Thursday, March 31, 2011


Our spring music concert was tonight. After attending the afternoon performance and knowing that the fourth grade teachers wouldn't be in attendance (spring break a day early), I popped down there to explain to the students that any inappropriate behavior would cause me to remove them from the program.

As I came back to my classroom (I had left them watching a movie on the Smart Board...aren't I good?), my ELL student was there. Her sister had gone down to her classroom, but her teacher wasn't there. I sent my ELL to get her and when she came back empty-handed, I knew I had to go look for her.

However, it was also time for our class to head down. I thought I'd look in the gym to see if she was sitting with her first-grade teacher. As my class waited in the hallway and my co-worker watched them, I walked into the packed venue. I quickly found her teacher and she wasn't with her. I knew the parents had been unable to stay for the concert (they work at a local restaurant, but had dropped the girls off). As I looked through the crowd, panic began to set in. Where was this little girl?

I enlisted a few others to begin looking and then began searching the crowd frantically. A parent went searching in the halls. Our assistant principal headed towards the other side of the school. I stayed in the gym. Suddenly, I see this little Asian face sticking out among the crowd. She was sitting almost towards the top of the bleachers. Surrounded by others. Knowing no one she was sitting by. My heart was elated and then sank at the same time.

To imagine sitting alone in a gym surrounded by people speaking a language you are learning. She sat with me during the performance. She giggled, smiled, danced, and laughed as she watched her sister and the concert.

I'm glad the search ended almost as quickly as it had begun and even more glad to have experienced the concert with her.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Near my town is another town. Nestled in that town are some woods. Hidden throughout those woods are trails. And those trails are where my feet took me today. But not forwards. Backwards.

It's interesting when you take a trail that you know up, down, left, and right, backwards. I found myself turning around to see if it looked right. My feet found roots that it normally didn't touch.

What was normal were the sounds that I heard. Leaves rustling. Frogs and crickets singing to each other. Bikers racing through the trails. My feet crunching the leaves beneath them.

I love those trails. Forwards or backwards. Those trails keep me breathing fresh air. They keep me running. They keep me balanced.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Discovering what students love is important to me. Tapping into what they dislike and seeing them fall in love with is can be even better.

Nothing makes me smile more than seeing my hater of reading check out a book on his own for home. Seeing my Star-Wars-video-game-playing boy's eyes light up when he finds out I have an entire bin of mystery books to try. Hearing my talker cheer and tell me I'm the best teacher because I made chapter book paper for him.

Watching students stuff their faces into books so they can be in the flow of reading. Requesting time to read. Requesting time to write. Requesting choice time where they continue to read and then cheer. Asking me to up the time they get to read and write.

This is what's fun. This is what gets me up in the morning. This is what makes me love what I do in my classroom! Tell me state government you get to do that?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Across the room

It was just across the room. I've been there before. The magazines are kept in that alcove. Comfy chairs invite you to take a load off and look through a book.

Today, there was a different reason to go. Today I embraced people that were unknown to me only two days ago.

We chatted. Caught up on one of the residents from the homeless shelter and what was going on with her medically. Made plans for me to bring chocolate eclair dessert over to the shelters this week. Invitations were extended for me to come and volunteer again.

Yes, I'll be back, because you matter...

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I am realizing more and more the power that words have. Today, words brought me smiles, challenges, strength, peace, encouragement, and power.

Hearing that someone paid it forward this morning and I only owed a dollar for my highly-desired latte brought a smile.

Hearing that we should listen more than we talk to God brought me a challenge.

Hearing a song that claims the power of Jesus' name brought me strength as I walked into my time with my small group. It's been a rough past few weeks of meetings where girls don't talk and are struggling with some big topics. Tonight was an amazing one though!!!

Hearing music on Pandora brought me peace as I slowed my evening down.

Hearing a girl's voice on the phone tonight rather than all of her texts brought me encouragement that a relationship can be built and there will be victory in her life.

Hearing someone's story tonight brought power as I prayed with her.

One of my friends is a lover of words. She's amazing. She has a true and gifts her words generously to others. I am beginning to see the power that she knew all along.

