Sunday, March 31, 2013 No comments
As I wrap up this month of SLICE writing, I feel, to say the least, inspired. In writing each day, a poem, a thought, a funny snippet of my life, I have found some kind of new me. I know, cheesy, but it's true. I've "met" some really amazing people and their stories of teaching, family, hopes, and dreams, have connected us. We've all entered this challenge with the goal of blogging/journaling/sharing a little something each day and we made it.

Is this starting to sound like a commencement speech or is it just me?

SLICE was a first for me, but I'll be back! In the meantime, I will continue to visit the Two Writing Teachers page and click back to all those links to see what is happening with my fellow SLICERS. I'm going to keep writing, too. Maybe not everyday.....but I will be writing more. I hope my SLICE friends will hold me to that!

On that note, here is my last SLICE, inspired by my evening with Sir Elton John. I walked away thinking, "Man, why do his songs have so much to do with me?" Ha! Maybe everyone feels that way though!
Surrounded by people listening
hearing sounds and mouthing words
yellow brick road and grey seal
tiny dancer and daniel my brother
He's singing and playing
I'm dreaming and thinking
don't let the sun go down on me
tearing up and hiding it

He's playing your song,
it's really my song
This speaks to me
I get it. Do others feel this too?
I guess that is why they call it the blues
he belts it out and people join
I'm quiet. I know
her candle burned out long before.....

I was ready.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing. Thanks for making me a part of something so amazing.


Saturday, March 30, 2013 1 comment
I wish I had more time to chat, but I'm heading to see Elton John in concert. WOO HOO!!

Super Short #SLICE2013

High Maintenance Mom

Friday, March 29, 2013 2 comments
or HMM as I like to call them, I mean us.....I mean them, not me-no way Jose, I'm not one of those, not in a million years. I AM NOT A HIGH MAINTENANCE MOM! I'm not! 
In my early teaching years, I would joke (ok, I still sometimes do) about high maintenance parents. You know the ones, they mean well (most of them) but can come across a little, ya know, how do I say this, um...annoying.  

Seven years ago (gasp!) I became an aunt and absolutely encouraged my sister to join the elite group of HMMs. She is a proud member now and I am proud of her for it. She is very involved her child's education and I love that. Does she drive teachers crazy, I'm sure she does. Let's face it though, she probably would anyway. :)

When I was blessed with T, I fought becoming an HMM as hard a I could. The kindergarten teachers at my school would joke about who would have T and what I would expect from them-a newsletter, technology, quarterly conferences, etc. Hmmm....they were predicting my HMMness. They knew it was coming before I did. I mean, I do have high expectations for myself and my classroom, but would I indeed pass that along to the educators of my sweet son? 

Yes, yes I will. I won't be nuts....probably not anyway. But I will always expect the best. I think we all should, for all of them. 


Thursday, March 28, 2013 18 comments
I lost my sister three years ago in June.


Her laugh
Her smile
Her hatred of photographs
I miss my sister

Her phone calls
Her stories
Her exaggerations best of all
I miss her so much

Her clothes
Her boots
Her love of my son and niece
I miss her more each day

Her spirit
Her faith
Her support of the rest of us
I know I'll see her again



Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6 comments
Isn't this what it is all about?
Starbucks with my guy after a long day of teaching and learning at school....I mean, what's better than a cake pop, water, and a peppermint mocha?? (non-fat, no whip of course!) 
Opening a package from Mr. Schu and seeing T's face as he reads Boy+Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. That's what! Seriously, I can't even tell you the joy this brings me. He loves books (most days) and he loves surprises (any day!)

Life is tough. Life is short. Life is crazy.
Make time for Starbucks.
Make time for books!
Make time for making time!
Seriously, what is your favorite Starbucks treat?

I Love to Travel

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4 comments
I love to travel. I love to go, go, go. This may be avoidance behavior and it may just be a love of travel. Either way, I am always mentally planning my next trip!
According to this, I have so much left to see! 

