Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr

As soon as I read, The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr I wanted to somehow find funding to put this book in the hands of every classroom and home.  We all worry and Todd validates that on the first page and then defines worry on the next.  He then shares examples of when we could worry with his bright drawings that show detail for those worry emotions.  His worry examples cover all ages; from when you are trying to sleep, use the bathroom or have too many things to do.  I love the two pages where he address technology usage; "when watching TV or from looking at screens too much."  

The second half of the book shares ways to help overcome your worries; talking to someone special, dancing, and why not put a pair of underwear on your head.  I can just imagine my second graders bursting out with giggles.  Another suggestion that I imagine being a good list to write down is to remember the things that make you strong.  He closes his story with an image of different people.  The people who love you and will take care of you.  We all need to remember we have others to reach out to and that okay.



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and movement to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hello Summer and the Transition, {Slice of Life}

Hello Summer,

You've started off just right and in full swing.  I came home Friday night and packed my busy bag for an hour and fifteen minute car ride for a day of three softball games.  In that bag, I packed; my kindle with a book to finish, my knitting project, a craft magazine, walking shoes, an early reader chapter book, bullet journal and pens, walking shoes, and socks.  We arrived at the ballpark and I began my summer softball rhythm.  During warm ups, I walk anywhere from one to two miles.  I return for some reading time and once the game starts I have to put away my reading.  It's hard to read and watch the game.  I brought out my knitting - a simple dishcloth pattern that goes back and forth with a couple of stitch variations.  I watch.  I cheer.  I might question something.  I soak up the sun and sitting.  We had three games and this routine becomes a pattern for the day.  

I finished my book.  I finished off two dishcloths and started a third one.  I read my magazine and felt crafty inspired.  I connected with people and might have gotten a small sunburn.  I logged 20,000 steps which is a small miracle - softball for me is a lot of sitting.  It's all good.  I discovered a day like this snaps the hello summer transition phase.  It thrust me into a different schedule.  It forced me to do different things and preplan those different things.  It reminded me to sit and allow for space to be in the moment.  

I find the transition to summer can be tricky and take a few days to let go of that go, go, go pace of life.  I find taking a vacation right away or now even a day trip can speed up the process and let my body and mind rest more.  I hope you enjoy your transition to summer - it's here or it's coming.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.  




Thursday, May 16, 2019

Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh

Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh is a fun read as we head in to the summer season.  The narrator tells the story of returning to the same cabin on the beach each year with his family and waiting for his friend Chicken Smith.  As the narrator waits, we learn about his relationship with Chicken Smith; where they go at the beach and what they do together.  As a reader, I kept wondering where is Chicken Smith and expecting him to turn up as I turned the pages.  This year seems different and the narrator can't find Chicken Smith.  It appears his house isn't opened for the season.  While it's a bit sad to learn Chicken Smith's house isn't opened the narrator forms a new friendship that isn't expected and probably wouldn't have formed if Chicken Smith was there.  I see this new friendship as one of necessity and warmed my heart.

Thank you Candlewick Press for this advance reader copy to share with others and my students.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bear's Book by Claire Freedman

Finding writing ideas can be tricky and I love that Bear in Bear's Book by Claire Freedman wants to write because his favorite big book of stories is so well read and loved it's falling apart.  He needs more stories and is empowered to write his own.  He sits down expecting to write a story with "exciting beginnings, dramatic middles,  and happy-ever-after endings."  I bet you can imagine what happens next...his paper sits blank.  He begins a journey seeking out ways to help good ideas come to him.  His path crosses with several friends and he begins to help them out along the way.  When he returns to his blank page he sits for a bit and then realizes he could use his adventures to start his story.  I expected his story to be a personal narrative and was surprised when it was an adventure with surprises and a touch of truth.  I think this will help students striving to find an idea and learning how to twist reality for a bit of an adventure they can read and enjoy.

Thank you Candlewick Press for the advanced reader copy to share with students wand friends.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Laptop Repair Reaction {Slice of Life}

I walked in thinking I was going to need to leave my laptop for a repair.  The numbers on the keyboard weren't working and the storage wasn't shifting after deleting large files.  My laptop is probably semi-organized and one of my goals for the summer.  Luckily, my husband had done a backup the night before so when the kind Apple Genius said, we'll need to reset your computer and replace the keyboard; I was ready.  I knew going in to the store I would probably need to leave my computer for overnight.  What I didn't know is my keyboard part would need to be ordered and I would be without my laptop for maybe five days.  I left the store and starting shaking off the worries of not having a laptop a bit like Sharpay Evans from High School Musical, including the little shrill.  My high schooler looked at me and said, "Mom that's a bit dramatic, you'll be fine."  I wasn't sure, she thought I was being silly and I hope one day when her technology isn't available or working she'll remember my little panic and her advise.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sitting, Waiting, Sunsets {Slice of Life}

