Monday, March 31, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #23 - Hot Dogs

My mom called me yesterday...she wanted help in creating this fake food for April Fool's Day. I have a busy schedule...I had lifting and then a kickboxing class later on Monday night. In between I try and do school work and get a quick bite to eat. When I told her that I couldn't make it, the twinge in her voice made me call her back.


After my lifting, I headed to my mom's. I sliced open Twinkies (my mouth was watering, but my hips said NO) and laid 3 small Tootsie Rolls in them. I then twisted red ribbon licorice and cut up green Airheads. While the fake hot dogs were very cute, I know the best part of the night was the fact that I had helped my mom and enjoyed our time together. While we didn't share any deep insights, it was nice to enjoy the time I have now with her.

As I left, my mom bombarded me with the extra candies and goodies. My students will reap the sugar benefits, but at the same time, I will always remember creating fake hot dogs with my mom. I'm glad I used the time to spend it with her. Sometimes I am too quick to write off hanging out with her. I realize now that I get some of my craziness of wanting to do fun things for others from my mom...and what a great gift that is!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #22 - Skype

I got on my computer tonight with the intention of watching a YouTube video and talking with a guy from church. I saw a missionary family's name on my contact list and decided to write them just to see if they were around. I am so glad I did. Not only were they there, it was one of their birthdays!

To give you a little background, every time this family is in town on furlough (they are currently in PNG (Papau New Guinea), I had the privilege of watching their now four children. They are such a giving family who serve the Lord and sacrifice so much. Due to my fear of flying and lots of other issues, I have never flown over there, but if I could transport like in Star Trek, would in a heartbeat.

To be able to talk and hear their voices made my evening. In a day where the Internet brings many scary things, it's nice to know that a little bit of distance becomes obsolete and I can catch up and still be a part of their life.

If you have not heard of Skype, it is wonderful! You can chat, video chat, or just talk on the mikes (if you have one). You can even do conference calls. One of the pastors at our church moved out east and yet I feel like they are still around because we can talk with them on it.

And the book is...

Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman. I wish you could have seen how the students were predicting, inferring, and just sharing their thoughts. I loved how they referenced the text even at the end of the book to ask a question about the beginning of the book. I am so proud of their thinking!

Stay tuned for the next book...they'll be so pumped!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Today, I gave a package to my students. It was wrapped and after they opened it, they predicted that there would be books inside. What lurked in the box? Only time will tell, but today, they unwrapped....

A Mountain of Mittens by Lynn Plourde. We just completed an author study on her and I had to buy some books of hers that I didn't have.

The class noticed right away all of the repeating lines and were predicting throughout the book. I love the way my class talks about their thinking...I only hope that as they go on to third grade, those teachers appreciate the comments and conversation they have about books. It was a fabulous read and I highly encourage it to primary teachers!!!

What are the other books? Come back to find out...

Slice of Life Challenge #21 - Like Toothpaste

I remember seeing a while ago a message on how important our words are. If you take a tube of toothpaste and squeeze it out, you can do it fairly quick. However, putting the toothpaste back into the tube is a little fact, I do believe, almost impossible. Just like our words - we can say them, but they are hard to take back.

Today was one of the hardest things I've had to do before. My students came back from inside recess, but several students had to stay in and finish up some late work. Two of the three remembered...but one forgot. This was not his first time forgettting...however, I lost my cool when he came back and the one word I said to him was a very strong GO. My heart broke when I saw the change in his face. I knew as soon as the word left, how awful it sounded and that I couldn't take it back. But what I could do was apologize. I pulled him aside and apologized. I explained that I was frustrated and that I had snapped, but that I shouldn't have raised my voice.

I feel like this year, I have done a better job of not snapping at students. I know we're all human and we do it, but that doesn't give me an excuse. It shows me that I've come a ways, but yet I have far to go. I want students to remember me for loving them and teaching them, not snapping and raising my voice.

Tomorrow is a new day and one where I can choose to love students and take a moment and remember that they are kids!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #20 - Changes

So my schedule today was to do a few things tonight: go over prompts, put together a dresser, maybe go to kickboxing. What really happened? Let me tell you!

I left work only AFTER opening an e-mail virus (I know, I think my hair is turning blonde) which caused over 100 e-mails to be sent within an hour. Now my e-mail may be many places do I have that e-mail address all over?

After working out, I was on the phone for 20 minutes with IKEA and I'm not one step closer to fixing the dresser.

I walked outside to take the garbage out and heard a hissing noise. It was coming near the the gas meter.

