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Showing posts from 2011

Honest Conversations

My second hour speech class talked a lot. They moved around a lot.  They needed music going all the time.  They demanded my attention--good or bad.  They wanted me to notice them, to talk to them, to like them.  Many of them didn't get those things from other people  teachers. One of our last days of class together, as they put finishing touches on their "Commencement Addresses", some of us got involved in a conversation about teachers and school.  A very honest conversation. Most of them hate school and can't wait to "get out of here".  They hate homework, boring classes, and lectures. When I asked them when was the last time they liked school, they told me elementary school (except for Mr. Cocky Wrestler, who told me he never liked school).  Their teachers were nice and the work was easy.  According to them, that changes in about fifth grade. In our district, that's the year they begin switching classes and teachers--and evidently, the work gets ha

My Favorites: 2011

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Want to read some other great slices?  Check out TwoWritingTeachers ! The end of 2011 is also bringing to an end my first year blogging.  Although I didn't start Coffee With Chloe until March, I started a different blog elsewhere in January.  Last night I deleted that blog.  It just didn't fit with my blogging life. As I read through many of my posts, I sometimes wondered how I had the nerve to publish some of them.  They certainly weren't very good. Others I read almost as if I was reading them for the first time--I almost didn't remember writing them. And then there were the old friends.  The ones I loved as I was writing them. And, I think that love shows in the writing of them.  I always preach to kids to write what they love--I guess that goes for me too! So, here they are, from the early ones to the latest ones. My favorites posts of this past year. Not necessarily the most popular--but the posts that I loved writing. Puppy Kisses   The first, the sc

A Peek Inside: My New Notebook

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I started a new writer's notebook last month-- my geekiness is showing, isn't it? I love it.  It's actually a notebook that I sent for a year ago and GOT FREE!   A cool free notebook--does life get better than this? I have found the perfect pens to use when writing in it. The right pen is always an important component in writing in my notebook, It's got to look good... I've been playing with words in it. I did write a blog draft in it.  I am adding others writing that inspires me.  "Revolution for the Tested" by Kate Messner is one I turn to a lot. The inside cover of the notebook has a copy of a journal card that my art teacher friend gave me entitled "Introduction". Introduction  The last paragraph says, We have to be willing to be observers. To listen to leaves blow, to look for rare pennies and to be anonymous. Only then will our observations begin to unfold, as we scribble, attack, write, draw, and scribble some

Celebrations for the End of the Semester

It's here.  That most wonderful time of the year. Winter Break!  For our district it is also the end of the semester.  We've finished those projects and tests, said good-bye to those we won't have in class next semester, thrown away the trappings of the beginning of the year and are ready to move on. But before I move on, there are a few things to celebrate: As I listened to my sophomores give their graduation speeches, I was amazed at how much they had all grown.  The skills they have picked up during the course of the semester showed as they stood in front of their classmates.  Even the boys, notorious for their "Slacker Voice", stepped it up for this last speech.  Students who read their speech looked up at us and spoke with enthusiasm. The students who took the time to memorize their speech were phenomenal!  Some of the best speeches ever given.   The reflections written by my creative writing students show that I am on the right track with this class.  

Thanks for Being Tough

Dear Mrs. Day, You know how most of my speech was about victory and survival? Well, ironically, I can't believe I survived that! I mean, my speech was better than I had expected, but I would never have DREAMED  I could turn a four- minute speech into one that might just as well have been a perfect 6 minutes long! Thank you SO much for pushing me like you have in this semester! If you had gone any easier on me, my grade would be even worse than it is now (plus I would still be a chicken on the stage today!) I often feel like I've failed kids. That I haven't done enough for them.  But not this student. The student from the above email, I actually felt like I was picking on him at times. He's in a wheelchair, you see.   Spina Bifida . My instinct was to coddle him.  But I soon realized, he had had enough of that. And it was his body that was handicapped, not his mind. In addition to being in a wheelchair, he had also been home-schooled (Don&#

