I've just got to share the good stuff I read.

I love to read. I read every chance I get. If I read something really good, I want to share it with my friends and co-workers. I make copies of magazine articles, read aloud to my students, tell others about good books I'm reading, and keep a book with me at all times.

I love teaching and learning new things. I need a place to share some of the lessons and what my students and I learn. Since my teaching situation is different from everyone else's in my school, I would like to tell all of you in the blog-o-sphere about these great lessons.

Feel free to share what you are reading, teaching and learning with us in the comments.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I was looking at Facebook earlier today and read a posting by a former student. He wrote, "I hate Christmas." There were several comments by friends his age-he's in college now. One referred to Steven's first Christmas in the US. I remember that Christmas. He had only been here a few months. I was his ESL teacher. We studied winter holidays and I think I may have sent an information sheet home to his parents about Christmas. Steven was hearing and seeing lots about Santa and presents that was new to him. His father was busy with his own studies at the medical center. I don't remember if his mom worked or was also a student. Anyway, Steven's father didn't really understand little third grade boys or the culture that his son had been immersed in. Steven was hoping for this magical Santa person to bring him something on Christmas. I guess his father knew something was expected and had bought the family a television. The story he told Steven was that there was a bike left on the patio by Santa but some bad people stole it. Dad had fortunately bought the TV and it had been safely locked away in the car, so it was not stolen. When I heard this story from a very sad little boy, I had a feeling that this was Dad's way of 'saving' Christmas. Little did he know that years later Steven would hate Christmas because of his dad's lie. There was no bike from Santa. Dad wanted a TV and didn't think a kid's magical belief was important. I missed that opportunity to tell Steven about the real meaning of Christmas. I hope one day he will know.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Limbo

We celebrated Christmas early this year. It was good in many ways. I'm glad the shopping is over, sorry the cards didn't get sent, and sad that I was sick and couldn't taste much.
Now it's like we're in limbo. Everyone else is waiting to celebrate and we're done. I can enjoy reading and sewing on two quilts. Everyone else is still thinking of shopping and presents. Not completely over the cold/sinus infection but started back walking and that helps me feel better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I am sick of the ridiculous testing that we are doing to our kids. Second grade teachers say it is making their students feel like failures. How can you learn when you think you are stupid? We have got to stop this testing craziness. I read an article about teaching content deeply versus teaching to the test. In the short term the teachers who focused on the test had higher scores than those who taught in depth. BUT the students who were in the deep content classes did better later when they got to college and had to think and be more independent learners.

So, what are we doing? Just the opposite of what helps students learn. AYYYYY!

What can I do about it? Try to make a difference in my little room. Work on a district or higher level to change the testing focus. Encourage the professionals I work with do more deep content. I read that 20 minutes a day was all the test prep time needed to be ready for these tests. Why can't we really teach interesting, student centered content the rest of the time?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just a week away

We're celebrating Christmas early this year. Joey and Jessie will come to Jackson first-next Thursday if the weather cooperates. We'll pretend Monday, the 20th is Christmas. It shouldn't matter because we don't really know when Jesus was born. Then Tuesday everyone will go off to celebrate again with the in-laws. I'll send out Christmas cards after that. Maybe New Year's cards. There will be time to sew, time to send bills and straighten out the MRA checkbook-Ha, Ha.
Don't know if that will ever happen.
My walking routine has been seriously interrupted. I didn't walk much last week because of the conference and not at all this week because of the cold weather. I'll try to do better starting tomorrow.
I feel like the pressure is off. All the deadlines have been met. It was rumored that I would be asked to take over ESL for the district but nothing has been mentioned to me officially. I would like to do it but I think it may have been quashed by the person in charge.
Oh, well. Que sera and all that. More time for reading and sewing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Busy-ness ahead

I'm sick with a cold and fortunately had the week off for Thanksgiving Break. Finished reading a Miss Julia book. Satisfying as usual.
Joey and Jessie's cafe curtains are finished. There was fabric left over, so we may make pillows or curtain for small window when they are here. The fabric was very easy to work with and ironed well. Can't wait to see how they look in their kitchen/keeping room.
Now I'm going to work on some quilts. I'm going to finish the little farmer quilt and start a new little woodland creatures quilt. I found out the recepient baby's room is mostly green and brown, so changed quilts for that baby. Two cousins are becoming grandparents for the first time, so I want to send little quilts in celebration.
At work we have two expecting babies in the new year. One already has three children, so there won't be a party. The other is a first baby, so I will make a little blanket and give a little book. I have the flannel for a blanket and may be able to finish it this weekend.
Next week is MRA conference. I'm pretty much ready but dreading the craziness at the registration desk on the first day. It will be okay, if I have some good help. I would like to stay free to take care of problems.
Really would be good if the desktop computer here was working. Michael looked at it yesterday and said it was a power problem. Hope Joey can fix it when he is here.
Right after the conference I have agreed to do a professional development for a school district near here. Hope I can do a good job. It is a big job. Something for classroom teachers who have had nothing before. Wide open but needs to be practical and helpful. Very challenging. I'll work on it during slow times at the conference.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Aunts and Uncles