Yep...after pouring water and soap on it, sure enough, tiny bubbles came out from under a joint. I called and reported the gas leak and proceeded to wait AN HOUR outside...okay, only 30. The other thirty was spent in my neighbor's house where I was desiring my house and the banana that I had left on my kitchen counter.

The guy showed an hour later and ended up telling me that he'll be back tomorrow to fix it...To think I could have stayed in my house, had dinner, worked on the prompts, even put together a dresser.

Oh well...I'm glad that it's not overly serious, but this was not how I wanted to spend my night.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #19 - Whoops!!!

Okay, so this morning I was headed to IKEA...I had other things on my mind. I must have, when I put the tortilla into the toaster oven. I toasted it on one side, flipped it over and headed to check my laptop, twenty feet away. I don't know how much time passed when I looked over...there was SMOKE billowing out of the toaster oven. Sure, there's been smoke before, but never like I turned the toaster oven around, there was FIRE!!!!!!!!! inside it!

Quickly, I unplugged the toaster oven and then tried to blow it out. Yeah, right...I had no idea what to do and had no fire extinguisher. I seriously was a little scared. I managed to close the door, and dumped it into the sink, which was less than two feet away. I got out baking soda and started to pour it onto the appliance. The fire went out, but oh wow...the smoke!

Just then my friend showed up. I let her in and we began the process of airing out the house a little so the smoke detectors would stop going off. Even after we came back from Chicago, the smell of smoke still penetrates my house and reminds me how stupid I was. Not only will I NEVER do that again...I will think twice of leaving the toaster oven unattended. The toaster oven (which is, was, my sister's) is somewhat charred and sitting in my garbage can in the garage. I learned a few lessons today...but mostly I am so thankful that nothing worse happened and that everything is okay.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #18 - Spring

I was getting ready to have my students listen for more multiple meaning words and phrases that Amelia Bedelia did not understand, when my principal walked in...

and this is what came in.

What a way to make a wonderful slice of my day! Think Spring is what the card reads and it's from my mom and step-dad...aren't they thoughtful! Thanks, Mom and Denny! You made my day! Really!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #17 - Random Words of Kindness

As I left the school today, worn out, I headed to the house where I am cat-sitting. I visit her a few days a week and struggle with her pink medicine (she's a white cat - it's been a hoot). I diligently go work out because I owe it to myself to continue on this journey for my mini-marathon. After sweating through my lifting (20 reps is a lot) and then sliding around on the elliptical, I head to my car salivating over the chicken, linguine, and asparagus dish that I am going to make.

Noticing that the Shell station on the corner has gas at $3.25 (what a bargain), I pull in. I see, okay, spy, a nice looking guy pumping gas into his truck. Strutting over as best as a girl who is sweaty from her workout can, I insert my debit card quickly...and out of the blue, I hear, "Welcome."

How nice, he's speaking to me. I look at him and realize, no, it's the machine greeting me. What kind of world do we live in that we get greeted by the gas machine now as we fill up? I had to laugh, and then made small talk with the guy.

Hope you were greeted by someone today, and if not, go to your local Shell station!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #16 - Words

In my classroom, I hear many conversations, but never one like this! As the class was talking with their reading buddies, I walked around listening to conversations. Some students were talking about what had happened in their book, others were asking questions, but one group was talking about the pictures and words in a diagram. I listened in...What's a womb? What's that (referring to the umbilical cord)?

Yep, you guessed it...they were looking at how a baby is born. I was able to give them the correct pronunciation of womb and we talked about the umbilical cord, which led to the question of another, what's that? They were referring to the placenta. I told them the name and then quietly left. They decided to reread to see if they could learn about the placenta.

Should make for interesting conversations at home... :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #15 - Open Blanks

I sit before a blue book...with many white spaces outlined by thin black lines. I have the power to choose what my students do this week, well besides the amazing standardized testing we will do. I pencil in ideas, but that's all they are. Just ideas. I pencil in because so many changes can occur: delays, extras that pop into my schedule unaware, and knowing that students need more time with a lesson. But with these ideas, students change and grow as readers and writers (and yes mathematicians). What guides these pencil markings are state standards, past experiences, and what my students need to take the next step as a

Some weeks the pencil markings come easy, other weeks there are so many markings that I have no idea how we'll get through. And this year, there have been bold markings which cause entire schedules to move around due to unforeseen weather.

Through these markings, amazing things happen in my room which allow students to become teachers...and that is why I love what I do!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #14 - Impact

Last night our church hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Night. Our worship pastor had asked to interview me. First of all, I was shocked...I had no idea what I would say about being a volunteer. One of the questions was how have I impacted others. I was at a loss of words. In order to answer that question, I had to ask others. I chose to ask of my girls from church. She's currently in Australia studying abroad.

