Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Truth in an Old Wives' Tale #sol19



After a six weeks break, I am exercising my writing muscles again and taking part in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.  


My college graduated son comes down the stairs, running his hair though his mussed-up hair and announces, "I think I have a stye in my eye for the first time in a long time."

I smile, grateful to have him home for the weekend, and tease, "Have you been peeing in the road?"

He avoids my gaze, walks into the kitchen, and stifles a giggle.

Monday, April 1, 2019

#letswrite2019 Check In


Back in January many people were making reading goals for 2019. I wondered where were the writing goals? Finding none, I created my hashtag, shared it on social media and small group of us made writing plans.

This is the first of four check in posts. How's it going? Are you checking things off of your list? It is time to share your progress and celebrate - remember everything counts as a celebration!

Here is my progress on my list of writing goals for 2019:

  • Write at least 100 blog posts.  I currently have 43 posts written in three months, so I am on track to reach 100.
  • Rethink the purpose of my blog and write more about literacy for literacy teachers. I have decided to not rethink the purpose of my blog, but creating a new blog/website instead. I hope to roll that our by the end of my school year.
  • Explore more professional opportunities. I have an idea for a professional article, but have not committed to anything yet. 
  • Open my eyes to the small things around me and write more poetry. April (Poetry Month) is here, so we will see how this goes!
  • Keep a writer's notebook. I bought a new Moleskin notebook last week (still waiting to write in it!)
  • Complete the Slice of Life March Challenge. Completed the challenge!
  • And now for the biggie - I have wanted to write a professional book, even if no one ever reads it!  My goal is to write an outline and look into the publishing process. This goal got squashed a couple of weeks ago. I am trying to figure it all out, once again.

Now it's your turn. If you have an update post, please link it in the comments and share it on social media using #letswrite2019. Please try to visit those participating and leave a comment of support. 

Did you miss out on the original post and want to know more about #letswrite2019? Check it out here. It's not too late to still join us!

Our next update will be June 30th, but until then...Happy Writing!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sustain Writing #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

The challenge has ended, and another month of writing, commenting, wishing to comment more, building community, meeting new friends and reacquainting with old friends, is complete. Thank you for those of you who read my words and graciously commented on them or connected with them in some way this month.

Throughout it all...

Sustain writing and writing sustains me.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Burst of Spring #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  


I really don't like spring. I like knowing that winter is almost over, and summer is on the horizon. But I truly am not a spring person.

I don't like unpredictable weather.

I don't like spring tornadic storms.

I don't like being teased by warmer temperatures one day and back down in the 30's the next day.

I certainly don't like going from 50's to 80's before school is out.

Today as I was walking in the front door, I saw one sign of spring that I do love:  the blooming of the magnolia tree.

It seems like one day it is full of buds and the next day -- it's an explosion of pom pom blooms.


Welcome Spring!


Friday, March 29, 2019

A little help from our friends #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  


Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends.

Today, I was teaching parenthetical elements using commas, dashes, and parentheses. One class was just not getting it. I showed different examples from books they were reading, and I explained it more than one way. But it just wasn't clicking.

I called my assistant principal who used to be an English teacher.

"Are you in middle of something right now?"

"I'm giving an assessment, but what do you need?"

"I'm teaching parenthetical elements, and they aren't getting it."

"I'll be right down."

I knew she would jump at the chance to get back into the classroom. When she peaked her head in the door, I said, "You want to teach this?"

"Sure!"

"I'm just going to sit right over here and watch." I sat down on my conference stool and watched as she seamlessly transitioned from the role of administrator to teacher. She asked a few questions, wrote a few examples, and gave more explanation. There was an collective "Ohh..."

At lunch I sent her an email. 

Thank you!

I loved it!

I knew you would!

Yes, sometimes we just need a little help from our friends.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hello there... #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

The end of the month is approaching, and slice ideas are dwindling, and time today is running out. I am returning to an old stand-by.


i am without a slice
i keep thinking inspiration is going to hit
i wish I had a story tonight and not a list
i love my new notebook (but have not written a single word in it yet!)
i dance - never
i sing only when no one is around
i think my reading life is reaching a flow once again
i really want to go to bed (but I'm watching March Madness!)
i should be working on a slide for tomorrow's lesson
i can use today's minilesson in my own writing -- parentheses and dashes!
i like having a weekend coming up with my sister from Tennessee
i make my fingers dance on the keyboard
i always appreciate the writing that comes from not having anything to write about

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Blessings in a Day #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

I have been reading Betty Before X, a story written by the daughter of Malcolm X. The book "illuminates four important years in her mother's childhood."

