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.

July 30, 2013

Bursting with Ideas

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Two Writing Teachers
It's the two-week "rest" period before school starts.  No sports or summer school for my teens.


My oldest daughter landed a job (hooray!) and will work next week, but this week is all about small errands, friends, reading and rest for the three of us.  My husband is happy to head off to work - he can't deal with too much unstructured time.
Since I've had more time to relax, I've spent more time on Twitter (I'm @ReadSoMuch) with my Personal Learning Network.  When people ask how that works, I tell them it's all about who you follow, and what you are looking for.

I'm looking for lots of ideas for my resource room and school reading community...

  • read alouds
  • organizational tips (!)
  • ways to engage kids (and teachers) in reading
  • how not to be overwhelmed by the Common Core State Standards
Now that I've had more time to research and dig into many tweets and blog posts, my mind is bursting with ideas.  The challenge I have is organizing (!) these ideas and figuring out how to best implement them. 

Some of my plans for the beginning of the school year:
  1. Bring my books from home (labeled with levels and organized (mostly!) into book boxes) and reboot my classroom library
  2. Ask teachers to share pictures of themselves from elementary school along with a book cover of their favorite read - this will share our "reading lives" (even if we were reluctant readers) with our students
  3. Use Evernote instead of a planner (but I will miss writing with my colorful pens!) to keep track of team meetings
  4. Journal many times during the week to empty my brain of stress and great ideas I want to capture
I'm happy to have plans, but I'm not stressing myself about any of them.  My plan is to avoid the back-to-school nightmares and ease into my 13th year of teaching.  

July 23, 2013

OLW update: Thrive

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Two Writing Teachers
Last week Stacey at TWT inquired about our OLWs, our One Little Word that we've chosen for the year as our mantra, instead of a full-out resolution.

My family's OLW for 2013 is thrive (here is the story of how we picked this word as a family).  We are two adults and two teenagers, and 2012-2013 has had its share of bumps in the road.  Nothing devastating, but challenging.

My husband, Jeff, had the challenge of heart surgery in May to correct a congenital defect.  He was doing great until a minor setback during his last week of leave.  His recovery was pretty easy (from my perspective - the one who didn't have surgery!), and it was tough to see him in pain the week before he returned to work.  Thankfully that issue resolved itself and he went back to work.  Jeff starts cardiac rehab later this week.  He's looking forward to redesigning his nutrition and fitness plan.  He's a man with a plan, and I know he will reach his goals and thrive.

My oldest daughter, Lindsey, is entering her senior year. (I will not cry. I will not cry.) It's a time of tough decisions (college!) and fun (fun!) and a full class load (no time for senioritis!)  I know she can balance all the school work, sports, activities, college apps and fun now that junior year is behind her.  I've offered to coach more and nag less in order to give her space to thrive.

My youngest daughter, Allison, will be a sophomore this fall.  She has her driver's permit (she's SUPER excited - like Mo Willem's pigeon).  We're hoping she can build her homework stamina and see school as more than a social scene.  She's got all the tools to thrive - she just needs to use them.

I am trying to walk and eat my way to a healthier body as well as organize my books, coach my girls (without nagging) and be my husband's number one fan.  I'm happy that I walked or biked over 50 miles in June (hooray!) and I'm eating more veggies and fruit.  I still spend a bit too much time nagging (old habits die hard) and I love surfing the 'net instead of exercising, but I'm not beating myself up about it.  I'm trying to thrive by living each day to the fullest - appreciating my good health, great books, the beauty of nature and all the positive people in my life.

Here's hoping you're doing your best to thrive as well!

July 16, 2013

Senior Summer

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It's summer.

Time for fun, sunshine, travel, reading, relaxing.

It's the summer before senior year.

Time for college visits, questions from family, decisions, job hunting, summer reading.

It's supposed to be a fun, carefree time


deadlines and decisions loom.

As the parent, I try to provide advice, but I find myself keeping my thoughts to myself.

I'm providing facts and guiding questions.

I'm not the one choosing a school or a job or when to do my summer assignments.

I don't have to live with the decisions... just the person who has to make them.

It's stressful to watch, but that's my place.  On the sidelines.  Coaching.

She's in the game.

July 2, 2013


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Two Writing Teachers
Tomorrow the baby of our family turns 15.  Wow. I don't know where the time has gone!

Allison is enjoying a busy summer full of classes, poms camp, hanging out with friends, dance, volunteering at swim lessons, and --most importantly -- driver's education!  Ask her when she is able to test for her permit, and I'm pretty sure she can tell you, down to the number of hours! As my second child in the driver's seat, I'm pretty calm about the process.  I even traded in my old SUV for a new crossover with better mileage and smaller frame.  It's new, but I'm not worried about dents or crashes.  As Allison reminds me all the time, she is an excellent lawn-tractor-driver at my parents' house.

I had the pleasure of watching Allison on stage last weekend as she performed in her 11th recital.  She's been taking dance classes since she was nearly 5 years old.  Back in the early days, she was extremely shy and didn't dance if it was observation day during class.  During the first performance of her first recital, she stood stock still on the stage, as her classmates "danced" next to her.  As I stood backstage in the wings, pushed right up to the curtain by the studio director, my heart ached for Allison.  I wondered what kind of mother puts her shy, wary preschooler on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers.  I was convinced she would be scarred for life.

Then something amazing happened.  Allison made eye contact with Nicole, a sweet girl in her class.  Nicole smiled and Allison smiled back.  They began to dance together.  I was astounded!  After the recital, two different moms came up to us to share that they had been rooting for Allison to begin dancing, and when she started dancing with her class, both moms had begun to cry.

Fast forward to last weekend.  My nearly 15 year old daughter confidently performed ballet, hip hop and contemporary numbers. She took care of her own hair, makeup and costumes.  She helped her friends prepare for their numbers.  My shy, wary dancer is now a teen with drive and ambition.  On Sunday night, after all the performances were finished, Allison shared that the stage and the dance studio are her "homes away from home."

Happy birthday, Alli!  You make us proud (and make us laugh) every day!