Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chalking in the New Year


I am joining Betsy at Teaching Young Writers for her Chalk-A-Bration.  Join her the last day of each month for a celebration of chalk and poetry.  Stop by her blog to read more about it.

This is my first experience at chalking (as I am sure you can tell)  and is tied to my one little word for 2014 - REACH.  

This year I want to reach out and embrace new things, push my thinking, and challenge myself.  I loved writing poetry when I was younger, so this may be a way for me to reach out and try something new with my writing.  



2014 One Little Word - Reach

Read more slices at
Two Writing Teachers
Before I can explain how this year's one little word came to me, I need to go back to last year. Although I did not have my blog this time last year, I did have a one little word.

Last February I realized something was missing in my life and my career.  I wanted more.  I wasn't sure what it was, and I certainly didn't know where to find it.  I felt like I was just going through the motions each day, hoping something would eventually change.

I had been following a few blogs pretty regularly, and I just happened to be in my bedroom reading a post written by Ruth Ayres about a website that was recommended to her.  Reading through that blog changed me.  It was an unbelievable God moment for me, and I sent this email to three of my teacher friends, wanting to share my experience.

Many bloggers at the beginning of the year choose "one little word" that they focus on for the year.  I have thought about this a lot...trying to find my word.  I have played with the word "search"...the search to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, person and teacher...the search to find God in a better place in my life...the search to find where my faith fits in...the search to find the confidence to write.  

Tonight I stumbled on this beautiful website, and I knew that I had picked the right word.  I know it was not a coincidence....I was lead here.  

Tears came to my eyes until I was almost sobbing, and I honestly for the first time in a long time felt His presence in a way that I have desperately needed and have been "searching" for.  Just listening to the music is enough to bring tears.  I have just started perusing the site and wanted to share it with you...

Tonight I begin my "search" to become all of those things and more....I think I am ready!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/ann-voskamp/

That is how my one little word for 2013 found me.

Searching,  I made some positive changes and became a much better person, I challenged myself, and YES...I started writing.  I can look back on 2013 and believe with certainty search was the right word for me.

A few months ago, I thought I had found this year's OLW.  We were talking in our Bible study group at school about being intentional in our relationships.  The word "intentional" was speaking to me.  My search was successful, and I thought I needed to become more intentional.  I was all ready to write about my OLW until I saw a tweet the day after Christmas from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience about her Christmas tree.  Being curious, I clicked on the link and found this amazing story...and my word.

In November they hung an evergreen branch, their Christmas tree, upside down.

Pictures are taken by Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience


By Christmas Eve, the branches were reaching out.  These are the words she wrote:

If you hang your life upside down, if you live the upsidedown Kingdom, your life never dies, it’s never small — it reaches out. It grows larger.

Pictures are taken by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience

This one little word, REACH, unexpectedly found me.  I thought I already had my word, so I really was not looking for a new one.  Here again, on this same website, I found my one little word.

There are times when I feel like my life is upside down.  But now I know that living my life upside down will help me to REACH out and become a better me...that ME I searched for and found last year.

I have many new goals personally and professionally that I want to REACH.  I have relationships that I want to REACH out to and make stronger.  I am ready to REACH out and embrace what may come my way in 2014.  I am ready to REACH out and have my life grow larger...just like the evergreen tree.

Happy New Year!

If you have the time, please take a moment to go to A Holy Experience.  It will be an experience you won't soon forget.


Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Reflection



Beginnings and endings naturally lead to reflection.

This week, I have been reading many 2013 reflections, lists, and "best-of's."  Although I don't have as much to reflect on, I still have some important events that have happened this year on my blog.

First Slice - I actually started my blog in April of this year, but it took two months for me to gain the confidence to actually write a real post, which was a Slice of Life found at Two Writing Teachers.

Personal Favorite Post - This post celebrated several firsts for me.  I had followed Katherine at Read, Write, Reflect for about a year.  She unknowingly became my silent mentor, and this post celebrated her first comment on my blog.  Since then, I have made connections with many people, and I continue to be inspired by their writing every day.

