Musings from a middle school reading specialist. I encourage my students to read, talk, write, and have fun!
I parent two amazing young-adult daughters with my husband of 30+ years.

March 31, 2022

Challenge reflection #SOLC


The Slice of Life Challenge ends today!

It was good to be back writing.  Although I didn't have lots of comments on my writing (I'm a late-night slicer), I realized it didn't matter.  What mattered is that I took time out of my day to craft a slice and put some thoughts into a post.

Each year I get less and less concerned about writing for my audience.  Maybe that comes with age (I'm 50+ now)?  Don't get me wrong, I love to write a witty, funny piece that resonates with lots of people.  

But after ten years of writing during this challenge, 
I understand that writing is for the writer.

Thanks to all my fellow slicers, and congratulations to us all!  Whether we wrote for all 31 days or not, we are writers.  We shared our thoughts and supported each other through comments and community.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting the challenge.  It was good to dust off the blog and my writing brain to jump into slicing again.  

March 30, 2022

Bouncy ball #SOLC


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Today was a bouncy ball day.

I bounced from one activity to another, finishing nothing.

                                                    Up the stairs and back down.

            Putting the bedroom back together (new carpet!)

                                                                                    Type, sit and read, go back to email.

    Jump into the group text (teachers on break!)

                                                            Answer the phone, make a call to dad

                                    Chat with daughter

Zip over to PT appointment (my knee is feeling better!)

                    My spring break is spent bouncing from one thing to another.

                                                        I'll have to go back to school to relax (NOT! Hahahaha)

March 29, 2022

Good Reads #SOLC


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My Little Free Library is never empty.  I tend to fill it with picture books and chapter books from my collection or a quick run to Half Price Books.  The patrons and the public library are responsible for any adult fiction.

Over the years, I've found myself reading more children's and YA books than adult books.  I love to finish books quickly, and reading books that my students might enjoy would connect me to some that I could recommend to them.  

Most of the books I choose to read come from recommendations from teachers & librarians on Twitter, from Nerdy Book Club posts, and connections on the Goodreads app.  I can't even tell you how many books are on my TBR (to be read) list as I collect book titles from everywhere I can.  

This year I've made a definite effort to read more books that feature characters and events that are different from myself and my experiences.  I'm consulting books listed by Project LIT Community (@ProjectLITComm) and We Need Diverse Books (@DiverseBooks) with other resources to help guide my reading.  

I truly believe in the importance of my students seeing themselves reflected in books.  Not many of my students are interested in reading longer texts right now, but when they are ready, I will have books for them.  

(Two favorite books from this month: Fast Pitch by Nic Stone, Blended by Sharon Draper)

March 27, 2022

Life Kit #SOLC


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I only recently got into listening to podcasts.  My oldest daughter introduced them to me when we would drive the three hours to return her college after weekends home.  Once I figured out where to find podcasts (started with Apple, now I use Spotify), I started searching and listening to find my favorites.

My top, go-to podcast for the ride home is NPR's Life Kit.  This gem is only 15-20 minutes long, so it's perfect for my commute.  Life Kit has a variety of hosts and topics, ranging from dealing with family members at the holidays, starting a hobby, and staying connected with friends.

Last week I listened to the episode centered on all the administrative tasks we have to take care of at home (car repairs, doctor appointments, bills, etc).  The episode really got me ready for tackling some of this minutiae as I begin spring break.

Thinking back to the first podcast I listened to, I never thought I would enjoy them.  But now, I'm off to listen to another episode... NPR Life Kit Podcast

March 26, 2022

Relax, restore #SOLC


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Spring Break Saturday

Freezing cold, blowing winds

Pajamas, warm socks, cozy sweatshirt

Coffee with fluffy milk

Paperwork, list making

Pause for lunch

Finish a book*

While lounging on the couch

Banana oatmeal bread in the oven

Write, post, read, comment

Today is for relaxing

* Fast Pitch by Nic Stone - really great read!

March 25, 2022

Game Day #SOLC


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We made it to the final day before spring break!  I stopped at Target last night to get a new Uno deck (cards!) and a bag of Cuties (snacks!).  Friday was established as game day for all my groups.  My reading groups could not be more different from one another, and that showed through their choices of games, cooperative game play and noise level:

1st period enjoyed a quiet round of Uno with dim lights.

2nd period shared a noisy BINGO game with two other classrooms over Zoom.  Then we jumped into an Uno game until the bell rang and the students flew out the door (whew!).

3rd period settled into their regular Trouble Battle (their words) with accompanying soundtrack of their favorite tunes.

7th period calmly and politely played BINGO, then transitioned to Uno.  They helped each other learn to shuffle cards.  Then they were RELENTLESS in the game (lol).

8th period couldn't get enough of the spinning BINGO number selector.  After a game, they lost interest and stamina and their phones took their attention.

9th period.  One short game of Uno.  Many outbursts.  Cards on floor.  Kids pacing room. Dismissal could not come soon enough.

Hooray for SPRING BREAK!

March 24, 2022

Bright moments #SOLC


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This week has been especially bumpy at school as we navigate to the last day before spring break (FINALLY!).  Kids are tired and grumpy, and I'm exhausted trying to keep my reading lessons engaging and entertaining.  To finish the week, I'm determined to note some of the bright moments this week (not in any order):

  • When we read about two brothers who survived the 2011 Joplin, MO tornado, my 6th grade groups were completely engaged in reading, looking for text evidence and discussing the text.
  • One of those 6th grade students is now referring to himself as "an unpublished author."  He has written around five books (I think it's two different series) and illustrated a bunch of comics.  When he said he wasn't an author, I corrected him - he's definitely an author!
  • After the tornado reading, a student shared a nonfiction book she wrote on Book Creator about tornadoes when they studied them in science.
  • One of my 7th graders turned to his classmate and said in all seriousness, "Dude - have you seen your scores? You really need to get your head in the right place."
  • One of my silent, earbuds-always-in 8th graders put his phone away and totally focused on an assessment.  His score improved by an incredible amount.  I saw the tiniest smile on his face when I congratulated his focus and effort.  
These moments remind me of why I appreciate working with young people.  Now I have a few more ounces of patience for tomorrow.