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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

All the stories I meant to write

Write down some of your stories. Make a scrap book so we can know who all these people are. Here is a box to organize your things. I had lots of good ideas for saving the stories my dad told. I wish I had recorded them. Maybe I can remember them and record them myself. It won't be the same but the stories would be saved.

Dad started forgetting things that happened recently and mixed up things that did happen with things he worried would happen. But I could get him to remember stories from his childhood. Some were funny, like the one about the relative who brought a plucked chicken for my grandmother to cook for him because he was feuding with his regular cook.

Some stories made me see why dad was constantly working on something outside. He started working at the age of four picking cotton for his grandfather. His sly old grandfather would pay little Dennis in the candy section of his country store. Knowing dad's sweet tooth, I am sure dad wound up being paid in candy.

Dad loved talking to people and that served him very well in his work life. He didn't really understand my standoffish ways. He was smart with numbers and liked to travel. He was good at fixing mechanical things.

On the other hand he was accident prone. Maybe because he was often in a hurry to get things done. One Christmas memory was when dad was going to help Emily get her doll out of the packaging. He took out his handy, always present, pocket knife and proceeded to cut the plastic strip and a large gash in his hand. That resulted in dad and Martin spending hours in the hospital emergency room on Christmas day.

I wish I had written down or recorded his memories. I am sad he is gone but in some ways he has been gone for months. We didn't want him to linger on and suffer. As much as I hate to say good bye, it was time let my sweet daddy go home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Missing the Music and Musicians of One Voice

Driving home the other day I heard an interview with members of a pop band who were retiring after 31 years of musical performances. As they talked about what they would miss about their musical life together, I started thinking about what I've been missing since the final One Voice concert two years ago. At first I hoped we would get back together but after so much time has passed, I doubt we will sing together again until we sing together in heaven.

I have so many great memories of the times spent with this group of singers. In the beginning I would bring Emily and Joey with me to practice. They were too young to stay home alone.

The first mission trip the group took was to Hawaii. We participated in Musicians on Mission. The whole group didn't get to go and one person was a new recruit who had never sung with us before. A couple of things have stayed with me from that trip. At one concert we traveled a long way through pineapple fields to a small church. There were about as many people in the congregation as in our group. Some of those sweet people later met us at the airport as we were leaving and brought each of us two boxes of ripe pineapples! Those were the best pineapples I have ever had.

Another thing I remember from that trip was traveling to a fabric shop, several historical sites, and a museum complex on the city bus. It cost only 60 cents to ride all over on the city bus. I went by myself because no one else was interested in museums. As I returned to the hotel on the bus I looked into a woman's shopping bag and saw a live duck! Someone's dinner, I guess.

I miss the concerts and traveling together, even when we got lost or came home late. Some concerts I hope to always remember. We sang in Nashville and we couldn't see the audience because of the lighting. We sang 'Shut De Door' and the lights were blacked out. The crowd roared. What a feeling.

Another wonderful concert was in a huge, unheated church in China. I don't think many, if any, could understand our songs as we were singing in English. But as we sang 'When I Survey' and did the motions where our arms were outstretched, there was a reaction that made us feel that the words were understood by everyone there.

Others will remember different things from our practices, concerts, and trips. There was the time Troy's hat was rescued when we were whale watching in Alaska, the Irish Coffee that enabled Dot to play the piano as never before or since, and the unsanctioned trip to the flea market in Honolulu. Singing in One Voice was an experience like no other. I miss the songs and the singers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cooler Days and other ramblings

When I read back over old posts, and yeah I do that, I see that I complain a lot about having too much to do. Guess I could do something about that-like say 'no'. So anyway, I will try not to complain about too much to do. It'll all get done. It's just whirling around in my brain and sometimes it helps to write down everything so I don't keep thinking about it.
What I really want to write about is the feeling of being flooded with too much information that I have most days. I know I could stop checking email, unsubscribe to updates, stop watching TV, and listening to the news on the radio. I think the most annoying are the email updates I get from SmartBrief. They seems to be sent several times a day. Sometimes the same 'news' is sent over and over. Most of the articles are not research but just opinions in the newspaper or someone's edublog. I am very close to deleting that service.
Enjoyed listening to teachers sharing ideas this afternoon. The members of Madison Reading were discussing writing instruction. Two National Boards candidates shared ideas they were using with students. Of course, I had to chime in (several times). They had articles to share, too. I will make time to read and try to absorb those this weekend.
Now to the title of this post-we are finally getting some cooler weather. We had a blistering hot, dry summer. Then a mostly dry, warm fall. If the temperature got down to the 70's, the kids at school thought it was freezing. On top of that, many of the rooms at school have malfunctioning thermostats. I'm ready to wear turtlenecks and jackets. Ready for the cooler days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conversations with other teachers

