Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oops! Where does the time go?

I did so well during the month of March, each day thinking about my slice of life and looking for things to write about and then getting it written and posted. But now each week, I barely catch it. I haven't missed a week yet, but each Tuesday I have a, "yikes! It's Tuesday! I almost forgot to blog my slice of life!" I wonder what is making the difference? Why was it so much on my mind during the challenge- was it because it was everyday and I had a challenge, a promise of a prize? The proverbial carrot at the end of the stick?

I'm not sure, but I do know that this is indicative of how time seems to be flying by. Suddenly it is Tuesday again. Vacation is over, we have only 30 days of school left with the kids. Tomorrow is the second and next to the last day of standardized testing. Mid term reports go out next week. Were does the time go?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Where is that box of tissues?

The weather has been sunny, but cool this week and I didn't do a whole lot outside during vacation. I did get much reading done and nearly all caught up on my correcting.

Last night we went to see Godspell. It was amazing. I knew about half the people it it; students, former students, parents of students, and co-workers. It was so well done and so much fun to watch them sing, dance and act. I was amazed by how much the kids have grown up- even ones who I usually see 5 days a week. They are growing into such fine young men and women. And talented!

Today was sunny and warm. I woke up with a head ache, so I knew it was going to be a fun allergy day. John and I had challenging and deep discussions over breakfast (once the coffee kicked in!). He is truly my best friend. I love him so much and I am so grateful for him! He challenges me intellectually and spiritually. He's so good for me and I am good for him.

John puttered around the yard and cleaned out the truck while I made a noon trip to the library. I was simply going to return a dvd and book and look for the Godspell soundtrack and dvd of Narnia and then return home; after all, I have a stack of books I'm working through. I swear. And I did return those two things and look for the other two. But our library has such a great YA section...and a great cd collection... So I came home with The Shins cd, Godspell soundtrack, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment and Maximum Ride: Schools Out-Forever by James Patterson, Maximum Ride the Manga version, Manga Romeo and Juliet, and Pop by Gordon Korman. Maybe I should look for a local chapter of Biblioholics Anonymous!

After lunch we went for a walk in the woods. Parking at Redemption Rock (cool place- wicked big rock where the settlers arranged the ransom of Mary Rowlandson during King Phillip's War), we followed the Mid-State Trail north up over some ledges that we've been able to see from the road and wanted to check out. Beautiful view of Mt. Wachusett from there. Then we headed south back to Redemption Rock and past it toward Mt. Wachusett. We'd forgotten to bring water with us, so we didn't go all the way to Wachusett. It was pretty in the woods, though. A lot of cool trees.

Today has been a beautiful spring day and a nice close to vacation. Off to make pizza!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Yesterday morning I was looking at the map ( LOVE my DeLorme Maine Gazettah and Atlas! And yes, I know it's spelled gazetteer, but I've been trying to reclaim my Maine accent that got lost somewhere between college in PA and teaching in NH and MA- After all, when you're dictating spelling words, the kids will 90% of the time spell it the way you say it!). I wanted to see what communities were near the schools I've applied to because we may not be able to afford to live in the towns where the schools are located. Near one of the schools is a little town named "Hope". Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hope- Slice of Life 4/20

I've been thinking about hope lately. Emily Dickinson wrote beautifully of hope:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

A little while back John and I decided that we want to move to Maine. It would be back for me, as I grew up in Maine, and it would be a first time for him. He's very willing. We've set our sights on the coast. In the past week I've sent applications to three public schools. And we're in the middle of waiting.

We know that changes are coming regardless of the outcome of these applications. Things are tight financially for us. There are going to be some major changes at John's work in the coming months, and it's hard telling what is going to happen with enrollment at my school.

Our hope is to move to Maine and be nearer my family, to enjoy the beauty of the coast, and to step into the slower pace of life. I'm trying to be patient and wait, but it is hard. At the same time, I am scared of the change; packing finding a place to live, moving, meeting new people, learning a new school.

Hebrews 11:1 says "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

I guess I'm trying to work it all out- being sure of what I hope for, fighting off the doubts, trusting God to provide. Preparing to say good-bye, or not.

It's spring vacation right now. I have all these grand plans to get caught up on correcting and lesson plans. So far that hasn't gotten done. The pull of searching for housing is too strong, yet I don't even know if I'll be considered for one of these jobs!

