Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This is just to say

S.O.L. #31 out of 31
This is just to say

A copy cat poem  inspired by Meandering Maya  & W.C. Willaims

This is the note I should have received from my husband the other day.

This is just to say

I have opened
 the bag of Rolos
    and only eaten a few

but I bet you  planned 
  to take them to your
    students at school.

 Forgive me, my wife, 
     I thought they were a
    welcome home to me!

It's is so true. The forbidden seems to taste so much sweeter.  I don't know how many times I have made something and my husband feels disappointed when he finds out I am taking it to school.

I promise, my husband,
 I will make you 
 a warm  batch of cookies
that are not for my lunch bunch at school.

I will whip up that 
 special dip that
 is not for payday treats. 

and maybe even bake you a 
cake that is not for another colleague's
 birthday  ....

as soon as it is SUMMER!!  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stinky Crisis Narrowly Averted

S.O.L. #30 out of 31
Stinky Crisis Narrowly Averted

The kids and I had an enjoyable Sunday afternoon. We went to Grandma and Grandpa's house to color Easter Eggs. My daughter could hardly wait for this day. She has been asking to buy an egg dye kit from the moment she saw them hit the shelves this year.  This girl would play with Easter Eggs all year if she could. I swear I just put away our plastic eggs and baskets from last year.
My family has a special tradition for coloring Easter Eggs.  It requires melted wax painted on with a small brush then the egg can be dipped into the traditional dye. You can repeat this process over and over on the same egg to achieve a beautifully colored uniquely designed egg!

After coloring eggs all afternoon with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Mia, we brought an entire dozen and half colorfully handcrafted Easter Eggs home.  She proudly showed them off to her daddy announcing who had created each one.  Then she claimed her pink one as special and no one was to eat it.  We put the entire carton of eggs in the refrigerator.  As people went to the fridge, she gave them a reminder not to eat her pink egg.
That night as I was tucking her into bed, she whispered to me that she had hidden her pink egg.  My eyes widened and my brain spun in circles with all the possible places she could have placed this real (not plastic) hard-boiled egg.  I gently asked her, "Where did you hide your pink egg, Sweetie?" Without a word, she got up from her bed, walked across her room, opened her sock drawer and gingerly revealed her special pink egg! My heart chuckled in disbelief and relief that I became aware of this egg's placement in a timely fashion or we could have had a very stinky Easter Egg hunt.
After that, I convinced her of a safe place to put her egg IN the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hunting Heritage

S.O.L. #29 out of 31
Hunting Heritage
Overhauling my outlook on my husband's hunting hobby

I might have been the first to complain about my husband's hobby.   He is an avid outdoorsman.  He hunts deer, turkey, bear and more with every sort of firearm available including bow and arrow in every surrounding state and Canada once or twice. We have lots of deer heads and turkey tails hanging on the wall and  he spends  a lot of time in the woods.  At first,  I thought all it took to be a hunter was the ability to sit quietly while completely camouflaged. But now I learned  that it actually takes a lot of knowledge, skill, dedication and passion.

  Today I want to be the first to acknowledge my husband for pursuing his passions.  To my husband, hunting is more than a hobby, more than a passion. It is his heritage.  His most fond memories are the days growing up and hunting with his late grandpa (his only father-figure). He taught him everything he knew and he is so grateful for that.  Hunting is how they would bond. Now I realize being in the outdoors is how he reconnects, how he relaxes, how he refuels.  Yes, he is sitting quietly in the woods but he is also noticing the little nuances of nature, breathing in the fresh air, calming in the quietness, finding joy in a crazy little squirrel, capturing the birth of the early morning sunrise or soaking up the warmth of the evening sun settling into the horizon.  
Sunrise from the goose blind
I am grateful that my husband has the desire to preserve his past and pass this tradition on to our children.  He has taken my son hunting for every youth season that they have had the opportunity. He has gotten several turkey and his first deer last year.  My daughter is only four and already clad in camo.  I am sure as soon as she is old enough to go with him that she will be tagging along as well.  They will know that hunting is part of their heritage. For that, I am proud to say it is our family's tradition.   

