Friday, February 28, 2014


For some reason, a sunrise inspires me. Maybe it's the hope that a new day brings. Maybe it's just the beauty. Maybe it's the promise of something special.

"This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad  in it." Ps. 118:24

Here are a few of my Sunrise Pictures:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writers Pretend to be Our Own Readers

Writers pretend to be our own readers. We step outside of ourselves, pick up the text as if we have never seen it before, and we read it.

The mini lesson for this persuasive writing lesson was about revision. The teacher explained how sometimes in the morning, she is in a hurry and doesn't pay attention when she is dressing. One time she only had on one earring when she got to school. That night when she had more time, she really looked at herself in the mirror and noticed the lack of an earring. She explained that as writers, they had done the same thing. They typed their pieces, but they were in a hurry when they did it. So, now they were going to go back and look at it again to see if they needed to revise anything.
She talked to them about Radical Surgery and ways to do that surgery: cut & tape; post its; symbols*: spider legs.

Next came the writing time/conferencing time. I was able to talk to three students. Joey was writing a letter to his parents about getting a bird. Ariana was passionate about her topic: Puppy Mills. She even told her readers what they should do..."write your legislature". Anna was writing about sour lemonade. She had loads of post its at the bottom of her page, places to add or change her piece.
For sharing time, the class did one of my favorite types of sharing: Whip Share.  They did it in a circle and all could share the way they revised.

I was impressed with the language these fourth graders were using:
"I had a loss of energy with my piece"    
"I added some razzamatazz!"  
"I didn't have enough evidence, so I added two paragraphs of evidence."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Power of Writer's Workshop

Today's Post comes from a classroom in my hometown. As a retired teacher/coach, I get to visit this classroom and hang out with some amazing young writers. I am so thankful for this little peek into the minds of some very special kiddos!

Last fall I began coming to this 4th grade class during their writer's workshop. I would listen to the mini-lesson and then talk to the kids about their writing. I would pull up beside them and simply say, "What's happening with you today?" They would always open up and share their thoughts and plans for the day's writing. That is most of them would. There was one boy that just didn't seem to be that interested in the writing project or even the lesson. He was sort of in his own world, doing his own thing. I talked to him several times over the months, but didn't get much information about him as a writer or even him as a person.

The beauty of being able to visit off and on in a class is the ability to see how the children are growing not just as writers, but as learners. The class takes on a personality of its own. I am amazed at the "talk" that goes on in that room. (I will share that in another blog). But today, I want to share the growth of Timmy, the little boy who was in his own world.

Several weeks ago, I talked to him about his current project. He was trying to write a persuasive piece  but didn't have a topic. We talked about it. I was amazed when he came up with a list of things in the world that he wanted to change. One of those things was the eco system.  Wow! Talk about powerful. He knew all about it!  I sent him off to write.

Today I watched Timmy during my time in the room. During the mini lesson, he was focused. He seemed to be taking everything the teacher was saying and soaking it in. During writing time, he used to sit and play with his pencil, eraser or any thing he could find. Today, he was again focused on his writing project.
During the sharing time, the students were doing a Whip Share. They would go around the sharing circle and share how they had revised their piece. Timmy didn't share, but he intently listened to his peers as they talked about their process.

Timmy has made tremendous progress this year. He sees himself as a writer and has found his voice. This community of writers has allowed him to share his thoughts and find a save place to grow. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this class? Next month they will be taking the annual state test to check their progress.  Will Timmy shine? Probably not. Will Timmy show what he knows? Probably not. Has Timmy progressed this year? You bet, by leaps and bounds. Some things just can't be measured with a pencil and paper! Some things have to be measured with life.  Oh, the piece on the eco system...well, see for yourself!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Slice of Life--Stories

I have known for a really long time that it is important to listen to the stories of our family members. I have known it, but haven't taken it seriously. Because of that, many stories are lost. Yesterday I had the chance to spend some time with my only living aunt. She will turn 86 next month. It is time that I get her stories. Well, actually it is past time, but I will gather what I can while I can.

Here's one from yesterday:
Aunt Reita started dating my uncle when she was 14, almost 15. He was three years older and very handsome! She had a crush on him, but he was dating her best friend.  They would go on double dates, so she knew how much fun he was. Her parents knew him and liked him because he was always around with that group of four. Aunt Reita always starts this story with: "When you dated Parky, you didn't date anyone else. NO ONE!" That was alright with her. But, he was dating her friend.

