Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Classroom Slice of Life Challenge

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space to share our stories.  Read other slices or write your own and share here. 

March is quickly approaching, which means that the Slice of Life March Challenge is in the near future.  This will be my third time to participate, so I am feeling pretty comfortable in my ability to write every day.

Now it is time for me to get out of my comfort zone and jump into the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge.  For the first time, I have offered it to all of my students, knowing that only a few will probably accept the challenge.  But I have many questions.

I know Two Writing Teachers will be posting about this challenge soon, but I would love to chat with some of you who have previously done this with your students.

Please feel free to give me any advice or to answer any of my questions.

1.  I will use Kidblog and have students create their own blog.  Do they link up themselves or should I create a classroom link for me to link at TWT?

2.  I have decided to let them form groups of no more than four if they would like.  I think for my first time, I will have more success doing it this way.  Has anyone done this before, or do you only have individual students?

3.  We have not written any slices in class, although I have talked about my personal slices.  Do you think I still have enough time to teach this genre and to have them practice?  I will have to this outside of class time since it is volunteer only.

I am looking forward to sharing this part of my writing life with my students.  Thank you for any help and advice ahead of time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Beyond the Tragedy

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space to share our stories.  Read other slices or write your own and share here. 

This week my community, and one school in particular, has suffered a great loss. Within two days of each other a second grader passed away unexpectedly, and two other students lost their fathers in separate car accidents.  These tragedies have also hit me close to home because the brother of the second grader and the son of one of the fathers are students in my daughter's classroom.  No college class or textbook could have prepared her for these situations.  But she has handled them with love, grace, and compassion. 

I live in a small, conservative midwestern town with neighborhood schools.  One of the benefits of living here is how our schools pull together in times such as these.   We lean on each other, and we support each other.  All of the schools are participating in a fund raiser to help the families.  It's what we do.

As I was talking to the principal last week, I asked her, "Just think what would have happened if this would have happened a month later?"

She replied, "You mean during ISTEP?"

ISTEP is our state-mandated standardized assessment.  Educators have many conversations about how testing is an unfair snapshot of a student.  What if that student was having a bad day, or had gone through an upsetting event at home, or a number of other situations.

If these tragedies would have been during our testing window, it would have affected the entire school - students, teachers, and administrators.  The results would have been tied to teacher evaluations and salaries.  How fair would this have been?  We often talk about how situations could affect particular students' results; this would have affected so much more.  Although we have several weeks before testing begins, I am sure the results will still not be a true reflection of these students and teachers due to the stress and trauma they have all endured.

I do not mean to diminish the loss or to not be compassionate by talking about testing when lives have been lost.  I hope people do not think less of me for writing about both of these in the same post.  This week has made me think beyond the tragedies.  They have made me stop and shake my head and wonder about the state of our education system.  

My prayers continue to go out to these students and their families.  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quote Collector - Celebration #2

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.  Won't you join us?

This week as I was perusing Pinterest, I came across this quote.  I thought it was perfect for my one little word and the way I want to focus my life this year.

It really is up to me to make the every day - a special occasion and a celebration.

I had never heard of the source of this quote so I did some research.  What I found was a quote collector's heaven, or haven, or jackpot - whichever term you choose. Check out his blog, The New Robert Brault Reader  to see quote after quote after quote.  He also has a sidebar of people who are tweeting quotes in real time. Someone is always tweeting him!

If you enjoy collecting quotes, reading quotes, or just thinking about quotes, then check out his blog.  I am sure you will find something to make you laugh, cry or think.

Have a great week, and make every day a special occasion!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Must Read in 2016

I know I am a little late to the party so I will just call this challenge Must Read in 2016 Minus Twelve Days.  No matter how late I am, I always enjoy sharing books and my reading life with other teachers and readers.  

This challenge is hosted by Carrie Gelson at There's A Book for That and is a list of books that we want to read in 2016 because we didn't get to them in previous years.  For most of us, finding book choices is not a problem - narrowing them down to a reasonable list is.  Please check out her blog to see those neglected books everyone will be reading this year.

I have decided to group them again this year.  The only rule I have is that no book can be published in 2016 because chances are, I will read those regardless.

So here are my groups.

Migrated Books - books which I had on previous Must Read lists and STILL have not read them.


Greenglass House by Kate Milford
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher

Series Books - books in a series I have either started but have not finished, or I want to read the series because my students are reading them.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Divergent by Veronica roth
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

Book Club Books - books in my student book clubs which I have not read.

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
My Brother's Secret by Dan Smith  Read 2/21
Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock

TBR Books - books on my nightstand or on my floor or in a box which never seem to make it to the top of the pile.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Read 1/15
Wish Girl by Niki Loftin
All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood Read 1/16
The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine
The Whisper by Aaron Starmer

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz  Read 12/21
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen
An Unlikely Warrior by Georg Rauch

Personal Development - books to help me live intentionally

Live with Intention by Maryanne Radmacher
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert  Read 8/26

Happy Reading in 2016!

