My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.



May 31, 2016

Little Free Library Dreams #SOL16

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Two Writing Teachers
I did it.
I ordered my charter sign for my Little Free Library.  
The one I plan to place in my yard.  
The one I will fill with books for grown ups and little ones and curious neighbors.

I staged a little sign for social media (I wasn't brave enough to leave it in the yard, even just for a while).  


Jeff (my fabulous hubby) promises to build me the library.  He has a workshop full of tools and a keen eye for design.  He claimed that once I got the charter sign, he would build the library around it.  Now he travels every week for work.  I have to be patient.  Being patient is not easy for me.

Meanwhile, I'm working on how I will promote the library (once it's installed) and welcome my neighbors (some I really don't know!) to be involved in taking and giving books.

Some ideas...
  • ribbon cutting
  • set up an info table next to my LFLibrary during our city's Labor Day festival (lots of people park on my street)
  • write up a blurb for our city newsletter
  • create a flyer for my neighbors' doors
  • sit in my daughter's room and stare out the window at the library, wondering if I'm okay with complete strangers stopping in front of my house 
  • talking about said strangers with the neighbors on each side of me (communication is key)
I really have to be patient, and thinking of lots of ideas gets me excited and nervous at the same time.  I'm glad to have the Little Free Library newsletters and website to help me out.

I also appreciate your suggestions!



May 10, 2016

Just getting started

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My coworker looked at me today.  "You're not smiling.  What's wrong?"
I wasn't crabby (tired, but not crabby), I was just deep in thought.

"You can do it, you can make it 11 more days!" she laughed.

"It's not that we have 11 days of school left, it's that I feel like I'm just getting started!" I replied.

This has been a school year of learning,
starts and stops,
rushing into groups,
finding my backbone,
stating my intentions
and remaining transparent.

I'm here to boost my students
and to help them develop as
readers,
writers,
thinkers
and cooperative, respectful citizens.

It's May and my students are just realizing their potential and finding success.
Their teachers are tired, drained and anxious about
packing up,
escalating silliness,
assessments and
data collection.

I'm just getting started in helping my students and fellow teachers
find their passion and their strengths
as they find ways to minimize their weaknesses.



April 25, 2016

Sunny Sunday #SOL16

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Be brave :)

I read the newspaper each day, scanning for fun activities amid the dreary news and sobering headlines.  On Saturday, I spotted a glimmer of fun:

Lamb and Wool Festival at Kline Creek Farm

Don't even get me started about sheep and cows and chickens and....  no, I was not raised on a farm (just the suburbs!).  I have no interest in working on a farm (too hard!  too stinky!).  I just l.o.v.e. tours and new places and, most importantly, 

I {heart} being OUTSIDE!

Hooray for nature!!

My daughter, Allison, is a fellow adventurer (when the mood strikes her), and her boyfriend Eric will usually go along for the ride.  My husband really wasn't keen on going at first, but then I pleaded and gave him puppy eyes, so he was game.  When I said we could stop for lunch on the way, he obliged.  It was a beautiful day to take his car for a drive farther than his local office.

We had fun exploring the living history farm, watching sheep being sheared and talking with the horse handler.  We soaked up the sunshine and ended up in downtown Wheaton (yes, we visited one of the chocolate shops!) for a snack and some window shopping.

The visit to the farm was a nice diversion from all the chores and Sunday stress that I usually spend all day churning in my head.  Being outside with some of my favorite people made getting ready for the week that much easier.

This ewe is waiting her turn to be sheared.


This ewe is all finished with her haircut!


April 18, 2016

The Reading Nest #SOL16

Each Tuesday, visit Two Writing Teachers
to read more slices or join our community of writers!
Be brave :)

It's April.  We have less than 30 days of school (yes, we will finish in MAY!)
and my little "birds" are flap, flap, flapping their "reading wings."

I, the sweet, smiling enabler, take on a new persona every spring.
My little birds are not very happy with me.

I become the mama robin
who has sat on the eggs in my nest
keeping them warm and safe from predators.

My little birds are chirp, chirp, chirping
hungry for more words,
longer books 
("Can I have a chapter book, please?")

Their reading wings are the strongest they have been all year.
They really don't want to try to fly.
They are too scared, but
I begin to nudge them closer to the edge of the nest.

When they look at me with big, worried eyes, 
waiting for me to help them with a tricky word,
I pause, I count in my head, I prompt them,
"You try."
They can usually get the word, but I'll whisper help if they need it.

Some of my brood are stronger than others.  
They teeter on the edge of the nest,
encouraging their fellow "feathered" friends
to join them in a trial "flight" with a book.

