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Showing posts from March, 2014

30/31 Foggy Early Morning Brain

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6:00am. Feet barely moving, one in front of the other. What am I doing up so early? We don't leave until noon. I have most things packed and ready to go....book, my notebook, information for trip, underwear, pj's... Well, not really. I still haven't decided exactly what I will wear when we visit schools. Black pants both days? Or blue? Or brown? I only want to take one pair of shoes, and everyone knows you can't wear black, blue or brown shoes with the other colors. Definitely want tennis shoes on the plane. And for those times when we aren't in school. COMFORT! What do I need to download on my iPad? WAIT. Am I taking my iPad?  After all, I'm taking my computer. What am I thinking? Of course I will take both. Because as sure as I don't, I'll want the other one. Silly, I know, especially since I have an iPhone, but I need my technology with me. It all goes. Back to the clothes. No. Fix another cup of coffee first. Wake up the bra

29/31 Celebrate

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Ruth Ayres  has created a wonderful spot for sharing moments from your week. She even has  a page to give you all the details you need to know about  sharing your own celebrations . So head  on over and see what everyone else is celebrating.  I'm a little late for a Saturday, but I spent today working at the state solo ensemble music contest that our school hosted. It was a terrific day of music, even if I did hear it from outside the door (I was a room chair and and to sit outside and make sure people didn't come in during a performance.).  I found that being a room chair was a little like coaching. Those nerves show up at the worse times.  So whether they were just nervous in general or they worried about their accompanist showing up on time, I did my best to calm them down. I spent the day repeating, "We're flexible. Don't worry, we'll make time for you." Often the word "breathe" was all I needed to say. The talent of high school ki

28/31 You Only Understand if You Teach Freshmen

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We have been reading Romeo and Juliet in English 9.  It can be a tough sell.  The girls think they will like it because it's a love story. The boys think they will hate it because it's a love story.  As John Green says in his Crash Course, "....one off screen sex scene and seven on screen fatalities." Watch the first twenty seconds for this quote. But the rest is quite awesome.... I've talked about the Baz Luhrman version, but we haven't watched any of it. The kids don't really want to. I try not to be biased and there are a lot of things I really like about that version. My kids just can't imagine Romeo and Juliet  with guns and cars. They do like the Zeferelli version. So here's how it goes. We read out loud. They take turns, reading whatever part they want.I have one boy who loves the Nurse. He's a funny kid, and he does a great job.  Sometimes we get up and act it out. They all love to sword fight! We talk about what happening, e

27/31 Maybe Tomorrow Will Be Better

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I keep starting this blog post and then  I delete everything I type Nothing seems to go anywhere Words don't come Fingers seem to be typing nonsense. There are no school stories, no grandkid stories, no Chloe stories I'm sure they are there somewhere But they are certainly hiding tonight

26/31 Totally Acceptable

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He enters the room with a slight bounce in his step,  the start of a grin on his face. "Are you ready?" I ask. "Well, kind of." I can see the discomfort the unease the nerves racing throughout his body. "Great!"  I'm trying to send him  the confidence he needs to speak today. The others enter the room chatting, laughing, wondering what will happen today. Will he be ready? Will he refuse? Will there be another Blow-up? With his hoodie as his shield and his headphones as his talisman, he walks to the front of the room. He stands at the podium, nervous, but he begins. At first  I wonder if he will ever look up. And then he does. He's got this.

25/31 100 Words, 100 Days

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I  joined in on #engchat last night because Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle were hosting (seriously. I was in teacher of writer's heaven).  It was a great conversation. There was talk of how teachers share writing. Lots of us write with and in front of our students. There were also a couple of shout outs for Two Writing Teachers! At one point, Kelly Gallagher asked what percentage of English teachers we thought wrote. Based on my department of four, I said 25%. Many of the participants guessed lower than I did. That still shocks me. At some point, someone said they and their students were doing a 100 words in 100 days challenge.  Kittle liked it. She thought everyone participating in the chat should commit to the challenge. And, at the end of the chat, Meenoo Rami tweeted So, of course, with those three supporting it, I committed myself to it. Much easier than NaNoWriMo, which I have failed at each time I've tried. 100 Words, 100 Days. I can

