Monday, January 25, 2010


I have one. I want my local government to hear it. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get in touch with my district senator. I am not a fan of a bill that Governor Daniels is endorsing.

I want my voice heard. I want to know that I matter. Don't we all?

Regardless, I wrote an e-mail tonight and sent it to my district senator. I don't think I would have written this a few years ago. I think blogging has made (okay, I know) me a better writer. I think teaching in a workshop style classroom has made me a better teacher.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter who reads my blog, who my audience is...what matters is that what I have to say is important. Simply because I matter. My voice deserves to be heard.

Who instills this?

Today, I had a student who wrote a not very nice note to a classmate. After the teacher had spoken with her (happened in another class), I politely explained that I was not going to punish her since she had already been talked to. I asked her what she thought she ought to do and what will happen as a consequence if she does it again. She told me she had already written an apology note (on our sticky notes) and I explained that I will keep the first note and if it happens again, she'll call her mother and read the note.

I am glad that she wrote an apology note before I even asked her to do so and watching the boy read it and accept her apology was precious.

So, my question is...who instilled this in her? Is it just something she's always had? Is it from the classroom and the way we run our community? I'm glad she used the notes that are so readily available. Regardless...I am so very excited that she knows she has to fix what she has broken and that he accepted her apology so freely.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

He's just funny

I have this one boy who has a quirky sense of humor. Today, I was conferencing with him about his reading and he was in the middle of Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice. After talking with me (and since he's seen and read the book before) shared with me that one of his favorite parts is when he finds his "twin brother." And yes, reader, he used air quotes as he spoke. I was laughing inside so hard that I almost missed his next amazing comment. He began talking about the voices he hears as he reads. I can't quite describe how he said it, but I definitely smiled.

** The previous paragraph was written a few weeks ago and as I was postponing the drafting of it...he struck again.

I was talking with the writers in our class about how Gail Gibbons dedicates and thanks the people in her book who help teach her. As I was explaining who she had thanked in The Pumpkin Book, I told them that she had thanked an owner of a greenhouse. My quirky one pops in with, "Greenhouse? Is that like the White House?"

"No," I said and kept teaching.

And yet, another day, as I was talking with him to keep him focused (it's definitely hard somedays), I tried to encourage him as I left him to work on his book review. As I turned, he said, "I just haven't unlocked that power yet." Classic! I handed him a key to help him unlock his power and we are daily unlocking his power, and sometimes more than once a day.

He has integrity

We have literacy stations in our room. This week, one of the stations is Pictureka, the card game. The students love it (I think). Today, as we were cleaning up, I noticed that one of the boys was putting the cards into the box. Since I know that students often cannot stick cards right back into the box without tearing it, I put them into a plastic bag too. Well, apparently today the plastic bag was nowhere to be found. I asked the group (okay, maybe not asked, demanded) to find the bag and now the next group wouldn't be able to play the game because the cards would be all over. The students from that group just sat there and then the unthinkable happened.

One of the boys who had played the game THE DAY BEFORE spoke up and admitted that he had taken the cards out and hadn't put them back into the bag. WOW! I gave him one of our rewards that we have at our school and truly am impressed with his honesty.

I hope his mom (since she reads this - btw, he knew I was writing this) understands how amazing it was that this truth has been established in his life and he spoke up. That took guts in front of 18 other students. Thank you...I will be using him as an example for many years to come with my future classes.

1 for 10

Cross one off for the year...Clean my room!

Here are pictures...and by the way, I am being very vulnerable with you, my lovely blogging friends. I am proud of what I accomplished. And it's stayed clean...maybe one shirt here and there, but it feels great and I want to keep it that way!

By my bed...(can you tell I like to read?)

I tend to pile my clothes instead of hang them up.

A basket of sweaters that just needed to be gone through and hung up and a pile of give-away...

This pile of clothing is now donated to Goodwill...gone off of my floor!

