Celebrate – BEST family EVER!

Looking back on this week, I must celebrate my family, my two daughters, Anne and Bridgit and my husband, Brian.

Anne…
who shared a clever Ancient Greek Pottery craft she learned while teaching last year in France. With her help, photos of my students were taken posed as Greek warriors or gods, and then used to decorate a paper pot to tell a story, just like the Ancient Greeks did.
Anne ….
who when shopping with me at IKEA, was as excited about their puppets as I was and who helped to type up a planning packet so my students could collaborate in small groups to plan out and then perform puppet shows before we left for Winter Break.
Bridgit…
who spent a whole day at my school while home from the University of Chicago where she is earning a Masters in Public Policy and Computer Science and spoke to each 3rd grade class about the job of a computer programmer. She also pushed me to make sure my class participated in Hour of Code activities which they ALL loved! Thanks to Bridgit, lots of 8 year olds are aware that coding can be hard but is something they can all do!
Brian…
who spent years thinking about the design of a house for us and who spent the last two years overseeing the construction of a very energy-efficient and modern house for us and who received word on Friday that our permit to occupy the house has been granted.
 

March 25th – What movies stick with YOU?

My daughter is on Spring Break and she went to Europe to see her sister in France and included a trip to Salzburg, Austria. Yesterday she posted pictures to facebook with this statement:

The Sound of Music was my favorite film, growing up. I must have watched it over 100 times over the years. I even distinctly remember that I turned 7 on a Tuesday and therefore obviously wanted a pink parasol, just like Marta. Yesterday I explored the locations where the movie was filmed. So amazing!

 

Stories, whether read or viewed, do stick with us.
When I recall my favorite films, I recall these lines:
1. “M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E”
2. “Let’s be independent together.”
3. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
(Can you identify the movie? Answers tomorrow!)
What STORY sticks with you?
What LINE sticks with you?!

March 20 – …the point when I am not longer needed.

While waiting for Doris Kearns Goodwin to come out on stage to talk to the large crowd of educators gathered in the ballroom at the DC Convention Center, a video started. I don’t even recall who made the video to give them credit. But one aspect of the movie is still playing in my head.

A teacher was having his students work collaboratively on a project in the video. He then states: “There comes a point when I am no longer needed. My students are engaged…I can sit back and watch….my goal is to have students who are confident and excited… the by-product is increased knowledge.”

I got to thinking, I have had those moments as a teacher. My classroom is buzzing, all are engaged, all are working together. I am not needed anymore. I acted as the catalyst and now they are in motion.

I got to thinking, I have had those moments as a mom. Days and weeks go by and I might not talk to my two twentysomething girls. They confidently are living their daily lives. I acted as their catalyst and now they are happily in motion.

In both instances, both return to me often to ask purposeful questions. Because of the environment I’ve created at school and at home, all know they can come ask me anything. All feel comfortable asking. They know I’ll listen. They know I’ll offer suggestions. They know in the end, they are still deciding.

I got to thinking, I have had those moments when I am not needed at all and I have had those moments when my students and my girls articulate their thinking in the presence of someone who will listen and offer valuable feedback. I am that person!

Viewing the video on Saturday reminded me of the importance of all aspects of no longer being needed.

March 8 Ballad-like Poem, inspired by Reading Aloud to my children!

Last year I was helping the 6th grade students at my school understand what a ballad is – a songlike, narrative, poem that has rhyme, rhythm, and a refrain. In the process, I wrote this ballad-like poem, inspired by my daughters, Bridgit and Anne!! I love that it has recorded for me the best part of being a mom, getting to read-aloud so many stories filled with so many great characters to my two favorite readers.

My daughters, at 4 and 1
Licked their cone of ice cream
Listening to me read The Tweedle Beedle Battle
And the adventures of Spot and his mom, Sally,
While taking turns to open the flaps.

The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Once they turn 6 and 3
They spooned their jello
As I read everything by Donald Crews.
We rode his train, plane, boat, bike, and carousel.
Then listened to the troubles of Arthur and DW.

The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Soon both could read at 8 and 5
Yet, they still listened, munching on popcorn
As I read of Elmer on Wild Island
And we met Samantha, Molly, and Josephina
Living in another time.

The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

By the ages of 10 and 7
We met Ms. Jewels, Louis and the 28 students
in that tall, skinny wacky school.

Also, Anastasia and her funny brother, Sam.

The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Time flew by, and suddenly they were 12 and 9.
They made the cookies we all munched on
As I read-aloud the adventures of their newest friends:
Harry, Ron, and Herminone.

The clock chimed eight.I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Now, they are 25 and 23.
The clock chimes 2:00am.
I’ve been asleep for hours
Closing my eyes after reading a chapter alone on my kindle fire.
Bridgit tweets the latest news of the day.
Anne posts a TEDtalk video to her facebook wall and grabs a play to read.

Good night, great readers, sleep tight.

March 7 – My daughter, Bridgit, accomplishing what she sets her mind to!

“Mom, I want to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention,” my 19-year old daughter said while on the phone with me. She was calling from Barnard, where she was finishing up her Freshman year of college. I chuckled to myself, thinking how I loved that Bridgit’s generation seems to think they can do anything. I just listened, not wanting to say anything that would burst her bubble. But to me, this seemed like a very lofty goal. As she continued to talk, I realized she was serious. She had read the rules and sent in the paperwork and was on the ballet to speak at the 8th Districts Democratic Convention meeting in a few weeks.

So on Saturday, May 17, 2006, I tagged along with her to the Convention held in an auditorium at a local school. When it was time for the speeches, I sat in the front row as nine women lined up, each to give a 3-minute speech about why they should be a District-elected Delegate at the National Convention. Two women would be chosen from the nine. Bridgit, confidently, joined the line, 2nd from the end. I noted that she was the youngest by far.

