Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Slice of Life 31/31

I had wanted to do something special for my students for Easter. I picked up some hollow plastic eggs and some inexpensive, but yummy candy. Yesterday I filled the eggs with the candy and this morning I folded up homework passes and tucked one into each egg. While my kiddos were in another class, I hid the eggs around the room.

Because tomorrow is "Africa Day" my 7th graders were working in their homeroom to decorate it during my Cultures class. After hiding the eggs, I called them in and explained that we were going to have a little Easter egg hunt. There was one egg for each of them. Two of the girls ran to their cubbies and grabbed the little Easter bunny baskets they had made with the pre-schoolers that morning. They excitedly found their egg and gave me huge hugs and thank yous.

The 8th graders were in Bible class with Mr. H. At the very end of class, I went in and asked Mr. H. if I could talk to them for a moment before he dismissed them.

"Are we in trouble again?" One of the boys asked.

"No, actually I've hidden Easter candy in the room for you."

There were cries and cheers of delight and "thank you!!" I explained there was one egg person, and Mr. H dismissed them. They ran across the hall- I barely got back to the room before them! They excitedly searched until every egg was found. They made sure everyone had one. They excitedly ate their candy, and again said thank you.

It was one of those few times when I'm thankful that my 8th graders can still be little kids.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Slice of Life 30/31

I have this one kid who I really like. He's sweet and cute and goofy. He's not the sharpest pencil in the pencil box and everyone knows it, but he's the poster child for that teacher motto that everyone is smart in their own way. The poor kid couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag if his life depended on it, he's got some real language learning issues and his parents won't get him tested (a whole other topic). But, the kid has some serious bass guitar skills and has perfect comic timing. He's pretty easy going and usually lets it roll off him with his classmates laugh at him for his misunderstandings and short comings. But there are those days where it does bug him and he starts to get down. This morning was one of those days. As they were laughing at him, I saw him pulling inside himself. I could tell it was bugging him. It was during our independent reading and writing time at the start of class, so as the kids settled down into their writing, X just sat there scribbling on his paper.

I wrote him a little encouraging note, and walked over and placed it on his desk. He read it, tucked it into his writer's notebook, turned the page, and started writing. Later I got to see what he'd written. It was a note thanking me for my note and telling me that it had made him feel better. Neither of us ever said another word about it, which is fine. What more needs to be said?

If I helped one 8th grader remember, even for just a little while, that he is valuable it was a good day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Slice of Life 29/31

My husband has a great book bag that he got a long time ago from WaldonBooks. It has a Thomas Jefferson quote on it: "I cannot live without books!" It's such a great quote and a sentiment that I share. I frequently lament, "So many books, so little time!" I love books. I dare say that I am addicted to books and to reading, and I've blogged many times about this.

Today I heard my familiar lament in an unexpected place and from an unexpected source- my 8th grade classroom on the lips of one of my 8th grade boys. C is one of the boys that got hooked on reading this past winter when I introduced the class to The Hunger Games. He has asked me on several occasions for books to read, and I have worked hard to match him up with books that will keep him reading. Right now he is working on Chaos Walking Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. On an almost daily basis C tells me that the book is really good and makes a comment about what is happening where he is in the book. Today when he told me, "This book is really good! I still haven't found out why he had to run away, and he's meet the girl, but SHE WON'T TALK TO HIM!", C went on to say, "There are so many good books out there, it's hard to find them and then have time to read them!"

My book loving English teacher heart swelled with pride and joy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Slice of Life 28/31

We went for a walk after lunch today. It felt so good to be outside, walking through the woods. The MidState Trail runs through our neighborhood and we explored a part of it that we haven't walked yet. Our original destination was the stream that flows out of the lake. Long ago there were mills all along this stream. Seems hard to believe. We tried to imagine where the mills and factories were, but just can't picture it. The stream is so pretty, especially since we've had quite a bit of rain lately as well as the usual snow melt. We walked down the road along the stream trying to pick out where mill buildings might have once stood, then crossed a little bridge and picked up the MidState Trail and hiked up the stream on the other side. We followed the trail a few feet into the woods when it veered away from the stream, then headed back, leaving the woods for another day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Slice of Life 27/31

Today I had lunch with a former student. Jenn was a fourth grader in my very first class, my very first year of teaching. She is now a senior English major at Plymouth State. I can't believe she's graduating! We had such a great time talking about everything from books to job interviews to where some of her former classmates are now, to "do you remember when". Before we knew it a couple of hours had passed and she had to get going. It was so much fun to connect with her as a friend, not teacher and student. To hear her opinions on things and the life lessons she's been learning in this transition period of being 21.

