Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I'm sure I am doing what many others are currently doing- building resolutions for 2014.  Every year I do this, every year I start off great, and every year I end up falling off the boat.  So why do I keep doing these resolutions?  I guess I would rather have a goal and fail than have none at all.  At least with a goal I know I have aspirations.  And usually during the year I will get back on the boat and work towards them a little more.  My problem is with consistency. The only goal that I actually met this year was my Goodreads goal of reading 250 books. 

For 2014 I am going to make professional and personal goals.  I am hoping that putting them out there for everyone to see will help me become more accountable.

1. Complete the #500in2014 challenge.  I am joining a group on Twitter who have made it a goal to run 500 miles this year.  That's about 1 1/3 miles per day.  We are using the Nike+ Running app to track our progress.  I have also enlisted a couple of friends to do the challenge with me.  I am feeling pretty confident that with my online support group and my personal support group I can meet this goal. 
2.  Eat healthier.  My husband got me a juicer for Christmas and I am loving it so far!  I would like to have some sort of juice every day in this new year.  I would also like to cut some foods out of my diet.  I'm usually not too bad but there is room for improvement. 

1.  Read 300 books in 2014.  In 2013 I met my goal of 250 books.  I want to up my goal to 300 this year since I was successful with the 250. (Hmmm...  I think this could also be considered a personal goal since I read for enjoyment.)
2.  Read more professional books.  When looking through the books I read in 2013, I did notice I have a huge book gap in this category.  I am going to commit myself to reading 1 professional book a month.  I am good a starting them but not finishing.  I think the problem I have right now is that I have too many started! 
3.  Blog at least once a week.  I would like to participate in It's Monday What Are You Reading, Slice of Life, Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday, Poetry Friday, and Celebrate!  I would love to do all of these every week.  However, I know me.  If I miss doing one, I will fall off the boat because I have the "all or nothing" mentality.  So I am going to participate in one of these each week.  If I am able to do more than one, then that is a bonus.

So there you go, 5 resolutions for myself.  Wow, that seems like a lot!  I think I will need to periodically check back with these resolutions and measure how I am doing with them. 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


A few things to celebrate this week:

1.  Our high school musical Shrek!  The students did a fabulous job!  My 9 year-old was engaged for the entire two-and-a-half hours.  I also enjoyed seeing both of my nieces on stage.
Parker Baird, playing the role of a giant green ogre, reluctantly agrees to team up with a chatter-box donkey played by Kyle Goings in the Harding High School production of 'Shrek The Musical' at The Palace Theatre. The musical, based on the book by William Steig and the DreamWorks movie, opens Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 pm, with performances on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 pm. General admission tickets will be available at the door. James Miller/The Marion Star
2.  I am celebrating finally getting a copy of Little Red Writing by Joan Holub!  I have been waiting and waiting for it to come in.  I LOVE this book.  So many writing mini-lessons sprouting!
Little Red Writing
3.  This week my elementary joined Twitter.  Our twitter handle is @GWElementary.  I am hoping this becomes a way to celebrate all the wonderful things happening at George Washington Elementary!
4.  Today I get to celebrate my niece's birthday.  Love that girl!
5.  Lastly, I just want to celebrate me posting on my blog.  I haven't written anything for over 2 months.  It's always in the back of my mind, but it just doesn't seem to happen.  I need to make this higher on my priority list.
What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Poetry Friday

I am very excited that J. Patrick Lewis will be coming to Fundamentals, a local independent bookstore, next Friday!  Because of this excitement I will be highlighting a poem from his book Face Bug

Goodreads SummaryIn this ingenious picture book, Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis invites you to visit the Face Bug Museum. There, readers can meet fourteen bugs in Lewis's sly, humorous poems; gaze upon giant close-ups of the creatures' faces in Siskind's photographs; and follow the antics of two beetle friends in Kelly Murphy's artwork. This is a trip to a museum--built by bugs, "fo"r bugs--unlike any other. It is also a poetry collection, macro-photography book, and illustrated story--all in one. Includes end notes with photographs of the entire bugs and further information about these creatures.