Your words matter. Speak them. We need them!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What do you say?

What do you say when you stay at a shelter for the night and you realize how much you have?

God, I am blown away. I have so much. I am in awe.

I cannot put into words about my experience here. I am simply just amazed at how selfish I can be and how much I have. It's almost sickening.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wonder of Reading

Tonight I was rewarded. I have met the illustrator of the Stinky Face books, but tonight I had the pleasure of a three year-old read Merry Christmas Stinky Face to me.

As she opened it, I knew there was a repeating line, but to hear her read most of the lines and truly say probably 95.6% of the words correctly and in order, I was amazed.

Her mom has read the book to her a few times and she seems to pick up words quickly.

It was truly a joy to sit and just listen to her read. I couldn't help but begin to assess her reading. She had great expression and knew how to raise her voice at question marks. She paused at commas, reread when she lost her way, and paused to enjoy the pages.

What a treat!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Every other week on Thursday, I am doubly blessed. First, I have this parent helper who comes in and does whatever I ask her. She's amazing! I love parents that help! Even just a little goes a long way.
This afternoon, I was expecting four high school students and two adult helpers. We were going to do some word stations, review telling time to the minute, some homework that needed read to a student, and grade math papers that I have put off.

As we were in writing workshop, our writing coach popped in. She stayed to hang out while we were in workshop and I knew our students were coming soon, but it was nice to have her in there for the time that I did have.

And as we conferred with the students, I kept waiting for the students. And waiting. And waiting. By the time we lined up for library, my students had had one of the longest workshops ever and our high school friends weren't there.

Flexibility is huge in a teacher's day. I thanked my students for their flexibility. I praised them for being able to write for as long as they did. It's always amazing to see how their stamina truly grows through the year. I worked with as many students as I could after their recess and I let go of what was supposed to happen. Looking to tomorrow, our box for Friday got a few more activities placed onto the schedule, but it's okay. Some of my students are making some breakthroughs in their writing and I was glad they had the chance to show themselves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Compassion...slice of life

Every other Wednesday I get the opportunity to meet people that are around me in my community. A ministry was developed to help with homelessness and poverty in my area and I jumped onboard. The best part has been just getting to know some of the families. I have nothing to give. I have everything to gain from everyone around me.

Tonight while the adults ate dinner, the kids were invited to paint T-shirts with puffy paint. Oh, the 80's. Everything was running very smoothly. T-shirts were created and spread out on the floor to dry.

The story of the woman involved is unknown. What is known is she comes by herself and has several young children. Her youngest, definitely under two, was walking around by himself at the center. Wet paint must attract small feet. His feet found the shirts and kept walking and as we could follow his trail, kids noticed that their shirts had been walked on. While only a few were "messed up", most were left undisturbed.

Now, common sense would tell me to keep a closer eye on the child, but he ended up going through the shirts two more times. And while one girl eyed the damage to her brother's shirt, she responded with grace and compassion, "It's okay, he's just a baby."

I spent the night cleaning up puffy paint off the floor and wondering why can't she watch her child closer? However, after speaking with another volunteer, I was reminded that this may be the only outlet where she can sit and let her kids walk around and know that they are safe.

You never truly know another's story until they share it with you. It's a lesson I need to remember when I meet others.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pudding Pie Panic!

It began last night. It exploded this morning.

Every week, I reward slicers who write four or more slices in a week. They then get to share a "slice" of food with me at lunchtime. We've had orange slices, slices of strawberries and bananas, and today we were going to have slices of chocolate pie.

Last night I mixed the chocolate pudding, poured it into the crust, and then put it in the frig to set up overnight.


This morning, while I was multi-tasking, I opened the frig door to pull out the pie. I could tell as soon as I began lifting it out, that something was wrong. It wasn't stiff. It was as runny as the chocolate river in Willy Wonka's factory. Deciding to investigate, I set it on the counter and took off the lid.

Now, I'm not a scientist, but Murphy's law was in full motion today. And once the chocolate liquid was in motion, it continued in motion...all over my countertops, my kitchen floor, and my clothes. I have never seen so much liquid everywhere. Splosh, splish, splash!

