Saturday, December 31, 2016

Celebrate: Endings and Beginnings

Discover. Play. Build.

There's a symmetry I like in our family holiday celebration. We end and begin each year together as family. 

Our boys and their families come home to celebrate over New Year's.  6 kids, 3 dogs, 5 adults.  1 bathroom.  It's chaos. I'm not going to lie.

And I love every minute of it.

Morning begins with cuddles for Grandma. We'll have coffee and hot chocolate and talk before the other grown-ups come down. I'll find out about school and listen to silly conversations. I'll find out what books they like to read and what books they are reading in school (not always the same thing, as you know).  Chloe and the other dogs will do their best to budge in on those morning cuddles and grab a few of their own.

We'll make plans for summer and Grandma will begin her countdown to lake time. 

Saturday afternoon will find basketball and football games on TV. Card games and board games will be played. And there will be food. Lots of food.

Presents will be exchanged. Love shared.

Movies watched. Lots of conversation. 

New Year's Eve we will watch the ball drop and say good-bye to 2016. And while there were good MOMENTS in the year, we'll be happy to see it go and hope to DISCOVER better things in 2017.

Happy New Year to you and yours. The adventure awaits.


Friday, December 30, 2016

One Little Word

I wasn't really thinking of my One Little Word, but I knew one day it would find me. It always does.

This week, I was on Twitter and someone posted something about OLW. I thought back through my past words (Connect, JOY, Aloha, Balance and Moments) and how they move through my life, even now.

But that's not when it showed up. Not really.

My OLW has been following me around for awhile, always present, just waiting for me to notice it, embrace it. My OLW wanted me to think it I chose it instead of it choosing me.

And, one day, in my wanderings and musings, it screamed at me....

DISCOVER

I will turn 60 in March and like it or not, I am at the end of my teaching career. This year, my school district is considering offering an early retirement plan, and if they do, I'll take it. And while at first I was excited, I'm also wondering what this new part of my life will bring. Who am I, if not Mrs. Day?  

Really.

Who am I?

So, whether I retire or not, this will be a year to DISCOVER who I am and what I love. 

Join me.

It's going to be an adventure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Revisiting MOMENTS



2016 has been bittersweet.
Staying in the MOMENT has been difficult.
But I tried.

I wasn't sure I could write this post, that there were any joyful moments to share. I seemed to have blocked many out. So I took some time and scrolled through my Facebook page. Do you know what I found there????

Lots of joyful moments. Moments important enough that I shared them with friends and family.





My students created many of these moments. Speech kids always give me laughs and reasons to be proud. While last year wasn't our best, it definitely had fun moments for us all.  Throughout the year there were unexpected meetings with former students--JOYful meet ups that reminded me I have made a difference in at least a few lives.

I also worked with an amazing student teacher last year, who gave me back my enthusiasm for teaching. I credited her with my JOY in teaching this year.

There were moments with friends and family. My husband and I love spending as much time as we can with those important in our lives and 2016 made that more important.  In September, we lost our dear friend, Tom, to cancer. Tom wanted one more summer at the lake. He got that, passing away on the first day of fall.

But before he passed, we shared many cherished moments with Tom and his family and our friends. Each concert, each meal, each day spent sharing memories became more precious. And while we are sad he is gone, the summer reminded us why it's important to stay in the moment.

So good-bye 2016. You are leaving, but the moments will remain as precious memories.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

CPLit: The Introduction

I teach a one semester College Prep Literature class each year.

One semester.

That's it.

One semester to cram in every text they should have read before they go to college.

But I know that's impossible.

So, I started with the end in mind. What is it that I wanted them to know and be able to do when they left my class.

These are my notes from my summer of reading and planning---notice my "ultimate goal".  "To get students to think for themselves."


That was, and continues to be, what I want from my students. This semester, I have a small class of ten students. Eight girls and two boys. All good students. All students I've had before in various other classes and activities.