I arrive late and yet on time because the team arrived late so the game has just started.  I chat with a couple of friends on my way to our side of the field.  I pull up my chair next to a friend who I was happy to see with the perfect view of first base.  I watch the game and wait.  My girl didn't start.  No worries.  I wait some more.  The game gets exciting.  We come from behind and I'm still waiting.  No worries she played a full game last night.  I chase away some worry thoughts about why and give in to sitting and waiting the whole game when number 19 walks out; top or bottom of the sixth.  I decide to take some photos when the sunset changes becoming a perfect backdrop.  Softball forces me to sit and wait.  Today reminded me why - when we sit and wait I take time to notice simple, natural things.  The yellow and orange surrounded by blue - chasing away gray skies.  It's a busy time of year in our schools and it's easy to find the gray moments overwhelming.  I'm going to try and sit a bit more, wait a bit more with students and without to find the sunsets or sunrises that make the work of each day rewarding.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, April 8, 2019

I Can Only Draw Worms {Math Monday}

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt made me laugh and smile.  I initially thought it was perfect for kindergarten and first grade.  I was a little bit on the fence for second grade because the text is simple, the drawings are simple, there's a bit of math and a bit of writing thinking.  Nothing was strongly swaying me to purchase this book until my friend read it and belly laughed through the whole book.  I then knew this book was something for any grade.  We need to laugh more.

The book begins as a counting book; adding a worm each page or two.  Along the way the writer begins to write little stories about each worm.  The little stories are some far out ideas for worms.  Before we meet worm eight there's a dreadful accident.  We now have two half worms!  Here's a bit more math in this funny book about a writer who can only draw worms.

The dedication is at the end of the book and is perfect for anyone who enjoys math or not.




Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thank Goodness for Bob by Matthew Morgan {Mental Wellness}

The first two page spread sets the tone for this important book.  "Max worried a lot.  Unlike his dog, Bob, who didn't worry at all."  The reader then learns about different worries Max has.  One worry made me chuckle - Max is standing next to a pool with his bathing suit on worried he isn't wearing enough clothes.  I think the pool can be a worrisome spot for many people.  Max's worry gather and gather until he doesn't feel right.  Unfortunately, Max isn't comfortable talking to anyone.  Then one day he begins talking to Bob and the reader finds out different ways worries can appear once we say them out loud.  Some are silly, small, and disappear.  Max doesn't worry as much and this might be the most important sentence - (we all worry, after all - it's natural)


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stardust by Jeanne Willis

Stardust by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Briony May Smith is a sweet story.  A little girl wants to be a star and tries to do things just right.  She has a sister always one step ahead.  Her sister finds lost things, knits perfectly, and wins a costume contest.  This little girl is quite sad and goes to sit in a field at night making a wish to be a star herself.  Her Granddad shares a story that starts with once upon a time.  Once upon a time the sky was dark and Granddad shares a charming story guiding his granddaughter to realize everyone is made of stardust and shines in their own way.   Siblings can feel overshadowed and this book will help reinforce we all shine in different ways.  Thank you Candlewick Press for the sneak peak and copy to add to our classroom library.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Radiating Return {Slice of Life}

Ah, the first day back from a long vacation is always so nice.  The room just radiates with happiness. There's an excitement in the air as everyone reconnects.  We gather for morning meeting and part of this rhythm is the opportunity to share anything with our community.  Usually it's about 4 - 6 kids each day of the week except for days we return from a break.  Everyone gets to share after a long break and today that decision was confirmed when hands shot up really quickly with just the mention, "Who has something to share?  Students took turns sharing one idea to our community; ears pierced, visiting grandparents, a cruise, an island, six states to get to Florida, a hot spring, a playdate.  The ideas shared were grand and also from staycations.  I record their ideas always looking for ways to connect and foster relationships and writing ideas.  Today my heart tugged the most when W shared, "I went to a bookstore."  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shuffleboard Becomes a Math Warm Up {Math Monday}


I love discovering #mathinmyworld opportunities to share with our students and I've let this idea get put on the back burner for a bit of time.  While playing several games of shuffleboard and doing lots of mental math as the score keeper I decided I not only had an example of math in my world - I had a math warm up activity.  Today I shared what shuffleboard was, showed a picture of the court, explained how to play and got really excited about the force  and motion involved, and then I explained the scoring.  I gave the students partners to work with and asked them to figure out how many points were scored each round or turn.  I saw some puzzled looks and modeled the first two rounds with a table to help keep track of my thinking.  The room became a gentle buzz with productive math talk.  Definitely an idea to play around with more - maybe there's a new math warm up routine here.  It's easy to see writing and reading in our world - let's find, share, and discuss math in our world that's relevant and applicable for our students to wrap ideas around.