Random thoughts on memories of my aunts and uncles brought on by attending Aunt Becky's funeral yesterday. I saw the aunts and uncles more than my cousins who lived in Georgia-duh, of course. Because of that I felt very possessive of them and jealous when the Georgia cousins visited and said aunts and uncles spent time with them.
Early memories of Uncle Kenton include gifts of candy cigarettes. We loved getting them and pretending to smoke them. Mom cut that out at some point. Uncle Kenton was so silly that one time before I could read he was reading Cinderella to me and read 'bibbity bobbity boo' and I accused him of making that part up. When I was very small he was married to Aunt Evelyn. I really liked her but they divorced. I wasn't told-too young to understand was the official reason given later. Then when I was about 8 or 9 he married Aunt Lenora. She was very pretty and perpetually pleasant-never criticizing or making any negative comment.
I felt very close to Aunt Billie. She was a teacher and graduated from Millsaps. She didn't have any children until I was ten, so I got to spend time with her by myself. I remember for my birthday she took me out to eat. It was very special and made me feel very grown-up. She liked to play games and really liked to win. I think she cheated sometimes. When we lived on Robinson she came most mornings to the 'little house' behind our house to make breakfast. Don't know why she didn't eat at home but Gene would go out each morning and have coffee with her. Michael and I had to get ready for school but Gene didn't, so he would go out and visit with her. We teased him that drinking coffee would stunt his growth.
Aunt Becky lived in Georgia and had children, so I didn't spend much one-on-one time with her. Every summer we drove to Atlanta to spend a week with her and our cousins. The earliest memory I have of this annual trip I must have been under six years old. Aunt Billie went with us and it was a good thing she did. Mom was driving and didn't have a driver's license. I think there was a license check going on and Aunt Billie had to take over driving. I think mom got her driver's license when we got back home. Another time we were on the way to Georgia and had car trouble in Lake, Mississippi. We stopped at the Texaco station on Highway 80 in Lake. Dad's station was also on Highway 80 in Jackson. I remember the service station man was very nice. Can't remember what the car problem was. Most summers when we went to Georgia we attended VBS with our cousins. We had already gone to VBS at our church but didn't mind going again. They even used the same VBS materials but the kids and teachers were different and we were special because we were visitors. Guess that is enough remembering for today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anansi Boys

Just finished reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Very different from what I usually read for fun. I decided to read it because I had just read Coraline, another book he wrote, with my fifth graders. I didn't know he wrote for such a wide range of audiences. I looked him up on the interweb and found that he wrote graphic novels and all sorts of books. Anansi Boys was a different kind of realistic fantasy comedy kind of book. It would make a good movie but not a cartoon or claymation-something more like that movie with the blue people.
I'm reading some Goosebumps books that I got for free with my Scholastic bonus points. The kids all want to read these books but they are too difficult for them to read. I wanted to see what the big deal was. The books I'm reading are a little series called Horrorland. There are two stories in each book and they are sort of interwoven. The main story is first. Then there is a short, continuing story that includes the main character with characters from the previous books. The combination pulls the reader in. Don't like horror stories but these have hooked me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Tradition

This tradition is book related. Every year on the school day closest to Halloween I read scary stories to my students. About mid-October the older ones remember the tradition and start to ask when we will do the scary stories. I read from the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The stories aren't truly frightening-they just end with a scream. The set up is the most important part. The lights have to be off. The reader has to speak softer and softer until the startling scream at the end. This year I read to fourth, second, and third graders in that order. The fourth graders covered their heads and faces as I read. I don't know if they were scared or didn't want anyone to know they were scared. One of the second grade boys kept interrupting right as the story was getting scary so I stopped after two stories. The rhythm of the story was ruined by the interruptions. But the best group was the third graders. They sat in a circle on the floor. The lights were off. The story went perfectly. They all jumped at the scream and then fell over laughing and laughing at the fun of being scared. I love it!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Today is blog action day and the concern is clean water for everyone. We take water for granted. We have plenty, why don't others have what they need? I heard about a young boy who became concerned about clean water and used his own money and asked others to match his money until he had collected enough for two wells!
Now the problem isn't as much access to water as access to clean water. I don't know that much about it but you can read more on a blog I follow called 'Don't Eat Alone.'
That's all for now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grumpy ole me

Why am I so grumpy with some folks? I think I have gotten over all the allure of teaching ELLs. I love to teach them, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't want to teach anything else. But I am so tired of folks who want to fix everything for them. Let's have a special program, let's be sure to have a translator, let's do this and that to impress the parents. Uhgggg! How about treating them like everyone else, not some sideshow. How about asking what they want before assuming what they need? How about asking what is being done before trying to take over or duplicating what is in place?

I must have had too much sugar or too little sleep or listened to someone complaining too long. Give me a break. If you are going to do something, whether I say 'yes' or 'no', then don't ask for my opinion. Just sayin'.

Another thing-people are coming to observe and decide if their money that paid for a workshop was well-spent.


On the plus side-I am thinking about how to teach writing with K-2nd. More later on that.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Good Book-A Beginner's Guide to Acting English

Can't believe I didn't write anything in September. Guess I was too busy with birthday celebrations and school.

Anyway, I just finished a really good book written by Shappi Khorsandi. She was born in Iran and came to England as a preschooler with her family. The book is a wonderful window on the homelife of an immigrant. It is full of funny stories from Shappi's childhood. I loved her recollection of starting a fire behind the sofa in her living room. Her brother was the instigator and it was really funny to read about their childish idea of wanting to play firefighter with real fire. I had a student who started a fire in his house but he didn't or wouldn't tell anyone why he did it.

