Saturday, March 25, 2017

Goodbye Flannel Sheets {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



I breeze through the door and notice right away my flannel sheets still on the bed.  I instantly think, these have to go.  I came home to 75 degrees and sunshine.  Then I have a moment of sadness.  I love my flannel sheets.  They are soft and provide extra warmth on those chilly fall, winter, early spring nights.  That's right - if I can get away with it, my flannel sheets are part of three seasons for me. I don't like to be cold.  It takes less time to warm up under the covers with flannel sheets. Something about flannel sheets relaxes me at the end of the day. I wonder what will happen tonight with my spring, summer, early fall sheets? 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts on Leaving {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



Leaving can be sad.
Leaving can be happy.

Leaving can be an ending.
Leaving can be a welcoming.

Leaving can be a journey - 
something waiting at the other end.

Prior to the leaving - 
stay within the moment,
creating a memory,
an addition to the journey.

Leaving can lift you up
Leaving can touch your soul.


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing Slice of Life Story Challenge.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oh My Goodness! {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


Oh My Goodness!  An all you can eat SEAFOOD buffet.   Where does one start?  I took a little tour and I decided to start small.  It began with a small salad and New England Clam Chowder; a winning combination!  The I decided one item to focus on - crab legs.  Crack, crack, slide, dip in butter and a little piece of heaven.  My next two plates were one vegetables and samplings of various seafood - steamed to baked to grilled and yes a smidge of deep fried.  The meal was filled with good conversation around softball this week and just life in general.  

Then I learned there was even dessert - INCLUDED.  I love ice cream and thought I was headed just for that.  Soft serve vanilla and chocolate were in the machine and I love to show my expertise in swirling the ice cream in a cone.  But wait, there was an all you can eat DESSERT buffet, too!  Not just ice cream but puddings, cheese cakes, cookies, cakes, and a few others.  I was quickly reminded of my grandmother at Thanksgiving.  She always took a sliver of each pie for a sampler.  I could do that here.  My plate had a sampling of rice pudding, banana pudding, peanut butter cheesecake, cherry cheesecakes, and coconut pudding.  Oh My Goodness!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sunshine, Wind, Layers of Clothes {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



While watching softball games today I decided to collect words about my experiences with the sunshine, wind, and layers of clothes I had with.  I really think slices can be really small moments and thoughts that might have a place in another piece of writing.


Sunshine 

uplifting
cheery
bright
yellow
cheerful 
bursting
soaking
shining
disappears
reappears




Wind

calm
subtle
gentle
breezy
chilly
windy
gusty
brrr
cool
refreshing
annoying



Layers of Clothes

vest
running jacket
tank top
parka
on
off
repeat
sleeveless
layers
decisions


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hiding My Ego {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


We are back from dinner for a few minutes.  The girls are telling riddles and jokes to each other with lots of giggles.  We get a text another part of our group is ready for us to come over for make your own sundaes.  We gather to walk over together and I notice one of my girls is wearing sunglasses.

Me:  "E, do you know it's dark outside?  Do you think you need to wear your sunglasses?"

E:  "I'm hiding my ego!"

We all burst into laughter.  High schoolers are clever, cute, and full of themselves.  The best part was everyone laughed.  This trip is about building a community.  I hope moments like these will help them through their season. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Doughnuts to Green Screen {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


While stopping for lunch in Winston Salem, specifically Old Salem we saw a plaque in the ground sharing this was the location of the first Krispy Kreme years ago.  The plot of land now sits bare and I found it interesting this company had a place in history from so long ago.

At the time, I thought we have a Krispy Kreme store near us in Ohio; really no big deal - just another doughnut shop.  I try to avoid doughnuts for many health reasons.  My youngest is obsessed with doughnuts and they are often her thing to get while we are on vacation.  When she was little, her  eyes would be open wide with a huge smile on her face as she returned with her dad and a dozen doughnuts.  These thoughts always flood my memory when the topic of doughnuts comes up.

After dinner with my friends they wanted to show us around and part of our journey was to drive into Raleigh to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts and see one of the first stores ever.  I didn't want to hurt their feelings for two reasons; we have a Krispy Kreme shop and I don't really eat doughnuts.  I did want to see the area and eating a doughnut wouldn't be so bad while on vacation, so off we went.

I can't believe how much this trip changed my life.  The parking lot was full.  The store was full.  We went through the drive through but then hopped out to go inside and see the conveyor belt and process in action.  Then there was the true life changing moment - eating one hot.  I've always had them cold.  