This afternoon I had a chance to talk to two kindergarten teachers. One is a first year teacher; the other has taught three or four years. Both are very young teachers compared to this gray-headed old lady. For the first time in over a year, team meetings were not all test-data compilation time. We talked about students and I tried to shed some light on the behavior of young English learners. The little boy who disrupts is really an outgoing child who wants to communicate but doesn't have the English skills to play with his classmates. I suggested that the teacher help him with short social phrases like 'let's play', that will enable him to play instead of disrupt. We talked about how level 1 ELs need to hear others model new language, so putting them in mixed language groups helps them.
One boy seems not to pay attention. My thoughts were that he may get tired of long stretches of a language he doesn't understand and then drifts off. I shared backward build up as a way to get ELs to repeat longer sentences. I suggested 'yes' or 'no' questions for level 1 students. The next step is to offer a choice in the question: "Is this a cat or a dog?" In my class the kindergartners like songs to learn new words, stories with very few words, or repetitive stories. In nine weeks some have made lots of progress. Others are just beginning to tune in. It was a very productive exchange.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Settling Down

Well, after the BIG birthday weekend, I am finally settling down and getting into the routine at work. I have spent all the grant money. Some of the new materials have come. I am pleased with the leveled science readers. I'm going to use them with first and second graders. Most of the groups have settled into a routine. Today the second grade group read for about twenty minutes. We have been working on stamina and reading for longer periods of time. I complimented them for their progress. I think I have found a combination of materials to use with the two kindergarten groups that will accelerate their understanding and get their interest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too Much , Too Many

Once again I have too much to do. All testing has to be done by Friday. The first 30 days of school will be over. Schedules are still in conflict-tutoring, OD, ESL, Dyslexia, Specials. Two schools' paperwork to worry about and one sick friend who would be helping with the paperwork. I need to have a conference with teachers and explain what their ELLs Can Do but I have to go to a meeting tomorrow. That leaves Thursday to get paperwork done and meet with four grade levels. I should just cancel classes like some other folks do. But I won't. I'll just worry and lose sleep about it.

In the meantime there are too many things I would rather be doing. Like reading a new magazine from IRA and a new ebook. I am reading the second 'secret' book. It is a newish kids' series. The Name of This Book is Secret is the first book. At school the older two groups are listening to a couple of great books-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Because of Winn-Dixie.

IRA has changed Reading Today from a newspaper to a magazine. I like the change so far. Newspaper pages were hard to copy and they tore easily. Back to the kid books-I got the sequel to Lawn Boy. It seemed like it ended so I wonder what happens next to the main character.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Continuing the Daily 5

Even though I last posted some weeks ago, I wanted to continue writing about The Daily 5. I have been working with students for 2-3 weeks now. I have a large bulletin board dedicated to CAFE: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanded Vocabulary.
I only have 45 minutes per group, so I have modified the lessons from the book. Each day I have introduced a strategy with a read aloud picture book. The groups are first grade ESL, second grade ESL, third grade ESL, and fourth/fifth grade ESL. Some days I read the same book with all four groups and some days I pick a different book according to the group's interest and grade level.
After I model the strategy with the group, they take their zip bags of five or six books and practice independently. The older groups are doing better at this than the younger groups.
The strategies have included how to choose a good fit book, three ways to read a book, check comprehension, tune in to interesting words, and back up and reread. The goal is for the students to continue reading while I have conferences with individuals and small groups.
The Daily 5 has five components as the title suggests. I don't think I am going to be able to do all 5 in the short time I have each day. One way I may use other parts is to have a writing day and a working with words day each week. I may do partner reading but haven't decided.
Anyway, this is how far I have gotten with The Daily 5 and The CAFE Book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If I were going to teach 5th grade reading

As I may have written in another post, I really liked the Daily 5 and the CAFE Book. They are both so helpful, well-written, and comprehensive that I wish I were teaching a reading class again. If I were teaching reading I would try to follow the lessons as written in the book.