She wrote me an e-mail and when I read it, I was blown away. Abe chose to read it last night at the Appreciation Night. Thankfully, I had heard it before, otherwise, I would have bawled on stage. Many people afterwards told me they had cried as well.

But, that night was not about me. It was about thanking others for what they do. It reminds me to thank others for what they've done for me. It reminds me to honor those who have served me. It reminds me to tell others the difference they've made in my life. If I don't tell them, they'll never know.

Sometimes we just want to know that we made a difference!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Okay, so tonight my writer's brain is revolting...I don't want to write about a slice of life...I just don't want to post. I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow and over the weekend, but today is not one of those days. Sorry to all who regularly check my blog and thanks for all of the nice comments...they are more than I deserve!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #13 - I did it!

Today I met a friend after he got off work. His job - motivate me! I had already run a 3.4 loop around the blocks where I live. He was going to run another with me...keep in mind, he's a marathon runner. He had it easy! We finished up...but I wanted to keep going. My plan was to surprise my friend, Megan, because she was supposed to run my first 8 mile run with me. I pushed myself...and while I only walked less than 3 minutes of the ENTIRE run, I did it! I ran 8.2 miles tonight...I don't know how I did it. There were definitely parts of this run that were not fun, parts that were scary (was short of breath and felt a little lightheaded), and parts that were exhilarating (finishing)!

However, one of the best parts was when I stepped onto my sidewalk. I had prayed during the run to notice things around notice God. When I finally stopped and stretched, my face was right with the ground. Peeking out from the amazingly wet dirt were tiny green buds. The beginnings of the plants that I had planted in the fall (they had been a gift from my friend, Megan, above). I am so excited to see these flowers grow and bloom.

I am just like these flowers...taking my time, going slow, and I'll finish this race if I keep pushing myself forward!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #12 - A Camera

One of the greatest slices that I tend to notice is my students and the smart things they say. Today I had students meet together to talk about their writing with each other and ask questions that might be unclear in a reader's mind. One of my students read his story. Part of his story takes place where the student is in the cafeteria and then it jumps to that night while he's laying in bed. Our writing coach had taught him to how writers place asterisks in their writing to show that time has taken place and the writer didn't feel like writing all about it.

One smart reader asked him about this part. It didn't make sense to her. It jumped too much. He then told (and showed) the group and said that the stars meant time had passed. I told him he could teach the class tomorrow (it actually showed up in our Gooney Bird book, so I had him teach it this afternoon). Which made the girl say with glee, "Yay, that means I can do it."

How wonderful that she has grasped that when someone teaches you something, you can try it! How many times can I say that I adore my class?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #11 - Noticing

Today I noticed one of my students with a sad expression on his face.
Today I noticed the tiny little seeds in my great big orange.
Today I noticed little snow patches with holes where they had melted.
Today I noticed the orange cone blocking my path to the gas pump.
Today I noticed the cracked, dry knuckles after hitting the punching bag.
Today I noticed the grit on my hands after eating popcorn with white cheddar seasoning.
Notice no more and breathe in the quiet of my house.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #10 - Inside Out

Tonight at our youth group, we had our worship service. One of the songs we sang is called From the Inside Out and Hillsong sings it. Part of the lyrics are -

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise

Over the past two years (keep reading...the slice will make sense), I have wanted God to be glorified with my weight loss. I want my body to reflect the change He has made in my life. Today at church, I had an amazing woman who heard just a tiny part of my story and wanted to talk more after church. I shared and was open and honest with the demons that haunt me with my eating. I have always wanted God to get the credit. A lot of spiritual healing has occurred and I finally am feeling like the beautiful person inside is beginning to show on the outside.

When singing these lyrics tonight at ONE, it reminds be to be open and honest with the battle in order to bring praise back to God. The lyrics ring true of what I want and the brief 30 seconds was enough to remind myself of what I need to be doing.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #9 - $$$

Today, my sister had driven up from Indy to Fort Wayne (sorry Sarah I didn't call). I ended up going over to see her and spend time with her. We went shopping...Target, Kohl's, and my favorite - Ann Taylor Loft. Since losing weight, I am able to shop there. Please understand...I haven't been able to shop in the "normal" side of stores for a long time of my life. I was always bigger than my sister and my mom, and I'd love to be able to share their clothes. This is a huge accomplishment and I always found LOTS of clothes the Loft which made me feel beautiful. The past three times, I have struck out and I started doubting myself and even how I view my body. Today, was not one of those days. I always have a hard time finding pants that fit my small waist, curvy hips, and powerful legs. I found four today!!! Two at Kohl's and two at the Loft. I even bought four shirts. Yet, the most special slice of my day was this...