Then the doughnut story was created and published as I learned how to create a green screen movie using the app, Green Screen app.  I'm so lucky my college roommate has an Instructional Technology position right now.  This is a bit silly but I always accept and encourage my students to share their work and try new things.  We should make learning in various stages public.  

video


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reunited and it Feels so Good {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



As I make a left turn, I remember this street and know I'm close to my destination.  There's the neighborhood playground and the community pool that looks so inviting.  I'm looking for a house number and the next house doesn't have it on the mailbox so I worry about which of the next two houses is my destination.  I look for clues but it's been many years.  I had just two babies not three the last time I was here.  As I scan the house again, no more clues are needed.  There she is; working on her laptop, enjoying the sunshine, and waiting for us to arrive.  

I hop out of my mini-van and give probably one of the biggest hugs of my lifetime.  There's a constant babble of exciting thoughts being exchanged.  "You look the same."  "You look so good."  "You haven't changed."  "I can't believe you are here."  "I'm so happy to be here."  Laughter and giggles and squeezes, oh my.  She moves on to hug my daughter and her friend.  We go inside as she announces, "Mandy's here."  More hugs and smiles with her husband and sons.  

It's been years.  We roomed together in college.  We stood up in each other's weddings.  We moved to two different states to teach and raise families.  Our seasons are the same and for 18 hours it was like we had been together all these years.  We told old stories of when we were together.  We told stories of from our days of being apart.  We made new stories together.

We made stories for our future.  She's going to live and travel in her motor home changing the setting every so often and I'm going to drive up in my convertible with my dog wearing a long scarf that blows in the wind.  I look forward to this season but for now I find peace in knowing it's okay to focus on the current season because we can pick up right where we need to be without skipping a beat.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Using Goodreads in a New Way {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



I'm looking at the Kindle Daily Deals and some titles look interesting to me but I wish I had more information to help confirm I want to make a purchase.  I read the blurbs online.  I talk to myself; going back and forth do I really need another book in my TBR pile to read.  Then I sit some more until I get an ah-ha moment.  What if I go to Goodreads and type in the title to see if any of my friends have read any of these titles.  I carry through on this action and its brilliant.  I find friends who have read some of the titles I'm reading.  Several friends rating a book with five stars so that was an easy yes.  Then three to four more titles were on Julie or Cathy's to read list.  These ladies are always dangerous in person to buy books with and now it's carrying over to my e-reader experience.  I was very happy to think about using Goodreads for book purchases and not just tracking what I've read.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Break Manifesto {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



I will rest.
I will drive.
I will visit.

I will be helpful.
I will chaperone.
I will watch softball.

I will sit.
I will walk.
I will run.

I will do laundry.
I will cook.
I will drive.

I will knit.
I will read.
I will write.

I will collect my thoughts.
I will collect my words.
I will collect some peace.

I will follow.
I will be available.
I will rest.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Obvious Mistake {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



S says - "That was an obvious mistake!  It says right there one cent, right there."

S just completed correcting a formative assessment where he had to count coin collections and I was asking him if he knew what he missed when he did the problem the first time.  When trying to guide students with their own reflection I often ask these questions; 

Was that a simple mistake? 
Do you need to study this more?  

I never thought to ask if something was an obvious mistake.  I actually think this might come across a bit rude but for S today it was just right; actually perfect.  The back of two pennies were shown in one collection with the words ONE CENT along the bottom edge.  That truly was an obvious mistake, he thought they were nickels the first time and he couldn't believe he missed reading ONE CENT.  I wish I could share with you the voice, intonation, and seriousness S displayed as we had this quick two minute interaction.  It gave me the biggest smile, a chuckle, and warmed my soul.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tomorrow {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



I didn't collect any ideas today along the way.
I've been trying to think of something I want to hold on to with words.
Time is passing by and maybe it's okay to end this slice for today and start fresh tomorrow.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reading During Recess? {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


I ran an errand today during the second indoor recess and when I came back, I was surprised to see four to five girls with books out and reading at the carpet.  I've taken some ideas from the book Playful Purpose and have my students sign up for an area during indoor recess in hopes of promoting more detailed play and lots of social skills.  Reading was not on this list as an option and never really has been; we just finished independent reading.  I scan the room and notice reading was added to my sign up board in very cute student handwriting with a list of participants underneath.  How can I say no to any of this.