SIlly Snippet Slices

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Check out other slices at Two Writing Teachers!  Or better yet, JOIN US! Ok. So this last week has been crazy busy.  You all know what I mean.  The end of the semester craziness of: semester projects (and getting them graded),  tests (and getting them graded),  portfolios (and getting them graded).  So, frankly, I haven't written since last week. Nope. Haven't even thought about it.  Because on top of all the " of the semester, gotta cram it all in craziness", there's also the "Christmas is coming chaos".  You know: finding the perfect gift (and wrapping it),  baking the cookies (and frosting them),   Christmas cards (scratch that--maybe next year). So not one word has escaped from my pen.  However, that does not mean I haven't thought about writing.  Here's the list of never written blog posts: I even took pictures of my notebook! I started a new writer's notebook.  This makes me inexplicably giddy.  It will have a d

The Elf on the Shelf

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Thirty years ago an elf made an appearance at our house. He didn't look quite as fresh and new as this one. Especially as the years went by. Playing with two young boys tends to take a toll on an elf. But, even with all the abuse he took,  he was an annual visitor to our home. Elf generally made his appearance on December 1st.  All of a sudden, he would just appear somewhere in the house.  We've never had a fireplace, so we knew he didn't come down the chimney,  We lived in  small towns and didn't lock the doors much, so I suppose he could have gotten in that way.  However he got in, his arrival was always an annual event. Elf would spend the month with us, making sure the boys behaved themselves in those crucial days before Christmas.  It was hard to keep track of him because he moved about the house at will. Sometimes he showed up in the playroom to watch the boys at play. Other times he sat in a kitchen window sill to make sure they ate all their supper.  He li

Saturday Morning

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Hot coffee Warm blanket Paper read Writing done Homework Avoided. A whine Nose in lap Put that computer down Writer's notebook, be gone. I need some morning hugs. And it's cold with my new Haircut Share the warmth What? Another cup of coffee? I'll just go sleep on the couch.

No Gifts With Cords

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I am a  "What I Want for Christmas" list maker. My husband is not.  I love to make long wish lists of things I would love to receive. My husband does not. I love getting other people's "What I Want for Christmas" lists. You guessed it--my husband does not.  My philosophy is if you make the list long enough, you won't know what you are getting, but at least it will be something you really will enjoy. My husband believes it takes all the fun out of opening gifts because you already know what you got. We "argue" about this every year.  It happened again over the weekend as I left a "wish list" of books and music on the kitchen table. Problem was, at the time, there was only one CD on the music list.  Evidently, it the one he was going to buy me. So don't buy it. Look at the list of 15 or 20 books that are at the top of my book list. I'd rather have those. Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm being selfish, greedy,

A Special Thank-You "You Matter"

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Just had to show off my new "You Matter" picture.  The wonderfully talented Christy Rush-Levine made if for me (she also made herself a new header for her blogs).  Of course, then I had to redesign my blog again to go along with it. Christy is starting a new blog also for her former students--students who want and need books to read now that they are in high school.  It's called Reading Beyond the Middle . I love that she is going out of her way to make sure they have good book recommendations to keep them reading long after they have left her classroom. So this week's You Matter goes to Christy for going out of her way to make sure her students know they  matter.

Middle of the Night

3:22am Ferocious barking coming from the kitchen. Not your " Oh my gosh, I saw a dog (reflection) in the window! Why won't that other dog play with me?" bark. Not "How dare that squirrel, rabbit, stray cat run across my yard!" kind of bark.  This bark was of the "Danger! Danger Will Robinson!" variety (of course, at 3:22 in the morning, all barks could sound like that). Chloe never barks in the middle of the night.  Never. I sit straight up in bed and let the sound register in my head.  I walk to the front window and look out. So does Hubby.  A red truck is backing out of our driveway. A red truck I have never seen before. "Good girl, Chloe,"  I say.  "This is a good time to bark in the house." She wags her tail and leans against my leg, seeking comfort. "Did you see that red truck go down the driveway?" "Yea.  Maybe they were just backing out to turn around." "No. They were all the way up to