I'm not a beach girl, but I go in a heartbeat to hear the waves.
I'm not a humid weather gal, but I'd hit the jungle any day!
I'm not an animal lover, but would leave for a safari today!
I'm not a skier, snowboarder, or even close, but I'd play in the snow for days!
I'm not much for heat, but I'll throw on a sunhat and blend right in!
I'm not much for waiting in lines, but put some ears on my head and call me Minnie-I'll go!
I'm not much for walking miles and miles, but give me a little notice and I'll buying comfy shoes!
I'm not much for getting lost, but I'll find a map or make a new friend to help me along my way!

I don't have a favorite spot. I really don't. I do have a favorite traveling buddy though-my husband. He makes all the "I'm nots" turn into "I got this." He loves to travel as much as I do and we always have the best time!

I hope we travel for the rest of our lives-little trips, big trips and everything in between. I hope our son always loves it as much as he does now!

Do you have a favorite spot or favorite travel buddy?

Keeping Informational Fun in K-1 Powerpoint

Monday, March 25, 2013 4 comments
Here is our powerpoint from last week's workshop (minus the pictures and videos of our kids in action!) 

Be sure to check out the websites at the bottom. They are awesome and full of free, informational fun! In fact, I would say the possibilities are endless!
intro slide, how we launch our units
Readers look closely to learn more. Perfect for close reading, too!
I love Pause for Poetry. We read a shape poem by Jane Yolen and had them guess the shape and share why. That is comprehension, while bringing it back to the text.
Some of favorite lessons.
For this one, we read a Georgia Heard poem (another favorite) and covered up one word. They had to guess the missing word and give text evidence to support their answer.
I'll need a whole other post to cover these!
Yep, another post for these, too!
These are the links we shared. They received rave reviews! 
* Super short info videos!

What fun things do you do for informational literacy? Please share!

Author Chat

Sunday, March 24, 2013 1 comment
My friend JA has a friend who just published her first children's book. Her story is very sweet and so is the book! I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions, so of course....I did!!

To learn more about April Jean, the author of A Little Dachshund's Tale, click here to visit Pupwalks

Airplane Ride

Saturday, March 23, 2013 No comments
I am in Connecticut this weekend for the wedding of one of my dear friends. CT is far from Atlanta, far from my little guy, far from my amazing husband, far from my cozy bed, far from my pile of papers waiting to filed, far from my data begging to be submitted, far from my unwritten lesson plans and far from mile long to do list. :)

I decided to bring two books with me on the trip because I usually have a preschooler with me and can't read on the plane! Glad I did because someone else's preschooler was driving me nuts in the seat in front of me. :) The first is Ungifted by Gorman Korman. My media specialist thought I would like it and I did.

I would load the picture, but I'm in the lobby of Hyatt and my tech capabilities are limited. Here is the link though! 

The other is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I'm trying to like it, I really am.....not much luck though. I am going to finish it. I'm going to finish it. I really am. I AM going to finish this book!

Happy weekend!

I Love Meeting the Author!

Friday, March 22, 2013 1 comment
When we presented at KSU (Kennesaw State University) yesterday we were thrilled to hear Jerry Pallotta speak! He has authored TONS of books and has a fantastic sense of humor! His Boston accent is pretty fun, too! There is just something remarkable about meeting the author of the book you, your child, or your students love. It is powerful and inspirational! 

What were my big takeaways from our 45 minutes together?

*I can't wait to share with my little authors how he revises and edits so many times each time he writes. He also writes his ideas where ever he can...napkins, receipts, paper, the back of his checkbook, etc. I know they will love that!

*Pallotta and his illustrators often hide fun things in their work. I think that is just a fun little secret and I feel kind of cool just knowing about it! Leave a comment and I might tell you where to find one! :) 

*His new books, Who Would Win are going to be huge. I feel it in my gut! My kids already love the two we have and I know the other will be a big hit, too. The format is very kid friendly and the purpose is clear. Parents will love them as well.

