EGGStraordinary EGGSperiences…

Truly EGGSciting opportunities emerged today in various IMG_0035parts of the building!  From EGG artists and EGG hunts to chocolate chickens to funny bunnies to a spring parade, it was quite an EGGSellent day indeed.

Some Kinder friends took EGGSactly 55 seconds to locate all 497 EGGS hidden by a special bunny out on the Tricycle Town lawn.  Noted one learner:  “Someone mowed the grass so this wasn’t too hard, Mrs. Van!”  🙂

IMG_0038Some older learners led discussion and research EGGSpertise with younger learners (book buddies) by EGGSplaining their traditional customs and sharing Easter ideas.  They completed the activity with EGGSotic EGGSamples of springy EGG designs…what fun for all involved!

Funny bunnies wrote springtime jokes to share with 4th grade writers who were finishing their final touches on reviews for next week’s state assessment tests.  These younger learners shared rhymes and riddles they created for their book buddies.  One example:  “Why did the chicken get upset with the rabbit?  Because nobunny helped him cross the road!”  🙂  (I know; right?!)

A finale for the day was a spring bonnet parade some friends shared with their “book bunnies” by decorating EGGSpressive hats with kind words and sayings for best wishes in the days ahead.  As one friend noted:  We’ve had some EGGStraordinary EGGSperiences today at Miller!  Here’s hoping you have some of your own this spring weekend.  EnJOY your day off tomorrow, LME, and Happy Easter!

Who do we serve?

On almost a daily basis, I’m known for saying:  “Your perception is your reality.”  Think about it; as adults we know this to be true!

So…the question was asked by a classroom leader this morning:  “Who do we serve?”  You can imagine the answers shared:  “you, me, each other, our parents, the office ladies (they wish!)”…and the list grew.

As these learners pondered the possibilities for who they serve, SONY DSCyou could visibly see the connections being made between how they view their role as a learner AND as a classroom leader or teacher.  They realized they truly serve multiple roles in their classroom, thus serving in many capacities (depending on the situation) changes who they serve when.  The real heart and soul of this reality today though was each child’s eagerness and willingness to SERVE!  🙂

It’s truly remarkable to listen to learner perspective on any given topic because you never know the angle each child brings to the processing table.  Learners engage in the experience based on multiple factors, the least of which is their own understanding or unique perception of a given situation.  It is their personal experience helping to create their own personal reality.

This particular class has chosen the word SERVE this spring as a focus for the next few weeks.  I’m excited to see and hear about their progress…which begs the question today:  Who do you serve?  🙂

Flower/Flour Techno Power!

You know it’s a Marvelous Monday when you smell cake baking and flowersflower-flour in the air.  Being curious during a brief morning walk-about, I discovered young learners following a recipe for a writing activity involving cupcakes while another group was up to their elbows in potting soil for special gifts (I won’t divulge my sources here to protect upcoming surprises), however, both groups were most enthusiastic about their processes.

The FLOWER group was enJOYing the dirt (they found a worm too!), the mess, and the future surprise they were planting for someone special in their life.

The FLOUR group was enJOYing the opportunity to create something yummy with their hands, something they would bestow as a gift to someone else later in the day (who was celebrating a big birthday).

Both groups were completely focused, engaged, and chatty about their learning activities by giving precise steps, directions, and personal insight along the way.  Their finished products reflected not only great results, but some great writing for others to follow later.  All this took place in small workstation activities (except for the actual baking) while the classroom teacher was working with a third group on a specific targeted skill.  Everyone was given the opportunity to participate in each workstation and share their writing experience too.  There wasn’t a pencil, worksheet, or paper in sight as the writing was completed on an iPad.  These Digital Natives truly took FLOWER/FLOUR Power to new techno heights today.  Bravos to all involved!  🙂

Note:  Just a reminder that MISD will be out of school this Friday, March 29, 2013.  EnJOY the day!

Pumping Up!