And while my bed may not be made, I'm tackling one item at a time...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Word Families = Bad

It just gets keep getting worse. The best part is that my students don't quite understand what they say. Today's word family was -ew...yep, you got what was coming.

One of my students gave the word Jew, which is fine in itself. I explained who the Jewish people are. One of my boys turned around to talk with me and asked if the war was against Jews. Now I know where you might go with that, but he was just misunderstood. I told him no and he then asked, "Afghanistan?" I just nodded yes.

Then, when it can't get any worse, one of my boys said, "Like Judge Jew-dy (meaning Judy)."

I couldn't contain my laughter! I wrote it down as much as I could while trying not to laugh out loud.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Wonderland

A poem in progress...

Winter Wonderland

Why the wonder?
Could it be
the magical mysterious mist
of fog?

Could it be
the quiet that
when snow falls?

Could it be
the crystals
when you look
at snowflakes?

Could it be
that the
death of life
to give
birth to new
brings the wonder?

For those of you who are poets...give me feedback, what can I change to make it more powerful? I think one of the most amazing things of winter is that new life comes after what we thought was dead...

The slice that won't occur tomorrow...

To be honest, one of my favorite times of the day is when I read with the class. I say with rather than to because they are completely involved. Tomorrow, that won't occur...sure, I'll have my reading workshop and writing workshop time to read to them (for a few more weeks), but diving into a book with the students and talking through our thinking isn't going to happen. After I feel that our student teacher is engaging the students and feels comfortable with the read-aloud, I've offered my reading services to other teachers. Isn't that funny? Taking away my read-alouds is like taking away breathing...I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do. Probably start reading out loud to strangers on the street (to my local friends, anytime you want me to read to you, let me know).

We finished The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo on Friday and the first question the students asked was, "Are we going to read another book by Kate?"

"Of course we are, "I replied, knowing full well that after our student teacher begins to phase out, we'll start The Tale of Despereaux...excited for that!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A few days ago, I posted about being frustrated with shoveling my driveway and then choosing to be intentional about having a better attitude. The other day I noticed that around the side door to my garage, a pathway had been shoveled. I naturally assumed that my neighbor boys had been sweet and shoveled my driveway and cleaned out by the bottom where the plow had gone by. I saw them at the Y later and asked them if they had come by and shoveled. They hadn't...but like great neighbors they had seen a car show up with someone popping out and shoveling.

So, who shoveled my driveway? Let's just say, I have a very faithful friend who reads my blog and knew that sometimes being single is hard for me and chose to take time out of her busy schedule (she's amazingly smart and has a job that reflects that) and shoveled part of my driveway.

To my friend: thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope that each one of you that reads my blog has friends that do good for you and for others. I hope that you do good for others. You have no idea what that kind gesture means!

Don't quite have it...

I try to not use sarcasm in the classroom. I've read and heard that there just isn't a place for it. Sometimes I can't help myself. So, after teaching them what sarcasm meant a while ago, I figured the topic was over. I, again, was wrong.

Today, I asked the students to clean off their desks so we could focus on researching for our writing. Last year, many of my students were very literal...this year, not so much. I haven't had to explain figurative vs. literal language. After I gave them the instruction, one of my students asked if that applied to their water bottles as well. My amazing librarian student replied with, "Don't be so sarcasm."

Ah, sweetie, you don't quite have it...

And I just had to chuckle today when one of my boys high-fived another after he had passed some gas while we were reading a book together...boys will be boys. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Student Funnies...

The funnies that I have recently heard and recorded...

* I expect proper grammar when students speak with me. Consequently, today when a child told me he ain't got work, I made him repeat himself until he corrected the ain't. I told him that ain't isn't a word and another girl interrupted me to tell me that it isn't a word "unless it's in a sentence." Ahh...thanks! Also, one of my boys told me that he thinks it's been placed in the dictionary...if it has, then should I allow it?

* During a words lesson, one of my boys told me (out of the blue) doesn't like his grown-up teeth in the front of his mouth. He feels that it makes his gums feel weird.