Time

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Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.  ~John Archibald Wheeler My life is chaotic right now. I'm so tired at the end of the week, I can hardly wait for bed on Friday night. However, I put all the blame on the clocks in my life.  This is how this morning went as I tried to make it to school on time for a 7:30am rehearsal (anytime kids are willing to rehearse at 7:30, I am going to be there!). got up, according to my bedroom clock, at 6:14am (never mind that my dear hubby sets his clock 15 minutes ahead. So that clock is at 6:34!) walked downstairs and it was 6:21am  (I'm slow in the morning, but not that slow!) Start coffee and take a shower.  6:34 when I head to the living room, according to the clock on the stove--the one on the wall actually tells me it's 6:36 After checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and drinking a cup of coffee while watching the morning news, I left the living room at 7:04am and walked to the bathroom to dry my hair--a

The Back Row Kids

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The view from my desk Since last Tuesday, I've been contemplating a post called "The Front Row" on Otter Landing's blog.  I keep thinking about those back row kids. It's hard for me you see, because I don't have a back row.  I don't like to let kids hide. Right now, my desks are arranged in rows (I change my room arrangement a lot). So, I often teach from the back of the room.  That way, the back is the front and the front is the back.  Those front row kids stay engaged because they want to be the ones to tell you the answers, but the back row kids are now in the front and they can't hide.   My desk is at the side of the room so that when I mix up the desks into little pods of three or four, the side is the front and the front and back are now the sides.  Confused?  So are the kids sometimes, but no one gets to hide. I have also been a back row hider myself at times.  I have been known to have my desk in the back. That really confuses

Thankful

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Ever notice how sometimes the blogging ideas seem to dry up and then all of a sudden, you have more than you can possibly write about?  An overabundance of ideas have hit me this week, so the "Things I Am Thankful For" post had to wait until the end of the week. 1. My family :  Although life may not always be perfect, although it may sometimes be a struggle, we have each other and can depend on each other. 2. My friends:  I have the best.  I know that anyone of them, at a moment's notice, would drop what they are doing and come to my side if I really needed them.  And that's the most you can ask for. 3. My students:  All of them, even the naughty ones, have made me a better teacher, a better person. And it because of them that I look forward to going to work every day. 4. My blogging friends:  And that's what you are, you know. Although we have never met face to face, I feel like I know you.  You have made this new adventure of mine take off and for th

Happy Turkey Day

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It was my first Thanksgiving away from home.  We had always managed to go home before, but this year, it just wasn't going to happen.  We had moved further away and my husband had to work on Friday.  A one day trip just wasn't in the cards.  We were going to try it on our own.  My dad and grandpa said they would come up, so at least we would have some family with us.  But neither Greg nor I had ever cooked a turkey--that was the grown-up's job.  Guess we were the grown-ups now! The boys were small. Josh had just turned one and was beginning to talk. Mitch would turn six in a couple of weeks.  Greg worked for days getting Josh to say "Happy Turkey Day" so that when Dad and Grandpa came he could say it to them. Greg was in the kitchen, getting the turkey ready for the oven. The boys were with him, watching everything he was doing. He was digging inside, grabbing the bag of innards out. Evidently, the turkey was still pretty frosty on the inside. "Dang,

Thankful Memories

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I never planned on living in my hometown forever.  Always knew that I would move away and start my life somewhere else (even though it ended up only three hours away). But I never considered what that really meant. Kids sick and needed to miss a day of school?  My friends called their moms, sisters or mother-in-law. Me, I had to stay home. Family member with a serious illness?  You can't just jump in the car and drive across town to the hospital to visit or stop by to see how everything's going. Holidays?  Takes some planning. And then we met Tom and Brenda.  Well, actually, Tom and I met first when we were Cub Scout leaders together, but it wasn't long before the four of us became close friends. Thanksgiving became our holiday because we couldn't spend it with family for a variety of reasons.  For 20+ years we have spent this holiday together.  Our kids have grown up celebrating with this other part of our family. And obviously, there are many, many memories.