Betty lived with a family who encouraged her to not look at the negatives in life but, to "look for the good and praise it." Betty, who is trying to come to terms with her "unwantedness" from her mother, begins to count her blessings.

Today, I tell the story of my day in blessings:


  • A warm, sunny day
  • A few quiet moments before students arrive 
  • A lesson on colons
  • Shared laughs with colleagues
  • A principal who respects our time and keeps meetings short
  • Short lines in Walmart
  • A new Moleskin notebook
  • A writing group who (hopefully) forgives me for forgetting a writing session 
  • A few quiet moments in an empty house
  • A beautiful sunset
  • Time to write
  • Time to read

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Hunt #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

"I found one!"

"Where? Lemme see."

"I can't find one."

"Will you help me?"

"I found another one."

"This one has two!?"

"Can it have two?

"Mrs. Eck, can it have two?"

"Is this one?"

"No, that's not one!"


What were we doing today?  Well, going on a semicolon hunt. That's what!



Monday, March 25, 2019

The Hand Off #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Sometimes when I read a book, I know just the student I am going to hand it off to. After reading The Skin I'm In last week, I could not wait until today.

During homeroom this morning when my student walked in, I told her, "I have a book I want you to read."

She rolled her eyes and gave me that look that said, "Yeah, right."

Did I mention that she doesn't like to read? And that she hasn't finished a book the entire year. But I'm not about to give up on her.

At the end of homeroom I made the hand off.

I took the book out of my and bag and said, "Here is the book. I really do think you will like it if you just give it a chance."

"Uhmm," she mumbled. I could tell she was trying her best to ignore me, but I pressed on.

"It is about a girl who gets teased and bullied because of how dark her skin is. She has very low esteem. She has a mirror that her dad gave her, which helps her to see herself in a different way."  She continued to roll her eyes. Because of her body language, I could tell she wasn't interested, so I knew I had to do something different. I followed up with, "Oh, and toward the end, she catches her classroom on fire."

That perked her up. I could tell she was warming up to the idea, so I left the book on her desk. When the bell rang for the next period, I looked at her desk.  Yes, the book was gone. That was a start.

I have this student the last period of the day. When she walked in, I asked her, "Did you start the book?"

"Yes, I did," she replied showing no emotion whatsoever.

"You think you're going to like?" I asked crossing my fingers.

"Maybe..." she says with a slight smile.

Yes! I love the hand off!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Test Prep and Pep #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

March seems to be that time of year when doubt begins to creep in. We begin to question whether we have done enough, been enough. Yes, it is that time when what we have done gets put under a microscope under the disguise of standardized state testing. It has become part of the educational central nervous system, a system in which many believe that all else functions.

Friday, our State Superintendent of Education puts out a weekly newsletter. In this newsletter was a video about "test prep and pep." Finding the title intriguing, I clicked on it and was quite pleased by its message.

I believe that it honestly put test prep and pep where it belongs, as a natural part of teaching and learning - not front and center. It explained how test prep and pep "places undue attention on testing and damages the cycle of teaching, learning, and assessment." They further explain how this leads to additional anxiety and stress on students and encourages schools not to do these types of activities.

I have never been a fan of test prep and pep. I believe that if I teach my students to be strong, strategic, and critical readers and writers throughout the year, then I am teaching them to be prepared for the test, any test. I try to explain to my students that I do not teach them something because it will "be on a test." I teach them something because they need these skills to be literate human beings and to be part of our society.

Now I just wish they would put out a video on how testing shouldn't be used to evaluate teachers.

Baby steps!

Friday, March 22, 2019

False Alarm #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Some things just spend their life doing what they are supposed to do. They don't ask questions. They don't complain. They just go about doing their business.

This week we were all standing in the kitchen while I was making dinner when all of a sudden, our smoke detector in the basement went off.

"I wonder what that's all about?" I asked my husband.

"I don't know," he answered and opened the basement door to inspect.

We have electric detectors in the living levels of our house, but we have battery operated in the basement and in the upstairs storage where we installed a separate heating and cooling unit. This detector was going off for real, and not the go-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-the-batteries-are-dead-and-drive-you-crazy kind of beeping.

