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#IMMOOC: Week 1

With my new career starting in less than two weeks, I find my mind open to a shift in thinking. I am actively seeking a new avenue for my passion about education and learning. I don't want to be an editor of an education publication who is not pursuing information to improve and build on what we already know about education.
A few days ago, a participant in a group I follow contacted me. She told me she was inspired by my move from teaching into writing about teachers and administrators. She wanted to learn more from me and I knew as I talked to her, that I wanted to learn more from her. She mentioned that George Couros was starting up a group to talk about his new book The Innovator's Mindset. I quickly signed up, ordered the book on my Kindle and watched last week's video.

On the video, Couros said:
When we talk about the notion of innovation in education, people will ask but what about the basics? Innovation is not on the curriculum to which George Couros replied, "…

Slice of Life: A Good Change May Still Leave You Heartbroken

I click send and, just like that, my classroom is closing. From my kitchen, I hear pounding and sanding going on in the front room. My husband, the carpenter, coaxes wood into agreeing to be my new home office desk. "Do you want to look out the window or away from it?" he calls.
I want to look out the window, I tell him. I'll be alone more often now.

My own children will be off to school. My classroom children will be somebody else's. It will happen subtly. One day one of the children will say, "Remember Mrs. Moran? She was funny." or something like that.

I love being a teacher. I love saying I'm a teacher. Whenever Christmas break comes around, I miss them and can't wait to hear about their stories when they return. I live for those moments when a kid comes rushing into class to tell you something funny because he knows you'll get it. That delicious moment when it's just the two of you, laughing your head off at the way his baby brother at…

Slice of Life: Book Life

I can get so involved in a book that I lose touch with reality, so much so that coming back to real life feels more like reading a list.

Make dinnerTidy upGrade papersThen you may go back to your life––in a book.  I can always tell when things in my real life aren't sitting right with me because I have trouble getting into a book. I start them and don't finish them. I wander a bookstore and don't come home with anything. It feels uncomfortable and makes me angry. Like, "Listen life, I need my books! So you better wise up and get easier." Picture me shaking my fist at the sky.

Recently I've been working hard to make some changes in my life and it's clearly affected my reading life. I've picked up and put down no less than five books over the past month. I've started watching my nemesis––TV.
While visiting my mother this weekend, I sat in front of her bookshelf desperate to find something that worked for where I was, in this moment, in my life. Then…

DigiLit Sunday: Relationships

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf..

On Sunday, I interviewed a woman named Julie Lindsay. She lives in Australia and started a company called Flat Connections. Her message to me was that Web 2.0 tools have changed the face of education. It brought the walls down so that we could all reach each other.

On  Monday, I read a book by Pernille Ripp, a teacher living in Wisconsin. In Reimagining Literacy through Global Connections, Ripp's message to me was to keep it simple when going global, the students just need to know they can connect and share who they are.

On Tuesday, I voxed Julieanne Harmatz. "Let's do this!" I said. "I've got a fourth grade, you've got a fifth. Mine is in Maine, yours is in California. Let's read together and share thoughts." She agreed.

On Wednesday, Julieanne emailed suggestions for three books she had multiple copies of. I book talked them to my students that afternoon.

On Thursday, I worked online with…

Poetry Friday: The Whole Story

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” Mary Oliver
Breakage
Mary Oliver

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
       full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

Slice of Life: Too Much Stuff

Yesterday we got around 20 inches of snow. School got cancelled the night before which is always a treat. My kids are happily playing outside, so I race upstairs to get rid of old toys.

I can't do this while anyone (including my husband) is watching because it will go like this, "Oh that! I forgot I had that. Don't get rid of that. I love that!"

On my way upstairs, I pass a large tote filled with hats and mittens. I dump it out on the floor in the dining room and bring the empty tote with me. Now in my son's room, I pull out games from his closet and sort them. I find stuff no one is ever going to play with again. Candyland, Headbands, and Qwirkle all make their way into the tote.

All this money wasted, I start to think, but quickly stop myself. It is what it is at this point. We buy things for Christmas or whenever hoping we've hit the jackpot and sometimes (apparently a lot) we're wrong.