We begin our semester with the essential question, "Why do we need things in books?"  This question actually comes from Neil Gaimon's introduction to the sixtieth anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451, and, not so coincidently, the first book we read.  We talk about that question and I get stock answers--to learn things, because we have to,  for enjoyment, etc. Not the answers I am looking for, but it's a start.

We start the year with Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and I want them to think as we read--
  • think about a world without books
  • think about their education
  • think about the technology in their lives
But these are high school kids used to vocabulary sheets and comprehension questions (and I am as guilty as anyone), so I have to move slow.


I assign the book in three sections. After each section, we discuss. The first discussions in this class are not what this literature loving teacher wants, but I know it takes baby steps. We begin, usually with comprehension questions--the I don't understand this part kind of questions. 

It's OK. I know they are reading.  

Fahrenheit 451  is the only book that I hand out questions for. Some are comprehension, but others require them to think about what they've read and they lead us into some pretty good discussions.  What do you think about school in the book?  How is it like ours--or not like ours? What do you want from your teachers and your education? What book would you try to memorize?  

Most of the time, the answers were a little shallow, but they did show that kids were thinking about what we were reading and that's what I really wanted at the beginning of the year. They did a wonderful job discussing characters and the motivations of those characters.

But it wasn't enough and I needed to push them further.

This happened when we began reading Night by Elie Wiesel.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Celebrating When You'd Rather Scream and Cry....

Discover. Play. Build.

It's been a week, hasn't it? And sometimes, during times like this, it's really hard to find things to celebrate. I had to be very intentional to find things that brought be JOY this week. But, because I paid attention, I found celebration all around me.

Little things--
  • Double chocolate donuts brought as birthday treats
  • Great conversations with kids after the election
  • My College Prep Lit kids who discuss books better every day
  • Starting a new speech season
  • New improv team members who are rockin' it!
Big things--

Our district became part of the Iowa Teacher Leadership grant this year, and as a result, we have three instructional coaches. While all of them came from the elementary building, they are great educators and have spent a great deal of time learning the ways of secondary ed.  

They've all been in my room, but one in particular has become a regular in my College Prep Lit class. She loves sitting and discussing books, so whatever we read, she reads. And then, about once a week she comes in and joins us for discussion. She's helped me with finding a way to grade discussion rather than worksheets. We're working on ways to connect students and discussion when they all read different books in the next unit. 

I love having someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone who finds resources and shares them with me. Someone who has been in my room multiple times, watched growth in my students and continually says, "I love what you are doing."



Last, I want to celebrate the passion of a student involved in the election. Last year, as a junior, he was an ardent Bernie supporter. He caucused. He was elected as a representative for our county and went to the state meeting to cast votes for Bernie. But when Secretary Clinton was selected as the Democratic nominee, he was all in. He went door to door. He made phone calls. Again, he threw himself into the campaign. 

When he wasn't in school on Wednesday, some in my classes assumed he was home, too upset about Clinton losing to come to school.  The actual story? He had to drive to the state capitol to return his party laptop.  I wrote him a note this week and told him in a note how proud I was of his commitment and enthusiasm. 

Trust me. 

The future is in good hands.





Saturday, November 5, 2016

#CelebrateMonday and All the Rest of the Week

Monday.

I stood in the hallway, watching students racing off to their first hour class, wishing I had stopped at the local convenience store and bought myself a cappuccino to sip during my prep. I was going to head up to the lounge to grab a cup of coffee, but it wasn't the same thing. And then, from around the corner, came a wonderful sight.

Mitchell, one of my senior speech kids, had two cups in his hand and handed one to me.

"White Chocolate Caramel cappuccino. Your favorite."

Monday saved.

Tuesday was our first day of conferences. I woke up that morning preparing myself for a long day. After my shower, I sat down with a cup of coffee and to check Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday saved.

Wednesday. Well, Wednesday was the Cubs. Enough said. Wednesday saved!

But Thursday. Oh, my. It's the second day of conferences and I was up much past my bedtime on a school night watching those Cubs. Yikes.

But it was OK. I certainly wasn't the only tired one. It seemed everyone watched that game much past their bedtime and we all commiserated on how tired we were, but how great the game was. Even if we weren't a Cubs fan, we knew someone who was and knew how important it was to them that the Cubs won the series. 

