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Showing posts from March, 2017

{solsc} 31/31 #sol17 The Final

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It's day 31 and the final day of the Slice of Life Challenge.  The last couple of years, I quit. Didn't finish. Failed. I let the "I'm too busy" excuse convince me it was OK to accept less than my best. Want to know the difference this year?   My kids. I've always tweeted out my blog posts. And I knew people read them---I just never thought about my students reading them. But they'd come in and comment on something I'd written.   This Time Next Week  was a post that was shared by a few of my speech kids. It hit us all that speech was over and my time with them was going to be done.   A former student tweeted me and said when she saw I had posted she secretly hoped the post would be about her :)  I haven't yet, but I will. The thing was, when I knew that a few of them were reading them, I didn't want to miss a day. I expect them to write every day (to be fair, I share a prompt with them in case they can't think of an

{solsc} #sol17 30/31 Hey! Isn't This Your Last...

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"Hey! Isn't this your last....." Fill in the blank. National Honor Society induction, Speech contest, semester, conferences... Whatever it is, yes. It's my last. Come May, I will be shutting the door to my classroom for the last time. It's my choice. But as I have written, it's a bittersweet time in my career right now. And that "Isn't this your last..." not my favorite--especially when I say it. "Hey! Isn't this your last?" suggests that I am a short timer, that I am counting down the days and hours until I am done. It seems to say that I don't care and have quit learning new things. This is far from the truth. I've been working on Standards Based Grading for a couple of years---just this semester I created a SBG rubric for class discussion that I've been using in my College Prep Lit class. It isn't perfect, but I keep tweaking it every unit and it's becoming very workable. I also have standards a

{solsc} 29/31 #sol17 Today

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Today I wish for warm sun with a gentle breeze coming off the lake Today I wish for empty days with time to fill as I wish Today I wish for golf games concerts at the park and grandkid giggles as they splash in the lake. Today the end of school  and the promise of summer seem an eternity away 

{solsc} 28/31 #sol17 Saying Good-bye

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Tonight was my last speech awards night. I needed to say good-bye.... 10 years. “When does speech start, Mrs. Day?” I’ve come in early and stayed late. Read scripts and planned rehearsals “Remember, you need to plan a beginning, middle and an end”  But what do I know? “Don’t be inappropriate” I’ve listened to kid after kid Slow down Speed up Enunciate I’ve ridden more school buses than a 60-year-old should have to I’ve locked keys in buildings Blown out projector bulbs Raced to the gym for forgotten ballots Wiped tears, hugged and consoled, and given a million high fives. I have beamed with pride as the nervous performed and they know they’ve done their best and I’ve celebrated excellence at All-State. But It has never been about me. This has never been my speech team. It is yours. It is as successful as you make it. Juniors, you are now the leaders. Step up. Talk to Mrs. LeFebvre about what you want to do. Help her out at rehearsal

{solsc} 27/31 #sol17 All-State

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I spent today with some of my speech kids at the Individual All-State Speech Festival. It is an amazing day full of outstanding performances from high school kids. And even though I coach some of them, it still amazes me that these are high school kids. And then, I feel like a fake. Because here's what I know. I don't really have a whole lot to do with how good my students are when they perform.  Oh, I offer suggestions how to interpret things. I tell them if something isn't working. I help write introductions. But the hard work?  That's the kids. The really good ones, come with a piece that they have found and believe in. They find time in a really busy schedule to practice their piece one (or two) more times before they go home. These kids, they're never satisfied, it's never good enough.  They constantly try new ways to say and do things, they record themselves and watch it back, and they ask, "What about if I do it this way?" And they d

{solsc} 26/31 #sol17 Hello There....