My husband goes down, pulls out the battery and tests it with his tongue. "Nope, batteries are good. Not sure why it went off."

I had the dryer going, and I went downstairs to check on it. As I approached it, I could tell something was not right. As I got closer, it smelled differently. Not burning, but just a stronger clean laundry smell. Then I heard something strange. I looked behind the dryer, and the hose on the vent had come off.

Ah-ha! That smoke detector didn't detect smoke, but he knew something was wrong.

Yep, just going about his business of keeping us safe.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Customer Service 101 #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Before I became a teacher, I was in retail management for many years. The first thing you learn in Customer Service 101 is the customer is always right, and it is your job to make them happy. Even if they say, "No, I haven't worn it." and you know from the creases in the crotch or the stretched out sweater that they most certainly did.

If you read yesterday's post, then you know we took out our landline. As we were sitting in the lobby waiting for our turn with the customer service rep, I overheard his conversation with the customer ahead of us. I have always thought that people should work with the public at least once in their life. I typically side with the employee because customers can be...well...a little difficult sometimes.

"What can I do for you today?"

"Oh, I just need a new remote. I wore this one out," laughed the customer.

"Did you change the batteries?" he asked in a condescending tone.

Did he really just say that? How rude! 

"Yes, I did."

The rep opens the remote and says, "These are the original batteries in here."

Oops, I guess she didn't. But still!

"I'm sorry. I thought my husband changed them," she says apologetically. "I usually wear the remotes out in about six months," she attempts again.

Oh, I feel so sorry for her.

"Mine has lasted three year. Here you go. I've documented it on your account"

Uh, oh...it's our turn next!

This gentleman needs to take CS101 again because I think he missed part of the training!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Love Letter #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

My Dearest L.L.,

It has been almost 29 years since we were hooked up together. The day I moved into my new house, you joined me, and we have been connected ever since... until today. But now that my husband knows the cost of us staying together, he says it's a waste of money to keep our relationship. He told me that we must say goodbye.

My heart breaks because I will no longer hear the tone of your voice. You were by my side during the most important moments of my life. You were there when I told my mother that the baby was on its way, and when I found out that I got my first teaching job. You were beside my bed as we waited to here the words, "He's gone."

You let me carry you around as Megan, Ethan, and I played outside.  You hid in the laundry basket as I carried laundry up from the basement, making sure no one knew you were there. And you sat beside me on the rocker as the kids napped and as I read a book on the porch.  Just you and me, together all this time.

Today, I said goodbye. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do because long-distance relationships are hard to find these days.

So this is goodbye.  I'll remember you forever, my love, my dearest LandLine.

With love,
Leigh Anne



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Time #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

My daughter, who is also a teacher, and I spent the first day of our spring break shopping in the same city where my son goes to college. She spent the afternoon trying on bridesmaids dresses and bathing suits, and I book shopped. We put an exclamation on the day by having dinner with my son...and filling his car up with gas!

I struggled with finding a story for today's slice, so I decided to write a poem instead. This is an ABC poem, which creates a mood, picture, or feeling using letters in alphabetical order.. The first four lines begin with any letters within the alphabet. The last line is a sentence beginning with any letter. I learned about ABC poems at Newtreemom's blog.


A day spent
Between the two of them
Capturing the laughter
Denying the passage of time

They may grow older, but time spent with them never does.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Creature of Habit #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Are you a creature of habit?

Yesterday I wrote about a morning routine. For the most part, I think I am a spontaneous person. I'm not a planner, and I typically fly by the seat of my pants. I never really considered myself to be a creature of habit.

Fellow slicer and Teach Write friend, Christie Wyman, made a comment about my use of Hershey's syrup. I began thinking How long have I been drinking that? Are there other long-standing habits or routines that I have? Do I even remember when they began?



I honestly don't remember when my breakfast became a routine, but it has always been Jiff peanut butter and Hershey's syrup. When I was in college (the first time) I lived in a sorority house, and we had a fabulous cook. French toast, pancakes, eggs, and bacon quickly pushed toast out of the line-up. So, I believe it was when I began living out on my own. That would be 33 years ago. 


Friday night is pizza night at our house. It is the night I look forward to because I know I don't have to plan or cook a meal. When other teachers talk about eating pizza during the week, it just feels wrong! I think we ate pizza on most Fridays when I was a kid, but I do know my husband and I ate it together since we began dating. That would also be 33 years ago.







