Thursday, March 31, 2011

SOLSC: Parting Thoughts and Empty Spots - 31/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Parting Thoughts and Empty Spots

Thank you, Ruth, for sharing this novel idea - poetry in the iPod!  I had so much fun piecing the titles of the songs together.  The words were all there, I just had to change and rearrange!

Beautiful Day - To Serenade a Rainbow

Take the time
Quiet your mind
Heart and soul
Deep in the heart
Pictures and memories
All the small things
Little moments like that

Always on my mind
Stuck like glue
Every day
All I wanna do
Because of you
Daytime Friends

I learned from the best
Wouldn't change a thing
I can see clearly now
Something to be proud of
Everything I said
The good stuff
Farewell and goodnight
364 days to go

Thinking about her was the same 
as the hole you keep on feeling 
with your tongue after you lose a tooth.  
Time after time, my mind kept going 
to that empty spot, the spot where I 
felt like she should be. 
(Thoughts from Opal about her mama
from the book Because of Winn-Dixie.)

The challenge is complete.  April will be that empty spot.  
Thank you for an unbelievable month!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SOLSC: I Could Write - 30/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

I Could Write . . .

I could write about writer's block: sitting next to my husband as he dozes on the couch. Tapping my fingers on the keyboard.  Wondering what to write.  I usually have two or three posts started, but nothing today. (Not bad in 30 days.)

I could write about the student that told me today that she misses coming to my class.  She explained that if she doesn't read as good, then she'll be able to come back.  (Doesn't work that easily, my dear!)

I  could write about the student who found out it was my birthday and mentioned that she could ask her mom to take her shopping to buy me a gift, but I told her the best gift of all would be to write.  Write me a story.  She agreed that would be a great gift. (Hope she brings me that story!)

I could write about how proud I am of my mom and her new reading list/reviews blog.  She already has three posts and has changed and rearranged her blog in less than a week!  (Next year, she'll be participating!)

I could write about the writing workshop that I attended today. (Not as inspiring as I hoped.)

I could write about the birthday lunch that two fabulous friends treated me to today. (Chocolate cupcake included!) 

I could write about an idea that I snagged from my writer's notebook. (My new love . . . my writer's notebook!)  

I could write . . . but it looks like I've got myself a slice all ready to serve up!  (Amazing!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SOLSC: Birthday Wishes - 29/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

35 Birthday Wishes . . . Come True
  1. True love
  2. Twin daughters
  3. Loving family
  4. CJ, my clingy cat
  5. Strong friendships
  6. Undeniable faith
  7. Incredible blessings
  8. Good health
  9. Uncontrollable laughing
  10. Lots of giggles and silliness
  11. Precious time
  12. Picture books
  13. Much-needed vacations 
  14. Lazy naps
  15. Sleeping babies
  16. Cozy home
  17. Effective teaching
  18. Enthusiastic students
  19. Insightful learning
  20. Powerful words
  21. Thoughtful writing
  22. Supportive colleagues
  23. Colorful post-its and clicky pens
  24. Any shade of purple
  25. Changes in seasons
  26. Radiant sunshine
  27. Clear blue skies
  28. White puffy clouds
  29. Warmer days
  30. Flip-flops and pedicures
  31. Sandy white beaches
  32. Country music
  33. Netflix on demand
  34. Costco chocolate cake
  35. Many more birthdays to come!

Monday, March 28, 2011

SOLSC: Ten Things - 28/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.
Ten Things

I'm starting to reread some favorite books for several reasons, including reading with new eyes: the eyes of a writer.

In the delightful book Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Opal challenges her father to tell her ten things (one thing for each year she has been alive) about her mama because she doesn't remember her.  Opal also starts to create a list of ten things she knows about her dog, Winn-Dixie.  I decided to create my own "ten things I know about" list . . . the number ten (not for my age!) but because I thought it was a solid number.  I'm thinking this is a great way for kids to reflect on their learning as well!

Ten Things I Know about the 'Slice of Life Story Challenge'

One.  SOLSC awakened me to writing, blogging, and sharing with others.

Two.  SOLSC opened my eyes, ears, and heart to the life around me, waiting to be woven into words.

Three.  SOLSC helped me reflect on my life and capture those moments I don't want to forget.