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Hello There... I am running out of ideas to write about, so I'm going to try this list style of post I keep writing ideas on my Pinterest board, but nothing stuck out for me to write about. Even Chloe didn't have any ideas! I wish I could write brilliant, inspiring, creative blog post every day. But I can't. I love when ideas for writing just jump out at me and beg me to write about them, but that did happen today. I kept waiting for inspiration....I'm still waiting. I dance my fingers around on the keyboard, hoping they will work some magic...they didn't. I sing the Writer's Block Blues the end of every March.  I think   about the last two years when I gave up writing too early. I don't want to do that again. I really really want to finish out the month strong---but this post isn't the way to do that :) I need to plan out the last four posts I'm going to write this month. I should take my notebook wit

{solsc} 25/31 #sol17 Celebrating March the 25th

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Celebrating March the 25th Tulips reachin' up to the sky The Grass is turnin' Green We're all lookin' at the trees New Leaves there are seen We're all talkin' summertime Everyone's countin' down Put those Christmas decorations away On March the 25th! With apologies to Shel Silverstein

{solsc} 24/31 #sol17 Prom Season

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It's Prom season, you know, and I HATE, HATE, HATE Prom. Just ask my students. The drama drives me crazy. But today, in my Contemporary Lit class, I was reminded  of the kindness of teenagers. And it just might help me enjoy chaperoning this year                 Yes. I have to chaperone Prom my last year at school. My junior homeroom kids chuckle                     every time I complain. One of my senior girls has made it her mission to make sure a senior boy has a prom date. Now the boy is a great kid, but he can be annoying. Not many social skills.  He probably isn't going to get a date. And a friend in her class just broke up with her boyfriend of a couple of years. And this girl is going through some really tough personal things right now. And not always making good choices in her personal life. But she wasn't going to Prom because of the break-up. Two seniors connected by another senior. And now, they are going to Prom together. The boy wasn't sure

{solsc} 23/31 #sol17 So I Hear It's National Puppy Day

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So, I hear it's National Puppy  Chloe Day.  I guess Mom and Dad must have forgotten all about it. There were no presents, no special treats, not even a walk outside. Zip. Nada. Nothing. You think they could have thrown me a bone. I guess they think a dog's life is easy.  They think all I do is sleep all day and wait for them to come home. They just don't understand all the work I do while they're gone. First of all, I keep all the strangers--people and animals-- out of our yard and away from our house. If I wasn't here, barking and scaring them away, I don't know what would happen. The squirrels and stray cats would probably take over the yard. And that creepy guy with the hat who puts stuff in the box on the house?  Who knows what he would do. And then, there's their beds.  If I didn't spend time every day, keeping the bed warm and fluffing the covers think about how cold and uncomfortable their bed would be! All I ask is a little apprecia

{solsc} 22/31 #sol17 The Start of the Final Quarter

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It's no surprise that I am retiring.  I mean, I've know for quite awhile that this would be my last year. I talk about it. Joke about it. Laugh about it. Cry about it. Dream about it. But if I'm honest about it, it just didn't seem real.  And then today, I sat down as I always do at the beginning of a quarter. I had my little calendar sheets in front of me. I started penciling out lessons for the quarter.... And I started to think about it.... This is it. The final quarter. Wow. It's getting real now...

{solsc} 21/31 #sol17 What I Didn't Intend to Write --Again

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Three and a half years ago, I didn't intend to write a blog post about a former student .  And, today, I didn't intend to write about him either. I intended to write about the great conversations in my College Prep Lit class. Or, All-State Speech on Monday. I could have written about my birthday celebration last weekend. But At lunch, we learned the young man had died. No one was sure of the cause. So, today, I use my words from years ago:

{solsc} 20/31 #sol17 Spring To-Do List

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Yea! Spring. And here in northeast Iowa, the snow is gone (well, except for the really big piles where the plows dumped).  Of course, my tulips have been three inches above ground the last two snowfalls, but that's besides the point. I needed something to write about today, so thought I'd use today's prompt in Creative Writing: 10.  Poke around the yard and see what's growing. We planted a few perennials last year. Let's see what survived.  And, if it looks like something didn't.... 9. Look through gardening catalogs and hit up the greenhouse and see what they have growing. Growing things are a must during early spring! 8. Check out Pinterest for cute outdoor decorating ideas. 7. Sit on the back deck with a glass of wine and dream about summer. 6. Watch Chloe chase the squirrels from the yard. 5. Watch the squirrels torment Chloe from the top of the tree.  When she starts dancing around the tree on her hind legs, it's pretty cute. 4.