After mopping up the floor, wiping off the counters, and rinsing out my clothes, I looked at the culprit. I must have had a bad batch of pudding. The box was lying on the counter (soaked in chocolate liquid). In an instant, I knew what was wrong. It read, "Cook and serve". Whoops!

And after sharing this story with my students today, one of them encouraged me to do a better job of reading directions. I only smiled back. At least they can learn from my example!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A New Crowd

Today I ventured out and did something new. I joined a book club. I read a book. I talked with other readers. However, the make-up of the group is what I love! I work with most of them and a few of them have retired, so it was great to catch up and remember what it used to be like to have them around more often.

The night was filled with fun, food, and laughter! We talked about the books. We talked about the characters. We talked about our lives (and they talked about their memories of the books mentioned in the book - I'm a little too young to know some of the references - which kind of makes me feel good).

New books were brought up. New authors were talked about. New dates were set.

The evening ended as it had began. Talking, laughing, conversing, being. It was two and a half hours of joy. It makes me excited to push myself as a reader and venture into books that I might have never picked for myself.

I truly am thankful that they welcomed me with open arms and let me into their crowd tonight.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What is Sunday?

What is Sunday?

Sun-come-out-late day

Saturday, March 19, 2011


My church participates with an organization that takes food boxes to villages in Honduras each summer. Last year, I had the opportunity to go and give them. I am going again this summer. I had purchased three boxes to pack myself and due to procrastination, I needed to get them to church as soon as possible.
I traveled to two different grocery stores trying to get the best deal possible. I began packing the boxes and as I lifted one of the five pound bags of rice, my thumb nicked the bag at just the right spot and it split open. Ugh!

That called for another trip to Wal-Mart and I didn't want to drive back out there. Therefore, I decided to go to a closer grocery store and since it was so nice, I walked.

And while I walked I listened to my iPod. I was greeted by three of my junior high small group girls in the truck at the intersection. I ran into a friend who is going to talk to her husband about possibly helping support my trip. I carried ten pounds of rice back to my house. I thought about the weight that I have lost over the years and can't imagine having that back on after lugging the ten pounds back. I talked my mom through a camera/computer question on the phone. I talked to my neighbors and toured their house that they are rebuilding.

Sometimes, taking a car is overrated. I would have missed out on quite a bit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm glad you see my side...

I've almost seen it all folks. I cannot tell you how many times I have to tell students to take care of certain issues. I've seen so much crack and asked so many kids to pull up their jeans because their underwear is hanging out. I've dealt with puke and snot and blood and more snot. If I had a quarter for every time that I have asked kids to blow their noses, I could send myself on a paid cruise.

Today, was no exception. I had pulled a student up on my left to talk about his math with him, when my bee-hander (that's how he lets me know he needs to talk with me without interrupting others) came up so I could tell him something.

But before I could talk to him, he HAD to go blow his nose. It was gross. It was green. And it was getting ready to drip down. I asked him to go blow his nose and my pirate lover on my left said, (I'm pretty sure in a sarcastic tone) "What? You don't like talking to people that have snot dripping down their noses?"

I replied back, "No, do you?"


Case, blow your noses!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Noticing the lunch menu

I heard one of the presenters this weekend say that our struggling readers do not have the art of observing. This writer has the art of observation. She picked up the backslash by looking at the lunch menu in the cafeteria. Too bad she didn't pick up any healthy food. :)


"Hi," came the single word. And then I realized that it wasn't the boy I babysit, but the fifteen-month old. She had finally said, "Hi," on the phone to me.

As we put on her sweatshirt and hat, we headed out for a walk. Her brother and his friend rode their bikes up ahead. Every 20 feet or so, she'd pop her head backwards and say, "Hi."

Such a small word. Such a powerful word. It can open doors and make people feel at ease. It has the power to create friends and bring light to people who are in the dark.

Who will you say "Hi" to?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Student Slice


It is with sad regret that I share this slice with you. I committed the unthinkable. And it is only with thankfulness at the child's response that I can feel that everything is okay.

