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.

December 31, 2013

Blue Skies

The thermometer read 10 degrees this morning.  The driveway was covered with a dusting of snow.  Sunshine cascaded through the windows, and the sky sparkled a beautiful blue.

I bundled up and headed out to brush off the cars, push snow off the drive, and soak up the sunshine.  My nose stung from the cold, but the fresh air and sun inspired me.

This year has been filled with small and big challenges for our family.  We've laughed, cried, pouted and smiled.  We keep saying that we are finished with 2013, but some of the hardest times were the ones that made us stronger.  Some of the smallest events made us the happiest.  We look forward to a new, fresh year.

May your 2014 be filled with health, happiness and love.  Be grateful for every moment, small and big.

Read more Slice of Life stories at
Two Writing Teachers

December 17, 2013

Role Model

On Friday morning, I was late to pick up my 1st grade students from their classrooms.  Everyone was in the hall, lined up for our resource groups.  Uh-oh.

My fellow reading specialist, Michelle, was reading with another 1st grader, so I invited both groups to my room.  I was worried about the interruption to the usual routine, but it didn't phase them.  Everyone found a spot and started to read after a quick conversation.  Then I pulled out the whiteboards and markers to try some word work.

"Can I use blue?"
"These are nice!"

We were happily writing words and practicing our vowel sounds when a 3rd grader (K) knocked at the door.  He's the kind of student who needs to "run an errand" to my room (or the office or another room) from time to time to keep his behavior in check.

I had heard that morning that his pet rabbit had died the night before.  Our staff believes that our students belong to all of us, so word traveled fast.  We knew the loss of his pet would cause K to have an awful day.

I invited K to sit at the table.  He told me he wanted to tell me a story.  I asked if he could help us with our word work before we talked.  He agreed, and we took turns dictating short words to the students.  He helped the students near him.

After a few minutes, I let the first graders give the dry erase markers a workout (read:  make a quick picture) while K and I talked about his pet.  He spelled some of the words (d-i-e-d) as to not upset the other students.  One student shared that his dog got a shot that made him sleep forever, but it was a quick contribution, and K looked a bit relieved.

The students asked if they could hear a book before they went.  One suggested that K read to them, so he did.  It was the cutest scene I have ever laid eyes on.  K read them I Spy Fly Guy, and the first graders had to keep reminding him to show them the pictures.  That made us all giggle.  When time was up, we all walked quietly back to our classrooms.

I snapped a picture of K reading to the students.  I plan to give it to him on Monday to show him how he looks as a role model.  It's not usually the part he plays.  I'm thankful that the first grade students were so flexible and accepting.  This was an experience I won't forget.

December 14, 2013

Book buddies

Ruth Ayers has encouraged us to CELEBRATE more often, so this week, I'm joining in!

As a reading intervention teacher, I work hard to grow readers in my classroom.  I always have more than a handful of students who tell me right away, "You know, I hate to read."

My response runs from "We need to find you the right kind of book!" to "I understand ... I'm no good at running, so I hate to run."

I encourage students to read at home everyday, but for a variety of reasons, it's something that doesn't happen.  Instead of being discouraged, I "hired" book buddies.

I visited two 4th grade rooms and described the book buddy position.  I encouraged students to sign up if they felt they could do a good job.

"Do I have to be a great reader?" one asked.
"No, you need to be a great listener," I replied.

I had to pull names from a hat when the volunteer list came back.  I was so tickled to see the long list of names.  My first and second grade students were impatient once they saw I had a list of names.

"Who do I get?  Is it a boy?"
"I can read with three girls, really!"
"Can't we start TODAY?"

This was our first week of reading with buddies.  I'm already seeing a difference in my resource students' confidence and stamina.  I won't beat myself up for not thinking of this sooner, but why didn't I think of this sooner?

December can be a stressful and hectic month.  I'm grateful to have something simple -- yet making a big impact --  to celebrate!