Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Final Letter to my Students

June 25, 2014
Dear Room 121 Fourth Grade Friends,
            As we end our year together, I just want to take a moment to reflect on a few things I have learned with you. My favorite part of being your classroom teacher was the many read-alouds. Lucy Calkins says “Books can inspire us to reach toward becoming the kind of person we want to become.” I do think the characters in the books we read together gave us inspiration. I will never forget what the following books taught me this year and I encourage you to always:

(book cover images HERE of Where the Wild Things Are, Ish, My Name is Maria Isabel, Flora and Ulysses, Wonder, The Julian Chapter, and The Book Of Elsewhere: The Shadows)

Remember Max, a boy with a fabulous imagination who taught us that books (and teachers) that are 50 years old are still OK.
 Remember Marisol, Ramon’s sister, who taught us to see beauty around us and showed us the importance of giving compliments.
Remember Maria Isabel, that very shy girl who blossomed by reading Charlotte’s Web and by putting her big ideas into writing. I hope we will also jot down our big ideas in order to change our world when needed.
Remember Flora and Ulysses, the 2014 Newbery Winner. Flora, her dad, her mom, Peter Spiver, and Ulysses all seemed a bit lost. Yet together, they find their way. If they can do it, we can, too!
Remember Auggie and Julian, who taught us to be kinder than is necessary. However, if we do make a mistake and act unkind, we must apologize and mean it.
Finally, remember Jacqueline West, the author of The Book of Elsewhere: The Shadows who visited our school. And remember Olive, who taught us to be curious, observant, and brave, even when strange things start to happen around us.

In the Broadway Musical, Wicked, the Good Witch Glinda and the Wicked Witch from the West, Elphaba sing together. One line in their duet is “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” I deeply believe that I am a better person because I have known you and had the honor to teach you this year. You have taught me so much that I will carry with me next year and for the rest of my life.

As this 4th grade school year ends, know that I am so proud of you. You have grown as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, historians and as kind friends. Now enjoy your summer, taking some time to read and write! I can confidently state that WE ARE ALL READY to do well next year in 5th grade!
Mrs. Donnelly

PS – Do stay in touch –

Week of June 9th...reflecting a few days late instead of Sat AM

I really wonder if I could do this job if I still had my children at home to raise??

This passed weekend I drove to Charlottesville early Saturday morning so no time to blog here. A day was spent taking college furniture to underclassmen apartments and to Goodwill. My daughter needed to vacate her apartment and my Subaru wagon was called into in to help. Once all the furniture was dispersed, we could load up her "stuff" and sadly, it did not all fit. So we drove the 2 hours home on Saturday to Arlington. Then Sunday morning back on Route 29 to retrieve the final boxes. Absolutely NO school work got done. Luckily, end of year lessons were already planned so Monday morning wasn't too chaotic. But I do wonder, could I be doing this job if all my weekends were distracted by my own children?? Looking back, it seems that weekends were the times to get organized, plan, read writing drafts over many hours. So much time is needed to do this job well.

Last Friday I sent this letter to my parents:
Dear Parents of Room 121 students,
What a fabulous week!I loved seeing the students run a Farmer’s Market.  So many steps were followed by the students, who:
·         Grew some of the product ingredients
·         Researched and wrote about how plants grow
·         Spoke up and advocated for a product to be made and sold
·         Worked collaboratively to produce, package, and price the products
·         Persuasively advertised the Farmer’s Market and each product
·         Cleverly wrote a song or a skit to show on the Morning Broadcast
·         Respectfully greeted customers, encouraged them to shop and handled sales at the tables
·         Chipped in to set-up and cleaned-up during the two days of the marketI am so glad I was on the Fourth Grade Team this year!!  I loved being a part of the Farmer’s Market Inquiry Project Team!!

As this week ends, we have just eight  more days of the 2013-14 school year.
I want to share my news with you so you hear it from me. I was offered and have accepted a job as the 5th grade Writing Teacher at Janney ES, a DCPS school located in Northwest, Washington. I met teachers from DCPS while attending Institutes at Teachers College and learned that a group of schools in DC follow the Reading and Writing Workshop model, the model I use to teach literacy. Though I am sad to leave FCPS after 13 wonderful learning years, I am looking forward to beginning a new professional chapter of my career, just across the Potomac River. And I am very excited that my sole focus will be to guide ten and eleven year old writers during Writing Workshop.

I shared this news with your child today (a few missed due to absence or Patrol training). I honestly told them that because of them, I feel very confident to take on this new job. The 27 wonderful writers in Room 121 showed me how to be a better writing teacher this year and for this I will always be grateful.  I am equally grateful I could spend this school year as a part of your family. Though you won’t see me at CRS next year, know that I will never forget you and your amazing child who has taught me so much.
REQUEST: If you know your child will be missing any of the final days of school, please send me an email letting me know.
Now on to enjoying our last full week and three days of school together!

PS – PLEASE come to Room 121 for our Monday, June 16 Belated Mother and Father’s Day Party
We made an amazing movie to view. Moms, dads, grandparents – you are ALL welcome!!
8:10 – 9am BRING nothing….maybe a tissue to use while viewing our video!!

Monday –           S Day – bring in a favorite stuffed animal (no bigger than your backpack, please)
Tuesday –           T day – Twin Day; coordinate with a friend to wear the same color clothes or do your hair the same!
Wednesday -     U Day – USA…wear red, white and blue!
Thursday -           V Day – we will watch a video
Friday -                 W Day – watercoloring time!

Rereading this update reminds me that I am doing SO much as a teacher. I love it!! I am grateful I have the time to focus on these 27 kids and just a bit on my own 22 and 25 year old daughters.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week of June 2-6

I really need to work on my report cards so here's a quick entry about an awesome week!! It really was a fun week - why? Maybe we all know we only have so many days left together...maybe we are more relaxed because state testing is done...maybe it is the warmer weather and sunny skies...maybe it is that each day we have taken time to PLAY through our ABC Countdown (I - write with ink pens; J - jump rope; K - say kind things; L - eat lunch in classroom with a movie, The Aristocats; M - more of movie with M&M treat). Maybe I am finally realizing how to handle the management of 27 students. I think ALL of us are feeling more confident, more in control of our actions. All are trying more to be kind and choose wisely - reading Wonder REALLY helped us understand HOW to treat others.

We also had an author visit - Jacqueline West!! So fun!!! I'll add more on this after I get the report cards done and paper work filed correctly into their literacy folders.

I hope this doesn't take my entire weekend...

But thoughts of attending the Reading Institute the week of June 29-July3 and having the whole month of July off to read and write and rest will keep me going!!!

Then I begin a new adventure as a 5th grade writing teacher in DCPS!!! More about that later, too.