Showing posts from March, 2013

SOL 3/31 I Made It!

Wow!  I made it. Thirty-one days of writing on this little blog.  I am so proud of myself for finishing the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  I don't think that I could have imagined that I would finish a month of blogging. A month of writing.  I have truly enjoyed this challenge.  I remember why I love writing.  I have been able to try new styles of writing.  I have also been able to read some really powerful posts from some really terrific writers.  I have learned more about the subject that I teach.  I have come across great ideas for my classroom.  I have laughed and cried with others from around the world.  Thirty-one days may be a short blip in time, but thirty-one days has helped me to become a stronger writer.  Thank you to all the people who have read and commented.  That has meant a great deal to me.  I have grown to love the community of writers who support and encourage one another. Thank you, Ruth and Stacey, for challenging…

SOL 3/30 Rockclimbing, Roadtrips, and Family

My nephew is getting baptized this afternoon, so my family (immediate and extended) have all traveled to Gillette, Wyoming to celebrate with him.  My husband and I will serve as God parents for baby Zane, so the trip is extra special for me.  From our house in Missouri,  it is a very long 16 hour drive, so we tried to find attractions that would break up the trip.  We drove to Mitchell,  SD and saw the Corn Palace, and continued on. The Badlands were our next stop, where we hiked out on some pretty amazing sights.  God's creation is awe inspiring!  Who knows where we will head on the way home, but it is fun to watch my kids learn and explore. Enjoy some pictures from the trip so far.  I love the question mark on the end of trail sign...kind of sums up how I feel right now.  Things are ending, but it isn't the end of the trail for me.  A fitting metaphor for life right now.

SOL 3/29 Kindness of Their Hearts

This week our school has been participating in Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia Society.  Every day, our counselor has come around to collect the money that my TA group added to our box.  The top prize was a catered Olive Garden lunch, which was quite an incentive for my group! Second place would earn cookies, and third place could win bubble gum.

Every day, I was please that my group added to our fund.  After hearing from several of my co-workers, I was happy to see anything was given. The first day we had a small amount- $1.86.  The second day, they added a little over $6.  Day 3, the competitive bug hit and they brought in almost $40 in just one day.  I was very proud of my group, and they moved us into third place of all the TA groups.  Some groups still had empty boxes after day 3!  Yesterday was our last day to collect money.  As my group began to collect money to count on the table, I was amazed to see what they had accomplished.  They were so determined to win that lunc…

SOL 3/28 Is It Cheating?

On Monday, my students and I had a discussion about slicing.  I offered my students the chance to slice this month, and am very pleased that a few took me up on it (offering prizes must have helped!)  I had a couple turn in their slices because they had finished 31 entries and felt they were done.  I myself have scheduled slices to go out a few days ahead when I felt inspiration hit and could write more than one entry in a day.  But is that cheating?  That was the question.

I don't think it is cheating to write and schedule ahead.  For me, I feel much more at ease to write my posts and know that they are done for the day.  I can log in and link up my slice before school, and then I know that I can go about my day without worrying about getting it done.  I also have started a post, and then felt I needed to step away for a day or two.  Sometimes having that little break brings clarity. I can refocus what I was trying to say.  Sometimes I have several ideas swirling around in my he…

SOL 3/27 My Sweet Maggie

 My Sweet Maggie

My sweet Maggie
With your coat of red,
A big cuddle bunny
At the foot of the bed.

My sweet Maggie
How you love us so.
You are always smiling
Everyplace you go.

My sweet Maggie...
I listen to you snore
As you lay so still
On my bedroom floor.

My sweet Maggie,
With your coat of red,
Guarding us as always
At the foot of the bed.

SOL 3/26 The End is in Sight!

I can't believe it is almost here...spring break!  I have waited for spring break for weeks now.  With our wonderful weather lately, spring break is a welcome thing.  I really was jealous of all of the other school districts in my area who had a week off last week.  Why were we in school and everyone else is all off having fun?

