Sunday, March 31, 2013

#31 0f 31 Chloe Says Good-bye


Dear Slicers,

I can't believe March is over. It went really fast this year! And, I didn't mind it so much this time 'cuz while Mom was writing, I was having lots of fun.

First of all, I made a new friend this month. His name is Sam and we are penpals!  Our mom's let us write to each other once in awhile.  We both like the snow and playing outside. Sam also likes Legos (I just like to eat them) and is learning about the Titanic.  Mom showed me a video of the Titanic. That was one big boat.

Also this month, I got to see my cousin dogs and their kids a lot. Teddy and Bella came to see me for Mom's birthday. We raced around in the yard a lot. We also played with the kids.

Then last weekend, Mom and Dad went somewhere without me. But it was OK, because I got to go to Teddy's house and see him and his kids again. That's always fun.  

And this weekend we all went to Bella's house to play with her and her kids. Sometimes they left me and Bella home, but that was OK 'cuz we were together and not alone. It was really nice outside, so all of us played outside in the afternoon. I really wish Mom would have let me off my cable to run after the balls and the kites. That would have been fun, but Bella and I just had to sit and watch. I really think I could fly a kite if they just tied it to may tail and let me run!



Last night, they all colored Easter eggs while Bella and I played. They didn't let us color any or even eat them (but that's really OK. They didn't smell that good.)

We're getting ready to go to the lake again. Mom is starting to pack the lake boxes. She says as soon as the snow is gone, we can go.  I hope it's gone soon. I really like to play in it, but I'm getting kind of tired of it and am really ready to go swimming in the lake!

So, anyway. It was a good month. Between Mom and I, we wrote every day (I always have to help a little bit or she'd never write every day). I made a new friend, got to see my cousins, and it's almost time  for the lake!  I'll say good-bye for now from Mom and I.  Come back on Tuesday. One of us will be here!

Love,
Chloe


Saturday, March 30, 2013

#30 of 31 2 Days/3 Stories/No pictures



Oh No!  I have plans for 3 different blogs posts, but they all involve pictures with the stories!  I don't have my card reader with me. The stories need the pictures.

What's a blogger to do?

Even Chloe's story I can't do yet.

Dang.

I think I'm going to have to post past tomorrow.

Well, Tuesday is coming.

And it wouldn't hurt to post on Monday.

And there might be more stories since we are still with the grandkids.

OK.

I'll just wait.

Friday, March 29, 2013

#29 of 31 Slice of Life Learning


The month of March is always a learning experience for me. There are so many wonderful slicers, plus there is my faithful crew that I bonded with during my first slice of life. These are all amazing, wonderful, creative, teachers. And everyone of them has struggled at times with writing every day JUST LIKE ME.

So here's what I know after my third slice of life:

1. Set aside that time every day to write. My first year I wrote every morning. It was easy, breezy. I had so much to say. Last year I really struggled finding that time.  I just didn't feel it when it came to writing. This year, I changed my time and I wrote at night, after supper. It worked. Writing this year was much more JOYful.

2. Pay attention to your day. Many times, I thought I didn't have anything to write about. But what do you know. Pay attention and all of a sudden there are lots of little things to write about.

3. Pictures help.  If I take pictures during the day, it reminds me what I want to write about.

4. Steal ideas. No one cares. I actually am honored when someone says they are going to use the idea of a post to write their own. So I steal away! This post idea actually comes from Pernille Ripp's post today. A wonderful teacher I follow on Twitter. If you don't follow her, you should!

5. Even a bad post is better than not writing at all. I've had a few of them this month. Some posts I thought, "Wow. Am I really going to hit publish on this?"  But I did. Because everyone has "those" posts.


I'm sure there's more, but I'm sitting at my son's watching basketball and playing with the grandkids, so that's all I'm going to write for tonight. Because there is a number 6:

Stories come from the time we take to breathe.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

#28 of 31 It's All Fun and Games....

It starts innocently enough.


I go to the office during fourth hour one day a couple of weeks ago. And when I returned, this is how I found my room. 

The Instigator (AKA "The Fountain")


Today, another teacher returned to their room to find this:


Although she blames this turn of events on a student.  We know who's to blame.  

