Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again.

Yup, back in the saddle again. When I left teaching in 2008, I was ready for a break from the classroom and to concentrate on my growing family. I still felt a pull to education and teaching, so I started my little tutoring business, and wondered what my teaching career would look like down the line.
I envisioned myself working closely with students and teachers in some capacity, maybe as a coach. Last year, I decided it was time to get my Connecticut teaching license, in order to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that might come my way.
One of those opportunities was a position in a neighboring town as a writing paraprofessional. I wasn't 100% sure what such a role would entail but I had a good idea, plus it was only 20 hours a week. I knew I had to try, so I just went for it.
Getting the call to come in for an interview was a thrill, and getting hired the same day was even more of a thrill. I gave myself a week to get my affairs in order, figure out childcare and get my head in the game.
And here I am, about a month into my new job, and really loving it. I'm experiencing a level of autonomy and independence I never had as a classroom teacher, and I spend a good chunk of my day doing what I love best-- developing materials, coming up with lesson ideas, working with individual and small groups of students, and talking to teachers about how to help kids become confident writers.
It feels good to be here.

See the comments in this post for other SOL posts! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

National Day on Writing #WriteMyCommunity

Today is NCTE's 6th Annual National Day on Writing, and this year's theme is Community. I will return here throughout the day to update the page with links and ideas for writing about community. NCTE invites you to tweet links to your writing using #WriteMyCommunity. You can find me on Twitter at @nbcavillones (This post contains affiliate links.)

Need a place to start? Check out 10 Ways to Explore and Express What Makes Your Community Unique from The Learning Network at The New York Timeshttp://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/10-ways-to-explore-and-express-what-makes-your-community-unique/

From The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project: Creating a Sense of Community in the 6-8 Writing Workshop

  • Storytelling: Share vignettes from your own life, and encourage students to do the same. Do a collaborative re-telling of a shared experience
  • Read Aloud: Using texts that foster a sense of community, read aloud to your students to show them that their stories are literature, too. Some recommendations: Popularity by Adam Bagdasarian and Ezekiel Johnson by Walter Dean Myers. 
  • Share Artifacts: Invite students to bring in artifacts of their reading and writing lives and share the histories. 
  • Establish Values: Foster a sense of mutual respect and support by stressing its importance verbally and modeling positive behaviors. 
Some ideas for getting technical with the National Day on Writing, curated by +Kevin HodgsonCurated Collection of CLMOOC Tools

An idea from my own vault, that can be used with any grade! Unfurl a long sheet of art paper, either white or kraft and tape to the floor in the hallway (if you are allowed). Hand out crayons and colored pencils, and invite students to draw their neighborhood, depicting the local shops, parks, homes and other buildings they walk past everyday. Students that live on the same block may want to team up. Encourage students to add sidewalks, cars and people. Alternatively, if you are short on space, you can hang smaller sections on the walls around your room and group students by neighborhood/block.