Our district never really has a break, but we always get Good Friday and the following Monday off.  I have really longed to have a little break...just time to regroup and refocus on the end of the school year. The spring seems to drag out, and it could be because the weather has been a little unpredictable.  One day it is beautiful; the next it is down right miserable.

We have two days left after today...two days to suffer  to make it through before we can hit the highway in search of family and fun. Oh course, the 16 hour drive both ways won't be the highlight of the weekend, but we will soldier on!  Road trips are fun, right? We will be charging the…

SOL 3/25 On the go!

Today has been the sort of day when I go from sun up to sun down. We were at school bright and early, then felt as if I rushed around all day. We created flip books for parts of speech notes, so I rushed from table to table to answer questions. Most did well, but some of my friends just can't follow directions!
After school I tutored, and then came home to fulfill mom duties. We are leaving for my brother's house in three days, and needed to find Easter clothes for the kids. Noah was able to search his closet for clothes he liked and fit (hallelujah!) The girls however needed something new. Every dress they own is two short or not church appropriate. So of we went. We also took care of haircuts so that was taken care of too. Luckily, the girls were successful. Me not so much, but I am sure I can dig something out of the closet that will work just fine.  I took so long running around that I missed my monthly bunco night with the girls, but that's ok. There is always next m…

SOL 3/24 Six Weeks Early?

The groundhog is a lying little rat.  Spring is six weeks early?  Yeah right.  We are in the middle of another winter storm dumping inches of snow, and unfortunately spring arrived last Wednesday.  Everyone is so tired of the snow right now--except for my kids at school who eagerly look out the window anytime a single flake flies and ask "Are we getting out early?"  I grew up in Iowa, so I am use to a little snow.  But I am really tired of winter right now.  The snow, the cold, the mud that comes afterward, staying indoors instead of going for walks. I'm tired of all of it.

I think what makes this snow more irritating is that Mother Nature has been taunting us.  She offers 65, 70, even a 80 degree day, and then BAM! She hits below the belt, laughing as the weathermen go into crisis mode again. (I don't know if every city is this way, but the weather anchors go crazy at the slightest flake.  Really, some weather needs attention like that, but do we need 14 live crews…

SOL 3/23 Procrastination

Do you know any procrastinators? The people who know have a big deadline coming up and still haven't started that piece of work that has to be finished on time? I've met more than my share. In fact, depending on the task, I'm one of them. Certain chores and tasks are so unappealing that I'd rather do anything than what I need to do. I've been known to clean my entire house and closets and the garage instead of writing a paper for my Masters or grading 8th grade research papers.  My own kids and students definitely fit into this mold and got me thinking. What are the stages of procrastination?  Can someone tell when it really is time to get busy? Can procrastination be put into stages like grief?  I'm not really sure.  I know that there comes a time that procrastinators kick it in gear to finish that project. For me, it is usually after every other possible task on the honey-do list has been conquered.  But at least I have a clean house, right?  Well, at least …

SOL 3/22 Why Do They Have To Be That Way?

I was gone Tuesday for a school field trip. A select few students went to the literature festival and had a  great time.  Just like always, I left very detailed lesson plans and warnings of who to watch out for, who to rely on as the helpers.  My classes have not had a great track record when it comes to subs, so I always leave PLENTY of work for the students to complete.  This day in particular was MAP review...which is coming up way too fast. I'm sure they were completely engrossed. For the most part I don't worry about my 7th graders.  They do okay.  My 8th graders however...they are whole other story.