We all know the quotations about revenge and paybacks and karma.....



And the best part is, I had nothing to do with it.

And we have a four day weekend starting tomorrow.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#27 of 31 Today


Today I was reminded how short life really is,     
            to appreciate my family and friends,
            to make each moment count.

Today I was reminded to be kind, 
           even when I don't feel like it
           because you just never know.
           
Today I was reminded to be patient
           because what's easy to some
           brings others to tears.

Today I was reminded
           while my life isn't perfect 
           and happy all the time
           it is my life and I need enjoy it.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

#26 of 31 Never



So yesterday I wrote 10 pieces of advice for bloggers that started with ALWAYS, Of course, that means today, I have to write 10 pieces of advice that start with NEVER.

Hope I make it.

1. NEVER read someone else's blog and think "I can't write that well". You can. You just have to try. use them as a mentor text and copy what they do.

2. NEVER look back at your own writing and think, "What was I thinking writing this piece?" You were thinking you had a story to tell.

3. NEVER let the critic in your head speak louder than your words.

4. NEVER let the people around you be the critic in your head.

5. NEVER throw away a draft of something you've written. It could turn out to be something pretty awesome.

6. NEVER forget your writer's notebook.

7. NEVER think the stories of your life aren't worth telling.

8. NEVER forget to let your dog write for you once in awhile. It's nice to take a break.

9. NEVER rewrite. Revise, yes. Edit, of course. Rewrite means you didn't mean it the first time. ( Does that make sense? I'm gettin' kind of tired)

10. NEVER let "stuff" keep you from writing.

Monday, March 25, 2013

#25 of 31 Always



One of the best things about teaching Creative Writing is that I give them a writing prompt every day to write about. And on days like today, when I'm not sure what to write about, I can rely on the prompt.  Today's prompt was:

"Give 10 useful pieces of advice to a specific group or person. Begin each piece of advice with Always..."

So here it goes. 10 pieces of advice for bloggers with writer's block.....

1. Always have a back up plan. If you don't teach creative writing and have a ready supply of prompts, steal ideas from other bloggers!  Really. They won't mind.

2. Always keep your writer's notebook handy. Jot down bits of your day. You never know what will make a blog post.

3. Always read. Read books. Read blog posts. Read Twitter. Ideas show up in the strangest places.

4. Always search the internet for ideas. There are some great sites out there with amazing prompts (creativewriting-prompts.com).

5. Always listen to music. I don't know what it is about music, but it often gives me great ideas. Write about memories it brings back or how it makes you feel.

6. Always talk to people. Explain what you mean. Explain what you are thinking. Talk about what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you angry. Then write.

7. Always listen to people. They have stories to tell.

8. Always let your dog write if you can't think of anything to say.

9. Always take a walk with your camera. Take pictures and write about them.

10 Always write.









Sunday, March 24, 2013

#24 of 31 Shared Post




Today I wrote a post challenge for my freshmen modeled after one of Penny Kittle's reading response questions in Book Love. I decided to share it here. I've been challenging them with a post a week this quarter, hence the directions at the end of the post.



This week you are going to write me a letter.

But not just any letter.

You are going to write me a letter and tell me about the book you are reading right now and share your thinking about it.

Here's what I want to know:


What questions do you think the author is asking as they write this book?

Sounds complicated, doesn't it. Most authors have central questions as they write a book. Questions they attempt to find answers for as they write. As readers, it's important for us to think about what we read and what questions or purpose the author had as they wrote the book.

Need a mentor text? Here's my letter to you about the book I am currently reading.

Dear Freshmen,
Right now I'm about half way through The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner. It's about Nick and Jaycee who, after their friend Scooter dies of a rare disease, take off to find their find Scooter's father, a man who deserted Scooter and his mom when he was a baby, and give him a signed first edition of Of Mice and Men.

I think there are many questions in this book, but one that stands out for me is 'How can a parent leave and never see their child again.' Scooter's dad left him when he was a baby because he couldn't deal with Scooter's illness. Nick's dad leaves on a personal quest. I understand having a hard time dealing with a devastating illness. I understand the need for time to reflect and grow. I don't understand leaving.