{solsc} 19/31 #sol17 Chloe Writes: Sleepover

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You all know how much I like to go on adventures with Mom and Dad, so when I saw they were packing suitcases the other day, I got really excited. I wondered where we were going. Is it lake time yet?  Wherever it was, it'll be fun 'cause Mom and Dad like to go fun places and do fun things. But, then they told me I couldn't go and would have to have a sleepover at Vicki's. She's where I go for my spa days.  I was just there a couple of weeks ago, so it wasn't time for a bath and haircut yet.   Dad dropped me off and said good-bye. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I'm six and a half, after all and big girls don't cry.  But then, Vicki put me in the kennel and shut the door and left!  I really didn't like that. It was not going to be a good weekend. Vicki wasn't gone very long. though, and when she came home she let me out and I got to go upstairs and play with her and Sadie and the other dogs.  I was kind of scared at first. Someti

{solsc} 18/31 #sol17 Home

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I love being with family and friends      laughing           talking                planning But I love coming home to the quiet of our home watching the sun slide and      the shadows creep listening to Chloe's heavy breathing and the clicking of my husband's computer keys As I doze peacefully in my chair.

{solsc} 17/31 #sol17 It's Been a Good Day

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It's been a good day, this 60th birthday of mine. I've been sung to, brought chocolates, and lots and lots of Facebook birthday wishes--some that made me cry. A dear elementary friend, whom I have dubbed the keeper of the memories for our graduating class has been sharing our school pictures from high school on our 60th birthdays. I love this tradition (and it's also a great way to remember people) Tonight we head out for fun and good times with friends.  I'll see you tomorrow.

{solsc} 16/31 #sol17 Teaching Better

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My Instructional Coach and I sat together and reflected for the last time today. It was a meeting we had been putting off because we didn't really want this coaching cycle to end.  The cycle started so naturally. She came in at the beginning of the year just to observe, to see high school kids in action. But she loved my College Prep Lit class and the discussions we had about books. She read and discussed right along with us. I loved that about her. Even the kids would ask when we were discussing if she was coming in to join us. It was so positive to have her in my room. And then one day, she told me about a class she had visited that used thinking prompts to guide discussion. It sounded like something right up my alley.  "Want to try a coaching cycle with me?" I thought, "Why not?" And so a partnership was born. I know some thought I was crazy to do this in my last year. Why not slide by? Why did I need to work with a coach? What co

{solsc} 15/31 #sol17 Time Passes, And So Will He

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He started the semester a month late. Oh, he was supposed to be here. He just didn't come. And then, when he did start, he missed two or three times a week. Not very conducive to getting work done---especially Speech. Those days he missed often coincided with days he was supposed to deliver a speech. And then he wouldn't be ready. He is a really nice kid, very personable. But he wasn't doing the work. Out of the four speeches we do during the first quarter of the class, he did ONE of them.  So he was failing. And not doing very much about it until last week when I wrote this on my white board. Yesterday he was ready with the one that was due AND the very first "real" speech we do. He asked if he could do them both. I said sure  (I'm more concerned that he shows what he can do rather than he can do it on time). And he did great.  There's one more he needed to do. I asked him about it. He tells me he will be ready today. And he was.

{solsc} 14/31 #sol17 Writing is Hard

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for Cole. One of Darin Johnston's students who is ready to quit. And to the rest of us too. Writing is hard.  Harder still?  Writing every day. At fourteen days in, it can seem impossible to finish. Some days we all want to quit. Why even try? But those days pass.  And you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write one word. And then another. YOU WRITE. Big moments make slices.  Two of my speech kids were selected to perform at All-State  The school board voted to accept the retirements last night And funny happenings in the classroom make slices. Mrs. Day, since you know watch more basketball than I do... My Creative Writing kids coming up with creative ways to take care of the shoe squeakers Little moments make slices. Listening to the quiet Watching snow fall Baby smiles Dogs can write slices :) See this one  and  this one Because sometimes having another point of view when writing is a good thing. The