*His Hershey's fraction book is out of print because of possible lawsuits from the obesity epidemic lawyers. That is fascinating to me. 
My, Jerry (pretending we are on first name basis) and my PIC, Amy

If you could meet any author, who would you want to meet?

Keeping Informational Fun in K-1

Thursday, March 21, 2013 4 comments
That's the name of the workshop my partner in crime and I presented yesterday at a local university. I love presenting with my PIC because we bounce well off each other. Banter, you know, friendly banter. She can say something and I add on to it and vice versa. No stepping on toes, no did I hurt your feelings. We are genuinely helping each other for the good of the audience--in this case, future teachers. I feel crazy lucky to have a colleague who will take these challenges with me, encourage me to do my best, provide honest feedback and honest to goodness make me want to be a better teacher.
Here are the highlights:

1. Neither one of us became violently ill right before this first time presentation (though PIC did have a major sinus infection and threatened to back out repeatedly!)

2. We were both mega proud for stepping out of our comfort zone and sharing informational action!

3. People laughed and smiled and took notes and stayed over and said it was great. 

4. We had a full fact, people took chairs from neighboring rooms (YAY!) and no one snuck out!

5. Because many were students, we had to sign off on their attendance. For like 30 seconds, I was signing autographs and in my head was imagining I had just published my first book! Hey-a girl can dream! 

6. We were able to show off our students' hard work through videos. Um, can you say proud? I know we were glowing!

I'm too tired to upload pics, but I will! In fact, I might even try to load the powerpoint. I said might. :)

Do you have a PIC? If not, I hope you find one soon and I hope I can keep mine forever! 

What We're Reading....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 3 comments
T and I are in love with Jan Thomas right now. In love, I tell you! 
These are our two favorite books (today.)

Rhyming Dust BunniesHere Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!

Her author page is really fun, too! We checked out her other books and characters. We were also SUPER THRILLED when we came across her "Things To Do" page. She has lots of fun freebies to go with her books. These are two of the ones T loves most! The first one is number fun. We laughed and laughed as we did each one! The second one is right up our alley. We put rhyming words in the first three bubbles and then one that did not rhyme in the last one. This makes sense if you've read Rhyming Dust Bunnies!
Click on the pics to go straight there! 

If you have a preschooler or kindergartner, invite these books into their world. They are fun! If you teach pre-K, Kindergarten, or first--you want these too! My class enjoyed them as much as T!

Have you fallen in love with a book or author lately? 

Spring Break

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 No comments

A First....

I am reading to my son's preschool class today!!! 

This is a first for me and while I read aloud everyday, several times to a class full of first graders, this audience today seems special. My little guy and his peers. My son, old enough to have a guest reader. My little monkey and his pals. His teachers. Oh, I had almost forgotten about them!

I'll be reading one of our favorites, Monster at the End of This Book. I feel like I can't go wrong with that one! I have so many what ifs though.

What if they have all heard it and get bored?
What if the teacher covering my own class can't cover it while I go?
What if T cries when I leave?

What ifs and all, I am really excited and so is he. Today is a special day. The first of many I hope! 

UPDATE! It was awesome! I had the best time. The kids LOVED the books (I took Eric Carle's Ten Little Ducks, too!) T was super excited and proud, which made me the happiest mommy in the whole wide world!!!


Monday, March 18, 2013 3 comments
From Texas to south Alabama to middle Alabama to Georgia to North Carolina....oh car, take me there. Better yet, airplane take me there. Better yet, let me snap and appear in each location.

I have been best friends with a group of amazing girls (women? when did that happen?) for over 20 years. HOLY COW! I can't believe I just typed that! 
We don't see each other enough. We don't talk on the phone enough. We don't even email, facebook and text enough. 