As a parent, I just can't wrap my head around the idea of leaving and never seeing my kids again. I'm hoping that as I keep reading this book, I find some answers. Nick and Jaycee haven't met up with Scooter's dad yet and all we know of Nick's dad is emails that he sends to Nick (but Nick doesn't read them).

I like books that give me something to connect to and think about, so I'm hoping that I find good answers as I continue reading.

Mrs. Day

Here are some things to notice about my letter:
  • I italicized the titles of books
  • I gave you a short summary of the book because I know you haven't read it
  • I told you what a central question for me is in the book
  • I wrote about how I felt about that question

Remember the directions for writing a blog post:

  • need to be 200-300 words long
  • must have a catchy title
  • need a FREE graphic of some kind
  • need to be spell-checked, grammar checked, punctuation checked


This is due by midnight, Friday March 29 for an A. If you don't make the deadline, you still need to write the post, you just won't receive an A.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

#23 of 31 The Diviners by Libba Bray

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I don't really do book reviews. There are others out there. Others who do a much better job of writing reviews than I do.

But every once in awhile, I find a book I just have to talk about. For whatever reason, I have to tell others about a book.

The Diviners by Libba Bray is one of those books.


Here's what I loved about this book.

It's creepy. It's spooky. It's scary. It's good.

The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking, "This is Stephen King for high school kids who think they aren't ready for Stephen King."

It's smart. It's funny. It's readable. It's good

I love the characters--especially Evie who is the main character of this book. Although at times she can seem self-centered and full of herself, she is also a good friend, inquisitive and self-confident. I like her.

 I like the other characters we've been introduced to and I want to know more about them (good thing this is a planned series!). Theta, the Zeigfield girl; Sam, the mysterious young man whom Evie meets when she first arrives; the mysterious Jericho. 

I didn't know this was a planned series when I started reading this book. Now, I am going through withdrawals wondering what is happening!

I think one of the reasons I liked it from the beginning was as soon as I read those first few pages, I could picture some of the kids I would give it to. Immediate connections. And now, that is into those hands, I know I was right!  

This is a book with a long waiting list.....

And I wish that second book was coming out soon!

Good thing there's a Facebook page



The Goodreads review....

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)

by 
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.(less)
Hardcover578 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers




Friday, March 22, 2013

#22 of 31 Just a Reminder


I've been reveling in the comments I'm getting from some of my students and some who aren't my students but know I have books...

"I don't read. But this is a good book. I liked it." (A freshman boy who read The One and Only Ivan)
"Isn't she done yet?"  (One of many waiting for The Diviners)
"What was the name of that book again?"  (The Diviners again. I'm going to post my review tomorrow)
"Mrs. Day, what should I read next?" (I need to work on getting them to make choices independently!)
"I've read more in two months than I read all of middle school" (sad, isn't it)
"Can we please just read all class period?"


I think I'm pretty good most of the time.

But today, one comment reminded me that although more kids are reading, there are still a few....

"Mrs. Day, I need a book."
"What? Do you just sit home and read on Friday night?"

The student handled it well, but it reminds me

There is work to be done....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#21 of 31 Speech Showcase



So this is what it's like to have a booster club I thought.

Several weeks ago, two of my speech moms came to me and ask me about fundraising. They had an idea and would be willing to take charge. And they ended up planning not one, but two fundraisers for my speech program.

How great is that?

Tonight was the first. A Speech Showcase night. All I had to do was line up kids to perform. Trust me. That wasn't a hard thing to do. The moms lined up cupcakes and tablecloths and help. They set up the tables and cleaned up afterward. I announced.

It went great.

The audience was filled with parents and grandparents who otherwise wouldn't get to see many of these kids perform. My principal was there too. It was a night filled with laughter and pride.

And we made a little money too :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#20 of 31 Where I'm From


Each semester I use George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" as a mentor text as I teach inspire force  cajole students into writing poetry. This year, I really began to seriously write with them. Here is my poem

I'm from Comet
and Clorox and the white glove test.
I'm from using the back door
so you don't track dirt in the house.
I'm from tents on the clothesline 
on hot summer days
pretending to be queen of the castle.