There are some parts of the book that could be very helpful to teachers of ELLs everywhere. I am going to share one or two short parts with teachers in workshops. We forget that just because a child doesn't speak our language doesn't mean the child is not thinking and taking in how we treat them and the other students.
If you can find a copy of this book, it is worth reading.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

History with kids

Last week I started meeting with my students. They started school the week before but I had to test new students and attend a workshop, so Wednesday was our first meeting of the year. I decided to read a couple of books about the national anthem since everyone is now singing it every morning. The first book was by Peter Spier and was an illustration of the words of all four verses of the song. That really interested the boys because of the "bombs bursting in air" parts. It was hard for them to wrap their minds around the idea of no cars, phones, cameras, etc. at the time the song was written. Another picture book told the story of how Francis Scott Key came to write the poem/song. I had forgotten the background and even why we were fighting the British. Again, the kids were interested and now, I hope, more motivated to sing every morning.

Once again, building background is so important for these students. Not only do they not know the national anthem, even though many were born in the US, but most of the adults at school assume that everyone has some familiarity with the song.

This leads me back to my rant about testing. It is so unfair to judge teachers, students, schools, and communities by one test score. There is no way to show what students know by this method. Now the mania is pushing down to kindergarten when the person in charge of instruction wants to know how many sight words a kindergarten student should be able to read by the end of the year. What? How about one-their name. Or a few-like McDonalds, Wendy's, Cheerios, stop.

An idea that some pencil pusher in some office in DC extrapolated from business-not education-has us going in exactly the wrong direction to keep our students learning and motivated to be the type of innovators we have had in this country in the past. Check out Susan Ohanian's website for more about our unfair testing system.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Finished The Help

Okay, I finished reading The Help. For the most part I really enjoyed it. The story idea was interesting and kept my attention. The details drove me nuts. I have heard that other Jacksonians of my age also had problems with the details. If a writer is writing fiction, I understand that characters are made up and if the settings is made up, that's fine with me. But if a writer writes about a real place, he/she should get some basic info correct. There should have been someone reading it from this area who was also familiar with the time period. I don't think the author was alive in 1960. She should have checked with people who were. The end notes said she asked her father for info about Jackson at the time. Apparently he wasn't paying attention. Oh, well. It was a good book except for that.
First day of school tomorrow. After three days of meetings and talk about testing, testing, testing, I'm not sure anyone will really feel like teaching. I have a little encourager to share. I'm a little hesitant to share but feel some of my coworkers really need a boost of something positive. I heard one teacher has applied for a job in another field because she is so unhappy. I know I'm not in charge of her happiness but I feel like I should do something to encourage her. She is a good teacher. Teaching is hard enough without sitting and listening to rants about test scores. Help me, Jesus.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Reading Council Pump Up

This past weekend I attended a workshop for reading council leaders in Dallas. It was filled with reading teachers, professors, and other reading professionals. Everyone was to bring a book to share/trade with someone. I took a lot of time deciding which book to take to share and then when time came to trade I was too shy to share it. What's wrong with me? I couldn't go up to a complete stranger and start a conversation. The directions were to choose someone from a different part of the country to share. I thought we would be paired up or grouped up by the leaders. I remember an activity my psychology professor had the class do when I was at U of GA. He turned off the lights and we were to go around the room silently greeting others-shaking hands, etc. I stood in the corner until the lights were turned back on. The book sharing activity was like that. I just couldn't go up to someone and start talking. That seems so strange to me because I have no trouble talking before groups of people when I do presentations. Weird?

The workshop was very helpful and I have lots of ideas for improving the state reading council. But my job is not starting new local councils, I'm the treasurer. I hate being the treasurer but I don't want to give up the job either. When I think about the whole organization, national, state, and local, I find that I most enjoy the time in my local council. I look forward to sharing with other teachers in my area. The state group seems like a bunch of people who are either pushing their own agenda or just too busy to do much. I don't want to be part of the downfall of this group. I joined because of one outgoing person. I wanted to be her friend and part of the vision she had for Mississippi. Now she has retired and moved away. No one has come along to take her place as a charismatic leader. I know it won't be me but we need someone to inspire us soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last days of vacation

We start on the journey home in the morning. The scenery is so beautiful here. The rolling hills of farmland with the sea in the distance is just perfect. Wildflowers are every where along the side of the roads. We've had some great food, too. All kinds of sea food and fresh vegetables from the island. Prince Edward Island is much bigger than I thought. We are staying in the middle and have driven in every direction to see the sights. One surprise is the red sand. Even the beaches have red sand.
There have been frequent comments about our accents. Most people are just curious. One sales girl today was a little indignant that she couldn't understand us because of our accent. Whatever...
Tomorrow we are driving about 9 hours back to Portland, Maine. Then we'll get up Sunday and take the train back to Boston. May have time to get more Italian cookies before catching the flight home. We'll see.
I'm ready to get back home. Once again there's a long list of things to-do. All I want to do is work on a little quilt with the fabric I found here. Got to get that newsletter done first.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not a writer yet

Everyone was so complimentary of the short play I dashed off for the camp musical. I had begun to think of myself as a writer. People (children) were going to perform my work. Oh, me! I might have to autograph someone's program. So... the reality wasn't quite like I imagined. Either the acting stunk or the writing was lacking or both. The one adult part was performed by a kid who didn't have a clue, couldn't remember the lines or speak them with expression. They stood in a line and didn't add anything to the script. I added a note giving permission/suggestion to ad lib as needed. Boy, it was needed. Next time I will try to give more directions. I guess they couldn't read between the lines or ad lib.
Tonight is the final night of camp. We got through the week and didn't lose anyone to homesickness-almost, but not quite. This was a good camp but I miss the days when I had outgoing, friendly, talented kids, who kept busy and didn't need much hand holding. The fifth graders have made progress from last year and were asking about other camps and longer camps. Pretty amazing compared to last year.
The singing was very good. The songs were singable and just challenging enough to keep the better musicians interested. The staff was congenial but I miss the guys from years ago. Why do things have to change?
And speaking of change. I don't know if I can deal with another college kid music director at church. I may have to go somewhere else on Sundays and just help with Bible Club and children's choir.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last Day of Summer School