Sunday, March 31, 2019

Congratulations! {31 of 31 Slice of Life}

Happy 31 Days of writing friends!  I love typing the word congratulations alone as a text message and sending the receiver falling confetti.  I'm sending each of you lots of congratulations with confetti!  I'm so excited I wrote for 31 days.  I've been trying to find my writing mojo and nothing works better than writing daily.  I like to make plans and began this journey with a Monday through Friday slice from school and the weekends were something from home.  I really tried to focus on small slices so the writing was focused and I didn't get overwhelmed with volume.  I'm proud I kept writing through the flu.  I appreciate readers sending me well wishes and checking in to make sure things got better.  That was so kind.  We went on spring break and geckos became a writing topic which just confirmed writer's gather ideas as they happen.  I enjoyed checking in with other writers and following your journey.   I'm pondering offering the classroom slice of life to my students after having a successful journey myself.  Again, congratulations and confetti to everyone!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

How to Beat the Gray...{30 of 31 Slice of Life}

I was greeted at the grocery store with the floral department today and got a bit distracted from my mental refill the fridge grocery list.  I scanned the floral department for daffodils and didn't see any.  Then I saw tulip bud bunches.  I pondered the price and it was okay.  My shopping goal was close to home, easy, and get what we need today.  I remembered the current weather conditions; gray gray sky with nonstop rain since we landed at 8:06am.  Yesterday I captured my thoughts on a week of sunshine and that was all I needed to take the tulip purchase plunge.  I had a few color choices; pink, yellow, red, and an orange and yellow combination.  I went with the orange and yellow combination to help me stay positive on a day of gray.  The yellow edges reminded me of our week in the sun and will brighten the week ahead.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sunshine Thinking {29 of 31 Slice of Life}

Today I was in sunshine all day and each day for the past six days.  Sunshine is bright and healing.  Sunshine invites activity.  Sunshine feels warm on the outside and on my inside.  Sunshine brought sitting, laying, and rest.  Sunshine brought reading and conversation.  Sunshine brought exploring.  I need to hang on to these sunshine thoughts and take some of this home with me.  I need to find moments of rest and exploring.  I need to find moments of reading and conversation without noticing the various things I could be doing and chores that might need tending.  I'm going to make moments of stopping and sitting in the sunshine when our regular scheduled routine returns.

Thank you Two Writing Teacher for fostering this writing community.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Geckos Are in our New Destination {28 of 31 Slice of Life}

A says, "there are no geckos here."  I think to myself how can that be?  We only drove less than an hour and a half and stayed in the same state.  Fast forward to the next day, less than 24 hours.  A says, "oh - there's a gecko and more than one."  As I glance her way a little excited her observation from yesterday was wrong; I see a creative response.  It had just stopped raining after a couple of hours and the sun was back.  "Look, it's a swimming pool for the geckos!"  No squeals or toe tapping followed - win for the geckos!




Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Anxiety and Rollercoasters {27 of 31 Slice of Life}

"I want to ride the green rollercoaster." and off they went.  My husband and youngest daughter who is now fifteen years old.  It's a good thing they said it super fast and left.  I do not like rollercoasters at all and never have.  I realized today, I not only have my own rollercoaster fear - it's now a fear of my own children riding them.  I felt so anxious and felt dizzy looking at it knowing they might be on it.  Usually I can watch them and just think yuck, not me.  Today, if I tried to look at it I think I would of burst in to tears.  This might sound dramatic.  I know there's science and engineering behind the design of rollercoasters.  I know it took bravery to ride it.  It made her happy and still I walked around and prayed it all turned it out okay.  It did - she rode the green one again and enjoyed the peak speed of 65 miles per hour.  I enjoyed my feet on the ground.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Gecko Friends or Enemies? {26 of 31 Slice of Life}

Squeals and a little toe tapping came my way from A and she's pointing to two darker gray/black geckos.  The conversation goes like this - "Mom, they are fighting."  "They can't be fighting - they are probably playing."  "Um, that one has the head of the other one in it's mouth!  I think that's fighting!" I finally look the direction she is referring to and not only does one gecko have the other gecko's head in it's mouth; it's dangling the whole gecko off the pelican statue they are playing on.  They appear frozen in time.  I step a little bit closer and they are still frozen in time.  I wait and together they fall to the ground only to get back up on the pelican statue together and possibly start over their playful moment.  I think if they were fighting they would have gone their separate ways.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Real Time - I Spy Game {25 of 31 Slice of Life}

The five of us head out on a kayaking adventure soaking up the blue sky, bright yellow sun, and luscious green native plants.  Its quiet and peaceful.  There are some giggles as we navigate around each other and occasionally bump into each other.  The wind is in our favor and we can just float along for moments.  Then we notice a turtle - hiding between the sticks and branches laying within the river.  Then we spot a few more in varying sizes.  They are so peaceful resting on branches soaking up that bright yellow sun.  It's interesting how they balance their shells on top of a log.  Sometimes we see one or two together.  Sometimes there's a cluster.  Spotting turtles felt like an I Spy book the girls liked when they were little or a Where's Waldo book that was quite popular when I started teaching.  Then I remembered my own joy with my Highlights magazine and their seek and find pages.  It never got old spotting turtles.  Each time we saw one there was joy - being in nature is bringing us joy.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A New Friend? {24 of 31 Slice of Life}