I'm from spoon fudge and frozen Christmas cookies
(they always taste better that way).
From Don and Pat, who married too young.

I'm from playing Pitch and 
loving the lake.
From "Watch your sisters" and "Don't forget to get money from your dad."

I'm from strong Norwegian women
and the men who loved them
with a little Dutch and German stubborness
thrown in.

In the boxes in the closet
and the photo albums on the shelf
sit  memories of a past
I sometimes try to ignore
But will always be part of me.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#19 of 31 Tempest in a Teapot

                  o                                                       i                       e
                                                                                    d
w                                        d                                                                                      s      
                             r                           s                                                     a


are percolating 
in my brain
but are not yet ready 
to be poured.

swirling
to the top
and then sinking 
to the bottom

like tea leaves
waiting 
for the psychic
to read them



                  o                                                       i                       e
                                                                                    d
w                                        d                                                                                      s       
                             r                           s                                                     a



Monday, March 18, 2013

#18 of 31 Learning and Sharing


As I wrote on Saturday, our district hosted an edcamp. It was a day of learning, sharing and laughing.  I was so glad to be a part of it.

An edcamp is often described as an "unconference". There are no scheduled presenters, no scheduled topics, no handouts.

So what happens?

Once all participants arrive, they are asked to think about what they want to learn about or what they want to share with others. They write their ideas down on post it notes (well, at least that's how we did it) and share their ideas with the others. Notes are gathered and a schedule is created (I wish I had taken pictures! What was I thinking?).  

Here's the link to the schedule that was created for ours. As we went through the day, someone in each session created a google doc. That's what the hyperlinks are...the notes from each session.  Cool, huh?

And then off we went.

People went to the sessions that interested them. If it wasn't what they wanted, or if they wanted to also get to another one, they left and went somewhere else. The conversations in the sessions I attended were fantastic. Real teachers (PreK-college) and administrators sharing the work they love with each other. Great connections were made. (I got to meet several in my PLN. Got to love Twitter! And by the way, here's a blog reflection from one of them. Darin's a great guy to follow on Twitter also). 

The digital lesson planning session was a great conversation in what works for each of us. I talked about schoology.com and how I am using it with my freshmen. A student teacher shared her lesson planning/portfolio creating in Evernote (my summer plan is to explore this more. I only use it to keep track of websites I find). Others shared how they used Google or websites for this. Takeaway--most of us are digital. It's just finding what works the best for us.

I wish I had known when I went to the Language Arts session that no one was taking notes because I would have. There was lots of discussion on the use of technology in the classroom. I think my mantra in every session Saturday was "Technology is only a tool for delivery, not the curriculum). Some were overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin. Advice was always, "Baby steps. Find one thing to try and do it."  I think the thing to remember in this new way of teaching is that there will be failure. There will be ugly moments. But teaching is messy. Teaching is chaotic. But you have to start somewhere!

I learned about LOTS of great new apps. Some in the session about ipad "stuff" and many more in the App Smackdown before lunch. Be sure and check out some of the links. There's some great apps out there.

All in all, it was a great day. I have so many ideas to try, new tech to check out. This conference will keep me energized for awhile.  I encourage you to go to an edcamp if there is one in your area. I keep seeing people tweet them out, so I know they're out there.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

#17 of 31 Silence



Chloe sleeps
exhausted 
Dreaming her dreams of
running 
playing
barking
cuddling

We sit in our chairs
in comfortable silence
snuggled under
favorite blankets 
watching mindless TV
chucking together
over 
moments with family

The house rests quietly
only the hum of the furnace
and the
    tap
    tap
      tapping 
of computer keys

Grandkids
We miss you already
breaks the silence.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

#16 of 31 EdCamp

Edcamps are a relatively new phenomenon around the education world. Essentially, they are a non-conference. There are no set agendas or topics for the camp until participants are there. The "campers" decide on the topics they want to talk about. Everyone breaks out into those sessions and discussions and questions take place. The learning and connecting is amazing!

Our district hosted an edcamp today (#edcamphwinn). About 80 teachers and administrators from PK to college and three states attended. Having never been to one, it blew my mind to see the learning going on. Everyone shared what did and didn't work for them. Asked questions of each other. Expanded thinking.