And it was nice to hear that the two years she was in my classroom (4th grade and 6th grade) were some of the best years she remembers of ,elementary school and that she thought I was a great teacher. That is always good for a teacher's soul!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Slice of Life 26/31

Driving home I was thinking about my day and what I would write about for today's Slice of Life. I'd just had two great days with my classes. Handling situations well, great activities and discussions about Lord of the Flies with my 8th graders, and a fun evening watching my students perform in Willy Wonka, Jr.

I had decided I was going to write something about how proud I was of my 8th grade boys: the ones who sang and acted so well in Willy Wonka and the ones who impressed me with their grown-up and helpful behavior selling tickets, snacks, and handing out programs, when I walked into the house and saw the large white envelope on the counter.

There it was, my very first ARC, advanced reader copy. This year I struck up a friendship with author Cynthia Lord. Her new book, Touch Blue is out from Scholastic in August and she had told me she would send me a copy when her galleys arrived. I am so excited to have it and can't wait to read it. I also can't wait to share it with my 7th graders. We just started Cindy's first book, Rules and the girls are loving it. I know that we will love Touch Blue.

I've been wanting to start writing book reviews, maybe this should be my first.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SoLC 25/31

Today I had to pull several of my boys out into the hall to address something they had done that had upset a volunteer the day before. I pulled them one at a time. I looked each in the eye, smiled, laughed, and firmly said, "I think you know that what you choose was not appropriate. What do you think your parents would say if they saw that in the year book? You need to choose a new verse and resubmit it." They understood, they knew they were wrong. They gave me sheepish grins and agreed to change their yearbook submission, then went back into the room. I didn't make a big deal. I wasn't mad. After all, they were 8th grade boys being well, 8th grade boys. They got over it and we moved on with our day. One of them, as I looked him in they eye, I had to look UP. What an experience; reprimanding a boy who is a foot taller than you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SoLC 24/31

At the end of staff meeting today my principal picked up the book I'm currently reading (okay, one of the books I'm currently reading) and said, "You should be a book reviewer. You always make me want to read the books you tell me about. I really want to read this one. Why don't you tell everyone about it."

The book is Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove. It's about a native tribe in the Amazonian jungles of Peru. I'm only a few chapters in and really enjoying it. There is so much great information about the culture. I think I have permission to do it with my 7th graders next term- we're studying Peru in Cultures class.

I'm excited about it, but wish I had the time to fully develop a unit surrounding the book. There is so much that I could do, but I know I won't have the time and we won't do Cultures for another four years because of the rotating curriculum.

It really struck me when my principal said I should be a book review. I LOVE to read and am always reading and recommending books to my friends and students. But I've never written any reviews. I've thought about it. I really need to try my hand at writing reviews.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SoLC 23/31

As a writing teacher I know that I should be writing with my kids. I try, but I usually fail. I made the commitment to try to do the latest projects with my kids. Today my 7th graders started writing original African Folktales. We've been doing background research on the culture of Liberia and reading some African Folktales. Today we brainstormed settings, characters, themes, and problems and began drafting. It was fun! I had a little trouble starting out, but I began to get into the zone, just as our writing time ended. But, oh it felt so good!

My 8th graders are beginning the This I Believe writing project. Today we defined some values and choose 5 to focus on. Tomorrow we'll start looking at our experiences that formed those values. I'm looking forward to doing this project with the kids.

Monday, March 22, 2010

SoLC 22/31

I love books!
After way more food than we should have eaten at Applebee's, we went next door to Barnes & Nobles. My goal was to pick up a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I have read The Knife of Never Letting Go and LOVED it. I know that many of my kids will like it if they aren't scared off by the length. I want to read the Maze Runner out loud to my 8th graders. They loved The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner is supposed to be just as good. I picked up those two books and a copy of Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman because April and Poetry month and I think my 7th graders will have fun reading these poems.

I browsed the YA and Children's Sections pulling books, give small exclaims of joy over various titles and putting them back wistfully. Oh how I wish our budget wasn't so tight! You know how you sometimes get those questions, "what would you do with a million dollars"? I would use a lot of it to buy books. Books for my classroom library. Books for me. I love books!

