Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Resources for Poetry Month (April)

"Poems are a form of music, and language just happens to be our instrument - language and breath." Terrance Hayes, 2017

So you might ask, "What's the big deal? Why is poetry so important?" Poetry is essential for children because it is 'the best words in the best order.'  The rhythm and rhymes can help children develop a love of language - and a love of reading. Once kids begin flexing their writing muscles, poetry can spark their creativity and let their imaginations soar! 
 J. Patrick Lewis, US Poet Laureate

Poetry can be a powerful tool for writers and readers.  Writers who are reluctant to tackle a larger piece may find a short poem a less intimidating task.  The structure of some poems such as haiku, cinquain, and others provide scaffolds for emerging creative writers.  Reluctant readers may be engaged by the wordplay, rhythm and rhyme of poetry.  Here are some poetry resources you may find helpful for you and your students:

There are lots of amazing lesson plans at ReadWriteThink.org  Here are just a few:

Writing Poetry with Rebus and Rhyme Kindergarten to Grade 2
Composing and performing found poetry - K to Grade 2
Today is World Poetry Day Grades 3 - 12
Weaving the Threads - Integrating Poetry Annotation and Web Technology - Grades 6 - 12
Lonely as a Cloud: Using Poetry to understand similes - Grades 4 - 8

Lesson Plans using Interactive Tools
Theme Poems Using the Five Sense - Grades K - 2
Acrostic Poems - a range of lesson plans from K - 12 using an online acrostic poem tool
Diamante Poems - a range of lesson plans from K - 12 using an online diamante poem tool
Haiku Starter - Grades 2 - 5

Scholastic Poetry Resources 

Education World - comprehensive list of Poetry Month resources

Edutopia - another comprehensive list of poetry resources

Poems & Poets at Poets.org - a searchable database of over 7,000 poems


Research Into Practice: Performing Poetry: Using Drama to Increase the Comprehension of Poetry 

Research Into Practice: Poetry: A Powerful Medium for Literacy and Technology Development

Ten Poems for Teachers 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Self-Regulation and Schools

Here's a look at a twitter chat with educators about Self-Regulation in Schools, moderated by the MEHRIT Centre. The next one is May 10 at 7:30 - join us at #TMCTalks. EST.:

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Five Misconceptions about Self-Regulation

A short video blog on Five Common Misconceptions about Self-Regulation

5. It's  about stuff - exercise bikes, glitter bottles, etc

4. It's only for kids with formal identification such as ADHD, ADD, ODD

3. It's just for kids

2. We do self-regulation as a whole class

1. It's about controlling your behaviour and your emotions

View the video on youtube at https://youtu.be/XHE1pBdOO9I

(Please excuse some of my editing errors - I'll do better next time!)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Self-Regulation and Mindless Eating

