Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ring Around the....

Read more slices at

It is hard to believe that February is almost over, but I am so ready to put this winter behind me.  We had nine snow days, which is the most I can ever remember having.  This week we started extending our school day by an hour in order to make up these days.

Saturday we were given a sneak peek of spring with temperatures rising into the upper 50's.  It was such a beautiful weekend, but I thought my husband was going to ruin it for me.

Saturday I was in the house getting caught up on weekend cleaning.  He was outside picking up some debris from the high winds we had earlier in the week, when I heard him holler for me.

"Leigh Anne, come here and look at this."

I go out and he is just standing there by one of our evergreens.

"Come and look at this," he repeated again.

He doesn't tell me he wants me to look at, so I just stand there kind of dumbfounded.  I look in the tree expecting some kind of animal.  "Uh, what am I looking at?"

"Look up,"  he says.

I look up but am blinded by the sun.  "What am I suppose to be seeing?"  I asked completely lost.

"Come over here.  Don't look directly into the sun"

And there it was...a ring around the sun.  I ran to get my iPad so I could try and be like Elsie!  get a picture!

"You know that means snow is coming."  And he was right, but lucky for us it was just flurries.

Spring, where are you?

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Be sure and stop by to participate and see what others are reading and recommending.

I barely finished this on time, but I made it two weeks in a row!  

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes.

I couple of students in my Mock Newbery Club read this book, and both of them thought this was not Newbery bound.  I think it surprised many readers because of the age of the main character and the possible reading audience.  It is a tender story, and the ending was what won me over.

Next up...

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 2/22

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 am so excited about my celebration this week - heart tugs!

Last summer I read a post on Jaana's Writing Blog about a special book club for adults with disabilities.  It is called the Next Chapter Book Club.  When I read her story, I felt an instant heart tug.  So I inquired about getting one started here in my hometown.  The training was quite expensive, and I had no idea where to start.  I put the project on hold.

The first of December my daughter told me how her education club at the university she attends, works with a group of college aged students with disabilities   One of her professors was in charge of this group.  Again, I felt a heart tug.  I emailed the professor and told her about what I wanted to do and asked if she would be interested in helping me.  She replied that she could not commit but thought it would be perfect for her group.  Again, I put the project on hold.

In January I received an email from the director of NCBC stating they had lowered the registration fee by almost half.  At the same time, I came across a book called God-Sized Dreams by Holly Gerth.  Again, I felt a heart tug and this time it was pulling harder.

We have a church in our community which supports local community events.  I put some feelers out about the church funding the training for this project and received some positive feedback.  Once again, I felt a heart tug.

It is Friday, and I just came back from a meeting with the pastor.  They are going to fund it!  To say that I am excited would be an understatement!

I have a dream and wrote about it here.  My dream involves literacy for all ages but I have no clear idea of how it might look or where it may lead.  I know starting this club may be a small part - but it is a start to reaching that dream.

Starting this club has been tugging at my heart since summer.  Sometimes when we feel a tug, we ignore them for whatever reason.  We think it is impossible, too big, or even stupid.  I tried ignoring this tug, but it just would not go away.  Today my heart is filled with possibilities.  I am so glad I listened.

March 27th I will being going to Columbus, Ohio with a special education teacher to be trained by the Next Chapter Book Club.  I can't wait to bring this back to my community and REACH out to another group of readers who sometimes can be overlooked, but who still need to feel important and loved.

Today I celebrate heart tugs!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And This is What I Am Afraid Of

Read more slices at
Ten days!

Ten days until the Slice of Life Challenge begins.  This will be my first challenge and I am excited, yet scared.  I look forward to the challenge of writing every day.

But yet, I am scared.  Scared that I won't have the time to sit down and put my words on paper.  Scared that I won't have anything to write about for 31 days straight.

Today was hectic.  I got home from school at 7:30 this evening and knew that I had my slice to write for tomorrow.  Sitting down with my computer, I thought...

I really don't have the time.  I have tests to grade, plans to make, and resources to find.

I really don't have anything to write about it.  I really don't have the time to sit and think about ideas.