I purposely did not go into the school when the bus arrived home at 5 pm on Tuesday night.  I did not want to see the note that the sub left on my desk.  I did not want to face the news that it was a bad day again.  The track haunts me.  Instead, I went home and watched Dancing with the Stars, and pretended life was peachy.  I knew that I would see it soon enough…

SOL 3/21 The Struggle

I see you struggle
Day in and day out.
Life has pushed you around
Beaten you up
Taken your lunch money.
Life is a bully,
Adding punch after punch
To your gut.
My heart breaks
As I watch you in the hall,
Clothes unwashed,
Worn for the fifth day in a row.
The Beats you carry
around your neck,
Bought by public generosity,
Are a symbol of resilience,
That money isn't an issue.
School is your safe place.
Your spot to get away
From the chaos of your life.
In and out of shelters,
School of a constant.
Lately that constant
Is on shaky ground.
That constant is tired.
That constant has put up
With disrespect, and abuse
Of its own.
That constant is rebelling too.
"Find a place for this one.
We've had enough."
I know in a heartbeat
As soon as I see you walk in
What kind of day I'll have.
Calm water or stormy weather
Brewing as you sit down.
A day of compromise, work, growth,
Or a day of struggle, fighting, regression.
The calls and looks, the statements
That start with &…

Education Rethink: Am I Still a Good Teacher? (Thoughts on Bad Test S...

A post from another teacher blogger that really hit home.  It sounds very similar to a conversation we had in my school lately. I encourage you to read on.  What do you think?

Education Rethink: Am I Still a Good Teacher? (Thoughts on Bad Test S...: I received the e-mail on Monday morning. That's the beauty of data transparency. The whole district gets to find out how the sixth ...

SOL 3/20 A Slice from the Literature Festival

Yesterday I traveled to Warrensburg, MO with my oldest to the Literature Festival.  She was so proud that she made it again this year...and was the first in our school to read all of the required books to qualify to go!  As a language arts teacher, I usually try to read as many of the Mark Twain award nominees as possible so I can recommend them to students, but I have really slacked this year for some reason. Finding time to read anything is difficult, even though I love curling up with a book (or Nook or my tablet) to read. I have truly appreciated the many slicers who have posted reading recommendations, and my pile of books to read has grown exponentially. John Green is my current go-to author--A Fault in our Stars. Next up is Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska. I love his use of vocabulary and writes with humor and wit, which I appreciate. I hope my students would appreciate that as well.

We were assigned to see Roland Smith, Judith Fradin, Alane Ferguson,  Antony John, and Do…

SOL 3/19 Searching

I would like to think of myself as an organized person.  I try.  I truly try to be organized.  I've purchased file folders for paper, boxes to hold my children's memories, hangers for clothes and pictures.  I try at school to keep my 7th and 8th grade papers separate and orderly.  I attempt to sort and stack and file when time allows.  In reality, no matter how hard I try to clean, my house is a mess, and I am constantly moving from basket to basket, pile to pile to find what I need daily.  Even when I try to put things aside because I know I will need them later, such as a fun Friday schedule for our flex-schedule half-day at school last week, I end up frantically searching again because I forgot I tacked it to the bulletin board for safe keeping.  Why do I do this?  Why do I frustrate myself by thinking I'm organized, when in reality all I create is organized chaos?  Does anyone else do this?

I've tried various systems, like Flylady, and others that promise to help …

SOL 3/18 Oh, Monday...

This 6 word slice sums up how I feel every Monday.  Grades are due at three (and are done, just need to submit)...field trip with my daughter tomorrow to the literature festival, so sub plans to write.  Better get going to start another week.  Where is the coffee?

Monday, you are one evil mistress.

SOL 3/17 Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  It is the day that everyone wears green (my favorite color) and pretends that they have a wee bit of Irish blood in 'em.  As someone who does have tiny bit of Irish blood, I can happily celebrate with the rest of the world.

I'm not into the drinking and carrying on of St. Patrick's Day.  In college (go Bearcats!), this day always meant Kegs and Eggs and the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day parade (between the two bars on a street...basically half a block).  The drinking part was never my scene.  I felt connected to a culture, though, which was a new thing.