My mind is still going.

I've been to many conferences. There are always sessions you go to and then think, "This isn't really what I wanted."  At edcamp when that happens, you get up and go find a session that does fit what you need. Or, you stay in a room and work with the apps or tech you learned about. It's up to you.

It's edcamp.

I'm sure I'll have more to write later, but right now the family is waiting for me to join them. My parting words to you are, if you see an edcamp near you. GO!

Friday, March 15, 2013

#15 of 31 Waiting


The house rests quietly
only the hum of the furnace
and the
    tap
    tap
      tapping 
of computer keys
breaks the silence.

Chloe waits
patiently
looking out 
her favorite window
as if
she knows

(although we haven't told her)

But soon
very soon
the silence will be broken

Gramma and Grandpa, 
I missed you


Thursday, March 14, 2013

#14 of 31 Because Chloe Says So



You wouldn't know it by driving though the area. Piles of snow are everywhere. It snows almost every morning. It's cold.

But Chloe knows it's almost spring.

She met me at the door today, happy as always. We played. I put her outside. She basked in the sun.

Most of the winter has been awful (can you say SEVEN SNOW DAYS). Right now, there are huge piles of snow in our yard. In the front. In the back. Huge (well, not as huge as they could have been, but huge.)

Chloe hasn't wanted to play in the backyard because the snow is deep. Probably a foot and a half or so. And because of speech rehearsals, we haven't played out there. Our routine is, I come home, hook her on the chain out front. She does her business and I bring her back in.

Then we play.

The first thing she does is grab her ball and go to the door that leads upstairs. Chloe loves to play fetch. This winter we've had to play on the steps. 15 steps. I stand at the bottom, throw something up and Chloe races up the stairs to get it.

Lately, I don't even have to throw the ball. She has it in her mouth. I say go and she runs up the stairs. She races around, jumps on a bed, and then stands at the top of the stairs until I say "Come!" And then, in about three leaps, she's downstairs again.

Tonight, she kept going to the back door with the ball. I tried to tell her that it was too deep and I wasn't going to go outside.

She didn't listen.

I opened the deck door.

She cleared the space in two deer leaps.

As she hit the snow, she took a moment to turn around and look at me.

"You comin"?" she asked.

I shook my head no.

"Fine," she seemed to say.

And then she ran.

And she ran.

And she ran.

She smiles while she runs, by the way.

JOY.

And as I stood coatless on the deck, I knew why she was smiling.

There might be a foot and a half of snow on  the ground

But the sun is warming up.

Spring will come.

Because Chloe says so.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#13 of 31 Test This




Sparkling River Academy of Dreams and Learning. 


Where we believe that school is a place for children to dream, learn and grow; that nature is abundantly full of beauty and an ideal setting for the flourishing of youth; that learners ought to have sufficient influence on how their learning is run for the benefit of their learning; and that school is meant to be an enjoyable time which prepares children for an enjoyable future.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Here I sit in the midst of my junior homeroom taking their Iowa Assessments. And because you can only walk up and down the rows so many times without getting the death glare from some students, I sit at my desk reading the latest Creative Writing papers.

This year, I've been using ideas from Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher in my classroom. They both give students a great deal of choice in writing, all the while paying attention to the Common Core. So the last writing assignment was informative writing.

Sounds boring, right? Are images of dry, dull reports floating around in your head? Thinking students spent way too much time copying and pasting info from the internet into documents they then turned in as their own?

Not so fast.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our school is meant to be a relaxing and tranquil, yet exciting and stimulating environment that provides a strong learning experience for all our students. Our goal is to help you not only discover your dreams, but also to help you achieve them. Our teachers and staff are here to help you on every step of your journey through public education and beyond.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gallagher's book Write This Way: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts
has a great chapter on informative writing. Lots of ideas, some mentor texts, and the writing prompts I put on the board to begin the period provide enough variety to satisfy most students.

Many students modeled their writing after a piece in the book by Rick Reilly. It's a satiric look at NBA stars and all the money they make. Reilly offers them many ways to go through that money quickly. Students seem to like the tone of it, so they have fun modeling their own writing after it.