This is what I am afraid of.  That panic that a deadline is coming.  Being so tired that the words just won't come.  That I will write just for the sake of "finishing the assignment" and not necessarily writing words that someone will want to read.

All in just ten days.

For those of you who have participated before, please feel free to leave advice in the comments.  I am sure many of us new slicers will learn much from your mentoring.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 2/15

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

Today I celebrate Tuesday.

Each Tuesday we have a Bible study group which meets before school.  This group consists of teachers, our principal and a local pastor, who also happens to be the husband of one of our teachers.  I have written about this group before and what a difference this 15 minutes each week has on our lives and our work with children each day.

Our principal led the group this week.  I am very blessed to have a principal who believes that family should come first - always.  This week he personally reminded us of how we can sometimes forget about that with all the demands that education requires.  I celebrate his vulnerability and the fact that principals are also human.  Sometimes we forget that fact and don't always get to see that side of administration.  There is something powerful about praying along-side your principal - that is a celebration.

Tuesday I finally gave my PD on blogging in the classroom.  It had been canceled three other times due to weather.  Hopefully, I have enticed some teachers and will soon be celebrating their arrival into the world of blogging, whether it be personal, professional, or as a classroom.

I also had a meltdown on Tuesday.  Words can be so powerful.  They can build up or tear down. Unfortunately, they tore me down.  But I celebrate those colleagues and my principal who gave me much needed support and encouragement that day.

I also celebrate that meltdown on Tuesday.  It is because of those low spots in our lives that we become stronger. 

Tuesday was a day of highs and lows - a day to celebrate!

I hope you have a great week and find many things to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Forgotten Valentines

Read more slices at

Valentine's Day is a "holiday" that I really do not spend much time thinking about, and my husband and I do not celebrate the day.  Last week I was reading an article in our newspaper that made me think about the day a little differently.

As I was reading the newspaper and eating breakfast, I noticed a headline that read:

"Lawson's legacy lives on:  Valentine's Day widow's banquet continues"

The article was about a man in our town who had a soft spot for widows.  He felt it was important to take care of them.  In 2008 he began to host a special banquet for them with the goal of making sure they felt loved on February 14th.  

He continued hosting the event for four years.  When he died in 2011, his wife felt compelled to make sure the tradition continued, so she hosted her first widow's banquet without her husband on Valentine's Day 2012.

Since then, the event has gained the attention of several churches and even other nearby towns.  The banquet is a chance for the widows to get dressed up, have dinner, and listen to music on a day that is usually focused on couples, a day when many feel isolated.  These women have formed a special bond, a support group, because of the generosity of this kind gentleman.

This past December one of our teachers lost her husband at a very early age.  I know some of my fellow bloggers have lost their husbands too.  It wasn't until I read this article that I realized how hard this day must be for those who have lost their spouses.  I think this man deserves recognition and praise for the tradition he started and the kindness he showed the "forgotten valentines."

This post is dedicated to those of you who may be spending this day without your loved ones.  Please know that on Friday, I will be thinking of you and sending love your way.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Be sure and stop by to participate and see what others are reading and recommending.

It has been a long time since I have participated in IMWAYR!, but I was encouraged by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Mindi at Next Best Book to give it another try this week.

 I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis

This is book nine in the "I Survived" series and is perfect for those reluctant readers, especially boys.  The fast-paced, exciting plot keeps them reading while learning about historical events.  In this book, Max and Zena try to escape from Nazi soldiers after their father has been taken away.  Tarshis questions writing this book with the seriousness of the time period, but I think she did a wonderful job.  There is one part where the reader sees the other side and perhaps questions whether every Nazi solider agreed with Hitler.  Max is in the woods and faces a young soldier his own age.

Max and the young soldier stared at each other, their eyes locked.

There was no hatred in the other boys's eyes.  He looked just as terrified and confused as Max was.

Were they really enemies?

Or were they just two boys caught in this net of evil?

 Snicker of Magic by Natalie LLoyd

I loved this book!  If you could open my heart, you would see lines etched from this book.  It is not a fast-paced, plot driven book, but a book that subtly nudges your heart page after page.  I am not a big fan of fantasy, but this book is so realistically written, I sometimes forgot what genre it really was!