They stand together on the driveway until the gecko is spotted on the garage exterior wall.  A steps back with a small squirmy dance while B takes three steps forward and puts her arms out trying to encourage the gecko to jump to her.  She patiently waits and verbally invites this new gecko friend to jump into her arms.  Not just once, two more times.  Her new gecko friend doesn't seem to be accepting the invitation from the 5'11" teenager.  Geckos move pretty quickly here in Florida in their natural habitat and it's amazing this one stays and lingers so long.  Maybe the gecko friend is actually contemplating her offer.  I wonder if the gecko felt relief when grandpa was ready for that golf cart ride to the the tennis courts.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Jackson Pollack Art? {23 of 31 Slice of Life}

A burst of cold hair hits me as the garage door opens.  My two sidekicks are right behind me surveying the morning sky.  I wonder if they notice the stars and moon still out ready to guide our walk.  They pause to take a bathroom break near the bottom of the drive way and out of the corner of my eye I see blotches of white on the driveway.  At first, I think it might be snow and then realize while it's twenty-six degrees it's completely flat and looks like a Jackson Pollock's painting.  As I ponder a bit more, I draw a hypothesis.  I have a bird during the summer that sits in my tree by the driveway all night long leaving white droplets for the next day.  This bird must of left for the winter and just returned - a welcome sign of spring and warmth to come AND how do I get this bird to find another home where white droplets are more welcomed!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Beaming {22 of 31 Slice of Life}

I walked in to the cafeteria and saw my teammates, each with a smile and expression of you are alive. Our custodian had already started to put tables up and it was blocking the view of my students.  I snuck between the lunch tables and there were 19 beaming faces with whispers of my name over and over.  I gave them all a peppy very fast back and forth wave and we left the cafe.  Once we got back to the room we sat and visited.  They were so happy to tell me what they've been doing for three and a half days without me.  They beamed with pride as I shared my excitement for their work with money, informational narratives, and series reading.  Happy smiles, beaming with pride - the best way to return to work.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

First Outing {21 of 30 Slice of Life}

We pull into the away high school parking lot and it seems only appropriate now that I'm contagious free my first outing is here.  I'm bundled up in rain boots, fleece lined running leggings, my lounging shirt, my parka, headband, and gloves.  The sunshine has disappeared and Ohio gray has reappeared.  It doesn't really matter because I'm out of the house again.  As we walk to the field I find #19 suited up in her black, white, and royal blue.  They are warming up and the field begins to take shape.  YES!  She starting!  She's headed to first!  We've made it.  We've made it through chilly days.  We've made it through longer darker days.  We've made it through winter.  I've learned to love softball over the years and recently I've learned to love it for more reasons than actually the game.  I love how it provides exercise with a purpose.  I love how it's a team sport and everyone has a part.  I love how players can excel and learn a position or two.  I love the connections with real people in real time it can offer.  I love the smiles it brings to my girl!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Orange Routine. {20 of 31 Slice of Life}

Each morning this week I venture to the kitchen and do a little breakfast prep.  I've developed another flu routine here too.  I grab the large bag of oranges and roll out three.  These are super big and remind me of a softball - they are almost that big!  This big round plump orange sphere brings brightness to my day once I slice it open.  The orange flesh is vibrant with a glisten from the juice inside.  The sections make me think about math and fractions and I might miss teaching more than fractions are a fair share.  I set up my simple juicer making sure the plastic spinning shape is ready to go.  There's a rhythm as I hold the orange half on top and it spins; releasing fresh squeezed orange juice below.  My grandmother was adamant about Vitamin C and chicken noodle soup for colds and flu aliments.  When I was much younger, I thought she was a bit quirky about these things.  She had to have the real deal - grapefruit and oranges in their natural fresh state.  I can't recall if she'd take any cold medicine or not.  I'd love to tell her fresh orange juice brings me joy each morning with my Tamiflu medicine and I'm sure she'd approve.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bedrest Morning Routine {19 of 31 Slice of Life}

Each morning I get up and shower.  The hot water feels good and I find it relaxing.  Then I remember I'm on bedrest.   I don't even look at my closet that I just revamped.  I go for comfort and ease.  I've found a rhythm; exercise leggings, sports bra, and a long sleeve shirt with a pair of socks.  I brush my teeth, wash my face, add some  face serum to help with all things the oldest daughter said it would, and pull my hair back to air dry.  This morning I found myself looking for my "bedrest uniform" and giggling.  It's perfect for lounging, napping, doing small tasks and lounging some more.  It feels good to get out of pajamas that are thrown in the laundry each night to get rid of sick germs.  I just hope when I get back in action I remember I have other clothes out there to wear.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Bedrest = Small Tasks {18 of 31 Slice of Life}

