Musings from a K-5th Reading Specialist. I encourage my students to think, speak, read, and write, with my support.
I parent two amazing young adult daughters with my husband of 28 years.

June 11, 2019

Books #SOL

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Two Writing Teachers
I'm reading a whole bunch of books this summer.  It's what I do for fun.

I read picture books and graphic novels to find the "next great book" that I can recommend to my intervention students and classroom teachers.

I read middle grade novels because there's nothing more satisfying than sitting down with an engaging book and being able to finish it across a couple of days.

I really love to read young adult fiction because I will forever remember the crazy fun of my high school brain:  school fun, crushes, drama, and dreams of growing up.

I skim and scan children's nonfiction because I'm curious about our world.  I'm more likely to read about a science topic compared to history.  

Rarely I'll read adult nonfiction or fiction.  I'd rather read kid- or teen-centric text.  There's enough grown-up worries and drama in the world that I hear about via social media and the newspaper.  I use reading as an escape.

I use Goodreads to track my reading, when I finished a book, and what books I want to read.  I struggle to leave reviews because I don't want to give too many details away.  I also end up sounding like the book blurb.  I hope to get better at writing reviews.

What do you like to read?

June 4, 2019

Summer Plans #SOL

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This summer I'm trying something new.

I told people that I was open and available for volunteer opportunities.

They took me seriously.

I'm a new member of the Monarch Butterfly program at the local nature center.

Sounds impressive? You betcha!  One two-hour training felt like a graduate-level course.

Next week I'll be helping clients with special needs at a day-long fun fair.

I get to play carnival games with a buddy, then enjoy a karaoke party.  I'm super pumped!

This nearly-empty-nester-teacher who thought she would have LOADS of time to fill this summer...

...was wrong!

March 31, 2019

Little Library Rebuild #SOLC19

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Our little library at school was delivered two years ago.  "When they asked me if we wanted one," my principal explained, "I said yes!"

The little library was simply built with a plexiglass door.  It seemed pretty solid and was painted a greenish-gray.  We decided to place it near the edge of the blacktop, near the buddy bench.

Over the past two years, I've tried to encourage its use, placing books inside after school as the car-riders waited in line.  I set up tables and bookshelves filled with books near it during our end-of-year celebration. 

"Visit the little library ANY time!" I shouted.  "Keep any book you find inside!"

Sometimes the library gets cleaned out of books and then the students start filling the inside with rocks.  Other days I find grown-up books that are clearly past their life, pages ripped out and covers torn.

This winter, the maintenance crew asked if we could relocate the little library to a new spot, away from where they plow all the snow into a gigantic pile at the edge of the blacktop.  I took the opportunity to have them load the little library into my SUV so I could take it home for some TLC.

Yesterday I tried using a scraper and sander from my husband's tool collection to scrape off some delaminated pieces of plywood.  Unfortunately my hands and shoulders are just not strong enough.

Today my husband took matters into his hands.  He spent the day giving the little library a fresh start.  He cut new wood for the roof and side, he shingled the roof with redwood pieces, and he trimmed the edge of the roof.  The library looks amazing.  I plan to paint it cobalt blue with gold trim to match our school colors.

I truly appreciate all the work my husband put into this little library.  He has so much woodworking skill and knowledge.  What a gift to the students of my school!



March 26, 2019

Push and pull #SOLC19

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"I need a new job!" Allison entered the room in a whirlwind.

We fixed her resume yesterday.  Her tank is empty.  My usually patient and kind daughter is on edge, anxious and feeling incompetent.

We write her cover letter ... more like I type, calling out words, as she lies on the couch covered in a blanket.  It's a coping mechanism.

When she returns from work today, she relates stories of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.  I start her application for a new job.  She answers questions, I type.

Push, pull... I don't know what I'm supposed to do, so I just help.

March 25, 2019

Anxious Mind #SOLC19

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I woke with an anxious mind at 3:00 p.m.  The events of the day before played over and over in my mind.  Had I said the right things?  Was I helpful?  Did I just make the problem worse.

Digging through the drawer, I found my earplugs.  The sound of swirling air filled my ears.  Sleep came again.

When I woke, I helped one daughter rush off to work.  I made breakfast, pushing down the anxious feelings.  I tried to tell myself, the decisions are not yours.  You offered help.  

As breakfast settled in my stomach, I charged into high gear.  Cleaning, vacuuming, chatting with the bird.  Then I decided to try a new yoga routine, "For Change and Drain."

Adriene's calm words and encouragement helped me calm my anxious mind.  "Be mindful," she coached.  "Notice the tightness in your body."

I grounded myself to the earth, setting my intentions.  Breathing.  Accepting that I had done all I could in a tough situation.  I would continue to offer support.

Namaste.

March 23, 2019

Sunny Days #SOLC19

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The sun is shining in the windows today.
We need no coat.
I actually have neighbors,
sitting or walking and waving hello.

Errands aren't as bad
as I drive around,
windows down
and sunglasses on my face.

Sunny days help my brain
feel more in charge and productive.
Let's clean the car,
pick up pinecones and sticks.

How I love a sunny day
even if's it's cold.
Sunny days are hopeful
and make me smile.

March 20, 2019

Reader's Theater #SOLC19

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We were invited by the fourth graders to watch their reader's theater performances, three in all.  Last week, to help fill their brains with schema (and do something different and intentional during state testing, the fourth grade class studied Greek myths.  Jenna, their teacher, chose three scripts that helped tell the stories of Persephone & Demeter, Arachne & Athena and Pandora's box.

The fifteen students were separated into three groups of mixed abilities and genders.  The students learned about the Greek myths in small groups with the teacher.  Then they had time to practice.  Each group was allowed one prop or scenery, and no more.

Jenna is a teacher who is always thinking.  She's not brash or outspoken.  She's doesn't put on a teacher show for the kids every day.  She teaches well, and her students grow.

The students posed for pictures before the performances began.  I coached them from the audience, "Pretend you are reading.  Keep scripts down away from your face.  We don't know what words are on your script, so we won't know if you mess up!"

Our math interventionist and principal also came to watch.  We were all so excited to be part of this exciting learning experience.

I sat back and watched my intervention students read alongside their peers.  None of them stood out.  Sure, their voices tended to be quieter, but all of them were brave, fluent readers.  The students helped each other stay on track, especially when a line was chorally read by two or three students.  You could tell they had practiced multiple times.

What an amazing time we had in fourth grade today!