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 29, 2012

Recommending an author

Anthony Horowitz writes for pre-teens and teens. I have just finished the fourth book in the Gatekeeper series. The final book has not been published yet but I hope to read it when it comes out. The series should appeal to readers who like action-adventure with a little magic in the mix. I bought the first book in the bargain section of a book fair. Then checked the others out of the library. The library oddly shelved some of the series in the teen section and some in the children's section. Caused some difficulty as I looked for the books.

Horowitz also writes the Alex Rider series for the same age group. This series is spy thriller with a fourteen year old main character. It reminds me of the spy kids movies, really action packed.

This may be my last posting for 2012 so I thought I would get back to my original idea of writing about what I'm reading. I have gotten away from reading books on my nook-just too cheap to buy books when I can check them out of the library.

I have a stack of journals that I want to read during the break. More later if any are worth sharing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paper Chains and Eggshell Santas

Today the first and second graders made paper chains for the school Christmas tree. Oh my, they had never made a paper chain before. What a simple, fun activity with so many math connections and it was new to them.

My earliest Christmas memories were making paper chains for the Christmas tree. We had a cedar tree cut from a back pasture somewhere. All we needed to decorate the tree was colored construction paper and home-made flour and water paste. We used every color in the package for our chains.

Another Christmas tradition was making an eggshell Santa. Mom would blow out the eggy insides from several fresh eggs. (We had chickens until I was in third grade.) Then she would rinse the shells inside and out. After the shells dried we would make a red paper Santa hat for each egg. We drew on the face with crayons and added cotton ball whiskers and fur trim to the red hat. So cute and fun to make.

Sometimes we made popcorn strings and once we covered sweet gum balls with foil and added them to the tree.

I know we had some store bought ornaments but the ones we made are the ones I remember.

Yesterday we made and decorated 3-D paper trees. Tomorrow we will make wooden clothes peg reindeer. If we have time we will make cinnamon-applesauce gingerbread men. I hope the children will have good memories of this week in my class.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

I had a very productive Thanksgiving vacation. First, I finished the quilt for the PTA raffle shown in the previous post. Then, I finished a crocheted scarf started last winter. I took short break from crafty things to make cranberry salad and cook the turkey for Thanksgiving. There was a visit to the dentist and a visit with mom during the week, too. Friday and Saturday I worked on three Peter Rabbit baby quilts. Last, I checked the MRA PO box, updated the name tag list for the conference and made a bank deposit. Today I started addressing envelopes for Christmas cards but I won't mail them 'til later.

There is also a list of things I meant to finish but didn't. I didn't read the journals I brought home. I didn't make two pillow covers. I didn't go to yoga this week. But I did walk several days.

The next-to-best thing that happened this week was notification that my session for IRA was accepted. The best thing this week was spending time with Emily, Ben, Liam, Joey, and Jessie on Thanksgiving. It was so much fun to see and hear Liam laughing as he played with Joey and Jessie.

It was a good break.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Whole Day of Quilting

I just finished this lap quilt for the PTA fund raiser. I pieced the top as part of the first Bernina Saturday Sampler that began in 2004!. The blocks have been on my list of things to finish for a long time.

When I foolishly volunteered to donate a quilt to the PTA I thought of using these blocks. My skill in piecing has improved in the last eight years, thank goodness. I still don't like making 'flying geese' but when I do make some they come out straight. This quilt will be good for a child to snuggle under while watching TV.

It is a great feeling to have something finished, especially my oldest unfinished project. Now, I hope to make two or three baby Peter Rabbit nine patches and finish the T-shirt quilt this week.

I have been reading the "Bones" series of mysteries set in Zinnia, Mississippi. Enjoyable reading but I had to take a break or no sewing would get done.

Celebration is in order because the EEIS Newsletter FINALLY got published and emailed to the group. My plan is to share it with boss-type folks so they can read my article about my summer research.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Check that off the list

Well, I finally finished the EEIS Newsletter and sent it to my contact at TESOL. She was away in India and won't see it for a week but at least it's not on my to-do list any more.
And check off MRA registration forms. Stephanie is going to work on them. After six years of doing this I am finding that I don't need to take care of every detail. Other people are competent, too. I have a small folder of purchase orders that are my responsibility.
Now maybe I can quilt on the weekends. Yea!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Summer morning glories are still blooming as fall spider lilies come up through the vines. Love both in their seasons and in the overlap.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Interesting Read

Just finished reading The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield. I started in the middle, read to the end, then went back to the beginning. The information about the LDS church was interesting and informative. I have visited Salt Lake City and listened to the Morman Tabernacle Choir in practice there. Their sound is amazing but being around the people was like living in the movie "The Stepford Wives". Now I understand their life view much better. Don't have time now to write more. If you are interested in what makes these folks tick, read the book.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday Blues

First, let me tell you. Do not have a birthday on Monday. It has all the disadvantages of Monday plus getting a year older. And this year I'm an odd year that I can't think of any fun math problem to tell people as a hint. Last year I was 5 dozen. So I guess this year I can be 5 dozen plus one. Doesn't matter. I am so old now, no one even asks how old I am.