Most Commented-On Post - This post was about my relationship with my dad.  This one was hard.  It hurt.  I have not shared my feelings about this with many people, and I was a little apprehensive about putting it out there in the blogosphere.  I found through the comments that many people had similar experiences.  People connected with this post, and I knew that my words were healing for me and possibly others.

Most Viewed Post -  This post was a letter to my colleagues and had the most views.  Although this was written for a small group of teachers I work with,  I hope many teachers felt inspired to lift up each other and to find the importance of surrounding themselves with positive people.

I look forward to 2014 and all of the challenges, inspiration, and learning it has to offer!



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 12/28


Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

I have enjoyed spending Christmas with family.  Ending the Christmas season and anticipating a new year is certainly a celebration.  We have one more family event tonight, and I am looking forward to spending time with my sister and my nephew from Tennessee.  

This week I am celebrating nothing...

Have you ever thought about when you have many things to do, you get many things done?

Have you ever wondered why you get nothing done when you have nothing to do?

That has been my last few days.  I have had no deadlines, no to-do list, no demands.  So I have just done nothing...and it has been deliriously delightful.


Slept in
No alarm clock
Stayed in my pajamas 
until whenever
Took a shower...whenever
One day...did not even take a shower!
Wore sweats
No make-up
Read many books
Read many tweets
Wrote many words
Ate many cookies
Too many cookies
Stayed up late

Today I celebrate nothing!


I hope each of you get a chance to celebrate "nothing" during your break!  For me, my to-do list starts Monday!  Have a great week!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reflection Fest - Day One

The end of the year brings with it a natural time of reflection, whether it be personal, professional, or spiritual.  As a teacher, I find myself reflecting before the school year starts and as a new calendar year starts.

Today as I was Twitter stalking, I came across a tweet about reflection from Any Rudd at The "Rudd"er.  Technically, I guess it was a retweet because it came from Teachingchannel.org.  For the next five days, they will pose a reflection question and ask teachers to share their triumphs, challenges, and goals.

Teachingchannel.org


Today's reflection:  Most Inspiring Moment

As teachers, I am sure we have many inspiring moments throughout our school year.
Some may be planned teaching moments, while others may be totally unexpected.

Sifting through my year, I have many that I could share, but this one stands out the most...maybe because it is the most recent.

I have a very athletic class this year.  Many of my boys and girls play multiple sports and are very competitive.  The week leading into Thanksgiving, our school had a food drive/competition.  The winning class was to receive an ice cream party.  As the days dwindled and the competition drew to a close, I knew we were not going to win.  I hesitantly approached my class with an idea that I had.

The contest was based on the number of food items per student in the class.  At our school we have a Life Skills special ed. class with around 10 students.  Several of our 4th graders are their "buddies" and they come to our special classes and a go out to recess with them once a week.

I asked the kids if they would be willing to give our cans to Mrs. Jones' class so her students may experience the joy of winning.  Knowing how competitive they are, I could not believe now excited they were about the idea.

We counted our cans, crossed out my name, and wrote Mrs. Jones as the teacher.  The day they announced the winners, my class waited with anticipated as the winning class was announced over the intercom.  When they announced that Mrs. Jones' class was the winner, my class jumped up and down, hollered and clapped.  One standing in the hall would have thought my class had just been announced the winner.

I was so proud of them for putting aside their competitiveness and desire to win just to make someone else feel special.  I think we all learned a valuable lesson in what giving is really all about.

I hope you will join us for Reflection Fest!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Because of My Mom...

Read more slices
at Two Writing Teachers

When I think about the people who have made the most impact in my life, two amazing women come to mind:  my mother and my mother-in-law.