24/31 Totally Unacceptable

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I blew up today. At a kid, with more anger issues than I have ever dealt with. He didn't have an assignment done that he had plenty of class time to do. And then, when he wasn't ready on Friday, I gave him over the weekend. Today, he still wasn't ready. The consequence was that he was to stay with me after school and get it done. He knew that Friday. Today, I got all the excuses why he couldn't. Today, I got all the ways he was going to get around the system. Today, I blew up. I said the one thing I shouldn't have said. I screamed, "I'm done." At least I was in the office where other students couldn't hear me. I can't remember being more unprofessional in my life. I'm embarrassed about it.  I'm sad about it. I'm still frustrated. Blowing up did no good whatsoever. And it certainly didn't help the student. Was I right to be frustrated. Yes. Have I given this student everything he needs, every opportunity to get

23/31 Chloe's Weekly Celebrations

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My friend Sam's mom let's everybody share their good stuff on her blog on Saturday's. She even has  a page to give you all the details you need to know about  sharing your own celebrations . I hope she will let me share mine! Every week my mom writes about all the good things that happen to her. Well, today, I need to write about mine! All last week some of my kids were here. It was so fun.  I never had to stay home alone.  Angelina and Boston played with me, hugged me, made sure I got fed AND it was nice enough that Dad, the kids and I got to take a couple of walks!  I love going for walks. It's fun to smell where my friends have been!  One day we even stopped and talked to the neighbor dogs! Sometimes I think Angelina is my favorite because she gives me lots of hugs and likes to cuddle with me. But sometimes Boston is because he likes to play fetch and run.  I like it best, though, when they both play with me. They have a little brother, Hayden, t

22/31 Celebrating

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Ruth Ayres  has created a wonderful spot for sharing moments from your week. She even has  a page to give you all the details you need to know about  sharing your own celebrations . So head  on over and see what everyone else is celebrating.  1. Time with grandkids. One of things I enjoy the most is time with our grandkids---along---without their parents.  Don't get me wrong, I love their parents, but it's way more fun without them.  We get to enjoy the kids, learn what they like, see their silliness, start their silliness, get lots of cuddle time. And with six grandkids, I like when we just have a couple at a time. Again, just better. This week my husband and I had the 8 year old twins of our oldest son staying with us.  They were on spring break and mom and dad had no one to watch them.  Semi-retired grandpa to the rescue! Having two young kids in the house definitely changed up our old people routine a bit, but it was fun! 2. Time with mom We dropped the

20/31 Things I've Learned from the Wicked Witch

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Kids always laugh when they walk into my room. People always know what to get me for gifts.  I am a Wicked Witch fan.  I have cute little signs and coffee mugs with silly little sayings. I even have a flying monkey. One student said to me this year, "So, you like witches or something?" Not really. I like one witch. I have always wanted to play the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz (I'd love to be Elphana in Wicked , but I can't sing a lick). But just because I can't be her, doesn't mean I haven't learned from her. 1. Speak up and tell people what you want and need. You won't always get it right away, but your voice needs to be heard! I know. The Wicked Witch was eventually melted, but it doesn't mean she wasn't right to speak up. The ruby slippers belonged to her sister, by rights they were hers! 2. Surround yourself with people who support you. Sometimes, it feels like you have no one in your corner.  It's nice to ha

19/31 March Madness In Perspective

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I love college basketball.  For me, the best part of football season is that it brings basketball season closer. I watch LOTS of games, read posts on CBS, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc.  I talk with my sons and kids at school about games all the time. I'm pretty sure that there are boys who will tell their kids the best way to get Mrs. Day off topic in class was to bring up college hoops. Particularly, my Iowa Hawkeyes. It's no secret in the sports world that my Hawks took a nose dive at the end of the season. Like many others, I was often vocal in my opinion what was "wrong", what needed to be done, and why they lost another game they shouldn't have. But then something happened that put the game into perspective. Our coach, Fran McCaffrey, has four kids. His 13-year-old, Patrick, has a tumor on his thyroid that was discovered in early March.   They couldn't determine if the tumor was malignant or benign. Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled f