My southern belle had vanished this afternoon, and I didn't know until the nurse called. She hadn't felt well all day and I had sent her earlier.

While the students were working through some independent math, I received a phone call and was instructed to pick up. It turned out that my southern belle had snuck down to the nurse's office without telling me.

I decided to talk with her at recess than talk about it in front of other students. After making our way outside, I had my cell phone and a cup of snack in my hand (hadn't been able to eat the afternoon snack due to teaching and working with students). I began talking with her about leaving the room without permission. And then it I was talking, a piece of food, really a small particle, flew out of my mouth and right onto her jacket. I was mortified.

I reached forward, wiped off the food, and apologized. She replied, "That's okay," and we were back to the conversation. She didn't bring it up again that afternoon.

I know she has her problems, but she definitely is full of kindness! For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Student Slice

We are currently studying an author in Writing Workshop - Lynn Plourde. One thing that Lynn does is play with alliteration and made-up words. Here is one slicer trying it herself!


Tuesdays are fun. Tuesdays are joke days. Tuesdays are days where I can see their understanding as they finally "get" the joke. Some days it takes longer than others. Today was one of those.

Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine...har har har. It took them a while to connect ate the verb to eight the noun.

However, what occurred after shows me why I fall in love more and more with my class every day.

My talker began sharing his thinking about how the joke reminded him of One (a book) because the colors were being bullied and One stood up to him. Seven was being a bully to the other numbers.

After he shared his thought, my Cubs fan said, "Talker, you changed my thinking. I wasn't thinking that at first, but now I am."

Why do I love this? One, my talker shared his thinking and connected his thoughts very well so we could understand him. Two, he remembers every book I have read to him. Three, my Cubs fan didn't tell me. He turned and talked to his peer. That is one behavior I try to teach. Talk to others, not just the teacher. How I love to see it all in action.

I am grateful I get the chance to see this work day in and day out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I notice...

Today as I was driving back from my school, I reflected on the day.

Listening to Bohemian Rhapsody takes me back to Wayne's World and the head-banging event in the car.

A hug (or two or three) from a friend in the grocery store is healing for the soul.

Laughter from a car ride with three other co-workers invigorates the soul and reminds me that laughter is necessary!

Asking for help is okay. Receiving help is even better.

Unpacking is not fun. I always come home with more than when I left. However, I think I came home with more than just books. My brain, soul, and heart are overflowing!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I have had the pleasure of attending a great reading conference the past few days. After having some books (they're in Chinese!) autographed by the author, I decided to head back through the long and winding skywalk to unload my 31 bag that was causing my left shoulder to be lower than my right. (It's not the bag's's mine. I'm carrying too much stuff.)

I left the hotel where the breakfast was and headed back. As I walked, I noticed something. I was alone. Completely alone. No one in front of me. No one beside me. No one behind me.

It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air.

I love being with people. I thrive on being extroverted. But today, it was nice to have a moment all to myself.

Solace in the solitude of being single.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Student Slicing

It's the slice on the right. What's so great is that this writer is beginning to play around with replacing her ands with periods. Shocking to use periods I know! This is something she has struggled with all year, so I'm super-excited to see how she continues to grow.

Filled up

After listening to several speakers today, my attitude towards teaching is different. I feel alive today. I feel empowered today. I feel admired.

Isn't it amazing how compliments improve your attitude? Isn't it amazing the profession I get to be in?

And power seemed to radiate throughout my body today when they asked, "What do you make?"

Yeah, you got it.

I. Make. A difference!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Student Slicing

Sometimes I yell at my students for making noises. Yell is not the word, but I know I definitely snap after hearing the same noises over and over and over.

But, on Thursday, the opposite happened. What follows is one of my student's slices...

I was reading, then suddenly something popped. Then Miss Cathy said, "I was messing around."

I had been playing with a plastic glove and was wrapping it around my hands while I was talking with someone else in my room. And yes, the pressure built and then exploded. It wouldn't have been so bad, except the class was reading and for once, they were silent...I felt awful. It was definitely ironic and very funny when looking back.



