imageFinally! Finally, I was able to have lunch with a wonderful 4th grader who has been asking me if we could have lunch together for WEEKS. It seemed everyday she’d ask I’d have to let her down due to a booked schedule. Last week she wrote me a note on an index card that broke my heart. It read, schedule lunch with me.

When I saw her run up to me today I started to go through my schedule, worried that I would have to let her down again. I was overjoyed when I realized I was FREE. As she approached I said, “Guess what?! I’m free for lunch!” She literally jumped in the air and squealed. Little did she know that she had just made my day 10 times better as well.9d3ef352cdcb9e78b928b3756b534a85

As we sat and ate she told me about her mom, her friends, how she’s doing in math, her dog Poppi, and anything else that came to her mind. As she continued chatting, I thought about how this was the best lunch I’d had in awhile. I wasn’t working through my lunch. It was free of stress. It was FUN.

Those 30 minutes eating and chatting were exactly what I needed and exactly what she needed.

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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What is Success?

KP-Leader-opt-2As I sat in a training today for TenMarks, an online math program, one thing really resonated with me. As the trainer was explaining the different capabilities of the program she made a point to express the importance of teaching students how to help themselves as learners. Many of the problems students will encounter on TenMarks will be challenging. Because of this, the trainer recommended celebrating the struggle. Having the teacher constantly model their struggle and how they work through it by utilizing hints, video tutorials, manipulatives , their math journal, partner buddies, and the teacher. Through modeling how to work through learning struggles and celebrating students as they use these strategies we will be teaching kids to enjoy the challenge of learning. Our kids should be able to define success by their grit when faced with a difficult problem instead of the ease at which they solve simple problems.

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all. Dale Carnegie

The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed. Michelangelo

Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process. Carol S. Dweck

Reading is a Journey


Conferring with students in order to discover who they are as a reader allows you to have a glimpse into their reading journey. This was my goal today as I conferred with 2nd graders, third graders, fourth graders, and fifth graders. I met many students at different levels of their journey as I posed the question, “What are you thinking about while you read today?”

Second grade: I met a second grade partner group where one student was reading to the other and would stop and share his questions. Then, he’d ask his partner if he had any questions. I met a second grade boy who only picked a book because it was in his level and was still struggling to read it. We found a book that was more his style and reading level.

Third grade: I met a girl who explained to me that she was thinking about questions and answers in her book about Thomas Jefferson. As a roamed the room I met a boy who was reading “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and laughing out loud. My curiosity got the best of me and I went over to chat with him. He explained to me he only reads “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. When I asked him why he said, “It makes me laugh and I like that”. Makes sense to me. I went on to find out that he was thinking about what lesson was being taught.

Fourth grade: Here I spoke to a boy who did not know what I meant by “What are you thinking about while you read today?”. After much coercing and questioning I found out that he was trying to figure out how certain football teams won the Superbowl. Together, we determined this could be his essential question and he could gather notes around the topic. This made him pretty excited. I also chatted with a girl who was using FQR to guide her thinking and another girl who was recording key ideas.image.jpeg

This small glimpse into these children’s reading journey opened my eyes to who they were as readers, where they are at, and where they can be going. More importantly it made me celebrate them (and their teachers)for having a reading identity, having stamina, having engagement, and thinking like a reader.

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be presented as a precious gift.” Kate Dicamillo

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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This morning as I put on my make-up and curled my hair, while Steve wandered around our condo packing his suitcase for San Francisco all I could think of was my full day ahead of me and how I wished I could fly off to San Francisco with Steve instead. I’ve never been. Steve hates the hills, but I still want to experience the ups and downs for myself.

As we left and kissed goodbye, me for work and Steve for O’hare Airport I started running through my list of to-dos for the day. It’s amazing how often my commute consists of this to-do reel.

But when I arrived at work and the first bell rang and kids started filling the halls I heard, “Miss Makowski! I haven’t seen you in forever. Where have you been?” It was from a fourth grader whom I’d worked with in math groups to learn that math can be engaging. After our group had ended he would check-in with me and tell me what skills he was working to conquer in math. He was right, it had been sometime since this happened.

His simple comment brightened my day by reminding me how important it is to build relationships. Relationships help motivate us, make us feel part of a team, and make us feel as if we belong. This is important at any age. This is extremely important for our kids. This simple greeting made me glad that I was at school today, even though in the back of my brain I still wanted to be on an airplane with Steve.

untitled*As I wrote about relationships I was reminded of this video by Rita Pierson on Ted Talks:

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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Amidst the Chaos There are Wins

imageThe past few weeks I have been in classrooms modeling ‘Number Talks’ for grades K-6. This was in response to my teachers asking for more number sense strategies. However, today I wasn’t even thinking about this as I was running around the school between classrooms, the copy room, and my computer. My brain was racing with organizing next steps for grade level PLCs and helping teachers celebrate their growth thus far with the new adoption of reader’s workshop.

As I turned the corner to the copy machine I ran into Kathy, who teaches kindergarten. She had decided after watching me model two days of ‘Number Talks’ with her kiddos that she was ready to make the jump and try it herself.

When I saw her she stopped dead in her tracks and said with delight, “I tried it!!. I did a number talk with my AM class and it went great. They came up with many different strategies for making six.”

Out loud I responded, “I am so proud of you for trying something new and seeing how your kids can talk about numbers flexibly! Great work Kathy.”

In my head I said, YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! and did a happy dance.:) She took the jump and saw the benefit! Her kids will truly grow from doing mental math and talking about the flexibility of numbers.

Then, it got better! After lunch I received an email from Kathy saying, “I did the number talk with my PM class and it went even better. Come by my class to see their thinking.”

The moment I read this I dropped what I was doing and hustled over to her classroom. When I walked in she said, “Miss M is here to see all of the wonderful thinking you did during your ‘Number Talk’ today!” The kids screamed, “YAY!” and ran over to the board to tell me which strategy they had used for their mental math. I couldn’t have been happier seeing the excitement in these little kindergartners as they explained their math thinking.

At the end of my day, this was my win.

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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Our Tiny Kitchen

imageMy favorite part of this evening took place in our tiny kitchen in the city. The only area with a counter top is roughly two and a half feet long. It barely fits Steve and I at the same time, yet this does not keep us from our love of cooking together. Since moving to Chicago we have upped our healthy food game with inspiration from two cookbooks, Thug Kitchen and Whole 30.

This evening we peeled and chopped turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, and parsnips. I spread them out on a large cooking sheet to roast while Steve cooked sausage and made a coconut curry sauce.

Once our root vegetable curry was complete we sat down together to enjoy. It was spicy and sweet. And as we enjoyed our healthy home cooked meal I looked across at Steve and felt delighted with our scrumptious creation and our lovely evening chopping and cooking our night away in our tiny kitchen.

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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Harry Potter Marathon

imageHarry Potter movie marathon was on today and I kept finding myself clicking back to watch it. My boyfriend asked me about it and I flashed back.

The Harry Potter series was woven throughout my childhood. My parents would buy me the newest book and gift it to me for different accomplishments such as grades, soccer, and being a hard-worker.From the moment I opened it I could not put it down. My sister would get so angry with me because I wouldn’t talk to anyone until I was done.

As I was telling Steve this, I remembered that my Mom use to write notes in the books. I ran over to the bookshelf and flipped through each book to read the sweet notes from my parents. Tears started rolling down my face. How thoughtful. These notes were sweet at the time but are now something I treasure more than the book itself. It is a representation of my parents love. It reminds me of how truly lucky I am and more than anything it makes me miss them.

I can’t wait to see them in three weeks and thank them for this.

I’m participating in Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March! Check it out at

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