Hawaii's Rainbow Warriors.

There are also plenty of reasons to be thankful at school as well! I'm thankful for whatever small steps my class is making towards becoming a true classroom community of learners. This year my class is coming without a lot of collective experience in caring for each other, trusting each other or providing positive feedback to each other. The job of helping them to achieve that is a big one, but I know I'll find the strength, courage and wisdom to see that they get there.

We had a few encouraging moments on the rug in my library corner. I have been reading picture books that encourage the building of relationships and turning away from bullying behaviors.

One by Kathryn Otoshi was one of the read-alouds that they seemed to enjoy. It generated a good discussion about bullying. We also were able to talk about ways that they could stand up to the bullies and other people that constantly seem to be obstacles to their own success.

Towards the end of the week, we turned our focus to the horrifying events that occurred fourteen years ago, on September 11. None of my students were even born when this tragic terror attack happened, so it is important for them to know about it. I started the discussion by asking them what they already knew (or thought they knew) about this day in history. Many had things to say about the attacks, the World Trade Center, and relatives that had personally experienced the events of that day.

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown is a terrific picture book resource. It tells the events of that awful day with illustrations that show the gravity of it in an appropriate way for kids. I read that aloud to them. Even though it was a little long (it's tough for my class to sit still for more than a few minutes), they were all engaged with this book.

When we were finished sharing this book, we discussed the events a bit. My students had many comments and questions.  Then we turned our discussion to the heroic and selfless people that perished while helping other people survive. Many of these people died while helping complete strangers. We talked about the outpouring of help from volunteers in the days, weeks and even months after the attacks.

This brought our conversation around to what we can do to honor the memories of all of those heroes. We may feel that there's not a lot we can do in our central Ohio neighborhood and classroom that would make a difference. We certainly can't change what happened in the past. I was really pleased that many of my students had great ideas about what they could do to help others in their community, in their homes, and in their school.

Here is some of the writing that came from these awesome discussions.
I am also thankful for more opportunities to build a relationship with one of my students that has severe behavioral issues. Last week, we shared the book, I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton and started enjoying reading together. This week, he checked out the book, All about Pit Bulls by Jeni Wittrock from our school library.
I sat next to him at his desk and he read it to me. He loved talking to me about his own pit bull, Savage. At the end of the book, he saw that there were other books about pit bull terriers. We went to the computer and I logged on to the website for my public library. We found a few books that he wanted to read, and I went ahead and requested them. He was very pleased yesterday, when I presented him with one of them that he could read during Independent Reading time.

I hope you had a terrific week with lots to celebrate as well! I would love to hear all about it!


  1. I celebrate with you this week and for favorite college football teams!

  2. Sounds like it was a great week! Thank you for sharing all of these great books!!

  3. You are building a community of learners where kindness and thinking are valued. It is not an easy task for a teacher but it matters so much in life. Wishing you energy, patience and inspiration!

  4. You have done a great job finding a way to relate to your student.

  5. Best wishes in finding all the ways that the class can become a caring community. It seems that you've made a wonderful start, learning about caring for others outside their usual worlds. Have another good week!

  6. Wonderful choice of books, especially Kathryn Otoshi's. I brought her to Long Island from California years ago and still remain friends with her. She is a wonderful writer. Please read #Beautiful Hands" by Kathryn.