Spring, hope, faith. The promise of new life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Slice of Life April 13, 2010

I feel like my mind is scattered in little pieces all over the floor right now. I'm trying to apply to schools in Maine in hopes of a new job and relocation. I'm trying to be 100% in my current job. We just started a new term. Parent Conferences are tomorrow afternoon ( I teach all morning and conference all afternoon. Yikes!) Today is my husband's b-day and I cooked him one of his favorite dinners. I tried to spend some time with him; but had last minute grading things to do to prepare for the conferences, so I've been in my office all evening. Several of my co-workers are in the middle of health issues with their children and are having to miss a lot of school. This includes my teammate. I still don't have grades for two of my students from her, but she's been out/busy with a sick child. Next week is spring vacation.

Deep Breath.

In. Out.

Small moments from today:

I had fun with my 7th graders this morning. We're working on compare and contrast essays and are doing poems at the same time to take the stress out of the essay writing. Today we wrote poems for two and three voices. Some VERY cleaver poems were produced!

I have 8th grade boys asking me for books to read! It makes me grin every time and it also makes me wish I had unlimited funds, unlimited shelf space, and immediate access to a book store!

Several of my 8th graders who are usually hard pressed to keep up with assigned reading read ahead in our current class novel: Lord of the Flies and are coming in talking about the story and asking each other where they are in the reading.

While watching our backyard bird feeder at home this afternoon, John and I saw the male cardinal again. We haven't seen the cardinals for a while. We also saw a new bird: a rufous-sided towhee. Very cool!

Now that I've finished writing this, I feel much less scattered. I love how writing helps to focus my mind and help me feel much more centered!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

TOUCHBLUE by Cynthia Lord

Cynthia Lord's RULES quickly became one of my favorite books the first time I read it. Now, as I'm reading it aloud to my 7th graders I am repeatedly struck by how meaningful it is. I was delighted when I found out Cindy had a new middle grade novel coming out.

Eleven-year-old Tess lives on an island off the coast of Maine. She loves her island life, including fishing with her father on his lobster boat. When the state plans to close the school house where Tess's mother is the teacher, the island community steps into action. Several families agree to take in foster children in hopes that they will help kids who need good families and save their school. Tess hopes her luck will hold as her family takes a chance on 13-year-old trumpet playing Aaron, but as things look like they aren't going to work out as she'd hope, Tess learns about luck and belonging.

I was not at all disappointed! Cynthia Lord has once again beautifully captured the voice and essence of "tweeners". Tess and Aaron are vibrant and real. The island is populated with interesting characters from a nosy neighbor to the class bully. I love it when an author has some sort of a frame that they weave their story around and Cindy cleverly weaves in various superstitions as Tess is a girl who very much one who believes in luck. I was delight to find that becoming an essential part of Tess' growth as a character. The setting is also beautiful created. I could hear the gulls cry and almost taste the salty air. Having spent time on the coast of Maine, I was transported back there as I read the story. There was so much that I could relate to, from the frustrations of missing your best friend to the strategies of playing Monopoly with a sibling.

I can't wait to share this with my class once we finish RULES! I'm also pretty excited to have received my very first ARC, thanks, Cindy!

*ARC provided by author

TOUCHBLUE is due to be released in August 2010 by Scholastic.

Poetry 4/9

My mind still
with things said
patient explanations offered


Thursday, April 8, 2010


April is Poetry month, so I'm trying to write some poetry. It's something that I'm not very good at and need to work on. I've been trying to get my students to write some poetry, too. Here are my attempts from this week:

Tuesday's poem:

Every cloud has its
silver lining.
I'm still looking for

Yesterdays attempt:

Trees are amazingly resilient.
They are battered by wind;
Attacked by disease and bug;
limbs cut;
trunks banged.
Yet they fight to live; they push out new shoots.
They reach for the sun
Leaves soak up the life giving light.
Bark heals around scars
Yet they are never the same.

Today's poems:

(inspired by my longing to move to the Maine coast and snipits from RULES):
The salt air calls to me
the slower pace of life
The freedom of gulls wheeling over heard.
The unpredictability of the waves
countered by the predictability of the tides.

(inspired by a great literature lesson with my 8th graders)
The joy of a smoothly run class
prepared students
"Oh! I get it!"
surprised delight in their eyes.
Energy flowing
conversations spilling into their break
a good day

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Slice of Life

A few months ago I read a biography of young adult writer Robert Cormier. He shared that a pivotal moment for him was when a teacher told him "you are a writer". Since reading that, I've tried to remember to be very intentional about the comments I write on my students' papers- not just comments to help them improve their writing, but to help them feel confident about their writing.

As we studied The Giver one of the assignments I gave was an essay explaining what job my students would love to have when they grown up. One of my 7th graders who I've really been able to connect with this year, wrote that she would like to write poems and songs. On the top of her paper I wrote, "You are a poet my dear! I love reading your poems."

At the end of the day today she came into my room, pointed to the top of her paper, said, "Thank you for the note," and gave me a hug.

Yup, this is why I teach!