My husband and our two kids-
several years ago

My son with one of his first turkeys
Addendum:   "In 2011, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF), ...Back in 1955, about 10 percent of Americans hunted; today it's around 6 percent." 
I didn't know that is was such a rare skill set to have until I saw this statistic.  Now I am even more proud of my hubby for preserving his past and passing it on to future generations.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

THIS teacher learns a lesson

S.O.L. #28 out of 31
THIS teacher learns a lesson

A visit from the state of Missouri DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) this week has taught THIS teacher a lesson.

Our school has been participation in a collaborative work (data) grant from DESE for the last couple of years. We found out a couple of weeks ago that our school has been recognized as an exemplary school in the state of MO and DESE scheduled a visit to come and observe in our school. It initially felt like an accolade but soon morphed into feeling more like an evaluation. They wanted look at our common assessments,  our collected data, our assessment reflections, student data notebooks, evidence of goal setting and data graphs in classrooms.  Along with meeting with a focus group of teachers to discuss all of the a fore mentioned things, they wanted to observe in classrooms to witness effective teaching practices.  Well my class was on the list of scheduled observations. They would only be in the room for a few minutes. I was assured that they were not really be evaluating. I was told, "Don't worry, Just do what you normally do and teach."
The day approaches and I realize at the time when they would be in my room I would have THAT class. Yes, THE class that the whole school has pinned as THAT class.  (I departmentalize/team teach so we switch classes and I had my team teacher's class.) A challenging class to say the least.
As I nerve-wreckingly prepared  the arrival of the day, I prepped THAT class reminding them that this is their time to shine, coining them as exemplar, touting them as exceptional and others want to see them in action.
I could have conducted the planned math lesson on finding "fractions of a set" many different ways. I chose to allow the students to work in pairs and create their own set of similar objects (stickers, buttons, beads, rocks, etc) They took pictures of their set of objects & inserted them into a Google doc (with enough Chromebooks that I "borrowed" from the 5th grade class who was on a field trip that day) Each pair worked to write questions about their set of objects. (What fraction of our set is blue? What fraction of our set is igneous rock?, etc) Finished groups shared their doc with another finished pair. Then they worked to answer the other group's questions.
I had so much to be worry about....
Will THIS class behave?
Will they stay on task?
 Will the students understand what to do?
 Will the technology work?
Will this be the effective teaching practices that they want to observe?
Will the students be learning?

All the above was answered with a resounding YES! and more.
THOSE kids were engaged in learning the entire time.
THEY  were motivated with the technology and wanted to learn how to complete this task.
THEY helped each other use the technology.
THEY created quality questions and wanted to write more.
THEY answered the math questions eagerly.
THEY reminded one another that a complete answer would be a fraction that was reduced.

WOW! I sat back in awe.
THEY took me by surprise.
THEY are exemplar!

 I learned that this "challenging" class really wants to be challenged. They can rise to the occasion. But why wait for an occasion? They need to be doing more of this type of project-based learning. There weren't any behavior problems because they were all motivated and engaged. It pays off to try things and take risks. I'm so glad THIS teacher can still learn a lesson or two!

Friday, March 27, 2015

If I can do this..

S.O.L. #27 out of 31
If I can do this... 
I can do anything!  (almost)

(Almost) Completing this Slice of Life Challenge (for the second time) has taught me that.....

.... the first time wasn't just a fluke. 
.....I do have time and there is "a round- tu-it"

...I can commit to something and stick with it! 
...I have perseverance. ( I can do something, even when it is hard or I don't want to do it.)

....I am a model for my students, colleagues, family members, even my own children.
....ideas will grow into something beautiful when you put them on paper.  

....writing moves me. 
....my writing can move others.

....sharing writing can be scary. 
.....getting feedback from others is gratifying.

....there are great things going on in education that excite me.
.....I can continue growing and learning.

