Friday, March 27, 2015

Lucy! You Got Some Splainin' to Do

(No try that again in the voice and with the beautiful accent of Ricky Ricardo. Much better.)

Imagine my excitement when I get the twitter notification that @Leah O’Donnell – our literacy coach tagged my in a picture she tweeted!

Now in typical “I Love Lucy” fashion that excitement turns to horror when I see the picture and heading.

Wait Leah  - don’t cry… oh no Karen, don’t fire me.  If I have learned one thing from Leah, which of course I haven’t, I’ve learned hundreds of things, is that a picture can tell so many stories and this was just one that had to be told. 

Which is why I am sitting here in the dark at 4:24a.m. writing this blog. I could not sleep without getting the behind the scenes story out of my mind. 

So what you cannot see in this picture is the following: 
  • You cannot see that this is the first group of 6 ELLs in my 3rd grade pull out group with which we started, I repeat started building this chart with, more to come on that.
  • You cannot see that some post-its are on top of another because if you said the same thing we didn’t say someone already said that, you still get a post it on the chart you just happen to agree with someone else.
  • You cannot see the tub of “Famous Americans” Materials under this Chart, which I showed to activate prior knowledge. Books about Abe Lincoln, George Washington and even Betsy Ross. 

  • You cannot see the walk we took to read some of our own third graders campaign posters right out side our door. 
  • You cannot see the book we were going to read afterwards” to add to our poster after with additional ideas.
  • You cannot see the handout with a outline to then write in some of our qualities that as a group we came to a consensus were indeed true qualities of a good president /leader, third grade or otherwise. 

If you notice on the picture, there is strategic placement of the word smart (head), caring and kind and yes even nice near the heart and hard working near the foot as if someone where hiking off to work.  Why do I mention this, because minutes later when I see two of theses students entering their additional intervention group they were able to repeat at least 3 of these qualities because of the part of the body I pointed to (TPR).

Notice I did place “Cool” and “Nice” outside the body outline because I did remind them that character traits could go way beyond “nice”. But I did not want to discredit these because they came from a student who is special needs and when I tried to coach her said the following.

ME: Would you vote for someone who steals? 
Her: Immediately responded “YES” with a smile (OK maybe she knows more about politics than I think) but no, that’s not it.
ME: “Do you no what stealing means?
HER: immediately responded “NO!“
The other five students gasped as loudly as I did and silence was heard for what seemed like an eternity, before I went on to explain individually while the others continued thinking So, yes I let her add NICE!

Wait did I say character traits a couple of paragraphs back?   Yes I did.  To which another student responded WE DON’T DO THAT ANYMORE”.  Are you kidding me? Do not let Mrs. O’Donnell hear that, she’s too young to die! So yes, I let him add COOL!

Fast-forward a few days.  I have now also met with the less verbally challenged group of third graders, which went through a similar lesson, then added on the one their counterparts had started.  Did they complain when I took “Nice” and “Cool” off the table? Yes they did but look at what it challenged them to do.  They added the following words: Confident, respectful, good listener, responsible.  Did I mention I told them it would be placed near the polling place for all other third graders to consider before casting their votes?

So Leah I hope your not disappointed by the first picture because learning is a process and we can’t always see that in a quick photo.
Thanks for making me feel like I had “some splainin' to do!”

Can’t remember the last time I blogged.  Although it is not as eloquent as your writing, it is part of my everyday adventures as La Maestra Carrera.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 5 Favorite Sports Team?

Well I guess it depends on how loosely you define "fan".
When I was younger, I used to love sitting in the bleachers watching Ryne Sandberg.  I think it was more the atmosphere than the game I loved.  Now I can't just cheer for them in hopes that ONE DAY, they will win the World Series more for the benefit of my boys than for me.  I just realized my school teams have been names after inanimate objects, I wonder if that has deterred my enthusiasm. 

High School - Steinmetz Streaks

Undergrad - UIC Flames

Graduate - Dominican Stars

So now I just cheer whatever team, my boys are playing on or cheering for, even if it is just a game of bags in the backyard.  I am not the insane soccer mom, but I do get a bit excited and even cheer for the other team, because I feel sorry for them when they are losing. I can not tell you how many little league, soccer, basketball, volleyball, football games and tennis and wrestling matches I have cheered through! Both of my boys have had some outstanding coaches that have really helped build up their confidence, skill self esteem and sportsmanship.
Go Mustangs!  

I still wish they were this small!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 4 on the 4th!


Today I will be brief, because it's the freedom we sometimes forget we need.
Freedom from Technology, Freedom from "To Do" Lists, Freedom from worries.

All of these things have their place and time, but beware when they take away your Freedom to be with the ones you love or those who need a hand.

Also, let us not forget about those who still only dream of the Freedom we sometimes take for granted in this country.

Enjoy this beautiful day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mi Familia Day 3

As with most Mexicans... Even though I am married and have kids of my own, mi familia still bring to mind my immediate family PLUS mom and 4 sisters and 2 brothers and their spouses and kids!