Several people did wish me a happy birthday and I had text messages wishing me a happy day. My lovely daughter remembered and gave me some dangly bronze leaf earrings. I shouldn't be blue today. I think it is a lack of sleep-see above problem with Monday birthday.

I am about to go to yoga class and hopefully my mood will get better. Then dinner at a nice restaurant. Note to self. Wear something loose to the restaurant. Tight pants just make me feel fatter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spider Lily Sighting

When I went to get the mail, I saw my first spider lily of the fall. It was hiding under the morning glory vines. My birthday is less than two weeks away. What did I tell you? Spider lilies = my birthday is near.
I finished another Phryne Fisher mystery. Now I have read all of the books by Kerry Greenwood in the public library. Guess it is time to treat myself to an early birthday present and buy some for my nook.
Once again I am struggling to finish an article for the EEIS newsletter. I really want to run it. The subject is my favorite one to talk about. But I just can't sit down and finish it. I H.A.T.E. to write pieces with citations. I really should give credit to the researchers who prove my point of view. But I HATE digging up all the info for footnotes.
I am enjoying going to yoga twice a week. On the other hand, I now have long days Monday thru Thursday. I need more down time than that. Maybe next week will work better. PTA, workshops, errands for mom, and I feel stretched to the limit.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September is here!

September is the start of my year because it's my birth month. And school starts, or did when I was a kid, in September. Look for spider lilies to bloom soon. They are my favorite fall flowers. Redbuds mean spring to me and spider lilies are fall. I love flowers and plants and was quite a little gardener as a child. Now I just enjoy as a member of the audience.

This has been a very odd beginning of school. I was sick a couple of days the first week of school. Then we had two days off because of hurricane Isaac. Now a long holiday weekend. Have I gotten anything productive done? No. Do I have stuff I should be doing? Yes. But instead I have been reading a new mystery by Kerry Greenwood. The public library has only three books by this author and I have checked all of them out. Really like this Australian author and wish more of her books were available at the library. I may have to breakdown and buy some for my nook.

Of course I need to write an article for the EEIS Newsletter. We are very short of articles for this edition and as editor I should have something to fill the space. I have an idea rolling around in my head, just getting it in a readable form is the problem. Next week is going to be very busy. Maybe that will motivate me to write something tomorrow. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Home Sick

I'm sitting here at home instead of school because I can't get rid of this stomach bug. I never know what to eat, so I'm trying water and saltines today. Yesterday I tried going to work and made it through the day but felt awful when I got home.
Anyway, all that whining to get to this-I don't have anything good to read. I finished the second Phryne Fisher mystery a couple of days ago and don't have anything new to read. Don't feel like sewing so I'm just sitting here watching reruns.
But I am feeling better. Maybe saltines are the answer.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cruising down Highway 1

"Nobody wants to look at vacation pictures," one of Martin's co-workers once told him. So I won't bore you with all the photos we took on vacation but we were very pleased with this one of both of us in front of Hearst Castle.

This year we made it to a part of California we had not visited before. We flew to San Francisco and stayed a little south of town in a small motel in Pacifica. It had a lovely view of the rocky coastline and the drive into town was easy. The day we arrived we decided to ride the train/subway into downtown. We had no clue how to navigate the fee system but a very helpful BART worker showed us how to buy round-trip tickets. We walked around a very touristy area and ate dinner at a fusion/asian place in a high rise mall. Then we rode back to Pacifica. The BART tickets cost so much we decided that paying to park would be just as economical.

The next day we drove in and parked at Pier 39. We found a double decker tour bus that would show us the highlights of the area. We sat on the upper level around town and across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was foggy and chilly that morning. I was glad I had on a jacket and scarf.

Well, I won't give a blow by blow account of the week. I will just list the highlights: Muir Woods, Napa Valley, Sausilito, twisty Highway 1, Monterey Aquarium, Hearst Castle, Getty Malibu, and Garrison Keillor at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a memorable trip. As always it was also good to get back home.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reading Results

Once again I have found that ELLs' reading comprehension has increased through extended reading time. My students read or listened to recorded books for at least 60 minutes per day for 4 weeks. Most students made six months gain in comprehension in less than a month. The other activity that seemed to help was to complete an EZ Cloze paragraph each day. This took about 15 minutes. After completing a paragraph at their seats, they moved to the carpet to highlight and check answers. Using a highlighter was fun and kept them from changing their answers. They chose a title for each paragraph which helped with main idea. I think this activity helped them understand how cloze paragraphs work, too.