* We are researching informational topics. One of my girls is writing about the human body. As we were sitting our groups sharing what we know (because if you can't talk about, you probably can't write about it), she shared that she knew that if it's a girl, it's born head first...we quickly left this topic.

* In the same group of sharing, we were talking about cows and how they get cut up for meat. I told them that's how we get hamburger and one of my boys stated he's never eating hamburger again.

* Again, in our sharing (they're great for spying on students), the students were talking about the differences between boys and girls. The students came up with the fact that boys have short hair and girls have long hair. My girl who is researching the body told the group that boys can have long hair. To which (without missing a beat) another boy stated, "Yeah, they're called hippies." I had to bite my tongue.

* I love how students are not aware of time. It becomes very evident when discussing years and the past. One of my girls is researching Amelia Earhart and I asked her when she was born. She didn't know (therefore, she'll research it) and two other students suggested times..."1975?" and then my hippies comment boy said, "1876?"

It worked!

I recently talked with a fellow blogger and teacher. She had shared with me how in Georgia Heard's book, A Place for Wonder, the students researched their topics and questions by looking at the books and then WALKING AWAY to write down their thinking. This caused the students to have to paraphrase and NOT copy...oh my goodness! I did this today and you should have seen how these students worked! We could have researched for an hour and I don't think it would have been enough for them. Now, granted some students ended up researching more than one topic and one boy only wrote one fact. BUT...when you have students thanking you and telling you that this was the best thing ever...I think Georgie was on to something in her book.

And...I shared it with one of my colleagues and she's going to try it with her class. I'm excited to see how it goes!

Can you tell I'm excited for tomorrow? We're going to dive into the index and find answers to certain questions and then Friday, begin writing down big topics to teach and sort our facts. LOVE IT!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My 10 for 10

This year, I am trying something new. I have 10 goals. And some of you will get to help me with them (my running friends)! This will also help me become intentional, I believe.

1. Read three professional books
2. Run 5 5K's
3. Run a sub 30 5K
4. Pay off debt to dad (and thus, be debt free except my mortgage)
5. Go to Honduras on a mission trip (scared of flying)
6. Clean off all of the clothes off my floor and have them put away
7. See a movie by myself
8. Give blood 4 times (one down and three to go)
9. Write my compassion children three times each this year
10. Finish reading whole Bible (on track to finish mid-July)

Do you have 10 for 10?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've blogged about this before, but I am curious about my audience. I know that giving my students an authentic audience is VITAL to their writing, but I am wondering today about my audience. You. So, if you would do me the honor of leaving me a comment, nothing major, but maybe what state you reside in and how you found my blog and if you're a friend, fellow educator, both, or something else altogether. I think it would help me focus my writing if I know who's reading. Thanks in advance.


Today, I was able to go to a town nearby and visit with another fellow blogger and teacher. She warms my heart and inspires and challenges me all at the same time. I decided to stop at a nearby mall and do a little shopping. I was kind of bummed because my sister was in the same town visiting a friend and having lunch with my mom, but was going to be at the other big shopping area. As I was leaving one of the stores, who should I see, but my sister and my mom! It was great! I got to hang out with my sister for about 30 minutes and even ended up buying a pair of shoes while I was with her (wait till you see the green shoes) and pass off a few things for my dad that she's taking when she visits him at the end of the month. I underrated how much I needed to see her! It was a true blessing!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Intentional about others...

Today I took another step in being intentional. I gave blood. I've never given blood before (mostly because I was afraid of passing out and it didn't hurt that I had a cute guy taking it). A friend from church talked me into it. He's given over 20 gallons. I'm on my pint down, many to go. What a great math lesson I'll be able to teach the kids!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


My friend made dinner tonight for me. As we were talking about our 2009 highlights and what our resolutions are for 2010, the topic of being intentional came up. It was amazing that we both are trying to be intentional with others. It was just really nice to have contact with someone other than my cat and my amazing cherubs at school. Dinner was served on fine china and we even had a dessert...ahhhh.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blogging Book

(I know it's backwards...I created the cover and took a photo using Photo Booth.)
This is my new book. I use it to write down the amazing things that happen in my classroom that inspire me to become a better teacher. The students know every time I grab this book that I've either spied on them or they have said something I want to remember. Today was no exception.