By the time I finish, his room looks incredible and the tote is o…

Slice of Life: Action Research

On Tuesdays I try to join Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life because it gives my week focus and helps me connect my life to education.
______________________________________

I glance around the room making sure to record who is at the table: curriculum coordinator, GT coordinator, principal, teacher, teacher, Me. Got it. The meeting agenda for the Gifted and Talented Advisory Council is underway. I won't say I dread these meetings, but i don't set the bar high for them. We move from agenda item to agenda item:
Students who've recently been testedPaperwork needing to be filedWhat we've been doing with students in the classroom The topic of how we have students who teachers think should be identified as gifted, but because of circumstances like poverty, lack of advocacy, and cultural differences, will probably never be identified. The tests aren't finding them. Their schoolwork, while interesting, isn't mind-blowing when compared to the students who have more exp…

Poetry About Refugees: Sixth Graders Speak

Today I showed this video to my sixth grade students. Then I asked them to respond in poetic form.


I care about Syria.
It is cruel to reject exiles
That are yearning to be free.
They are escaping from their country
Because it is not safe for them to stay.
3.8 million people - including thousands of children -
Are trying to stay alive, but our government thinks that
They are dangerous and will not let those poor refugees
Cross our border just because our government will not save
Over a million lives. That needs to change. We need to change.

This. Is. Not. Okay. (Charlotte)

________________________________

Syrian refugees crossing the border,
yearning to escape the cruelty.

Exiles have no decision,
to leave their own country.

Trying to save their families,
trying to earn back their dignity.

they understand,

that freedom isn't free. (Stacy)

________________________________

Wanting freedom.
No hope
No escape.
Syrian refugees.
3.8 million out
Yet only 36 allowed in
Big decisions
Risk y…

Look here, though you might want to look away

Hate is back in our schools. I've heard teachers talk about kids forming groups they call 'Whites are Rising'. I've heard middle school students in my own school talk about how Trump is going to put the Muslims back in their place.

I'm in a unique position to affect how change occurs. As a gifted and talented teacher, I work with students who are designed to dig deeper and live with the kind of emotional intensity it may take for us to bring back the world we want to live in. I don't think this is an exaggeration.

So, I worked all weekend to put together lesson plans around what human migration looks like, how it feels to be a refugee, and what we can do to help human beings. It took focus to figure out how to help children in my district, most of whose parents voted for Trump, will absorb this information without feeling scared or thinking I'm trying to scare them.

It's a precarious balance being a teacher of social justice, particularly in a school sy…

Poetry: Use Your Voice

10 Found Words from: Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators


Use Your Voice

In the teacher's lounge, there are rants. 

"We can't do that. We don't have time. 
It's impossible."

But no one communicates
directly.

They say they are 
ignored and that
no one is answering
their questions.

But it's more simple 
than that.

You can't make an impact
if you don't respond
to the volume of changes 
in just one year.

Poetry: The Scorching Words of DeVos

10 Found words from Weird Wave found in Venus' wind-whipped atmosphere.

The scorching words of DeVos
whipped
slammed
and seemed to shift the pull of gravity.

I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point…We do expect something in return.And yet the solar-system continued to flow fluidly in an arc-shaped path as if the tenets of our democracy had not been attacked.


©Kimberley Moran, 2017

Poetry: I was raised to be confrontational

Next month I join Laura Shovan's Fifth Annual February Daily Poem Project called: 10 found words. This is a practice poem for this time. I was given Janet Mock’s Empowering Speech on Trans Women of Color and Sex Workers. I used Mock's words to create a poem:

I was raised to be confrontational
In my commitment to this work.
I found myself going deeper into poverty.
I tell no one about this.
I hold these harsh truths close,
but things must change, and so,
I stand here today
showing that my liberation is directly linked
to the separation of the way I was raised.
I must instead be someone who has written herself
a new story
I must be willing to fly under the radar on some days.
I must be willing to hold back my confrontation occasionally,
so that I can hear other’s words
and know their lives.
This will help me move forward in peace
and action.