These birds are ready for short flights on their own.
They refuse to wait for an introduction to the text - 
they jump right in and begin reading on their own,
usually leaving the safety of the table for a comfy spot on the floor
where they exclaim,
"I can read it by myself!"

Some birds need a bigger push towards the edge.  
These are the birds that I will welcome
back to the nest in August.
These are the birds that need more meals
of strategies, easier texts and positive reading experiences.

I will always be back at the nest
where the little ones can find me
amid a variety of juicy texts.

From McHenry County


March 31, 2016

Future Slices #SOL16 31/31

It's the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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Wow.  March is over!?!!?  

I've enjoyed reading slices from everyone.
Your comments mean the world to me, even if I'm not so great at replying.
I tried to visit lots of blogs over the month,
yet I know I missed a whole lot of your writing.

I hope you will continue to slice throughout the year on Tuesdays.
I try and write when the muse moves me (or Michelle nudges me)
But sometimes my slices sound like the same old things...
family, chocolate, books, chocolate, funny stories, teaching.

I'm think my future slices will be about ...
  • Daughter #1 continuing to be successful in her studies and finding her new roles at college (orientation guide and resident assistant)  not too stressful
  • Launching daughter #2 out of high school and into college where she will make good decisions (getting to class on time!) and continue to grow as a young adult
  • Husband #1 (LOL) will stay his course of eating well, exercising and being an all around awesome guy
  • Teaching and learning with my students 
  • Funny stories about the above process
  • Books, books, and more books (maybe more nonfiction!)
  • The Little Free Library I hope to install in my yard this summer and maybe one at school, too!
Thanks for coning along for the Slice of Life Challenge ride!

March 30, 2016

Passion for positive changes #SOL16 30/31

It's the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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It's election day at the University of Iowa.  The students are deciding who will run their student government today.  My oldest daughter, Lindsey, has been a key part of getting her candidates elected.  When she started college, it was as a business major.  Then she figured out that her passion is more about people and policy.  She then changed to a double major in communications and political science.  She's drawn to others who want to create positive changes for people, the environment and life in general.  

This campaign has been a learning process.  Lindsey has figured out what's important to her, and she inspires the people around her to stand up and speak up for what they believe in.  She and the rest of her party have made solid decisions about their platform: support for students (especially mental health care), safety, diversity, inclusive initiatives, and more.

I know this campaign has been time consuming, stressful and lots of hard work.  I know my daughter has grown emotionally and figured out more of her strengths.  I've worked hard to keep myself from checking in with her constantly and making sure she's eating, sleeping and doing her homework (#teachermomproblem).

I couldn't be prouder of this kid.  I wish her BLOC party (Better Lives on Campus) much success in their endeavors to win the election and make positive changes to the university.

I am running for UISG senator because I see this opportunity as way to ensure all students' concerns are being heard and needs are being met. I hope through this position I will be able to work towards a more inclusive and supportive university.  I'm ultimately working to give back and better the Hawkeye community, a community that has already given so much to me.


March 29, 2016

Happy birthday, dear friends! #SOL16 29/31

It's the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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Today I celebrate Michelle and Karen, my dear friends and fellow book pushers!  
Today they both celebrate their birthday!!!!  How special for my kindred spirits!

Dear Michelle (Piggy to me, Gerald),
When I was hired at Frost, I got a call from our boss.  He wanted me to call and introduce myself to you because he knew you needed a partner-in-crime/reading.  I could tell we would be friends from the first time we talked.  Our strategies might be different (mine more circular, yours linear) but we have the same goals for our kiddos and students: to become independent thinkers who love to learn.  We also share goals for our fellow teachers:  walk the walk as readers and writers!

May you see this birthday as just a number.  You will continue to refine your beliefs and stay on the path to greatness.  You will always be my mentor, and of course, I will lend you an ear anytime you need to vent your frustrations (you are also such an awesome listener to my stories).  May we continue to share lots of laughs, books, daughter talk and trips that include books!  (Eric Carle museum is on the bucket list!  One day!)

Big hugs, 
Chris


Dear Karen (Ivy to me, Bean),
When we first met, I envied your binder.  It was a Title I meeting, and you had everything at your fingertips.  I quietly watched as you shared your opinions and data with a firm, clear voice.  I loved to hear you switch into Spanish and greet all your friends with a hug.

When you came to Frost, I remember welcoming you and feeling like you were home.  Your selfless kindness and willingness to listen and share has been so valuable to me.  It's been "fun" to shake our heads at our teenage daughters' "adventures."  May we stay strong this fall as we send B and A to college (WAHHHH!) Keep up your tireless crusade for kids and continue working hard to push our fellow teachers to be their best.

Big hugs,
Chris
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