Book stores and libraries are so exciting. There are so many worlds and ideas just waiting to be explored.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SoLC 21/31

Tonight we had dinner with John's father and step-mother. We hadn't seen them in quite sometime, despite the fact that they only live about 15 minutes away. While we were waiting for dinner to finish cooking, Ginny said, "Do we have time to give them their presents?"

We were surprised to realize that we hadn't seen them since Thanksgiving and they had Christmas presents for us. I was quite embarrassed because we didn't have anything for them, nor had the thought crossed our mind. We are both really bad about presents and cards and celebrating birthdays and holidays.

They gave us each a beautiful sweater. Mine needs to be exchanged; I'm rather flattered that they think I'm two entire sizes smaller than I really am. Although that maybe an indicator that we need to spend a more time with them!

Giving is not John's "love language" and he gets really stressed about having to get gifts for people. I do like to give gifts, but things that are meaningful and special. Trying to figure out the perfect gift for someone stresses me out. So we often tend to try to avoid it all together. But that isn't always the best course of action.

I wonder, if March isn't too late to give Christmas presents, perhaps we can still get his folks presents...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SoLC 20/31

A Deep Breath of Spring

It was 70 today. We opened up windows. John raked out the flower garden and spread more MoleMax in the on going battle against the voles. I vacuumed the house and straightened up my office. After a trip to the library I sat on the back steps reading my 8th graders' writer's notebooks while John cut down the dead, rotting tree behind the shed. Goldfinches staked their claims at the feeder with the juncos and chickadees.

Friday, March 19, 2010

SoLC 19/31

Frustration mounts
as the sun inches up and across the sky.
Work piles up
as future plans are made.
The tyranny of the urgent reigns.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SoLC 18/31

The family of one of my 8th graders had a little surprise this year. Mom got pregnant. There is a daughter in high school and then the 8th grader, K. K was pretty excited and worried about his mom this winter as the time for delivery drew near. Then one day the school got a phone call saying K's mom was going to the hospital to have the baby and that he would be picked up shortly by his grandparents. As he waited in the office for his grandmother, K paced back and forth like a nervous father, it was very cute! A healthy baby girl was born the next morning.

Today K's parents brought the baby when they came to pick up K. I was out back doing car-pool when I turned around to see K walking toward me carrying a baby carrier and wearing a HUGE smile. "Mrs. Stotz! Mrs. Campbell! Meet my baby sister!"

She was so beautiful! Some of K's friends where still waiting to be picked up and they came out to see the baby. It was fun watching them; they were so amazed by how tiny she was! It was great getting to see the baby, but I think the best part was the brotherly love and pride on K's face as he carried and showed off his sleeping baby sister.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SoLC 17/31

The tell-tale sound of glass breaking pulled me from my desk where I was marking a few papers while my hubby got supper. I went into the kitchen to find John at the sink washing up dishes and very upset because he had just accidentally broken one of our favorite mugs. Way back when I was single and living in New Hampshire I picked up a couple of really cool clear glass snow flake mugs at Hannaford's. They're awesome- big, but not two big. Now we only have one.

Since we've been married John has broken two of my grandmother's juice glasses and a favorite blue ceramic coffee mug that a friend had given me as a birthday gift. It's purely accidental. It's not like he's accident prone or rough. It just happens.

I'm disappointed the mug got broken. I'll miss it- it was nice having matching mugs. I don't know if I'll ever be able to find a replacement. But it's a mug. It's stuff. As my friend Cathy used to say, "It's all going to burn anyway"! We place so much meaning or value on stuff and get upset when something happens to it. Really, I'm so blessed. I have health and love. What more do I need?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SoLC 16/31

A sure sign of spring, the lady bugs have invaded my office. They swarm on the east window. On warm, sunny days (like today) there are 20 or so of them, doing laps around the moulding, bunching on the window, racing across the ceiling... and as the sun goes down they mysteriously disappear. Most of them. There is always one or two who stick around to buzz me or suddenly drop bellow the lamp with a tick and a flutter of wings, scaring the heck out of me. My floor becomes littered with their carcasses. I'll vacuum them up a few times, and then as spring marches on, they'll disappear all together. In the mean time, I herd them away from the dish sink and near drowning in water splashed on the counter, and check the rim of my mug before I take a drink.

Monday, March 15, 2010

SoLC 15/31

This week's chapel speaker brought up the subject of Lent. He asked how many kids had heard of Lent and how many were trying to give up something for Lent. After getting some cute and meaningful answers from the younger kids, Pastor John said, "Okay. One more." One of my 8th graders raised his hand. "I'm giving up homework."