Monday was my mom's 70th birthday.  When I think about what all she has accomplished in her life, I am amazed.  Life wasn't easy for my mom.  She survived a tough childhood, struggled through a divorce, raised four great kids, and worked hard to keep our family together.  Along the way, she taught us lessons in life...and back then of course, we weren't paying attention.  They weren't important.  We didn't want to learn them.  It wasn't until we became adults that we actually realized what all she has taught us.

I know that I have evolved into the person I am today because of her.  So, today I reflect on who I am...because of my mom.

Because of my mom, I am a reader.  My mom (and my grandma) has always been a reader.  Every Saturday mom would clean our house and shop for groceries. Nothing else happened until those two chores were done.  During the afternoon, we would go to the library and choose books for the next two weeks.  Saturday nights, we would fix popcorn, relax on the couch, and read our books together.  She taught me how books could take me places and change my life.  This is one of my favorite childhood memories!

Because of my mom, I can cook.  My mom worked extremely hard when we were kids, but dinner time was always important to her.  For the most part, we had home cooked meals everyday, and we were always at the diner table together.  As our high school schedules became more hectic, it became more difficult for this to happen.  But there was always one thing she made sure of - Sunday dinner was a family day.  She orchestrated and juggled schedules, and we may have eaten any time between 12:00 and 6:00, but we always sat down together on Sundays.  To help mom out during the week, I would often come home from school and start dinner for her.  By the time I finished high school, it was nothing for me to have fixed a complete family dinner...although I never have learned her knack for making gravy!

Because of my mom, I can sew.  My mom could sew anything from curtains to clothes.  Back then it was cheaper to make things than it was to buy them.  There were many times when she would make matching outfits for me and my sister.  We were only a year apart, and many people thought we were twins.  I remember mom making many of her dresses that she would wear to work...a Carol Brady look-alike...she even had the hair!  One year she even made my formal for a New Year's Eve dance.  She taught me how to sew at an early age.  The earliest sewing memory I have is when I was eight, and I received a sewing machine for Christmas.  I was sewing doll clothes from a kit, and I dropped a needle on the floor.  While I was down on my hands and knees looking for it, it went in my knee and broke off.  That landed me a trip to the emergency room.  Although I don't have time to sew now, through the years I have made clothes for myself and my children, curtains for my house, and quilts for many people.

Because of my mom, I became independent.  At the age of 40, my mom became a single mom with two kids in college and two still at home.  After my parents were divorced, she took a job four hours away from our home town.  She did not know a soul down there, yet she packed everything she owned and made a new life for herself.  My sister got married right out of college...but not me!  I wanted to explore the world...Ok, maybe just a few hours from home.  After I graduated from college, I began a career in retail and moved four times in four years.  I had the courage to be out on my own because my mom taught me it could be done.

Because of my mom, I am a hard worker.  When my mom moved to Tennessee, she worked for an automotive company which was eventually sold to a Japanese company.  She worked her way up in the company, and towards the end of her career became the purchasing director for North America.  She traveled all over the world and even lived in China for a a year and a half to start up the purchasing department for a new plant in Shanghai.  Two things are amazing about her career.  One is that women typically do not hold management positions in Japanese companies, yet she was promoted and earned the respect of the Japanese men.  The second is that she was successful, but she does not even have a college degree.  She married my dad at 18, had my sister at 19, and me at 20.  That didn't leave much time or money for college.  She took a few night classes occasionally, but she was successful because she was driven and because of her work ethic.  I learned from the best what hard work is all about.

To those of you with young children, remember you are giving them a gift...the lessons of life... which may not be opened for years to come.  But it will.  And they will appreciate and understand.

To those of you with older children, I hope this Christmas season your children will share the gift you have given them...the lessons of life...and thank you for what they have learned.

Merry Christmas!









Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 12/21


Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

This week I am celebrating the start of my Christmas break.  I absolutely love teaching, but I love my breaks!  A time to relax, restore, and rejuvenate.  