I shared their improved reading levels with them after lunch today. We talked about how reading more helped them read better. Now if only we could spend more time reading at school instead of un-ending test prep junk.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekend Reading

My weekend reading assignment is to make a CD of a book for next week in summer school. The kids are clamoring to read TIGER, a fictional book about the five ancestors of Kung Fu. I have read it before and it is exciting and funny. The kids will love listening to it. I just need to find enough quiet time to record it.

In the non-quiet time I am going to finish reading CHILDREN OF THE LAMP. It is a very engaging and well written children's book about djinn. The title page says it is book one, so there must be a series. I'll have to check the library.

And speaking of the library, we went to the main library as part of our summer school field trip yesterday. There was a program and free stuff for the kids. Next year I am going to get the library schedule earlier so we can plan to attend more of the library programs. They are free and maybe the kids will get their parents to take them to some of the activities after summer school is over.

After the kids finish the next round of literature circles, I think we will use our reading time to read the ten books in the book bags. We'll see if that works out.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reading to Liam

I woke up this morning thinking about what I could read to Liam. He is two days old today. It's not too soon to start reading. There are so many great children's books available. He has a little bookshelf full of books. But there are even more at the library. And some at our house, the bookstore, online, on my nook. Oh, the possibilities! I can't decide where to start. We will just have a basketful and read them one after the other. This is going to be fun!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summers past

Today was the last day of school for students. After we put the kids on the buses and waited for the car riders to be picked up, the teachers remembered summers when we were kids. Summers seemed inviting and full of possibilities on the first day of vacation.

The early weeks of summer were filled with Vacation Bible School. When I was in elementary school VBS lasted two weeks. Then we would drive to visit our cousins in Georgia and at least once we attended VBS there.

We went to the library once a week. My favorite library was the Livingston Branch in front of the zoo. The librarian remembered us and what kinds of stories we liked to hear. My younger brother always wanted stories about cats. Some of my favorite stories were Katy No Pockets, Millions of Cats, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. When I started reading chapter books I liked magic stories like Half Magic and classics like The Secret Garden.

We went swimming at Hoover Lake when mom's friend, Aunt Jean, invited us. Swimming in a lake was fun. The mud squished between my toes and fish gave me kisses on my legs if I was still in the water. I wasn't much of a swimmer more of a dog paddler. When I was older we went to Aunt Billie's house outside of Florence to swim in her pool. Our cousins were ten years younger than I was. I remember Bob, at maybe age two, was like a little dolphin. He mostly held his breath and swam under water, popping up to get another breath of air.

Another frequent summer activity was shelling butterbeans and purple hull peas. My thumbs turned green from the butterbeans and purple from the peas. We liked to sit in our treehouse shelling beans and peas and letting the hulls drop down onto the vacant lot next door. The best thing about having a garden was the watermelons. We had red and yellow watermelons. I never had too much watermelon.

Making homemade ice cream is another summer memory. The earliest memories are from when we lived on Morrison Road. We had a cow so there was plenty of cream and milk. Mom made custard and then it was hand cranked in a wooden ice cream freezer. The men took turns cranking the handle. Sometimes one of the kids had to sit on top of ice freezer as the ice cream became harder. We usually had vanilla but sometimes peach or strawberry.

The summers seemed longer then. We didn't start school until after Labor Day. Fewer school days were required than are required now. We played outside most of the day. When we were hot we would cool off with homemade popsicles or we would play inside making towns and roads with blocks, boxes, and peopling them with plastic animals and small dolls.

I hope my students have fun making memories this summer!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chicago: Remembering

The summer before my tenth birthday we visited Chicago. My cousin Nancy went with us. Her mom, Aunt Becky, was expecting a baby(Virginia). I remember the strangest bits and pieces of that trip. Here are some of the things I remember- When we finally arrived in Chicago in our big, blue, Buick stationwagon, dad couldn't figure out how to get up to the street level of our hotel. We were on the lower level where the train tracks ran. We could see our hotel but couldn't get to it. Mom said dad just drove across the railroad tracks and somehow got to the right level. I asked mom why we took a trip to Chicago. She said we went to there because there were lots of museums and things to see. We stopped by my uncle's house in Urbana, Illinois, on the way. We didn't get to see Uncle Ray, Aunt Ruth, and David very often. Mom said some people in Mississippi advised dad to change car tags with Uncle Ray before we went to Chicago. A Mississippi tag in the north in 1961 was thought to cause trouble. In reality, people were nice to us. I have always found if you are nice, most people are nice, too. Mom said our hotel was right next to the Wrigley Building and the Chicago Tribune Building. She said we went on a tour of the newspaper and saw the presses run. It was a chance meeting with a Tribune employee who noticed we were not from around there, that ended up in a tour of building. I didn't remember the newspaper tour but I did remember visiting the Field Museum. I bought a metal bracelet imprinted with the name of the museum and wore it for years. After talking with mom I remembered going through a walk through model of the human heart at the museum. We took Nancy home to Georgia and if my memory is correct, she had a new baby sister when we got there. I was happy for her but I did not want a baby sister. Two younger brothers were enough for me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remembering Red Rocks

