Thursday, August 30, 2007

Notebook Celebration

The day started off with sprinkles coming down as I tried to unload my heavy cart from the back end of my car this morning. I pulled it behind me as I made my way into the building to set up for an 8:00 meeting I was presenting. No time to unpack my computer or check out my email. I had a last minute set of papers to run off for the extra teachers I was sure would come to the training.

That was the way the day started. It was scheduled full of ISTEP prep work, teacher visits, and other last minute details to handle. Then I got an invitation I could not refuse. One of the fourth grades was having a celebration of writers notebooks. I was invited to celebrate with them. How could I refuse?
I made my way down to the classroom. As I approached the doorway, I heard soft music coming from inside. The room looked dark. Did I make a mistake? What was going on? I carefully entered the room. The teacher was explaining the procedure for the celebration.
Each child had decorated their own writers notebook. The notebooks stood open on every desk with a child standing behind their chairs looking expectantly at the teacher. Their eyes were full of wonder. Their faces were glowing with anticipation. She told them they would wander the classroom and stop by someone's desk and leave them a little note of what they liked about the notebook cover. This was followed by their initials. A sticky note was stuck to the front of the desk just waiting for compliments.
I rushed out of the room and down the hall to grab my camera. This was too good to miss. It had to be captured. I got back just in time to watch them carefully walk from desk to desk. They would stop, write, smile and move on. No rushing. No pushing. No talking. The teacher was not standing back yelling out orders. This was totally child led. They oohed and ahhed over the pictures, stickers, individual designs that their friends had used to decorated.
"Where did you get the picture of that cat?"
"That is MY cat!"
Aww. he's cute."
This really was a celebration. Soon they will have the special day when they will enter their first writing into these notebooks. Another day to celebrate. Isn't that what school should be...days of celebration. Celebration of Learning.
Who care if the state test is in a few weeks. Our learning is for a life time...not just one week of testing! This is what learning and teaching is all about: Learning for a Life Time!


Jen Barney said...

Thanks Kathy! I am glad that you could join us! It was funny, at the end of the day, one of my students said, "This was the best day of the year!" I just had to laugh, I can't wait share all the other great days he will have! I truly love this year. I am having such an amazing journey with them. Thanks for all your support and encouragement! You are great!

LiteracyTeacher said...

What's ISTEP Prep?

Sarah Amick said...

ISTEP prep is the suckiest part of being a teacher in Indiana. We start testing our kiddos right from the get go and then receive their scores to late to do anything about it it seems. We test 20 days into the school year! It is really great to establish community as your shoveling test information for the first 20 days. I teach 1st grade and that is one of the greatest perks! I don't have to do ISTEP! Sorry, just my two cents!

Write On Kathy said...

After Sarah's comments: I don't need to say anything else!

Jen Barney said...

Yeah- what Sarah said and I double that motion for Kathy!! IT BLOWS Stacey, but I am doing my thing away!!!!

Ruth said...

Beautiful post Kathy! You captured the essence of why we teach -- to celebrate our learning.

On the other side of the coin, I for one am thankful the ISTEP is in September -- this way we only waste, err, use a month to prep kids for a standardized test instead of say 8 months if the test were given in Spring!

Annie said...

I just wanted to let you know that a new writer's workshop will begin the second Tuesday evening of every month at my lovely old house in Angola. This will be a place for you to bring a piece you are working on to the table....poetry, short stories, novels, etc. It is not a class, but it will run like an adult writing experience for serious writers. There is no fee for this event...that is amazing, isn't it? Drop me a line at for more information. Lou Ann

Annie said...

Just in case you did not hear, Madeline L'Engle died at her home yesterday. She was the author of over 60 books and was best known for her book, A Wrinkle In Time. She was a fascinating women and a marvelous writer, we will miss her.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet her once upon a time.

Lou Ann