The problem is how to get grades when everything is individualized. So, one way I would get grades would be to give a weekly reading test in the format of MCT2. To get a starting point for reading grade level, I would give the Cloze comprehension test. If the students had very different reading levels, I would give several versions of the weekly tests. Hopefully, students would be successful and show progress as they read more in class.

To encourage reading more at home, I would assign a weekly homework reading log. Students could choose their homework grade by how much they read at home. Thirty minutes four times a week would be a 75, five times a week would be an 85, six times would be 95, and 7 times a week would be 100. Parents would have to sign off on the reading log and students would have to list the title of the book(s) and how many pages read each day.

Vocabulary would come from the read aloud and classroom word collector. If the students were older, like 5th or higher, I would use WordGeneration and the five weekly words in the program.
I have some other ideas but will have to write about them another time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July-Busier Than Expected

July has been busier than usual. Last year in July we went to Prince Edward Island by way of Bar Harbor and other points of interest. This year we spent a few days at the beach because I didn't have much time off between summer school and a new bridge into kindergarten program.

So far in July I started a new quilt and almost finished a lap quilt, worked on an ELL handbook for JPS, wrote the Title III grant rough draft, went to the pool every day possible, put together a proposal for IRA, and ordered and organized materials for the bridging program. Oh, I don't want to forget handling things for mom and dad, as well as listening to mom's complaining song. I enjoyed a visit from my cousin who has recently retired and become a grandmother. I played for three church services for my friend Sylvia. I think I actually got better at it-practice helps! Almost forgot, we helped with painting at Emily and Ben's and went to Memphis to see Joey and Jessie's work in progress.

This is kind of obnoxious to read over but I don't want to forget why I don't feel rested this year. I think I will be glad to get back to school. Tomorrow I have to get a treasurer's report and budget together for the MRA retreat, print out my check stub, balance our checkbook, and get clothes ready for the weekend. I would like to go to the Canton library to get some books by Caroline Graham but may not have time. I am looking forward to relaxing at Smoak Salon next Tuesday.

Friends are retiring or planning to retire soon. Some look so rested; I am envious. But I can't let go of my to-do lists.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Research

At Emily's suggestion we gave a pre-test and post-test to the students who came to summer school. I have analyzed the scores of the older group's tests and found encouraging results. Of the students who took both the pre- and post-tests, 66% improved a half year in reading comprehension; 27% improved one year or more in reading comprehension. 27% had no change and 6% regressed a half year. The students had completed grades 2-5 and attended 16 or more days of summer school. The method used to improve reading comprehension was sustained silent reading of 30 minutes per day and shared read aloud of 60+ minutes per day. One group also wrote about what they had read each day in their journals and had informal discussions as books were being read aloud. Students were encouraged to follow along silently with the recording of the book. Grades 3-5 completed at least 3 shared chapter books in the four week summer session. They also read 5 more books independently.
One thing I will change next year is how the first and low second graders are tested. The reading comprehension test was too difficult for them and did not accurately show what they learned in summer school. It may be better to take a running record or administer the SORT for this group.
I have not figured out how to analyze the kindergarten group's pre- and post-tests. My first impression is that they improved in alphabet knowledge and number sense. I hope after six weeks at home they will remember what they learned. I observed improved language usage and improved behavior with the kindergarten group.
We will definitely have to share what we did in summer school. Now I feel more confident that silent reading and read aloud do make a difference in reading comprehension.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wrapped up summer school

This year it seemed that ESL summer school went by in a flash. The older group got along well, enjoyed playing some new games like 'Spot It', and read lots of books. Two Chinese girls, four Hispanic girls, one Chinese boy, and three Hispanic boys laughed and teased and had fun together. They were so funny taking photos of each other with their cell phones before they left today.
The other four teachers did a great job engaging their groups with interesting, enriching activities. They were much more patient with the younger students than I am. I loved talking about the kindergarten group with my daughter. She's a natural teacher, observing and adjusting instruction to fit the students. I'm grateful to friends like Karen and Vicki who gave up their summer to help a group of kids that needed their expert teaching.
Sandra, the other ESL teacher, and I sent a survey about the length of summer school home with some of the students. We were thinking about shortening summer school to two or three weeks instead of four. Surprise! The students and their families chose four weeks of summer school. A couple of parents even asked if we could go for six weeks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reading for TESOL and listening to reading