Yes! Today was the last day of summer school. We had scheduled a field trip to the bookstore to pick out our free books. Brittany mentioned that there was a play area with water spouts at the shopping center, so I told the kids to wear shorts and flip flops, thinking they would just get a little wet. Well, I was WRONG! They got a lot wet. But they had a great time. They liked it as much as going to a pool. One problem-they were so soaking wet, that they were cold the rest of the day. One little first grader came prepared with dry clothes to change into when we got back to school. Next time I will tell them to bring a change of clothes if they want to play in the water.
The bookstore is so nice to give us free books and little snack cups of strawberry smoothie. A few of the kids brought money to buy books. A little kindergartner brought two dollars to buy a book and there were no books for two dollars. She looked so sad after being told every book was more than she had, that I told her I would give her the extra money. She got a girly sticker story book. Happy day! The kids who had perfect attendance got an additional free book thanks to their sweet, book loving teacher (and a reward credit card and teacher discount card).
Now summer can begin. I can sleep late. Go to the pool in the quiet of the early morning. And read, read, read.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Almost over

Tomorrow the ballet competition will be over. They will announce who the winners are. The winners will dance one more time. Then everyone will go home. It has been an interesting competition. The first night of round three, in the middle of a dance, a non-competing partner fell down and couldn't continue. They said he had ruptured a tendon. Ouch! His partner went with him to the hospital, so she didn't finish that dance or dance her contemporary dance. Last night she was able to complete the classical dance with another partner and danced a different modern dance.
Unfortunately yesterday a water main broke and there was no water pressure for most of the day. When I got to the auditorium there were rows of port-a-potties on the east plaza. Our aging pipes need to be replaced. How embarrassing. They are announcing the winners tonight on TV but I will get to see them tomorrow night in person. I have decided next time to buy only one ticket for myself for the competition since I couldn't get anyone to go with me to rounds two and three. For the same money I can get really good seats!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Getto mom at the ballet

Okay, the ballet was going as usual. Dancer performs, then there is a minute or so wait for the judges to mark the points. Next dancer is announced and so on. I think I have already commented that some parents were bringing toddlers to the competition. Well, Evelyn Hart, one of the hosts, was filling up the wait time talking about how hard the dancers' coaches work and how we should give them a round of applause, when getto mom shouted, "He's just a baby, alright!" Then, "I'm not leaving. I bought a ticket," and some other stuff I couldn't quite understand. Then security came out from backstage. All was quiet but how embarrassing. If I had been the next dancer, I would have wondered if another outburst was coming in the middle of my dance. There should be an age limit for those in the audience. Get a babysitter, people.

Monday, June 14, 2010

IBC is in town

The International Ballet Competition is in town for the next two weeks. The opening night was great. The first half was the usual greetings from every official in town and some from out of town. Then Rasta Thomas and the Bad Boys of Dance took stage and really livened things up. There was a packed house, including some crazy folks who brought a whiney toddler. What were they thinking? Even with that distraction just down the row, the dancers were fantastic. In the next to last dance the Bad Boys danced with blow-up dolls. It was Hi-lar-i-ous! Martin was glad he had come.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

About to get busier

Yes, it is summer. School is out and we finally got our contracts for next year. Because of budget problems we will work four fewer days next year. Not a bad thing, if you ask me. So, why the title of this post? School is out but summer school started Friday with no prep days. There are field trips to arrange, lessons to prepare, and lost kids to find. Of course, one kindergartner was lost the first day. The bus driver left him at his cousin's house, down the street from his house. His father called me. I called the bus dispatcher, then called the father back. His mom went to look and found him down the street. Yea!
Next problem-will the blackberries be ready by Wednesday? If not, should we switch the movie with the farm or just forget about picking berries? I can't decide. The kids will really enjoy being outside and eating the berries but switching the trips will make my life more complicated.
Ballet competition begins next Saturday. That will make next week busy with afternoon and evening sessions for four days. Cousin will be in town for those days and I will still have to get things together for summer school. Throw in visiting parents at two different locations and it will be a busy week.
Once again my room at school is not really packed up so I need to go there after summer school until it is in better shape. The kids also asked for more games and art materials. Then there are two quilts that need to be finished. Reservations for our trip to Prince Edward Island need to be made. The EEIS newsletter needs to be edited and the officer form for JARC needs to be filled out and sent in. It is only two months late!
Summer should be a time to sit back and relax. What am I doing?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Senior Recital

One of my former students invited me to her senior piano recital. I first met her when she was in second grade and had just come to our school from China. She didn't know any English. A few years later she told me about her first impression of me. She thought I lived at the school because my classroom had sofas and a rocking chair. She came to see me last week at school. I had a newspaper photo of her on my door. She is one of the top five students in her senior class at a large high school. Heading for Duke University in the fall.
This is what I love about teaching. I really like getting to work with students for several years. I see them grow and make progress. It makes up for lots of things like paperwork and stupid tests and idiots on power trips.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too much to do