I sleep holding a pillow. I cannot sleep with just one. I need one for my head and one for my arms. I have to go back pretty far on this on. I think it was when I was high school, but I know I slept with one in college 37 years ago.




I am an Oil of Olay woman. I have never been one to try different beauty products. I remember packing that little pink jar on my first day of college, and I have used it now for 37 years.



On my nightstand stands a jar of Vicks VapoRub. I put this on my lips every single night before I go to bed. When I travel, it is one of the first items in the bag. I believe this habit started in high school 37 years ago, but honestly I don't remember a time when I have not used it.



Creature of habit? Well...maybe I should reconsider that title!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Newspaper #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

"Babies are the only ones who like change." 

This quote comes from a cartoon from many years ago. A human resources manager sent it to us when the company I was working for was undergoing some drastic changes.

I was reminded of it this Sunday morning.

I woke up and wandered in to the kitchen for my usual Sunday morning routine. I fixed my typical breakfast of perfectly toasted whole wheat bread with Jiff peanut butter and poured my skim milk into a plastic cup. I squirted the Hershey's Syrup while counting to ten and stirred it up. I took my breakfast to the antique wooden dining room table and looked around.

I was missing something from my regular Sunday morning routine. Something wasn't right. My routine has been turned upside down because there was no Sunday newspaper.

It has been two weeks since we began receiving our newspaper in the mail instead of being delivered early in the morning. Didn't they know they were upsetting my Sunday morning routine? Didn't they know I enjoyed lingering over the newspaper before starting my day? What made them think this would be acceptable to any morning newspaper reader?

According to the quote, I guess I'm not a baby...although I am acting like one!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

One Sentence Slice #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

While I crawled on the interstate for three hours, 
the lives of two families were forever changed.






Friday, March 15, 2019

Today, Tomorrow #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

Thursday night thoughts - I wrote and posted my slice later today than I typically do. I sit here at 10:00 PM and think about tomorrow's slice. I like having slices written and scheduled for 6:00 in the morning.  As I was reading Elisabeth's post at The Dirigible Plum, I found my slice for Friday. I just put a little twist on her yesterday/today format.

Today, my post was written after 6:00 PM.
Tomorrow, my post will already be written.

Today, I stayed at school until 6:30 for parent conferences. (Middle school parents never come.)
Tomorrow, I get to leave early at 1:30 and our spring break begins!

Today, I received a text message from my son, telling about the tornado warning they had.
Tomorrow, I get to see him as he comes home for his weekend laundry duty and home-cooking.

Today, my students made their book club choices.
Tomorrow, they get to find out what books clubs they are in.

Today, I tried a new editing lesson.
Tomorrow, I get to see the conversations the lesson produces.

Today, I wore school clothes.
Tomorrow, it's jean day!

Today, I am tired from the week-before-spring-break chaos.
Tomorrow, spring break begins!

Today is now yesterday!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Know better, do better #SOL19


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  

"When you know better, do better." ~ Maya Angelou

I have heard these words many times during my teaching career.  But sometimes, even when I know better, I don't always do what's best. Sometimes circumstances beyond my control keep me from doing better.  Like district mandates, curriculum guidelines, time constraints, and standardized testing.

Although I don't always do better, sometimes, all it takes is a student to put things into perspective.

This week we have been spending a lot of time on quick writes. It is the week before spring break, and we have been "practice testing" for our state assessments. The timing was good for this kind of work.

We have been writing to words randomly found in books, and the kids have really enjoyed this process. One day the word was "right." A student shared his writing, which was about a boy who was homeless and hungry and trying to make the "right" decision:  Do I ignore my hunger pains or break into this bakery for some bread. It ends with a bat in the boy's hand. Hmmm...what does he do?

My second period left my room, and about 15 minutes later, two boys returned, one from second period and the other from an afternoon class who had not completed the quick write yet.

"Mrs. Eck, we were in study hall and have something to show you."

"What's that?"

"A.J. wrote about my story, but from the baker's perspective," said the boy from second period.

"Let me see." I take the paper and read the story about the baker's shop window being busted by a boy with a bat. (Now you know what decision he made!) I looked up and smiled. "May I keep it?"

They both smile, and said, "We were hoping you would."

As they started to walk away, I said, "It's fun when we get to write like this, isn't it?"

"Yeah, especially when we get to choose."

Yes, when I know better, I should do better.