I celebrate taking a break from my responsibilities at school so that I can enjoy time with my family, especially my children.  They are the age where they usually just want food and money, but I am ready to spend some quality time with them.  My son asked me the other day if we could make Christmas sugar cookies...his favorite!  I said absolutely, thrilled that he still wanted to do this with me.  

I celebrate taking a break from setting the alarm so that I can stay up late reading, sleep in because I "just had to finish that book" and wearing my pajamas for as long as I want.  I have many books to read and will certainly find some to read on the Winter Pop-up Library.  
Check it out - free ebooks from December 21 - January 5!

http://starwalkkids.com/index.php

I hope each of you have a great break and find many reasons to celebrate!

Now, I am off to continue shopping!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blind Auditions




Read more slices at 
Two Writing Teachers


Watching television is not something I typically do, and my students never believe me when I say I don't watch TV.  I would much rather read a book, but the one show I never miss is the The Voice.

Singing is something I would love to be able to do.  Oh, yeah, I sing in my car by myself, but my singing career is limited to singing on Preference Night during my college sorority days!  (Anyone out there an Alpha Phi?)

Last night as I was watching the finals, I thought, "I am going to have blind auditions in my classroom next year."

Now, before you start thinking...what in the world is she talking about?  Let me explain.

For those of you who may have never seen The Voice, contestants sing with the judges' chairs turned around.  They base their decision strictly on the contestant's voice, not by their looks.  They don't even see them until they have chosen to turn around.

Every spring teachers at our school divide up their students to be placed in classes for the following year. The grade levels then get together and discuss the new class.  We have discussions about the students' strengths and weaknesses among many other things.

Before I even see my class, I have these preconceived thoughts about them.  I hadn't really thought about how unfair this was until I started watching The Voice and heard the contestants talk about how important it was that the judges chose them only on their voice.


I am thinking I will not have these conversations with my colleagues this year.  By having "blind auditions" for the students in my classroom, I will get to know my students without any bias, hearsay or preconceived thoughts.  I will get to know them for who they are the day they arrive in my classroom...my own blind auditions.

A side-note - Go TessAnne!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook


Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.


I had my celebration post all ready to go, and then I came across this at Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders.  Suddenly, my celebrations - getting a new table - seemed so small and insignificant.

Robin, along with Greg Smedley-Warren from the Kindergarten Smorgasbord are asking us to remember the anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School by completing a simple act of kindness.

So, share this picture, spread the word, and do something kind today in honor of those children whose dreams were taken away and the courageous teachers who lost their lives while trying to protect them.  Think about what a true celebration it would be, if we all showed kindness today!



If you would, come back and share.  I would love to hear what you did to remember Sandy Hook!

Have a great week and may you be blessed with many reasons to celebrate!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just Another Day

Read more slices at
Two Writing Teachers

As I sat and thought about my slice for this week, I looked at the calendar and realized that December 8th had passed me by.  It was just another day.

Forgive and forget?   Is one more important than the other?  Does one happen before the other?

Do you ever truly forgive, if your heart can't let go of the pain?  Will your heart heal, if you are truly able to forgive?  I have wrestled with these thoughts most of my life. Here is why...

Just Another Day

It's December 8th 
five years since
the day my dad passed away
but for me
it was just another day

I search my heart for memories
the happy ones seem to hide
the sad ones come to the surface

I was the second child
in two years
I was a disappointment
I was not a boy

Growing up was difficult
we never got along
it was always my fault
I was always to blame

Divorce came when I was twenty
some say divorce is harder on younger children
it's not
at twenty you understand
you know what tore your family apart

I tried to forgive
but somedays
my heart continues to hurt
even as an adult

I gave him his first grandchildren
their memories are 
Christmas
birthdays
the papaw with the presents

He never really knew
their unique personalities
their hopes
their dreams
them

December 8th
it's a snow day
his wife calls
you must hurry
not much time left

My sister and I
drive three hours
hoping to get there in time

In his room
we watch
his labored breathing
his last breath

My sister sobs at his side
I stand in the corner
 a tear comes
not because he is gone
but because of all he has missed




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 12/7




Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us

This week was a week of firsts!