My Author To Be is Published!

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I wrote about my "author-to-be" back in August. She, of the bangs in her face and disheveled clothes. She, who constantly wanders around with her nose in a book. She, who is writing, always writing. She asked me a month or so after that post if I would let her take "Creative Writing 2" as an independent study.  There really isn't a number 2 for this class, she just wants to write.  So I said yes (unbelievably, a few more have asked!).  She can't wait. I hope her enthusiasm for writing carries over to the others in the class! She met me at the door Monday morning, bouncing with excitement--and I do mean bouncing. Hardly able to contain herself, she skipped and tripped over to meet me. "Mrs. Day, I could hardly wait to show you this.  I'm so excited and it's all because of you." I'm trying to think what I could have done to elicit this much enthusiasm. "Really, it's all because of you. Look!" And she pulls o

My Favorite Holiday

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Thanksgiving. Plain and simple. It's my favorite holiday. There are no expectations except to be thankful for your life.  How much better can a holiday be. Great food and thankful. For me, Thanksgiving is peaceful. There is no running around buying presents or decorating.  It's the calm before the storm, so to speak.  Growing up, it was always a family holiday, spent with my mom's family.  I remember waking up to wonderful smells on Thanksgiving morning (my favorite smell--the celery and onions sauteing butter.). Mom was always a bit frantic, trying to get as much done as possible before the family arrived. After breakfast, it was time to help and I was always in charge of three things:           1. Put together the relish tray: cleaning the green onions (I still don't know why anyone eats them!); filling the celery with some kind of cheese spread or peanut butter; cleaning and peeling radishes and carrots.  I remember when I was in seventh grade I learned how

What to Write, What to Write

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5:30am. I awake like I do every Tuesday morning (my body just seems to know it is Slice of Life Tuesday!). Chloe greets me with morning hugs and kisses, I start the coffee and sit down to write. Nothing. Really. Nothing. I couldn't think of a thing to write about today.  And then I started reading other blog posts. And I met with my writing group. And the ideas began to flow. So now I have a long list of ideas and I can't pick just one.  So here's the list--watch for upcoming posts: 1. Linda at TeacherDance wrote about her beautiful granddaughter and what a "nice" baby she is.  And that moved her thinking to the nice kids in class who sometimes get the short end of the stick when we teach.  Thoughts to ponder. Even though I am always an advocate for the "bad boy", there's truth to this. 2. Christy at Living posted about her school being in the news for a bullying incident and how the news stated that the school did nothing about it.  A

Things That Go Bump in The Night

A small noise from outside. One we don't really hear, but Chloe does. The start of a growl comes deep from inside her. A bark. "What is it?" we ask. Another noise, Another growl, Another bark. Suddenly she flies. Not to the door, Not to the window, But to my lap. Is she trying to protect me, This big, 60 pound ball of fur? Nope. Chicken dog needs to be protected From things that go Bump in the night.

You Matter: All Vets Everywhere

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I woke up this morning thinking about them--well, not just them, but all the Veterans I know.  Cousins, nephews, former students, friends. They all matter. But there are two who are special, and I wondered what they were doing today. I've written about them before. My "adopted sons"--students who through the course of  years I became extremely close to.   Josh, my reading machine, and Daniel, my former speech student ; both are young men I am proud to know. But today, Veteran's Day 2011, I want to share my pride. They matter, you see, not just to me, but to all of us. They serve their country proudly. I walked into the cafeteria for morning duty and looked around. The Veteran's were there in uniform, eating breakfast at a special table set up just for them  They looked so proud in their uniforms. And there he stood in his Army fatigues, filling his tray in the breakfast line with the older Vets. I felt tears welling up as Josh came over and gave me a big hu

"Tis the Season

Today is our first late start of the winter season and I am basking in the moment. Snuggled up in my blanket, coffee and Chloe at hand, I am just enjoying the unexpected freedom. There are many thing I could be/should be doing. But they will wait until I am ready to face them. P ossibly today, but maybe tomorrow R eally, I promise. O nly don't count on it if it snows C ause then, all bets are off. R eadying myself for A crazy S chedule. T rying to stay focused on work, I nstead being dragged away by N ew A ctivity on Facebook and T witter. I magining a day O f N othing but nonsense.