I woke up and got ready for my day echoing the doctor's orders from yesterday.  Quarantine yourself and get lots of rest.  I was going to easily continue my quarantine because work and school are calling my husband and daughter.  Rest.  Something I don't do too well so I decided some small tasks balanced with rest could be a good compromise.    I didn't write the plan down because that would formalize it and it seemed against the doctor's orders.  So, I made breakfast, ate it in bed, while reading a book.  Then I put away a load of laundry of mine.  Took a load another load of mine to the washer, washed a few dishes, and watered the plants on the second floor.  I read a bit more then napped on and off for a bit.  Made and ate lunch back in bed while reading.  Packed up the clothes I'm donating after Marie Kondo-ing my closet pre-flu.  Did a quick calculation and realized I'm passing on over 100 items for someone else to enjoy.  Now I'm watching a movie and wondering what to do next because my flexible small tasks got done.    

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Not Skeptical Anymore {17 of 31 Slice of Life}

I get home and S says, I thought you didn't believe in using a Minute Clinic.  


I woke up knowing something wasn't right.  A cold had come on yesterday as the day progressed with a worsening cough and my body was aching all over.  As if I had been working out and doing some mega focus on my gluteus.  It was a rough night of sleeping even though I was exhausted.  I decided I needed to figure out if it was bronchitis or possibly the flu.  It's been going around my school and my room had a case this week.  I love my doctors - any of them; all of them and they aren't open on Sundays.  So, I looked up the closest Minute Clinic and met Nate right when the doors opened.  He listened to me with kindness and said let's test for the flu.  I really thought he was going to swab my throat and learned quickly no.  It's a good thing I didn't know he was going to swab my nostril!  Yuck!  I survived and he ran through the rest of my vitals.  All clear and good.  He looks at the flu test - bright red is the final report.  His treatment plan - isolation, medicine, rest, a face mask, vitamin C and sure chicken noodle soup.  I have been having some self talk lately wishing I could have some time at home just me.  This isn't what I had in mind and I'll try to take advantage of it; restfully.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pure Joy {16 of 31 Slice of Life}

Last minute plans.  Total surprise.  Pure joy.   My middle daughter goes to college a couple of hours away and my oldest is twenty minutes away at graduate school.  I've been wanting to have the oldest visit the middle daughter and yesterday at the last minute it happened.  Here's the actual slice.

We arrive at the Cultural Visual Arts building and start mingling with a mission.  We are looking for A and her friend.  Not in the first room.  Not in the second room.  We start to look around corners and across the room and in the third room when N says, "There they are.  It's perfect they don't see us."  N is gone in a flash and I reach for my camera.  N taps her on the shoulder.  A turns around and breaks into a bouncy left, right, left body twist with arms bent at elbow - flapping a bit with the twist motion.  Her long blond hair bounces along with a grin that extends her face.  N turns to me with the biggest grin and laugh.  

I've re-watched this video lots of times; it's just four seconds.  Joyous moments can be quick and lift your soul while warming your heart.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Gathering Responses {15 of 31 Slice of Life}

One of my favorite parts of our day is our chapter book read aloud.  Today we finished reading Roscoe Riley Breaks the Rules #1 Never Glue Your Friends to Their Chairs by Kathleen Applegate with energy and enjoyment.  I found several moments to model my own reading thinking.  We were laughing and having natural conversations in what we were reading.  They asked questions, they sited evidence from the text, they predicted, and they responded to events in the story they couldn't believe.  Our book talk has come a long way this year.

As I looked up and continued reading, I was reminded body language is also a way for reader's to respond.  I saw her eyes get bigger along with her grin.  I saw her wiggle in her seat a bit when we couldn't believe what was happening.  I was also reminded we can't plan or predict all responses we gather.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When Will We Practice? {14 of 31 Slice of Life}

When will we practice?  I must of heard this question a dozen times and then three times the following morning.  We have a music sharing tonight and when we did our grade level practice on Tuesday my class ran out of time to practice.  I checked in with their music teacher and she said Thursday's practice would be enough.  I had a slight worry since that was the day of the event.