We love each other though. When we are in the same room, the laughing and talking DOES NOT STOP! It is like old times, yet the past is not what binds us. It is the truest form of friendship keeping us close all these years. Boyfriends, embarrassing moments (lots of those!) breakups, dream jobs, weddings, college, relocating, friend fights, husbands, babies (8 between us,) loss of loved ones, and all the stuff in between. These beautiful faces are my best friends. At age 35, I can honestly say they are my BFF.

I hope they are reading this, they probably aren't though--busy being rock star moms, but in case they are-I love you guys.


Why Do You Teach?

Sunday, March 17, 2013 8 comments
I was asked this question Friday evening. The question was followed with "because you could do other things ya know."
I have been thinking about it ever since. The point is valid. I could be doing other things that make a lot more money. (In fact, I'm pretty sure most jobs make more than teaching.) I could be doing less stressful things that make less money. I could volunteer my time whenever I please. I could sit at home and read and eat all day, too. Wait, I should get back on track here before I talk myself out of teaching! HA! 

Why do I teach? 48 hours later, I feel pretty good about my reason. I love it. I even wrote about here. I wrote about what teachers do over the summer here. I will tell anyone who will listen how much I love being a teacher, how valuable teachers are, and how it is the most rewarding job even on the worst day.

I love learning. I love reading. I love math. I love children. I love writing. I love school supplies. I know that last one is not a deal maker, but I really do love all things school supply. Back to school is like a holiday season for me! Again, let me stop before I leave teaching to work at Staples, Target!

Do you teach? Why?


Saturday, March 16, 2013 No comments

To Do Lists, Grocery Lists-I Make Lists!

Hello my name is L and I am a list maker. In fact, nothing makes me happier than making a list. Paper choice (or lack of paper) is not an obstacle. I will make a list on anything-sticky notes, those big, yellow, legal pads, scraps of paper, napkins, receipts, etc. Seriously, I love lists! I even doodle lists (and long division-but that is another story!)
Here is a list of my favorite kinds of lists:
1. things to do at school
2. books I want to buy
3. kids I am going to meet with
4. groceries
5. things to do at home
6. things for N to do at home
7. things for us to finish at home
8. places I want to go
9. ways I want to get better at something (this is a doozy!)
10. things I am happy about (thanks to my friends at Happify!) 

I also like books about lists. In fact, one of the first books I bought with my own money (again, very serious) was.....
The more I write, the more I'm this normal? Are there other list makers out there or am I alone in my list making? <sad music here>

Off to work on my next list, titled "Why List Making is Cool."

My First Haiku

Friday, March 15, 2013 2 comments
Baby cries hello
Forever begins today
I became mommy

What is haiku
A Japanese poem with 17 syllables, written in three lines that do not rhyme. The lines follow the pattern of 5 syllables-7 syllables-5 syllables.

Want to give it a try? Here is a Scholastic cheat sheet! (Not that I would ever use such a thing!) 

ISO Kid Friendly Jokes

Thursday, March 14, 2013 7 comments
Each week, I include a family friend joke on my newsletter. I'm running low. I've done the ones from Pinterest and a couple of our joke books. Do you have one to offer up for this noble purpose?
In true "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours fashion," I offer you these jewels....

Where do cows go to see a show?
a mooovie theater 

What do you call a train when it sneezes?
a choo choo train (thanks Caleb!)

What did the ocean say to the airplane?
nothing, it just waved

Where do mice park their boats?
at the hickory dickory dock

What is a snake's favorite subject?

As my first graders would say, "GET IT? GET IT?"


Quotable Wednesday

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 5 comments
Decided to share a few of my all time favorite quotes.....not because I don't have time to write more. Not because I'm tired from a field trip to Legoland, watching two of my students play against each other in a baseball game, not because I'm late planning my tutoring groups for after school tomorrow, not because of any of that OR the preschooler snuggled up next to me looking through our night time story. No, I just wanted to share a few of my faves!

Do you have a favorite? Please share! 