Hard Work

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So, this whole NaNoWriMo thing isn't going so well.  Writing 1,667 words a day is HARD WORK! And when you pile that on top of teaching teenagers all day-- reading writing and assessing their learning-there isn't much left of me at the end of the day. Some contest speech practices have started also, and I'm getting ready to start the rest. Oh, and have I mentioned that writing 1,667 words a day is HARD WORK! I started the month well. The writing flowed, the characters were strolling into my mind and letting me in on their story. Fantastic. And then the reality hit. Oh yeah. I have a job. There were commercials to grade, papers to read, lessons to plan. Oops. On the plus side--if I ever become independently wealthy, writing won't interfere with my work life. But I have a feeling writing 1.667 words a day will still be HARD WORK. The weekend came. A good time to catch up, right? Nope. Our youngest son and his family came. And who in their right mind would try and wri

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

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I am officially crazy. In the midst of a crazy school year, with contest speech starting, I am participating in NaNoWriMo.  You've heard about it. That insane challenge to write a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) in one month. 30 days.  That's 1,666 words a day. I didn't mean to. Hadn't planned to. But the whispers in my head haven't gone away. They keep giving me little snippets of life--just enough to keep me interested.  Just enough to make me want to dig up more about them. Just enough questions that need to be answered. This, and several students are doing it and want me to join them. We are going to meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for our own writing group. We'll share successes and failures. Talk about our writing. Give each other pep talks. And I imagine, a little food will be involved. Just thought I'd warn you, in case you don't hear from me for awhile. I'm taking the plunge and will be drowning in an ocean of words--I hope

You Matter Sunday

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We've been friends for almost a quarter of a century.  We raised our kids together--everything from diapers to driving. We cheered those kids on through rock bands and basketball teams, high school musicals and college tests, dating to weddings. We bought lake trailers next door to each other. Learned to golf together (although she is now MUCH better than I am). We cried and hugged through the deaths of parents and the birth of grandkids. I can't imagine her not in my life. She is one of the strongest women I know and also one of the best friends. She taught me how to stand up for myself. She got me to go out and have fun and until this year, always rode the roller coaster with me. She buys me presents she keeps for herself. Or gives them to me early so she doesn't keep them for herself. She always has chocolate stash that she willing shares if I need it. She keeps treats for the dogs in the area, although her family says she doesn't like dogs. She shares

Little Things

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It was a week of big things:  Two nights of conferences, post observation conference, and the commercial project in speech .  How was I going to focus on one little thing like Ruth challenged us to do in her post ? Looking at the big things took all of my time! But this morning as I uploaded pictures from a visit to our oldest son's last weekend, I found myself smiling--at the happy, giggling smiles of our grandkids, the proud smiles of our son as he holds his youngest, Grandpa's smiles as he plays with them all. How Can something so small and perfect Create such a Large swell of feeling Inside me? How Can those upturned corners and sparkling eyes Melt my heart and Make my arms ache? How Can the giggles that escape and grab my soul Still be there Today? But those smiles weren't the only ones that I thought about: Student smiles as they walk into my room, excited to work on the current project. They talk, they giggle, they show me what they'v

Of Course, It's Monday!

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A typical high school Monday--a little bit of everything and conferences to boot! The morning went well. Kids worked pretty hard on their commercials. Almost all of my alternative school kids showed up. And someone put apple bars in the lounge. Life was good. Until after lunch. Two groups were working in the hall and in the reading/writing center outside of my room.  Something that goes on most every day. I was in the classroom when I heard a crash/clank.  I went into the hall... "What?" Surly voice, surly look, defensive posture.  This was not good. I give my best teacher stare, "What is going on?" "He called me a c&*^%*%$er," the surly one replies (rather calmly, I might add). "He laughed at our story," an angry young man on crutches answers, "And then he kicked my crutches! Dealing with 16-year-old boys for quite a few years, I am not surprised by the language, but I am angry about the crutch kicking! "I'l

Whispers

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They speak to me at odd times.  Sometimes in the morning during a quiet cup of coffee. Sometimes  while I play outside with Chloe.  Last week, they kept whispering to me during Creative Writing and I just had to put down the papers I was reading and write down their stories. Will they continue sharing with me?  Do they want the world to know about them? Or will they continue to just whisper, never fulling revealing who they are?

