Monthly Archives: June 2014

It’s Monday! What are You Reading?


 Visit Teach Mentor Text and Unleashing Readers to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nerdy Book Club for information about the Book A Day challenge.

Oh #BookADay… I’ve been rereading a lot of books on my bookshelf to my kids this past week… some are old favorites, and some are just books my 4 year old chooses.

photo 2I’m also still plugging away at The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain, which is a reread. It’s fascinating though – given to me by a friend who couldn’t say enough good things about it. I have always felt that our minds and bodies are so connected, and it is nice to read some scientific evidence by a doctor about just that. My back is still bothering me though – and I think I may need to focus just a bit more on the book.  I know that a great deal of my back pain has to do with stress.

I have Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead started too.. and I love it. I keep not reading it though- trying to save it as a little reward for after The Mindbody Prescription.

At some point this week I realized that I wasn’t being as successful at my #bookaday goal as I wanted to be. But, I also realized that I am reading every day, that the goal is to average a book a day, and that picture books count! So, that made me feel better.

I have been reading so many things that aren’t books. Not just twitter, mind you. I’ve been close reading many things. There were directions for this bag my daughter and her friends made at her birthday party:


And this bill, for my sweet cat, Susie:

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Yikes. I know. At midnight during my daughter’s sleepover party, Susie jumped on the table and chewed on the lilies that I had put there. (Yes, I knew they were toxic, but my cats haven’t cared about the lily garden in my backyard for the past 12 years, so I distractedly thought the table would be fine for a vase of lilies that a friend brought over…) So, I had to rush Susie over to the emergency vet. She’s still there, getting IV fluids, and we are still praying that they can flush the poison out. I love this cat so much, and feel so terribly guilty.Image 1

PSA time! Don’t bring lilies into your house if you have cats! I have found out that cats who ignore lilies outside will often try to eat them inside. This has been a scary time around here – so please be careful! This poster was in the exam room at the emergency vet, and I wish I had been more vigilant!

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Today, after visiting my sweet Susie (or Suserelly as we often call her) and doing about a million other family errands, I arrived home to a wonderful package that I had forgotten was coming! So, now I am adding another book to my TBR pile!

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This was a wonderful gift from winning one of the many prizes given out during the March Slice of Life Challenge! That challenge gave me so much, and winning this book was just the icing on the cake. I’m looking forward to reading Still Writing, and paying more attention to my “Creative Life.”

Happy Reading!



A slice of nostalgia

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers. Head over there for information and links to more Slicing! 

We lie down and settle in. The kids are excited to see what happens next in Harry Potter. While we wait for my husband to come in to start reading, I take the opportunity to practice mindfulness with my kids.  I remind them about taking a moment to simply be. We don’t have a singing bowl, which is what I use in my classroom, but the fan is on, making a low hum. So, I tell them to close their eyes and listen to the fan. I suggest finding a pattern in the noise.

We listen. It’s a modern fan – tall and white. It is oscillating only slightly, the way new fans seem to do and I hear the noise shift just a bit as it moves from side to side. But even though the sound is less than the old fashion oscillating fans’, it is there. I can feel a memory coming into focus from that sound. I can’t grasp the specifics, maybe because I know the sound of the oscillating was in more than one part of my childhood. I want to hold this nostalgia and turn the focus ring to see it more clearly.

Is it in the front room at my grandma’s house, where I fell asleep on a bed a little too high, with the windows open, to the sound of the oscillating fan? 

Is it the comfortable beach house bedroom, where we’d flop after a long beach day and boardwalk night, to the sound of the fan and the ocean waves in the distance? 

Maybe it is just an in general memory – of hot summer nights and the breeze on and off again, on and off again. I remember the feeling of just wishing the breeze would stay on me, getting so annoyed when the fan was pointing somewhere else.

I try to think of how to describe the sound of an oscillating fan and it feels like an odd, almost boring creative writing exercise… White noise, louder, softer, louder, softer, rhythmic movement of the hush of a fan. Sometimes too loud, sometimes just right. Later I will google this, hoping to find someone else describing it. I will instead find you tube clips of the sound, and apps to mimic the summer sound. I will be reminded that there is more buzz in an oscillating fan than in the fan that is in my room these days. But for now, the memory is still unfocused, leaving me with a general feeling of nostalgia.