After a second great night of conferences, I could go home and snuggle on the couch. Sleeping in on Friday was a given. And we headed off to Wisconsin to spend time with family. 

Today we will head off to craft shows and repurposing shops, and maybe a brewery and just enjoy being together.  

Saturday saved.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrate: Silly Kids

Discover. Play. Build.

My favorite part of teaching comes from interactions with kids. I love their enthusiasm, creativity and downright craziness (although, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have written those words at 3:30 Friday afternoon). This week's celebrations come from those little moments.


For years I posted silly student quotes on a wall in my room. You know the ones. Kids say and do things in class all the time that just make you laugh. For some reason, I haven't written them down in awhile, but several students think I should start again. And I may. But this little snippet would be too long for the quote wall. It deserves to be shared.

My College Prep Lit class is a small (10) group of great kids. Three gifted and talented sophomores, the rest juniors and seniors. I've had them all in class before and they get along fabulously. They are not afraid to admit when they don't know or don't understand something. And they are not afraid to fact check me.

We started our reading of Elie Wiesel's Night this week. After some background discussion, I assigned the Preface and the Forward for the night's reading. There was some whispering, some giggling, coming from the sophomore girls. 

"I thought it was pronounced pree-face."

I laughed. 

From the rest of the room, came the giggles of agreement. 

The next day a senior girl told me it was her word of the day. She told everyone she knew how to pronounce the word. 

But, a couple of them did admit to fact checking. Thank Heavens Google agreed with me!



And then there's these guys....
Leftover props from a Drama assignment. "They mysteriously" move about my room throughout the day.  It took some time for most students to notice them and longer to notice that they move.

But now. 

It's a new game. Every day I have a few students who come in the room and see how fast they can spot them. The corn is getting better at hiding, so sometimes it takes a bit. I guess it really is the little things that keep us entertained.


My last celebration is me. I'm writing more again and that's a good thing. My  notebook sits beside me so I can jot down little pieces that maybe will become bigger pieces. And maybe not. But at least I'm writing!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Write



I write

The words flow out my fingers
at times when it seems
NO ONE
will understand them.
I keep them private
Just for me.

I write

The words flow out my fingers
to celebrate the moments of my life
That I never want to forget and I
SHARE
them with the world
Or at least my blog readers

I write

The words flow out my fingers
to convince a student their
STORY MATTERS
their life matters
and they need to share it
With someone.

I write

At times it has felt that the words left me
No longer wanted to be shared
They are in my head
But they won't flow from my fingers

I let them go for awhile

But now
I force it
Because my head isn't going
to tell
My fingers what to do

I write






Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lighting a Fire...

The power of speech--not only for the student but the teacher also. The things I learn about my kids and the connections I make are priceless....



I didn't have much hope for him.
I listened to girlfriends and former girlfriends and teachers and former teachers.

In my head I thought, He's probably not going to do much. He'll probably barely get by. 

At least I didn't let the voice in my head come out of my mouth.

Because that voice was wrong.  Really wrong. I am ashamed of myself for even letting that little voice whisper.

This is a great kid with passions most people in the school don't know about. Well, now they do. Because I've been sharing part of his story with everyone since last Tuesday.

One of my favorite speeches for kids to give in class are demonstration speeches. I encourage them to
share with the class something they really love, something they are pretty good at. I have kids who think they aren't good at anything. I have kids who try to make a joke of the speech by tying shoes or something similar, but most of the kids share something important.

This year, as the class was talking about possible topics, H mentioned that he works with glass--makes necklaces and knick knacks. Really?  I thought. He was so excited about sharing this and his excitement was contagious. Kids kept asking him about it. He brought in some pieces he had made. So we figured out a way for H to bring in his equipment.

He got permission from the principal and the Industrial Tech teacher to bring his torch and propane to the shop and set up in there. Now this was scary for two reasons. A. The principal--what kid wants to voluntarily go there? B. The Industrial Tech teacher is also the head football coach. He's loud and intimidating. But H did it. And they both agreed.