I decided to honor their question and we'd have a quick practice Wednesday morning.  Surprises were discovered.  Six students didn't know their lines.  In a quick scan, they are short and could be learned.  The flow of our sharing seemed a bit unknown.  As I figured out the music teacher's semi short hand, I had a gut feeling we needed more time.  I tossed aside my plans and we spent the next hour being better, stronger, and less anxious.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Learning Along the Side of T {13 of 31 slice of Life}

Can you get T his own copy of Amelia Bedelia?  I've had this thought for quite some time and every time I have the thought I don't have two copies of the picture book or chapter book I'm reading.  I'm excited to observe how this plays out as I continue with my reading lesson.  T loves to read and often reads loud and clear.  He begins to read along with me in a softer than usual voice and then he stops reading in his softer than usual voice.  I'm guiding our reading thinking to consider the author's words and what they really mean.  If you know Amelia Bedelia, then you know what the words say and how she interprets them are never the same.  As, I look up to survey the room I see T following along with his eyes in his copy of the book while I'm reading aloud.  This is a huge move in my learning along the side of T.  We are always finding ways to help him engage and communicate.  This was a win win for both of us and now I'm off to find two copies of at least the chapter books we are going to be reading.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Did he really just say that? {12 of 31 Slice of Life}

The reptile lab is a space for zoo volunteers to help the community experience a tortoise or a snake.  During our training we visited this space and got a little behind the scenes experience.  The reptile lab is a very small space; glass windows that open a bit for experiences, a counter, maybe a couple of tanks with reptiles in it and lots of cricket containers on the floor.  It was so small.  I felt like I was in a cockpit of an airplane possibly.  I had just had my brave touch a snake moment and was still trying to recover.  I tried to stay focused on the information being shared all the while thinking, I don't like this space.  I'm not going to able to volunteer here.  

Our small group went to leave the building and our host wanted us to walk through the building and share a couple of animals the guest might ask about.  The first one was a new to the zoo snake with a big sign venomous and yes there was a thick layer of glass between us and this snake.  There was a pause in our host's sharing and then I heard, "She is gorgeous."  I turned to the gentleman on my right and said, "I never expected to hear that about a snake."  We exchanged some thoughts and I was reminded; we all see things differently, we have different mindsets, and beauty looks differently."

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, March 11, 2019

I Was Brave! {11 of 31 Slice of Life}

"Do you want to touch the snake?"  I want to say absolutely not.  I've been learning about the volunteer opportunity in reptile lab for 15 minutes.  It started off great - I got to touch and learn about a tortoise.  My goal was to stand closer than I wanted and look interested at the three snakes they brought.  I began reflecting on once upon a time when I couldn't even go in the reptile building.  Then I didn't want my oldest to have this same uneasiness and would push her stroller through the building while looking the other at the back wall without exhibits.  Standing here is quite some progress that's taken many years.  The kind docent started talking to me and accepted my decline to hold the snake.  Then she suggested this was the best time to just touch one and I shared the head, the moving tongue and the slithering movement is what bothered me.  She had another new volunteer wrap that snake up around their hand and turn the head away from me.  I didn't want to seem uninterested and I encourage my students each day to take risks and try new things.  

I could feel the wiggly dance starting to come - it's something I get when I'm near snakes.  I worked on suppressing it.  Then I felt a few tears could be surfacing while the docent is talking to me and encouraging me to just touch the snake.  I quickly touch it - so quick I'm not sure how it felt.  I felt like she was waiting for me to do it a bit longer so I touched the snake again and commented on how surprised my own girls would be.  I wish I had taken a picture because I'm sure it won't happen again.  There really wasn't anything wrong with how it felt.  I'm just afraid of their movement and how quick they can move.

I left thinking I now have a story of bravery to share with my students and I won't be volunteering in the reptile lab this summer.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Language Learning Shows Up in Home Decorating {10 of 31 Slice of Life}

I'm putting together some new decor for our fireplace mantel.  I hung a few things last week and have decided to keep them.  I cut off the price tags from the wooden frame that possible looks like a window.  I rearrange the lambs ear and eucalyptus stems in the new tall white metal vases and cut off those price tags.  I added two topiary trees just purchased and a splurge made today.  I love them and love how everything is coming together.  I needed some books for a base for one of the topiary trees.  I thought I had some old books from my grandmother and must have given them away.  I went to my read pile of books and pulled some I've read and enjoyed.  It so interesting because my inspiration suggested I stack them with the page side out and not the spine.  I felt like hiding the spine could be a someday discovery for someone wanting to know more about me.   I added the last piece which was a substitute from the original idea and was feeling uncertain about it.  As I placed the ampersand, I fell in love with it and realized it was meant to be.  

In the past few months I learned a huge conversational language tip.  The tip is stop saying the word but and replace it with and.  For example, "You did the laundry but you forgot to empty the dishwasher."  When we use the word but we negate everything said before it.  In reality it's awesome the laundry was done and the dishwasher needs to be empty."  Another example is, "I passed the test but my score wasn't high enough."  Maybe this works, "I passed the test and I can do test corrections to earn a few extra points."