Then M comes over to share with me she finished a book and started a new series - Judy Moody.  She's so excited to share with me a discovery she made.  The end pages have pictures of each character and a little bit of information about them.  To me it looks like a mini biography.  We just did a reading mini lesson yesterday and discussed how sometimes readers get confused about the characters and one thing they could do is take notes about each one on a post it note.

M is grinning ear to ear and energetically sharing how this book has already started what we talked about yesterday.  She's going to share what she discovered with her classmates tomorrow.  Watching M connect a mini lesson to her own reading made me realize how helpful authors can be to support their readers.  I'm going to school tomorrow to see if all the Judy Moody books have this support and hope on their own my students add reading to our inside recess choice board.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Notebook Ramblings {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



Tonight on Instagram slicer Michelle Haseltine posted a picture of her 72nd notebook!  I find this amazing.  I've dabbled and if I made up my own definition for dabble it would say - short burst of activity, good intentions, hopeful thoughts, inconsistent execution.

I had ambitions of using a notebook this year while slicing daily.  Last year I faithfully did my collecting and drafts on paper first which really helped my publishing/blogging.  Instead of trying to write/revise/publish in one sitting I felt it gave me time to write and then I would revise some within the notebook and as I typed my post some revisions might happen.  I might write in my notebook earlier in the day and sometimes it was right before I typed but either way it always went in a notebook first.  I liked being able to look back and see my daily entries in my paper notebook as I contemplated slicing this year.  It really gave me the nudge to join again.  I even have a new notebook to use personally and one for school topics.  I carry them with me everywhere but I'm not using them very well.   Maybe just sharing my thinking here will bring those notebooks out more tomorrow or maybe tonight.  I have an idea for a future slice or post and if I don't write it down, I might forget.

When I went to link Michelle's blog above I read today's post - Am I a Writer?, I felt like she wrote it just for me today.  You must stop by and read it.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lost Time, Gained... {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



I was planning out about an hour of my time this evening and feeling a bit cranky from my day.  I really think losing an hour of time just felt awkward; leading to a cranky feeling inside.  As I made my plans to buy new makeup sponges, fold and sort 1 basket of laundry, water my plants, purge/organize/clean my small makeup collection, and walk my dogs the cranks started to fade away a little bit.  I had an hour where I knew no one needed me but the real fading started to happen when I realized if I worked fast I could walk my dogs at twilight just before 8pm.  

I love to be outside walking or running at this time.  The neighborhood is often settling in, bringing a sense of stillness.  The sky is changing colors right before my eyes.  I take the same one mile loop in the morning and evening.  Tonight I walked a little quicker to catch the sky on the way back in the background over a small pond.  When we stopped here for a break, I noticed a star or two peaking out shimmering within the extra hours of daylight.  Maybe they are celebrating too.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Top Secret Reveal {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

I have a voice message.  It's my oldest and she beat me home today and discovered my top secret project I mentioned earlier this week.  


Oh my goodness, this is amazing!  
You should be on HGTV!  
Literally this is the most beautiful room I've ever seen in my entire life.  
Ahhhhh!

Before - she picked these colors when she was entering sixth grade.  In these photos I had started to take things down and then realized I needed a before picture.  


                                                  


After - I have a few more tweaks or ideas to finish the room but she has a space to reflect where she is now as a junior in college.  My hope was to create a space where she would want to come to and spend time with us and have some rest and peace.   I'll think she'll be back after spring break with her friends.


                                            


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Wrestle, despise, maybe friendlier with... {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



Prologue - I wrestle with my districts systematic phonics resource at times.  Honestly, use to despise it but everything needs a chance so I've been a rule follower and done it pretty faithfully for two years.  I spent a day this past summer with an "official" program trainer and she had some good ideas but didn't have some of the answers I wanted.  I wanted to know how to differentiate the program.  I wanted to know how to extend those natural born spellers.  I wanted to know more ideas than repeating what I had initially done with the strugglers.  I asked some questions and was told if they are natural spellers they probably still don't know these rules and should learn them.  I don't know these rules after two years and have to really pay attention to them each time to hold on to them.  For example, f, l, and s get doubled at the end of a word and we call them bonus letters only when they are in a closed syllable - aka short/one syllable word.  I sometimes think if I could make a new resource in anything if I just change the name of what we've done before.  Repacking can work wonders sometimes!  