Informational Poetry

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 13 comments
I love poetry. I love to read it, reread it, and then read it again. I love sharing it with my class and helping them figure out the meaning, discover new information, and find the rhythm as we read. 

With the Common Core Standards new to us this year, I was afraid (rumors, only rumors) that poetry would have no place. I was wrong. It has, in fact, given me more time for poetry. (I feel as though I should knock on wood even as I type such a thing.)

Integrating more nonfiction was not hard at all. In first grade, we integrate so much, that there was no huge shift. It became even easier when I embraced learning across genres. Informational reads deepen learning when done across genres. (Lucy Calkins would be so proud of me!) 

Here are a few of my, I mean our favorites. :) 

Click the links to find these on Amazon, even better though-find them at a used bookstore or your local bookstore. We love Little Shop of Stories in Decatur!

What would you add to the list?

Honor Roll

Monday, March 11, 2013 6 comments
"First grade A Honor Roll and AB Honor Roll students please come to the stage." The principal says with a half smile. Dozens of parents smile wide, proud smiles as their child takes the stage. Each child is handed a certificate with a shiny seal and sent on their merry way. 

Cameras flash, flowers and balloons are even given to the happy first graders. Some moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas stay for lunch. This is what is going right in our schools! 

What? What about the other students? Where were the non-A Honor Roll and AB Honor Roll first graders OR the students with all A's or A's and B's but their conduct kept them away from the coveted certificate with the shiny seal? They are sitting on the floor near the wall watching their peers (or at least pretending.) 

"This will encourage them to do better next quarter." says a teacher.

"Yes," a parent chimes in, "they need to have goals and role models like these." 
Photo @varguy
I recently attended one of these assemblies and while maybe they are meant to be celebratory and fun, they are a shame. They are outdated and in poor taste. I feel so strongly about this as both a teacher and a mother. I am so proud to teach in an elementary school where we respect all students and their personal goals. 

This one size fits all/none assemblies are ridiculous on sooo many levels, but here are a few:

1. What a waste of instructional time. Seriously. Instead of having this "to do" four times a year, how about you go work with a few struggling students, challenge the gifted, or plan a hands on event for everyone?
2. Those sidelined students are NOT learning from this experience. It is instead making them feel worse about themselves 4 times a year. It is shameful....not for them, but the grownups in charge. 
3. The students receiving the certificates are happy, but would be just as happy carrying that certificate home on the bus....maybe even with a personal note from the teacher! 
4. Attendance awards, ooh, I won't even go there. NOT IN A CHILD's CONTROL!!! Sorry, I said I wouldn't go there!

Can we please, pretty please with sugar on top, discuss a better way to celebrate student success? 

When I Grow Up...

Sunday, March 10, 2013 9 comments

Sitting on the bus, riding back from an almost all day field trip in the sun, one of my first graders and I were chatting. 

He looked over and asked, "Mrs. S. what are you going to be when you grow up?" 

"Great question." I replied, rejoicing in the idea that my students feel I teach because it is fun, and not because it pays the bills. "Let me think about it for a minute."

G, "I'm waiting...."

"Got it! I would like to be the Secretary of Education when I grow up because I want to make sure learning is great for every kid." Feeling proud of myself for that teacher of the year kind of answer, I smiled and looked his way, with visions of Arne Duncan dancing around my mind.
Secretary Arne Duncan and I at Mom Congress. 
With his cute little head nodding up and down, "Ok! When I grow up, I'll let you by my secretary for sure Mrs. S!"

Thanks G, thank you.  

Jeans Battle

Saturday, March 9, 2013 17 comments

crumpled on the floor
didn't fit
obviously cheap

hang again
five more days
sized wrong for sure

nope, not yet
throw in closet
cover with clothes 
now the bad guy

sucking in 
lying down
not gonna happen
stomp on them
yell at them
hold them and cry
blame them, not me

one more chance
that's all I'll give

one leg
then the other

my new favorite jeans



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