I LOVE conferring! What the students have to say is amazing! And today didn't prove anything different.

The students had written down their thinking to a book I had read to show how their thinking changed and grew. My talker was beating himself up because he didn't have any thinking. I knew this wasn't true...he just didn't stop to really think about his thinking.

I chose to meet with him first. As he's reading Mercy Watson (which my boys LOVE), I asked him about what he thought about the characters. He told me that Eugenia was grumpy. When I asked him to tell me more, he said, "Eugenia is probably grumpy because an old boyfriend broke up with her."

I smiled...Kids say amazing (and sometimes funny) things. If we would slow down, stop and truly listen!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Student Slice

While it may not seem like a lot of writing, this is one of the first slices where this writer has written about one event that happened that day. Not the future. Not the whole day. Just a bit. I was excited to see him choose one small thing that happened in our reading workshop.

And here I go again...

I realize it's petty. I realize it's wrong. I realize that it's cheap! And while I was all ready to slice about a child chewing me out for the F he earned on his report card and how I had popped a glove while the kids were reading (and it was the quietest they had been all day), I am writing about my frustration.

I have no right to be frustrated. I have every right to be grateful, and I was just easier before.

See, I had free wi-fi...thanks to my neighbor. Normally, I can access wi-fi sitting on my bed with my computer facing the window. It's not always convenient and the signal isn't the greatest. I discovered that I had another unsecure wi-fi spot downstairs and it was AMAZING! I could actually pull up my Google Reader while I was downstairs listening to music, or just check e-mail every now and again in the evening. It made blogging easier.

I logged on tonight and NOTHING. Ugh! What happened, I don't know. I'm hoping it's a temporary glitch and maybe the bill didn't get paid and they'll get it taken care of next week. So, for now, I sit on my bed and type.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Student Slicing

I love that she used two series!!!


It was said as a joke. Due to gas prices rising, I am carpooling with a dear friend and co-worker. We meet at the local Kohl's and then drive together the rest of the way. Saves me 10 miles there and 10 back.

As we neared my car, I joked about how funny it would be if I didn't have my keys. I looked through my purse to grab my massive keychain characterized by a green carabiner. Couldn't seem to find it right away. No problem, just dig deeper. I had shaken my purse before leaving school and had heard the keys.

Looked again, nothing.

Then it got serious...I pulled out my camera, my wallets (one for Dave and one for others), my cellphone, my Flip, and my iPod. Number one - too much technology. Number two - I've got to organize my purse better. The keys were nowhere! Checked the coat pockets, nothing.

My friend offered to drive me back to school to get them, but I did the next best thing. Called mom. She was at home with a spare set to my house where I had a spare car key.

I waited in the lobby, read my book club book, and sheepishly explained to my other co-worker who walked out why I was there. After calling the school and talking with another co-worker, the keys were found right by my computer in the basket where I place my purse every day. I'll know better tomorrow to clip my keys onto the purse.

Looking back, I can laugh at the irony of the situation. I am extremely grateful tonight for caring friends, family who can help, and spare keys.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Student Slicing

Hopefully you can click on the picture and it will become bigger to actually read their writing. If not, let me know and I'll work on my student slices presentations.

-ain family

Our class does a word family every week. I love this time with the class. We get to learn new meanings, input words into our lexical system, and just have fun!

Today was no exception. It was the -ain family. After the kids exhausted their brains with their ideas, I add in a few of my own. I helped them with strain and sprain and then gave them a clue for the next word I was thinking of.

Me: It is a country that speaks Spanish...

And without missing a beat, one of my students said, "Mexico."

I just smiled and then said, "Spain."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Student Slicing

School was busy today. Hectic. I wasn't able to scan the slice of one of my student's, so I took it to type it tonight.

Me and my friend was playing in mud. (I was feeding my horse). I got stuck and I was trying to get my foot out. But I...fell. My jacket was muddy. My foots were muddy. And my sweat pants were muddy.

The reason I feel in love with this slice is that she used a great repeating line at the fun!