On speech day he was really supposed to be finishing up some standardized testing, but I pushed that back a day. He was ready and excited and I wasn't going to crush his enthusiasm.  The whole class followed him down to the shop where he had his equipment set up.

He started in. We recorded his speech on an iPad, so I could just rewatch if I needed to.

I didn't though.

He was magnificent.

I can't begin to describe how proud I was or explain the tears that threatened to fall. He held his
audience in the palm of his hand. And that audience gained a new respect for him. The Industrial Tech teacher stood and watched with just the hint of a smile on his face. I think he learned a little bit
more about the kid too :)

Yesterday during inservice, I wrote him a little note about how proud I was of him and stuck it in his locker to find this morning.  To quote him, "Thanks for the note Mrs. Day. It made my day." 

The power of relationship building--not only for the student but the teacher also. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Celebrate

Discover. Play. Build.


Here I sit, on the first weekend of no lake time, wrapped in a blanket, drinking coffee and very content.  As much as I will miss the lake later this winter, today, it is comforting to be nesting and enjoying home today.  I have time to clean and and grade some papers, to watch football and grade some papers, nap and grade some papers, binge watch something and grade some papers.  You're seeing a theme here, right?  It's the end of first quarter next Friday, so grading papers will be top priority.


I tried something new for me this week--I created learning stations for editing and revising in my Creative Writing classes (Shout out to two of our Instructional Coaches for letting me talk out what I wanted to do and for checking in with my kids while I was gone the first day).  They seem to be working well for most kids. I mini-conferenced with them all on the second day and most seem to like knowing exactly what I wanted them to do. And the checklist--they loved the checklist.  I'll be writing a blog post about this process later in the week. So if you want to know more about this, check back!


This was Demonstration Speech week in Speech classes. Holy Cow. Some kids blew me away.  One of my "at-risk" kids demonstrated how to create glass objects to use for jewelry, etc.  He had the entire class mesmerized. Never underestimate the power of a student's passion!



Well, it's time to start grading some of those papers. Hope all of you had a week full of celebrations!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Celebrating Moments



"I can't be a leader, but I would sure help someone."

And just like that, in a single moment, a friendship of almost 30 years was born. I haven't had the words--still not sure they are there. But one moment he was here

and then he wasn't.

Cancer stole him from us last week.





But there are still moments to celebrate--we spent the summer stealing moments before cancer took him. Precious moments for his wife, but also the rest of us. There were concerts, and meals, and laughter. There was a golf day the Saturday before.

I felt luckier than his wife when he was stolen because we are still in the town where they lived and worked for so many years. I received a great deal of love when the news broke. I felt guilty. Guilty I was receiving what was in reality hers. But lucky too. Because people cared.

Since last spring I haven't written, haven't blogged, haven't shared celebrations. Not because I didn't find things to celebrate, but because they were private. Memories to be kept in my heart.

It's time to share again.....


  • The picture above is of a tile that was given to me by a student when she heard the news of my "other husband's" death. She didn't know that "Moments" is my OLW for the year. I bought a plate stand for it and it sits on a shelf in my room where I can see it every day.
  • Our oldest son and his wife bought a new house this summer. It was a long struggle, but she told me as soon as they walked into it, she knew it was home. Much like the story of Greg and I when we found ours. Today we are heading there to watch a Hawkeye football game. Our son bought a smoker and is cooking all the food. They invited many lake people to join the party. I'm sure his "other dad" will be looking down and smiling....
  • We're closing up the cabin at the lake next weekend, but plans are already in the works to get together during the winter months. We need each other. And there will be moments....
  • My kids at school this year are amazing. I'm loving my time with them. I promise I'll share my moments with them in the coming weeks!

That's all for today. Hug your family. Love your life.  I'll see you next week.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"This Is Me, Giving 100%"

Last year was not my finest as a teacher.
I taught like a short-timer.
Everything I did was just "good enough".
I let negative thoughts about certain kids color my connections with them.


