Workout Wednesday

I wanted to puke…

I thought my heart was going to explode…

And, I was pretty sure I was going to D.I.E.!

But I didn’t. Rest assured, I’m still here.

I’m in week 10 of my 12 week training plan for the Baltimore Half Marathon.  (Check out my Exercise Log if you want to see my training runs.) My workout for today was to run 5 milles.  No biggy, been there, done that. So, I decided to run with my hubby and let me tell you, he kicked my butt.  Here is what unfolded:

Week 10: 5 Mile Training Run

Yes, oh, yes, indeed I was cursing the last mile as I was trying to catch up with him, but to no avail it just didn’t happen.  Top that off with the return of the humidity and it made for a very uncomfortable run.  Once again I was a sweaty mess, but I had two rewards waiting for me after my run.

Some people like gatorade, some people like beer, but not me.  I love ginger ale.  It keeps my stomach calm, if you know what I mean. 🙂

My Recovery Beverage!

My second reward was getting all of that grimy sweat off of me in the shower.  Sugar scrub to the rescue!  My dear friend over at Crafty…Not Artistic made me a giant jar, yes a GIANT  jar, of  exfoliating sugar scrub.  Not only does it smell fantastic, it feels magnificent on my skin.  I’m addicted to it.  Thanks, Heather!

It’s time to sign off because I don’t want to miss the first episode of Modern Family. Then, it’s off to read.  I’m really enjoying Gone Girl.  Check out the GoodReads links that I added to my home page.

 Hope you had a Wonderful Wednesday!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Teacher Tip Tuesday

After a brief hiatus last week, I am back on track for Teacher Tip Tuesday.The tip this week is going to focus on summarizing and identifying the theme.

Unless you are a teacher who has been living under a rock or hiding in a cave, I am sure there has been talk in your school about the Common Core.  Currently for part of my professional development, I am reading Pathways to the Common Core. The Common Core emphasizes that students cite textual evidence to explain what the text teaches.  The students will need to investigate language, explore themes, and analyze the meanings of the text.  So, let’s take a look at the Pennsylvania standards for Reading Literature that focuses on Key Ideas and Details/Theme.  Here are the standards for grades 4, 5 & 6:

Grade 4: Determine a theme of a text from details in the text; summarize the text.

Grade 5: Determine a theme of a text from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

Grade 6: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Whew, this seems like pretty heavy stuff for my little kiddos. However, the good news is that they can do it!  

I am a big advocate of using graphic organizers.  It seems that I create and recreate and recreate my graphic organizers all the time.  Below is the graphic organizer that I am currently using for summarizing a fictional story:

Summarizing & Identifying Theme

This organizer allows the students to identify the characters (who) and the setting (where & when).  It also has a place for students to list the key vocabulary words they want to use when they summarize.  In addition, it requires students to analyze the plot. The students need to think about the events in terms of what happened first, next, then, last and why the events happened and how the events happened. Lastly, there is a place for the students to jot down their ideas about the theme of the story.

During the Millersville Writing Institute, author Kate Messner shared this tip for writing a summary and including the theme.  It quite simply works like this:

This book is about…………  (write the summary here)

But underneath that this book is really about……. (include the theme here)

I think this would be a perfect journal entry after completing a whole class read aloud.  While I feel it easy for our students to regurgitate the events of the story, identifying the theme is definitely a challenge. I even find that some students do not understand what the word theme means.

In Aimee Buckner’s book Notebook Connections, she discusses how she helps students identify and understand the theme – the central message, concept, or lesson that is threaded throughout the book. Buckner states that she actually cheats a bit to assist the students by giving them the keyword before they read the book!  How brilliant is that?!

Notebook Connections

I am going to say that I do not cheat, but I guide my students in identifying the theme.  Enter the theme bank!  Recently I sat down with a dear colleague of mine and we created a theme bank.  This theme bank can be in a reader’s notebook and serve as a guide to help spur the theme thinking wheels.  Keep in mind that once the students identify the theme, they need to cite the evidence in the text that proves the theme. In no particular order, here are some of themes we identified:

  • Friendship
  • Respect
  • Being truthful vs. lying
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Acceptance/Diversity
  • Perseverance/Achieving dreams/Trying your best
  • Sharing vs. greed
  • Adversity
  • Helping others
  • Self reliance /Believing in yourself
  • Overcoming hardships
  • Do what is right
  • Taking risks
  • Admitting your mistakes
  • Forgiveness

Hopefully some of the tips that were provided will help you meet the needs of the students in your classroom and embrace the Common Core.  It’s time for me to sign off, but let me leave you with this quote from John Dewey:

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

What a Difference a Year Makes

A flashback from last year…

The Baltimore Running Festival ½ Marathon, October 2011

Baltimore Running Festival

It was during the last few days before the race that I came across this quote:  “The only difference between try and triumph is a just a little umph!” by Marvin Phillips.  I don’t even know who Marvin Phillips is, but regardless the quote stuck with me. Participating my first ½ marathon, I had all kinds of crazy nervousness “running” through my mind…would I have enough umph to successfully finish this race?

