Marooned in the Margin & Caught on the Curb

True confession…I haven’t been writing. Well, I have been writing, but barely. And honestly, I haven’t felt like writing. I guess you could say I am…

marooned in the margin.

The ideas are there. There is no shortage of them. But, I just haven’t had made time to write. Yes, I am …

marooned in the margin.

And then there is the Slice of Life writing challenge. Just around the corner in March. Some days I’m all in ready to accept the challenge. But then on other days, I know I am just going to shy away from it all and throw in the towel. Yes, I am…

marooned in the margin.

True confession…I have barely been running. My weekly mileage is at an all-time low of about six miles per week. I guess you could say I am…

caught on the curb.

I have been cross-training though.  Mixing it up with a little yoga, a little core work, and a little strength training. But the running, well, I’ve found an excuse here and an excuse there to legitimize skipping a run. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

And then there is the Pittsburgh half marathon. Just around the corner in 12 weeks. I’m finding it difficult to get motivated to complete my training runs. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

But then I stepped forced myself on that treadmill and I ran.

It was magical!

I fell into my own little world.

My running world,

my writing world.

And while I ran, I wrote.

Yes, I write while I run, in my head anyway.

After 3.1 miles, my run was complete and my piece was written.

I bounced off that treadmill.

The words spewed out from mind,

to my fingers,

to my computer.

My run was complete.

My piece was written.

Marooned in the margin,

caught on the curb,

hopefully, no more!

sometimes the most difficult part is just showing up! and sometimes just showing up is enough! ~me

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#MustReadin2017

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Visit There Is a Book for That to see what else others are reading.

Setting goals is something I do all the time in my running world, but I have never set any reading goals for myself. I have to admit, I find it kind of overwhelming. Truth be told, I’m a ~~slow~~ reader. But that’s okay, right? (say yes, or nod your head here!)

When I came across the hashtag #MustReadin2017, I certainly had no difficulties compiling a stack of books. I mean what reader doesn’t have a never-ending list of books they want to read, right?

But, I’ll tell you that creating this stack really gave me a focus for what I want to read next. I’m usually grabbing at books here and grabbing at books there and that too gets overwhelming. Creating the list and having a focus, now that’s a good feeling, for me anyway. I’m also keeping an open mind and accepting what I do complete from this list as a success.

Regardless, I thought it would be fun to see what else others are reading and enjoy some great books along the way. And, perhaps the best part is that I get share the books with my friends, readers, colleagues, and PLN. So, here’s what my #MustReadin2017 stack looks like. Drum roll, please…

On my reading radar now:

  • small great things by Jodi Picoult: Wow, intense and certainly thought provoking! I’m wondering when the small great things are going to make an appearance in this book. I love Picoult’s writing so I’m anxious to see how she pulls everything together or not…
  • How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields: This book is in the self-help genre, which is a favorite genre of mine. I have found so many wonderful wise words in it and it is also where I found my One Little Word for 2017 (more details about my OLW for 2017 in another post).
  • The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd. I received this book when I went to the Scholastic Reading Summit and somehow it got pushed to the side. Then my partner in crime, Katie, told me I must.read.it! I would.love.it! So that’s what I’m reading next.

Happy reading!

Thank you, Carrie for hosting #MustReadin2017!

~~~~~

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A Magical Tasting of Books

There were books!

There were raffle prizes.

There were more books!

There was white & grape sparkling juice cocktail served in champaign flutes.

There were more books!

There were macaroons, brownies, and crepe cookies sprinkled on silver platters.

And there were more books!

Yes, there was magic in the air! It was a Book Tasting hosted in the Literacy Lovers’ Lounge by two book enthusiasts ready to share their love of books with their colleagues.

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Your hostesses: Amy & Katie

Two weeks before the Christmas break began Katie & I hosted a book tasting for the fellow book lovers at our school.

We.had.a.blast!

The book tasting was a huge success and the buzz of books was eve-ry-where. So perhaps you’re wondering what a book tasting is or how you can host one in your school. Well, read on to see how it unfolded.

Katie and I first decided which books and which categories/genres we wanted to highlight for our tasting. Boy was that difficult! There were so many books. We kept adding books to our list and kept adding books to our list! We came up with the six genres we wanted to share: realistic fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, poetry, picture books, and professional books.

Then we made “library cards” for each book (cute and fun). The library cards were talking points and highlights of the fantastic features of the book. We attached curling ribbon and added them to the book in a bookmark-like fashion. And, of course, we added the books to a Padlet so teachers could reference them after the tasting.

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displaying the books

We invited the teachers to join us and for anyone who RSVP’d we sent them a free downloadable resource on how to host a Book Swap before the Christmas break. This was a great way to make sure everyone had a book to read over the break.

On event day, we set up a raffle table and handed out raffle tickets to teachers who showed up, wrote a book recommendation, and visited both rooms of the “literacy lovers’ lounge”. The raffle items were everything from a reading survival kit (fuzzy blanket, cozy socks, and a box of tea bags) to picture books to chapter books. Who could resist such wonderful prizes!

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drop your raffle ticket here

And, of course, we weren’t just tasting books! We had small treats sprinkled here and there to enjoy while book browsing.

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macaroons, brownies, and crepe cookies

But the best part of all…

the book platters!

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realistic fiction

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poetry/books in verse

Last but not least, our book friends arrived and Katie and I talked, chatted, shared, and babbled about the books we had selected.

The atmosphere was magical!

We shared some of our favorite books and teachers were “eating them up”!

It was a magnificent morning sharing our book love.

But the magic didn’t stop that morning. The excitement continued as teachers in our building hosted their very own Book Tasting with their readers. I was honored to attend and talk about books with a group of 5th grade readers.

And that my fellow readers is what it is all about…

You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax all you need is a book!”

~Dr. Seuss