Sliding the credit card wasn't as fun, but I feel absolutely gorgeous in this...I feel that my inner beauty shines through. I'm excited to wear this to many weddings and fun dressy occasions (I'll have to create some)!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #8 - Thank you...

I have been signed up to work the school carnival for a few weeks. The only bright light that seemed to appear was the 90 minutes that occurred from the end of the contract day to the time that I had to be at roller bowler. I jumped into my car, raced the allotted speed limit. Okay, no I didn't. I walked into my friend's home and had this in my arms for an hour. What joy!

I then went to the carnival and had my picture taken with her older sister. Her grandma had brought her to the carnival, so mom could have a night home with the newborn. Since I am in the stage of singleness, I have the opportunity to love on my friends' kids. I enjoy the lessons they teach me and I know that if I am ever to have kids, I will be a better mother because of what they let me learn! I adore these two girls (and their older brother who was not around) and adore their mother even more for letting me a part of their lives!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #7 - Snowball

Today at school began rough when one student came running into the classroom and wanted to hang out in the closet. I knew it was going to be a day. Which came true! It wasn't that the students weren't good...their behavior overall just wasn't what I expect.

And even reflecting over the day, I can't pinpoint when it began, but by the end of the day, it was like all of the behavior had just snowballed and became this huge headache that began at the base of my neck and then traveled all the way up around my head. And while this slice of life was a HUGE part of my day and not necessarily a was the biggest and hardest slice of my day.

These are the days that I question myself. I even found myself doubting my ability to make them stronger writers. I could even feel my eyes tearing up at one point. I cannot put a finger on it...I don't know what it was, but I was glad to have the day over so that tomorrow can be a better day! I can start fresh and new...hopefully the students will be ready to start again!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Today, I had our writing coach in my room. I have noticed that many students like to talk with other writers. I want to give them tools when conferencing with others. We created a T-chart about what we heard and what our writers did. I had two boys talk with each other because they often do and have had practice. We wrote on our chart and then practiced with other writers. I wish you could have seen one group. I had already frustrated this boy by moving him from place to another. Then I put him with two other writers who had "lost" their writing. Now, all three of these students are very bright. This boy (the same one who inferred, way past you - see earlier posts) brought me a note and had a horrible pouty look on his face when I had a chance to look over at his group. His note said...I am very very very very very ennui. Ennui is a lack of excitement or experiencing boredom. We have been reading Gooney Bird Greene and the Room Mother and have written down our new vocabulary word ennui that very day! I am so glad he had an opportunity to use it!

In reflecting, during sharing time instead of letting the students go off a little of how their conferences went, I would have had them tell exactly from the chart something they experienced as well as if there is anything that should go on our chart.

And if I get the parent permission, I am going to try and put a video of two students on my blog that had a very cute to see if I'm able.

Slice of Life Challenge #6 - Be Still My Body

I strapped on my gloves, lifted the weights, grunted, sweated, and drank my water. I strapped on my cheap, brown, styrofoam pre-wrap jumper knee brace, stretched my legs, stretched my arms, grabbed a towel and started up the treadmill. Around and around the belt went. Causing my legs to run faster. Allowing my body to show what it's learned. Around and around the belt went. Allowing my body to recover and remind myself that I am strong.

After I headed home and had a small bite to eat (you'll see why), I laced up the shoes again. I cruised in my car and picked up another workout fanatic named Heidi. We drove over to a kickboxing class held at a Tae Kwon Do school. Laughing all of the way due to our nervous energy, we arrived to find four other women who were just as excited to begin.

Each jab brought an exhale of air. Each jab brought a leg movement. Each jab brought sore knuckles. Each jab brought my body to a new level. Many jabs, jumps, and mat work later, we are finished. We are slightly winded, but really excited about next Wednesday. Be still my body and sleep tonight, but remember...we have work still to do!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Okay, I watching the Biggest Loser right now (which I am definitely passionate about becoming healthy), but right now I CAN'T STAND THE BLUE TEAM!!! Okay, maybe just the attitudes that come out from them. I know it's all a game, but my goodness. What I am taking away from it is...remember that I need to be humble with the gains that I've made and encourage everyone where they are. It's not about me. It's about everyone becoming healthy and comfortable with who they are, in the skin they're in!