Things We Notice

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space to share our stories.  Read other slices or write your own and share here. 

Have you ever noticed when you purchase a new car, you see many others just like yours?

Or when you are/were pregnant, many other women were pregnant too?

Funny how that happens.

I noticed the same thing last week when I was reading everyone's one little word posts.  It seemed as if a common theme thread its way through many posts.  

One of relaxation and reflection.
Slowness and simplicity.

Many people seem to be less driven and have more of the attitude of taking time, slowing down and noticing what has been given.  

I saw words such as presence, essential, believe, intentional, happy, joy, possible, wonder, developing, contentment, wait and home.  I even learned a new word: selah, holy pause, which really encompasses all of these words.  

I also noticed that many of these words were not verbs or words of action; they were nouns and adjectives or states of being.

Maybe there was a reason why I noticed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

One Little Word 2016

Thank to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space to share our stories.  Read other slices or write your own and share here. 

A new year.  A new word.  A new story.

Last week I tweeted how choosing a one little word is almost as serious as naming a child. Much thought goes into choosing this word which will guide my new year.  I love reading everyone's stories of how their OLW found them.

Here is my story in three parts.

Part one:  

In December I challenged myself to write a haiku a day.  Writing every day opened my eyes.  I captured life in snippets of syllables and learned that life appears differently when looking at it through the lens of a poem.  

Small things appear big and big things appear small.

If you look at my blog posts, a time span of about six days is void of poems.  That was the time when I was held hostage by the chaos of life and school.  I was not taking the time to see the snippets, and I realized how much I missed it.  I began wondering if I was missing the opportunity to see and live life because I was so wrapped up the chaos.

Part Two:  

During this time I also was pondering my one little word.  I narrowed my list to two words, but felt one was tugging a little harder than the other.  I began looking for signs, quotes, or inspiration to see if this word was truly calling me.

It wasn't.

Everything I read about this word made me feel that I had to change me by adding something or taking something away.  It was do this and do that.  

I didn't want to change me.

I was discouraged, and I began looking for another word.

Part three:

I have a student writing group, and I started making an "I am..." idea prompt in my notebook.  As I was making this list:

a daughter
a sister
a wife
a mother
a teacher
a quilter
a reader
a Christian

I realized that some of these titles were who I am, but most were who I became. There is a difference.  

I decided to change my list to "I choose..." and my list started looking like this... 

to laugh
to cry
to believe in God
to be kind
to write
to read
to teach
to inspire

That is when I realized that my one word I had been thinking about was right all along.  All three of these events became an epiphany.

I don't have to change who I am.  

I get to choose who I am, and I choose to become me by living and capturing my life in snippets.  

In snippets that matter.

In snippets with intent.

My One Little Word for 2016:


Friday, January 1, 2016

Ink - Celebration #1

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.  Won't you join us?

I love new beginnings:  a new year, a new month...

a new story

a new celebration .

New beginnings help us to realize our story is unfinished.  We have a blank page begging for our words.

How will you write your new beginning?

What will your story be?

What will you celebrate?

life is a blank page
ink fills my heart with story
and celebration 

©Leigh Anne Eck, 2016

I can't wait to read yours.

Thinking about Choosing a One Little Word?

This time of year many people are thinking about their one little word.  Some may be narrowing their choices.  Some may be waiting for that sign.  While others may be choosing a word for the first time.

Last year I read the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon. Many lines and ideas made me think about choosing the right word for me.  Giving up resolutions was very easy for me because that was something in which I typically failed.  Choosing one word gives me a way to approach the new year and a focus to carry me throughout the year. It certainly becomes a way for me to grow each year in so many ways.

If you are narrowing your choices or considering choosing a word for the first time, the book suggests you ask these three questions while opening your heart for your word:

1.  What do I need?  Think about what areas of your life need attention or change and why?  Try not to think about what you want, but rather what you need.  You might be surprised by what you find.  

2.  What's in my way?  What obstacles are in your way?  What do you need to remove in order to find this personal growth?  "Sometimes the barriers are simply in our mind."  This line was an eye opener for me.

3.  What needs to go?  We all make mistakes or hold on to things in which we need to let go.  This is the time to let go and move forward.

Each year the power of one word becomes a journey that leads me throughout the year.  It changes me, or maybe I just become more in tuned with who I am. Regardless, I know I want to continue with choosing a OLW, and hope you will consider choosing one too.

I end with these final words from the book.  For me, this is the key.  This holds the power of one little word.

Your word shapes your character.  
Your character influences your actions.  
Your actions influence others.  
The lives you touch and the impact you have 
determine the story that will be told about you tomorrow?