Overall, I have to say that my training went well until I ran my 10 mile and 12 mile training run.  I just didn’t have it in me to run the long runs without being in severe pain. And, needless to say, the disappointment crushed my spirit.  Not to mention the little voice inside my head asking me what in the world was I thinking when I signed up for a ½ marathon. And the the self-doubt, would I even be able to finish the race?

Fast forward to race day…The Baltimore Running Festival, October 15, 2011. When we arrived in Baltimore, I told my hubby to lock me in the back of the Jeep and just get me when the race was over!  Well, as you can guess, that certainly did not happen. I think he truly understood my nervousness and said he would run the entire race with me.  After all, he’s a pro; he already ran a full marathon.

We found our starting point and anxiously waited to move to the starting line. It was a grand start!  There was so much scenery to take in that I didn’t even notice that I was running.  I was amazed by the amount of people clapping and cheering for us, complete strangers!  There were bands playing and even kids dressed up in Halloween costumes anxiously awaiting a “high five” as we sailed by them.

Being a school teacher, I allowed myself a reward every two miles.  What was the reward you ask? Well, every two miles I was allowed to have a piece of my SHOT BLOKS (black cherry flavor, yum!).  I love SHOT BLOKS and it’s funny how something so simple can be motivating.  But then, there was my ultimate reward. At mile marker 10 and mile marker 12, I called my daughter.  I told her it was just a matter of time before we triumphantly crossed the finish line. “You can do it, Mom,” she said.  The sound of her voice and her words of encouragement brought tears to my eyes!

My hubby and I ran the entire race together, and I ran the race without any of the excruciating pain that I had during my training.  We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. He flew like an Oriole and I soared like a Raven with a completion time of 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 16 seconds. It was a triumphant race indeed!

~The Oriole & The Raven~

Zoom in on Today, September 2012

I didn’t think I would ever be sitting here a year later preparing to run yet another race, but I am.  I am strong both physically and mentally. In my mind, I already have have crossed the finish line for this year’s ½ marathon. My hubby will be running the full marathon and my hope is that we will meet up at some point in the race and once again triumphantly cross the finish line hand-in-hand.

As I look back to a year ago, I am pleasantly surprised how much my life has changed.  It only leaves me wondering what will unfold in the next twelve months.  What a difference a year makes!

A Runner’s Rut

I’ve been tired.

I’ve not been feeling well.

It’s been oh so hot and oh so humid.

I’m in a runner’s rut.

But, that really shouldn’t be an excuse.

In fact, there are no excuses.

I should be thankful.

Thankful I am healthy.

Thankful my legs work.

Thankful I am injury free.

My last run went well, so I should be motivated.

But, I’m in a runner’s rut.

There’s still time.

I can get those last two training runs in before Sunday.

Get those legs moving.

Strive for a killer time.

I can!

I will!

I’m telling myself I’ll feel so much better knowing I completed my training runs….

Maybe, but I hear the couch calling my name.

What’s a runner to do?

I’m in a runner’s rut!

Teacher Tip Tuesday

It’s Teacher Tip Tuesday!  At the risk of sounding redundant, I am once again going to share yet another tip from the Millersville Writing Institute.  Remember to save the date for the Institute next year: August 5th-August 9th, 2013.

I had the privilege of hearing Lisa Donohue share her wisdom and knowledge as a teacher, author, and learner.  She shared numerous strategies during the presentation from her book The Write Voice.  Please visit Lisa at Stenhouse Publishers or visit her blog.  You can also follow her on Twitter.  She would love to hear from you.  Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me share via my blog!

Today’s strategy can be used as a prewriting activity to a persuasive writing piece.  It is called Four Corners. Let’s give it a try!

  • First you need a topic with four categories.  For this example I am going to use social networking. ***Please note: This topic would be appropriate for high school students, but  I am not recommending it for younger students. Quite simply I am using this as the sample because I want you, my favorite blog reader, to connect to the topic and I want to get you thinking!***

Facebook    Google +    Pinterest   Twitter

  • Show the four categories on the overhead and assign each category a corner of the room. Then you are ready to pose the question.  The question for this prompt is: Of the four types of social networking, which one is the best platform for social networking?
  • Now have the students move to that corner of the room and allow them to talk about why they made that particular choice. Which corner would you walk run to? Why would you walk run to that corner?  What would you discuss with your friends?
  • After the discussion has concluded have the students return to their seat and jot down in their writer’s notebook what they talked about with their group.  A quick list will serve as the prewriting part of the persuasive piece. Maybe you even want them to Write to the X.
  • The lesson can be extended to a second day by having the students mingle with someone who was not in their original group and take on a debating format.  Once again, after the discussion has concluded allow the students to add to their writer’s notebook.
  • Since the students have had a chance to discuss and prewrite, they can now visit and complete the graphic organizer for a persuasive piece with the following prompt:  Some people believe Facebook is the best form of social networking while others believe it is Twitter, Pinterest, or Google +.  Write a persuasive piece to convince the reader what is the best platform for social networking.