{solsc} 13/31 #sol17 Chloe Writes: Snow Day Disappointment

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I was so excited this morning. Mom and I got up and there was snow outside! And Mom didn't seem like she was in a hurry like most mornings.  I really, really thought maybe she was staying home with me today. She does that sometimes when it snows. Mom stayed in her pajamas and drank coffee. I even got to sit in her lap and cuddle this morning.  We played with the ball a little bit and ran up and down the stairs for awhile.   But, then.... All of a sudden, she went upstairs and got dressed. And Dad got up and went outside and ran that big loud machine that blows snow all over me (I hate that thing). And before I knew it, SHE WAS GONE!  I pouted a little bit when she left, but Dad stayed home for awhile. I took a nap after he left and got woke up when Mom came home from work.  She was home lots earlier than she has been. She told me if it wasn't so cold and snowy we would have gone for a walk---I don't know why that should stop us. I like when it's

{solsc} 12/31 #sol17 Speech Happies

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Nine Division 1 rating and 7 Division 2 ratings. My co-coach and I are happy. Yesterday was a good day at State Speech. But, Uffda! It was a long one. Up at 4:00am. On the bus at 5:15am for an hour and a half bus ride. A full day of performances and running around campus. We finally arrived home at 7:00pm.  Trust me. The wine at the end of the day tasted really good. There are lots of things to celebrate besides ratings though.  Students themselves could see the growth they made-even if they didn't get a 1. The smile and thrill of the freshman who received ones from all his judges (there are 3 at state) and the jacket his parents had to buy him because of it.  Evidently, the jacket was all the incentive he needed. We had a "Promposal" yesterday also. And the best part was they met at the speech contest a couple of weeks before. Seniors who tried new events and wished they had tried them before Making judges cry Parents who drive an hour and

{solsc} 11/31 #sol17 I Did Not Plan Ahead

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So Why didn't I think ahead? Why did I go to Leigh Anne's party yesterday? Yesterday I had time to write.  I could have written a post about State Speech my kids the snowstorm coming tomorrow. But no. Yesterday I took the easy way out and joined the party (and it was fun) But today After 14 hours with HUNDREDS of teenagers  I have to think of something to write about. Geesh. I should have had Chloe write a post.

{solsc} 10/31 #sol17 I'm Going to Leigh Anne's Favorites Party

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I was invited to a party earlier this month--well, actually, we all were. Leigh Anne from A Day in the Life  invited us all to a Favorites Party. The idea is to share five of your favorite things with the others. You can read the whole story on her blog. Anyway, here's what I bring to the Favorites Party... 1. Well, of course, I would have to bring Chloe to any blogging event. She's half the team after all!  And she would definitely keep us all entertained. 2.  Like Leigh Anne, I'd bring favorite pens. I used to be a Flair addict, and I still like them. But my new favorites are Papermate Ink Joy Gel Pens . I bought a couple at the beginning of the school year to try out and absolutely love them. They write so smoothly. Our local Shopko put them on clearance in September and I went a little crazy stocking up.  They come in lots of great colors and that lets me pick colors to match my mood! 3.  I would bring Culver's Concrete Mixers.

{solsc} 9/31 #sol17 This Time Next Week

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Saturday is State Speech Our season is ending Next week I won't have to be  at school at dawn or leave at sunset. Next week Kids won't want to practice during my "free time" or  after track or during their study hall but my class Next week There will be no more  funny conversations or serious ones or prom ones. There will be  no more snacking noise laughter No More. Ever.

