Sunday, March 31, 2013

The End of the Challenge #31 of 30

Today ends the Slice of Life Challenge, which makes me a little sad and gives me a bit of relief too.  I have so enjoyed reading the many different stories that people have posted and I've gotten to know some new folks too.  It's always amazing to me the community that forms when writers get together.

I'm anxious to see my students and talk with them about the challenge.  We've been on spring break, so they've had to be on their own to finish the challenge.  A few of them blogged their slices, and I was able to keep up with them.  But for the most part, the kids chose to write in their journals.  I look forward to reading them when I return back to school.  I learn so much about my students when we do the SOL challenge.

I plan on continuing with Tuesday slicers. I fell off the wagon last year after a month or so.  This year, I will try it again and hopefully, I'll stay on the wagon.  :)  I so love this community of writers and appreciate the support I receive.

Thank you so much to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.  It's been a great month of writing, reading, and learning with so many wonderful people.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Better Baking Slice of Life Challenge 2013 #30 of 31

I love baking and I especially love baking with friends.  There's something about working closely with someone to create something delicious.  Kate and I teach together and we planned a baking day for Spring Break.  Kate likes to bake as much as I do and she is a wonderful cook.  So, I knew we were up to try something a bit challenging.  I've been wanting to make French Macarons forever.  When I suggested that we make these, Kate agreed.  I should probably tell you that Kate always says, "yes" when I suggest a project at school (and I say yes to her ideas too).  However, sometimes Kate regrets saying yes to my ideas because they often get a little complicated.  I was hoping she wouldn't regret macaron making.

She arrived early Friday morning with a bag of ingredients, ready to go.  I had spent the previous evening reading up on the art of macarons.  This baking day was not going to be a back-of-the-bag recipe adventure. We reread the directions, decided who was going to do what, and got started.  We measured, weighed, whipped, and folded ingredients.  Then came piping the dough onto the parchment paper.  Sticky, almondy goo oozed all over our hands.  We laughed over and over again through our trials and errors.  As we worked,  Kate discovered that the combination of my affinity to cooksillustrated.com and my addiction to Amazon.com has afforded me some neat kitchen gadgets.  She started a wish list of things to get for her kitchen.  Then she saw my basket filled with an assortment of baking chips.  (I have quite the assortment.)  I know she thinks I'm a little crazy to have so many.  In my defense, I can pretty much whip up any kind of cookie without having to run to the grocery first.

Next step:  filling the cookies. We made vanilla cookies with lemon buttercream and chocolate with coffee buttercream.  (I know, YUM, right?)  Then we were ready to do the taste test.  They didn't look exactly like they were supposed to, but the taste was exceptional.  We decided that we make a good baking team.

Later in the evening, friends converged upon my house laden with food and beverages.  Kate and I arranged our macarons on a platter and added them to the bounty.  They were a hit with everyone!  We spent the evening telling stories, laughing, reminiscing, and of course, eating.  It was the perfect way to end the day. There's nothing better than spending time with good friends who are always there for each other no matter what.

You can read Kate's blog post here and get her perspective on the day.  Her class is participating in the Slice of Life Challenge too.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.  You can view other slices at their site.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

College Days Slice of Life 2013 #28 of 31


Graduation Day in 1984
This may sound a little odd to some, but I love going to school.  I have great memories of going to Kent State University in the early 80s:  moving into Engleman Hall, walking up the big hill to get to class, scooting across the street to White Hall where all of my education classes were, later living at the Mayton House with 10 other girls, and hanging out with friends.  When I graduated in 1984, I knew that eventually I'd want to get my doctorate. Here's the secret though.  I didn't think my dream would ever happen.












If you read this blog, you know that I am, indeed, enrolled in graduate school at OSU.  It felt official
when I went to campus this morning and got my student ID.  I was so excited!  I don't know if it was the beautiful sunny day, or walking around campus among all of the other students, but today, I felt like I belonged.  I am really going to do this!





