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Showing posts from 2015

Connecting to JOY, ALOHA, BALANCE and ....

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And I wait. Every year. I wait. I wait for that one little word to show itself. Every year. First, was CONNECT in 2012.  I didn't write publicly about that one. But I think it made an impact on me :) In 2013, JOY came to me over our family's Christmas celebration.   JOY visits me daily. And I find I don't have to look for it much any more. JOY just shows up and I am smart enough to enjoy those moments. Writing JOY JOY after tragedy Family JOY Choosing JOY At the end of 2013 my husband and I traveled to Hawaii with his sister and her husband.There were so many wonderful moments in that trip.  I kept a travel journal to remind me of the little moments that I never wanted to forget.  Two years later, I still look back on that trip as a life changing experience.  And on the last day, A L O H A  found me for 2014. I practiced my word whenever I could. I found that JOY joined in and that my one little words were forming a family. Remembering ALOH

I Just Can't Stop Smiling

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Click here and celebrate with us About 9:30 yesterday morning a Facebook message put a smile on my face and a happy tear in my eye. I haven't stopped smiling since. I'm not trying to be cryptic, but it's not my story to share, not really. So I'll keep my mouth shut, my keyboarding fingers quiet, a smile on my face and wait til it's OK to share.  But after that good news, the day just kept getting better. I finished grading my Creative Writing students' Digital Storytelling projects. Wow. Most of the kids did an amazing job. Some are heartbreaking. Some are disturbing.  And I'm not going to sugarcoat it, some are awful.  Well, not awful really. They just didn't spend the time on the assignment that it required, and what they ended up with was just incomplete. I'm sharing out more of them on our Facebook page and through Twitter #CWFierce if you'd like to see some more. Here's one of my favorites: Then I got home and che

Making Writing Fun Again

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I've learned something in the last few years of teaching Creative Writing. High school students don't think writing is fun. According to their writing autobiographies, writing in school is dull and lifeless and done only according to teacher directions. No voice. No choice. No fun. Sometimes, I forget that too. This week was conference week and a great time to remind us all that writing is fun, creative and doable. These activities I used with my juniors and seniors and also with my eighth graders, who will also be writing fiction stories.  I have to say, the eighth graders are waaayyyy more excited about writing stories than the high schoolers are. Monday we all wrote from picture prompts. I've been pinning these great pictures  for awhile now and have used them in class several times. Kids get done with this assignment and always say, "That was fun."  The premise is simple. Students work in groups of three. They are given a picture with these directions:

Celebrating Friendship Through The Tears

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Our Sandbar gang last weekend. A getaway planned before cancer struck. A getaway continued so we could share our strength with friends who need all they can get right now. My sister, the survivor, is in white. These are her cronies, to whom I will always be indebted. They loved and took care of my sister when I couldn't be there. You don't see them looking at these pictures, but tears have been shed lately. Lots of tears. Because cancer sucks. The last year has been tough. My baby sister (God, she'll hate that) was diagnosed with colon cancer last winter. A grapefruit sized tumor was found. But rounds of chemo and radiation shrunk that tumor to nothing and surgery was successful. As she finishes her last rounds of post surgery chemo, we have lots to celebrate.  She is a survivor. Her group of friends, the "Cronies" as they call themselves, have been amazing. They are her strength. They keep her smiling through it all. They are her othe

Why I Write

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I often tell students that I don't remember not reading.  Well, when I think about it, I don't really remember not writing either. I've always loved putting pen to paper (Flair markers, thank you. Black or Brown are my favorite colors).  And I am a paper and pen kind of person...I love my computer and I love writing blog posts and connecting online, but when I really need to write, paper and pen are my go-to supplies. When I need to sort out emotions, I write.  I look back into some notebooks and am amazed at the feelings that explode from them. I don't always remember the catalyst behind the page, but usually I do. Because it was important enough to write about. I write to remember and reflect.  Oh, I write the usual to-do lists. There's a certain satisfaction in drawing a line through those to-dos. But the most important remembers that I write are those things I want to go back and savor again.  Special moments. Special people. Special emotions.  They need

Small Moments

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Sometimes, when your world seems to be crashing in around you when the universe  throws so much at you that  your JOY , your ALOHA , can't BALANCE things out, you need to relish  the small moments. Beautiful morning mists  hovering just above the corn Unexpected gifts just because they thought of you Sharing the unshareable with those who do not judge. Facebook family messages that make us laugh and smile through tears for others. These small moments remind us how  Grateful we are for those who have come into our life.

