Monthly Archives: September 2015

Celebrating with Class! And a mentor text to boot


This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate!

I have 3 School Celebrations to share with you.

  1. Today I get to celebrate with my students! In fact, in a first ever turn of events, I’m celebrating on my blog while they write their first ever celebration pieces. It’s a double celebration, or maybe triple. We started by reading I’m In Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor/pictures by Peter Parnall. This is a beautiful book, and I am celebrating the way the pictures and words go together to make you feel the celebration. After we read, we brainstormed things we could celebrate:


IMG_4582 IMG_4581

We talked about all the ways we can celebrate by writing…

  • paragraph
  • story
  • list
  • poem
  • pictures

Now we are writing. It’s quiet, which is nice. Some students are watching my writing, which is also nice. I like writing in front of my students, even though it does feel a bit odd.  A few students are still settling into the stamina of sitting and quietly writing without distracting themselves or others, which I understand. It’s September. I’m celebrating September writing! 

2. This year I teach 2 ELA classes back to back. I’ve just read I’m in Charge of Celebrations for the second time this morning. Before the school year started, I thought I would be bored teaching “the same” thing two times in a row. I’d like to call a celebration for that NOT happening. I’m anything but bored. Today I got to read I’m in Charge of Celebrations TWICE! Today I got to fill my board with even more celebrations with my second class. Today I get to connect with 50 students through the power of reading and writing. I’m lucky.


3. Speaking of I’m in Charge of Celebrations. Reading a book like that 2 times in a row made it an automatic mentor text. As I read it I felt the pull to write about a celebration in the style of Byrd Baylor… Again writing in front of my students, while they write. As students finish writing a celebration, I challenge them to write again, choosing a poem this time, or a list, or a paragraph if they just did a poem. And I start thinking about celebrating my own children and their school:

Celebrating September 
A school year where all 3 children go to the same school!
Thanks to Byrd Baylor's inspiration

Friends, I wish you had been there
to hear
my children,
giddy with anticipation
share the names of 
reading buddies
make plans for
meeting for worship
discuss the rules
for the elevator

All three
of my babies
are not babies anymore, 
I know. 

All three
are in the same school now
with the chance to
be more than siblings
It's possible to 
be more 
than siblings
Now they are 
Part of a family
a community.

I've decided that September is a celebration 
for school. 
Not just any school celebration.
I don't want a day 
markers and post its, 
notebooks and pencils
stickers and baskets
I want a day to celebrate 
that my children 
get to spend 
their days
in the same community
they get to 
share common ground. 
They get to 
be more
than siblings.

I hope you have a lot to celebrate this weekend!

A Slice of Letting Go

Slice of LIfe

This is part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life. Find out more, and join in here!

Home. It’s where the heart is. Home is where your family is. It’s certainly not the big box you keep all your furniture in, right?

Let go. This is my mantra these days, as we have gotten our house ready to sell.

I said it to myself as I boxed up, threw out, gave away stuff. I said it as we staged the house, making it look like we would never in a million years leave legos all over the floor, or crumbs on the counter, or clutter on the dining room table, or laundry in the washer.

Let go. I said it as I stood outside in my green backyard next to my apple tree, painting the last of a few doors that needed to be finished. I repeated it as I looked at the view of mountains and blue sky.

I say it each time I ask my husband  to remind me why we decided to move. (We need more space, it’s time to move closer to my school, it’s good for the kids in the long run, it’s best for our family. Repeat after me; We need more space, it’s time to move closer to my school, it’s good for the kids in the long run, it’s best for our family…)

Let go: As we turned on all the lights, put never-used white towels on hooks, never-used tablecloth on the table, never-used throw pillows, for showings and open houses; and as we took all those things off again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, each time we ushered kids out of the house.

I remind myself to let go when I tell L that, “Moving is hard. And, we can do hard things.” I also remind myself that deciding to move when your daughter is 12 is maybe not the best decision.

Let go: As we initialed 20 times accepting an offer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 6.39.08 AM

Now I sit in my dining room. It’s pleasant. It’s clean. There’s no clutter. (Well, a little has crept back on shelves and the coffee table, corners…. if you know where to look, to be honest) Our personal pictures are packed away from the staging, and Mr. Thought tells me this is good. We are slowly letting go of this being our home.

