Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


 what is is about the sun shining through the flag

everyday beauty.

what's lovely where you are?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

choice words

children define themselves through their actions and experiences.  peter h. johnston, chair of the reading department at the university of albany/suny, wrote two useful books on the topic.

children need to know that their "smartness" is not fixed, and effort creates progress.  

some helpful phrases:

how did you do that? 
what are you thinking?  
are you ready to get started?  do you have a plan?  
maybe you should find another way to do that.  
you found a good way to do that.  can you find another that would work?

notice competence, even when there are mistakes:
i see you know how to spell the beginning of the word.

let the child know that learning is continuing:
let's see how many words you can spell already.  the already is key.

another strategy peter suggests when reading with children is to emphasize characters changing.
  what did the character learn?  

if a child makes a mistake:
that's not like you.

when they succeed at something:
i bet you are proud of yourself.

here's an important one:
what problems did you come across today?  
how did you solve it?  


useful books.  i'll read them much more closely during the summer, and perhaps share again.

joy to you and yours!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

early readers - dixie

early readers need a new book each day.  to keep up with that demand we need lots of texts.  
here's a cute series.  it's a little challenging, with words like excited and understand, but accessible with a parent or older child's help.

happy reading!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

peace - by wendy halperin

creating a peaceful classroom is an ongoing project.  in her new book, peace, artist wendy anderson halperin draws children into the process.  
her dedication is so beautiful, i'm sharing it with you: 
 this book is dedicated to your senses

to seeing
may your eyes have visions of peace.  may your eyes see actions of peace.  may you find peace in seeing the wonders of nature.

to touching
may your hands do the work of peace: to help, to plant, to comfort, to reach out, and to create peace.  may your feet walk in the direction of peace.

to smelling
may you smell fresh air.  may you smell a twig of rosemary when you are upset.  may you smell the flowers of a quiet garden and the trees in a silent woods, and may a flower teach you to breathe slowly and deeply.

to tasting
may you make choices in what you eat to promote peace.  may your thoughts and efforts help feed the hungry.  may you help keep our waters, lakes, rivers, and oceans clean for the thirsty.

 to hearing
may you hear or make music to feel peace.  may you be a good listener to promote peace.  may your words heal, not hurt.  
if you have children, this book might be a great gift to them or their classroom.  
if you love art, you also may enjoy perusing the pages.

peace to you!

Friday, February 22, 2013

richard huntington's creativity steps

interested in creativity?
tina, of colour living, invited richard huntington, director of strategy @ saatchi & saatchi and author of adliterate, the uk's most influential advertising blog, to share his creative process.  

he came up with 9 steps.
here they are, quotes in italic.  note that richard's in advertising, and i'm a montessori teacher.  

1.  read weird stuff -  consume random stuff that interests and that might provide a lateral spark that helps solve a problem.  reading is always a plus!

2.  see the things others don't or can't see.  most of the time i am exposed to exactly the same stimulus as other people.  it's just that i am on the look out and listening for thoughts that others have ignored.  working with children helps with this - they see things very differently from our grown-up perspective.

3.  focus on what is interesting and not what is right.  this is not to say you don't want the answer to be right but that if you look for something interesting it might also be right.  whereas if you look for something right it will never be interesting.  my teacher self notes here that things such as capitalization and punctuation must be taught so children know what's right, even if they choose to abandon it in later creative choices.  
4.  go there.  ..searching for the real root cause of the problem and not settling for superficial solutions...why people do the things they do.  in montessori, we educate the whole child, social and emotional needs included. 

5.  be amused by the world.  enjoy the idiosyncrasies.  and everything else wonderful you can find.  

6.  everything can give you an answer.  he's not talking existentially, but using the environment to look for solutions to creative problems.  
(photos by nms from moma, nyc)

7.  think visually as well as conceptually.  this works in education!  venn diagrams, triangles, wedges, anything we can show children in pictures aids understanding.  this feeds clear thinking in general, not just creativity.

8.  find your creative routine.  ...things you do to force your mind into a creative place because your mind associates that routine (place, pen, lighting, smell, etc.) with producing something of worth.  he uses moleskins and montblanc pens in his routine.  

9.  use all your life.  we bring all our experiences to our work, which makes it valuable.  

thoughts on creativity?
joy to you!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

jean-paul's paradiso

if we're too busy to cook, jean paul's paradiso makes dinner.
amazing food, and on the way home.
it's neither fancy, nor a large sit-down restaurant, but the food is chef-made.
can you believe we've never had their sweets?
rocks on the window sill, and 
little cafe tables make jean paul's homey.  
they can also be found at the hyde park farmer's market.

recommended:  mushroom soup, spinach salad, bow tie pasta, spinach wrap, all breads, and pizza.  

a delicious meal made by an expert after a busy work day is a delight.
joy to you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


 if you feel winter is lasting a bit long, it's time for some light.  
light-hearted games, perhaps, and warm times with dear ones.
the beauty of winter found inside.
joy to you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


 sushi made to order.
cincinnati, dayton, and columbus.

beautiful food (and more to come this week).