Read eighteen TESOL proposals yesterday. Some were terrible, some were okay, and about 5 were things I hope will be offered next year at TESOL in Philadelphia. I'm glad that the reading went so fast. I have so many things due at the same time. Of course. How else could it be?
We are listening to the Tale of Despereaux in summer school. The reader has a lovely voice and reads the different characters with different voices. Melanie is a girl after my heart. She wants to go home and read the rest of the book. She can't wait to know what happens next. One thing about getting older, I now appreciate reading and savoring how good it is. If I read a book too quickly, some of the enjoyment is lost. That's a good point to discuss with the kids on Monday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Haiku and other summer school lessons

First, some haiku, maybe the first I've ever written-

Mourning doves cooing
High in the sycamore trees
Two cats slink away

I read an interesting book about how to write haiku and other short poems. It was written for students and told the history of several types of short poems and had suggested assignments for a writer's notebook/journal. We are talking about Japan because we will see an exhibit of Japanese art next week. We talked about haiku and I read four poems to the kids. Melanie was the only one who had any prior knowledge of haiku. The kids illustrated one poem that they liked. The illustrations turned out pretty good. Another day we went outside to take a nature walk and notice possible subjects for poems. We couldn't walk far because of the fence around our patio and the kids were talking so much and being silly, so I asked them to be quiet and listen for one minute. It was amazing how much we could hear when they shut up. Then we went inside and wrote lists of things we saw and heard.

Another day I showed them a website on Japan that I had found. We looked at a section on Japanese houses and did a little interactive 'game' that helped them understand some of the differences in Japanese houses. We clicked on some Japanese schools and found one that was on an island. In the description of the island there was a photo of a whirlpool that was one of the largest in the world and was between the small island and the bigger island near it. Here is the neat thing that happened later that day-a reason that I don't agree with scripted teaching-one group was listening to The Watsons Go to Birmingham and came to the part about the whirlpool. I stopped the CD and we talked about how the boy in the story misunderstood his grandmother. He thought she said 'wool pooh' instead of whirlpool. We connected that to the photo we had seen earlier of the whirlpool in Japan. Serendipity! A spontaneous learning experience that would have been missed if we had strictly followed some script.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Little Clearer Picture

So, now it is revealed. One of the people acting weird to me has resigned-after signing her contract. I am sorry she is leaving and I guess she has been going through the agony of making a decision and that may have contributed to the odd way she was acting. She is young and maybe things will be better in a new place. I hope she gets some help for the demons that are really bothering her.
This time of year is always icky. Everyone is tired. The kids are ready for summer break. The teachers are tired of keeping the lid on bad behavior.
At least I am enjoying sharing the Little Engine movie with K-3rd this week. The 4th and 5th grades had fun watching the Indian in the Cupboard movie after reading the book. They really noticed the differences in the book and movie.
I'm starting to feel better. Now if only my computer would heal itself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm in a lousy mood-read at your own peril

I am in a lousy mood and have been since yesterday. I think it is because I have lots to do and feel like there isn't enough time to do everything. Plus my new computer is not working and I really need it to work. The computers at school are screwed up, running slow, not connecting to the internet...yuck, ick, ugly word.
I'd like a glass of wine or a fizzy drink or something. Everyone and everything is getting on my nerves. I went to a stupid cosmetics party yesterday that I didn't want to go to. Heard the ignorant, hick saleswoman go through her spiel for the second time. Thought I would buy something to help a friend-a nineteen dollar bottle of aloe spray costs 27 dollars when shipping and tax are added. What a rip off! My scholastic book order was back ordered, so I won't get those books. Boo, hiss. I'm just in a lousy mood.
Everything on TV is a re-run. I bought two new bedcovers and Mr. M didn't like them. So back to the store I will go. They cost too much and are not really what I want. I have to drive across towm to take the garbage out at mom's tomorrow, and I really don't want to do anything but go home or to the pool and be by myself. I'm in a lousy mood.
Then I get to drive an hour and a half to sit in a meeting on Wednesday. And the boss has cancelled her attendance at the same meeting. I didn't want to go. Could be giving the training and the trainer is coming to boss's office the next day to go over the same stuff. Crap! I'm in a lousy mood.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof said he was tired of mendacity. He was surrounded by lies and liars. I looked up the word online and found it means untruthfulness or a tendency to lie. The atmosphere at work has prompted some people to lie. I am disappointed in people who I thought were friends telling outright lies to me. Upon reflection I realize they did it to keep from being yelled at or embarrassed in front of everyone. I wish it weren't so. Too many Type A's in one place, I guess. We all strive to be perfect, never make a mistake, or be called out. The reality is that none of us is perfect. We all are focused on what we want and what is good for us. If it helps someone else, well, that's good, too. I am mostly interested in getting my things done and I don't like change. So I don't like to see people leave. Long ago a principal told me his goal was to have summer vacation work just like a weekend. The beginning of one year would see no change in staff from year to year. Unrealistic but I would like that too. Anyway, I guess I will try harder not to interest myself in others here at work. Just do my j-o-b and keep my head down.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Testing Mirage