When it was her turn, she began:
Hello. My name is Bridgit Donnelly….At the beginning of this year, I never imagined I would be standing before you today. I never imagined that I would forgo schoolwork to host phone banking parties out of my dorm. I never imagined that I would march from 135th Street in Harlem down to 59th Street in Columbus Circle with a group of 100 or so other Obama supporters, chanting “Yes We Can!” I never imagined that I would give up my Spring Break to go to Pennsylvania and register young people to vote for the first time. I never imagined I would skip school to go back and help them get to the polls. I never imagined that I would actually read the enormously long document explaining the procedure of how to file to run for National Delegate. And I especially never imagined that just two days ago I would sign the paperwork to take the fall semester off to campaign for Barack Obama….
I know that I do not have much of a chance at getting to the National Convention as a District-elected Delegate. I am just grateful for the chance to stand among such a dedicated group of people and be considered for this position. Thank you for considering me, and I look forward to Barackin’ the Vote with all of you in November. Thank you.”

The crowd clapped loudly for Bridigt and after the final women spoke, ballets were distributed and those in the room checked the two men and two women they wanted to represent at the National Convention them from the VA 8th District. Then the counting of votes began. Many came up to Bridgit and congratulated her on her speech. A little while later one man came over and said, “I was in the room counting.It looks really good.” Then minutes later, Mayor Euille was saying, “The female delegates will be Cristina Chiappe, and the young woman from Arlington who stole all of our hearts, Bridgit Donnelly.”

I love that on May 17, 2008, my daughter taught me that if you want something, you go for it!! I hope I can always be as brave as she is! 

To see Bridgit’s blog notes and her complete speech, read below:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

 

Virginia 8th District Convention

 

So today, I went to the Virginia 8th District Convention as an Obama Alternate Delegate, meaning if one of the Arlington Obama delegates didn’t show up, I could take their spot. But of course everyone showed up, so I was just there for fun and to hear from our lovely elected officials: Sen. Jim Webb, Rep. Jim Moran, and Mayor Bill Euille of Alexandria.

Also, I was there running as a District-Level National Delegate, meaning I would get to go to Denverand the DNC Convention. However, the Obama campaign had chosen a slate of 5 candidates to go to the convention, to try and ensure that the delegation would represent the diversity of the district. The delegates didn’t have to choose them, but they were a slate, nonetheless. So I wasn’t getting my hopes up. I was just there to see how the whole thing worked and get my name out there so I could run successfully in four years.

Then I gave the following speech:

 

“Hello. My name is Bridgit Donnelly. I graduated from Washington-LeeHigh School last year, and I just finished my first year at Barnard College in New York City. I stand before you today to wholeheartedly endorse Barack Obama. You may not think my endorsement means much, but consider this. I am one of the many youth who have never been involved in politics besides reading the morning paper or maybe making some phone calls for a local candidate. One of the many who thought you had to know somebody to be involved with processes like these.

At the beginning of this year, I never imagined I would be standing before you today. I never imagined that I would forgo schoolwork to host phone banking parties out of my dorm. I never imagined that I would march from 135th Street in Harlem down to 59th Street in Columbus Circle with a group of 100 or so other Obama supporters, chanting “Yes We Can!” I never imagined that I would give up my Spring Break to go to Pennsylvaniaand register young people to vote for the first time. I never imagined I would skip school to go back and help them get to the polls. I never imagined that I would actually read the enormously long document explaining the procedure of how to file to run for National Delegate. And I especially never imagined that just two days ago I would sign the paperwork to take the fall semester off to campaign for Barack Obama.

But standing in Washington Square Parkon a beautiful September evening, something happened. Standing there, with people from every walk of life – young, old, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian – all there to hear Barack Obama speak, I realized that if we can all come together, we can all have a say this year. It’s not like the elections of years past. You don’t need to know somebody to make a difference. This year, WE get to decide what we want for our future. And WE choose Senator Barack Obama because WE know that he has brought people together across this country. We know that WE have made a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a spectacular group of people running for National Delegate. We have all worked extremely hard to get Senator Obama to where he is today. And I know that we will all work even harder to get him to the White House. I know that I do not have much of a chance at getting to the National Convention as a District-elected Delegate. I am just grateful for the chance to stand among such a dedicated group of people and be considered for this position. Thank you for considering me, and I look forward to Barackin’ the Vote with all of you in November. Thank you.”

 

 

The delegates were extremely inspired and kept telling me how awesome my speech was. Was it really that good? Well then, thanks Prof. Stokes for teaching me how to write a speech in Reacting! Anyway, I was still not hopeful. Many of the delegates had come to the convention knowing who they were voting for. Some had even already turned in their ballots and left before I spoke (I mean, we had been there for 6 hours!). So I wasn’t hopeful.

But then people started coming over and telling me they had voted for me. People from every VirginiaDemocratic group were trying to get me involved and giving me their business cards. While I was chatting with the Obama campaign representative about helping them out, a man came over and said, “It looks good for you.” I didn’t want to believe him until he said, “I was in the room counting. It looks really good.”

Sure enough, minutes later, Mayor Euille was saying, “The female delegates will be Cristina Chiappe, and the young woman from Arlington who stole all of our hearts, Bridgit Donnelly.”

So there you have it. I’m going to Denver as a Delegate! Like, I’ll be on the floor when Barack gives his speech! I won’t have to sneak in or hope I get a good volunteer post. I’m gonna be there! Thanks again to everyone in the 8th District who voted for me! I promise I will serve you well!