Today - I'm so excited my old CD - Phonics Lessons CD Grade 2 can work in our old laptops in the computer lab.  I've decided to blend some resources but anchor it to the topic in the systematic phonics program.  I found lesson LS16 for vowel teams and wanted to focus on ay and ai.  I used some words found on the CD list and then pulled more from the systematic phonics book to make some different games for a word study menu.  I easily typed in 30 words and had 24 random generated lotto boards today.  I made a game sheet for dominoes - matching words with the same vowel team.  I made a memory game where students would flip over two cards and look for the same vowel team feature.  The last game is a bit simple.  It's a game board called Follow the Path where students read practice reading words.  Bright colored cardstock, laminated, and will be ready to go on Monday.

I've been noticing my struggling spellers are identifying new letter sound combinations, can identify where they should go but struggle with applying these rules on the summative assessment and within their own writing.  My purpose for offering some menu choices is because I feel like we need to see the words in print more.  We need to notice and think about word families.  We need to notice what is the same and maybe it will help us internalize how to use these rules they must learn and how to use them with greater success.   We need to talk to each other about these words and rules. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Offtrack/On-track {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


The room is quiet and everything seems on-track. I had just finished reading some oral directions for our standardized math test today.  Sniffle.  Sniffle.  Sniffle.  I scan the room for the cause.  I catch a head down and tears flowing.  I walk over quickly to see why my friend is crying.  I noticed a question was missed and then one was answered with two more unanswered and my friend has a very puzzled look.  I'm not sure the correct answer is in the right place.  There are so many rules and procedures when administering a standardized test.  I'm not sure what to do.  I start scanning the manual for answers and discover I can reread the questions as they are written.  I start to reread the questions, the tears disappear and we are back on track. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ending the Day {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


I LOVE this time of day.  There's a sense of peace and calm.  The students are at their special area class which is usually earlier in the day but due to standardized testing we are now the last time slot.  This new time slot is much more relaxing.  The students pack up before going to their special area and we leave directly from that location in the building to go home.  I'm getting some big projects done or I'm thinking and mapping out things that require a bit more time.  I think I'm more productive because I don't have to think any more about this particular day.  Today I had a flashback to my first seven years of teaching.  I taught in a different district and our schedule was to arrive 10 minutes before the students and stay an hour and ten minutes after the students were dismissed.  The school day was 8:10am to 4pm.  My day now is 8:20 to 4pm but my students dismiss at 3:45 and by the time the last bus rolls in I might have 7 minutes to get my things, pick up the room, and I might look at email before I switch gears to motherhood.  I know I could stay after the scheduled day but most days I'm needed at home.  There's something to be said for quality time at the end of the day for teachers, productivity, and a piece of mind.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hopes and Prayers Answered {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



Outside conditions - It's gray.  It's gloomy.  It's raining. 

Inside conditions - Lights are on.  Pencils are sharpened.  Gray and gloom are hovering in the air.

I assigned seats.  I passed out the testing booklets.  I opened up to page one and guided my students through their first ever standardized test for two and a half hours.  The directions say we can close their booklets and take a break; I can't get the words out fast enough.  

Please stand quietly.  As I count to 10 reach for the sky.  As I count to 10 touch your toes.  As I count to 10 twist your hips.  Now 5 shoulder shrugs back.  Please sit back down.  

My mind wanders outside and I start hoping and at some point one might consider my thoughts to be prayers for the rain to stop.  I can see their bodies and minds get tired.  I can see them trying to comprehend the amount of verbal directions I keep reading and often repeating.  I can see them feeling successful.  I can see them feeling puzzled.  I can see them feeling hungry.  My mind wanders back outside and I continue my hopes and prayers for the rain to stop.

They were answered and we were the first grade level to get outside for lunch recess today.  As I took the class outside, we walked more slowly than usual.  I think we were all savoring the movement and smell of fresh air and rain.  I was grateful the rain stopped so my students could be free and playful.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Every morning...{Slice of Life Story Challenge}

Hello Monday.  I open the door and keep the light off.  I like the way it's makes my entry into the day ahead a little more peaceful for me.  I set my backpack, lunchbox, and purse in their locations.  I toss my raincoat inside my coat closet and think, please don't be raining during either recess time today.  I turn on my desktop on so it can warm up for my morning message and then I am called.  There's a routine that provides a rhythm to my day.  It's a few extra steps round the room which increases my daily step count.  I take down each student chair from the tops of tables and push them in.  Every four chairs is a measure and there are six measures in this routine.  This helps prep my soul for the day.  It just feels right.