BuckID in hand,  I wanted go go buy OSU gear...you know, the hoodie and t-shirt with OSU emblazoned across the front.  I even made my niece take a picture of me with Brutus.  What's funny is
Brutus and Me Today
that I've never been an OSU fan (I probably shouldn't admit that on a public forum such as this).  It has nothing to do with OSU.  I'm just not really into following sports teams, no matter where they are from. For some reason though, I wanted my picture with Brutus.

I know that the next few years will be challenging.  But for now, I am eager for this next phase in my life.  I'm not sure where this journey will take me.  I do know that it's going to introduce me to to new and interesting people, places and ideas.  I am ready!  Who knows, I might even become an Buckeye fan.




Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.  You can read other slices at their site.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Numbering My Days Slice of Life Challenge 2013 #27 of 31

I've seen a couple of people post a SOL about numbers in their days/lives.  Cathy Mere at Merely Day by Day had a post last week and she got the idea from another blogger.  I knew I wanted to do one before the challenge came to an end. Today seems to be the perfect day.


3:  is the number of years ago I had a phenomenal student teacher named Tiesha Willis.  I got to visit her class today.

4:  is the age of her students at her elementary school.  I got to watch them dance to music by Beyonce, Michael Jackson, and James Brown during a school assembly honoring Black History Month (yes, they know it's March).  Those kids brought JOY to the crowd with their twirling, moonwalking, swinging hips, and everything else that goes with dancing when you're 4 years old.

4 (again):  is the number of books I bought at Cover to Cover today.  I got 2 books for Tiesha's class, a book of poetry for my room, and a book to send to Annie in her Easter box that will be VERY late.

27:  is the number of students I get to work with every day.  They keep me on my toes and make me glad that I have the job that I have.

90 (give or take a couple): is the number of days until I go to Turkey and get to see Annie!  We will tour Turkey with her and our Indian daughter, Sana, and then bring Annie home.

3 (again):  is the number of children I have

62:  is the the combined ages of my children

1970:   is the decade of the music I am listening to right now.  It brings back so many memories.  (Harry Chapin, Bee Gees anyone?)

1,000,000:  is the number of pages I need to read for Dr. Bloome's class this week and I've done none of it.  (OK...I'm exaggerating a little bit here...I don't have quite that much, but it's true that I haven't read any of it yet).

12:  is the number of people who will be at my house for Easter dinner.  I'm still working on the menu.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.  You can check out their blog to read more slices.








Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Long Distance Hugs SOLC 2013 #26 of 31

I remember the busyness and craziness of when my kids were little.  Rushing here and there, juggling schedules, kissing hurts, and celebrating joys filled my days.  I thought those days were hard, but now I realize that those days were easy.  When my kids were hurt, it usually involved a little Neosporin, and a bandaid topped off with a kiss and a hug.  It's not so easy now.

When our children grow up, we quickly realize that hurts require much more than a bandaid. Right now I want to reach across the ocean and give Annie a hug.  I think that would be good for both of us.


Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.   Check out their website to read more slices.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Power of Yet Slice of Life Challenge 2013 #25 of 31

"Mrs. Johnson, this is too hard.  I can't do it."
"I don't get this!"

When I hear this in my classroom, I sense the feeling of helplessness coming from my students.  Often when faced with a challenge, my young learners give up hope, believing that they are incapable of completing a task.  Based on Carol Dweck's work, Peter Johnston calls this a fixed mindset.  When encountering difficulty, (they) view the difficulty as failure, question their ability, assign blame for failure, and cease acting strategically.  (pg. 23)

What I hope for my students (and other people in my world) is a dynamic mindset, one where they can monitor themselves, draw upon strategies, and see themselves as being successful.

The power of the word "yet" stayed with me after reading Opening Minds this summer.  It  changed the way I talk to my students.  Instead of answering, "Of course you can do it!", I now say, "You might not be able to do it yet, but we are going to work together and figure it out.  Pretty soon, this won't be hard for you."  Together, we are changing the mind-set in our classroom through our conversations and practices.