Lets start with my mom.  Who I am blessed to still have around at 85 years of age.  Although she only has a first grade education, she has been the greatest teacher I have had and will ever have.  She reads daily for hours.  Mostly, the Bible and other spiritual books. But we all know that scripture is not leveled or first graders! She has endured so much pain in one lifetime, that I am amazed that she is still standing. Although married almost 50 years, until my dad died. She raised all seven children mostly on her own due to my dad being in the states and the rest of the family in Mexico.  When the whole family finally came to the US in 1965, dad was not the most involved parent due to mental illness. In spite of it all and because of it in some ways...we all stuck together and grew up to be fairly successful in many different areas. Her story is what I share to connect with my srudents' parents each year at curriculum night to show the importance of the parents in a child's academic life regardless of education level.
By the way I am also very close with my in-laws. A Pack of 10 led by another amazing matriarch (RIP), but that is a whole other post.

But now on to MY immediate family.  You kind of have to read previous post because how I came to teaching is a result of the my family life.  Anyway I am married to the first and only boyfriend and love I ever had. This September it will be 24 years, with a little break of about 10 years in between. He is an amazing musician, carpenter, husband and father.

During which time we have been blessed with 3 beautiful, kind and smart children.
Rebeca My oldest is in the final stretch of her teaching degree at Northeastern University. She hopes to be teaching High School Spanish in the Fall of 2015.  She is a reading ADDICT.  She was reading at the age of 3.  (I guess that even though I was nota  certified teacher back then, I did have some influence at a young age). If I really wanted to teach her a lesson,  I would take away her books.

Next is Marcos who Just finished his Freshman year at College of DuPage.  Although he's undecided, I  am a little pleased to say he has been taking some education classes.  He is also working at a local school district as a summer program counselor. He is a sports FANATIC. He would rather do anything but READ a book! So I'm not sure where I failed there.  But throw him any math problem and he can solve it in no time.

Finally my youngest, Andy.  Who has tested my patience at a whole new level, but yet I love dearly. He just finished his freshman year in H.S. Is the tallest of the whole family, including my husband and still has a couple more inches to go according to his doctor. Yikes! He is a reader, but mostly WWII books.  He is my little historian. Also loves sports, but is addicted to gaming. He made it to the state finals with the Morton Varsity Volleyball team.

So that's a bit more about my family. I am so proud of each one for a variety of reasons, but that too is a whole nother post. They teach me lessons daily that I use to make me a better educator, mom, wife, daughter and person.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 2 My Teaching Journey

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be a teacher.” How many times have we heard that?   But it is true.  As far as I can remember my favorite thing to do was play school and read.  Unfortunately, we are sometimes influenced by others and make decisions based on well-intentioned family opinions, fears, insecurities or just plain chance.  I am not blaming or making excuses. I would not change my experiences both good or bad for anything. They have made me who I am today.  I was the first and only of my family, seven siblings including me, to go to college.  Teaching just didn'tt seem like the best career to make a good living at. So I got my Bachelor’s in Business Administration/ IDS (Information Decision Sciences) What I was going to do with that I wasn't really sure, not as cut and dry as teaching degree.
I was fortunate to have great jobs in Business Credit Management, Office Management, and Regional Training.  Notice I said jobs not career.  In all of theses companies and roles, I ended up doing some kind of training, teaching or mentoring.  I tried to find fulfillment through church since my jobs weren't helping me make that difference I longed to make. After a series of Unfortunate Events, including: quitting my job, death of a parent, and divorce…I ended up at a cross roads.

I had three young children and needed  a ”job” where I could still be available and involved with my kids.  A friend suggested I sub for District 100 , since they were in need of Spanish speaking subs. Thus I found my true calling and career.  After Subbing for 6 months or so, I applied for summer school where I met Marilyn McManus and was hired for a full time position WITHOUT A TEACHING DEGREE!!! ( Transitional Type 29 Certificate) I started teaching 2 half-day sessions kindergarten in 2002.
I went back to school for my masters at Dominican  University while teaching full-time and raising three amazing children.  Yes, I am “still” teaching Kindergarten.  No, not because I keep flunking. I LOVE IT!  I have also taught half day Bilingual Kindergarten at Irving School three years, been the bilingual reading support for 1st & 2nd grade, but am back in all day Bilingual Kindergarten at Hiawatha for my 13th year.
I love happy endings, so I will share mine with you.  I remarried my husband several years back.  I can’t help but think it was just a necessary detour to bring me to my childhood dream of being a teacher!  I believe my experiences have helped me be a good friend, mentor and colleague, which I have tried to do up to now  and hope to continue to do even more so now through my blog.

(Side NOTE: for you non-Bilingual folk, Mexicans talk in circles, so I apologize if my story is not in nice linear fashion, I write how I talk.  This is one more thing I’d like to include as I blog – insight into the bilingual mind. Hope it helps.)

Big Time Blogging Challenge

LOOK at the time stamp! Michelle Brezek you may have created a monster… I can’t shut my brain off.  I had two meetings after our PD...

  • one school (Preparing the ELL Strategies PD) I can blog about that!
  • and one church,(Mission Work, Port Ministries) I can blog about that!
So I didn’t have much time to digest all the blogging info. Now at 3am I had to get out of bed cause my head is going Bloggy!  

Sleepless in Berwyn

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently July

Practicing my blogging skills with a group of dedicated educators.  Thanks Farley for giving us a closing activity to our Blogging PD.