Growing up, I created the family tree like most kid do in elementary school.  I have to say that my family's background is nothing exciting.  In fact, it is pretty dang vanilla compared to others.  On my dad's side, I am French Canadian.  On my mom's side, I am English and Scots Irish- I know that isn't anything like full Irish blood, but it is a c…

SOL 3/16 Plugging Away

Today is my 41st post for this blog.  When I started this a few years ago, I don't think I could have imagined where I am now.  Teaching again, Trying to get fit.  Juggling three teen/preteens and work and just life in general.  I know I couldn't have imagined that I would join a writing challenge that asked me to write everyday for a month.  I am sure that that Sarah would have just laughed, and said "Yeah, right!"  But here I am, on my 16th day of blogging consistently, writing my 41st post.  While I'm sure this achievement is a drop in the bucket for some, I am choosing to see this as a good starting point.  A place that I realized that I can write, even if my audience is pretty tiny.  I am making a start, and that is a pretty cool thing.

SOL 3/15 Living the Dream?

In our weekly team meetings, we often have a question of the day.  Something along the lines of "What was the best part of your Christmas (Winter) break?" or something silly like "What would your pro-wrestler name be?"  We go around the table and give our answer.  Since we are a pretty tight knit group, we can usually predict what is going to be said.

This week our question of the week was "What career would you choose to start if you no longer were a teacher?"  Because we had so much business on the agenda, we didn't get to go around the table like usual.  I started to think about this question after leaving the meeting. What would I be?

I taught sixth grade for two years, and then I took a break from teaching for 8 years after the birth of my son.  Growing up, I really only had one career choice. I was going to be a teacher like my mom and dad.  In the back of my head, though, I always had a part of me that really just wanted to be a mom.  I was al…

SOL 3/14 My Baby is Growing Up

Today my oldest leaves to go to the state Stuco convention.   This is the first time she has ever left for more than one night and is traveling hundreds of miles away from home...well, without it being at her grandparent's house.  She will be staying with someone that I have never met, and even though I know that she will be well cared for, I can't help but worry.  Will she remember to use her manners?  Will she be safe and respectful? All of these nagging feelings come up.  I know I have taught her well, and have seen the way she behaves at school, so I shouldn't worry so much.  She will be in good hands with her advisor, and is going with a great group of students.  So why does a small part of me dread her leaving this morning?  I know she would say, "Mom, chill out.  I'm going to be fine."  Logically I know that.  My heart just wants the best for her though, and I think that is where I am torn.  I won't be there to take care of her if something happen…

SOL 3/13 Corned Beef and Cabbage Equals Love

When my husband and I were first married, we lived with my grandma to help save money.  I was in my last year of college and beginning student teaching, and my husband started a brand new job two weeks before our wedding.  It really made sense to do this.  While we cooked separately most of the time, from time to time grandma would cook for us all.  One of my favorite meals from my grandma was not a fancy one at all.  We always knew that March 17th meant a celebration of our Scots Irish roots.

Every March, Grandma would buy corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots at least a week in advance.  She was convinced that if she didn't do this, she would miss out on our St. Patrick's Day meal.  She would study each cut of meat, looking for the piece that had just the right amount of fat.   I always wondered why she went to so much trouble for a meal, but this meal always meant something special to her.  It meant memories of her own family and traditions.  It meant a shared meal w…

SOL 3/12 Reality Overload

I am an avid TV watcher.  Most often, I have Food Network or TLC on.  TV has always been a companion. It is extra noise in the background as I work on whatever I am doing.  Lately, instead of plot lines to move watchers, networks have cashed in on the reality craze.  It is interesting to me that everything on is some sort of a reality show,  Want to find love?  Join 24 other women on the Bachelor and you may have a shot..  Can you take random ingredients and create a restaurant quality meal in 10 minutes?  Food Network is your place.  Can you survive on a desert island?  Survivor is your game.  Need to lose a few pounds?  The Biggest Loser is for you.