Monday, February 18, 2013

pizzelii's brick oven pizza

 in cincinnati, pizzelii's is the new place for pizza.
 on route 50 just past mariemont, you can buy a 10" made-to-order pizza.  baked in an ultra-hot brick oven, it's ready in 3 minutes.
 vegans can add garlic cloves, kalamata olives, artichokes, arugula, and other toppings.
here's my favorite. 

for true cincinnatians, they also have a goetta pizza.  it has bacon, egg, and maple syrup on it.  sound good?
more information here.

joy to you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

happy president's day

history is coming alive with movies about lincoln.
this one was outstanding.  did you have a chance to see it? 
happy president's day.

Friday, February 15, 2013


may your weekend be peaceful and spent with those you love.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

driving - flags before clouds

clouds behind flags.  buildings under flags.
(we're studying prepositions in the classroom.)  

joy to you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

valentine's day - top 5

 here's my top 5 reasons to celebrate valentine's -
5.  it's a great excuse to take care of your heart.  see the american heart association.
4.  you can love your children, sister, or dog if you don't have a honey.
3.  it's winter.  gray.  what better than a pink holiday for cheer?
2.  valentine's day with children is a joy.
1.  friendship and love make the world go around.

so here's to you.  may your day be sweet, and spent with those who are precious to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

musical note

songs played on a lovely instrument are a beautiful thing.
elvis sheet music is on this piano.  i didn't hear it, but maybe one day.

joyful notes to you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

remembering - 3 steps

recently i found an article at the improvised life about memory.  it referenced memrise.

 three strategies were found to be useful:
1.  elaborative encoding.  this includes two things - attaching context to what you are learning, and putting effort into remembering the information.  these make the memory more durable, more likely to be recalled when needed.  a strategy is to visualize what you are trying to remember.  pictures attached to words are helpful.  

2.  spaced repetition - practice repeatedly, spread across time.  in the multi-grade classroom, this includes approaching the same topic each year, deeper each time.  it also works in a shorter term.  practicing spelling words several times in different ways throughout the week creates a deeper memory than studying once.

3.  make learning fun.  first graders learn prepositions on the playground - run UP the steps, go THROUGH the tunnel, and so on.  a joy.

thoughts on remembering?

the beauty of learning.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

breaking stalin's nose

 this newbery honor book does not lend itself to a "top 5".  it's intense, scary, and has full page, beautiful illustrations.  it looks like a book for third graders, but the content is so shocking, i'd have to think about 4th and 5th graders.  unlike the hunger games, whose concept- children hunting children - i abhor, this book is based on real events.  it's scarier.

sasha's mother has died.  in a hospital, he thinks.  his father works for the russian state security, whose job it is to unmask disguised enemies.  chapter one opens with sasha writing a letter of thanks and joy to stalin, saying his greatest dream is to become a young soviet pioneer.  in chapter two, we learn that sasha lives with forty-eight hardworking people in an apartment with one toilet and thin walls that don't go to the ceiling.  the little boy's dream of becoming a pioneer is to happen the following day, but a big, black car pulls up in the night.  the state security destroy their room and take his father away.

why read it?  the author, eugene velchin, does an excellent job of staying with the sasha's perspective.  we learn that a gift of a carrot is a treat, and the child is hungry.  he wonders what life is like in capitalist countries, where he wouldn't be surprised if a child had never tasted a carrot.  also, sasha is resourceful.  in addition, the book is so fast paced, older children and adults will read it in one suspenseful sitting.  lastly, it has as happy an ending as possible.  

so, my highest recommendation for breaking stalin's nose.  
and deep appreciation for our democracy.  

Friday, February 8, 2013


 here's the simple joy of spending creative time with a sick child.

there was no word for "work" in the kit, so i made it using letters.  
here's to a healthy weekend and sweet family time with those you love.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

old house

on lunchroom duty, so i went for a walk after.  
isn't it lovely?  

joy to you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

elements of style

 remember e.b. white, author of charlotte's web?  
his book about writing (with william strunk) has been illustrated by the wonderful

you can't argue with wise advice coupled with entertaining art.
it calls for time in front of the fire, some tea, and moments to spare.

Monday, February 4, 2013


 turns were interesting, 
 following at an appropriate distance was, too.
 stopping at a stop sign without sliding into the car in front was a challenge, and
 so was stopping at a light at the bottom of a hill.
there aren't any pictures of the most difficult part - getting up a big hill behind two cars, all three having trouble.  
the snow sure was beautiful though.  
winter joy to you!
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