WARNING Don't read this. I just had to get this out of my head. Should have written it in my journal but here it is.
I don't feel like doing anything and yet I have too much to do. I want to just sit outside and read in the shade or go to the pool and swim all by myself. But this afternoon I ran here and there getting signatures on forms for summer school field trips. I found out we don't have enough money to pay the admission fees for the field trips and don't really have enough money for the buses either. The whole idea is to get the kids to places they don't usually go. There isn't money to buy the new summer reading books either, so I may end up buying them myself.
After getting the paperwork to the final office, I went to see my dad. He goes over the same concerns almost every time I visit. He doesn't like it there and wants to go home. There isn't any way he can go home because there is no one to care for him. Mom is not well enough and everyone else is working. I feel really guilty when I read about other families who take their elders into their homes. This stresses me but I don't think I could take the stress of the alternative any better. I don't like this 'season' of my life.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quilting again

Started the new quilt. Everything is cut out except for one block. Tomorrow I hope to start putting the blocks together. There will be 20 diamonds each made from 4 blocks.
Looking for the final Percy Jackson book. One of my choir kids said she had it and would lend it to me. Didn't realize the same author wrote the 39 clues series. Showed my third graders the six books I have read in the last two weeks and they were amazed that anyone could read that much. I've got a long way to go with that group.
There is so much to do to get ready for summer school and not much time to get it all done. I've got to make a list and get going.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to the books

I am back to reading children's books. I just finished the second Percy Jackson Olympian book and started the third one. Pretty good read. Before that I read the first How to Train Your Dragon book. Funny and goofy-gross. Should appeal to kids who like farts in movies. I read the first of the 39 Clues books. Want to read the others. Not sure about the subtext but it is entertaining and there's nothing good on TV.
I spent mega bucks yesterday on fabric for a new quilt I'm going to start Monday. I'm ready to start some projects that don't involve school or writing or testing.
Oh, yeah, finished testing all 75 of my students today. Yeaaaaaa! About 5 weeks of school left. Looking forward to going to the pool soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Second thoughts

Sent the 'box' off to the national boards place this afternoon. Now I'm having second thoughts. I had another week to write and perfect and deliberate and tweak and fine tune the thing but I was done. I was sick of thinking about it. I had read and reread, etc. I really wish it was a talking thing-an interview or something interactive. I think better when I talk and have someone to bounce ideas around with. Anyway, if I don't pass this time, I'll do better next time. It took three tries for the original certification, so I guess I won't be too upset if this time is a repeat. Peggy, my mentor was great help. She is so calm and seems to get right to the point of the questions. I don't know why I have such trouble figuring out what the questions are really asking. I think I skim when I read and don't really contemplate what I'm reading. So many things going on in my head all the time.

Today was act crazy day at school. The kids got to wear blue jeans as a fund raiser. The deal was they paid a dollar to be able to wear jeans instead of the uniform. They must have thought it also entitled them to act crazy, too. Or it could have been weather related. A storm was coming and the sky was strange colors. Several teacher took the day off, so the subs added to the craziness.

Then tonight I had craziness from dad. He got the nurses to let him use the phone and he called me and went off on money. He needs to get his money out of the bank, he says. Don't even want to write down all the crazy stuff he said. Then brother called from Atlanta to ask about him because dad called other brother twice today with same money issue. I'm already sick of this turmoil. Help! I don't know how to deal with this. Can I just get in bed and sleep for a week? Will it be better when I wake up?

On the good side, I'm really getting good at making videos on my laptop. Finished Anne's last night and burned two copies. She picked them up this afternoon. I hope she liked it. She'll probably pass this national boards thing and I'll be redoing mine next year. AYYY! Time to retreat into a book or something to turn off my head.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just my luck

It's just my luck that last Saturday when I was trying to help a friend make her video for National Boards, I got a mini DVD stuck in my laptop. Who knew it wouldn't play mini DVDs? So I calmly call Apple support and get a very nice voice who tells me he doesn't know what to do, do I want an appointment at the store? Huh? Of course. So my friend is filled with guilt and I'm so unconcerned. I wanted to get on with the video but otherwise, it's going to be okay. I take myself and my lovely laptop to the store. The helpful guy comes and asks what's the problem? Mini DVD stuck. Let me see what I can do. He goes into the back room and is back in less than 30 seconds. The DVD is out. Laptop is fine. No charge. So, I ask, what did you have to do? Just tapped it on the counter, he says. Oh, my. Feeling dumb now. Packing up and going home. Just my luck.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

92 year old enforcer

My little ole 5 foot 6, ninety-two year old dad has recently moved from home to the community care center at the VA. He is by far the most mobile of the residents there. He shuffles a little but generally gets around well using a walking stick for extra support. The other day I went to visit him after work. I looked in the day room but he wasn't there. I looked in his room but he wasn't there either. Then I thought I heard his voice. When I looked across the hall I saw him sitting in a wheel chair shaking his walking stick in the air. I called him and he scooted out of the room, using his feet to move the wheel chair. When I asked him what he was doing in the other guy's room, he said he was telling the guy in the bed to be quiet and not wake everyone up at night. What? He said that the guy made lots of noise at night just to be annoying and that the nurses couldn't do anything to make the guy shut up. Sooo, my little ole dad decided to take things in his own hands. Huh? I have only heard stories about how helpful my dad was to everyone he meets-well, maybe he thinks he is being helpful now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busy Saturday

Just thinking about yesterday and remembering other YM festivals through the past 20 years. This year I took six girls to MC for festival. They had learned the songs-mostly by listening to the CD, not by my teaching them the songs. They sat together close to the guest director. I sat in the back and read my book keeping an eye out for any problems. There were no problems. We went to eat at the college cafeteria. Only problem was one spilled drink which the girls took care of. What a difference from some years ago when we would take a picnic lunch-I brought most of the food-and the kids hardly ate anything. They ran off to play on the football field. One even tore his brand new choir t-shirt climbing a chain link fence. I'm thankful for having quiet young ladies this year. I'm getting too old to chase around and pick up after a bunch of energetic kids.