~~~~~

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What Worked for Me in 2016

It’s that time of the year when reflections are in full swing! I’m usually reading reflections of others, but this year I decided to write and share my own. So, here they are.

  • Journaling & Blogging: I ordered an Erin Condren journal at the end of 2015. I really didn’t have high aspirations for it when I purchased it. I just knew I wanted one. As I moved through 2016, I started to dabble in writing morning pages. Once I saw how rewarding my journaling was, I decided to challenge myself and fill the entire journal. While finding time to journal can be difficult and perhaps a deterrent at times, I always enjoy going back and rereading what I wrote. I even branched out and added some cute little doodles here and there in the journal. I’ve found it is a great way to capture those magical moments and celebrate all that is marvelous in my life. Likewise, blogging has worked for me in 2016. Not only do I enjoy reading the blog posts of others, but I have enjoyed sharing “slices of my life” right here on my blog.
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Erin Condren Journal

  • Essential Oils: Yes, I love them! I was originally introduced to them by a dear friend who is no longer with me. He would always be telling me which ones I needed for this or which ones I need for that. I’ve since expanded my collection to include a diffuser and a wider variety of essential oils. I love to use them at night for a peaceful rest or if I feel a cold is lurking inside of me. I also enjoy using my diffuser in the bathroom. It gives it a “spa-like” feel and well, makes me feel special!
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My diffuser and doTerra essential oils

 

  • Volunteering at the SPCA: In 2016 I spent more time volunteering in the Small Animal Room (SAR) at the SPCA. The SAR houses mostly Guinea pigs & rabbits. My work in the SAR pretty much consists of cleaning the poop out of the cages and feeding the animals. And while this may seem minuscule, it means a world of difference to the animals who have traveled a challenging road in their short life. I’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer for the Meet & Greet adoptions sessions at our local PetSmart. But the most rewarding part…the kisses and loves I get to give to these precious animals!
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SPCA

  • Instagram: This is my new social media go-to or should I say time-waster! One of the main reasons I have enjoyed it so much it the positivity of my IG feed. I enjoy the many positive quotes I capture, the inspiration from others, and the book recommendations that are posted. Oh, and yes, I adore following all those crazy rabbit-loving folks that share countless photos of their fur babies!

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  • Running & Cross-Training:  While my milage in 2016 was a bit lower than the previous two years, I actually participated in more races and managed to squeeze out two more Personal Records (PR).  Perhaps I can accredit this to the Yoga/BODYFLOW that I have incorporated into my weekly exercise routine. I’m not sure how or why I am able to accomplish what I have, but I’ll just say it’s working and I’m good with that!
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cross-training

 

  • My One Little Word: For the last three years a One Little Word (OLW) has chosen me. In 2016, my OLW was “practice”. This has helped me maintain some sort of balance in my life by allowing me to focus on what is most important for me and for my family. I’m forever grateful that Matt is always there by my side by supporting me in my endeavors. Stay tuned for my OLW of 2017!
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2016 OLW: practice

What worked for you in 2016?