A wonderful thing happened--an amazing student teacher entered my classroom and it rejuvenated me. She reminded me of the excitement of teaching.

And I realized, I didn't want to be done yet, but if I was going to keep going, I needed an attitude adjustment. I didn't want to retire after my worst year, I want to leave on top of my game. To quote Phelps again, "I never wanted to look back 20 years down the road and say 'what if I did this differently, what if I did that differently'. This is me giving 100 percent."

So, mentally I am ready. I'm looking forward to classes and kids. I have long range plans for a couple of classes I've been less than enthusiastic about. I'm ready to make new?  better? improved connections with students. I have a new mindset.

This is me. Giving 100%

Monday, March 28, 2016

{solsc} 28/31 #sol16 Currently


Currently
Listening: The gentle snores of Chloe sleeping on the couch. She loved visiting my family and our kids this weekend, but it made for a couple of long days, with no naps for her.  Today, she seldom left the couch, even as nice as it was outside.

Loving: This new season of "Dancing With the Stars" (and now my Monday nights are complete again. Aside from a couple, this season's stars have great potential and have already danced some amazing performances.

Thinking: School starts back up tomorrow. I keep thinking of what I have to do when I get there in the morning. But the truth is, my student teacher is in charge. We talked about her plans and what she'll be doing with the kids this week. I plan to work on a new unit for after she's gone.  

Wanting: A hot fudge sundae, with peanuts. That's what I really want. But I settled for Greek yogurt.

Needing: Honestly. Nothing. My life is pretty great right now (well, aside from other people's health issues). I guess my need is for those I love to be healthy.

Pet Peeve: When my husband makes a phone call right as I call him for dinner.  I understand why he was calling...it just bugs me :)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

{solsc} 26/31 #sol16 Even This Week



Discover. Play. Build.

You've had those weeks, haven't you?
   
This week we've found out that my husbands twin brothers will both be having major surgery a day apart. One will have a quadruple bypass and the other will be having surgery to remove cancer on his tongue. And then we found out that one of our very best friends was told surgery wasn't possible and he has maybe a year to live.

This all sucks.  And it's hard to celebrate. 

But I will.

Because both my mom and sister (cancer survivors) received clean bills of health. We went to my hometown on Friday to visit and enjoyed the time we got to spend with everyone. We then drove north and spent time with our boys and their families. It was just the thing we needed--to laugh and love with our kids and grandkids. :)

My husband and I are both healthy. And trust me. We have been making sure of that. 

We hit fourth quarter at school, so summer is right around the corner. As much as I've enjoyed this year, summer will be welcomed.  

Even though we received 5 or 6 inches of snow, plus ice, on Thursday, it really wasn't so bad. If you have to have a late snow day, having it the day before Easter break is a good time to have it. 5 day weekend! And, it's melting pretty quickly. 

My resolution for the last five days is to write posts worth reading and not rush them before bed!  Let's hope I can do it!



Friday, March 25, 2016

{solsc} 25/31 #sol16 Cancer sucks


We moved to the area about the same time and met when our oldest sons joined the local Cub Scout pack.  I volunteered to be a leader, Tom was willing to help. Little did we know almost 30 years later, the four of us would still be friends.

We've helped raise each other's kids, celebrated holidays, birthdays, and graduations together. We've been neighbors both in town and the lake. We go to concerts together and enjoy each others company in the quiet of a campfire. 

We've supported each other through the deaths of parents, kids getting in trouble and health issues. Only now, this latest health issue will separate us, will rip apart a friendship strong enough to survive anything. Anything except this.

Cancer sucks.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

{solsc} 24/31 #sol16 Tonight



Sometimes
Your world seems to
d
   r
      o
          p
out from under you

This has been one of 
those weeks

The words won't come
and 
I don't want them to yet

Tomorrow will be better
Tonight I will wallow in
sadness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{solsc} 23/31 #sol16 What Did I Do Today?

I did it!
I left my room today.
It's not that I don't trust my student teacher--I do. But I like chatting with her and the kids. I just knew I had to get out of there and let her do her thing.

