Book Review 012: Balloons Over Broadway (Understand the Macy’s Parade!) #thanksgiving


I’m traveling this week, spending time with family and didn’t even realize that I had the book Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet in my bag, but I’m grateful that I did.  We discovered it was there just as my gals were about to watch the parade on TV.  My youngest and I made a deal that we’d sneak away and read the book together and then do a review together…in the Christmas trees…cause we’re staying at a Christmas tree farm, so why not!  Great, amazing and excellent book…made it into my top list for sure.

What Commute? #TWTBlog


For today’s Slice of Life Challenge I thought I’d tackle a slice that most people assume I hate.  My commute.  I commute 30-40 minutes one way everyday.  As is my habit I used some tech to help me with my writing.

I get up very early.  I like the moments before dawn. As I head out in the morning I crunch along a dirt road, heading to the main road where I’m greeted nearly every morning by the sun rising behind mountains.  It seems like it’s almost always a red-orange glow that can’t be described and is ill captured on camera or cell phone.  I’m less than four hundred yards from the house.

Traveling along I see magnificent clouds passing the mountains in some sort of race I won’t ever know or understand.  That glow gets brighter, but only slowly.  As I approach Montpelier the lights of houses, apartments and business take over the glow, but not in a bad way. It has it’s own power, weaving in and out of bridges, light posts and pedestrians.  The capitol building stands still, waiting for the day.  The river calm and cold.

The highway is alive with people and cars and trucks that should have their own roads…but the sunrise follows in my mirror and the mountains loom ahead.  Cruising through rock cuts and seeing mountains and hills that seem to dare me to park and walk up them I hardly realize that I’m almost to school.

I can see the school from the highway before I get there.  I have to pass it and turn around once off the highway to reach it.  Today, as I exit the highway I’m faced with one of the most brilliant skies I’ve seen in days.  The entire journey from the highway to the school seems to glow.  I turn into the parking lot and there’s the school’s vast roof, glow of soft lights and the quiet.

What commute?


Just Listen

This is a follow up to a previous post about visiting Browns River Middle School to see their NaNoWriMo program.  When I was there, I interviewed a bunch of students but only had room in the video for a handful.  This podcast features all of the students I interviewed.

It was great to go back and hear these students as I produced the podcast.  I never get over how amazing it is when you really…and I mean REALLY listen to kids.  Think about the topics of the stories, the complex story threads, the bits of real life experience that contribute to the ideas.  Our students have so much to say and we have a lot to learn from them.

The Most Powerful Part is Putting What I Want Into My Writing

A couple of weeks ago I visited Browns River Middle School where approximately 80 or more middle school students gather after school to write novels.  Now, this is amazing in itself and quite a thing to behold, but what stuck with me most were the comments by nearly every student I interviewed.  When asked what their favorite part about being involved in the project everyone said something about having freedom in their writing to add what they want…and that is something to remember.

That Time 2nd Grade Pilgrims Took Over Our Assembly

We’ve had two assemblies so far this year and I have to say it’s been amazing to watch our learning community wrap around the experience.  Today our second graders took over the assembly and shared some of their newest learning…and it was great.  One of my goals has been to support an increase in student voice and seeing our scholars standing in front of the learning community and sharing with confidence was amazing to me.

Two School Visits, Tons of Learning

Recently I had the chance to visit Browns River Middle School to see how they are supporting students in the National Novel Writing Month initiative.  Seeing 80 plus middle schoolers all working on their own writing pieces in the library was pretty inspiring and very exciting.  More powerful than just the seeing all those students writing was the actual student interviews.  I’m working on a second podcast that features just the interviews (cause there were a lot), but for now you can hear a few in the first part of the podcast.  Every single student I interviewed said that the most powerful part of the project was that they get freedom in their writing.  Something to remember.

The second visit was to Jericho Elementary to see their Math Mentors program, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous post.  Just a great little snippet of this big success at the end of this podcast.

Both visits have already impacted planning in my own practice and I’m very excited to follow up with more questions and visits.

Students Make Great Teachers and Lead Learners

Last week I hopped over to Jericho Elementary to see something they’ve established within their week to support math learning as well as student leadership.  Looking to older students as mentors in mathematics, Jericho has established a math mentor or math buddy program.  Older students (fourth graders in this case) are paired with younger students for a set period of time and meet up in the morning prior to the official start of class.  Pairs work together on different math activities and games.  You can see such pride in the older students as they take the role of teacher and lead learner.  The same is true of the younger students, truly enjoying learning from an older student.  Awesome program, very great idea…one that definitely landed on my “oh I’m so borrowing that” list.  Big thank you to the Jericho Elementary crew for letting me visit.