Harriet the Spy

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What a coincidence!  My post yesterday for National Day of Writing credited my love of writing back to when I read the book Harriet the Spy  as a child. I wanted to be Harriet. I wrote in my own little notebook as I spied on the world around me. Then, this morning I am checking my Twitter feed (mrsday75) and a tweet by Sharon Creech caught my eye.  All it said was "Harriet the Spy" and gave a link  to the Children's Book Almanac site.  Who knew that on October 21, 1964 Harriet the Spy  was published. And somewhat controversially, it seems. Harriet was a new kind of children's character in the '60's. And, I wasn't the only child to want to be Harriet. Now, if you'll excuse me. I need to go revisit an old friend's neighborhood !

Why I Write: National Day of Writing

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What I write: Grocery lists To-do Lists Scattered Poetry Scrapbook journals Diaries Journals Comments to kids Notes to colleagues Thank-you notes Facebook messages Tweets Birthday cards Why I Write: To keep in touch To Share To Learn To Explore To Rant To Create To Give Encouragement To Leave a Mark To Record My History But really, I write because I always wanted to be Harriet. You remember Harriet... Harriet the Spy  ?  After I read that book, my life changed.  I took my little writer's notebook and roamed our neighborhood, spying on the neighbors and writing down what I saw. I wanted to be Harriet. Eventually, that writer's notebook became a diary. I wrote down inconsequential things that meant nothing to no one. I remember keeping real feelings locked inside and only wrote down what I thought people wrote in diaries. Mrs. Henke and Creative Writing entered my life in high school and along with her a love of writing poetry (notice I didn't

Thief of Dreams

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Inadequacy Creeps in, Stealing creativity, Squashing ideas, Putting out the fire. Inadequacy screams, Better than you have tried and failed. Inadequacy whispers, Just shut your door and teach. Inadequacy writes, What makes you think you are good enough? Inadequacy, The thief of dreams.

It's Not the What, It's the Who!

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It's 5:00am and I woke early.  Not sure why, but I am.  I was going to post about being evaluated today, but I read blogs and checked Twitter instead. I reread Christy's Slice of Life  from Tuesday again because I love the way she wrote her post about the young man in her classroom. The intro, especially, grabbed my attention and I wanted to use it today as a mentor text with my freshman. But most importantly, she is connecting and making difference in that young man's life. I read a new blog for me, but one I enjoy,  JennM at I Hablo Espanglish.  She made an analogy to the starfish story and two students at school.  One she kept from being bullied at lunch, one she helped get her locker fixed. She made a difference in those two lives. And then Michelle tweeted a post. I generally read anything she tweets about because it's usually good stuff! And it was again this morning. A new blog to follow Justin Stortz at Pursuing Context . Justin comes right out and says t

Living and Learning With Passion

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Last week was Demonstration Speech week in my speech classes. I think it's my second favorite speech that students give. With this speech I learn my students' passions.  I learn what gets them excited about life.  Students who may struggle with other speeches shine when they give this one because this is where they live and love. This is something they enjoy. I took pictures for the yearbook of students presenting their speeches, and wish I had them with me to include. You see, the speeches don't just take place in my classroom. The kids present everywhere. We were in the gym (lots of volleyball speeches), the parking lot (I think I could change my own tire after that one), on the track (learned to throw a shot put and do the long jump), and the back lawn behind the building (I can throw a pretty good spiral now). Passion. And then Friday night at the lake, we had a little jam session in the store at the resort: Here are guys, doing what they love. It might not