But was does a teacher who isn't teaching do all day?

I left this note on the board for my students--just so they don't forget me. We're in a Winter Storm Warning, so I know the questions on all of their minds is "Will we get out early?" and "Will we have
school tomorrow?" My note answers both questions!

First hour, I said hello to my independent writing students and reminded them of deadlines and then went to the art room and gushed over the painting of her walls. I reminded her that when she got done having kids paint her walls, I do have one rather large one they could use for a canvas.

Second hour is our prep period. Since I didn't really have work to do, I mostly checked the radar to see how the storm was doing. I forwarded a couple of important emails to Amanda.

Third hour was exciting! I was sitting in the lounge watching this great TedTalk about Procrastination  (there's more below the video)



Just as I finished, the art teacher came in with her student observer. She needed some graphic novels to look at to use for mentor texts in a lesson she was designing combining art and literacy!  WooHoo! Someone needed me.

That lasted for about five minutes.

And I'm back. Writing a blog post.

Fourth-sixth hours found me in the support services room so I could try and get a little work done. I slipped a bit after lunch and spent some time in my room talking to kids. But I realized I was interfering in what Amanda was doing and left to work.  And I did. A little. I started looking at resources for the digital storytelling unit I do in Creative Writing. I've moved it to the last few weeks of school and want to expand it a bit. I took a few notes and tried to concentrate, but man, it was tough!

Seventh hour found me back in the lounge, trying to accomplish something. People kept coming in and chatting, so finally I gave up on the work and just spent time talking with those I don't get to see all that often. And you know what? It was nice. And I'm not going to feel guilty!

Eighth hour I finally gave up and went into my room. The weather was getting bad. The lights were flickering on and off. Excuses, yes. But it was nice to be back. And get caught up on the happenings of the day.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

{solsc} 22/31 #sol16 Why I Stayed


I fully intended to turn in my application a few weeks ago for one of the instructional coaching positions being offered in our district.  I worked on my resume, my cover letter and the application itself. I looked back on my career, thought about ways I've been a leader in our district, and ways I've been not so great.

I completed question after question. Aside from a little wordsmithing, it was ready to turn in. Well, editing work and one question

Why do you want this job?

I looked over my pros and cons list. I talked with peers about the job. I reread my answers.
But none of what I read and heard seemed like reasons to leave what I love.

My kids.

I thought about my pixie, who almost took her cutting too far
And A, who always needs to talk on Mondays after a weekend with her mother
And then there's the new boy. So angry when he first started, but now he's fitting in and wanting to raise his grades so he can go out for football in the fall.
They all need someone who cares.

I thought about my credit recovery class--the class that makes me thing about every assignment I make as an English teacher. I can do better for them and I want another shot at doing just that.

So I trashed the application and will stay in my room at the back of the school, working hard to do what's best for kids----MY kids.


Monday, March 21, 2016

{solsc} 21/31 #sol16 The Hardest Thing About a Student Teacher

Do you know what the hardest part of having a student teacher is?

Keeping my mouth shut.

It's not that she is doing anything wrong or needing my help, or forgetting anything.

She's wonderful!

We talked about what I wanted kids to do in writing units and then I turned her loose with Gallagher's Write This Way and my informative writing unit.  She came up with four great days of playing with informative writing before she asked them to start their actual pieces (I am going to steal one particular activity!). She walks around and checks in with kids and has plans to conference with them all on Thursday. The kids are responding well to her. I love it.

She's also doing the informative speech unit. And again, came up with great plans. Today we both walked around and checked in with kids about what they are thinking of researching. I should have stayed out of the way, though. She's got this handled! When I'm in the room, some kids talk to me instead of her.  And I, of course, answer back.

It's hard to sit back and let her take over, but I need to.

She and I could team teach very easily.  And that's a good thing.

But I have to keep my mouth shut.  Or stay out of the room....