©Kimberley Moran, 2017

Slice of Life: Global Education: a start

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers I've been reading a lot about global education. The more I read, the more I wanted to ensure my students understood it's importance in a seamless way. I wanted global education to be a lens through which they saw everything they learned. My research drove me to set new goals for my teaching:

Students will understand how people in other places think and learnStudents will learn how education affects all parts of our lives and worldStudents will engage in real work with students from other parts of the world. The more I used global education as a lens for what I wanted to teach, the more focused and interesting the learning became. My students are thrilled at the idea. My starting project is with my friend Julieanne who teaches fifth grade in Los Angeles. She and I matched up my high flying fourth graders at one of the schools where I teach with some of her students. We chose three books that had themes of global value: disa…

Simplify

The philosopher Nietzsche said that, "Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I know people have considered me insane on several occasions, but that has never stopped me from hearing the music. I never stop considering how my time spent here on earth can be simplified. I want to love what I do and be present––from adoring the memory foam mattress topper on my bed to enjoying the stream of light that falls on the dining room table in the morning.

I cannot do this if my life is cluttered. If there are clothes on my bed or a curtain is blocking the light from my window. In any classroom there are so many things to be tamed, from data to paperwork to classroom books. Ultimately though we are there to teach children. That should be our main priority––by what all goals and assessments and classroom arrangements should be chosen.

When I taught first and second graders, I found myself being judged because of the lack of stuff on…

Staying Home for a Sick Child

Not too long ago, when my daughter would wake up telling me she felt sick, I wouldn’t feel her forehead and send her back to bed. I would instead feel total panic.
My first reaction was to say, “you look fine. Go to school and have them call me if you still feel sick.”
Her emotionally and physically deflated little body would slump, nod its head, and go back to her room to dress slowly because everything hurt. I cringe when I think about this, but it was hard when I knew I’d have to make long sub plans and call into a principal who was more interrogating than kind. Plus, there were my kids, my students, who needed consistency and care. They needed to see me each morning, so they knew their day was going to be okay. “39 percent of Americans, more than 43 million people, still struggle without paid time off to recover from an illness or seek medical care,” states the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So even my previous situation of not wanting to use my paid sick time speaks to my privileged …

Slice of Life: What Do Emotionally Intense Kids Need?

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Giftedness has an emotional as well as intellectual component. Intellectual complexity goes hand in hand with emotional depth. Just as gifted children’s thinking is more complex and has more depth than other children’s, so too are their emotions more complex and more intense. Feeling everything more deeply than others do can both be painful and frightening. Emotionally intense gifted people often feel abnormal. “There must be something wrong with me… maybe I’m crazy… nobody else seems to feel like this.” Emotionally intense gifted people often experience intense inner conflict, self-criticism, anxiety and feelings of inferiority.
















If I'm doing my job as a teacher properly, I must be an expert behavior analyst. This is especially important when I have sensitive children in my classroom. I must notice the moment Joshua stops working or David holds his ears. In response, I make eye contact with Joshua, raising my eyebrows as punctu…

#IMWAYR It’s Monday! Here’s What I’m Reading: The Learning Habit, Be a Changemaker, & Counting Thyme

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! is hosted by Jen Vincent  @Teach Mentor Texts& Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

I'm enjoying this book which is about helping kids succeed in school and life. The authors' premise is that kids need to be taught the skills necessary to have a balanced like. They feel that we need to teach children how to balance multiple activities. Kids need to learn how to cut out distractions (especially all electronics) and focus on one job at a time. A parent’s role is to provide the quiet homework area area and resist the impulse to “help” or “rescue” their child. Kids need to experience taking responsibility for their work; otherwise, they won’t develop confidence in their own abilities. I need this in my own life and I'm finding other parents asking me questions about the students in my class around these same issues. This book is showing me how to help kids be successful at starting projects or clubs that work effect…

Student-Run Digital Magazine for Authentic Learning

A while ago, I discovered that our district does not have a newspaper or a magazine for student content. This bothered me because I had an intuitive feeling that this type of planning and writing would be very good for our students' current disdain for lack of interest in writing. I had time (sort of) and motivation to get things started. I doubted I would have financial backing, so I focused on a digital model that would require time and talent, but not money. In researching best ways to accomplish my idea, I discovered that according to the Journal of Authentic Learning*, there are four components that support authentic learning.
An activity that involves real-world problems and that mimics the work of professionals; the activity involves presentation of findings to audiences beyond the classroom.Use of open-ended inquiry, thinking skills and metacognition.Students engage in discourse and social learning in a community of learners.Students direct their own learning in project wor…

#MustReadin2017

So many books, so little time. If you're a reader, you've thought about this on more than one occasion. My one little word this year is RELEASE. One of the ways I'm practicing release this year is by reading what I want to read and not what I think I'm supposed to read. This year's must read books for me only include those I've been wanting to read.