{solsc} 8/31 #sol17 A Last I Will Not Miss

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My last Iowa Assessments. My shoes squeak as I walk about the room, making sure everyone bubbles in on the right test. As juniors, they know the drill. They've been joking about making Christmas trees, about not really reading and just guessing. Most won't do any of this, but they can joke about it. I think back to my own days of bubble testing. I was in second grade the first time I felt like I wasn't smart enough. We got our test scores back. I was in the 98th percentile overall, but a boy, the one I always tried to be better than, got a 99.  Why didn't anyone tell me I was better than my test score? Throughout my teaching, I have always tried to convince students of this. But it's hard today to convince them they are more than their test score when one of the final things I have to say is, "You must be proficient in the areas of reading, science and math in order to take concurrent classes at the college. If you aren't proficient in reading, you ma

{solsc} 7/31 #sol17 Happiness

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While he's great at making other people laugh, there's always a sober undercurrent in him when you talk with him.  Not depression or sadness, really, but he's not a happy kid all the time. But lately, you see, there's this girl. "Mrs. Day, so L and me, I guess we're kind of a thing." "You are?" "Yea, it makes me pretty happy." "Well, I have been noticing you've been together quite a bit. I wondered about it at Districts." "We weren't a thing then. This has only been a couple of days." "Well, you might not have known, but I could see something going on." "Yea." He practices his piece with me. Then we talk about prom and their group. "Yea. I'm pretty happy." And then she walked into the room. Her grin was as big as his. I'd say she's pretty happy too.

{solsc} 6/31 #sol17 The Purge Begins

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"Ewww! Is that hair in your closet?" I laughed and pulled the blond wig off the top shelf. "Why do you have a mullet wig in your room?" Like many odd things in my room, it was left by a student. This particular wig (yes, there have been others) was used by a young woman showing us the proper technique for straightening your hair. The wig has had a long life. It gets pulled out of the closet for any type of skit or activity. And sometimes, it just gets worn for the heck of it. It sits upon a rag doll used last year in a speech commercial for "Ginger B Gone". The doll is creepy. I won't lie to you, as it moves about my room, it always seems to find a place to sit and stare at me.  But the doll also gets used for class activities. This year it appeared in a lip synch during Drama class. I keep trying to get her owner to take it home, but so far, no luck. The whisper phones have had a long life. Made for me by a former principal, the

{solsc} 5/31 #sol17 A Silly Moment

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I love the randomness of teenagers. The things they just pop in my room to tell me.  My favorite moment this week happened on Wednesday. Our girls basketball team played in the state tournament on Tuesday afternoon, so school was let out for the day. On Wednesday, a senior boy bounced into my classroom. "Mrs. Day!  Mrs. Day!  I got a girl's phone number yesterday! The response from the guy sitting just inside the door?                                                  "What? Did your mom get a new phone?"

{solsc} 4/31 #sol17 Celebrate

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My favorite part of the week. Celebrations. I've been celebrating my week for a long time, almost as long as I've written my blog.  It helps keep me positive and focused on the right things in my life. I keep track of them through the week on a post-it in my bullet journal. And Twitter. If something makes me smile during the school day, I often tweet it out. Waiting for the bus I've done quite a bit of tweeting this week (you know that if you follow me at @mrsday75). On Saturday, my Speech kids performed at district competition. They did great. We've sixteen events moving on to state next weekend. My favorite part of individual speech competition is giving my phone to the kids and telling them to take a selfie.  Then, as they perform and receive ratings, I can share out the results using our school hashtag. People follow along all day and congratulate the kids. I turned in my Early Retirement papers this week. It still doesn't seem real---in my hea

{solsc} 3/31 #sol17 She Never Earned a One

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She's a senior who worked hard, listened to her coach, and came to every rehearsal she signed up for. She never received a coveted Division 1 at District Speech Contest to move on to state competition. She never whined about it, never complained, never gave less than her best. She never earned that one, but what she gained in four years is immeasurable. As a freshman, she was quiet...really quiet. Sometimes I could hardly hear her speak. There were no facial expressions, no gestures. She couldn't look up at the audience. Her pieces were not very dynamic, to say the least. But she tried. And she came back the next year. And tried Group Improvisation, an event so far outside her wheelhouse, I couldn't believe she came back for the second night. But she did. And she got better. As a junior, she tried again in both group and individual events, Again, she was quiet, but not as quiet. And more dynamic. She listened to what I had to say and tried to incorporat