First fire of the season - December is late for our first fire in the fireplace, but having a fire with the house decorated for Christmas is the absolute best!  This is also one of my top five places to read!


One of my favorite places in our house!


First snow and snow day - Friday we had our first snow day, which I really did not want.  I would prefer to have them in February and not two weeks before Christmas break.  But since we had to have one, it might as well be a Friday!  Let's celebrate long weekends!  We received close to 14 inches of snow.  The temperature is suppose to drop, so it isn't going anywhere soon.  I have a feeling we may be out Monday too!


The view out my back door.


Our house with 12 inches of snow on the ground!

Have a great week and may you be blessed with many reasons to celebrate!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Validated Nervousness

Two Writing Teachers
Today I have some mixed emotions.  Three teachers from our district are coming to observe my reading block this morning.  All three are peers in my grade level.

To say I am a little nervous would be an understatement.  I don't like being singled out for a variety of reasons.  One reason is because I don't like the attention, but the main reason is because I don't want to be labeled as one of "those" teachers who think their way is the right way.

I have only been teaching for seven years and I continue to grow each year.  But I have worked very hard to make my reading block what it is today.

My first year of teaching I taught four sections of 5th grade reading.  I followed the basal's weekly plans and did most of the accompanying workbook pages....I can hear many of you gasping right now!

I hated that year and so did my students.  I spent that summer creating my own professional development by reading and reading and reading.  That fall I changed grade levels, along with my reading instruction, integrating reading workshop.   The more I read about reading workshop, the more I knew that was the direction I wanted to take.   But about four weeks into the school year, I began feeling the pressure.  I caved in and went back to the basal...another gasp!

Each year since then, I have developed and refined my teaching instruction through my own summer professional development.  I have merged reading workshop, Daily Five, and our state-mandated reading block to what I use today.  It has been a long, lonely road because I have been trying to do this by myself.  I had no one to bounce ideas off of or to collaborate with.

My corporation is very basal dependent, but teaching with the basal just wasn't for me.  I wanted more, and I found that many teachers out there taught reading the way I wanted to teach it.  (I hope to write a post soon on how I became basal independent.)

This year our corporation is finally making changes in our reading instruction.  When I was approached about being observed, I was hesitant, but I also felt validated.  That maybe, just maybe, I am doing things right and all the road bumps I experienced along the way were worth it.  It has been seven years, and no, I still don't have it all figured out...but I have continued to move forward, and I know I am a better teacher because of it.

So, today I do feel validated nervousness, but I think it's a good thing.  I'll let you know for sure after today is over!










Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Surrender!

That's it!  I'm done fighting!  I surrender...to my Christmas tree lights!

We have had an artificial Christmas tree for about 15 years.  I love lots of lights and consider it a challenge to wrap every branch in lights from the inside out.

It seems that every year I have to replace a strand or two.  But this year it was different!  I always test the lights by plugging them in before placing them on the tree.  Tonight I had four strands where only half the lights worked....four strands!

I give up!  I am not going to replace four strands.  This year instead of wrapping each branch, I am spreading them out and living with what I have.  I'm not gonna like it, but I will survive.

When I think about all the technology our world has to offer, can someone really not invent Christmas lights that stay lit for more than one year!

I refuse to look at that bare spot on the bottom.  Tomorrow after I have cooled down, I might adjust them.  But I refuse to buy more lights!  The lights win this year!


Celebrate Good Times, Come On! 11/30



Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

This week I celebrate traditions - the old, the new, and the undecided!

Our town rings in the Christmas Season the weekend before Thanksgiving by having our Parade of Lights and Downtown Christmas Stroll.  A pizza place on Main Street is the perfect place to eat before bundling up, finding the perfect spot, and watching the parade.  For years, my husband, two kids and I celebrated this tradition.  But the past few years, the kids have ditched mom and dad in order to go with their friends.  I guess that is part of parenting older children  This year, for some reason, they felt it would acceptable to be seen with us, so we celebrated the old tradition.  It was nostalgic...just as a Christmas parade with your children should be...no matter how old they are.