Four.  SOLSC motivated me to write.  Every day.

Five.  SOLSC encouraged me to collaborate with thinkers, writers, poets, teachers, mentors, mothers, and digital experts all over the world.

Six.  SOLSC allowed me to devour diverse writing from a variety of authors opening their hearts, minds, and lives.

Seven.  SOLSC taught me to read like a writer and experiment with new styles.

Eight.  SOLSC taught me the true power of words.

Nine.  SOLSC provided me comments, thoughts, reactions, and support from members of the writing community.

Ten.  SOLSC has me excited for next March and I will be encouraging others to join!
(Yes, Mom, including you!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SOLSC: Confidence - 27/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Confidence in Sharing

My mom was the first (and only) person I trusted and shared my blog with when I started it over a month ago.

It takes oodles of courage to share writing with others.  I write, rewrite, delete, read, search for a better word, delete, read again, and   repeat this process four or five times.  Then I read it one more time in the morning.  It takes a long silent moment before I can click the "Publish Post" button at the bottom of the page.  Why do I feel this sense of apprehension?

I think it was easier sharing my writing with the unknown few on Tuesdays for the Slice of Life.  However, now that we have spent almost a month getting to know each other, your encouraging words of support and understanding help continue to build my confidence as a writer.  My willingness to share with others, even those that I know beyond just my mother, is becoming easier.

Yet, as a teacher of reading and writing, I encourage and expect my students to share all day long.  Share their thinking, share their writing.  Though, it just dawned on me . . . I wonder if my students feel the same angst that I do.  What can I do to continue to build their confidence and feel comfortable sharing their writing?  Build a community of writers, just like Ruth and Stacey!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SOLSC: Vacation is Time - 26/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Vacation is . . . Time

Time with my parents
and time with my husband and girls.

Time to rejuvenate
and time to forget worries.

Time to watch
and time to listen.

Time to talk
and time to laugh.

Time to walk
and time to relax.

Time to read
and time to ponder.

Time to write
and time to share.

Time is vacation
and the time comes to an end.

Until the next vacation.

Friday, March 25, 2011

SOLSC: Lovin' This Small Town - 25/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Lovin' This Small Town

Life is different in a small town.
Livin' miles out in the backcountry.
Lovin' the peace and quiet of nature.
Listenin' to the birds singin' in the sunshine.
Layin' back relaxin', breathin' in the fresh air.
Lookin' at the brilliant stars in the black sky at night.
Longin' to stay, just one more day.
Leavin' for the long journey home.
Loathin' big city life
Lackin' this small town feel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SOLSC: Writer's Notebook Challenge - 24/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Writer's Notebook Challenge

I do love writing.  I had forgotten how good it feels to put words on paper (or type on a screen these days).  Releasing the emotions, gaining the clarity, and allowing others to read and share and learn.  What an awesome feeling it is!

I have had Ralph Fletcher's book, A Writer's Notebook, waiting patiently on my professional bookshelf at school for, um, well, a couple of years now.  I finally cracked it open this week with all this excitement about writing. 

I occasionally use my writer's notebook.  It's an easy place to jot down a quick thought, idea, or phrase someone said that may lead to a future slice.  I bought two fun notebooks (again, years ago. . .) to create a reading journal for home and a reading journal for school.  I was determined to keep a record of my reading and thoughts so that I could share and teach students to do the same.  Years later, I had two empty, thought-less journals.  

Now the beautiful purple notebook has become the collector of my notes, thoughts, questions, and everything else for my girls.  

The fun black-n-white flower covered journal has been readopted this month as my writing notebook.  I notice myself listening more . . . not only with my ears, but with my eyes.  There are stories to be told all around us - a sliver of a slice is more than plenty to keep us content and full.

After reading Fletcher's book, I fully understand the importance of keeping and storing ideas that I don't want to forget - I just never know when one idea will spark and a fire of words and stories will illuminate and warm my heart.  

I will be using my notebook more and more in the coming weeks as the challenge will be ending.  I am committed to writing - so let the stories be told and shared.  I have also decided that this journal can be both my reading and writing notebook.  It will safely hold all of my valuable ideas and slices of life, and it will be a record of the books that I read, quotes that touch my heart, and so on.  Reading and writing are reciprocal friends, so why can't they share a home in my notebook?

