Slice of Life 2021 Day 29: WHOOSH

Today marks Day 29 of the Slice of Life challenge. Join me as I work to write every day in March – and beyond!

Today. *

Today I blogged.

And before that I cobbled together my bananapants schedule for tomorrow: lesson to lesson, meeting to meeting.

And before that I thought through my lesson I’ll be sharing with kids on mentally preparing for standardized testing. While we’re on the subject, I’m not a fan at ALL of teaching kids to a test. If kids have skills, they have skills. But. Anything we can do to give our loveys a sense of control over their testing environment? Anything that will allow the kids to see how they can keep their wits about them in an anxiety-rich situation? I’m all in favor of THAT. This lesson is a follow-up to one I taught earlier about strategies for keeping cool in stressful times.

One more tool we have for keeping our wits about us!

And before that I checked in with a former student of mine, who’s brimming with rich fantasy worlds she wants to create through graphic novels.

And before that I got to work car line again for the first time in almost a month. I missed those faces!

And before that I shared Leo Lionn’s Frederick with my third graders. I opened up the Zoom chat to everyone in the group. Sometimes that goes haywire. Today it didn’t. They shared such insightful comments and ideas, like – “Frederick was misunderstood.” Yes, yes he WAS misunderstood. And now let’s talk about what it means to be UNDERESTIMATED. (We’ll be going places with that one, friends.)

And before that I assembled as many materials and activities for the self-guided learning my groups will do over the coming weeks. I. Am. Far. From. Done.

And before that I choked down my lunch standing at my kitchen counter with my puppy at my heels because SOMEONE had to let her out mid-day, and that somebody turned out to be me.

I think she likes me…

And before that I cranked my way through morning classes, eager to see students after a week, and trying my best to play whack-a-mole with student attendance, through patchy internet, through sound problems, and all those wonderful things we got to avoid in our week off.

And before that I recorded my weekly pep talk for my kids. I’ve been taking the kids through brief (2-minute) lessons about what it means to be smart, about what that means for the way we see ourselves and others. Today’s pep talk was about explanatory style, and how that feeds into our feelings.

Because we deserve to understand the way we think and feel and move about this world.

And before that I executed my morning routine with the customary military logistics a school day requires: waking, showering, letting dogs out, feeding dogs, making chai, smooching the spouse goodbye, praying the 17-year-old is up, grabbing my stuff and heading out to school.

And before that I felt my alarm buzzing on my wrist mid-dream, wondering why I was being woken at 5:45 when, in fact, it was 6:30…

*Special thanks to Vivian Chen and Fran McVeigh, who first gave me the inspiration to use this form. Visit them. Theirs, I assure you, are some amazing pieces of writing. =))

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21 Responses to “Slice of Life 2021 Day 29: WHOOSH”

  1. franmcveigh Says:

    Laine,
    What a great look at your day!
    It’s a fun format to use in reverse order when you, the author, get to choose how many details to include!
    And March slicing. . . The end is near!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      It IS near, but I’m still going to try my best to blog as often as possible. I’m liking the discipline of forcing myself to write. We’ll see what happens!

  2. Alice Says:

    Wow, what a full day. This form is so unique. I like how it zips you back in re-wind mode, but without the speediness of a video. You took me through your day one step at a time back to 5:45 a.m. I’ll have to try this and check out Vivian’s and Fran’s work. Thank you!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! It was a fun approach to try, and I’ll be having my kids give it a whirl at some point too!

  3. Tim Gels Says:

    What a neat form–thank you for choosing it today! Sometimes standing back and evaluating the day is awe-inspiring, and sometimes it’s downright scary…how do we cram all of that stuff into just a few hours?!

    Underestimated. Yep, there’s a lot of potential in those conversations–enjoy!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! Our next move is for kids to think about others in their classrooms who they have underestimated. That’s particularly powerful for this group of gifted kids, who tend to see a divide between themselves and their age-group peers. But yes, another conversation for another day…

  4. Clare Landrigan (@ClareLandrigan) Says:

    I love this … I have both of theirs printed out as well for future inspiration. Hope you first day back was great — and yes I think that puppy loves you too.

  5. mschiubookawrites Says:

    So very cool. You must be exhausted. I appreciate this nugget about helping kids “keep their wits about them in an anxiety-rich situation?” I would say you 100% modeled this here.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! I go in to teach the lesson tomorrow. It will be interesting to see which kids remember the calming strategies I taught earlier!

  6. arjeha Says:

    Many times we ask ourselves, at least I do, what did I do today? This shows how much you accomplished in the course of the day.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Yes! It was a whoosh of a day, with another one to come tomorrow. Guess that’s the life of a mom-teacher…

  7. vivian chen Says:

    Phew! What a day. I think it sounds even more busy backward! I love how you applied this format.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! Thought it would be kind of fun – and it was! I can’t wait to try it out on some kids.

  8. Anna Maria Says:

    “I’m not a fan at ALL of teaching kids to a test.” Don’t get me started. But like you said if we can give them a toolbox to work from then that’s a lesson worth teaching. I LOATHE ENTIRELY this time of year where I have to carve out a portion of my afternoon to begin test prep. Dear state and national leaders READ THE ROOM. They do not deserve this pressure. Besides how do you justify this when you just said we need to be mindful of their mental health? Hmm? *crickets*

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      ExACTly. My fifth grade students have testing from now through mid-May, with perhaps 1-2 weeks reprieve here and there. It goes along with the whole notion of “weighing the pig don’t make him any fatter…”

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  9. theapplesinmyorchard Says:

    Love this format! I’ll have to try – but probably not before the month is over. And, I love Fredrick the mouse! I often refer to that book when the cold starts to hit. Lastly, I am not a huge fan of standardized testing. One of my three boys has a fair amount of test anxiety – he struggles with it still, in college – if he could’ve shown competency or even proficiency or advanced skills in a hands on evaluation of a project or lesson during HS, he would have enjoyed school much, much more. The biggest problem is that the standards based testing contributes to using the box and labels…thinks we should be getting away from in the word of education.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      I think what you’ve hit on – which folks often don’t talk about – is that there are academic skills, and there are test-taking skills. One doesn’t necessarily assure the other. I’m glad that so many colleges are choosing to go test-optional for that reason (although there’s still more work to create an equitable playing field).

  10. britt Says:

    I saved their forms for inspiration, too!! I absolutely love this. ALSO, I love how your students are “armed.” You’re fabulous! 😁
    Thank you for sharing!

  11. Fran Haley Says:

    The form works magnificently here, Lainie – and can I just squeeze myself onto your soapbox again for a moment in shared opposition to 1) teaching to the test and 2) the test itself? Are these truly necessary evils? (That’s rhetorical, of course). I once heard Sir Ken Robinson say that there’s more regulation on the production of dog food in the U.S. than there is on our standardized testing. But – yet so much to celebrate here as well, and finding that lens is one of your great gifts. I always leave your posts uplifted – and grateful.

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