.....I am a writer.
.....it is worth it. 

This has given me so much confidence in myself.  I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. Now, on to the next challenge.  I saw this on Pinterest. I am going to try it. 

At least I think I can do it, 
before I would never have even considered doing it.
Oh the places you'll go......

Thursday, March 26, 2015


S.O.L. #   out of 31

As we were getting ready for bed, my little guy (2nd grader) mentioned his bum hurting.  When I asked him why it was hurting, he identified the cause was when he stood up in class today and another boy removed his chair so when he sat back down he actually fell on the floor (and hurt his tailbone).  What really broke my heart was he naively commented,
“Yea, and other kids were laughing but I really don’t know why.”

What does a mama say? :'(

No he didn’t say anything to the boy and
no he didn’t report it to the teacher.

Did I think the other boy needed to learn a lesson?
---yes ma’am!
Do I think the “other kids” needed a talkin’ to?
--yes, of course.

But the only person I could teach a lesson to at that moment was my boy.
I just said that some kids just don’t make very good choices sometimes. 
Hard telling why that boy did what he did.
And some “other kids” just don’t know how to respond appropriately in situations.

We processed through his emotions about how he felt at the moment (without dwelling on them) but to help him identify them and use those emotions to drive his response to future situations..I told him it is completely appropriate you use your strong voice to say, “Hey that makes me mad!” or in a serious manner to reply “That’s not cool man.”
or even express “That really hurt and it makes me sad you did that.”

Will he utilize any of these responses in the future?
----I don’t know.
But I wanted him to feel empowered to respond to any other situations that  make him feel sad/mad/embarrassed.

If nothing else, I hope he felt his mamma’s love, even at school the next day (because I sent a cushion for his hard chair and his sore bum)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Neighbors No More

S.O.L. #  25  out of 31

News about the neighbors

knock, knock
                                    on my back door
                                                                         Hello, girls.

you tell her.
No, you tell her.

Our parents are getting a 

I'm sad
                                                                         I'm sad too. 
                                                                         Wanna stay?

My daddy held me 
when I tried to run away.
                                                                         It's gonna be okay.

                                Talked all day
                              Paint, Polish, Play

                                .....and pray. 

Not the same. 

                                                                           I know.

                          My boy comes home

hush, please don't tell.

                          My little girl asked

                                                              What's a de-forced?

                         husband & wife
                     & neighbors no more

Jewelry Solution

S.O.L.#24   of 31

Jewelry Solution

I have a nice-sized, stand-up jewelry box. It has several small drawers in which I like to sort my jewelry by color/tone. Brown, blacks, blues, etc But the new trendy long necklaces has proved to create a storage problem. 

As you can see in the picture, there are a few tiny hooks for necklaces along the insides of the doors. However, I have more than six necklaces.  If I hang them on the inside door hooks, most are much too long and get stuck when I shut the door. If I loop them over the hooks more than once, they become a tangled mess. If I simply drop them into one of the drawers, same issue occurs.

 So this sent me on a Pinterest  search for ideas.   I  honed in on a clever idea and set out to Bed Bath and Beyond to find what I needed to make this project happen.  Turns out, it was hard to find everything I needed to make it just like the Pinterest idea.  No fear, I continued searching the store. Luckily, in the organization department at BB&B, I found a simple little device that I believe will be the answer to my necklace storage problem. It was all in one piece and cheaper than the Pinterest idea anyway.    It is actually a men's tie rack that will simply hang on the wall, It is comprised of  several little posts placed close together so many necklaces can dangle from it nicely.  
Jewelry Solution Success!! 