18/31 Change

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Because I'm old (as my young school family loves to remind me), I've been through a lot of change, particularly in education. Living in Iowa, I've written standards and benchmarks THREE times, only to have the Iowa Core come into existence. I've had four superintendents Five principals Worked in two buildings Taught thousands of kids Worked through more curriculum changes than I care to count Here's what I've learned CHANGE IS HARD WORK Change is dirty, chaotic, frustrating, aggravating, annoying, inconvenient, Change is "throw my hands in the air and I quit" kind of work. Change is hard. Hard. But necessary. And the least of your problems is the internet doesn't work. Sometimes, people's ideas are ridiculous. Sometimes, they think mine are. Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes there are too many voices trying to be heard. Sometimes people think they know more than I do and they try to get everyone

17/31 Things I Love

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Today is my birthday. And every year that I have written in the challenge, I have written a list of some kind. First, I wrote about the things I had learned . Then I wrote about things I just didn't understand Oops. Last year I wrote about missing the grandkids.... This year, in the spirit of Aloha , I'm listing things I love. I found the idea here .  I've been working on it in my writer's notebook, hoping to create a scrapbook page one of these years, but thought I'd share the list here. Things I Love 1. Max's twinkling eyes   2. Kaylee's giggles 3. Tony's sense of humor 4. Boston's questions 5. Angelina's soft blue eyes 6. Hayden's grins 7. Conferencing with students 8. Speech rehearsals 9. Informal chats with kids 10. Morning hugs 11. Passion 12. Live Music 13. Big Books 14. Sandbar 15. Sunset Cruises 16. Snow crocus 17. SAINT PATRICK'S DAY 18. Surprise flowers 19. Chloe sleeping on

16/31 For My Seniors

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Senior girls--didn't get one with the boys  :( I sit in classrooms Not my own And watch you, Students of mine, Hold the attention of a room. I marvel  At the growth, the maturity, the composure,  I see in you today. It wasn't so long ago I comforted, I consoled, I reassured, And dared you to  Give it one more try. Here you are. All grown up. Handling your own nerves. Knowing what I will say Even without hearing it. And behind you, Watching you, Wanting to be you Are those who will  Follow In your footsteps. The next generation. Thank you for showing them the way

15/31 Celebrate This!

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Ruth Ayres  has created a wonderful spot for sharing moments from your week. She even has  a page to give you all the details you need to know about  sharing your own celebrations . So head  on over and see what everyone else is celebrating.  It's been a good week---a long one, but a good one. 1. It's my last week of speech practice this year. State is today. As much as I love my speech kids and the work we do, I'm always happy to see it end.  No more 10 hour days at school! Now I can rest up and think about next year. 2. Our districts public relations person came on Thursday and interviewed me and several of the kids about the speech program. It's great to get a little recognition for what we do. 3. Twice this week I've shared pictures of my classroom with people on Twitter. There's some buzz going on about creative spaces in high schools. I love my collaborative desks and the ability we have to write on them with dry erase markers.  Great for

14/31 It's a Dog's Life

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Today I want to be Chloe. As I am trying to get up the energy to get to school, Chloe lay snoring on the couch (yep. Snoring.) She had her head on the pillow, a blanket under her to stay warm and I thought to myself, "I want to be Chloe. What a life." If I were Chloe I wouldn't have to set the alarm I'd just wait for someone to Speak to me softly as I wake up They'd let me outside, Wait for my bark And then give me a TREAT when I came back in. I'd do lay on the couch With my head on the pillow and Snuggle in the blanket I drift back off to sleep Without a care in the world Waking only when someone else got up I'd only have a few jobs to wait for the mailman and bark at him to leave our yard Watch for the neighbors to come home and bark at them to come and play Keep the squirrels and rabbits at bay And Play I'd play when I wanted Sleep when I needed And always know I was loved. I want to be Chloe. Wait a minute