Met up with my niece at the college cafeteria on our lunch break yesterday. It was good to get to spend some time with her and talk about what was going on in her life. We usually only see each other at family gatherings where there are many loud talkers. She usually stays out of the lime light reading or playing a video game. She is 19. Where did those years go?

Saturday afternoon after the festival concert we went to a movie. It was a kid's movie, based on a book. I enjoyed going and again the girls were so good. We had the theater to ourselves except for 3-4 people sitting way at the back. Parents came to pick up the girls and then I was off to shop. Two wedding gifts and groceries. Had help with the groceries. We did fine until checkout. Then had to do our Sonny and Cher act for the checker and bagger. Bagger said we made her day. She must have very boring days.

I finished the Quilter's Apprentice from the Elm Creek Quilts series. I really enjoy reading the books but they make me wish for endless days of quilting. So I have signed up for a quilt class on May 3. National boards will be mailed and forgotten by then. Yes, I'm getting near the end. Just a few more edits and copying, then it's off.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Great Reading Council

Yesterday at reading council we had some great discussions. I talked too much as usual but that didn't keep everyone from taking part. We really took off on the required summer reading. The kids are required to read three books. That's not very many. In fact most research says reading more books is better. But here's problem: there are two required titles for each grade and only a few choices for the third. Then the required projects don't give enough choice either. On top of that many parents aren't able to help their children, some of the books are out of print, and the public library copies have been lost or stolen. Doesn't sound like a workable system, does it? The person who originally came up with this mess had a background in high school English. Probably hadn't read a lot of research about beginning readers.

What motivates elementary age kids to read? That was our next question. There are so many good ideas-book talks, read alouds, books on tape or CD or MP3, great readers reading the books on the school cable network, etc.

And what about the schools and teachers who strictly adher to the summer reading program. If projects aren't turned in, AR tests aren't taken, anchor writing not done-zero, zero, zero in the grade book. How does that help children become better readers?

We talked about April, Poetry Month. There is a blog: gottabook.blogspot.com, where 30 poets are posting 30 poems in 30 days. These are new poems just for this month. Today's poem was a funny one. Can't wait to read the rest.

Scholastic is sponsoring a contest to encourage summer reading. Barnes and Noble is offering free books to kids who read. Let's get reading!

Next year we want to do teacher book studies. We are looking for ideas for good books to study. I hope people will participate and enjoy sharing ideas with each other. If others don't treat us a professionals (see NCLB-testing), then we will have to rise above that and be professionals anyway.

Much thanks to JARC supporters-Vicki, Martha, Marilyn, Judy, and Nikki.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wishing for a time machine

If I had a time machine I probably wouldn't go to the UGG shop on the road to the Blue Mountains in Australia but it seems like long ago and far away to me today. So much going on. My 92 year old Dad is going to respite care tomorrow. He's looking forward to it-has his bags packed. He wasn't sure what I was doing when I asked him questions today about his health. He asked if I was taking over for his home health team. And what about Mom? Now that she will be home alone, how will she fare? Her heart is slowly failing but she doesn't want to leave her home. I'm terrible at this.
On the work front, the testing is driving everyone up the wall. Some of the worse teaching I've seen in years. I wish someone would stop the madness. Just let us teach the kids readin', writin', and 'rithmatic and how to get along with each other. It seems like their home lives are falling apart and their school days are chopped into pieces by the mania about test scores. On top of that, we don't know who will have a job and who will have to find something else to do.
So put me in a time machine. Let me enjoy the ride into the Blue Mountains. I'll even buy some Ugg boots this time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

End of March

What's this? March is almost over? And it's only Tuesday? National Boards-the end is in sight. Need to revise a little, find a few pieces of evidence, buy a case for the DVD, assemble according to instructions, and mail the thing. Hope to do that soon. Testing all kids in April. Not that we haven't been testing the poor things all year. We haven't had time to teach for all the days spent testing. Who will stop the madness? Give us TIME TO TEACH! Taking Dad to VA next Tuesday to give Mom a two week break. JARC on Thursday. YM Festival on Saturday. Oh, my. I'll have to write and revise this weekend.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Boston TESOL

This week has been a blur. We got in on Wednesday after a delay in Washington and a plane change. Can you tell how tired I was when the kids' art work went up? What crazy person puts half up in orderly rows and the other half in a zigzag mess. I thought I would fall down stapling the top row, I was so tired. Teachers are mostly good folks. They wrote comments to the kids. I think the kids will feel very special when they read the notes. On the other hand, some klepto took one of the note pads I put out for people to write notes on. What's wrong with you people? My friend Sarah saw a teacher grab stacks of books and cram them into her bag when there were other teachers waiting to take free samples, too.
I wish I could have seen more of Boston. We took a trolley tour but didn't have time to get off and walk to each historic site. Plus, it was extremely cold and windy. Maybe we can come back in the summer. Lots of history here. And museums. You know how I love museums. I'm going to sleep on the plane home. That's the only way I'll be ready for school Monday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Writing done-maybe