Personally, the power of "yet" has played over and over in my mind this semester as I began my doctoral studies.  I have always been one of those people who could "do school."  I got good grades without too much trouble.  I'm sure others saw me (and I saw myself) as a successful student.  I knew going into this class that it would be a challenge.  It would require a lot of reading, writing, time,  I was pretty confident I was up to the challenge.

After reading the first research article, I began to doubt my abilities.  Academic research is far different from the type of reading I typically do.  I found myself reading with my computer by my side, looking up words, scribbling their meanings into the margins, trying to keep everything straight.  To be honest, I asked myself if I really thought I could do this.  Here I am, 50 years old, starting a doctoral program, stretching my brain in ways it hasn't been stretched before.  What was I thinking?

I identified with my students.  I was telling myself, "I can't do it."  I was afraid.

Then I stopped.  I did not want to be that person.

And the lightbulb went off.  Yes, this is hard right now, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.  I used the word "yet" for me.

I don't understand this yet.

I gave myself permission to struggle, to let go of perfection, and give myself time.  I knew hoped that if I kept at it, researchers, theories, and new vocabulary would start to fall into place.  And it has!  (Thank goodness!)  I'm beginning to recognize bits of information from one article that connect to other articles.  Some of the academic vocabulary is becoming familiar enough that I don't have to look it up every time.  And, I'm beginning to recognize researchers' names with their studies.  One of these days, I might be able to spout off names and studies as well as the year they were published like I hear others do.  I'm no expert, but I am making progress.  There is hope!

It's been interesting to watch myself as a learner.  It gives me a chance to reflect on the learners in my classroom, their frustrations, fears, and successes.  None of us wants to be a failure.  Unfortunately, some of us have been told too many times that we can't do it, or haven't been given the opportunity (or time) to try.

Since reading Opening Minds and MindSet, the word "yet" had transformed my thinking and my teaching.  I use it whenever I can:  talking to my students, my children, my husband, my friends, and myself.  It gives me hope and makes me look forward to what is yet to come in my life.

If you haven't had a chance to read either of these books, I highly encourage you to do so.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting The Slice of Life Challenge.






Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Madness According to Julie Slice of Life Challenge 2013 #24 of 31

Here we are in the midst of March Madness, and I am slowly coming to understand it all.  I enjoyed reading Cathy Mere's March Madness post earlier this week.  I could so relate to it.  It's a big deal here at home...the games are on and eyes are glued to the tube.  Thanks to a student's blog, I now know who Aaron Craft is of the OSU Buckeyes.  So it was very exciting to see him make the final shot in the last second to bring a win to OSU 78 to 75.   Now OSU moves to the Sweet 16 where they face the Arizona Wildcats. I know, you're impressed that I know all of this, aren't you?  Well, that's about the extent of what I know...so you can be done being impressed.

Now, if I was in charge of March Madness, basketball wouldn't be involved.  I'd have Cookie March Madness or Biscotti March Madness.  I guess I could probably combine the two.  Biscotti is, after all, an Italian cookie.  I would bring together my baking friends and have them bring their BEST cookie.  We'd create our own brackets, have a taste off, and declare a winner.  I'm pretty sure the Johnson special chocolate chip cookie recipe would make it to the Final Four.  (See, there's something else I know about March Madness).  Annie and I have tweaked the recipe from the original.

These are not "back of the bag" cookies.  It involves browning butter, dark brown sugar, mixing and resting, then more mixing and resting, lots of vanilla and giant chocolate chips or chunks.   I recently learned that the addition of Kraft Caramel Bits adds the perfect touch.  Just typing this post makes me think I might need to head to the kitchen this evening.

So, if you were coming to the Cookie March Madness party (I wish I was really having one.  It sounds fun, right?), what would you bring?  What is your very best cookie?  Please share in the comments.  If you want to try our recipe, I've created a link here.  Try them out.  You'll never go back to your old recipe.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Story Challenge.  You can read more slices on their blog.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Dances of my Life SOLC2013 #23 of 31

Life is not about getting through the storms, but about dancing in the rain.
Bunny Armstrong 


I did not start out to write a poem tonight.  Today is my 28th wedding anniversary and I was going to write about how we spent the day.  Then I started to think about the picture my husband posted on FB this morning of our first dance.  I couldn't get dancing out of my mind as I thought about my different dance partners and the lessons I learned.  Another poem was born.