The sample Lisa used with us was: Who is the most influential person of the 21st century?  We had to choose from Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, or President Obama.  And let me tell you, I was walking running to the corner with the fans of Steve Jobs.  And, once we all arrived in our corner, we were so ecstatic to talk about Steve Jobs as we peered over at the Mark Zuckerberg group just shaking our heads.

So what are some topics with categories you might use with your students? How about…

  • What is the best fast food restaurant? Wendy’s, McDonalds, Subway, Burger King
  • What gaming system is the most popular? Xbox, Wii, Playstation, Sony PSP
  • What is the all-time favorite Nickelodeon show: Spongebob, Jimmy Neutron, iCarly, The Fairly Odd Parents

Whatever topic you choose, connect it to what is relevant to your students, keep it light, and keep it fun. Then when the hardcore writing prompts arrive during state testing the students will have experienced success and feel confident as a writer!

Food for Thought:

What other topics and categories would be fun to use with the Four Corners activity? Could you use this strategy in math, science, or social studies? How might you modify this lesson to meet the needs of your students?

Happy Writing!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

1/2 Marathon Must Haves! My Top Ten List

Currently I am training for my second 1/2 marathon.  I am excited to say that I will be running in the Baltimore Running Festival again this year.  As I have said before, my life as a runner has literally come full circle in just one year.  When I look back to last year, I relied on Matt and Pink Runner to keep me in check.  They pretty much told me how long to run, and how I would run.  While I miss training with both of them this time around, I have gained much more confidence and just have to chuckle to myself when I look back to last year.  With that being said, I would like to share some of my favorite running gear.

  • If I am running alone I must have my iPod Nano.  It’s an old Nano, but it works splendidly!

iPod Nano circa 2007

  • I love, love, love my Garmin.  Did I mention I love my Garmin?  The model I have is the Garmin 405.  At first I was really concerned that it would rub my wrist or just be too bulky, but it is truly perfect.  Garmin is unveiling a new model and it is sweet!  It is much smaller, comes is awesome colors, and you can’t beat the price point.  Check out the new Garmin Forerunner 10 and other models at the Garmin webstie.

Got Get a Garmin!

Garmin 405

  • Training in the hot weather and high humidity calls for lightweight running attire.  While I paid more for my Saucony tank top than what I wanted to, it was well worth it. Pair it with my favorite running skirt from Reebok and I am ready to go!

Saucony Tank Top and Reebok Running Skirt

  • Now let’s talk about running shoes.  Yes, running shoes do make a difference.  I am a huge advocate of getting your feet properly fitted and wearing the correct shoes.  My running shoe of choice is the Mizuno Wave Inspire 7.  I wore this model to train for my full marathon in the spring and I had absolutely no injuries.  I was a happy camper…runner I mean (I abhor camping!).

Ugh…those laces, but they were on sale. My hubby told me they look like Pittsburg Steelers laces. That’s a problem because we bleed purple & black at our house!

  • For my long runs I need to carry water with me.  This is a continual problem for me because I haven’t found a water bottle that I enjoy carrying.  Currently, I am using an eco-friendly water bottle.  It actually holds 10 oz. of water and when it is empty, it is completely flat.  I don’t adore it yet, but I don’t loathe it either.

Ecooasis Water Bottle

  • Not only do I need water for my long runs, but I also need snacks and a place to carry my snacks.  I use a SPI Belt to carry my goodies and SHOT BLOKS are my fuel of choice.  The shot bloks seem to work well for me and not make me sick.  I know that they can play havoc on digestive system of some people.  And, let me tell you, I have seen first-handed what can happen if the shot bloks don’t agree with your tummy.  🙂

SPI Belt

Shot Bloks-Black Cherry Flavor

  • After my run I like to cool down and wipe all that grimy sweat off of me with my Frogg Toggs Chilly Cooling Towel.  This thing is marvelous, magnificent, and superb!

Frogg Toggs Chilly Towel…pure happiness!

  • And last but not least, after my run I need to reward my legs with some sexy compression socks!  I know you are jealous, but Pink Runner said they are the best.  Where do you get these sexy socks?  Why, Wal-mart, of course.

Sexy Socks from Wal-Mart

There you have it!  My top-ten must haves for my 1/2 marathon training!  What are some of your marathon must haves?

Enjoy your weekend and

thanks for visiting my blog!