I also had several students who chose to do a little research about a topic and write a report. I was OK with that. It was their choice.  Topics chosen?  Cheese. Cheese Rolling. The Seven Wonders of the World.

I didn't know there were so many kinds of cheese.

But I bet I would if I went to the Sparking River Academy of Dreams and Learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our school prides itself on on offering a wide variety of classes on almost everything that can be learned. The variety increases at each school level, to the point where if there is something you would like to learn about and it is not listed among the course at the high school level, you may put in a request for a course in that subject.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some of the classes offered:  
  • 10 of Everything: Lists for Life
  • Bookbinding: From Papyrus to Vellum, from Paper to Silk, From Runes to Illumination
  • Chinese
  • Gallantry and Knighthood
  • Ice, Ice Cream, and the Frozen State
  • Making Math Less Painful: A 50-Step Process
  • Philosophy: Let's Get Deep
  • Quaint European Villages
  • Writing: The Simple Joy of Expression (most genres are separate classes)
  • Yellow: 100 Things That Are Better With It and Why


I couldn't possibly share with you the whole brochure (It a small booklet really). Nor could I share all the course offerings listed. But I can share a student's dream of what a school should be. 

An academy of dreams and learning...


You can't test that.




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

#12 of 31 What Will I Do....


What will I do with
All my free time
They ask
No more rehearsals 
No more lines to run
No more contests
As if
I don't do anything else

Let's see
There are papers to grade
Lessons to plan
A showcase night
A banquet

EdCamp is this weekend
I've neglected the committee
There are family and friends
I'd like to see
Iowa Assessments  begin tomorrow 
Grades are due by the end of the day

What will I do with
All my free time?


Monday, March 11, 2013

#11 of 31 It Was a Good 12 Hours



The newbies whine about the early bus time
The vets just smile and know
7:30 is NOT early on 
Contest day.

Crate?
Check.
Scripts?
Check.
Computer and projector?
Check.
Nerves?
Check.

It's rainy and foggy as we head an hour and a half away to our Individual Events State Speech Contest.  The murmur of voices provide the music in my head as I try to sleep a bit more before we get there. I'm going to need all the energy I can muster on this very long day. It's be a good 12 hours before I get back home.

Kids keep asking me where this school is. There is no town by that name. Fountain told them "It goes like this. Corn field, corn field, corn field, school, corn field, corn field, corn field." She's right. That's exactly where this K-12 school is.

The middle of nowhere.

But they run a great contest site.

Kids find a spot on the gym floor to dump their essentials (pillow, computers, hair supplies, dress clothes, books)  and head off to find their performance rooms and check on times. Although we arrive at 9:15, contest has been in full swing since 8:00am. I check us in and we are ready to rock and roll.

I never try and see all the performances at individual contests. As the only coach, it's impossible. At districts, I don't see any of them. We had 43 events at districts this year and many of them went at the same time. Kids buddy up and make sure those that want an audience have one. Those that don't want an audience have someone waiting for them when it's finished. State works the same way, although I do get into a few rooms to see kids.

My job on contest day is to
calm nerves,
fire up the complacent
get ballots to those who forgot to take them,
handle technology issues (yes, the bulb burnt out in the projector before speeches at districts),
hold the kleenex box,
give hugs and high fives
cheer
keep track of everyone
tweet results
make sure we don't leave anything in the gym when we leave

and, oh yea....make treats.

The kids settle in and make camp. Girls are doing hair. Others are practicing quietly in a corner, a friend listening in and making suggestions. There are groups just chatting and laughing, hiding the nerves I know are there.

And, I can't forget Andrew, my ukelele player. He's the social butterfly of the group. He didn't qualify for state, but asked to come along anyway. He says he wants to watch the others. I think he's there for the girls. They flock to him. It must be the uke!

In and out of the gym they go all day.
"When do you go?"
"I think that middle judge hated/loved me."
"Wanna go eat?"
"Are your ratings up yet?"
Squeals of joy, "I got a ONE!"
Brave disappointment, "I got a two. But I'm OK with that."
There's a constant checking on center times as most centers are running ahead (thank heavens).