What I Think:  My son is a budding entomologist and loves to read anything about insects.  Most of the books he reads about insects are, of course, nonfiction.  With this book, budding entomologists can read about bugs in the form of poetry, which is refreshing to me.  I love the fact that my son reads nonfiction, but I also want him reading a variety of text and this book is the best of both worlds!  Plus, I do love the humorous poetry of J. Patrick Lewis!  And the photographs by Siskind are wonderful, if not a little creepy for those of us who are not bug lovers!

Since I have been hearing so many cicadas lately I will share a poem about them from this book!

Dogday Harvestfly Cicada
     Tibicen canicularis

Bug's one ugly
Nut to crack.
Is that Bugly's
Front or back?

What?! Two faces
On this mutt?
Creepy. Never
Mind his butt.

Front or top view,
What the heck?
He's a head-on
Insect wreck.

Go on, touch him-
All he does
Is ask, "Who's there?"
In wonder-buzz.

Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at A Teaching Life.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? --From Picture Books to YA--is a weekly meme hosted by Jen  at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  Visit Jen, Kellee, and Ricki to see more amazing books!

This week I was only able to get two chapter book read, but they were looong (and good!) chapter books!  I was able to get a professional book read and a good amount of picture books.  So all-in-all I would say it was a good reading week!

Professional Book:
Choice Words
Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston
This was a wonderful book. It really made me think about how I address and question students in the classroom. This will certainly be a book that I reference often!                  
Chapter Books:
Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven, #3)Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, #4)
Fable Haven #3 and #4 by Brandon Mull
I am a big fan of Brandon Mull.  This is one of my favorite series.  He is so good at plot twists and ending the books making you eager to read the next in this series.  I am looking forward to reading the 5th and final book in the series.
Picture Books (fiction):
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
I absolutely love how the story is told through letters from the crayons to the boy who owned them. Great for showing point of view.  After reading this with my son, I caught him using all the colors of his markers in a new set of his.  He said he wanted to be sure none of the colors quit!

That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
The way the story is told reminds you of watching a silent film. This was a great book with a wonderful little twist that kids (and adults) will really enjoy.

Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger
This is a cute parody to Yankee Doodle that will leave you giggling!

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague
A variation of the Three Little Pigs that is close to the original. I enjoyed some of the modern-day language that Mark Teague used.

Picture Books (nonfiction):

Emi: Saving Her Rhino Species  by Leia Tait
This book is about Emi an endangered Sumatran Rhino who lives at the Cincinnati Zoo. The book tells the story of how Emi was captured in the wild (an orphan caught in a snare) and ended up at this zoo. She has had 3 babies and scientists are hoping to use this knowledge to help Sumatran Rhinos in the wild reproduce. I liked this book, especially for young readers, because of the simple text and the photographs. There are also questions posed in the book that help the reader make connections between themselves and Emi. Young readers will walk away from this book with a beginning understanding of the importance of Emi and the fight to save Sumatran Rhinos. And if they are like me, they will also want to take a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo to see Emi in person!
Pakistan by Ann Heinrichs
This is a good introductory book on Pakistan. The reader learns about the history of Pakistan as well as the current events. Many colorful pictures compliment the text.

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter
Beautiful story about how the first panda came to the United States. I had some conflicted feelings about how the panda was acquired so I appreciated reading the author's note at the end. I loved the illustrations in this book.                  
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel
This is another wonderful picture book biography of an artist. I learned much about Henri Rousseau. It has a great theme of persistence and following your dream. 

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough
Another picture book biography. This tells the story of Annie Moore and her dedication to libraries creating spaces for children to read and check out books.
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
A heartwarming story about how war effects the common people. A librarian in Basra enlisted the help of friends and neighbors to save the books of the library so they would not be destroyed in the war.