I leaned over and said, loud enough for the rest of the 8th grade to hear, "X, giving up something for Lent means that you were doing it in the first place."

Fortunately we know each other well and have a good enough relationship that it was taken as the joke it was intended!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SoLC 14/31

I've felt out of wack all day. We awoke to a flooded basement, so our normal routine of sitting at the table reading and drinking coffee never happened. Going to church was out of the question, as we needed to get the 2+ inches out of the basement and the floor dried up; especially since John's wood shop is down there. Wood + water= mess and rusty tools.

So while John worked on the water issue, including an early mornig trip to HomeDepot for a second sump pump, I read, did dishes and launched into school work. My biggest struggle is the continual feeling of being behind and being defeated by the stack of papers to mark and lessons to plan and that was very much with me. It still is at it is 9pm, I still have some lessons to plan and John is probably asleep on the couch already.

We only lost an hour, but I feel like I somehow lost an entire day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SoLC 13/31

When the phone rang a little after 8 this morning we assumed it was the alarm company from work calling to say there had been a phone line trouble during the night. To our pleasant surprise, it was the eye doctor's office calling to say our glasses were ready. We had ordered our new glasses on Wednesday and weren't expecting to here anything until the middle of next week.

I'm glad we were able to pick them up today because I had a significant change in my prescription and John had to go to progressive lenses. We have the weekend to get use to them. When I first put them on I had quite the shock, and even wondered if they were too strong. But it didn't take long for my eyes to begin to adjust. During lunch it felt like my eyes were beginning to relax (although the Corona with lime might have had something to do with that!) and now, there is only slight discomfort. My eyes are kind of tired, but not too bad.

Driving home, I was amazed at how well I could see. I knew my eyes had gotten worse over the last year, but I hadn't really realized what I was missing until I could see more clearly. It got me thinking a bit about several things. First, our bodies really are amazing; how they adapt, adjust. Second, that change can be shocking and uncomfortable at first, but we adjust, and if we are willing to look around, we can see things more clearly then we've ever seen them before.

Friday, March 12, 2010

SoLC 12/31

A stretch limo full of middle school kids, balloons, and books.
What better way for a middle school English teacher to spend a Friday afternoon? Our first annual read-a-thon fundraiser was a huge success. The kids raised over $10,000 for the school tuition fund and created what will hopefully be life-long reading habits. Today was the day that the incentives were awarded. An inflatable obstacle course and bouncy house were set up in the gym, along with a snow cone machine and a popcorn machine. Through out the afternoon the K-4 kids were treated to all that fun. The 5-7 graders got to check it out, too. Unfortunately my 8th grade boys made some unwise decisions that took them out of the fun.

But the best part was the eight 5-8 graders that got to take a stretch limousine to the Scholastic Warehouse and pick out $15 worth of books in addition to any books they wanted to buy with their own money at half price. Of course they had to be chaperoned by school employees and who better but the principal and the English teacher?

Just being in the limo was a blast, especially for those who had never been in one before. There was a moment of concern when smoke began to fill the compartment, but we all relaxed when the driver said, "Oh, that's just the fog machine."

Our limo was greeted by Clifford the Big Red Dog as we pulled up to the warehouse entrance. He was holding balloons and waving. When we entered the office area the staff all clapped for us and then ushered us into a small conference room with a table loaded with books. "There is a backpack for each of you that has a couple of books in it and you are free to choose any of these books on the table that you want. When you are done, place your backpacks on the rack in the hallway and we'll take you into the warehouse."

The staff was so helpful! They took the kids through the warehouse, helped them find books, and made sure no one got lost. They took the girls to look at the posters and gave us a poster box to transport all the posters safely back to school. They went in search of A when it was time to check out and he wasn't with us. They were patient as we figured out which books the kids were getting with the Scholastic Bucks and which books they were getting for half price. And as we left, they untied all the balloons and gave them to the kids.

Books, balloons, stretch limo, and great kids. A great way to end the week!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SoLC 11/31

Hardly a day goes by that I am not amazed by my 8th grade boys in some way. Today they had a test on The Giver. They worked very hard and I think they did very well. They were focused and insightful. They used their time well.