Dancing Through My Life


As a little girl, I loved to dance.
I twirled in my pretend toe shoes
And step-ball-changed across my “stage.”
My imaginary audience applauded,
Urging me on.


Dancing flits through my memory…

Standing on my dad’s shoes
Safe in his arms as he
Spins me around the living room
Collapsing in laughter
And begging for more.


Cuttin’ the rug
Swinging
Twirling
Hopping
To the big band
With Uncle Jack,
My second dad.

Growing up…

Awkward slow dances
Eighth graders
Trying to figure it all out
Stepping on toes
While
Keeping a respectable
Catholic school distance.

High school girls
Bumping hips
Too shy to dance with
The boys.
Hoping to dance with
The boys.

Disco fever
Thunders in
Harsh beats reverberate
Through the room
My heart
Whispers
Then screams,
Stayin’ Alive
requires
a new dance partner.


Young love
Sways back and forth
In a
Locked embrace
Losing myself
In dreams
Not to be.

One, two, three
One, two, three
Learning a new dance
Unsure of the next steps
And where they lead
Afraid to dance alone
A hand reaches out
For me
When I fall behind
Always ready to catch me
Again and again,
Time after time.






Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting The Slice of Life Challenge.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Pop's Chicken Dinners SOLC2013 #22 of 31


Chicken dinners hold a special place in our family heritage.  And I guess I need to qualify, fried chicken dinners to be specific.  It didn't matter where we went to eat with my grandfather, he ordered the chicken dinner with a doggie bag.  I do not remember him ever ordering anything different.  If chicken was on the menu, chicken is what he got.

Growing up, we had a few special places where we dined with Grandma and Pop.  We followed the same routine:  get coats on at
4:15 while  Pop backed the car out of the garage.  Arrive at Laconi's by 4:30.  As Pop ever so slowly pulled into the parking space, he and Grandma both opened their car doors to make sure he was in between the yellow lines.  The kids would chorus, "Don't fall out!"  If all was well, we hopped out and darted into the restaurant.  My grandparents were regulars there and had their own booth.  Pop didn't need a menu.  The waitress knew what he wanted:  three piece chicken dinner with jojos and a doggie bag.  (Jojos are the quintesssential broasted potato served with chicken in the Cuyahoga Falls/Akron area).  After we ordered, he'd tell the waitress that he was paying the first quarter and to give the check to me.  I never grew  tired of hearing him say that.  He continued to say those words even after I was grown up and had my own children.

The doggie bag was a must have.  Pop never ate all of his chicken.  I'm not sure if he wanted to eat it or not.  No matter, because one or two pieces were reserved for the dog. Yes, the doggie bag was really for the dog.  We carried chicken home to the dog no matter what.  You won't be surprised to learn that their dogs were all overweight. (If there wasn't chicken in the evening, the dogs got bologna and cheese while Grandma had a glass of wine.)

Pop and his chicken dinners are legendary in my family.  We counted on going out to eat with him at least once when we visited for a long weekend.  Going on vacation at the cabin?  We went to Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken in Ashtabula.  Dinner for a college student on a Friday night?  The restaurant of choice was Kentwood in Kent, Ohio.  Grandma and Pop lived about 20 minutes from my dorm.  At least once a month, they'd pick me up (sometimes with a friend) at 4:15ish so we'd be seated at the restaurant by 4:30.    Again, the routine would be the same.  Pull in, check to make sure the car was between the yellow lines, (Don't fall out), go in and order a 3  piece chicken dinner with jojos and a doggie bag.  "I'll pay the first quater.  Give her the check," he'd inform the waitress as he pointed at me, always with his devilish grin.

Today, I spent the afternoon looking through old pictures at my mom and dad's house.  So many memories came flooding back, among them Pop's chicken dinners.  My grandfather was a man of few words.  Some thought him intimidating,  but never once did any of us kids not feel totally loved and cherished by him.  Tonight, I had a 3 piece chicken dinner in his honor, and yes, I got a box for the leftovers.

Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Skype Visit with Bobbie Pyron Slice of Life 2013 #21 of 31

Today was the last day of school before spring break and we ended it with a bang!  Bobbie Pyron, author of A Dog's Way Home and The Dogs of Winter Skyped with our class and some guests from the local college.

My class participated in a reading partnership with students at our local community college.  I divided the kids into small groups and assigned books for them to read in small book clubs.  Students from Columbus State Community College read the same books and then blogged with my fourth graders.  (Several classrooms from our district participated in this project).  A group of 5 boys read A Dog's Way Home and loved it, as I knew they would.  I thought it would be great to bring Bobbie to our classroom via Skype and invite our new friends from Columbus State.  I contacted Bobbie via Twitter and she graciously agreed to meet with us this afternoon.

After telling us a bit about where she got the idea for her story, the boys asked her some questions.  I'll share some of the interview with you here.

When did the story take place?  Bobbie liked this question and said no one had asked her that before.    She explained she wanted this story to be in a timeless place.  She consciously decided to not include cell phones and texting because that would date the story.  She compared A Dog's Way Home to Charlotte's Web, where the story could take place at any time.

Are your characters based on real people?  Some of the characters are based a little on people she knows.  For example, Abby is somewhat like she was as a young girl, except that Abby is much more confident in herself.  Ivy Calhoun is based on her great aunt who lived in Gatlinburg when she was still alive.  Surprisingly, Cheyenne Rivers was not going to be a very big character in the book, but she took on a life of her own.  For the most part, the characters are their own people.

Why did you use different points of view?  She didn't start out that way.  After she decided to alternate between Tam's and Abby's points of view, she wasn't sure how to do Tam's chapters.  She knew she didn't want Tam to be a talking dog, so instead she used the intimate third person point of view.  

What books have you read recently?  Bobbie told the kids that one of the most important things a writer can do read, read, read.  Second?  Be aware of what is going on around you.  She told us how she picks up snippets of conversation, which gives her ideas.  We shared that we were doing  the Slice of Life Challenge and she was impressed that the kids are writing every day for 31 days.  When we asked what she was reading, we were excited to hear that she was reading some of the same books we were.  She mentioned:
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Wonder by RJ Palacio 
Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
The Giver by Lois Lowry

We then recommended The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen.  It was fun for me to note that many of these books were in kids' hands right now.  We are currently reading Wonder as a read aloud and had read The One and Only Ivan earlier this year.  I just gave one of the boys Navigating Early and a couple of my students read Kindred Souls at the beginning of the year.  Three Times Lucky is going to be my first spring break read.  :)

Being able to connect with authors is such a gift.  Bobbie is always very gracious and kind.  This is actually the third time I've Skyped with her.  I guess I could be considered one of her groupies.

Spending time with  Bobbie, talking about writing and reading, and learning more about her writing process was the perfect way to spend the day.  I couldn't ask for a better Slice of Life.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One More Wakeup SOLC 2013 #20 of 31

One more wakeup and then it's Spring Break.  The cashier, who I see every Tuesday morning at Bob Evans, asked me yesterday if the teachers or the students are more excited about Spring Break.  I answered unequivocally, "The teachers!"

Don't get me wrong...I love my job.  I love my kids.  I love my colleagues.  Working day in and day out with these wonderful people energizes me and keeps me going.  At the same time, it can be exhausting.  So, now it's time to slow down and take a breath.  I am SO looking forward to having 10 whole days of not waking up to the alarm clock and setting my own schedule.

So, what exciting things am I going to do, you may be asking yourself.  Well...