I love Aldi's! They are a sister company of my other favorite grocery store, Trader Joe's! I found these Asian noodle bowls and was really excited for a quick stir-fry type meal when I turned the bowl over and saw the calorie content.

410 calories. Only 30 from fat. That's not bad. Then I saw it. Sodium - 47%...I think I retained water just holding the box.

I bought it anyways and tonight, went on a kitchen adventure.

First, I chopped up three broccoli crowns. Then I steamed snow peas, carrots, and the broccoli. Cooked the noodles with more water than suggested (help decrease the sodium, right?) and then threw it in with the veggies. I added a bag of shelled edamame (good stuff!!!) and finished it off with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Waiting for me to devour an amazing stir-fry FILLED with veggies and rather than a one plate meal, I've turned it into 3 or 4...depending on how many veggies I want to eat tonight! Take that sodium!!!

Anyone want to come eat at my house with me?

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The sunlight streams in on the couch, warming my legs. The aromas of cinnamon apple from the candle warmer, spaghetti sauce from the oven, and freshly brewed coffee fill the room. Light swing music plays on the television (love CD channels), and my eyes are in a book. My brain takes in the lives of five women as they get to know each.

As I stop to take in this slice, it feels right. As I stop to take in this slice, words cannot describe it. As I stop to take in this slice, time seems to have slowed down.

Incredibly thankful for a challenge that causes me to slow down and examine parts of my life that might have gone unnoticed.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Student Slicing


I walked into Wal-Mart and needed to use the restroom before doing my shopping. As I walked in, I was a little surprised to see a few people waiting in line.

I waited. Which was fine. And I waited. Still okay. When it was finally my turn, a woman walked out, made eye contact with me, and then proceeded to walk. Out. Without washing her hands!

I almost said something to her, but dismissed the thought.

As I walked around picking up a few items here and there, I kept seeing her. The only thought running through my head was her dirty hands touching her phone, her cart, food items.

I'm glad germs are microscopic. After seeing her today and knowing that many others also do not wash their hands and then venture into public places, I might begin to wear plastic gloves when handling anything.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How Famous is Famous?

As I was trying to transition the students from working on their math to writing workshop, I asked them to clean the room because our famous author was about to come.

This began a frenzy. You could feel the electricity begin to build in the room. Students were walking, talking, thinking. Names were thrown out...Could it be Kate DiCamillo? Ron Roy? The anticipation kept growing.

Suddenly, Mrs. Ayres name up. This began a debate. One of my students commented back, "She's not famous."

Another piped back quickly, "She's an author."

"Yeah, but she's only written one book."

Meanwhile I am chuckling. My students are definitely not aware of the teaching community, let alone the blogging community.

Later, I asked my student how many books does a famous author have to write to be famous. His answer? "Two...or one...or three."

I love students' thoughts.

For those who are wondering, I had printed off advice from Lynn Plourde. We are studying her craft in writing workshop.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Student Slicing

Apology Accepted

During our Accelerated Math time, students were independently working. As I looked at the students that weren't, I inquired as to what was going on with their work load. One of my girls had a practice and wasn't working on it. I asked why and she told me she couldn't find it.

That it unacceptable! I had given it to her for homework and she is one of my overachievers. She took home her informational book and wrote tons! So, you can understand why this irresponsibility was uncalled for and out of the ordinary.

After I had exhausted the possibilities of where it could be, I printed her a new one and then began working with other students.

My hater now lover of reading came up and had her practice stapled to his. Whose fault is this? Mine! I had stapled them earlier and just didn't see it.

Walking towards her with my tail between my legs, I apologized profusely (we had just a lesson on more authentic and sincere apologies). I asked if she would forgive me and she said, "I couldn't stay mad at my favorite teacher."

My heart melted...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Student Slices

While it may not technically count as her slice, one of my students stopped in her reading to share one of our favorite words from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and she found it in another book. Love it!

He didn't want to write a slice, but mom encouraged him. He woke up early to do so! He wasn't sure he could slice every day because nothing exciting ever happens. I'm excited to see how his perspective changes as we intentionally look for slices.