Felicity is a word collector.  When she returns to her mother's hometown, she uses the magic of words to try and piece together a puzzle to restore the magic in Midnight Gulch.

There were so many lines that tugged at me.

"Lonely," I said.  I see it all the time, mostly in school and in church and in malls and driving down the road.  Always the places where the most people are.  Isn't that weird?"

Your words matter more than you know.

I never wanted to forget all the ways we were connected that day:  By our shadows and sunlight.  By pounding hearts and a starry maybe.

"Forgetting people you love is impossible.  It'd be like forgetting how to breathe."

I strongly encourage you to purchase this book and if you already have it, move it to the top of your TBR pile.  I don't think you will be disappointed!

I am currently reading The Year of Billy Miller and Seven Stories Up is on deck.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 2/8

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.

We had two more snow days this week.  I am done celebrating those, but two of my celebrations are a result of those snow days.  

Celebration One - My one little word this year is REACH and this week I reached out and wrote my first post for The Nerdy Book Club.  You can read here about how Harriet the Spy and I turned 50!

Celebration Two - It seems this is the year of the snow/cold days for many schools. Our state has given us alternatives to making up those snow days.  They are discussing extending our school day by an hour for six days per snow day, Saturday school days, or using technology on Saturdays for instruction.  I don't know what our corporation will do, but I celebrate our State Superintendent for thinking outside of the box and giving us other possibilities beyond extending our year.

Celebration Three - With "testing season" drawing near, the snow days have wrecked havoc on instruction and learning.   Our State Superintendent is trying to help schools by extending the testing window by a week.  Unfortunately, it doesn't help us because the extension week is our spring break, but again, celebrating thinking outside the box!

Celebration Four - This week I read Snicker of Magic.  If you have not read this book, I encourage you to put it on your TBR list...and maybe even move it to the top!  It is an amazing book that is masterfully crafted!  It will nudge your heart page after page. I am writing more in a post for It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  

I hope you have a great week and have many things to celebrate!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

That's What They Do

Read more slices

This past week I watched the ALA Youth Media Awards for the first time.  I cannot put into words my excitement and my feelings from that morning.  

Since then, I have reflected on how my reading life has changed.  I have always been a reader, but I don't think I was an "engaged" reader until I started blogging and reading about books.  The books I read were usually not ones that were recently published, but ones found in the Scholastic Book order or on the shelves in our library...and they certainly were hardly ever hardback.  It wasn't until the past six months when I started listening in on the buzz about the Newbery Award contenders or bought newly published books - yes in hardback - that my reading life changed - for the better!  I became a different kind of reader.

I have struggled writing this post.  I have revised and revised, but it just wasn't turning out the way I wanted.  

How do you put into words the profound way my reading life has changed in such a short amount of time?

How do you remember all the people in the blogging world that have influenced my reading life since I started reading blogs and writing on my own?

So, I will use Cindy Minnich's words from a tweet on #titletalk the night before the awards.

It is because of those celebrations all year long that my reading life has become so much richer.  

Yes, that's what they do!  And I am so thankful for it!  I can't wait to see what you share in 2014!  My credit card is ready!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! - 2/1

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.

Wow, it is hard to believe that February is here!  That itself is a celebration because we are one month closer to spring!

Another week of starts and stops with snow/cold days, but still much to celebrate!

One - Of course it is the week to celebrate books.  I watched the ALA Youth Media Awards for the first time and it was so much fun sharing this experience with my "inaugural" Mock Newbery Club. We had been coming in on Monday mornings for books and breakfast and celebrated Monday by watching the awards together.  I have learned many things about how to improve this for 2014.  The best part - my kids from this year want to continue.  I hope this is the start of something big!

My small but mighty Newbery Club members
eating scrambled eggs and sausage
while waiting for the awards.

Two - Here is a stack books I received from Scholastic this week.  No need to say more!

Three - We started a persuasive unit this week and I love how it is flowing.   I have included many new lessons to the unit which has added much conversation and collaboration.  We start writing next week so hopefully I will have even more to celebrate!

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