  • I am going to read, read and read some more.  I have lots of reading material on my Kindle, my bedside table, and on the bookshelf.  Let's see...I've got







  • I am going out to breakfast and lunch with friends.  (I love to go out to eat).
  • I am going to get caught up on blog reading.
  • I am going to have to do some homework, which involves reading some heavy duty stuff.  (Oh yeah, I should probably write a paper or two so I don't have a total freaking out in April).
  • I am going to visit my parents and later host my family for Easter dinner.
  • I am going to clean my house.  Cleaning is not my favorite thing to do, but it's not so bad when I have time to do it and then I can relax and enjoy all the books mentioned above.
  • I am going to try some new recipes.  (One of my students wrote a SOL about his mom's famous chocolate chip cookies.  We have a special recipe too, so Johnathan and I traded recipes.)  There may even be a biscotti baking day next week.  :)
  • I am going to cook wholesome, healthy dinners that do not come out of a bag or box.
  • I am going to exercise...go for walks or bike rides each day.
  • I am going to slow down, relax, and savor this gift of time.  
So, it's not really all that exciting.  But the beauty of it all is that none of it HAS to be done (except for my homework for Dr. Bloome...don't want to get in trouble).  I can choose how to spend my time and who I spend it with.  I can enjoy!

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting The Slice of Life Challenge.





Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Gift of Time

Chris, the custodian, popped into my room shortly after school ended, apologizing for bothering me and explaining he needed to clean the vents and he wanted to get a head start.

"No problem," I told him.  "I'm going to go home early and make dinner for my husband.  He won't know what's come over me."

"You know, that's the nicest thing you could do," he replied.

Hmmm... that made me feel a little guilty. Now that I'm teaching full time and going to school part-time, my husband has taken over many of the household duties.  Luckily, it's just the two of us, so the messes are kept to a minimum.  AND I do appreciate all he does.

So, I left school at 4:40 (pretty early for me), and headed home.  The sunshine warmed me and lifted my spirits, even though the thermometer told me that it was only 37 degrees.  Ahh...this was good.  I walked in the door before 5:00.

I made a recipe I've been wanting to try...Skillet Citrus Chicken Tenders in my new Cook's Country magazine.  By the way, I LOVE anything done by America's Test Kitchen.   I made some rice and a vegetable to go with it and 30 minutes later, dinner was on the table.  Yes, we even cleared the mail off the table and sat down together.  (More guilt...when the kids were home, we sat at the table for dinner all the time).

Cooking and baking feed my soul.  Mincing, dicing, and stirring are my therapy.   I love being able to feed good food to those I love.  (Heck, I just like to feed anyone good food).  So, for tonight, I took Chris' advice and for tonight, I am content.

Need a quick, delicious dinner?  Here's a link to the recipe from Cook's Country.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting The Slice of Life Challenge.

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's That Time of Year

I love this time of the year.  Spring is peeking around the corner.  She teases us with glimpses of longer days, bits of sunshine, and a touch of warmer weather.  But that isn't the part that brightens my day.

I know once I see the pink Easter bunnies pop up in the store among the plastic green grass and multi-colored jelly beans, Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs are not far behind.  There's something special about those chocolatey peanut butter filled eggs.

I'm not sure why, but they're much better than the regular peanut butter cups you can buy year round.  No matter what, these special eggs can be found in Easter baskets at the Johnson house and this year, they'll be traveling to Turkey for Annie to share with her family and friends there.

What is your favorite Easter treat that comes out this time of year?

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Challenge in the Challenge SOLC2013 17 of 31

One of my students wrote in her SOLC today that she is tired of Slice of Life.  She doesn't know what else to write about.  She doesn't want to quit; she wants to keep going, but she's tired.

Oh, I know how she feels.  My brain is full with...

  • lesson plans, lesson plans, lesson plans
  • thinking about who needs what in my class 
  • thinking about what I need to cover before OAA comes around next month
  • reading for my doctoral class (talk about challenging reads)
  • trying to balance my school work with being a wife, mother, and daughter...am I doing a good enough job?



I'm tapped out tonight.  I know this feeling won't last.  I'll wake up tomorrow, refreshed and ready to face the week.  But for tonight, I am with Dana.  I'm tired.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about what to do when faced with this challenge of not knowing what to write about.  One of the things I love about SOL is that all of the writers in my room, including me, are on equal footing.  I am not the expert here.  I, too, get into ruts and need some encouragement.