By the way, Fletcher's book is great!  I look forward to sharing it with students to open their eyes, ears and hearts to the stories all around them.  Let the writer's notebook challenge begin!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SOLSC: Friends to Visit - 23/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Friends to Visit

I've been slowly reorganizing my classroom library.  As I was leveling and labeling books, I slowly started creating a stack of books on the side.   

This book.  Oh, this is a good one.  That book.

I remember loving them as a child, but why?  What made it so special?  Why did I want my students to read it?  I could not answer any of these questions.  

Hopefully, after this week my memory will be awakened by some of these favorites that traveled with me on my break.

Books are like old friends.  It's important to keep in touch and visit every now and again.

A short stack of favorite books to revisit:  The Giver; Tuck Everlasting; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Sounder; The Cricket in Times Square; Walk Two Moons, Lily's Crossing; From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; Where the Red Fern Grows; Seedfolks; Number the Stars; Wringer; and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SOLSC: A Visit: The Conclusion - 22/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Visit: The Conclusion
     Part 1  -  Part 2  -  Part 3

I read her twelve page research paper many times over.  I thought to myself, "I didn't have to write anything like this until I was in college!"  Overall, I was impressed.  She did it.  She was able to thoroughly defend her thesis with evidence supported from her research.  My fingers are crossed that her teachers agree!

Thursday, March 17, 2011
10:50 pm
Email Inbox
Re: Thank you!

Thank you so much for all your help today. I'm sorry that it was last minute, but you really helped a lot and I greatly appreciate it!  I just finished and it feels great.  

Of course, I wanted to include you.  After all, you're where I got my start :) And I will definitely include you in my future college apps and essays. 

Again, thank you so much for everything! You're the greatest!  :)  You know I will keep in touch, I always do!

Monday, March 21, 2011

SOLSC: A Visit: Part 3 - 21/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Visit: Part 3
   Part 1  -  Part 2

She asked me to review her research paper.  I had to help her out, but my palms were itchy and a rush of self-doubt came over me.  I teach elementary students how to write.  High school?!?  What do I know about -- Oh! She emailed me again. Maybe she's attached the paper so I can start reading it tonight before we meet tomorrow.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
8:58 pm
Email Inbox
Re: Research Paper

great! its not done yet its still a very rough work in progress. i had it mostly done and then my teacher told me i was analzying history not arguing anything so i have to go back and add analysis that connects the evidence to the thesis but i can email you what i am working on now, or ill finish working on it and email it to you when im done. whatever you would want! thanks so much for your help :) and depending on how much i get done tonight ill let you know, i can probably come at 9ish i was planning on working/ adding more during the day.  Thanks!

Ugh.  "A very rough work in progress." That seems like an understatement . . . look at her email!?  It's stuffed full with so many errors. I could only begin to imagine what her paper was going to look like.  I don't use red pens, but I envisioned red ink splattered all across the pages.  I woke up Thursday morning anticipating an email.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

12:49 am
Email Inbox
Re: Updated Research Paper

This is where i got to as of tonight im planning on waking up early tomorrow to work on it, i still need to connect my examples to my new thesis and i need a conclusion.

I double-clicked to open the attachment.  With one eye closed, I was squinting at the screen. I slowly opened both eyes and I let out a sigh of relief.  

Even though kids these days email, text, and twitter in short form, they still do possess a memory for the art of grammar!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SOLSC: Change in Patterns - 20/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Change in Patterns

I look forward to hearing about your slices of life each and every day.  You've become like old trusted friends . . . we share so much about our personal and professional lives, even if it's just a slice.  

I have learned the rhythms and patterns of many of my favorite writers.  When they post. Where to scan. What picture or blog name to look for in the comment list.  

Isn't it funny how after just nineteen days of writing and sharing, you feel like you know someone?

Then Saturday morning. . . 

One of my new writing buddies didn't post before me like she usually does every day.  That's not like her.  Why?  What's going on?  Is it spring break?  Maybe she's traveling.  Why would her routine change?   I hope everything is okay.  So many questions and wonders.

A few hours later on Saturday . . .

Whew. (Sigh of relief.)  She posted.  Everything is okay.  She slept in.  (That's what she blogged.)