I have been listening to a Celtic Woman CD as I drive to school and back home. I try to sing along when I know the song. The best thing about the music is how I am transported through time and space back to the concert at Red Rocks. It was a magical setting with the massive rocks surrounding us, the light subtly changing as the sun went down. It is a wonderful memory. I am so glad we were able to share that night with Joey and Jessie.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Popular Fiction

Okay, I am reading The Hunger Games. I wasn't interested when I first heard about the series. I love book series but have read some depressing stuff in the past that sounded like the way this series was going to be. It is not high literature but so far it's entertaining. I will probably read the others, too.

I shouldn't turn my nose up at these stories. The books I have been reading on my nook are really fluff. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for mindless reading for pleasure. I have two other books in progress-Bringing Up Bebe and God Is Not One. Both too serious for me right now.

So I'm going back to the dystopian future when I post this.

On the sewing front I finished two little baby quilts with Eric Carle prints and green minky dots on the back. I hope to get the borders on my summer block party quilt. Then I will have 7 tops to finish. Oh, my.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Borrowers: a book and movie experience

My fourth and fifth grade group recently read The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The book was published in the early '50s. It tells the story of a family of little people, Borrowers, who live under the floor of an old house. We read one or two chapters a day. As I read the kids read along silently in their copies. I try to model fluent reading and use different voices to indicate the various characters. We write a simple summary after each reading, sticking with 5 W's or less.

After we finished the book we made two circle graphs about two of the main characters. I modeled the first one and got them started on the second one. All of the students took the AR test on the book. First they took the test orally as a group. Then they took a practice test in pairs. Delfina really did well on the test and offered to help everyone take the practice test. Even the two beginners did well on the test. One boy did not listen to the instructions to wait and take the practice test. He took the test in his language arts class and did not make a very good score.

To extend the story I asked the students to write about which main character they would like to have as a friend. They could use the circle graphs to find supporting details. The fourth graders were just days away from taking the state writing test. Most of them copied sentences from the graphs in no particular order but they did write more than usual.

Now the movie part of the experience. I had a recent movie version of the book but it was not at all similar to the book. I found an old BBC version available on amazon.com and ordered it. It turned out to be a great three hour movie of the first two books in the Borrower series. We watched the first half the movie and then had to stop to take 9 weeks tests. Finally we finished watching the movie. The kids really enjoyed it. One of the fifth grade girls checked out The Borrowers Afloat from the school library. I love it when they want to read more.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Redbuds are blooming again

I know I've written about redbuds before but just this morning I noticed that they were blooming again. Most of the woods were still bare and brown, yet here and there were soft smudges of fushia. By this afternoon the spring blooming trees were covered with flowers everywhere I went.
The white flowered pear trees were the showiest. But I still love the redbuds the most.
I'm reading two books that are quite good. The mystery is cute and pretty much like watching TV. I have a hard time putting it down. The other book is an easy read but has so much that I want to remember and so I read it in bits. I bought it for Emily. It is an interesting true story called Bringing Up Bebe. I like reading it and looking at our culture through another culture's lens.
Well, that's all I've got for now.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Happened to January?

Here it is February. I didn't write anything in January. It was a busy month and I didn't feel like reflecting or reading anything very serious. I started reading a mystery series I really enjoy. Laura Lippman set her stories in Baltimore. I like her detective Tess.

Taking a week off to work on dad's service, I contemplated retirement. I know I would keep busy with sewing and reading. But I'm not ready.

Martha Kelly decided to retire at the end of this year. It will be hard to find another sweet, soft spoken, hard-working librarian like her. Most people think librarian is an easy job. As much as I love reading, I know I wouldn't like the record keeping side of the job.

Maybe I can work on the baby quilt this weekend. I really want it to look good. I love making the pieced tops but the quilting part is overwhelming. I have finished some quilts and they turned out okay. I just love doing quick little quilts. I've got to stop buying fabric and get some of these projects finished. (Stern talk to myself-let's see if it works.)