I think it was meant to be - this ampersand.  It's a reminder to accept the feelings and thoughts we have while adding an and to validate those thoughts.  Be kind to yourself friends, leave the but behind.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Carefree to Grateful {9 for 31 Slice of Life}

I pushed my grocery cart up to the checkout and began a casual conversation with the cashier.  It began with him asking me the question I always get asked at Trader Joes - "Did you find everything you need?"  Then he asked me if I had exciting plans this weekend.  We are about the same age and I chuckled.  I then replied with, "exciting starts here getting groceries - not as exciting as twenty three was."  We continue and the conversation follows with both of us reflecting on life at twenty three and how our children don't believe there was an us before now.  I sometimes miss those days of being a bit more carefree and poorer me.  Today how ever, I tell my friendly cashier - I"m grateful to be buying these groceries."  I truly was.  The sun was shining, the temperature was a bit warmer and I had tulips to help me remember spring is around the corner.  Maybe Fridays just have a grateful looking ahead attitude.  Weekend, here I am.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tidying Up and Discovered... {8 of 31 Slice of Life}

I've been studying the concept of tidying up.  I've read and watched Marie Kondo this winter and have found some helpful tips and approaches.  Today I did a mini version in my classroom.  The first thing I did was set a realistic goal for the one hour I had.  I wanted to do both sides of the closet and realized I should just focus on math.  Three shelves.  

Next step - take everything out of the closet.  My student teacher wasn't quite sure what happened when she returned from recess duty and she saw the floor covered in things.  Plastic tubs, materials, folders, bags - I'm sure you can visualize the floor a mess!  Under the rubble I found bins to organize materials by topic that somehow just got a bit unruly over time.  I started sorting into categories.  I did a lot of questioning - do I really use this?  Does this fit with my standards?  I thought about passing a few things on.  I thought about items that could be recycled and ones that could be thrown away.  I pondered if I had used it within a recent-isn time frame.  As I let go of items, I thanked them for their time.  My heart gave a little tug when I found - Zero the Hero!  

When I began teaching we celebrated every tenth day of school.  This hand sewn by me puppet would visit and bring us an item to count.  It might have been the number of our school year - 50 items for the 50th day of school.  I can't quite recall.  I do remember it was part of Math Their Way.  I did not use Zero the Hero the last time I taught kindergarten.  I set it aside and then I remembered many lessons I read and watch from Marie Kondo.  If you aren't using something, thank it for bringing you joy.  I not only thanked Zero the Hero; I kissed Zero the Hero and said thank you for bringing us joy.  


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

.....check. {7 of 31 Slice of Life}

Self talk - "my ducks are all in a row." 
Room cleaned - check.  
Extra stack of books hidden in the closet - check.  
Pets have clean cages and fresh water - check.  
Anchor charts are current and updated - check.  
Table tops are clean - check.  
We are learning - so that we can chart filled out - check.  
Lessons for the week are DETAILED - check.  
Guided reading books are pulled - check.  
Image for mini lesson ready to be projected - check.  
Counters are cleaned off - check.  
Students are prepped - check.  
Lunch time - check.

Then I look at my student teacher and ask if she minds I turn off the lights to eat and review my plans.  I follow that request with, "I need a moment of zen."  

An hour passes.  Observation done - check.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

(Insert student name) said... {6 of 31 Slice of Life}

My small group of nine students were finishing up making a twelve inch ruler using a sentence strip and colored tiles.  We were focusing on the words unit, inch, and hashmark.  We carefully numbered our ruler discussing the placement of 0 and 12.  My student teacher had the rest of the class working at a bit faster pace on measuring and creating inch rulers.  The room had a good hum.  I was happy we planned different things based on the needs we saw.  I never expected what happened next.

Across from me at the table sat C.  She looked up from her work and her brown hair had a little bounce as she smiled ear to ear.  I quickly thought, she looks so happy when she said, "I love math!" with an even better grin.  I had to stay strong and prevent some tears that wanted to surface.  C didn't like math when school started.  C takes time to think as a mathematician.  C has to work hard some times during math workshop.  

As we were transitioning from math workshop I sent an email to her parents with the subject - C said... and thought wouldn't it be great to listen in more and send more emails with that subject.  As a parent, I'd love to get that!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Paper, Pen, Planning {5 of 31 Slice of Life}

I sat down in the quiet public library after a busy day and began taking things out of my backpack to work.  My daughter was at a two hour meeting and I had plans to be productive.  I took a left to right zip motion and found nothing.  I took another left to right zip motion and found nothing.  I sat in silence and pondered.  Ugh.  My laptop was in the car.  I was honestly too tired and too cold to walk outside.  I pondered about the work with me and realized I didn't need the laptop for some of it.  I was going to look at a math pre-assessment and uncover what my students might need about standard measurement.  I got that done without making a Google Sheets by question and made two piles based on concepts.  Still no laptop and I had my favorite math teaching resource.  I found the back of a piece of paper, a mustard colored Papermate flair tip marker and began a weekly calendar; plotting out lessons for two groups each day.  Scratches - no standards, no details - just lesson ideas.  One group is going step by step and the other is a bit accelerated and doing a day of problem solving.  I finished this work and felt more accomplished than I have in a while.  Maybe technology isn't always needed.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Like the Alphabet {4 of 31 Slice of Life}