After finishing the test I let them read silently on their independent reading. The main attraction for weeks has been The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Malice has joined the circulation and hasn't been on my shelf longer then a few minutes since I bought it. But today a new one entered the mix and became the focus of several of my boys: a full color (glossy, no less) biography of Taylor Swift.

When I went to collect the tests from my homework bin I glance across the desks of three of my boys to see that they were writing fan letters to Taylor. One of the boys even asked for help spelling some words he was unsure of for his letter.

These same boys, at the end of the day as they were packing up to go home, discovered an unopened movie theater sized box of hot tamali candy. They quickly went from eating one or two at a time and exclaiming, "These are pretty hot!" to stuffing an entire handful into their mouths at once. I think the pictures of them red-faced, crying, and flapping their hands with looks of agony on their faces that I took with my cell phone just might make it into the year book...

Hardly a day goes by that I am not amazed that these are the "seniors" of the school and that they are still alive!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SoLC 10/31

The technology had been tested, the room was rearranged. The students had prepared questions and I had previewed said questions. I was signed into Skype and we anxiously awaited 11:50 when we would call Kate Messner, author of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, and have our very first Skype author visit.

My seventh grade girls were practically bouncing in their seats. Actually, some of them really were bouncing! B even composed a little song/chant (she does that sort of thing and is rather good at doing it on the spot) that went something along the lines of "We're skyping with Kate Messner" and had some little cheers in it.

Finally, the moment arrived. The little symbol next to Kate's name turned green, and I hit the video call button. There was a minor glitch until I got our video working so she could see us, but then we were off and chatting.

I suddenly had a totally different class. Several of them had that deer- in- the -headlights look about them. "So, who wants to ask the first question?" Silence. "Okay, Y. How about if you start us off."

And so it went, with me prompting the kids and only a few volunteering. They did ask great questions, and Kate was wonderful. She had questions of her own for the kids as well. We learned a lot about writing and editing and publishing.

And it was just plain fun!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SoLC 9/31

Dear Sinuses,
Please, unclog and dry up. I would like to be able to:
think straight
stay up past 8:30
eat, drink, and kiss my husband without fear of suffocating or getting out of breath.

Thank you,

Monday, March 8, 2010

SoLC 8/31

The warm weather and bright sunshine really has a siren call. By the time I dismissed my student council students at 3:45 (15 minutes late), tidied the room from the meeting, and went downstairs to make sure the kids had all been picked up, I discovered that I was nearly the last staff member there. The office was locked, the last two teachers were collecting their children, and driving away. I didn't have to be told twice. I made sure the door was locked, packed up my stuff, locked my room, and headed to the other side of the building to see if my husband was done work.

By 4:15 we were driving away from work, the windows in the truck cracked open to let in the fresh air, the sun on our faces. It was so nice to leave work and arrive home while the sun was still rather high in the sky. The air smells fresh, the sun is warm. All my dreams of hanging out in the backyard, gardening, and going for hikes and bike rides will soon be a reality. I can feeling. Ah. The promise of spring.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SoLC 7/31

The usher passed the plate of communion wafers and the little guy sitting in front of us with his parents snagged a piece without hesitation and ate it right away. The usher and his father smiled down at the boy. When the usher came back a few minutes later with the little cups of juice, the boy, now sitting between his parents, watched them each take a cup and exclaimed, "I want that!"
His parents gave him the little plastic cup of grape juice and gently explained that he couldn't drink it yet. He carefully held the cup in anticipation until the pastor directed the congregation to celebrate Jesus' sacrifice by drinking the cup. Angel's mother quietly told him, "Now you can drink it." And he did, then piped, "I need more!"

How profound, I thought.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SoLC 6/31 The Promise of Spring

The thermometer reads in the 5os. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. Lady bugs cluster on my window. I'm chained to my desk and a sea of red ink (okay, so I'm actually using orange and purple). Heaving a sigh I cling to the promise of spring and freedom from stacks of essays and quizzes. I long for the time when I can spend a warm afternoon in the backyard lost in a fictional world brought to life in paper and ink.

I am restive. I alternate marking quizzes with surfing the internet for grad schools and teaching jobs that might pay more and allow for more time to work on a masters degree. The stack of "easily" graded papers dwindles with the setting sun, but the stack of essays and short stories continues to loom.

Friday, March 5, 2010

SoLC 5/31

"Are you going to be tied up all night?" My husband asked, placing a kiss on my temple as I sat at my computer.

"Nope! I just need to post my Slice of Life."