13/31 Hello There

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Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers i am a high school teacher i keep student work I really like to share with new students i wish i was more organized i love teaching writing i dance during the summer at concerts in the park i sing at the top of my lungs in the car when i'm alone i think education needs to be completely overhauled i really wish it would get nicer outside  i need  more hours in the day i should deep clean my house i can walk Chloe after school next week i like my students i make lots and lots of lists in my quest to be organized i always  get stuck on the ending..... Originally came from this blog  http://the-girl-who-chased-the-moon.tumblr.com/

12/31 What I Want Learning to Look LIke

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Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers I’ve spent the day at our state collaborative meeting for Competency Based Education.   (#IaCompEd in case you want to follow along). The work is hard. The work is chaotic. The work is important.   It is frustrating at times. Sometimes I just want to yell, "JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO!"  But I don't really want that. I want to put my two cents in and make it count.  It requires a lot. There are over 100 people putting their two cents in and sometimes it doesn't make sense. We don't always agree (shocking in education, I know). “Brain-melting”, as one district team puts it. A tweet from another participant, who's an associate superintendent, got me thinking I love this. It got me thinking about what I really wanted to see in education.   It comes from my core belief about learning, and it's what gets me coming back to this collabo

11/31 8:15 on a School Day

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Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers A prompt that I often do with Creative Writing is from a song called "10:15 on a Saturday Night"  by The Cure.   I found the original idea on Writing Fix . I decided to take that idea today and see where it lead.... 8:15 on a school day Silent Peaceful The only sounds are the buzz from the classroom next door and the tapping of my computer keys Restful Productive 12:15 on a school day Quiet class Working hard or looking like it Some days buzzing Some days chatting Always polite and respectful 3:15 on a school day Buzzing Loud Locker doors slamming friends yelling Plans being made Scurrying Hurrying Home 4:15 on a school day Ahhhhhhhhh

10/31 What Can I Do Besides Teach?

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Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers Back on the first day of March, I read a post that has had me thinking and jotting things in my notebook ever since. It was Susan at Underconstruction . In her post, she wrote that as a young teacher, she went to a temp agency one summer to find a job. The man asked her, "What can you do besides teach?" At the time, she didn't think she could do anything else. Now she says she would answer that she can do anything because she teaches. Anyway, this slice got me thinking. What can I do besides teach?  This is exactly the kind of things I like to write--lists that answer a question. Much like my authority lists that I have students write.... So here it is, my list of things I can do besides teach.... I can WRITE: blog posts news articles directions book reviews tweets Facebook posts emails letters of recommendation I can LISTEN to : questions concerns 

9/31 Someone Forgot to Tell the Whales

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Join the fun of the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers It didn't feel like Christmas      shorts        flip flops          shirt sleeves All these are summer things Our first full day on Maui was Christmas Day. We had decided before we went that we would need to do something special on Christmas because we knew we'd miss our families and traditions.  A dinner cruise on the ocean seemed to fit the bill. They told us it might be chilly, to bring a sweater or light jacket. Trust me, to hardy midwesterners, used to below zero wind chills, it was a beautiful night. A gorgeous sunset painted the sky and the ocean with brilliant colors. Everywhere I looked, the oranges and reds transformed the view around us. It was peaceful, relaxing, an amazing part of our trip. It didn't seem like it could get any better.... And then someone saw the whales.... December is very early in the whale season in Hawaii, whi

8/31 History Making Celebration

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  Ruth Ayres  has created a wonderful spot for sharing moments from your week. She even has  a page to give you all the details you need to know about  sharing your own celebrations . So head  on over and see what everyone else is celebrating.  1. Our Girl's Basketball team made the state tournament this year.  They played their first game Tuesday morning in Des Moines, about three hours from where we live.  We didn't have school so everyone could go down and cheer them on. I think most of the town did! The team has only gone to state three other times and they never won a first round game. This team did! While they lost their next game, they have nothing to be ashamed of. They play tonight for third place.  Go Cadets! photo by Tanya Riehle (art teacher extraordinaire) 2. The best thing about these girls---they are not just athletes. They are great students, they volunteer, they are involved in choir, they're respectful, they work hard for the thi