And then, we are done.

It doesn't seem possible, but all have performed. 18 Division 1 ratings. 7 Division 2's. I'm good with that.

It's rainy and foggy as we head an hour and a half back home.  The murmur of voices provide the music in my head as I try to sleep a bit before we get there.

It's been a good 12 hours.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

#10 of 31 The Fallback Post


 I knew it would happen. There would come a day I wouldn't have time or imagination to write. I saw this on someone else's blog a while back and wrote it down so I could use it on "one of those days".


Currently...

Listening: The Mentalist is playing on TV, although I haven't paid attention to anything on since I finished watching Once Upon a Time. 

Eating: Nothing yet. But when I am done I'm going to have some white chocolate macadamia nut ice cream

Drinking: water

Wearing: My typical Sunday attire--comfy pj pants, oversized sweatshirt, slipper socks and a blanket

Feeling: Better than I did this morning. The cold and the speech contest hangover seemed to have gone away.

Weather: Well, if it's Sunday, it must be snowing. We have another Winter Storm Warning. An expected 4-8 inches of heavy, wet snow. There is a strong possibility of no school again tomorrow. If so, it will be our SEVENTH snow day.

Wanting: Summer. My grades to be done. That ice cream....

Needing: More time in my day. Trying to keep up with my two writing classes is kicking my butt. And then there are the other five classes....

Thinking: If I don't have school tomorrow I'll be able to get grades done and finish The Diviners by Libba Bray (a seriously good book).

Enjoying: Comments from the judges about my speech kids' performances yesterday.  It was a great day. 18 Division 1 ratings and 7 Division 2's.  Kids were amazing. More on this later.

So, there you are. My fallback post. Feel free to steal use on your own "I don't know what to write" days!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

9 of 31 Dear Sam

I was going to write a blog post about the state speech competition today, or about the passion of my speech kids, but when I got home, Chloe had already written a post. Well, not really a post. She wrote a letter to Ruth's son, Sam. Sorry. The rest of you will have to wait...



Dear Sam,

I WISH you could come and sit with me. I was home alone for a long time. My dad went some place without me and didn't come home until afternoon! I can't believe they left me home alone.

If you came to see me, we could play on my hill. It's really fun. I climb up to the top and then I slide down it. Sometimes, Mom gives me toys to play with. I take them up the hill and then I chase after them. It's cool.

Mom says you can come anytime to visit. Maybe we could make those cookies you talked about, but I bet my dad won't let me have any. He says dogs can't have chocolate. Phooey.

Anyway, I hope we can play together some time. But until then, we can be pen pals:)

Love, 
Chloe


Friday, March 8, 2013

#8 of 31 Don't Call Me, I'll Call You

So I'm tired. Really tired. One of the reasons is here, at Fountain's blog. She wrote about our day at school very eloquently, and I'm too tired to try and out do her.

But the other reasons, I've been sick (just a cold, nothing to worry about) and it's the end of speech season (mostly 10 hour days since mid-November). It makes me grouchy. It makes me sensitive. It makes me a teacher I don't want to be.

But it will be over tomorrow.

Tomorrow is State Speech. I'm leaving at 7:30am, taking 20+ kids and hour and a half away on a school bus to a competition that has my last performer going at 5:45pm.

I'll love every minute of it.

But don't call me, I'll call you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

#7 of 31: WRAD and Book Love


How did I spend World Read Aloud Day? Well, first, I picked up the two boxes of new books that my friend the At-Risk coordinator ordered for me. Once again I watched the live stream of the ALA Youth awards, so I wrote down books. And I followed the conversation on Twitter to see what books were mentioned and loved. I made my list.







I lamented on Facebook about wishing I had money to buy them all. And Mrs. At-Risk told me to bring her my list.  So of course I did. Never tell a reader to bring you a list of books if you don't intend to buy them for her!



And yesterday I was finally able to get them to my room. I spent first hour going through the boxes. I looked at each and every book. Reading the summaries. Reading first pages. Checking reviews out online. And 2nd hour, I was ready to share with my freshmen. The lesson plan got put aside. We were talking books!







