This Is Me

Ricochet out of bed at 5:00 AM:

Blogger & Writer: I wake up early to proofread my blog post and publish it. Then I spend some time reading other blogs and leaving some comments. I’ll do some journaling if I’m not working on my blog.

Teacher: I’ll read my school emails, take a look at my teaching schedule, and put any finishing touches on my lesson plans.

Mom: I’m a “mom” to my little fur fam. I’m busy getting their breakfast, cleaning their cages, and letting them run around and wreck havoc on the house.

It’s 8:00 AM:

Teacher/Colleague: I arrive at school and step right into teacher mode. Everything else is pushed aside! I’m busy suggesting books, asking my readers what they are reading, fostering the love of independent reading, and teaching readers to be strategic about their reading. I also a support other teachers in the school by addressing pertinent reading questions and concerns.

School’s out 4:00 PM:

Runner: It’s time to put the rubber to the road and knock out a training run or cross-train. This could be anywhere between a 3 mile run to a 5 mile run, depending on where I am in my training plan. Cross-training consists of strength training, core work, or yoga.

Rushing around at 5:00 PM:

Housewife: I empty the dishwasher, put the trash out, place some laundry in the washing machine or put the laundry away, and pay some bills. I’m going to be truthful here, I rarely start dinner. That’s Matt’s area of speciality. If he doesn’t feel like cooking, I just roll with it and we eat leftovers or eggs.

Winding down from 6:00-7:30 PM:

Wife & Friend: I spend this time chit-chatting with Matt about his day and enjoying dinner, usually over a glass of wine. In between I will be texting or Snapchatting with my family and friends about whatever. I usually send a pic of the scrumptious dinner Matt has prepared. Some nights Matt and I might have a date. Our date would be at the gym attending a yoga class. I know you’re jealous!

Back to my little fur fam from 7:30-8:30 PM:

Mom: Once again I let the fur kids out to frolic around and get some exercise. I do my best to capture some of their antics and post it on their Instagram account. Usually, I’m touching base with Maddie too about her day via text or Snapchat.

Winding down for the day from 8:30-10:00 PM:

Whatever Me: You’ll find me writing in my journal or creating rough drafts for my blog. I *love* to make lists, so I’ll probably be preparing a to-do list, an exercise schedule, or a grocery list. Or perhaps you’ll observe me “reading”. (I have a tendency to read with my eyes shut. ~sigh) I catch up on social media during this time too. Best of all, I’m just chilling with Matt.

This is me. Just little ole me.

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#truestory

This school year I purchased a pre-made journal/planner. What I love about it is that at the beginning of the month there is a place to establish goals. There is also a journaling page at the start and end of each month. Not only do I use the journal for planning, but I also use it for reflecting.

And, I’ve been using my journal to capture what my readers are saying. Writing and blogging certainly makes me a better listener, for you never know if something you say is going to turn into a blog post! When I capture what they’re saying, I jot it down in my journal and just for fun I hashtag it, #truestory, although I never tweet these captured moments. Here are some of the #truestory moments from this year:

“You make me excited about books like never before!” ~a.b.

#truestory

“Your classroom just makes me want to just sit down and read.” ~o.t.

#truestory

“I read for 60 minutes last night and it left me at a cliff hanger! I wanted to keep on reading!” ~k.s.

#truestory

“My mom said that it was time to go shopping and I said, ‘Mom, I can’t! I want to read!’ So I took my book in the car with me.” ~m.w.

#truestory

Me: “I’m starting Wish today, Marlee.”

Marlee: “Hurry up and read it fast so we can talk about it!”

#truestory

“Last night I needed to keep on reading my book! I turned on my little clip light and read under the covers.” ~z.z.

#truestory

“Is today a reading day? I hope so. It’s the best part of the day!” ~b.a.

#truestory

Student #1: “This room is really, really cool! What do you need to do to be able to come here?

Student #2: “You pretty much have to suck at reading.”

#truestory…#sigh

“I love this book Wish and I love this class. This is my favorite part of the day!” ~k.s.

#truestory

I’m going to be honest here. There are days when I wonder if my readers are making enough progress. Progress is limited and sometimes stalled. On those days I revisit these #truestories and I know that #kidsarereading and that #kidslovebooks. What more could I ask for? This #truestory and that #truestory reminds me to keep chugging along.

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” ~a.w.