Sunday arrives . . .

Traveling. Can't post at my "usual" time.

Wonder if anyone is wondering about me like I wonder about others?
Good news.  I've arrived . . . just a change in my usual pattern.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SOLSC: A Visit: Part 2 - 19/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Visit: Part 2

     Part 1

A previous student I taught over six years ago visits year after year.  I'm delighted every time she stops by because she is open, shares about her life -- the achievements, the struggles, high school life in general . . . sometimes more than I wanted to hear.

In January, she showed up at my door.  We chatted about school.  We chatted about sports. We chatted about the possibility of her observing and volunteering here next year.  We chatted about Purdue, her dream school.  We chatted about her new job serving elderly grandparents their dinner, even though they never seemed to be happy with anything she serves.  We just chatted and chatted about anything and everything for over an hour.

On the way out, she mentioned that she loved writing because of me.  Wow.  Never saw that coming.  Then she matter-of-factly stated that she isn't the writer she used to be and she has a huge research paper that she has to write this semester.

"Well, if you would like me to read your paper, let me know.  You can email it to me and I'd be happy to review it for you.  Just be sure not to wait until the day before it's due!" I said half-jokingly.

Fast forward two months . . . TWO days before the research paper is due.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
8:25 pm
Email Inbox
Re: Research Paper

"So the research paper is due Friday and I'm almost done. I was wondering if you had any time during the day tomorrow that I could stop by and you could possibly read it.  Thanks!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

SOLSC: A Visit - 18/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Visit

I've been teaching just over ten years.  When the fifth grade class "graduates" from elementary school, I tell the kids that they are always welcome to come back and visit.  Maybe because they are growing up, they are just too cool, or they don't have the time, not many take me up on my offer.

But every once in a while, a previous student will stop by for a visit.   Usually at a time when I'm rushing out the door.  But I stay.  Some how their name returns to me out of thin air.   I ask questions.  They answer in brief.  I ask more questions. I give them my time because it is important. It's important to them.  It's important to me.

There is one student who returns year after year.  She may only stop by one time an entire school year, but she has not missed a year since she completed elementary school.  She is now a junior in high school.  Six years later and she's still checking in.  How awesome is that?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SOLSC: A Letter to an Old Friend - 17/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Letter to an Old Friend

Dearest Friend,

How have you been?  It's been too long.  I cannot wait to see you again!  I've been dreaming about visiting ever since the middle of winter when I peered out my frosted window into the depths of the snow.  I smiled to myself thinking about our reunion that will happen soon.

Soon still feels like forever.  After packing and stacking the car, after getting the house ready only for us to leave, after double and triple checking the lists, and after the long and exhausting ten hour drive south, we'll arrive ready to relax and enjoy your company, forgetting about all the worries left behind.

Won't it be delightful to go for long, leisurely walks?
See the bountiful Bradford Pear trees blooming?
Feel the brisk breeze breathing off the lake?
Put our feet up on the front porch and pour over preposterous particularities?
Watch Max hop about with happiness and hunt for squirrels to chase around the yard?
Or, just sit and listen to the wind speaking through the trees, the wind chimes sharing great joys, and the birds tweeting about our visit?

We'll soon be there to hug you tight and hold on . . . only wishing we could stay longer.

We can't wait to see you . . . oh dear, spring vacation!

Warm hugs and sunshine,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SOLSC: Teacher Evaluation - 16/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Teacher Evaluation

"What a great morning! Thanks for working so hard today.  We sure learned a lot!" I praised my first grade group of boys as we wrapped up our small group time.

"You worked hard today too!" Andrew exclaimed.

"Thank you, Andrew," I whispered through a smile and a laugh, all the while shaking my head in amusement.

Who needs administrator evaluations and observations?

These are the moments that matter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SOLSC: My Roller Coaster of a Weekend - 15/31

The Slice of Life Story Challenge 
is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

Six-Word Memoirs of a Weekend

An emotionally exhausting roller coaster ride.
An unexpected funeral. A planned wedding. 
Celebration of life. Celebration of love.
Death so young.  Love so strong.
Asking but why? Knowing what's true.
Life eternal and their love everlasting.
Time to accept. Time to hope.
Say goodbye and say hello. Forever.