Monday, March 23, 2015


S.O.L. #23 out of 31
More Than A Neighbor Next Door

I’ve told you before
‘bout  the neighbor
next door.
a grandpa’s age
but his own
are far away.

he gets out and about
walks each day
even takes my boy for a turn
on a warm summer morn’

watching his trains
whizzing round,
whistling long,
chugging out their steam

my boy learned to climb his tree
we don’t have one you see,
didn’t bother Gene
when a little bark gone
just covered it with  tar
like nothing was wrong

lets us taste
his homemade molasses cookies
then gives us
the recipe and ingredients
to make it on our own
knows its much more fun

grabs the “buttons” of  bellies
that the little children show him
giggle and run away

when he sees girl has a new little playhouse
out back
a pot for pretty purple plants and
a mailbox  so white
he writes her first letter
sneaks over, stuffs it in,  that night

mid summer
teaches us to cut grapefruit
so the kids lap it up
all gone.
In December,
delivers us
a case of fresh grapefruit
from Florida

keeps all the pictures
the children made

praises me
for being
such a good mom
reminds him
of his own

love seeing all the birds
that he so kindly feeds
all  winter long
and we will feed  “Gene’s Birds”
when he is gone

sledding down in winter
his smallish hill
in summer

sticky fingers and blue lips
tell me
they’ve seen

In  denial
and it won’t be same
I don’t want to know
that he has to

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Response to reading challenge fail

My Response to Reading Challenge Fail
S.O.L. #22 out of 31
My blog yesterday revealed that my school failed to met a simple independent reading challenge this month. This was an eye opener that students are not reading at home like we would hope. It was also a wake up call that we need to do something about it.
The Scholastic Kid and Family reading report noted that "66% of infrequent readers said they would read more if they could find more books that they like." That is where we can start. Let's do something about it and get these kids reading books!!

What can we do here at school? (Thanks to all the slicers' comments and suggestions on yesterday's post)

Have Book Talks. (Scholastic has many)  Kids see all sorts of advertisements and commercials for so many things everyday. Why not advertise BOOKS!!? Get them excited about reading! They are bound to see something that they want to read!

Videotape your own students doing book talks.  Share it with the whole school! We have done this in conjunction with our school book fair to entice the students to come find the great books. We have also recorded students, teachers, principals giving book talks about their favorite book titles that were in the March Book Madness competition.  Kids loved it!  

Have a large classroom library to keep books at the students fingertips. Have books available to hand them. Let them check them out from you and take them home to read too!

Read aloud to your students. Read great literature to your students. Let them fall in love with books that they might not normally pick up. Don't dismiss this precious opportunity due to a tight schedule. (Today nanc xoxo at ...never ending story...suggests this book In -Defense of Read Aloud in America can't wait to get my hands on it!)
Provide students with time to actually read a book of choice independently at school. We can see from the stats that they aren't doing it at home. Sadly, it has dwindled during the school day as well.  We have got to make it part of our day everyday at school.  I hope I can get this message across at my own school.

Let kids share about what they have read. Isn't that the first thing you want to do when you finish a great book? You want to tell others all about it.  So encourage kids to recommend books to friends. This becomes very powerful.   Kids need to talk about their books. You can even extend this into the 21st century by utilizing a program similar to Goodreads and Shellfari but where kids can rate, recommend and write about good books they've read. I've found a couple for kids Whoo's Reading and Destiny Quest. Do you have one that your students use?

This is only the beginning, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reading Challenge

Did you see the article in the Washington Post last week entitled "How to Get Kids to Read Independently"? It references "The Scholastic Kid and family Reading Report: Fifth Edition" 
One fact that caught my eye said....
"Children ages 12–17, 
 with  frequent readers reading 39.6 books annually
 and infrequent readers reading only 4.7 books per year."

What? Four books per year?!! This is a shocking statistic that proves that independent reading isn't happening enough!!

This is becoming not only a statistic but a reality, even at my school. During the book fair, this month, our school had a challenge for the students to read 70,000 minutes during the week.  We have approx. 600 students in our school. We kept tabs on minutes read at home each night for each student, reported them to the office each day and tabulated our school total.  Students would get the “treat” of dumping Spaghetti seaweed on the principal’s head if they met the challenge. But we didn't meet the challenge. I don't think this has ever happened before. Sadly we didn't even met ½ the challenge. That means they aren't even reading 10 minutes a day. :( I think this was an eye opening realization for everyone at our school.