Sunday, March 20, 2016

{solsc} 20/31 #sol16 Show Up and Write


I need to write
want to write
have to write

BUT
I can't think of anything to write about
(insert whiny teenager voice)

SHARE
a moment
It's all I need to do
A moment

Maybe that's the problem
There have been a lot of
moments lately

Breathing becoming normal
Writing begins to flow
Calm.

Show Up
and 
Write

Saturday, March 19, 2016

{solsc} 19/31 #sol16 Celebrate! It's All About the Basketball

Every Saturday Ruth Ayres invites us to celebrate the little moments in our lives that bring us joy.  Whether from the classroom or our own lives, it's important to focus on those things that make us smile.... Or as Ruth said in a post the other day,

"When I choose to celebrate, I no longer have space for complaining."
Discover. Play. Build.

I  love March Madness.  Watching college basketball gets me through the winter. I follow the ups and downs of lots of teams, so when March comes around, I am in 7th heaven. I read ESPN and CBS articles. Follow lots of people on Twitter who are in the know and I fill out brackets everywhere. The tournament is fun to watch, but this year, there is a lot to cheer for! All three Iowa teams made the tournament AND won their first round game---two of them on last second shots.


My birthday was Thursday, so that brought many, many little moments to celebrate.
  • Facebook wishes that went on for days
  • An early morning phone call from my granddaughter
  • Being sung Happy Birthday by a high school class
  • Dinner out
  • Basketball started :)
My hubby really wanted to do something this weekend and kept making suggestions. When I suggested something for him to do that didn't include me, he looked at me and said, "You just want to watch basketball all weekend, don't you?"  

Yes. Yes, I do. I've been working ten hour days and many weekends with speech. I need to nest this weekend. And it's how I want to celebrate my birthday. 

So I am. It's why I love my husband--he gets me. He might not always like it, but he understands my need to nest periodically.  So today I will putz around my house--repotting plants, rearranging things, cleaning upstairs, playing with Chloe 

and watching basketball.




Friday, March 18, 2016

{solsc} 18/31 #sol16 The Things We Carry

At some point last year, my friend, Christy Rush-Levine, posted a blogging challenge for her students. The prompt for day 1 of the challenge was

The Things We Carry

Things we carry
     Secrets
     Guilt
     Hope

Some days, I carry more than homework and lesson plans home in my bag. Some days, I carry
     Heartache and
     Worry

Those damn kids.
The ones who don't do homework,
Who cause trouble in the back of the room
The ones acting all tough
Like nothing bothers them

Those damn kids are the ones I carry
     Home
Those damn kids, whose parents don't seem to care
Or don't know how to care
Who don't seem to worry
Those damn kids
Whose parents kicked them out of the house,
Who have no one else who wants them

That's the
     Heartache and
     Worry
I carry with me




Thursday, March 17, 2016

{solsc} 17/31 #sol16 Since My Last Birthday...

Birthdays.
Some people hate them. They dread them coming around every year. They lie about their age.

I love them.

I celebrate my birthday as long as I can and proudly admit that this year I am 59.  Although, I'm wondering if I should have kept my mouth shut at school. There were a few, "OOO. Next year's a big one. We're going to have to do something."

I woke up this morning and checked Facebook. So many birthday wishes. I loved this one from my high school friend, Dan.


One of my granddaughters called me before school while she was riding the bus to school.

A friend's daughter sang me Happy Birthday in the enthusiastic way only a five-year-old can.

A class sang to me later in the morning, while also tormenting me with bananas (I hate them. The class thinks it's funny to torment me).

My husband took me out for supper and I had bacon wrapped shrimp. And green beer.

And, of course, March Madness starts today, so there are plenty of college hoops to watch the next few days:)

And Andrew Smith and Gae Polisner wished me Happy Birthday. I feel like a rock star, although I'm sure they wish everyone Happy Birthday...


I love my birthday.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

{solsc} 16/31 #sol16 All It Takes Is the Right Book


"I'm going to have to buy the next book of this series."

HUH????

These words came from the mouth of Mechanic Boy. A self-proclaimed nonreader in my credit recovery class. 