I'm happy to join my good friend Carrie Gelson's #mustreadin2017. 

For this list I'm choosing 11 books, which means that I will commit to reading one book a month (and I left a blank for one I might find later). I plan to read 52 books this year, but they will be picture books. The books I'm putting on my list are books that are for me, some nonfiction and some fiction.  I know that I can never read everything I want to read, so this will be a great place to start. 
Check out There's a Book For That to read others' #mustreadin2017 lists.

Book Review: The Infamous Ratsos

At six, if I said to my grandmother, "Let's have hot dogs for lunch," she would say, "Righto!" to indicate agreement. I love this and wish it wouldn't sound out of place for me to use it.

"Let's go to the store."
"Righto."

"I finished my homework, so can I go outside?"
"Righto!"

Old fashioned phrases and words evoke a time and a place for us in a way that very few other things do.

Imagine my delight in Kara LaReau's new book The Infamous Ratsos, when one rat brother, Ralphie, says "Righto!" as he responds to his rat brother Louie about things. In seven short chapters that make excellent use of every word ranging from easily managed ones to those that might require some research, LaReau shows her readers how two small rat boys and one lonely (but very tough!) father rat use being tough to cover their sadness. There is a nice mixture of action and character development when the two brothers look to ge…

Slice of Life: Pull Out Teaching

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers 

Today is the first day back after Christmas break. It is always a bit of a tough morning for my children––both those at home and those I will soon see in the classroom. I plan to start my classroom children with a One Little Word activity to get them thinking about a focus for the year. My students only see me once a week, so I must pack a great deal into that 50-80 minute time frame.

This time or lack thereof is a constant reminder for me to be planned and ready. It has it's drawbacks to be so planned, sometimes I cannot be as flexible to what kids need in the moment as I wish to be. Sometimes they must wait a week and then, often, the moment is lost.
It is difficult to be a "pull out" teacher. There are critiques at every turn. Why do I seem like I have so much non-teaching time? Why don't I have to assess as often? My answer (if I was asked instead of talked about when not present) would be that my non-teaching…

Kindle Fire HD 8 Annotating

For Christmas my father sent me the new Kindle Fire HD 8. He and I spend a lot of time reading and talking about reading together. He loves his Kindle and wanted to be sure I had one that worked.

My old Kindle hadn't been working for a while, but I hadn't noticed much because I'd been back to buying books. As a teacher, I tend to like to buy books so I can share my copies with someone after I read them. I do love the power of the Kindle, though, with its ability to let me carry many books at the same time in one thin volume.
I also love this Kindle Fire which allows me access to Goodreads––where I can instantly add my recently read books to my yearly list and Evernote––where I can store some ideas I have for teaching or anything else as I am reading.

The Kindle Fire feature that really blows me away, though, is the highlighting and note taking one. As I was reading Pernille Ripp's new book Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, I began highlighting text tha…

OLW: Release

It’s that time of year again for many of us teacher-bloggers: the time to choose our very own “onelittleword” – the word we will reach for and seek comfort in, the word we hope distills the best of our wishes and aims in the year ahead.  Just. A. Little. Pressure.  And why?  Because, as Ruth said in the video sheshared, our OLW is the word we choose to live with (whether we know it when we choose it or not).  Sometimes the journey to one’s OLW is easy – it just appears and is immediately perfect, and sometimes it’s an agonizing journey – so many shiny and “just right” words to choose from! (A Teaching Life) ***** I am a control freak. I do things faster and better than all of you. I do. Really. So I HAVE to do everything for everyone or it. Won't. Get. Done. Right. Or fast. Right? But, I'm so tired. I mean I'm that kind of bone tired that makes me want to hurl myself down a set of stairs just because it seems too exhausting to walk down each stair. This control behavior is …