When I was working full-time I would come home from work and, sometimes before I'd even changed my clothes, I would head to the kitchen for something to eat.  I would often just stand in the kitchen and graze - eating crackers from the box, a slice of cheese, cookies, whatever.....  If you had asked me an hour later what I had to eat, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell you.  It was truly mindless eating, and I look back now and realize I was definitely in the lower right box of the Thayer Matrix  - high stress all day at work and then coming home as a single parent to two busy teenagers.  I have no family here in the city so I was pretty much on my own for dealing with any minor or major issues with the kids, the house, the car, etc. Definitely high tension/low energy by 5 pm.
Recently the urge to snack and the mindless eating have been late at night. I had been looking at those cravings through a self-control lens but I decided this afternoon to try to look at them through a self-reg lens.  At first I thought, you can't be/shouldn't be low energy, high tension, you're retired!  But there are still stresses in life, even when you're retired:
  • after six months of working close to home, my husband has been back to travelling all the time for work since early January.  He is usually gone from early Monday morning to late Friday night, and sometimes longer if there are flight delays, etc.  This means I'm in charge of anything that goes wrong with the car, the house, etc unless it can wait till the weekend
  • since I'm retired and hubby's away at work and my kids are both away at university/college, I'm alone a lot more and that's stressful.  I volunteer, and I meet friends for lunch and all of that, but compared to when I was working, I'm still adjusting to the reduction in social contact in retirement
  • being alone at night is more stressful than during the day.  Our house is old and there are weird noises at night!
  • my mom passed away in December 2014 and there is some residual stress from that to deal with
  • my dad is on his own and has some health and mobility issues.  I'm fortunate that my dad also has support from my brothers and sisters-in-law, but there is the stress of making sure he is taken care of - shopping for groceries, cooking meals, running errands, paying bills, and worrying about his mental and physical well-being.  Every time the phone rings and I see his number come up, I hope it's not someone calling to tell me the ambulance is on the way.  It's happened before; it will likely happen again.
  • all the fun physical stresses of menopause - hot flashes, night sweats, slower metabolism, insomnia
  • I submitted the first draft chapter of a book to a publisher who said he'd get back to me in a week.  It's been three weeks.  He must hate it. What was I thinking?
  • studying for my doctorate online through Western.  It's starting to get real, the courses are getting harder, there's so much more writing, I have to defend next spring.  What if I fail?  What was I thinking?
Funny how I am getting better at looking at other people's behaviour with 'soft eyes' but sometimes have a hard time doing that for myself.  I really thought - you're retired, you shouldn't have stressors. I wonder how often people think, 'he's only in kindergarten.  He can't have stress.'  
Anyway this reflection today was very timely since I was beating myself up last night for giving in to my cravings. After eating healthy all day, at about 9 pm I had a glass of red wine and ate a very large Hershey Kiss that I bought as a Christmas stocking stuffer for my husband.  Since he hasn't eaten it by now, I'm hoping he forgot about it.  Change 'son' to 'husband' and this may be my life when he gets home!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Borrowing Trouble

Over 10 years ago I published my first online article - a reading lesson for the International Reading Association's website ReadWriteThink.  The lesson was called A Bad Case of Bullying and is linked to the book A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  My original lesson was for primary grades but the reviewers and IRA suggested I revise the lesson for junior grades.  Since this was my first time trying to publish something, I revised and resubmitted and was accepted for publication.

Yesterday (March 27/17) I received a tweet from RWT saying that they had had an email request from a reader to contact me about this lesson.  YIKES!  For some reason, I immediately went to 'worst case scenario' mode.  They hate the lesson. There is something horribly wrong with it.  But wait - it was reviewed by three peer reviewers and by the staff at RWT.  It must be okay - right?

I hadn't looked at the lesson in years and when I went online to check, I had never noticed that you could leave comments.  And there were comments.  Nice ones:

So after a few emails, we were able to connect on the phone last night. Turns out, she was a graduate student studying for her Masters of Library Science in Chicago.  She is going to use my lesson in an assignment for a class she is taking and she has to teach it as a demonstration lesson while her classmates act as the students.  We talked about differentiating instruction for students with special needs, we talked about how to provide multiple and varied opportunities for assessment and how to modify the lessons for different age groups. It was a lovely conversation and I'm sure she'll do well on her assignment.

My grandmother used to warn me 'Don't borrow trouble.'  I guess ever since I was a kid I would worry about things that hadn't happened yet and, in many cases, never did happen.  Looking at this through a self-reg lens, I can see that this adds unnecessary stress to my life.  I think it will be challenging to try to break this old habit. Perhaps next time I find myself starting to 'borrow trouble' I need to stop and ask myself why and why now?  

Anyone else have this tendency to borrow trouble?  What are your strategies for catching yourself when you do and turning it off?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

My Last 10

Doug Peterson shared a challenge from Alec Couros - If you were summed up by your last 10 Tweets or Facebook posts, what would that look like?   I've decided to just use my last 10 Tweets; I tend to use Twitter for professional purposes and Facebook for personal/education.