As we wrapped another glorious spring week, our first graders presented an DSCF3979energetic and creative program called SQUIRM!  Dressed as critters that make us squirm in life (bats, worms, snakes, and spiders), they taught us how squirmy creatures are good for our environment.  Each song explained how the DSCF3971particular critter’s existence plays an important role in the overall cycle of life on planet Earth.  Special thanks to our clever Fine Arts Team and the First Grade Teachers who spent numerous hours teaching and sharing important facts and trivia to bring the show to fruition…outstanding work!

Our learners also enJOYed an enthusiastic, motivational presentation presented by Mr. Keith Davis and Mr. Clarence Lee.  Both are former NFL players devoting their lives to encouraging and inspiring others to achieve their personal best everyday.  IMG_0031Mr. Davis previously spent time with our LME staff back in August when we partnered with T.E. Baxter staff while sharing our staff book study Training Camp with each other.  Mr. Davis has a magical way when he speaks by engaging each child in a meaningful way while literally “pumping up” the energy of the entire space.  Thanks, Mr. Davis and Mr. Lee, for sharing your time and talents with our learning community again this year!  Here’s hoping you get pumped up too!

Spring has sprung!

While the temperature and the wind gusts today would argue otherwise, a group of talented young writers all agree that spring is in the air at LME!  This bluebonnetspicture of bluebonnets was sent to me along with this little poem today:

Spring has sprung and the days are longer now

We get to play outside past supper and this is really WOW!

Bluebonnets in Texas are the state flower you know

We have a field of many and we love to watch them grow!

So get outside Mrs. Van and play with the Rowdy Runners

Spring is the BEST time because it makes everything much funner!  🙂

Thanks to my special poetry friends for allowing me the opportunity to share their inspiration today.  I’m headed outside if the wind doesn’t blow me away first…here’s hoping you get some springy action of your own today!

Organized vs. Disorganized, Part IV

Note:  This is next in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child…Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and organizingMarcella Moran.

So now that you know your child’s organizational style, it time to roll up the sleeves and get moving.  There are two parts to this next phase:  getting supplies and setting up a workspace for success.

Choosing the supplies to meet your child’s organizational style is critical now.  While you may have a shopping list and several aisles of options, control your urge to revert back to your own organizational style…I’ll warn you now…this requires great will power!  🙂  The authors provide a basic list of useful tools and items, but once again, pay attention to what works best for your child.

For example, the dreaded backpack can turn into the “black hole of nothingness.”  It’s important to go through the current backpack and noticed your child’s way of setting up items.  Limited outside pockets = less places to lose items!  Visual organizers prefer colorful backpacks where Spatial organizers want the backpack to feel good, especially when they move their arms while wearing it.  Chronological organizers prefer a backpack with inside compartments to store specific items in specific places.

Planners are another issue, however, we provide one here at Miller for all students, even though some view planners as instruments of torture.  🙂  Binders, folders, paper, pencils, pens, and other tools are also important to consider when looking at the child’s organizational style.

Setting up the study area or workspace is the second important step on this journey.  While the use of a desk or table area is the most obvious space to start, consider other factors.  For example, visual organizers will find anything but a desk or table too distracting while spatial organizers love the comfortable feel of their bed and large area to spread out their work.  Chronological organizers want their workspace to contain their favorite electronic devices–especially music (but no TV).  Younger children like to work in the kitchen area while older children will work on the floor or bed easier.

One final note:  a healthy snack fuels the brain.  Hungry learners tend to focus on their hunger and waste time rather than tackle the challenge of school work.

Once you have the supplies and workspace decided, the basics are in place!  What about the paper trail, getting the work done, and returning the work?  We will save this for our next installment.  In the meantime, just remember that you are working with your child on his or her level of organization (and not your own); take a deep breath…you’re doing GREAT!  🙂

Mentally Tough!

A group of clever learners joined me briefly today in a round-table session on strategies they were discussing concerning the best ways to be mentally tough at school and in life.  MentalToughnessThey were inspired to tackle this challenge because of a discussion their classroom leader (who wishes to remain anonymous) shared about ways to prepare for a test or any challenging situation in life.  Here’s a short synopsis of their many comments:

  • Learn from your mistakes and don’t fear them; they teach you lessons too.
  • Remember CAN’T never did anything worthwhile.
  • When you face a mean person or comment, stay positive anyway.
  • Tune out the bad stuff and concentrate on the good stuff.
  • Picture your success and you will find it.
  • Focus your energy and power on today, right now!
  • When you doubt yourself, look in the mirror and tell yourself “I CAN!”
  • If you feel alone, think of all the people who have helped you along the way.
  • Focus on what you can control and let go of the other stuff.
  • Remember to smile, have fun, greet others, and enJOY life—we only have one to live!
  • Remember that impossible really means, “I’m possible!”