Slice of Life Challenge #5 - My Amazing Class

I love what comes out of my students' mouths. I cannot predict, nor do I want to. Their spontaneity is one of the greatest things and most of the time I ask their permission to put their comments on my blog. In fact, some students even preface their comments you want to put this on your blog? That being said...we have been inferring for the past week. Lately, some of their work behaviors have less than perfect. I have asked the students before, "Does anyone want to infer what I am thinking?" Most of the time, they know the was no different.

They were being loud in the Hive and as I turned to the class and started to say, "Does anyone want to infer...?" One of my boys (who is so incredibly bright, but very black and white thinking) responded with, "Way past ya." Yep, blog-worthy!

I also asked students during their independent recess time (don't ask), about their writing. Both of the girls were writing a non-fiction book about ponies. One of my sweet ones told me that "Even though we're writing the same type of book, it'll be different because our schema is different." I love it! They get it! One of the biggest slices of life that I enjoy is my class. They are a true blessing to me and one of the reasons I adore teaching!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Slice of Life Challenge #4 - Panic!

I began an inferring lesson on Friday with Those Shoes - a great book to show you don't always need everything. We were having so much fun inferring (is that possible?) that I had to stop halfway through because I wanted the students to have some of their own reading time. I set the book on the counter and now we fast forward to Monday. I gather the students in the Hive (our meeting place) and I go to grab the book. IT'S NOT THERE! Now I may be a little more on the chaos side of organization, but I know where my things are! I ask the students if any of them placed it in their book bin. No, was their reply. Do I buy this? Kids, go check your book bins and so began the panic. The book wasn't and isn't mine. I got it from a public library and it's due in three days! I wish you could have been a fly on the wall...fourteen students were running around the room, checking their book bin, a neighbor's book bin, under pillows, in our recycling bin, through our many book baskets. It was no where! I then thought about one student who tends to take things without telling me (most of the time, I don't think it's completely on purpose). In his backpack, I found another book that had also been on the counter. That got me thinking...I called home and sure enough, it was there! I have never been so happy to hear that a book has been found! (I did offer this boy a prize for each book he brings back from home that's mine...we'll see how many prizes I give out.)

On a side comment, I told the class I'd probably have to spend $25 on a new book and one boy told me he'd give me his four dollars. I love my class!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What to do??? - Slice of Life Challenge #3

I have found lots of things to do today. I made an amazing stir-fry with chicken, fresh portabella mushrooms, frozen vegetables, and great short-grain brown rice. I created back up cd's of my music off of my PC to put onto my Mac. I went and ran 2 miles (in 21:16 - that's a 10:38 mile - coming from someone who never was able to run a mile in high school). I talked with a friend who lives in Atlanta. I explored a website, which was almost too confusing. I took a shower. I listened to music on Itunes...but the one thing that I haven't done and need to do is plan for my class. Why do I always put that off? I'm a control freak. Why can't I just sit down and plan it out. Why must I procrastinate??? So, as I end this post, I am headed to pull out my plan book and look at our lessons for the week...someone save me!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Language Backfire

One result from Reading Workshop that I love is the way the students talk with myself and each other. However, one of them has reached a new level (which I'll be letting Ellin Keene know about). We have been studying how inferences are made as we read. The other day, one student said to another...I'm not going to let you get away with that. Which caused the other boy to say something more. One of the other comments that was made during our inference discussion was when a student started predicting and one student responded back with, "I think you are predicting." I love that they are naming and responding to each other.

Some of the comments I make to the ever popular "I don't know" are: 1) well, if you did know, what would you say? 2) make it up, and 3) I'm not going to let you get away with that.

While one of my students was getting ready to share their ideas, they responded with, "I're going to say make it up." Another student, when I asked her to "make it up" (meaning come up with something that you're thinking), she said, "lights and towels."

I was a little puzzled and had her repeat herself. When I asked her what she meant, she said, "Well, you said to make it up."

I really and truly do love my class!

Slice of Life #2 (a trip with me)

Gather all of my bags, grab what I need. Pull, adjust, move, rearrange, stretch! Throw my hat on and push the door open. Take a left and head straight. Jog over a bit, then take the road all the way. Little dogs run problem! Run across 15. Straight, turn left then right immediately. Go to the corner. Take the left and run through the intersections. Then the long stretch...take the road straight and into the wind. Keep going...almost there...get to the housing addition. Whew, take a turn and the wind changes. I can do this. Get back out on the long road, but the wind pushes me now. Run along 15 and pray people are watching what they are doing. Take a right onto 4th...I'm almost there! Whew, there's the school. Take the sidewalk. Drop off my extra clothes that made me too hot and get ready to do it all again. Run it again with the same attitude, I can do this! A day in the life of a mini-marathon trainer. You just took the journey of 6.6 miles. Are you tired?