I have this analogy in my head about testing, so I'm going to try it out here. I think NCLB testing is like the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. In the story two conmen convince the emperor that they have made him a magnificent new suit of clothes. He parades around naked but everyone is too afraid to say he has nothing on because the conmen said only intelligent people can see the clothes.
The testing promoters are like the conmen. They have convinced everyone that intelligent people see the benefit to students of all the endless testing. And the correlation of test scores to teacher ability. But the emperor is naked. The correlation of test scores is more accurately related to income level. Schools in wealthier areas do better on the tests. In our state there are seven levels to describe school performance on the tests. Four of the levels are negative. How fair is that?
The state that started all this testing frenzy has been shown to have fudged on the results. The only group to benefit from all the testing is....wait for it....THE TESTING COMPANIES!
The public has been deceived. Schools have been labeled failures. Teachers have been vilified.
Where is the honest little boy who will say, "The emperor has NO clothes!"?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fluff from the Past

I am reading on my NookColor a collection of short stories and books by P.G. Wodehouse. (It's pronounced Woodhouse.) I first met this writer in a series on Masterpiece Theater about Jeeves and Wooster. I found some of his books at the public library but now with my ereader, I have access to lots of out-of-print titles. He specialized in writing about the idle rich of his day. Some are set in England and some in America. The ones set in the US focus on life in New York. The main character usually hasn't got a clue and stumbles around with his mates partying into the night. Their life seems so tame compared to the drama we watch these days on television. But the emotions and plots are surprisingly timeless. The stories are funny and a pure escape back to a slower pace.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Flowers and Great Teacher Books

Iris are my favorite spring flowers. My mom has so many that she has shared with anyone who will take them. But that's not the theme of this blog. So I guess it's time to get back to my stated purpose-sharing good stuff I'm reading. I am really excited about two books: The Daily 5 and The CAFE Book by The Two Sisters. These books outline a great structure for getting kids to read and write more. The Daily 5 explains how to set up five different independent literacy times in a school day. The directions are very clear and are helpful to old pros and newbies alike. The CAFE Book explains how to confer with students about their reading goals and gives examples of skills that all levels of readers need to improve. Even in my limited time of 45 minutes per group, I have set up the read-to-self routine. I plan on adding more next year. I may work one of the five each day of the week, in other words the weekly 5 for ESL. Or I may focus on just a couple of the routines like read-to-self and writing. Lots to think about. If you are looking for a book to improve your teaching, I recommend these two.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quick Curtains

Saturday the to-do list kept us running all around. Martin fixed the kitchen light. Hallelu! It's been dark in there for over a week. I knew he could do it and he finally decided he could match red to red, yellow to yellow, etc. He was very proud to have done something electrical without calling a repairman.
In our running we found some bright yellow fabric for curtains for the corner bedroom and a whimsical curtain rod with little birds on the ends. I got busy and made simple unlined curtains in less than two hours. Clipped them on rings. Martin battled the wall and got the curtain rod up. Voila! New look in less than one day.
It was a great feeling to get two projects finished.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Music and Kids

