Understanding Text Complexities

We’ve been doing some incredible work with literacy consultant and guru, Barb Golub, (@GolubBarb) this year in all of our elementary schools.  Yesterday, we met with our kindergarten teachers and discussed the delicate dance of moving a student who is working at a level A/B text over the hump of approximation to level C and decoding.  Barb was extremely helpful in explaining how and why texts are leveled across the bands, and how we as teachers need to analyze texts across the levels of complexity.

It became very clear through our discussion that if we hold students in a level too long the texts no longer provide the content and structures that these students need in order to gain exposure and be able to practice new skills.  The key is to give our students extra support when introducing the new level text and explain to them exactly what they will encounter that will be tricky.

Based off of the information Barb provided us we started to realize the importance of tracking what students are doing well within their current independent text levels.  By monitoring this we can make sure we are guiding them towards entrance into a new level at the appropriate time and not inadvertently holding them back.  Here are the checklists I made that explain what the students should be showing independence in within a text band.  With this form you can track which students are currently working within a level text and simply check off or date the box for the skill the student is showing proficiency with.  It also can be used as a guide to anticipate what will come next in this students reading experience.

For me, the biggest take away was that if we don’t provide our students with the challenge and hold them til their achieving 100% success we are doing them a disservice.  We need to provide experiences throughout our students’ educational experiences in which they struggle by doing the work and persevere with our guided support.  This is when the best learning occurs.


SOL Challenge Day 9

She was as tough as nails.  Said it like it was.  Take it or leave it.  No apologies.

Yet somehow my grandmother captivated nearly every person she met.  She came from a Norwegian heritage where you didn’t hug often or spend your time fluffing someone’s ego.  None of this hindered anyone from knowing she loved them-deeply.

She was poised and elegant-refined.  Yet she could party and let loose with the best of them.

As an adult myself now I wish she was around to ask how she did it. How’d she balance the seriousness of life with the perfect splash of pizazz?  How’d she take life with the perfect spritz of critique and humor?

I may never know but I work daily to find my way and maybe someday the answers will appear.

SOL Challenge: Day 6 Bubble Guppies

Bubble Guppies

lead to

Giggle Buppies

and nothing is better than that.

These giggles are intoxicating

and invigorating and the greatest of life’s things.

She springs to life with every toon.

She bellows, and bounces, and flounces about like a jig.

Watching her makes my heart flutter and float and reminds me

it’s all about

the simple things.

Day 5 SOL Challenge-Minimalizing

I watched a documentary on HBO about minimalism and was truly inspired.  It wasn’t so much the idea of living with bare minimal but the idea that we are mistaken when we feel an abundance of material things will somehow bring us more happiness.

I set out the next day and cleaned out the clutter, the excess.  I still have a ton in true minimalist terms, don’t get me wrong.  But getting rid of that little bit of extra really did change me.  It’s been about a month and I truly do feel liberated.  My home is more organized. There is less wasted time looking for things.  And I can just focus on being happy.

So now I’ve started to think about how I can mentally become a minimalist.  How can I not clutter my mind with wasted worries?  How can I train myself to only fill myself with ideas and thoughts I value?  This is much more difficult than cleaning a closet!

Time will tell, but I already know making this change is something that needs to be done and that I value.



SOL Challenge Day 4: The Zoo

The zoo inside my brain has opened and the animals are running loose.

The boa found his way to my heart and is wrapped around it firmly.

The gorilla sends vibrations through my head as he beats his chest so loudly.

I tell the alligator to keep my jaw clenched tight, for if he doesn’t I fear who I may bite.

And just when I think the whale will spout his tidal wave of tears.

They all decide to simmer down and suddenly disappear.

SOL Challenge: Day 3 To Have it All

I’m proud to be a woman.  I’m proud of the progress women have made over the generations.  I also cannot wait to see what is in store for my daughter who at a mere age of two has so much more progress and experiences to have as she grows into a woman.  But I also feel conflicted about it all.

I feel conflicted on a daily basis on how to give the best of myself both at home and in my career because I am passionate about both of these roles.  But no matter how much passion and devotion I give, I continuously feel as though one must take the back seat for the other on any given day.  How do I justify coming home to that beautiful baby girl and telling her mommy needs to do more work after I’ve been gone all day, and she’ll be asleep in 3 hours?  But if I don’t research that reading practice how do I tell the teacher it’ll be one more day before we can discuss the struggling student in her class?  And the reality is I need my sleep.  God bless the people who don’t, but I do so at some point I can’t do it all.

It all just seems so overwhelming at times.  Exciting-yes, but almost unachievable.  I do believe that as women were given more respect and rights in the work realm, we never did lighten our load of expectations for the home front.

Home-cooked meals (organic of course)-check.

Laundry done, folded, and returned to drawers-check.

Pinterest-themed birthday party with bells and whistles planned-check.

Pay the bills, sweep the floors, plant the flowers….check.

Shower myself?….I guess that’ll have to wait….

I sit back at night feeling accomplished but sometimes I wonder where does my true happiness lie?  Will it be in landing that administrative job I aspire to get someday?  Or will I be content never reaching the top of the ladder, but being home to attend to my family as much as possible?  Will my daughter reach her own adulthood aspiring to be just like me or taking the other road I chose not to travel?




5 AM

There’s something inviting about the calm of five a.m.  I enjoy noticing every creak of the floorboards as I tip toe my way to the kitchen.  I enjoy turning on just enough light to measure out the heaps of coffee grinds to start the day.  There’s something so peaceful about the whirring of the dryer as I turn it on to release the last few waiting wrinkles.  I plop myself onto the soft cushions of the sofa in the back room and take a deep breathe, hold it in for a moment and slowly exhale.

My breathe is new and warm and full.  I sit as still as I can, legs crisscrossed, and taking another large inhale, close my eyes and strain my ears to listen.  Listen for what the quiet sounds like.  Listen for the steam rising from the freshly made coffee.  The rumble of the furnace starting its day.  The chipmunks rustling through the bushes for their breakfast munch.  And at last the sound of “mama” through the adjoining wall beckoning me.  I smile softly and begin the bustle of the rest of the day.