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.

June 25, 2013

Summer Reading... so far

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Two Writing Teachers
I have been working through a few good books this summer, between cleaning out my daughter's room, washing lots of dishes (now I know why we like to eat out!) and purging the basement.  Here's a few I've enjoyed:

 (book cover photos from


My sister-in-law shared Summerland with me.  She devours adult fiction and passes them to me (we love Janet Evanovich's quick reads).  I liked this book as it wove together the small town of Nantucket, MA as three families deal with a teen car accident.  The writing floats between the past and present, and reveals so much about the characters.

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2) The Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl caught my eye when the Beautiful Creatures movie trailer came out.  They tend to be a bit long, but the characters and the South Carolina town they inhabit are fun to read about.  The magical categories and boy/girl drama between Lena and Ethan keep me reading this series.  The next book in the series is Beautiful Redemption.  I may save it for winter reading.

 Butter is a morbidly obese high schooler who plays a mean saxophone and secretly pines for a girl in his class.  He's bullied by two guys, especially, and decides he should just eat himself to death.  Butter has some great mentors, but you can feel his desperation.  (Psst - it does have a happy ending, don't worry!)

The Book of Broken Hearts

The Book of Broken Hearts is my second read by Sarah Ockler.  I immensely enjoyed reading about Jude and her family (three intense sisters, hardworking mom, dad with early-onset Alzheimer's).  These characters are so real and dealing with such a raw, terrible disease.  There's great sparks and chemistry between Jude and Emilio.  He's a motorcycle repair kid from a family of heartbreakers who Jude is supposed to avoid.  Be prepared for heartache and tears in this story.  I couldn't put it down.

Liar and Spy

Finally, I need to go back and reread Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead.  This is my fave middle grade read this summer.  Georges, Mom and Dad downsize to an apartment building in New York.  Georges meets Safer and Candy, two homeschooled kids, who introduce him to the art of spying.  Georges deals with separation from his mom and a few bullies at school.  The ending makes you realize how much you missed while you read this book!  I didn't figure out the clues the author left, so I'm determined to reread and find them.  This would be a great read for those middle graders who crave a little mystery.

Happy summer reading!  I recommend setting up a account and searching #bookaday on Twitter to find your next great read!

June 18, 2013


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Two Writing Teachers

We are all making progress in my house this June.  We have many different goals and dreams, but everyone is taking small and large steps.  

My youngest daughter (nearly 15) conquered her cluttered, tchochke-filled room and closet with just a little help.  She felt better about sending her stuffed animal collection to the basement or my classroom ("Mom, the kids need to have a Read With the Bears Day in your room!").
Her room is nearly ready for a fresh coat of paint, now that we've removed some furniture (*See my progress below) and cleared her space.

My oldest daughter (gulp, a senior) has been applying for a part-time job and deciding which colleges she needs to visit this summer before diving into the application progress.  I've tried my best to give her space and not nag her about the job apps (I'm failing miserably!).  She's asking lots of friends about where she should apply and has successfully answered hundreds of personality and work style questions on these 45-minute applications.

My husband is now at the 5-week mark after heart surgery.  He wasn't cleared to drive yet (UGH!) but he has helped me fix up a few items around the house with a screw gun and circular saw.  This week he plans to spend some time in his office and maybe work a touch on the basement.  He's determined to get into cardiac rehab ASAP so he can start working out.  

I took the bookshelf from my youngest's room and plan to house my home library collection in the basement.  I bought clear shoeboxes and started sorting a few shelves of books.  The basement floor is a total disaster, as I only work on this project when we have crummy weather.  I'm so glad that I've started to sort what I have - I didn't realize how many books need to be in my classroom library.  Once I can get back into school, I'll purge and organize there, too.  This project is long overdue, and I'm excited to finally be making progress.

June 4, 2013

A Little Stir Crazy

I started my summer vacation a few weeks early when my husband had surgery.  I think we both know we've become a bit stir crazy.  Today's episode proves it.

The UPS and FedEx trucks make frequent stops at our house.  We (especially hubby) enjoy shopping online, especially for hard to find items.  Today I was expecting a box of clothing, but a tall, skinny box was left on our porch.

"Oh! It's my garden weasel!" my husband exclaimed.

The following soliloquy ran through my head and out of my mouth:
A garden weasel?  The garden tool on TV?  You have got to be kidding me.  You really ordered a garden weasel? Why do we need that? We don't even have a garden! Did you order that contraption when you couldn't sleep at 2:00 a.m?  I seriously think you need to change your meds.  Are you out of your mind?  Why do you "need" the most random items? Why did you order a garden weasel?
He opened the box and inside was the famous TV tool.  He just looked at me with his mouth open, shocked that I couldn't understand why he ordered it.

I stomped  away and pouted on the reading chair.  A million ideas ran through my head:  I should call the doctor.  I need to hide his credit card.  The man has lost his mind!

A few minutes later, I found him in the bedroom.  I apologized for my verbal attack on his shopping habits.

"I bought the garden weasel so I could fix the patch of grass that got charred from the fire pit.  I figured it was the best tool for the job, and we didn't have one" stated my husband, matter-of-factly.  "Is that okay with you?"


I guess it's time to go read a book or organize my home library.