"Really. So," he asked, "What do you want to do tonight?"

"Watch West Wing."

"I love you!" He gleefully hugged me. "I mean, I love you and I love your idea of watching West Wing."

Yes, we have our priorities straight in this house! to watch West Wing and eat popcorn...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SoLC 4/31

Today was a LOOONNNGGG day. It was open house night. When it is my turn to represent my team for open house I usually stay through after school because there really isn't much point in driving home then driving back down again. I always hope to get all kinds of work done and it never happens. The time flies by so quickly. I didn't get a whole lot done after school. I picked up dinner from the grocery store and chatted with some of my fellow teachers.

There was a good turn out for the open house; I even gave a tour. Usually most of the attendees are for pre-school and kindergarten but tonight I gave a tour to a potential 8th grade boy.

I've grown so accustomed to commuting with my husband and spending the evening home with him. It was weird to drive separately and not see him right after work. What ever are we going to do when we get different jobs and no longer get to commute together? I've become spoiled.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Turkeys! SoLC 3/31

There is a rather large flock of wild turkeys in our area. Actually, there are a couple of flocks. There is a small group that we see on the mountain in the spring and summer months as we commute to work, and a larger flock that we often see in particular corn fields closer to town where we work. Then there is the small family that hung out around our yard all last summer, dust bathing in our garden and jumping up to eat the blueberries off the bushes in our backyard. They are really fun to watch.

Most mornings we watch for them on our way to work and I often find myself disappointed when we don't see them. This time of year they are out as much as they are in the warmer months (where do wild turkeys hang out in the winter?) so it's always exciting to spot them.

This morning was just one of those mornings-the kind where you want to just crawl back into bed and skip the entire day. We were late getting out of the house. I forgot my work keys so we had to turn around and go back. Then John forgot the checkbook, but it was too late to turn around again. He was planning to buy a couple of antique hand tools this morning and wasn't sure he could get enough cash. Neither of us really wanted to go to work and deal with the stress and craziness, and John was just plan grumpy and had been since the day before.

I was disappointed as we past the fields where we've been seeing the turkeys this winter and there was no sign of them. For some reason seeing them just brightens my day. I can't really explain it. We went on to work and on with our day, the turkeys forgotten.

Driving home, both of us in a much better mood, I glanced into one of the fields as we drove by and joyfully cried, "Turkeys! Turkey's! Turkeys!" There was the flock of 20-30 turkeys, hanging out in the corn field. It made our day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SoLC 2/31

The phone rings. It's after 8pm. My beloved has been moaning and groaning all afternoon and evening and has just gone to lay down on couch to relax. So I rinse the soap off my hands, leave the dishes and grab the phone.
"Hi. May I speak to John, please."
"I'm sorry, he can't come to the phone right now, may I take a message?" I really should have hung up when the person didn't answer immediately at my "hello", that is the number one indicator that it's a telemarketer.
"Maybe you can help me. I'm have a survey and I'm calling from some marketing firm in Wisconsin..."
"I'm not interested, have a good evening."

I realize that they have to make a living and I repeatedly realize that it could be me, but by the grace of God. But between the surveys and charities looking for donations and the alarm company at John's work, we're both ready to take out the phone.

Monday, March 1, 2010

SoLC # 1

"Mrs. Stotz, I need a new book. Can you help me find a new book to read?"
Music to my ears this morning as two of my 8th grade boys made this request.

What one thing do you hope to accomplish in life? Is there something that, after you accomplished it you were truly proud, not so much of yourself, but of what you accomplished?
As a teacher trying to live and teach intentionally and reflectively, I've spent some time thinking about my mission as a middle school teacher. Why do I teach? What do I hope to accomplish? I love reading. I love books. Spend any amount of time with me or in my home and you quickly learn this. I have books everywhere, I'm reading several books at a time, and I'm trying to get you to read the amazing book I just finished. So one aspect of my mission as a middle school English teacher is to expose kids to books and introduce them to the joy of reading. I hope to create life-long readers.

JP is one of my new readers. This morning I pointed out to him the books he had read since December, counting 5.
"Wow!" He said, "I think I might have read one book all of last year. Wait! I also read Persepolis and One More River! I've read 7 books!"

This prompted the other boys to start counting how many they've read. It was several more then they used to. Some of them will still say they don't like reading, but they are reading, by their own choice!

If I do nothing else this school year, I will still be happy because I have accomplished turning several reluctant readers into avid readers.