First, we read our ten minutes. I love that time of day. Many times I can't sit and read because someone will ask me to help them find a new book. You know how I love that! I do have a few squirrelly kids who want to mess around during that time, but the other kids are starting to get tired of their antics.
And then I read aloud from The One and Only Ivan. I had heard so much about it that there was no way I was going to leave that off my list!  I fell in love in the first four pages. I'm going to have to wait to read it, though. It was checked out right away this morning! And the love didn't stop there. I also bought some Carl Dueker books for my boys. In my afternoon class, there was an arm wrestling match to see  who got Payback first. I never thought I'd see the day....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#6 of 31 Chat Me Up

I've been on Twitter for several years now.

2009: 13 Tweets
2010: 88 Tweets
2011: Jan-July 74 Tweets
        Aug-Dec 431 Tweets

2012: (avg) 150 Tweets per month

2013: Jan 334
          Feb 373



I was a lurker when I started. Just logged on, read a few Tweets (and only a few since I didn't follow very many people) and logged off. I didn't really see the point of the whole thing. Didn't feel a connection to anyone. But I kept at it. I started Tweeting a few things, responded to a few people. But hashtags? What were those? Never used them.

If you check 2011, you'll see that my Tweets rose dramatically in August. You want to know why? My PLN. The people I was close to in school were Tweeting more, so I Tweeted more.

And I got a new principal.

And he followed me.

And he engaged me in conversations.

It was a good thing.

I began extending my PLN. I was careful who I followed and who followed me, but I branched out. And you know what? The more I branched out, the more I learned.

And then, we hired a new superintendent. He followed me before he was even hired. He had a HUGE online presence. I liked that.

I began expanding even more. Our superintendent is a great one for sending a Tweet that says, "You should connect with...."

So I do.

And I keep learning.

I accessed my archive of Tweets (did you know you can do that???? Go to  the very bottom of your settings. See that button that says "Archives"? Click it!).  I found a great quote that I Tweeted and forgot about (before I knew about Favorites). The quote was from Kelly Gallagher:


I want to be the teacher who has taught 20 years....

I've branched out again. This year, I've been participating in chats on Twitter. Not all of them (I wouldn't be able to do anything else in the world if I tried to take part in all of them), but a select few. My favorite is the #iaedchat. Iowa educators trying to make sense of things. There are thought provoking discussions every Sunday night.

I guess the point of this post is that you should get on Twitter if you aren't already. If you are on, then engage other educators. If you are engaging other educators, then try a chat. You can just lurk through a chat and see what it's all about. No one will know you are there. It's safe, and you will still learn.

But if you are brave and want to try something new, get involved in a chat. Follow the people you connect with.

You won't regret it.

If you do want to participate in a chat, try tweetchat.com  You enter the hashtag of the chat you want and the chat comes up. You can Tweet, reply, and retweet throughout the chat. And, it includes the hashtag for you!  You can adjust the speed of the tweets showing up, and you can pause them to read.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

#5 of 31 Snow Day: Chloe Style


I hope she hurries up. I really, really, really have to go to the bathroom. I wish Dad wouldn't have been in such a rush last night. I really, really, really should have gone then, but the snow was so fun to play in. And my hill's getting bigger. I love that.

Oh, here she comes. Yippee. Peeeeeeeee. I really gotta go outside.

Why is she coming outside with me? Geez, Mom. Can't a girl get any privacy? Oh, well. Might as well go back in with her and get a treat. Sure wish she'd give me one of those cookies she has with her coffee. They smell amazing.

Yep. She gets a cookie and I get a dog biscuit. SO not fair.

Mmmmmm. Bacon. Not so bad....

Coffee going. I better go get my spot on the couch and take a little nap while she showers. Then I'll get some hugs in. She never wants to cuddle until after her shower and a cup of coffee.

Wait. She's not taking a shower. She turned on that stupid computer though. Why didn't I remember to hide that thing?

Another cup of coffee? She's getting her book out?

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? IS SHE STAYING HOME? WILL WE PLAY????????

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I think she's staying home. Must be because of the snow!

Yippee! Yippee! Yippee!

SNOW DAY!