My last 10 Tweets:

So what do these last 10 Tweets say about me?
I follow a lot of smart people from a lot of different places, some of whom I know 'in the real world' and some of whom I've never met. I love that about social media; being able to learn from so many different people in different contexts.

Two of the posts are about A Day In The Life, an upcoming event at my former board that was part of my portfolio as a consultant. Even though I am retired, I am still like to promote important things happening at 'my board.'

Many of the posts are about kindergarten and early primary grades. My educational background is Early Years, my first teaching job was as a kindergarten teacher and my final assignment was Kindergarten Consultant. I have a passion for early years, even in retirement.

Two posts on leadership reflect my current learning as an EdD student in Educational Leadership at Western. It's a great program, challenging in so many ways, but fantastic learning.

And lastly, my most recent tweet is about some self-regulation courses coming up in Toronto. I started the self-reg courses in the fall for a number of reasons but mostly because self-reg was emerging as a key part of my doctoral Problem of Practice. What I didn't anticipate was how much learning more about self-regulation would help me in my own day to day life.

What about you? What do your Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts say about you?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Exploring MindMaps

I'm hoping that some of you who are far more tech savvy than I can weigh in with some helpful hints and suggestions.  Please!

My final assignment in my current online course is to create a mind map for a three chapter document that will be created as the culmination of my doctorate studies.  First, I had to decide what program to use to create the mind map.

I started with Popplet which was suggested by someone who had done this assignment last year.  I had used it just a few weeks ago with a group of Grade 3 students so I had heard of it.  It is visually very appealing and easy to use.  It was easy to insert images which helped reduce the text-heavy appearance of some samples I had seen.  But two major problems:  one, it kept crashing and it would take FOREVER to log back in. Instead it just spun and spun and spun.  Someone suggested I try a different browser and that helped.  It gave me no end of troubles in Safari but worked fine in Chrome.  But secondly, you can't add hyperlinks.  This was a deal breaker for me.

So I tried downloaded the free 30 day trial to try Inspiration.  I had used Kidspiration with students about 15 years ago when I was a learning support teacher and had fond memories of this program.  Again it was user friendly - easy to create the mind map, easy to insert graphics and you can insert hyperlinks.  But, quite frankly, I thought it was ugly.  It looked old and dated.  I'm sure that had I taken even more time and played with it longer maybe I could have made it more visually appealing but Popplet had spoiled me.  Popplet created mind maps that  looked good automatically, so I knew there had to be something better out there.

On to iMindMaps and another free 30 day trial.  It has lots of options but frankly by this time I had used up an entire morning and I really just wanted to get going so I picked out a template I liked and got started.  It looks good, it's easy to use and you can add images, hyperlinks and notes quickly.  I'm sure you can do lots of other things with it as there seems to be an infinite number of buttons and drop down menus.  Some day when I have more time, I'll explore all of those but right now I just want to finish my assignment on time.

So I've finished the mind maps for Chapter 1 and 2 and I'm hoping to finish Chapter 3 soon. But now what?  My free 30 day trial runs out shortly and then what?  It won't let me save it as anything else so in 30 days I have to pay up or lose access to my work?  I can't print it out - it's too tiny.  I've tried zooming in on sections but it's still small and it would take a whole day to zoom, cut, paste, etc.   I appreciate that this task has helped me to think about my work differently and notice connections that I hadn't seen before.  But is there a way to create a more useable document than this finished product?  Those of you who use mind maps, how do you move on from a digital format?  Or do you?

Some of my colleagues in this same class are using other programs.  One is using Popplet and has had problems with freezing and lost work.  One is using Prezi, and another abandoned the idea of electronics after spending a day exploring different programs and is using coloured pencils and paper.  I think in the future I would probably use mind maps again to help organize my work but I'm still a linear sequential, list making girl at heart.

Chapter 1 & 2 done; Chapter 3 in progress