Is this a statistic that stands in our way? 

My principal has a new reading challenge up her sleeve....we shall see......

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rough Morning

S.O.L. #20 out of 31
I will never to that again!

I woke up this morning stiff as a board! I ended up falling asleep on my daughter's floor in her room. Yes, we have created a bad habit of me laying with her until she goes to sleep. (That is a whole different slice of life to write about one of these days.)  But last night I tried just laying on the floor in her room, beside her bed.  I fully intended on getting up to go to my own bed as soon as she fell asleep. Trouble is....I fell asleep first!  So I woke up and e-v-e-r-y-s-i-n-g-l-e muscle in my body ached and e-v-e-r-y-s-i-n-g-l-e joint in my body was sore! I am still trying to stretch the kinks out this morning. I have got to figure something else out for tomorrow. 

The second part of my rough morning was helping my son with his homework. Don't ever try to do homework in the morning.  We forgot to check his backpack last night. So this morning I checked it and see there are several workbook pages that we are supposed to go over and discuss because he has a TEST TODAY!!!! Doing homework with my son, even on a good day, can try my patience. But trying to cram studying into the busy, hectic morning was the wrong move. My patience was already thin since I was so sore from my rough floor sleeping. I am pretty sure all I did in our frantic study session this morning was confuse him.So I ended up telling the boy, "Good luck. Do your best on your test." I  have never been so relieved to say 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Let them Lick the Beaters

S.O.L.  #  19    of 31

My four year old daughter is eager to jump on the counter and help mama cook. Nowadays its more like me help her cook because she does all the pourin, stirring, and cracking the eggs (heck she can even separate the yolks if ya need her to) 
Today she jumped up on the counter to help me make some mini cheesecake bites (the kind out of  the box---not from scratch---don't get too excited) for our neighbors.  She neatly placed all of the little wrapper cups into each  the mini muffin tin hole as I grabbed a mixer out of the drawer.  
I simply grabbed the quick little stick hand mixer.

 As soon as I whipped around with that thing in my hand she shouted, "No, not that one!" I was shocked and thought to myself, "Now, Missy, it will make no difference which type of mixer I use. I am sure I have seen Rachel Ray use this exact mixer and things turn out just fine." 
But I quickly ask, "Why not?" To which she smartly replies, with a giant smile on her face "Because then I can't lick the beaters!!"

Ahha! Now I know why she likes to help mamma cook! That's  my girl.  
So of course I put that one back in the drawer and pulled out the standard hand mixer. I don't bet that "other one" will see the light of day anytime soon.  
So mammas I beg of you, provide your child with that right of childhood passage and

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is Twitter for me?

I hear so much chatter about Twitter.  

But I ask myself….
Is it something that I have time for? Can I make time for it?

College-agers use it for a much different purpose than  how I foresee myself using it.

Do I want to add one more thing to me plate, create another world vying for my attention?

I consider myself pretty “techy” ...I am the first to try out new technology in my classroom &  other teachers in my building come to me for help.  I am the first to admit I have been reluctant to dive into Twitter.  

I almost feel like keeping my back turned...then I can’t get exciting about something that I am missing. I almost want to ignore the hashtags and chats I see flying around.

I hear it can be an amazing PLN.  I realize that it can put me in connection with places I could normally never reach. To that I am excited.
Will it be just one more reason to have my nose in my phone? I almost want to make excuses for why I don’t want to be a part of it.  

There are a few teachers/administrators in my district utilizing Twitter.   

Will it be one more ding, ding, buzz, buzz alerting me of activity
thus diverting my attention away from those in my presence?”

I  took the step and made myself a Twitter account.

Now what?

Join a chat.

How do I do that?
@ & #

What is all of that?

chime in, converse

Where do I go first?
Tweet Deck, Twitter Feed

How much of this do I need?

I know, I’m like a child. Someone is going to have to teach me.
I will take it slow and learn as I go.
Baby steps into the big universe.