An Illustrated Timeline of U.S. States by Patricia Wooster
I liked how different major events and interesting facts in American history were woven into the timeline with the forming of the states. I was a little disappointed that major events from the 20th century were missing such as both World Wars. Overall, an interesting and enjoyable book.
 This Week:
This week we will be going away for a few days so I know I won't get as much reading done as I would like.  But it will be well worth it to relax and spend some great time with my family!  I do hope to read the fifth and last book in the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull.  I also would like to finish a professional book I have started about assessments, Assessment in Perspective by Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan.
What did you read this week?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Slice of Life- Teachers Write

This year I am participating in Teachers Write (for more information visit Kate Messner's blog.)  Today's Slice is from a quick-write prompt that Kate shared today.

Sometimes, as I am reading in my rocking chair on my front porch, I get distracted by what’s around me.

It could be the sound of the hummingbird coming to get a drink of nectar from the feeder or from the flowers.

The wind blowing through my ferns rustling the leaves.

The colors of the flowers dancing in the wind calls for my attention. The soft purples and yellows of
the columbine, the pinks and white of the impatiens, the deep purples of the morning glory.

The sound of cars passing or people talking as they stroll pass.

And as the light starts to diminish, more insects start to call out to each other. This is my cue that it’s about time to head inside.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? --From Picture Books to YA--is a weekly meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  Visit Jen and Kellee to see more amazing books!

This week I went to All Write 2013 in Indiana so I didn't get to read as many chapter books as I would have liked.  However it was well worth it!  The conference was A-MAZ-ING!!!  I was still happy with what I did get accomplished!

 Millions, Billions, and Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers by David A. Adler
This picture takes a closer look at large numbers. Examples of the numbers are given to help give the reader a better understanding of how large the number is.

The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicals #2) by Rick Riordan
I am a fan of Rick Riordan's work!  In this book brother and sister, Carter and Sadie Kane, have the task of trying to find the three scrolls of Ra in order to awaken him so he can stop Apophis from swallowing the sun and Chaos ruling.
Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson and Raúl Colón
This is a beautiful picture book biography.  One thing I really liked is how the author put in bits of letters from Annie Sullivan that documented Helen's progress.  I also enjoyed looking at the photographs on the endpapers. 
Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
This is a companion to Love That Dog. Sharon Creech told the story of Jack's school year through a conversation between Jack and his teacher in his poetry notebook.  Jack is still sad about the loss of his dog and can't imagine anything taking his place.  There is a neighborhood cat that he is not fond of so he thinks all cats are awful.  However, for Christmas, his parents get him a kitten.
Never Smile at a Monkey: and 17 Other Important Things to Remember by Steve Jenkins
This book briefly talks about the dangerous nature of some seemingly harmless animals.  It tells what these animals do that are dangerous and what you should never do if you encounter one.
Nic Bishop Snakes by Nic Bishop
There are a lot of books about snakes but what makes this one stand out is the photography!  Nic Bishop did an amazing job with his photography.  You really need to read the Author's Note in this book to appreciate what he did.

Madam and Nun and 1001: What Is a Palindrome? by Brian P. Cleary
This book is a rhyming introduction to palindromes.  Many examples of panidromes are given from single words to phrases.
Fireflies by Heather C. Hudak
This is a nice book for young readers.  Many different pictures with interesting facts. 
Rapunzel retold by Stephanie Peters

Snow White retold by Martin Powell
These are fairy tales in graphic novel format.  The versions of these were different from the versions I have heard.
Gorillas in Danger by Helen Orme
This is another nice book for yound readers.  The book describes gorillas and discusses their plight.  I also like how there are suggestions for what the reader can do to help.
Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman by Esme Raji Codell
In this picture book biography the author starts in the present and takes the reader back in time to learn about John Chapman. 