#truestory

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What Works Wednesday: Book Bins & Beyond

For the past several years I really have been placing an emphasis on Independent Reading. This year it has gone to an entire new level thanks to the addition of book bins. I first read about book bins in a post from Franki Sibberson on the blog A Year of Reading. I knew immediately I needed to implement them in my room.
You see, it’s not enough to discuss what my readers are currently reading. I now ask them what they plan on reading next and if they have a book or two in their book bin. Precious reading time has been lost due the readers telling me they are looking for a book, still looking for a book, or can’t find a book. Gone are the days of “I don’t have a book” or “I can’t find a book.” So let’s talk about book bins and beyond.
Get the books:
First off, I’m a “bookmonger”. While I would love to be able to purchase the newest and hottest releases, that just isn’t possible.  I case the public library and check them out on my library card. I then sprinkle them around the room for my readers. We have a magnificent library in our building too, so I also snag books from our school library.  I think about what my readers enjoy and I comb through the popular books. Then I check those books out under my name and shower them around my room. My readers have actually found it easier to chose a just right book when the selection is smaller and more focused to their liking.
Put the books in the bins:
Here’s the honest to goodness truth, the power comes from me talking about the book and suggesting it. Once I talk about the book and create a frenzy, the readers are all clambering for the books. The book then goes in their bin. I simply write the reader’s name on a post-it note and they drop it in the appropriate bin. If multiple students are interested in the book, then I add additional names on the inside of the book.
Share the book love:
I begin every reading session by quickly asking my students what they are reading now and if they have a book in their bin. If they do not, they use the last five minutes of the lesson for book browsing. They enjoy seeing what books are sprinkled around the room, as this changes almost daily. They also like to see what other readers have in their bin. Last but not least, they *adore* the LOVE THAT BOOK recommendation wall. It’s one thing if their reading teacher recommends a book, but it takes it to an entire new level when they see what their peers are reading. FullSizeRender
Book Bins & Beyond, it works, it really works.

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I Got Nothin’

My readers do a lot of writing in journals. When they finish reading they are not given a set of questions to answer, rather I ask them to write about what they were thinking while they read. I initially want to see what they think free from my agenda about what I feel was important. From there, I’ll interject probing questions if their response is lacking important events or information. Some students embrace the journal responses effortlessly. Others, not so much.

I will always remember Bode and the time he struggled with his response. We read the text together and my readers started their response, but not Bode. The conversation unfolded like this:

Me: Smiling at Bode said: “Go ahead and get started on your response. Everyone else is writing away.”

Bode: Looking at me with a scorned face said: “I got nothin…”

Me: Taking a deep breath, raising my eyebrows in a perfect arch, and opening my eyes wide said: “What do you mean you don’t have anything to write? We read the story together.”

Bode: Mumbling now said: “I got nothin…”

Me: Taking another deep breath: “Certainly, you know something.  Just start with what you know. Let’s make something out of nothing.”

Bode: “The characters are Mark and Jordan and they are competing in a swimming race.”

Me: Putting on my happy teacher face said: “See you got somethin so go ahead and write.”

Bode: Looking at me with a grin, his pencil hit the paper and he wrote away. “Thanks,” is all he said.

For some reason that phrase “I got nothin'” has stuck with me. Most recently it sneaks up on me when I’m am writing. I got nothin’, I tell myself, nothin’ to write.

And then I remember Bode and his mumbles.  And I remember me coaching him to just write what he does know. And I remember me telling him he has something.

So today when I sat down to write, I reminded myself that I needed to start with what I know, I needed to make those keys click, I need to turn my nothin’ into somethin’!

And I did!

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Those Treasured Photos

Growing up, I was a normal kid. I lived with my mother and father and my sister. We always had two dogs and two cats. 

We were a normal family.

Then I got married.

There were no dogs and there were no cats. Zilch, nada, none!

But there was an iguana (actually two of them), a chinchilla, a hermit crab, some goldfish, and a beta fish. Of course, today there are rabbits.

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Meet our green iguana, Monster. 

His name was appropriate for him. He was as large as a monster, and truthfully, he looked like one too!  When friends and family came to visit you could see their eyes enlarge. You could espy them taking in a deep breath and pulling back away. For you see, Monster was allowed to “rome” the house when we were home. He sat on the back of the couch, he had a special “lizard door” so he could go outside and sun himself, and he went up and down the stairs. 

It’s always fun to browse through those old treasured photos. And when I came across these, all I could do was wonder what in the world were we thinking?

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I’m going! Are you?

I love the thrill of a conference!

I love attending with my friends!

I love meeting new people!

I love meeting famous people!

I love purchasing books!

Yes, I’m going! I’ll be attending the Scholastic Reading Summit this summer in Washington, D.C. I attended last year so when I found out the event would be hosted “locally” again this year I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

What I like most about this conference is that it is completely centered around independent reading and the presenters who host the event are phenomenal. Donalyn Miller and John Schumacher are just two of the speakers that I look forward to hearing. Even Clifford the Big Red Dog is there! While this conference is just a one day conference, it will end up being a bit of a “girls’ getaway”. Last year a few of us went a day early, treated ourselves to a spa treatment, and enjoyed a relaxing dinner. We plan on doing the same thing again this year. I hope I will see some Slice of Life bloggers on my travels. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or a send me a tweet so we can meet up in person!

I would also love to hear if you are attending any other conferences in the near future, so please do share!

great friends + great books = a great conference

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