Any suggestions for what you do when you are in a rut that I can share with my 4th graders tomorrow?  Any and all ideas are welcome!!

If you'd like to read Dana's post and send her some writerly love, you can view it at Getting Tired for Slice of Life

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

All Grown Up

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.



Two of my three children are home.  Each has a couch, each is snuggled under a blanket, empty Graeter's cartons sit on the coffee table as they watch a movie.  They Skyped with Annie, who is in Turkey, late yesterday.  My husband and I love to watch them be friends and enjoy each other's company.

I remember when they were little and they fought so much I thought I'd go crazy.  I couldn't imagine them ever being friends, although I hoped they would.  Now that they're grown up, they couldn't be closer.  Many plans are made that don't include Keith and me.  

This picture hangs on our refrigerator.  I love Molly's expression as she looks down on Annie.  I'm sure she's wondering what this new little person is going to do to her life.  Zach is oblivious, although he spent the first month of her life in timeout because he kept walking up to her bassinet and hitting her on the head while he yelled, "Pow!!"

18 years have gone by since this picture was taken.  It's been quite a journey with lots of twists and turns, but oh, so worth the trip.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Words Overheard SOLC 2013 15 of 31


Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge.


This week I heard...


"I went to this Orff conference.  I think I want to teach elementary."

"I can't do this yet Mrs. Johnson."

"Only 4 more days until we find out if its a boy or a girl."

"Turning 30 is nothing."

"Don't read Wonder when we are aren't here."

"Hey, aren't humans made up of liquids and solids?  AND gas too?"

"How do you do this?  There are kids everywhere doing different things."

"I need you to recommend a book for me."

"We made it to the district challenge!"


"The best thing about doing Slice of Life is that my parents keep my little brother away from me while I write."

"Mom, just close your eyes and pretend it's Downton Abbey."

"We are kvelling."


"It's the most perfect love there is."

So many stories swirl around us.  What have you heard?










Thursday, March 14, 2013

She Blinded Me with Science Slice of Life 2013

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge 2013.  This is post 14 of 31.



Today was full of Science discoveries...all of them pretty neat.

Conversations...

I've switched up Science this year now that I'm working on more of an inquiry model.  Instead of having kids read  about matter before doing our experiments, we did the experiments first and then read to solidify our thinking.  It was actually an accident.  I hadn't purposefully planned it that way, it just happened.  I'm so glad I did.  I made a great discovery...

Wow! The conversation during the reading was much different than in the past.  The students read in their science groups and as I walked around I heard things like, "Oh yeah, that's like when we did..."  It occurred to me that doing the hands-on inquiry first was really a good thing.  Of course, I had to delve  a little further.  So, I gathered my class and asked them what they thought about reading about our science concepts AFTER they had done the experiments.  (We had been working on identifying the physical properties of solids, liquids, and gases).  All but 4 of the students thought that they had a better understanding of the concepts in the book because they remembered doing the experiments.  Now, there is research in action.

Of course, there are always questions.  After discussing the molecular makeup of solids, liquids, and gases, A wondered what the molecules were like in a non-Newtonian liquid like the Goop we made.  I wasn't sure, so we sent an email to a science expert in our district.  We also have a connection with one of my boy's dad.  We'll be anxiously awaiting to hear from one of them and if we're lucky, we'll get to Skype with another scientist who can explain what's happening.

Family Science Night

Tonight, our school hosted Family Science Night.  The fourth grade tables ROCKED.  My table held the Will It Blow? experiment where we mixed baking soda and vinegar in a baggie.  It was such a hit in my classroom, I decided that we needed to do it at Science Night.  Our other table hosted It's Electrifying where students connected circuits to create electricity.  It was so fun meeting so many families and talking to them about science.  Every grade level supplied several activities for families to learn about the science concepts we teach at those grades.  We had a great turnout and even had to shoo a few families out.  I guess they were having too much fun.

And here's something fun that a friend reminded me of...Today I got to see lots of kids and families get excited about science.  Enjoy!