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin
I have become a huge fan of Steve Sheinkin!  I love the way he writes nonfiction.  In this book, he describes the actions by some counterfeiters to steal Lincoln's remains to use as leverage to get a friend out of prison.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

All Write 2013

Wow!  What an amazing experience to have gone to All Write!  This was my first year to attend.  I heard about it on Twitter last year and read all the tweets from attendees.  It sounded amazing so I had to see what it was all about this year.  And it was well worth the trip!

I was able to listen to some wonderful presenters including Carl Anderson, Jeff Anderson, Jennifer Serravallo, Terry Thompson, Ruth Ayres, Tim Rasinski, and Lester Laminack.  And there were more I wish I could have seen!!

I learned so much and took so many notes I had to let it all digest for a few days before writing something about it.  After some reflection, here are a few of the things I took away from All Write.

1.  If you want to teach writing, you need to be a writer!  This is something I am really trying to work on.  I have been writing more, but I know it's not nearly enough.  I am signed up to do Teachers Write with Kate Messner and I am really going to put a lot of effort into it.  I started it last summer but didn't finish.  Someone once said (and I wish I could remember who so I could give them credit) that you wouldn't take golf lessons from someone who didn't know how to golf.  Why would you teach writing if you don't know how to write?

2.  We need to give students choice.  Carl Anderson talked about how in writing workshop, children learn a lot taking initiative because they have choices to make, and because we teach them how to make those choices.  When students have choice of topics they are more motivated and they end up knowing the topic very well.  They also need to be given choice of genre.  He also went on to say that we are stifling creativity. 

3.  Anything you want to teach writers, make sure they know it as a reader first. The idea behind this is if they don't understand it in reading, they won't be able to use it in their writing. 

4.  Kids need to step away from their writing.  When they initially write something, have them step away and work on something else.  When they do go back to revise later on, they are looking at it with fresh eyes! 

I want to end with a few inspiring quotes from Carl Anderson:
"How we teach can matter as much as what we teach."
"It's not what you know anymore, it's what you can do with what you know." 

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? --From Picture Books to YA--is a weekly meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts

This past week I was busy doing some work for the district for 3 days so I didn't get as much read as I would have liked.  But here's what I did read!
Mal and Chad: Food Fight!
Mal and Chad: Food Fight by Stephen McCranie
2nd book in this graphic novel series.  Mal goes on another adventure with his pet dog Chad.  This time Mal is trying to help his companion with his recurring nightmares.
Wild Born (Spirit Animals, #1)
Spirit Animals: Wild Born  by Brandon Mull
In this first book of the Spirit Animals series, four children summon fallen spirit animals and must work together to begin to fight to save Erdas.  The 4 children have different personalities that keeps the reader wanting to know more about the characters. I'm anxious to see how these characters develop in the following books.
Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker
Another great Clementine book!
Love That Dog
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

This book makes me smile!  I love how the character, Jack, develops in the book.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
This story is told from many different viewpoints.  Graff does a wonderful job of intricately weaving all the characters together.  This book will make you hungry for cake!

Nobody Asked the Pea by John Warren Stewig
Each character gives their viewpoint in the classic The Princess and the Pea.

Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Cute story about friendship.  The two chopsticks do everything together until one gets hurt.  The other chopstick must learn to do things on his own.

Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson
In this graphic novel, Hilda discovers magic around her.  She tries to make peace with the people around her so her and her mom can stay in their home.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look
I love Alvin!  This book had me chuckling all the way through it!  Alvin has face his fear of camping and being in the wilderness.