Three stragglers and I were walking out to second recess chit chatting along the way.  The conversation was small talk about our day and week.  We just completed four days of standardized testing.  It was their first experience which made our daily schedule mixed up and not complete.  If we did a daily schedule each area was brief and some days we missed some of a daily schedule.  As we got closer to the recess door B says, "It's like the alphabet is a bit jumbled and out of order."  I paused and chuckled as I reflected on this...it certainly had been four days of jumble.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

This is Different...{3 of 31 Slice of Life}

This is different.  She's always worn what she's sewn for 4H judging or out and about.  The prom dress doesn't fit this "model" the same as it fit her.  The prom dress needs flats on this "model" and not heels.  The prom dress fit the owner, designer a bit looser.  I don't know if I'm a fan of someone else wearing and modeling her clothes.  

As I wrapped my head around this new experience I this journey is going to be different.  A fashion design major would have others wear things she's made.  It won't be her wearing her own designs.  We will come and watch others and wait for three little words - Designer A Robek.


Prologue - my daughter submitted her prom dress to a bridal fashion show near her college and it was accepted.  It's a resume builder and I think maybe a glimpse of what could be someday.  The bottom line is I get to spend two days with her and help her start a new journey.  I'll be able to say - remember when...

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

31 Things About Me {2 of 31 Slice of Life}



Yesterday Lisa Keeler at Reading, Writing and Learning introduced herself with a 31 Things About Me post.  I found it fascinating to read and learn about her.  I don't know if I've ever introduced myself and wished I had yesterday.  Yesterday can be today - there's no hard and fast rules with slices.





31 Things About Me

1.  I have one teaching hero I have not heard in person - Marilyn Burns math guru and founder of Math Solutions.  

2.  My writing methods course text book was Donald Graves Writing - Teachers and Children at Work right when it came out AND I got to see him speak for a full day early in my career.

3.  One podcast I'd recommend to anyone living with teenagers would be Light the Fight with David Kozlowski and Heidi Swapp.  It's insightful, funny, and guiding.  

4.  I miss the snow in Upstate New York and just painted my living room the color Snowbound.  

5.  I've listened to Marie Kondo's book about Tidying Up and watched her show on Netflix in hopes of attacking my closet very soon.  I did a trial run on my teenager and it really worked with intentional downsizing.

6.  I think my classroom closets could use a bit of Marie Kondo-ing!

7.  Too many days of gray sky and no snow are not good for me.

8.  Sunshine brings a skip to my step and a smile to my soul.

9.  I can never turn down a reason or date for ice cream; even after scooping ice cream seven years.

10.  Tea and never coffee.

11.  Having students have choice for writing topics has been my mojo forever - two decades plus.  

12.  I like writing when I have choice in topics too.  

13.  Friday night pizza - best combination is mushrooms, onion, and yellow banana peppers!  

14.  Chicken wings always with blue cheese, ranch is just not right and wings must be Buffalo Chicken wings not ever fried.

15.  Green is my favorite color except the green shade of my grandmother's Volkswagen Rabbit in the mid 80s.

16.  My classroom has live plants on every table.  I just enjoy the sight of fresh live plants and they offer us something to care about and for.

17.  You might ask where are my supplies for students - they are community supplies on shelves - and I believe community supplies make life easier and teach life lessons.

18.  As much as a I love the noise and joy students bring I savor the moments of quiet in my teaching space when I'm alone to think and rest.

19.  I can ride my bike to school in 15 minutes.

20.  I like to walk a lot and I dabble with running each year starting over with my "training" with no aspirations to runner than an hour ever.

21.  I love my Cuddle Dud shirts for layering and staying warm all winter.

22.  I work on balancing things and accepting maybe balance is really about the seasons of things.

23.  My classroom has a few pets for children to observe and care for; a guinea pig, guppy fish, a turtle, and fire belly toads.  

24.  My home has two dogs - a one year old and a twelve year old.  

25.  One of my favorite moments during the school day is reading aloud and thinking together about books.  Total engagement each time.

26.  I don't like making pie crusts and I've tried a few recipes.  It's frustrating because I can make anything else in reason.  Any suggestions for me?

27.  I used an airplane bathroom for the first time this year at five decades old. It was landed on the runway and loading passengers.  I never leave my seat once I sit down.

28.  I'm planning for an empty nest in two years and will start volunteering at our local zoo this spring.

29.  I wish I took more time for the things I like to do or projects I have collected and picked up.

30.  I carry a metal straw and bamboo silverware in my purse, trying to make a difference one bite at a time.

31.  Cilantro for me too and never enough avocados!


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.