Our moment of mindfulness is over – the kids are working on their stamina with this. I try to explain my nostalgia to my children. I tell them about my fan memories, and realize that sentimentality is an odd thing to try to describe. Later I muse on this with them. I tell them that life is full of ordinary moments, like listening to a fan as you fall asleep. But that one day they will be grown up and they will hear something, see something, smell something and it will bring them back. They will feel happy and sad, they will want to go back in time and freeze it. They will want to be mindful. They will want to explain their nostalgia to their children. They listen and then run away to play, and I am left wondering for which part of their childhood will they feel most nostalgic, and can I please freeze time?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


 Visit Teach Mentor Text and Unleashing Readers to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nerdy Book Club for information about the Book A Day challenge.

I’m loving Book A Day! What a challenge. Thank goodness for picture books! It took me a couple of days to read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and in the meantime I read a bunch of picture books, including:


IMWAYR goodreads


On Saturday, I took my kids to the library, and read a bunch of picture books, and it took me back in time to when I had time like that. In college, during my Language and Literacy block, I did so much reading. I lived and breathed children’s literature that semester and I loved the feeling of sitting in the library or at the book store and just reading! I loved the feeling of really getting to know authors and books and feeling connected to it all. It wasn’t quite the same with my own children there, but it was nice nonetheless. I’m on a mission this summer to find more picture books to use in my classroom mini lessons. Among other things, I want to find a picture book in as many genres as possible to start the year. I’m taking suggestions!

I’m also just getting to know goodreads (I know I’m late in the game here.) I have used it before, but (not unlike my students…) logging and reviewing the books I’ve read hasn’t really been a habit. Ok, it hasn’t been a habit at all. But, with the app’s ability to scan the isbn… it is working better for me. I’m still learning though…

Next up? I don’t know. I’m thinking I will dig into one of my professional books in my TBR pile… decisions decisions. My daughter’s TBR pile is also calling my name, though… she’s got some good titles!


What are you reading?

A Summer Slice

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers. Head over there for information and links to more Slicing! 

Right Now I am. . .
Trying to get back in the blogging habit
Attempting to slice again
Starting small with a Right Now Slice
Marveling at the difference between school-year-late-night writing, and summer-midday writing
Ignoring my children who are in various places being too quiet
Enjoying the silence
Worrying about the silence
Looking at stacks of books to read
Deciding when I'll start my summer to do list (not yet...)
Dreaming of a hammock and a glass of iced tea and a whole day to read
Watching the trees move slowly in the humidity, a thunderstorm is coming
Enjoying writing again

Book A Day TBR

I brought home a giant bag of books to read from my classroom. (I think it is supposed to be a laundry bag, but it works perfectly for bringing home summer reading, or weekend grading.)

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This morning I sorted through the books – it feels good to have things organized in piles. So good in fact that I’m wishing I had the money to just buy all the other books on my many lists… just to pile them up in To Be Read piles!

I have three categories.

Professional books to read, to help me plan my year. Everything from my new Math Teacher Resources (I only brought 2 home so far…) to Thrive which I started and haven’t had time to finish, and Lively Learning for my classroom planning in general. Essential Questions to help me on the ELA curriculum committee. How to Talk So Kids Can Learn and Strategies That Work, both of which I can’t believe I haven’t ever read…

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Fiction… I still have the Traveling Pants series (2 more!) to finish, a few books off of my classroom shelf, and Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions which has been on my Someday list for months.

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Then, there are the books I’ve already read, but I need to dive into this summer for planning. My Social Studies textbook and The Story of the World will help me get up to speed for Ancient Civilizations this year.  Reading in the Wild, Falling in Love with Close Reading, The Joy of Planning, Join the Club, Genre Connections and Comprehension Connections round out my Reading planning for the summer. Next year I will have two sections of Reading, and I feel the need for a lot of planning! I’m looking forward to digging in. I better stock up on post its…

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All of this reading. . . I’m thinking my house won’t be getting any cleaner this summer. That’s a consequence I guess I’m willing to live with.

As an added bonus, I have this wonderful card given to me by a student last week, that makes the perfect bookmark.


Happy Reading!


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


 Visit Teach Mentor Text and Unleashing Readers to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nerdy Book Club for information about the Book A Day challenge.

It’s Monday!

I’m currently reading The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (gotta finish the series…) and I’m enjoying it, while also wondering how there are 4 books! But soon I will find out. 🙂 I’m planning on finishing it tonight.