WOW…what insightful, thought-provoking, inspiring words to live by everyday!  Here’s hoping you remember to stay mentally tough in your special way everyday!  🙂

Note:  We hope you join us Thursday evening this week for the 1st Grade program @ 7:00.

Transitions and Opportunities

It’s started…spring fever…elementary transition into middle school…”big kid” IMG_0012opportunities.  Our fifth graders left before spring break as elementary students (after watching “the film” though, they felt like “bigger kids”) and returned today with growth spurts and lots of excitement as they prepare to transition into middle school in the next few weeks.  IMG_0011

One of the highlights of the day was the opportunity to blow on horns (and other amazing instruments) with Mr. Maxwell and Ms. Melton of the MISD Band Department.  Those interested in joining the band next year in middle school were given the chance to play on various brass and wind instruments while asking lots of important questions.

Likewise, fifth graders spent time with the middle school counselors this afternoon talking about schedules, expectations, and life as a middle school student next year.  IMG_0016Students will take home information today (ask for your child’s yellow packet) about their required course selections, elective choices, extracurricular opportunities, and more for parents to read and discuss before final decisions are completed.  Parents will also be able to attend an information session at Frank Seale Middle School on Tuesday, April 9 @ 6:30 p.m.  All Availability Forms (yellow sheet) are due April 12th to your child’s homeroom teacher or Mrs. Stanley, our LME Counselor.  Please call your homeroom teacher or the school office if you have questions about completing this required 5th grade form.

It’s a natural cycle of everyday school life to plan ahead for next year, however, I encouraged our 5th graders to remain in the present.  Everyday is game day at LME, and as one learner reminded me, “We may be making plans to transition, but there are still lots of Miller opportunities to enjoy first!”  Well said, my friend!  🙂

Thanks for the Pi!

pie3.14 or Pi in the mathematical world!  This transcendental number represents the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle.  It appears a constant in a wide range of mathematical problems (and as we know, few things remain constant).  Pi is also the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet.  I gathered this important information from a former Miller friend who shares his fascination with numbers, specifically with pi.  Since it’s 3/14 today, he called to remind me of this significance “in case I forgot or Mr. Van didn’t think to remind you…it IS spring break after all…”  🙂  Here’s hoping you appreciate the significance of pi in your world today.  As for me, I have some baking to do!

Note:  We look forward to seeing everyone again on Monday morning!  EnJOY your last few days of spring break!  🙂

Roundin’ up (and down) the week to rope some Spring Break!

IMG_0944Young cowboys and cowgirls rounded up some meaningful activities today during their annual Kinder Rodeo.  They rotated classrooms where activity stations in core subject areas provided engaging and interesting tasks to complete in cooperative groups.  They sang songs around the chuckwagon, shared some grub, and told tall Texas tales.  As one little friend noted, “We did everything but rope cattle, Mrs. Van!”  Maybe next year…    🙂

The remainder of the building buzzed in math excitement during our 3M math2Event throughout the day.  Miller Math Mania was on fire as learners in each grade level rotated math stations and activities in teams to complete math-related tasks, share outcomes, and problem solve together.  Everything from a 50s Diner to a Pet Shop provided math opportunities for learners in the real-world of problem solving.  Technology to old-fashioned ciphering stimulated conversation, solutions, and meaningful math fun for all!  Special thanks to our Miller Math Committee, the real math brain-powers behind this innovative day!  Thanks to our classroom leaders who went above and beyond to provide engaging math learning experiences for all!  As another young math scholar commented, “We rounded up and down and now it’s time to rope in some Spring Break!”   🙂

Here’s hoping you have a restful, rejuvenating, relaxing break.  We’ll see you again on Monday, March 18th!