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Showing posts from March, 2013

#31 0f 31 Chloe Says Good-bye

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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

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

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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.

#29 of 31 Slice of Life Learning

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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

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

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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.  

#27 of 31 Today

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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.

#26 of 31 Never

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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. Ed

#25 of 31 Always

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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 do

#24 of 31 Shared Post

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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, R

#23 of 31 The Diviners by Libba Bray

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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

#22 of 31 Just a Reminder

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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 i

#21 of 31 Speech Showcase

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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 :)

#20 of 31 Where I'm From

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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 som

#19 of 31 Tempest in a Teapot

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                  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                                 

#18 of 31 Learning and Sharing

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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

#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.

#16 of 31 EdCamp

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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 t

#15 of 31 Waiting

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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

#14 of 31 Because Chloe Says So

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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

#13 of 31 Test This

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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 w

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

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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?

#11 of 31 It Was a Good 12 Hours

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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

#10 of 31 The Fallback Post

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 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 don

9 of 31 Dear Sam

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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

#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.

#7 of 31: WRAD and Book Love

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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 beca

#6 of 31 Chat Me Up

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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 b

#5 of 31 Snow Day: Chloe Style

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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? An