But he's read TWO books this quarter. Really read them. As a class we read Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 

It didn't suck. And we had great discussions.

Then we started an independent reading unit. Student could choose their own book and they would read it in 15 days. 15. Days. 

I was crazy, wasn't I?

Mechanic Boy was home from school yesterday with food poisoning. He finished the book. Finished the book on day 6! And loved it. He has to order the next one because "The author stopped this book is a really bad spot."  In other words, Mechanic Boy needs to find out what happened.

He kept telling Amanda (student teacher) and I that he still wasn't a reader. He just liked this book. I kept telling him, "Everyone is a reader. Some just haven't found the right book. Looks like you found yours."

He smiles, but still isn't convinced. 

I ordered the next book. It'll be here Friday.

The book that hooked him? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

{solsc} 15/31 #sol16 A New View...


It's so strange, sitting in my classroom and not being the one who leads the lesson. But that's what I did today as my student teacher, Amanda, lead my Creative Writing students in activities that will lead to informative writing.

She did a great job. And most of the kids kept on task as she led them through what she wanted them to do.

What did I notice?
Most of them had phones out and sneakily texted any moment they could.  Until I moved into their area and sat down.  That's the great thing about the comfortable furniture in my room. There are lots of places to sit and observe. And phones silently got put away.  I need to deal with this.

My room is a comfortable place to be.  Nice spaces. But. I feel bad for Amanda, because the seating is not of her choosing and it's hard, I know, for her to teach a lesson, while being observed by her advisor and me.  I'm not sure I can do much about this for her. But I'll check with her tomorrow and see if she has some ideas.

End of the year syndrome seems to have kicked in--in all of my classes--we still have a quarter to go. What can we do to combat this?

This is why I love having a student teacher. I get to look at my classes from a new perspective.  And fix what's broken!

Monday, March 14, 2016

{solsc} 14/31 #sol16 Avoidance

There are lots of ways to avoid doing school work (I'm writing a blog post, for instance), but some of my students have become masters of it in my room.  I've started a list of all the ways they stay off task and, sometimes, get me off-task too!

How to Avoid Doing Your Work in Mrs. Day's Room

1. Help another student with their homework--especially Math homework! Students know I  love those who collaborate and help each other out. Teaching someone else is a great way to show our own understanding of the work. HOWEVER!  Get your work for my class done first!

2. Discuss politics.  I can't help it. I'm a political junkie. And I love students who are taking an interest in politics, even if they can't vote yet.  Quote from a student in one particular class, "Any thought is three sentences away from being about politics".

3. Tell Me About Your Car (job, accident, girl/boy friend) I'm a sucker for talking to kids and love to hear about their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes I get a little carried away. And I have an at-risk student who is passionate about his cars--driving them, wrecking them, restoring them. I receive a daily update on the cars in his life.

4. Youtube videos. I hate them. Students love them. A constant battle.

5. Write stories about someone in the class or me for the writing prompt. There was a week where I was killed very creatively every day. The next week, it was another student.  These are always a way to get everyone in the room off task.

6. Fight with your girlfriend/boyfriend via text messages. Then make-up.

7. Snapchat stories. Gotta keep that streak alive!

8. In March, start talking basketball. We all have brackets and we're all experts--until Thursday, at least.

9. Prom. ENOUGH ALREADY!

10. When all else fails--or the assignment is due at the end of the hour. Do the assignment!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

{solsc} 13/31 #sol16 Contentment


I am so content and peaceful as I sit in my chair, while the rain taps gently at the window. It is the contentment of being happy with who I am, decisions I have made and who I am with.

This time in our life is just for us, my husband and I. There is an easy rhythm to our life now. An ebb and flow. A give and take.

Life is good.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

{solsc} 12/31 #sol16 State Speech Celebrations


Discover. Play. Build.

I'm home after 15 hours of Speech today--5 on the bus and 10 at contest. I'm tired. Really tired. So today you get my celebration in tweets. And Pictures. Selfies mostly, because they're teenagers after all. But their chosen poses. I have to apologize to those I missed today, they all did great also!