One Friday night Reita went to her usual job of babysitting. Her friend told her that she had a date with another guy she had been wanting to go out with...a neighbor. Aunt Reita told her, "That's okay. I'm baby sitting and will be busy."

Parky was the type that would just show up and hang out. You  never knew for sure when he would appear. That Friday night Parky decided to stop by and see his girlfriend.  Her mom came to the door and said, "She's not here." The mom wouldn't tell Parky where she was! So he went to see Aunt Reita.  The girls were very close and she would know where his girlfriend was.

He pulled up to the house where Reita was watching the children. He came to the door and asked where her friend was. Aunt Reita said she didn't know. He kept asking, she kept denying knowing anything. Finally, Parky said, "You guys are so close I know you know where she is. You better tell me, cause I'm not leaving until you do!" Aunt Reita gave in.

Parky shook his head and said, "What are you doing tomorrow night? Want to go to the picture show in Fort Wayne?"  Boy, did she!  She knew her friend would be upset, but hey, this was Parky!

She told her dad she had the date, but not her mom. Her dad liked Parky so he was fine with it. Not her mom. She was very upset. "You know this is going to put a kink in your friendship and you've been friends forever."  Reita knew that, but this was Parky!

Well, the rest is history. They dated steadily from then on. When she was sixteen and he was nineteen, they got married. He has been the love of her life ever since even after he died several years ago.

What a beautiful love story!  Love you, Aunt Reita!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Writing Challenge for March

On Saturday, I will be starting the writing challenge given by the blog: Two Writing Teachers. I have done this challenge in the past and actually completed it last year.  The idea is to post a blog every day in the month of March. That doesn't sound too difficult, but I find it challenging.  I have not been blogging this year as much as in the past. I think this will be the challenge I need to get me on track again. I miss it!

The most difficult part of the writing is to find a topic to write about. The title: A Slice of Life, from the challenging blog, gives the idea of writing about what is happening in your life. A sort of slice of what is going on in your day. Something that stands out and makes your day special. Kind of a small moment in time.

I have thought about writing about my journey to get ready for the running season. What I do each day to prepare for those long running days. However, due to the icy roads, low temperatures and heavy snow, I don't have much to write about in that area.

I have thought about sharing some of my photography and writing about that. I have taken many walks around the neighborhood and looked at things with a different lens. I have enjoyed the pictures and would love to share them. I also have pictures from the trips we have taken in my first couple years of retirement. That is a possibility.

I have thought about sharing some of the things I am doing in classrooms around the area. I am not visiting rooms as much as I did last year. This is partly due to the weather again. Looking at my March calendar, I do have a couple classrooms that I will be visiting, so that, too, might be a possibility.

There is always the opportunity to write about small moments in my daily life. Being retired does not bring a schedule of daily things and it might be interesting to see where that lead takes me.

Whatever I do, I will be writing. So, if you find the interest or time, check in on my page and see where this leads me. Also, you might want to check out the blog two writing teachers and see what else is happening. OR, you might want to take up the challenge and start a blog and write, too! 

Watch for this logo on my site!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Running, Training and Winter

Thinking ahead to the running season, it is hard to imagine training in this kind of weather.This winter has not been easy on anyone, including runners.

This is what our neighborhood looked like most of January and February. It was scary to go out and walk on roads so snow covered you couldn't tell there was ice under it all. Then add to that the below zero temperature with -40 degree wind chill. There is no way I am even thinking about running with that. So, what do I do?
Well, we had plenty of opportunity to  shovel snow. On the first morning that we went out, took the shovels and hit the driveway and sidewalks. It was fun! We then went looking for neighbors to help out. We did their drives, too. However, after several days of this, it wasn't fun any more.

When the snow became taller and taller as it stacked up, we got out the snow blower.  DD would do the drive and I would follow him cleaning it completely. We did both sidewalks on each side of our property and the walk to the house, too. When my Avon Lady delivered my order and told me we had the best driveway in the whole city, that made my day!

We are ready for the winter to be over, just like everyone else. We are ready for the  running season to begin!