3.02.2015

Dr. Seuss Day, Reading Tips & A Giveaway

Happy March. 



What better day to come out of hibernation and plug back in than Dr. Seuss Day. Did you have as much fun celebrating literacy on your campus as we had on ours?

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
I joined Paula at Right Road Kids for a radio show last night; 
here are some of the literacy tips I shared.

Reading is someTHING special.
There's noTHING like it.


















1. Read, read, read and read some more. My earliest and fondest memory about reading is of the Bookmobile coming to my rural farming community to bring me the keys that would open up my world. Reading was my springboard to becoming a wordsmith, taking advanced classes, graduating with an English major and Spanish minor, teaching English and Spanish, and ultimately writing magazine articles, a blog and a book. My 7th-grade teacher's advice from forty years ago ~ Hoard words like a coin collector. ~ still resonates with me today.

An FHS Cheerleader &Mighty came to read!
2. Keep a vocabulary journal. Words that your readers aren't yet familiar with yet are going to show up, so why not encourage them to write those words down, study them, maybe even illustrate them. Look at antonyms and synonyms of them, maybe even discuss word origins and usage. Our two older children, now in college, were both spelling bee champs in their elementary-school experiences because of reading-enrichment strategies like this one. They were also both named National Merit Scholars in high school, an achievement I firmly believe is a direct result of early and ongoing literacy.


An Army Major shows his daughter's class how to salute before he reads.
3. Select high-interest books so that your littles will be hooked. When your children are old enough to choose, give them some choice about what they read. Choice empowers children and, in fact, will heighten their confidence and sense of well-being as well as increase their motivate to learn.

School leaders like Asst. Superintendent Lynn Hobratschk came to read.
4. Carve out DEAR (drop everything and read) time into every day. We started this when our children were very young and it's something they anticipated with delight. I loved it, too, because I got reading time myself. Often it was reserved for tuck-in time, but that doesn't have to be the case. Decide together which block of time is going to work best for you and your family's schedule.

Reading recipes then frosting and eating the treats makes reading sweet!
5. Don't limit reading to books. Remember, even reading a cereal box is reading. Magazine articles, blog posts, newspaper headlines, anything in print counts in early literacy. Our two older children actually honed their reading skills with Pokemon cards. One of our jobs as parents, educators and caregivers is to foster of love for learning through print - wherever we can find it! - to ultimately help students connect text to their own experiences as they read, bloom, reflect and grow.

6. Check out these literacy tips from PBS for more activity ideas.

And that's now all, friends, because here comes some really big news ... about our birthday giveaway. See the Valise that this cutie cat is carrying? 

Oh, the places you'll go ...
Not only is it filled with five engaging Maurice's Valises storybooks . . .


but it's also up for grabs, thanks to the kindness and generosity of author J.S. Friedman and my friend Kirsten at Curious City Books. 

Want a chance to win? All you need to do is leave a comment below (or on my book's FB page under this post) telling us the name of your favorite book. 

Contest will be opened until Thursday night, March 5th, at midnight (CST), at which time the Gruener Generator will pick one lucky reader from all of the comments. We'll announce the winner when I return Friday morning with a new PPBF for our list. Someone is going to win; remember to check back on Friday 
to see if it's you! 





2.21.2015

Loving Compassion, 1000 Voices Strong

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be unplugged digitally and plugged in to the great outdoors. It's what I said I was going to do for a few weeks, take a break from blogging. And I promise I resisted joining #1000speak ALL day yesterday, but I just couldn't ignore that one final plea to collaborate with these 
amazingly-compassionate cyberspace colleagues.
To make the world better. 

So today while John's out with friends and Joshua's competing at Science Fair, I'm delighted to be linking up to bring some thoughts about compassion your way. Click the graphic to read what others know, feel, and are doing to create compassion ripples in their respective corners of the world.


So what do I know about compassion? The way I see it, compassion nicely parallels the affective domain of character:


First, we must know the good, and that starts with an understanding which, to me, parallels that glorious virtue of empathy. If we can know what one another is going through, know what they need, know how they want to be treated, or know how certain values look, sound, and feel, then we're well on our way to cognitively getting character.

Compassion is the piece that allows us to move from the brain to the heart, to embrace what we understand and know. It allows us to feel the good. An online definition that I found says that compassion is concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others; a second source added that this concern is accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. That's where love comes in, it's that strong desire to take away the pain, to share the burden, to make things better.


And when we love or embrace something, we want more of it. So we intentionally seek it out. From the affective, then, we move forward then to the behavioral so compassion becomes more than just a feeling, it becomes an action, one that we call kindness.

And when kindness ripples ... prepare to get wet!

That's what the #1000speak campaign is all about, that ripple effect. A combined effort, 1000-plus bloggers strong. Writers who are passionate about changing the world, working together to make it happen, one drop at a time. To create an awareness that will ripple goodness out and make life better, 
for today and for all of our tomorrows. 

This Steven Caldwell compassion clip really spoke to me:

Source: You Tube

Lean on me, when you're not strong.
I like that.
Because together is better.


If you want more info on being intentional about compassion, check out Making Compassion A Verb. Read about how compassion helps healing in Mogie: The Heart of the House {here}. Watch Knit One, Save One and experience my third-grade knitters sharing compassion one stitch at a time as they craft to help reduce the infant mortality rate. Check out the Foundation For A Better Life's Pinterest page. And take care to always avoid Compassion Fatigue by being kind to yourself, too.

Imagine if you can a life of compassionate connections ...