Well, I think I have finished writing for my national board renewal. It wasn't as hard as I thought at the beginning. Next step is to let some others read it and let me know what may need revision. Oh, yeah, and get all the different pieces of evidence together. Deciding what to use, like the photo of our trip to the zoo. Probably not. But the main part is written and it isn't due til the end of April. Now I can get on with other projects. I think writing this blog has helped me get in the right frame of mind for writing.
Reading another Simon Brett mystery. I really like his two middle aged main characters.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Red Bud Trees

Trees are blooming here. Everywhere I look the ornamental pears are full of beautiful white blossoms. But I love the red bud trees. There must be hundreds of white pear trees showing off all over the place. I have seen only four red bud trees this year. When they are at the edge of the woods it looks like someone left a lacy, red scarf draped in the trees. When I was about nine someone helped me plant a red bud twig in our front yard. I have loved them ever since.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quilting and reading

Found the cure for not being able to quilt. Read about quilting! I'm reading The Quilter's Homecoming by Jennifer Chiaverini. I didn't think I would like it, since I'm such a mystery fan, but I'm really getting into the story. I'm going to check out her other books and look for the quilt pattern books when I'm finished with writing for National Boards.
I just read another new (to me) mystery writer, Simon Brett. The book was set in a village in England with characters about my age. I'll look for more of his books, too.
Testing this week-ugh! It's not fun for the teachers but it's worse for the kids. I'm glad I'm not a student.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Take me away

Don't know what exactly ticked me off but people were really getting on my nerves today. I think I need to get more sleep or something.
This month's Reading Teacher has a couple of really good articles-sharing quality. I liked the one about first grade teachers encouraging students to talk about the books they read with a set of prompts on a spinner. Couldn't help it. I made copies and gave to other teacher in our meeting yesterday.
Circling back to being ticked off. My grumpy mood started yesterday in the meeting when I was interupted twice. Once to take a phone call that could have waited and another time by a perfectly nice 'clueless' person who wanted some English worksheets to take on a mission trip. Worksheets? For what age learner? On what content? Not a clue.
In the evening I got a call from a sweet mom wanting to know where her kids were. At five o'clock. School was out at 2:15. I put them on the wrong bus. I feel very bad about that. But the back story is this mom calls almost every day with a different after school plan for her kids. It would be easier if I just let them stay after school with me.
And continuing on the Janice screwed up list-just realized I had someone else's missing purchase order items. We both ordered from National Geographic. When the orders came in, I was called to pick the boxes up. I assumed it was all mine and took it to school, wrote my name all over everything in permanent marker. Now she is wondering what happened to her order and asked me, as lead teacher, to look into it. Oops! Mea Culpa.
I really need a day off.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunny Sunday

It was beautiful today in middle Mississippi. Sunny and almost warm. Last day of February and plants are budding-but wait-what's that being predicted for Tuesday? Snow? More snow. Oh, come on. We are already having to make up missed school days on holidays and possibly Saturdays. I'm ready for warmer weather. The pool is looking very inviting as I walk around the neighborhood. Not wishing my days away-just needing more vitamin D.
Finished reading Dead Men Don't Dance by Margaret Chittenden. Haven't read any of her books before. This one was enjoyable. Will look for more of her books. Have got to stop reading and get to writing on National Boards. Wish I could talk instead of write about these PGEs. I'm such a good talker.
I finished a crocheted scarf made from variegated merino and silk yarn. The kids saw me working on it while we were having the wax museum. I can't wait to show it to them. It was just another way to avoid writing.
The quilt is one of the things I need to write about. We made it in summer school as a culminating project to show what the kids liked about the activities we had done together.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A warmer day

Dreaming of a warmer day last summer in New Mexico. I'm tired of cold, dark mornings. I'm looking forward to Spring Break in two week. Just have to get through two state mandated tests and nine-weeks tests. Looking for a fresh idea for an art project with the kids. Just had a thought about dot markers and black crayons. Next week we are going to read Dr. Seuss all week and enjoy the fun he had with words and rhymes. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Busy Tuesday

Had fun today reading Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears to kindergarten and first graders. Then, instead of drawing or writing about the story, I gave them all easy books that they could read. Little bad boy in first grade who can't read as well as the others, came and read his little book to me. He was so proud he could read it. That's the best! He wants to be good and smart and it is so hard for him. There is still time to learn. Don't give up.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What a Monday

Wish I was back on this lovely island.
Today I got to sit in the hall and crochet and read for 4 1/2 hours. I crocheted about 15 inches of a beautiful, multicolored scarf. The funny thing was all the kids who passed asked, "What are you knitting?" I tried to explain that I was not knitting, I was crocheting. All the same to them.
I read some really good parts of Teaching Essentials. I wanted to copy pages and pages and share with everyone at school. Imagine-make meaning the first consideration when you plan! Revolutionary in these times. What about test prep? How will they pass those tests? The insanity has to stop or we will be just like the movie 'Idiocracy'.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

quiet sunday

Finished Hamish McBeth mystery. It was a good'un. He got away again-from getting married, I mean. He also caught the bad guys. What a hero! One day I'm going to have to watch the BBC TV show based on the books.

I revised my first component on the National Boards to-do list. And I edited the video so that there are more kids talking. Hope this does it for the video portion of the games. I really hate video-taping. Also, went thru old files finding documents for component 3. There is so much to choose from and I don't know what will make the best impression on the assessors.