I’d love for you to take a moment and share!

~~~~~

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A Promise Broken

I knew you would be leaving on this day;

I told myself you’ll be home before long,

before I even know it.

The calendar is marked,

so I know it’s true.

You’ll be home soon,

sooner rather than later.

We had a tranquil Sunday at home.

You did your laundry,

spent some time with the fur babies,

focused on your school work.

It was a quiet morning.

And then 3:00 PM arrived.

We packed your car.

You said good-bye.

I gave you a hug,

said, “I love you.”

As I watched your car back out of the driveway,

I promised I wouldn’t cry,

I promised I wouldn’t cry.

I turned and walked away,

through the garage,

into the house.

Then I ran!

I ran to the front door,

to catch one more glimpse!

Just one.more.glimpse!

I espied your car,

drift, drift, drifting out of sight!

And I cried;

I cried.

A promise broken,

a promise broken.

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Readfessions of a Reading Specialist

 

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Nothing But the Truth!

Welcome to Readfessions of a Reading Specialist.

Just some quick & clean happenings from my reading world.

Readfession #1: My readers love their reading journals!

This year I decided that I would utilize reading journals (again). I’ve used them in the past, but about two years ago our school started providing an iPad for each learner so reading journals have been on the back burner. I was excited to introduce them  and it’s funny how pumped my students get when I tell them that we are writing in their journals!

My readers decorated the front cover and then together we added some standard pages and some anchor charts. Throughout the year the journals will be used for responses from explicit instruction and for responses to independent reading. The reading journals serve as a great tool for formative assessment and a way to track progress.

Readfession #2:   I love Scholastic’s new resource, Storyworks Jr. 

This summer I attended the Scholastic Reading Summit. It was a great one day conference that was jam-packed with exciting books, awesome keynote speakers, and fabulous sessions. Oh, and need I mention, I had some great colleagues attend the conference too! (You can read about it here!)

Anyway, the point is that during the conference Scholastic was promoting its brand new multi-genre resource, STORYWORKS Jr. Since I love STORYWORKS, I knew STORYWORKS Jr. would be perfect for the group of readers I instruct. I purchased a subscription and I couldn’t be any happier. The online resources includes lesson plans, videos, audio recordings, and multi-level versions of the story. I love the reading selections and so do my students. It’s a reading win-win for me. It’s a reading win-win for my readers!

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Readfession #3: Independent reading is a huge success!

You know what Dr. Seuss says:

The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!

Well, my readers are going places! Independent reading has gone to a whole new level this year. I’ve always made it a priority, but again after attending the Scholastic Reading Summit, I just knew I had to push more this year. And pushing I am! I cannot emphasize enough the power of the book talk. If I read the book, they want to read it. If I talk about the book, they want to read. I am truly amazed how simple yet powerful book talking is. My worry, I can’t read the books fast enough and I’m afraid I’m going to run out of books!  I’m stocking my room with books that I purchase, books from the school library, books from the public library, and most recently, e-books for my Kindles.

We’ve also been utilizing “book bins” this year and they too are quite powerful. It’s not enough for me to ask, “What are you reading now?” I also am asking, “What are you reading next?” or “What book(s) are in your book bin?” Visit Franki Sibberson’s blog to read more about book bins.

Book bins=powerful reading!

Readfession #4: I am busy reading too!

Here’s what’s on my short stack:

  • Finished: Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • Reading Now: Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz
  • Up Next: Wish by Barbara O’Connor
  • In the Bin: Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen
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my short stack

Well, that’s a wrap of readfessions for this reading specialist!

Until next time,

~Amy

~~~~~~~~~~

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Little Win

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s the morning drive to work,
on the horizon,
a field of grazing cows.
The beauty of the old barn,
but the goats, the goats!
Peering through the barn door,
frolicking in the farm yard,
chasing each other with their tiny gallops,
ears bouncing,
up, up, up,
down, down down!
A smile on my face,
happiness in my heart!
~Little win~
It’s the echo empty house,
silence broken
by the chime of a text message.
Happy birthday, Mom!
We share, we laugh
She reminds me,
“I’ll be home soon!”
We’ll shop,
go out to eat,
we’ll just hang out.
A smile on my face,
happiness in my heart!
~Little win~
It’s the kind words of a colleague,
thank you,
thank you for all you do.
Thank you,
thank for supporting us and our students,
thank you!
A smile on my face,
happiness in my heart!
~Little win~
It’s the rushing around,
errands here,
errands there.
Standing in a longer than necessary line,
hands full of “stuff”,
the kind words of a stranger,
“You go ahead,
you go first,” she says.
“Thank you!”
A smile on my face,
happiness in my heart!”
~Little win~
It’s the smile on their faces,
as they enter our classroom.
Talking,
sharing,
laughing.
But the delight they bring,
“You make me excited about books,
like never before!”
That’s what they said!
Mission accomplished!
A smile on my face,
happiness in my heart!”
~Little win~

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