I am a Black Friday shopper!  My first career was in retail and I loved every minute of the Christmas shopping season.  I love the crowds, the grouchy people, the lines and the traffic jams...well maybe not the last one!  Black Friday changed a little bit this year.  So, yes, I was out on Thanksgiving night with my daughter celebrating the shopping season - a new tradition which I think I am going to like.

For as long as I can remember, my grandma has made home-made noodles for our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  She is now 88 years old and can no longer carry on this tradition.  The family is still trying to find someone new to take her place, and for some reason my name came up in the conversation.  I guess they all think if I can make pies, then I can make noodles!  I'll let you know at Christmas if that becomes a new tradition to celebrate!  Although I miss her noodles terribly, I am so thankful that she is still with us to celebrate the holidays.

Last but not least...this isn't a tradition but my husband had back surgery Tuesday.  Here's to celebrating (hopefully) healing backs!

I hope you had a great week of traditions to celebrate, maybe even creating a few new ones along the way.




Monday, November 25, 2013

A Letter to My Colleagues



Two Writing Teachers
Over the past year I have come across several blogs where teachers have written about why they became a teacher or why they stay in education.  At the beginning of the year, I sent out an email asking my colleagues that same question, thinking I would use it someday as a possible post.

I did not get much of a response, but most of the responses I did receive were from the teachers who are in our small Bible Study Group which meets every Tuesday morning.  I shouldn't have been surprised!  Many times this group keeps me going throughout the day, or sometimes even the week, with their support, encouragement, and positive attitudes.

Today, I write a letter to them, thanking them for their dedication, their inspiration, and simply for just being the positive people who I am blessed to be around each day.

My Dear Colleague,

Being a teacher in today's world is definitely a challenge.  I am sure many of you have asked yourself why do I stay?  How can I continue at this pace?  Why do I teach? 

Today, I hope to give you an answer.

You teach because you believe in the power of a smile.  At the end of the day, I see you with a smile on your face even after...
  • you were late for school because you changed what you were going to wear five times and you still thought it wasn't right,
  • your own children were bears on the way out of the house, 
  • you changed your lesson plans at the last minute, 
  • you went to the copy machine and it was broke again...or there was no toner...or paper,
  • your objectives weren't in the right place...or the right size...or the right color,
  • and you got evaluated for the second time this month!
You teach because you believe in the term positivity.  You see the positive things that happen in your classroom on a daily basis.  You get through the behavior issues, the student who consistently comes in late, the tattling, the talkativeness and still believe every day is a Friday.  You see the positive in every student, in every situation, in every new day.

You teach because you believe each child can learn - no matter their ability.  You always strive to get them to the next step, to make progress...even those who cannot write their name, read at grade level or get through the day without throwing a fit...or a chair.

You teach because you have a big heart.  You understand each child and the problems they face at home.  You give them a place to feel safe and to be loved.  A place with you, a place where those problems do not exist.

You teach because you believe in children.  To you, every child matters.  

You give them confidence 
          to try something new, 
               to not be afraid to try again, 
                    to have dreams, 
                         to reach goals they never thought were possible.

You teach NOT because you choose to, but because you were chosen...and that my friend makes all the difference.

Thank you for being my colleague,
Leigh Anne



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! 11/23





Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

This week I celebrate "newness"...new lessons and new books!

I tried a new lesson this week in my math classes.  I love trying new ideas, but they are always surrounded by questions.  Will it work?  Will the students be engaged?  Will it push their thinking or help their understanding of the lesson?  

This was a hands-on lesson about lines and angles.  We used pipe cleaners for the lines, wooden triangles for arrows, and plastic circles for end points.  It was a huge success!  What a fun way to check for understanding.  I will definitely be repeating this lesson next year.