So I work to let go. I focus on the positives.We finally made the decision to move after years of debate, and we followed through! We had a fast sale! (Well, knock on wood… still lots of hoops to jump through, t’s to cross, i’s to dot…) We are blessed with the chance to get a house that fits our family better! A new young couple gets to start their life in this great house, in this wonderful neighborhood! It feels good to think about their excitement.

But, I still tear up when I talk about it, and it’s still hard for me to think about this not being our home.

A Slice of numbers

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

*I'm not teaching math this year. . . my numbers may be a little fuzzy...* 

It's a new record: A Slice of numbers and gratitude

It's a new record!
2 weeks in, and I'm behind
3 stacks of assignments to assess
12 evaluation domain descriptors to describe
2 workshops; reading & writing to get up and running
I mean, we're up, but we aren't running.
Or maybe, we're running, but we aren't up. . .
1 reading unit to try out
3 writing units of study 
2 read alouds
4 parts to a new Positive Behavior Management System - It's pretty Fancy, so I capitalized it.
2 new iPad minis to set up  
50 kidblog accounts, classroom library accounts, chrome books and their cases, binders, assignment books, pencil pouches. . . 
50 times I've raised my hand for attention..magic!

It's a new record! 
50 kids to get to know
100+ parents too
2 snack coordinators
10 allergies

It's a new record!
1 migraine
5 headaches
20 cups of coffee
10 soda stream seltzers
1,000 ounces of water
14 two-minute bathroom breaks
I'm not going to count the Advil
...or the chocolate

It's a new record!
2 weeks in, and I've needed
2 substitute teachers in a row
5 students exclaim, "You're back!" and "Are your kids feeling better?" 
50 smiles
10 hugs
1,000 "hellos," "have a good nights," "see you in the mornings," giggles and jokes
4 mindfulness practice sessions
20 more books on my To Read List
1 Apple for the teacher, wrapped in a napkin, left on my desk

It's a new record!
2 weeks in 
50 kids I'm getting to know
2 learning communities, starting to grow
1 classroom we are starting to call home


A mid-week Celebration

celebrate-image (late…)

This week is not going how it is supposed to go… My son is sick and home from school. If you have children, you know that this change in routine can really impact a day! All the work that Mr. Thought was planning on doing during the day hasn’t been able to happen, and our house selling schedule had to be pushed back about 4 days.


Breathe in, breathe out.

I know it isn’t the weekend… but I need to celebrate, Ruth Ayres style! So I’m celebrating my kids today, even though I’m late to the party.

If you were a fly on the wall last night,  you would have experienced…

  • My 12 year old daughter painting a miniature gnome with nail polish. Not a picture of a gnome — a little plastic gnome was getting a makeover.
  • Everyone watching science videos on the iPad (this started with H’s homework research… he was looking up glow sticks.)

Later you would have heard….

  • My 8 year old do an incredible Steven Wright impression. (He can also do Bob Dylan…)
  • My kids ask me to tell Steven Wright jokes as part of the night time reading (Yes, I sense the theme here. And I don’t even mind how much explaining these jokes take, especially for the 5 year old. I mean, really, Steven Wright, AKA “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time!” and “What’s another word for thesaurus?” oh.. and “I intend to live forever. So far, so good.”) I might do a lot of things wrong, but at least my kids know how to laugh!
  • My daughter ask us to switch to reading El Deafo, and everyone agreeing. They love this graphic novel… all of them… 5, 8 , 12… Can’t complain about bedtime reading.

This morning you would have heard

  • My boys waking up and talking about 16+5. Finally E realized why he was getting it wrong, “I forgot that 5 was a 3 and a 2.” Oh. Okay. Awesome. You are in kindergarten! Go you!
  • After this morning math, H ask E, “Can you pave paradise, so I can put up a parking lot?”
  • All the kids shout “Goodbye! I love you, Mama!” as I drove away to school… (On time, in fact. Yay!)

Celebrate! Breathe! These are my goals.