One of my favorite times of the day is getting the kids all snuggled in and listening to my husband read Harry Potter to them. Even though I’ve read the series multiple times, I can’t help but listen in and enjoy the story. Currently, we are on Harry Potter And the Order Of The Phoenix . I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve read it. But if you haven’t, please do. I’m forever awed, entertained and inspired by the Harry Potter series.

While cleaning up my classroom today, I took a short break to read A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I ordered it months ago, and it’s been in my “To Read” pile ever since. I can’t wait to read it to my students next year.  I love that it is non fiction, I love that it is beautifully written and illustrated, I love the theme and the word choice, and the lessons. “The biggest part of you…is inside, where no one can see.” 

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What will I read next? I was a little worried that I hadn’t created my TBR pile. . . and then I went in my classroom and gathered the books I have been waiting to read, need to read, want to read…

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I think I’ll be fine.

I’ll happily post my TBR pile later, but I’ve got to go finish The Second Summer of the Sisterhood!

Happy Monday, Happy Reading!

#Bookaday The Beginning!

My husband asked me this morning when I was “…done with school.” I said “Never.” He snorted and asked again. I gave him a run down of all the stuff coming up in the next 2 weeks and he said he was going to go check up on me to see if other teachers were still working… He will be disappointed if he thinks it’s only me!

Part of my work this summer is my taking on the Nerdy Book Club challenge of Book-a-Day. Challenge guidelines can be found here.  I wasn’t planning to start my book-a-day today. But the windows were open to a almost chilly breeze. The sunlight was peering into my living room, but not heating it up. There was a glider and ottoman involved, and even the afghan my mom crocheted for me last year. There was my favorite bookshelf, and the bag of books I borrowed from my classroom and my friend’s classroom too. Having nothing to do with the backlog of dusting, vacuuming, laundry and dishes, I slowly made the decision to give the day over to reading.

I was not disappointed. Yesterday, my friend was surprised I had never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. I added it to my pile, with an inkling that this was becoming the Summer of reading books that I should have already read. (Also on my list are The Secret Life of Bees, and Anne of Green Gables, which I started when I was young, but never finished. I was too in love with the movie.)


So today I read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and it was every bit as good as my friend had promised. I think I’m a sucker for stories about friendship and growing up. I was worried when a sick younger child entered the story, but the author handled it somehow in a way that made me sad without collapsing in a pile of tears. I have the other 3 books in my bag as well, which I’ll probably read because I’m a series finisher. I have friends who can stop after the first in a young adult series. They know enough to recommend the series to their students, but save time to read new titles. I don’t have this kind of discipline.

I’d love to hear your must reads so I can add them to my plans!

Happy Reading!

Oh Slicing, where have you been?

Back to Slicing! 

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers.

It’s the “last day of school eve” here. Always a time for reflection. . . What went well this year? What should I have done differently? What will I do differently next year? As I ponder these questions, my end of the year work keeps piling up. Report cards, room cleaning, parent emails, planning for next year, meetings, meetings, meetings. But for me, reflection is one of the ways I close up my year. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to my 2013 – 2014 students and that always highlights what a strange thing time is. 

At field day today one of my math students was at the chalk art station with me.  This math student joined my math class late in the year, and I haven’t had as long to get to know her. I watched her draw a beautiful picture of two horses on the blacktop today.  “That’s beautiful!” I said, as I realized that it was the first time I’ve seen her draw. I realized at that moment how familiar this feeling is, to find out things about my students at the end of the school year. They are always things I wish I had known all year.

Every year, I try to get to know my students. I do community building and Human Bingo. We make playdoh representations of something important to us on the first day of school, and share during morning meetings. We confer during literacy, and spend time throughout the day being ourselves. So today I am asking myself why I had never seen my math student draw a picture before, why I didn’t know she had a love of art.

I wondered today, as I remember wondering last year…. Am I really doing the things I think I am doing when I meet my class each year? This year we spent more time getting to know each other.  We talked about growing our brains, and I remember asking everyone to share the activity they were most successful and passionate about. I remember many of the answers, but I don’t remember all of them. What can I do next year to make sure that I get to know the passions and special talents of my students? How can I make them comfortable enough to truly share in the beginning of the year and beyond?  I have a few ideas, but I’d love to hear yours!