I spent the day with eight young singers. They didn't pay much attention to me as I sat in the row behind them while they rehearsed and sang at choir festival. They knew the songs much better than I thought. After the worship concert we drove to the movies in Madison. Again, I got to listen as I drove and they talked. The conversation illustrated quite nicely an article I read yesterday on the difference between third and fourth grade students. It seems that at around age nine children begin to look more to peers for information and affirmation than they did at age eight. Much of the conversation seemed aimed at impressing the other kids. Kid watching-so interesting.
On the long range memory side of the day, as I took the last two kids home they were both humming/singing one of the praise songs they had sung in the concert. That is the part of the day that I hope stays with them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trying to Understand

The shocking death of young mother, teacher, daughter, sister- Brooke - leaves us trying to understand. Our minds cannot wrap around the fact that she is gone. We won't see her lovely smile again. Her children have lost their loving, talented mother. Last night at the funeral home there were photos from her short life reminding everyone of the fun-loving child and beautiful young teen that she had been. There were photos of the blossoming woman, waiting for the birth of a child.
I didn't know Brooke very well. We worked together. I was old enough to be her mother. My daughter is the same age. I can't imagine how much her mother misses her. But as I read Milton's blog, something he wrote made me think of Brooke. She lives in our memories of her, in the memories of her children, in the memories of her former students. Brooke's life was much too short. We grieve for what she will miss and we will miss her. I hope we will remember her wonderful, creative life and not dwell on any other part of her passing. We should be glad we had this time together.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Emotional Chameleon

A long time ago someone I worked with told me I was an emotional chameleon when I teared up after hearing a touching story. I wondered what exactly she meant by that. I wasn't insulted but I don't think she meant it as a compliment. I recently repeated the phrase in a conversation with Vicki. Hi, Vicki! And that started me thinking about what being an emotional chameleon means to me. I think it allows me to have empathy for others. When I read or hear a story, I feel the story is happening to me. This may be why I like to read aloud to my students. I can make the story come alive with my voice. I was sort of a shy child but I always like to have a part in school plays. I think I liked the freedom to be someone else. I guess I could use this ability to make people feel sorry for me or exploit my ability to cry at the drop of a hat. But I won't. I'll just keep on reading books to kids, using funny voices, and hope some of them find this makes books more enjoyable and fascinating.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Redbuds Again

Okay, I have to write again about redbud trees. Today I saw the first pinkish blooms on the redbud trees on my way home. I love the way they look against the bare tree trunks and branches. They also remind me of my favorite aunt. She helped me plant a twig of redbud in our front yard on Robinson Street when I was about nine. That would be about 50 years ago-but the memory is quite clear. I miss her.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trees are blooming again

I think this is where I started about a year ago-writing about the lovely blooming spring trees. I started writing because I really hate writing and need to get better at it. I'm not much better but I don't avoid it like I did before.
Lately I have been absorbed by technology. New desktop computer AND new Nook Color E-reader. I just downloaded 100 classics and an anthology of children's fairy tales. I'm trying to learn how to navigate the interweb on a tiny screen. Most frustrating. But like I tell kids-can't give up just because it's hard to learn new stuff.
Oh, and on to what I'm reading-the best article on teaching reading is in the March Ed Leadership. Very sensible and well-researched. If only we could follow the suggestions Richard Allington wrote about, we could have most kids reading by the end of first grade! What an idea!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Crochet Obsession

I'm in the midst of an obsession with yarn and scarves. Emily showed me how to do a basket weave stitch and I have been busily working on a scarf with the blue varigated yarn I bought for Martin. He said he wanted to learn to crochet after his sister Anne told him about how much she was enjoying crocheting. That doesn't look right but crochetting doesn't look right either. Anyway, Martin gave up after learning how to do the chain stitch. It wasn't as easy as it looks.
So I'm using the yarn to practice the stitch and I think I'll get something softer to work up next. Got to get back to it. May finish the scarf tonight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brian Jacques Died

I just heard on the radio that Brian Jacques died. He wrote the Redwall series of books. Joey and I read all of the Redwall books we could find at the library. I probably kept on reading them after Joey had outgrown them. They are really good books about medieval animals in a mythical animal kingdom fighting against evil and winning in every book. I met Jacques and his wife at an IRA convention in Atlanta. I had a couple of his paperback books and he signed them for Joey. I wasn't sure how to pronounce his name-it looks French so I tried pronouncing that way. His wife quickly informed me that it was pronounced Jakes. He didn't pronounce it the 'froggy' way. I loved it!
The announcer on the radio said there was one more book to be published. I hope lots of kids and parents read it. He was a great writer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


