Keep Calm!

1939 was a dark and difficult year in Europe.  Hitler and the Nazi army had annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia as well as started the Blitzkrieg attack on Poland.  France and Great Britain declared war on Germany and World War II began.  The British government created a motivational poster at that same time:  Keep Calm and Carry On.  Long forgotten, a copy of the original poster surfaced in a used bookstore in England in 2000.  Since then, the poster has become a popular, even iconic, message of resilience in the face of challenging situations.  Its simple, reassuring, and inspiring reminder remains an encouraging sentiment in difficult times.  You didn’t know you were getting a brief history lesson today, huh?!

So, what does this have to do with us at LME anyway?  I was reminded this morning during walkabout how important this is for our learners and their classroom leaders this week!  With STAAR-gazing upon us now, we need these simple, profound reminders that doing our personal best is enough.  It’s natural to feel anxious and uncertain, but we’re not alone.  We just need to filter our thoughts into positive messages and pull from our anxiety management tool kits so we change how we feel and behave during stressful times (like state assessment).  Children are far more resilient than adults, thus, I continuously encourage our staff to measure the barometer by their students (and not to add to the barometric pressure either!).IMG_2596

One 1st grade class shared this clever poster with their 4th grade buddies during their time together.  One learner commented about “keeping your wits about you, especially during your test.”  🙂

I want to thank our classroom leaders, volunteers, tutors, and learners for preparing themselves to their personal best everyday.  Thanks to our learning community who consistently give support to our campus in so many ways!  It’s important to remember this week especially to Keep Calm and Test On!

Note:  In following with other MISD elementary campuses, we are a “closed campus” for visitors and volunteers this week; we appreciate your understanding.

WHOOO sent in the clowns?

Someone noted, “A cloudy, rainy day is no match for a sunny disposition.”  Such is the truth today at LME!  From owl pellet labs to clowns, it’s been a real circus…

owl1 owl3Our fifth grade friends participated in one of the “coolest labs ever” today according to some learners who were sharing their results with me.  The owl pellets were donated by an owl expert from southern Oklahoma who knew about our work.  Today was the big day for them to dissect owl pellets to discover the diets of owls.  While researching their findings, they discussed food chains, food webs, and ecosystems.  One friend commented, “Eww…this is the grossest and yet most fun science lab yet this year!”  🙂

circus4At the other end of the building, circus2we had our first grade friends who were preparing their really huge show under the Big Top called “Circus, Circus”  by John Jacobson and John Higgins.  Under the direction of ring master, Mrs. Perez, these outstanding clowns, ringleaders, lions, mimes, and more shared the story of working when circus3the circus comes to town.  Special thanks to our amazing parents for the elaborately detailed costumes too!  From kazoos to lion roars, these amazing performers gave their personal circus best!

Life and the movies…

I had the most fascinating conversation this morning with a young writer:

Child:  “Life is like a movie, Mrs. Van.
Me:  How so?
Child:  “Well, you have a beginning when you’re born and all, you grow up, and then have to do important things.”
Me:  What important things do you hope to do?
Child:  Well, I’m working on it you see, because I haven’t written my ending just yet.”  🙂

I believe it was one of the Muppets who noted, buy-movies“Life is like a movie; write your own ending.”  Extraordinary conversations with learners (like this one) challenge us everyday to provide the most engaging, meaningful learning experiences we possibly can to ensure our learners have the tools they need to write their personal best “life movie” possible.

As we get geared up to complete the required state assessments, the message to our learners is simple:  Do your personal best no matter what!  Regardless of what the state tells us, it’s really about personal growth–in class and in life.  Here’s hoping we all roll that beautiful life footage everyday.  🙂

Time to get ROWDY, y’all!

t-RowdyRunnersThe logo may say the 1st Annual Rowdy Run 5K, but it’s our second one and it’s coming up fast!  Please plan to come out next Saturday, March 29 @ 8:00 a.m. to Kimmel Park and run, walk, or jog your way in supporting MISD’s elementary running club, The Rowdy Runners.  Register online until March 25, or print the registration form [PDF] and send to our front office; we’ll get your form to Coach Rogers asap.  The Rowdy Runner goal is to make this year’s 5K bigger and better, so we hope to see everyone Saturday, March 29th for a rowdy fun morning!  🙂

An Irish Blessing for sure and for certain…

In honor of the wearing of the green, here’s a shamrockcookiesspecial blessing for the day:

May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow of promise follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend or loved one always be near;
May your heart fill with JOY to bring you great cheer!

Welcome back to school and the remaining 57 days of learning we have together!

Math and bubbles and bluebonnets and MEF…

Whew…what a way to start our Spring Break today!  Our Miller Rally and the day’s events gleaned great surprises for all.  As one of my little friends noted, “let’s break this down now…”

BBB31.  Our Bluebonnet Book Bowl Team presented their big award and shared their reading journey and medals with everyone.