I am reading to the class, The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo. It was talking about the elephant saying her name to herself. I asked the class what they thought the name was. One of my cherubs piped in right away with, "Christina." We all kind of laughed and then he added, "Or maybe Cathy." I just smiled.

Then later, we were creating the -ay family and one of my boys suggested tay. When the students give me words that I know are not real words, I ask them to use it in a sentence. This boy didn't bat an eye. He responded with, "Can you tay my bathroom?" Hmmmm...maybe he's thinking tay means clean. :)

And of course, gay was offered. I tried to quickly explain that it meant happy and that nowadays people use it to mean stupid. I also tried not to catch the eye of the paraprofessional in the room or my student teacher, because I knew I would lose it. I already blushed, hoping that no students gave inappropriate comments about the word.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Choosing Attitude

Chalk it up to hormones or cabin fever or whatever, I have been a little more cranky about living alone. Tonight was no exception. I chose to work out again after a workout with some of my co-workers. We have had some snow (and by some I mean at least 4 to 6 inches). Instead of heading back out onto the snowy roads to watch The Bachelor with some other girlfriends, I headed out to shovel my driveway (because who knows how much more snow we're going to get). As I was shoveling, I was irritated. My'd be nice to have a snowblower, it'd be nice to have someone else to shovel the driveway, it'd be nice if a random stranger came and plowed my driveway, it'd be nice to have a boyfriend, how wonderful (catch the sarcasm) that my friends all have guys that can shovel their driveway. I caught myself, because there are women (and men) who live alone that physically CANNOT shovel their driveway. I then thanked God that I have the physical strength and can shovel it. I thanked God that I have a house to walk back into that has heat and food to eat. I really don't have it all that bad. I have to ben intentional with my attitude. It's a good thing...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Maybe I could

I have been toying with the idea of starting a writing club at school. I know that most teachers teach a workshop method, but to open it up to students who REALLY like to write. Encourage them to submit their writing on the internet and to other publishing companies in the hopes that writers learn that they have an audience when they write.

Any thoughts from those of you who teach?

BTW, found a great place where students can submit book reviews. I may have my class do this when we start writing book summaries...okay, maybe my student teacher will have taken over by who knows, but it's something in the back of my mind.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Remember when you'd read the newspaper or see Jeopardy and it'd say Potpourri? I always wondered why they were going to talk about the smelly fragrance stuff...until I learned it's just a mixture of odds and ends.

So here's my odds and ends...

Did you know that this month is National Blogging Month? There's a challenge out there to blog once a day for 31 I'm going to accept the challenge. This will help me be intentional in writing as well as maintaining contact with those of you who read my blog (which by the way, so grateful for).

Today I was intentional in my get together with an old small group girl. I noticed a few times I was just waiting for her to stop talking so I could tell a story. I refrained at one point, because it was more important to listen to her and to reconnect. It was wonderful to see her!

Today I was intentional by picking out some books for my students as we begin our informational study for writing an informational book. I picked out a few more sports and comics books based on the reading that some of my students have done. I also picked out a Barbie book...just in case the girls are feeling girly.

Today I was intentional as students received new jobs (they'll see that on Monday morning). I put one girl in charge of the library because she is AMAZING at making sure students turn in their books. I am contemplating making her all-time librarian...she's more on top of it than I am.

Today I was intentional in listening to my Sunday school lesson for tomorrow. I actually listened to the skit that's on the CD rather than just reading it. I even practiced it...most of the time I just wing it...hey, teaching for a living seems to help in that area.