Jane, the black cat, is having a meowling moment. She wants something-not food, not outside, what? Nobody will play with her or pet her. Everyone is busy. Sorry, Jane.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

perfect winter day

Today was the perfect winter day in Mississippi. The sky was clear blue with wisps of high clouds. The temperature was about 65, warm enough to open windows in the afternoon and let some fresh air in. The cats enjoyed sitting in chairs by the open windows sniffing all the delightful outside smells. Little fatty can't go outside because she eats things she shouldn't. Jane just wants to roll in the dust and check out the perimeter before coming back inside to nap in the usual places.

On the to-do list, I edited another 10 minute video for national boards. Hope this one will do or I will have to borrow the camcorder and do another round. Now I'm cogitating about 8 pieces of evidence for the next section. I have saved everything but can't decide what to use and what to discard. Getting help next week.

So, there are more things on the list but what I want to do is finish the Hamish McBeth mystery that is teasing me. Only about 50 pages to go. I'll work hard after I finish it. I promise.

Friday, February 19, 2010

silly kids and tired teachers

Well, by Friday the kids are so silly and ready for freedom and the teachers are so tired of trying to rein them in like run-away horses. Whew! The bell just sounded and soon the buses will take them home to their TVs and video games.
I can't wait to get back to MC Beaton's latest Hamish McBeth mystery. It seems like forever since I've read one. Makes me want to visit the Highlands. Lots to do this weekend. Need to start the to-do list again. When I write it down it seems to get done.
Hope you have a restful weekend.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Only Thursday?

First, Happy Birthday to brother Michael. Talked to mom this morning and she remembered his birth as the really easy one. Is it bizarre to remember that after 56 years? Maybe not. Births are such a part of who we are as moms.

Well, could this week seem any longer. Tuesday seemed like it should have been Thursday or Friday and Wednesday was so awful we were told to go home after the kids were all gone. Of course I had something to do after school every day this week and I really need a nap.

Oh, yeah, I have had another observer come sit in my class this week. Very nice young woman who is taking classes online. Please. I should be getting paid by the online college for this. Must be one of the ways it is less expensive than 'bricks and mortar' colleges.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's your currency?

Just read an interesting article about teacher versus student currency. Basically, what does the teacher value and what do the students value? It made me think about the 5th graders I'm seeing as I go into the classroom to co-teach. The article didn't give enough specifics about how to figure out what the students value. I guess the author wants readers to buy her book. But the article did make me think. These 5th graders seem to value friends more than grades or 'good behavior'. They love to talk, if we can just figure out a way to use that to help them learn.
Oh, well.
Waiting for the bus bell to ring. Since we had a snow day Friday, the kids are having Valentines parties today. Lots of sugar! Thank goodness I don't have a homeroom to 'party' with.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

No More Candy for Me

After watching videos of my presentation at AMTESOL and lessons with second graders I have decided I have to cut out the sweets. Or get Trini and her cohost on the BBC version of 'What not to wear' to help with my wardrobe. Good grief! I hate the way I look. I look much better in my mind. There is a cute 25 year old in this 58 year old body.

Today I have to get busy on three things on my to-do list. Since no one is following this blog, it feels like a diary that I am writing to myself. Today is Valentine's Day. Cousin's doctor husband died 13 years ago on this date. What a day to lose your love. He left her well-off financially but she still misses him. So hard to imagine walking in someone else's shoes. Even though we are only seventeen days apart in age, we have had such different experiences. Since I don't have a sister, she is the most sisterly of my cousins. Wish I could transport myself to give her a hug today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Gone

We had snow yesterday and it's gone today. That's the best thing about snow in Mississippi. It doesn't last very long. Can you tell I'm not a cold weather girl? I finished a really good mystery, Hush My Mouth by Cathy Pickens. I read her first book a few weeks ago. Set in a small town in South Carolina that reminds me of small towns in Georgia and Mississippi that I know.
I should be working on National Board writing. It took several hours for me to figure out how to download video to my Macbook. Now I'm afraid I won't be able to edit it correctly or burn a dvd. The old faithful PC seems to have died and even tho I love my mac, I liked having the security of the backup PC.
Must go. Other commitments are calling.
Oh, Happy Lunar New Year's Eve to all my students who celebrate with red envelopes of money. Hope you receive many red envelopes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day

Well, we got a snow day here in the deep south. We didn't leave school early yesterday and I kept hoping the snow would miss us. We missed a week in January because of broken water pipes and now we will have another day to make up. But the snow in our neighborhood is beautiful. All the kids and some parents are out making snowmen. Some 'who dat!' snowmen are being created, too.

I finished The Cooking School Murders yesterday after school. (Had such good lessons planned that I just had to pick up the kids, even if the schedule was wacky.) The author totally fooled me by putting in so many red herring I had no idea who the murderer was.

The power was off for about an hour and we went for a walk in the snow to see all the snowmen. Now I've got to get to work on National Boards, bank deposits, and other mundane stuff. Most pressing-fixing the TV so someone can watch 'The Price Is Right'.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Early lunch

It might snow in middle Mississippi! That is such a rare occurance that we are sending kids to eat lunch early. Early lunch totally ruins my ESL pull-out schedule. So what do I do? Make up the time, spend my time checking on who is back from early lunch, or just take a break? Can you guess what I'm doing? After I finish writing this I'm going to get back to the mystery I'm reading. I'm almost at the end of it and I still haven't figured out 'who dunit'. I've got to know.