I have to wonder if these shows have convinced people that everything is a competition of some sort.  Everything is a game. Even with my lesson plans at school, I've noticed that kids expect to be entertained.  They want competition or act like they don't care.  They can't be bothered with taking notes or working on problems…

SOL 3/11 Out of Sorts

Daylight savings time always gets me every year.  It seems that just as I've gotten into a comfortable routine, the darn daylight savings time comes along and then my whole rhythm is messed up.  Since I have to be at school so early (7am), I am used to getting up bright and early.  I'm not sure why, but losing that hour of sleep just makes the next week drag on. 

Last night I graded papers and was in a groove.  It wasn't until my husband came in that I realized how late it was.  Today I am paying for that late night. It was so difficult to get up and out of bed this morning.  Driving to school in the dark was really just a depressing feeling.  I had gotten use to needing sunglasses as I turned the curve to the middle school, and today there was no need of that.  The only thing I needed was my headlights in the dark.

I even came home after school and fell asleep.  That never happens.  It will take me a while to get readjusted to the time change, but I know that I will app…

SOL 3/10 Ten Days of Blogging!

Ten days of blogging for the Slice of Life challenge have passed.  I have really enjoyed the challenge so far.  It has made me really think about what is happening in my life and how I can put it into words.    I have always loved to write, but have never really considered myself that good at it.  I have so many ideas running in my head, but when I go to actually put those ideas onto paper nothing seems to work.  I write sentences, only to erase them over and over because they don't sound right or they don't really explain the feeling I want them to.  I explain to my students all the time that writing is really about the revision process. That is where the real work takes place, and it is really true.  It is where the frustration lies for me as well.  Self doubt plays the biggest role here, I think. That nagging thought that no one will want to read what I have to say.  That feeling that it isn't good enough to publish for the world. My students struggle with this too, so…

SOL 3/9 Proud of my kids!

I've got to brag about my son.  Today was the regional math competition for 4th-6th grades, and my son once again went representing his school.  He was so happy to go again, and wasn't just the alternate like last year.  This year he earned a full spot and has been busy preparing for the contest for weeks.  His math club sponsors are wonderful and do such a great job getting them ready.  I truly appreciate their hard work.
He took two tests; one in math concepts and one in problem solving.  After he finished, he told me he thought he placed in problem solving, but concepts was hard this year.  
As it came time for the awards presentation,  I could see how nervous he was getting.  Last year he earned a 5th place, so his goal was to improve on that.  They presented the ribbons for concepts first, and several of his classmates did very well.  Next they called the winners for problem solving.  As they moved from 10th to 1st, he became more tense. What would he get? Would he place…

SOL 3/8 Reflection on Cyberbullying Presentation

Last night I had the opportunity to hear Tina Meier speak about her daughter Megan and the affect that cyberbullying has had on their family.  Megan had struggled most of her life with self esteem issues and dealing with her peers.  She never felt good enough about herself, and admitted to her mother in 3rd grade that she wanted to kill herself.  Red flags went up for this family and her mother spoke about how they went to counseling and spoke with the school.  Megan continued to struggle with peer pressure and hurtful comments.  She tried buying friends with candy and gifts, and getting attached to crowds that weren't good for her.  Ultimately, Megan was cyberbullied by an adult neighbor who created a fake MySpace account to befriend and then harrass her as a joke.  This person was the mother of one of her friends.  She posed as a boy who liked Megan, who began an online friendship/ relationship. Later the bullying began and "he" then began to say horrible things.  Whe…

SOL 3/7 Cyberbullying

This will be short and sweet tonight because we are on the go! Tonight I'm taking my kids to a presentation that is being hosted by our school district.  This is on cyberbullying, so I am excited to go and have my kids hear the message.  Tina Meier, the mother of Megan Meier who was cyberbullied, will be speaking about her daughter and what can happen when online behavior is taken too far.  I think this is such an important message for kids and adults to hear!