This week I will be heading to Indiana for All Write 2013 so we'll see how much reading I am able to get done!  Looking forward to learning a lot and meeting new people!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Next week, state testing starts.  I've been watching anxious teachers for the past few weeks.  Some are starting to show it to their students.  More lecturing is going on in the classrooms.  For some reason, I haven't been too anxious.  Being anxious isn't going to change anything, at least for me. Do I worry?  I'd be lying if I said no.  Especially since testing is going to be tied to our evaluations.  Because of this, I think down the road you are going to see more anxoious teachers.  And as a result, more anxious students.  So I am determined not to become anxious.  I don't want the students to be anxious.  Would I rather them go into a testing situation in a state of anxiety or in a state of calm?  I choose calm.  Therefore I need to make sure I remain calm.  I haven't even talked about the state test to the students until this week.  All we are doing is reviewing some things and looking at a few old tests just so they can get a feel for the structure and how they may be questioned.  We also discuss some testing strategies.  Not all will pass, but I think all have them have made a years growth.  All I ask of my students is for them to do their best. I know they have it in them.  Keep calm, and carry on!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday's Top Five

Here are the top five things for this past week!

1. Brandon Mull visit!!  My school was so lucky to have Brandon Mull visit our 4th and 5th graders!  To say the students loved it would be an understatement.  (Same goes for this teacher!)

2.  New books!!  I made a trip to my local independent bookstore, Fundamentals, and left with this stack.  Is it possible to leave a book store with only one book???  (This doesn't include the books my son bought...)

3. Signs of spring!  While it has been quite a rainy few days, there are some wonderful signs of spring.  I love it when my forsythia bloom!

4. I received a new book in the mail this week from ASCD.  I am looking forward to reading it because I have been asked to help create maps for our district.  This appears to be a quick read and looks interesting.

5.  I am getting ready to head out the door to Amish Country.  Every year I get together with some friends and we head east to scrapbook.  Of course, you can't go to Amish Country without doing a little shopping and eating!  I better be sure to pack my running shoes to burn those extra calories I'll be consuming from that delicious Amish food!

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


This morning, I decided I needed to start running again.  I have allowed myself to get out of shape and I was starting to feel it in my clothes.  I need to eat better and start to do more exercise.  All of this means change.  Will it be enjoyable?  Probably not at first when I am moving slowly from sore muscles.  But as I get past these first steps I know it will worth it and I will be glad I started taking better care of myself.  I may get sore again from time-to-time, but I know it won't be like it was at first. 

To me, this is like change in the classroom.  I know things are getting out of shape when I am getting the same old results from students.  I need to educate myself more on practices that I believe are no longer working.  Like running, if I continue to do the same thing, after awhile I won't see results.  The routine needs to be switched.  Same thing in the classroom.  The routine and delivery needs to be changed.

I think teachers today are so lucky when they want to change things.  They have Professional Development right at their fingertips.  I can easily get book recommendations and advice from Twitter friends and different blogs.  I can read articles online.  I can talk with other teachers about what is working for them.  No excuses, especially when I have a nice stack of professional reads calling my name.  The only problem is what should I read first? 

Is change enjoyable?  For me, not always at first.  Like running, it can be painful.  I know that there will also be a few bumps in the road.  But, I do know that in the end it will all be worth it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Slice of Life Day 14

Tonight I am in a hurry so this will be a short post.  Tomorrow my class will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day.  They have been working on St. Patrick's Day and Irish reading and writing stations the last 2 weeks.  For a lot of it, they have to do some research.  They have been loving it!  The engagement is awesome and they are really learning so much.  Tomorrow I am making corned beef and cabbage along with some potatoes for the whole 5th grade to sample.  Another teacher is making Irish Soda Bread for them to taste.  For our Fun Friday activities in 5th grade, there will be an Irish theme to them.  In my room, students will be learning some simple Irish Jig steps.  (I'm not sure simple will be simple enough for some of them...and that includes me!)  We will also watch some of Riverdance so they can see some professionals.  I am hoping after learning how coordinated you need to be with the simple steps, they will really appreciate watching the dancing in Riverdance!  With all this stuff going on, I'm not sure I will be able to accomplish much else.  I am just hoping we have outside recess tomorrow so they can go and burn off some of their excitement!  Well, I am off to practice some "simple" jig steps and then I need to get the corned beef and cabbage ready to cook tomorrow morning!  May the luck of the Irish be with you!