No One Ever Told Me

I spent some time thinking this past Banned Book Week  how lucky I've been when it comes to books and reading... No one ever told me I couldn't read Gone With The Wind at twelve because it was inappropriate or too old for me, or that it wasn't good literature. When I began to read it, both my mom and grandmother were excited that I was trying a book they both loved. I talked about it with both of them. Shared my thoughts, talked about Scarlett's good points, cried when Mellie died. It didn't scar me, because I have read it 25 times and get something new out of it with each read. I grew up in a family of readers, each with their own preferences that they shared with me. Grandma read True Story magazine, Grandpa read the newspaper. My mom and dad always had books going and a pile that was waiting to be read. My dad loved the grand historical novels of Herman Wouck and James Michner. Those led me to Steinbeck, whom I loved. I was never assigned his books in sch

Celebrate!

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I think sometimes the lake pulls out all the stops at the end of the season, creating beautiful sunrises and sunsets just to remind us what we will miss when we close for the season. I'm just going to sit here awhile longer this morning sipping my coffee and enjoying the view. I'm celebrating writing again. Inspiration seems to be finding me :)  I wrote yesterday about books I wouldn't have read if I didn't have a classroom library .  I kept trying to fit in all the books that I loved that I wouldn't have read, but there were just too many of them. I do know that they all started with Harry Potter.  I love that this year, one of my eighth graders started the series. She loves them and it's fun to watch someone experience them for the first time (and there's another celebration). I've been sharing celebrations with students, staff and community through a new Facebook page, A Day in Room 25 .  I love taking kids pictures and sharing out their w

Thank goodness my classroom library isn't just for me...

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This morning I read Pernille Ripp's newest blog post . You should probably read it first. And it got me thinking about all the books I wouldn't have read if my library was just for me. If my classroom library was just for me I never would know what a muggle was and imagined a game of quidditch. I wouldn't have cried over the death of a wizard or cheered the death of another. I wouldn't have jumped into the land of a book and and loved the  silver tongues that brought words to life. I definitely wouldn't have raced the  capall uisce up the beach on the first of November, nor tracked ley lines with the Raven Boys. If my classroom library were just for me, there would have been no fantasy, no magical reality. I wouldn't have played games of life and death. I wouldn't have lived in a world with no color and loved a giver of memories. I wouldn't have lived in the future and wondered how we could keep those things from happening. If my

Celebrating Resilency

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Share your celebrations with us. Click above for all the info! Not gonna lie. At some points this week I felt I was drowning in despair. Students are writing expressive/reflective pieces for me and the stories I am reading are not the happy-go-lucky, beach party, silly teenage antics that so many people believe high school student life is like. I'm reading stories of abuse and neglect, family suicide, and homelessness. I'm reading stories of loneliness I'm reading stories of self-abuse, family issues, and fear of deportation. They believed me when I told them Your Story Matters. They took those words to heart and shared with me the parts of themselves they seldom share with others. They trusted me.  And slowly, most of them are trusting at least one other student in class with that story. That's reason to celebrate. They laugh, they smile, they relax in my room. That's reason to celebrate. They are committed to finishing school and they

I Failed Today

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I failed today. I removed a student from my room. Not that the removal wasn't warranted in most cases. But I know this kid. Know him well. I know that when the insubordinate, defiant voice comes out he is hurting. I know something happened in his world that added a few more bricks to his wall. I intended to find him a quiet spot where he could be alone, but one sentence changed all that. "Good. I need to meet the new principal anyway." Fine I thought Let me introduce you. That was my failure. I let him goad me into something I had no intention of doing. He pushed a button and I reacted. And it wasn't what he needed. He needed a spot away from others to nurse whatever wounds had been opened. He needed me to understand, to be a sounding board, to be a safe place. I had one job today and I failed.