I finally had a teammate ask me one morning why I do this.  To be honest, I'm not sure anyone else in my current building does.  I told her when I started teaching my colleagues and mentors did it.  I look at it now as a way to welcome my students.  Having them put down the chairs can be loud.  They stagger in with their arrivals stretching out the loud taking down the chair period.  Also, the chairs tend to be a bit heavy for little learners.  I think it preps the room for the day and is an invitation to the space we share; an invitation to learning.  Maybe it's just a sign that I care.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing this Slice Life Story Challenge.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Top Secret Project {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


Epilogue - My friend Julie wrote about stories and not able to share those that aren't her own.  At first, I thought she's become part of these stories in some way and maybe she could share those but I find myself in a situation where I am part of a story and it's much of my days right now but it's not my story to share.  However, I can share a snippet of my coping.  I now understand why some stories aren't ours to share.

I spent my morning working on a top secret project.  It's only a top secret to one out of the five of us.  Dip, brush, and repeat.  Cheer on my girl who dips and rolls.  Color emerges and I see hope.  I wish for hope and new starts.  Part of my hope involves looking for things to promote new starts.  I start making a list.  While none of this buries my sadness, it keeps me busy and hopeful the top secret project will help our one not in the loop.

Prologue - I hope to share my top secret project later this month.  I've also thought while this story isn't mine to share here, I can record this story in a notebook because its part of our journey as a family and a new beginning for one of us.  Please know this is not a medical change and I appreciate being able to share just this little tidbit, a small slice of something bigger and know this community will respect that.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for organizing the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

They Don't Notice {Slice of Life Story Challenge}

two furry friends
wait patiently 
each morning

sometimes a bit barky
sometimes a bit sleepy
sometimes a bit happy

they don't notice
it's a weekend, no school
ready and eager 
we head out the door

Thank you Two Writing teachers for hosting this Slice of Life Story Challenge.




Friday, March 3, 2017

Peer Inspiration {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



Working a few feet away with a group of students I overhear a powerful conversation happening with another group of students and a parent volunteer.  They are trying to find all the possible ways to make 25 cents.  Our parent volunteer suggests using different amounts of pennies with other coins.  I wish I had my notebook out to collect little snippets to share the precise language here.  When we come together I have this group share the tip they learned with the whole class and we move to different work areas in the room.  This next group exploring how many ways to make 25cents was super involved with the tasks.  Their conversations were a flurry of math thinking.  I overheard phrases like; I found, I switched, I tried, How about, Try this many more, What about...  This burst of energy didn't happen because an adult was there guiding their work or leading the conversation.  It happened because students could share their thinking and be inspired by their peers.  Something worth pondering.  

   Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding our Momentum {Slice of Life Story Challenge}



History badges are not ready.  Rough start to the day at home.  I wish I was more prepared.  I tell myself - roll with it.  I just need something for a few minutes.  I want to get some momentum started.  I grab a history badge (an idea from a mentor).  I put it on and share - we are all going to become history detectives.  I then ask,  What do you think a history detective is or does?  My only thought was to have a verbal discussion.  After a couple of thoughts shared, I jump out of my chair.  I dash to the cupboard for some paper as I envision making a web.  I just needed to ask the children a question to find our momentum.  A simple preparation with big results and guidance for our learning.




Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Beautiful Happens {Slice of Life Story Challenge}


Three small groups take turns gathering on the carpet.  We gather in a semi-circle to foster conversation and everyone can see each others work.  We review the name and value of each coin.  I ask the group to show six cents.  The beautiful happens; kids teaching kids, different answers, and thinking justified.  A few use six pennies.  A few used a nickel and one penny.  We discuss each strategy.  Often six pennies were arranged by three and three.  Someone shares that's a double fact.  Students justify using a nickel based on its value of five.  We continue our work with other amounts of money.  

My heart is happy.  This moment brings joy to my day.  I get to talk with every student.  I get to observe and provide immediate feedback as needed to each student.  The task appears simple but offers layers of accessibility for different students.  It has an openness for student choice.  It offers a chance for students to express their thinking.  It's calm and informative.  There are no worksheets, no hurried pace, no student missed.  Truly a moment to enjoy.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Wednesday Wisdom; Words to Live By