Demonstrating obtuse angles.

Our school library had a huge reason to celebrate this week.  Make that a $1000 reason to celebrate!  Our local Rotary Club donated $1000 to our school library to purchase new books.  The shipment came this week, and it just so happened to be our library time when the librarian began unpacking the boxes.  I squealed with delight as I pulled each title out of the box.  It felt like Christmas!  Here is just a small stack of the books that I was lucky enough to bring home and be the first to read.  Thank you Miss Christie! 


My weekend reading stack!


So, today I celebrate "newness!"  

Have a great week and may you blessed with many celebrations!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Moment of Fear

Two Writing Teachers

I am worried.

I am scared.

Tornado spotted on the ground.

Heading this way.

Kids not answering their phones.

Where are they?

Why won't they answer?

Finally Megan answers.

She is taking shelter.

She is safe.

Still no word from Ethan.

Where is he?

Why won't he answer?

I am worried.

I am scared.

The wind picks up.

The sky goes dark.

The rain pours down.

Knowing Ethan is out there...

I hold my breath.

I pray.

Finally he pulls in.

He is safe.

Relief settles in.

I breathe.

The sun shines.

Worry is gone...

For today.




Photos From Vincennes Sun-Commercial

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! 11/15



Each Saturday  Ruth Ayres invites us to share and celebrate events from our week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and to all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

This week I am celebrating ideas!  Now this may seem like an odd celebration, but if you think about it, many celebrations start out as just an idea...a good one, a bad one, and even a crazy one.

Have you ever come up with an idea and then started doubting yourself, hearing the words...what in the world were you thinking?  I am a dreamer and a doer, and sometimes that can be a dangerous combination. 

I have this little voice that dwells inside my head, and it sometimes whispers these "great" ideas to me.  My husband tells me I need to stop listening to it! But I can't.  It's who I am.

Being a passionate reader, I am always trying to come up with ideas to share that passion outside the walls of my classroom.  

Two years ago after a consultant visited our elementary schools and the newspaper headlines blatantly stated   "Consultant Says Kids Can't Read,"  I heard that little voice.  I knew something needed to be done.  I knew I was the one to do it.

I came up with the idea of a community book drive.  Communities have food drives, blood drives, and canned food drives.  Why not a book drive?  We collected used and new books and donations to buy books, and then distributed them to over 1,000 students in our school district.  It was a huge success, but it was also a lot of work!

Now that I have entered the world of blogging, I began to ponder how I could use blogging to share my reading passion with my school.  I had already started a classroom blog, but I wanted something more than that.  Something where I could reach more people.

Here came that little voice.  I knew, once again, that I needed to react.  This is how the idea of The Franklin Bookmark came about.

This week I created an "unofficial" blog where our students, families and teachers can share all things about reading.  My vision is to review books for all grade levels.  These will be written by myself, current and former students, and teachers.  I want to feature student readers and share the reading lives of our teachers.  Families will be included by sharing tips and information about how parents can encourage, support, and celebrate reading at home.

I have no idea where this is heading.  I just know that little voice is whispering again.  I feel I need to listen.  

What do you think?  Is this a crazy idea?  Do you think it will work?  Do I need to approach it in a different way?  Most of you have much more experience with blogging than I have, and I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

So, today I celebrate ideas...the good, the bad, the crazy ones...and the ones that turn into celebrations!

Have a great week and may you be blessed with many celebrations!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Everyone Has A Story - Even A Quilt

Two Writing Teachers

Saturday I was reading Linda Baie's post about the stories from her pottery pieces.  I began thinking about my quilting life and one very special quilt I made.

About 22 years ago, I taught myself how to quilt.  I have always loved old things, and my husband and I have collected quite a few antiques.  Browsing antique shops is where my love of quilts began.  I have actually been sewing for as long as I can remember, so becoming a quilter was a logical step for me.