AMTESOL was this weekend at Auburn. I was surprised at how long it took to get there. We got there just in time for the first session. Em and I sat at the back. The sweet young thing (a grad student) who began, said something unintelligible then sat down and began reading to us. It was terrible. We just had to leave. After that we tried not to choose any session done by grad students.
The keynote speaker was very good but we were starving and ready to eat. Wish she had been at a different time.
My session was the first time slot Saturday morning. I prepared 50 handouts and the room seemed to have about 50 seats. I started a few minutes early but soon the room was overflowing. People were sitting on the floor and standing around leaning on the walls. They seemed to really agree with everything I said. They were very encouraging, nodding and smiling. I loved it. I got to talk about my favorite thing-getting kids excited about reading. Afterwards I was too pumped up to sit and listen to anyone else talk.
Em and I went to the local art museum. We walked around looking at the collection of Audubon prints and a very strange exhibit of primitive art that seemed to have been done by a lunatic. Then we rode around the campus and walked around town. Em found some bargain necklaces. When we went back to the conference, I won one of the door prizes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't read old blogs

I just read over some older blog posts. Bad idea. I'm still not ready for AMTESOL. I found out the scifi show was not from Canada but was on a network I hardly ever watch.
The good news is my van has heat again. We took it to the shop Monday and they said it was a GALLON low on coolant and there was a leak in the radiator. Replaced radiator and new coolant-now I have heat. Yea! One question-why couldn't they find the leak all the times I took it in and said, "I think it has a leak."?
I'm reading the longest book by John Mortimer. He wrote the Rumpole books. They are very quick reads compared to this book.
Got a list of stuff I need to get done yesterday. So I better stop writing this and get to work.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day-Sew Day

I finished the "Sassy Little Apron" yesterday. Saturday the new tablecloth was done. That was all I thought I would do this weekend. But the weekend has been extended with an extra day because of bad weather. Now I'm working on the T-shirt quilt. I have the five rows done so all I have to do is put the rows together. I couldn't remember the order of the rows, so I tried them different ways. I'm sure it is not the original way I was going to put them together. Maybe it will be more interesting this way.
I'm alternating sewing with work on the presentation for AMTESOL. I have two slides done. Someone said to make one slide per minute. I think I like to talk longer than that per slide. This is too much like writing national boards. The good thing is I don't have to write out everything I'm going to say.
Well, time to get back to work.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Loose ends and other stuff as I watch a sci-fi show that somehow I have missed. Today I finished the new table cloth and made some small adjustments to the woodland animals baby quilt. Yesterday I made a cute little flannel blanket for a co-worker's baby shower. Tomorrow I hope to make a sassy apron with Em.
Oh, yeah, finally got my national boards certificate showing that I have renewed! It was oversize, so I had to drive to Canton to pick it up at the PO.
What am I reading now? Just finished a medieval mystery by Ian Morson called Falconer and the Face of God. I hope to find some more books in this series.
What I need to be doing-working on a presentation for AMTESOL. Maybe I can get to it tomorrow afternoon. At least this laptop will work for several hours on battery power if we get snowed in and have a power outage.
I really don't want a snow day. We'll just have to make it up at some inconvenient time. I have a TESOl friend in northeast Tennessee who keeps posting snow days. I wonder how many they have built into their calendar. I think she has missed about two weeks to bad weather.
Got to go. I'm going to research this sci-fi show. Must be from Canada.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More quilting in 2011

One of my goals for 2011 is to spend more time quilting. I'm working on the X block quilt this weekend. Hope to finish it by tomorrow. The baby quilt in the photo needs a little finish work and then I'll mail it to my cousin, the new grammy. I think I will work backward and try to finish all the quilts I have 'almost' finished. I found one top I really like-black and bright colors. Just needs a little trimming and then quilting. I have THREE Saturday Sampler tops almost ready to quilt. Since I passed the national board renewal, I can spend weekends working on quilts. I may even PAY someone to finish one of the quilts for me. Anyway, we'll see how far I can get this year on my backlog of tops that need to be finished.
Happy New Year to all!