2.  The Midlothian Education mef1Foundation presented our own Mrs. Perez, Coach Rogers, Mrs. Garippa, Mrs. Lassetter, and Mrs. Gunter with a huge innovative teaching grant award for their clever idea involving keyboards in music, PE, math, science, and history.

bubbles3.  Our Head Start friends celebrated the beginning of Spring Break by sharing giggles and bubbles in hopes of blowing winter goodbye.  It was all part of their marvelous math experiences throughout their day (and you should see them counting bubbles).  🙂

4.  Our 6th annual Marvelous Miller Math (3M) Day 3m2was spent experiencing a variety of math opportunities…from guest speakers sharing how math applies in their “real” lives each day to engaging and meaningful math activities. 3m3 MHS Pals, parents, visitors, and community leaders all helped throughout the day to ensure math dominated in marvelous Miller ways!

mvp25.  Special congratulations today goes to our own Desiree who earned our second MVP award this semester.  She is our morning greeter everyday.  From her sweet smile to the extra miles she goes to daily to bring JOY and assistance wherever she goes, we are proud of the outstanding model she is for learners everyday.

From math and bubbles to bluebonnets and 3m1grants, we covered a unique spectrum of learning opportunities today.  We were also blessed to share some quality time with our very own LaRue Miller; what a beautiful way to start our break indeed!

Here’s hoping you find great rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation as you venture forth into various adventures in the coming week…be safe out there; we’ll see you again on March 17th!  🙂

Bluebonnet Book Bowl 2014!

…and the crowd goes wild!  Congratulations and big BRAVOS to our LME 2014 Bluebonnet Book Bowl (BBB) Team!  They won the gold tonight, the big trophy, and the right to brag for the next year.  During the 8th annual MISD competition, teams from each elementary and the two middle schools compete in a series of nail-biting questions related to this year’s Bluebonnet nominees and winner.  Third, Fourth, and Fifth graders are challenged each year to vote and pick the winner of the annual Texan Library Association’s challenge—but you have to read a minimum of five books on the list in order to have the right (and responsibility) to vote.  Having only read a handful of the books myself this year, it was quite a feat for those who read ALL the selections to conquer.

Once the books are read, then students BBB2014try-out for our school team through a special audition.  “This is serious book business, Mrs. Van,” shared a team member.  They spend time outside of class researching, sharing, comparing, and preparing for any and all question possibilities.

Congratulations go out to our BBB Team and their enthusiastic sponsor, our star library media specialist, Mrs. Bolgiano, for their diligent and thorough preparations!  Read on, my friends; read on…  🙂

Note:  Spring Break (March 10-14) is a GREAT time to enJOY the sunshine and read some wonderful new books.  Be sure to stop by the LMC and stock up before the break!

Voting Day!

vote5It’s March primaries and we are open for voting today.  It’s our first time to host this event on campus; so far, so good!  🙂

Here’s hoping you take time to exercise not only your right as an American to choose your candidates of choice, but your responsibility as a citizen to share your flagvoice.  As my daddy always says, “If you don’t vote, then you don’t gripe!”  The sun is shining and the polls are open; enJOY this opportunity today!

The BIG Potato…spun from Irish gold!

Who doesn’t love a great story?  Who doesn’t love the opportunity to spin a tall tale?  Such was the challenge of a class to me today, so I brought out one I’ve known from my childhood with “proof” later from a legitimate source as well!
“Jamie O’Rourke was the laziest man in all of Ireland.”  So begins the tale of a popular Irish folktale, Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato.  You see, Jamie is accustomed to his wife doing all the household and garden chores on his potato farm, so when she injures her back, he figures he’s sure to starve to death. As luck would have it though, while walking to the village one day he chances upon and captures a leprechaun. In place of the traditional pot of gold, the elfin man offers Jamie magical potato seeds which he promises will produce the biggest “pratie” in the world in exchange for letting him go. Feeling self-satisfied, Jamie plants the seeds, soon growing a potato big enough to feed the O’Roarke’s and the villagers far longer than any can imagine. Everyone, including Mrs. O’Roarke ends up happy and well-fed.
(Side note:  Imagine Irish brogue while orally weaving the tale…)
Although this is not a redemptive tale (Jamie still does not learn to be industrious), it does provide a lively generational story about an Irish man and a potato with a leprechaun thrown in for good Irish luck.  jamie1
Likewise, beautifully retold and illustrated in 1992, Mr. DePaola’s inspired version of the beloved Irish folktale clearly illustrates that taking the easy way out of a situation is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth.    Thanks to Mr. dePaola’s thatched-roof cottages, stone hedges, and sheep doting the bright green landscape (depicting rustic life on the Emerald Isle), the book provides the perfect opportunity to re-spin vibrantly great folktale!
As my Granny always said:
Wishing you JOY that is lasting and true; a heart that’s not troubled or gray,
Friends who travel life’s pathway with you, and the luck of the Irish each day!
Here’s hoping you spin one of your own traditional tales in the coming days!