After making my first quilt, I was hooked.  I bought, stashed, and hid fabric in all kinds of places, hiding it from my husband.  (I still don't think he knows how much fabric I have!)  I love walking through fabric stores and touching all of the beautiful fabrics, imagining the possibilities.

Although I have not quilted in about seven years, (actually since I started teaching!) I still have boxes and boxes of fabric. I have them stored according to their "genre."  I have large cuts - 4 or more yards and small cuts - 1 to 4 yards.  I have boxes of Christmas prints, children's prints, background prints, and solids just to name a few.  My scraps are sorted according to color - cool colors in one box, and warm and neutrals in other boxes.

As my passion for quilting grew, I started going to yard sales and auctions for fabric, quilt squares, or tops.  Once, I found two scrappy quilt tops that were unfinished.  One graces the door on a 120+ year old cabinet that belonged to my husband's grandmother, and the other hangs on a rocker and welcomes visitors on our front porch.

But one summer day, I hit the quilter's jackpot.  I bought five boxes full of nothing but scraps!  Now, to many people this was junk, but to a quilter, this was a treasure!

After I lugged the boxes home and started going through them, I was amazed at not only the amount of fabric, but also the age of the fabric.  Buried in the bottom of the box was a magazine with Elizabeth Taylor on the cover and the date of 1949.  Many of the fabrics in this box, which I still have, are now close to 65 years old.

I began the slow process of pressing, cutting and sewing the scraps into rectangles.  My mind was filled with wonder, filled with the stories these fabrics told.  I am sure there were scraps from kitchen curtains, little girls' and ladies' dresses, as well as men's clothing.  The fabric of these lives slid through my fingers, sharing their secrets.  I would sit at my quilting frame and, stitch by stitch, I listened to their stories.

Stories about marriages and families.
                 
                    ...happy times and sad times.
                           
                              ...new homes and new beginnings.

                                        .....death and endings.

Stories I could only imagine.




After piecing together 227 different squares, my quilt was finally finished.

If you listen carefully, it gently whispers 226 individual, unique stories - 226 different fabrics with only one fabric repeated.  (Although that was not my intention, it does create quite a good conversation!)


This isn't an everyday quilt we use in our home.  It is carefully folded and rests on an antique cabinet in our living room, beckoning for someone to listen to their stories.

Close your eyes.

Listen.

Can you hear them?






Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! 11/9



Each Saturday join Ruth Ayres to share and celebrate events from your week. Looking for small celebrations has certainly improved my outlook on my week. For that, I am certainly grateful to Ruth and all of you who choose to celebrate with us.

This week I have a somewhat-selfish-celebration.  Today I celebrate personal days!

Eleven days ago...not that I am counting...my washer went out.  The repairman came a week ago Friday and of course had to order a part.  They called on Monday and said someone could be here on Wednesday to fix it.  My husband was going to be out to of town, so that left me to take care of it.  

I had seriously been thinking about taking a personal day to get "caught up."  I am at that point in the school year when I feel like the walls are crushing me to the point where I am overwhelmed   I keep trying to get more and more done in the same twenty-four I always have, but find myself getting farther and farther and behind.  I knew I needed a time-out.

I typically do not like to miss school, but when this opportunity came to take a day off, I immediately took it!

Wednesday morning I slept in...well it was only 7:30, but that is sleeping in for a school day.  I ate a leisurely breakfast while reading blogs and the newspaper.  I took a long shower with no one hollering their need to get into the bathroom or rushing me to get out.

I read somewhere that if your to-do list is so long, you will get better results if you make a list of three things, complete those, and then add another three.

So, at 9:15 I finally settled in with my list of three "to-do's."  I created list after list and accomplished so much.  Math facts graded, data tracked and analyzed, writing prompts scored, assessments created, plans made.

Although the part did not fix my washer, and I ended up buying a new one that day (not part of my celebration!) I went back to school on Thursday refreshed and less-stressed, and with a much smaller to-do list.

So, today I celebrate personal days!

Have a great week and may you be blessed with many celebrations!