2.16.2015

Friendship Is In Our Hands

Tonight I'm enjoying the sound of wind chimes through the window as the winds shift and winter blows back in. It's cold outside, so I'm staying bundled up inside and checking in just long enough to share a bulletin board I made today, to complement a lesson I'll be starting tomorrow on friendship.


And, before I unplug again, some reflections on friendship:

Making and keeping friends is an important skill for children to learn. Not only are friends fun to have around, but healthy attachments are an important part of a child's experience in school. Children that can form friendships tend to adjust to the school experience better because they're more likely to develop self-esteem and build important social skills, like getting along, cooperating and problem-solving.

Since students don't come to school with these skills neatly tucked away in their backpack, we must be modeling, teaching, and practicing them in our day-to-day interactions right alongside of and, dare I say it, woven into academic content. 

How do you help your children find friends that fit? Here are some goals that friends can work on as new relationship opportunities present themselves:

*Cooperate and be kind to others.
*Be willing to play fairly, take turns, and share.
*Listen to others' ideas.
*Apologize and forgive one another.
*Express feelings appropriately. Use "I" statements to share how you're feeling and what you need from your friends.
*Practice empathy to respond to friends' feelings in an understanding, helpful way.
*Be honest and loyal to your friends.
*Keep a positive attitude and hang out with friends who uplift you.
*Show respect. Be the kind of friend that you would want to have.
*Express gratitude and appreciation.

Encourage your children to choose one of these goals at a time to work on as they learn how each one looks, sounds, and feels in their world at their age. Remember that how these goals play out will change slightly through the ages and stages.

Talk with your child(ren) about the qualities that they look for in a friend. Ask questions like these:

*How did you decide on those qualities? 
*What do you usually do to make a new friend? 
*What advice would you give a classmate who is having a hard time making friends?
*Would you want to be your friend? Why or why not?
*What qualities do you have to offer to someone that might make you a good-fit friend?


To enrich the discussion, have students trace their hands onto a paper, left on one side, right on the other. On the right hand, have them write five strengths that they bring to a friendship. On the other hand, have them write five areas for growth, things that they could do better in their friendships.

If you don't have access to paper-pen supplies, partners can put their hands together as if they're giving a high-five and take the Five Finger Friendship Challenge aloud.

Finally, check out these resources for additional friendship tips:
 




2.07.2015

A Time To Retreat

Today I'm encouraged because our Student Council
counted up our Great Kindness Challenge kindnesses
and look at what we accomplished: 3725 Kind Acts.


Imagine the warmth, the compassion, 
the generosity, the love
that can grow out of just one little act of kindness.

And I'm exhausted. I've been a bit stretched since the holidays.
It really hit home this afternoon, when John and I took a walk to the library to get the tax forms we needed.
The route there takes us right over the bridge
where I was hit two years ago and it was the first time
that I'd been on the bridge on foot since that trauma.
And I realized that I was on edge,
exhausted, emotionally drained.

It has reminded me of the Byrds song Turn Turn Turn.
To everything there is a season.
And this season feels like a time to unplug from this device
and plug in to nature, to exercise, and to getting my garden ready.
I'm going to take a blogging break from the Corner
until I return from the Women's retreat that I'm leading in a month.
I can't wait to tell you all about it.
Better yet - why not join us? Click {here} to register.
You can still find me on Twitter; just this morning I joined
the #nt2t team and will be moderating some on Saturday mornings.
Read this morning's archive {here}.
And I'll still post inspirational stuff when I find it
on my book's Facebook page {here}.

Blessings until I get back!




2.06.2015

Making Compassion A Verb

It's the last day of National School Counseling Week 2105.
Have you hugged your school counselor this week?
I'm excited today because the Kindergarten Team invited me to lunch with them and they're treating me to Jason's Deli.
So grateful for their kindness.
I had a blast yesterday giving out Nice! water bottles with my little poem attached, delicious bite-sized COPEcakes, and an article with some tips on Cultivating A Winning Attitude. One third-grade teacher told me,
"This makes my heart happy." Enough said.


My guest post at the Character Educator came out yesterday, too, 
and you can read it {here}.
I also chatted with Penny from ThinkGive this week. If you work with students in grades 4-8, you might give her project a try. More about that in a later post.
And I connected with the amazing Jena from Critterkin,
and I felt so energized by her passion and verve for life.

I made a few Day Maker calls to let some of my counseling colleagues know that they're doing a really hard job really well. It was a delight to hear voices and not just see word in an email.
And I got a package from Chris in Indiana with "joy in a bottle" - otherwise known as Aveda Rosemary Mint hand/body wash
and two Compassion It wristbands.
She said both things made her think of me.
More happiness.
Check out the Compassion It project video below and see why.





No PPBF today; just lots and lots of enthusiasm & gratitude.
How will you make compassion a verb today?





2.03.2015

#CharacterEdChat

In honor of National School Counseling Week, our friends at Character Counts! have invited me to be their guest at Thursday night's Twitter #CharacterEdChat. See the details in the graphic below; please plan to join us.


That day, you'll find me in my new storefront serving mini 'cope'cakes to our teachers during lunch while advocating for our profession.

Libby & Fred helped make me a place to hang my shingle!

I'll be giving each staff member a bottle of water as well (with a little poem attached) and have the article Cultivate A Winning Attitude printed and available.


One of my firsties helped me put the stickers on the bottles, so we discussed the poem: Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds. Fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds. I asked her what she thought the garden represented. Who were the flowers? What were the weeds? Why a bottle of water? And she totally got it! Then she asked if she could draw a picture for the teachers. It reads: Teachers, always love your garden and take care of your children. 
Sometimes there are no more words.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my work?




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