A Good Kind of Tired

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Join the amazing group and share your celebrations We've just finished our first full week of school--with kids. If you teach, you understand how I fell back to sleep for another hour this morning when I really intended to just close my eyes and cuddle Chloe for a few minutes. If you teach, you'll understand why I slept most of the way to the lake last night. And that when we got to the cabin, I put my pjs on and wrapped up in a blanket for the rest of the night. It's a good kind of tired. It's the tired of learning new names and making sure to talk and connect with every single kid that walks in my room. It's the tired of creating family with a group of strangers and Of making my room a safe place to land. It's the tired of finding the right book for the right kid and learning why 42 kids took creative writing. It's the tired of welcoming a student into speech class for the 3rd time and then two class periods later welcoming him to dra

Celebrating Summer: Part 2

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Check out other celebrations over at Ruth's! Just click on the icon. July. It's like the fastest month ever. One minute it's the 4th of July, and the next minute you're turning the page to August. Yikes. 20 days until teachers report back. But who's counting? The 4th was a quiet one for us this year (and I'm not complaining). We didn't even leave the resort and I loved every minute of it. We went to several concerts--but a special one was with our son and daughter-in-law. For Father's Day and my husband's birthday they bought him tickets to see The Marshall Tucker Band in a town not far from the lake.  It was also their fifth wedding anniversary, so they went along with us.  It was a great night! I geared myself up for an event that I had been looking forward to (and been a little anxious about) for over a year. My 40th high school class reunion-- I don't know why I was anxious--wait! Yes, I do. I hadn't se

Celebrating Summer: Part 1

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I'm back celebrating on Saturdays! You should dust off your blog and join the celebration, too! I think I've enjoyed this summer more than most in recent memory. I quit telling myself what I should do and just enjoyed things as they happened. It meant less writing, less reading, less online connecting, but I sure have had a good time! I also took LOTS of pictures.... Here's what I celebrated in June... My first two weeks of summer break found me reading and sleeping, with a little golf thrown in for good measure.  Our sons and their families were frequent visitors, so we got lots of time with the six grandkids. After a couple of weeks of relaxation, it was time for a little work (and fun). Roomie, ArtTeach and I presented our flipped classrooms at the Iowa Technology conference.  We worried that no one would come. It was standing room only.  We worried we weren't giving people what they wanted. Several stayed after our presentation to ask que

Celebrating The Lazy Days of Summer

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I've been done with school since the 28th of May. TWO weeks already. I haven't written I haven't started planning for next year I haven't thought about students I haven't even thought about my presentation at a conference next week (YIKES) And I really haven't accomplished much of anything. I've spent them at the lake, surrounded by friends and family, and enjoying every minute of it. And food, of course, always lots of food I've taken time to notice the beauty around me And the ways of nature (who knew turtle could move so fast?) I've read THREE adult books! I may have to do a little review of two of them, but trust me on Stephen King's new trilogy ( Mr. Mercedes and Finder's Keepers   are the first two). This is not horror fiction, more detective/crime novels and truly good reads. And I promised myself all of this on that last day. Because I felt out of BALANCE , you see. Those last weeks of sch

Celebrate the Lake

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Want to celebrate with us? Click the icon above and head on over to Ruth's blog! This week, I'm celebrating the lake. My happy place. I seldom leave school as quickly as I did Friday. My husband couldn't believe it when I pulled in the driveway....and I already had half the car packed since I loaded a few things before school. That of course, got Chloe all worked up. She knew something was going on. We arrived about 7 and had plenty of time to turn on the water and check for leaks before I went down to the beach to catch my first sunset of the season. Sunset is almost a sacred time at Sandbar. Most of us stop whatever we are doing and just breathe it in. Then, it was enough with the chores that could be done later (or even tomorrow), we headed out to find the friends we have missed all winter. We spent a couple of weekends with them since we closed last fall, but it's not the same as just sitting and enjoying each other, even if we don&

Celebrating Balance

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Head on over to Ruth Ayres Write and celebrate with us! This week I'm celebrating FAILURE, of a sort... I didn't finish the March blogging challenge I didn't write a celebration last week I didn't clean my house until yesterday I didn't walk every day I didn't do a lot of things I probably should have But really. I'm celebrating balance, which of course is my OLW for 2015 .  I'm celebrating the student I wrote about yesterday. The balance between technology and "old school" is a delicate one. You have to meet students where they are. Once I got him off his computer and just got him to think about his writing, he soared.  I'm celebrating myself. Learning the difference between the "I really have to have this done tomorrow" and "This isn't a priority and I can do it later".  I'm celebrating myself making time for family and friends and not using school work as an exc