Author’s Intention


Displaying IMG_3777.JPG We learn about spelling and grammar by using mentor sentences.  We learn how, as an author, you can make authorly decisions.  You can purposefully break a rule to get a point across or to play with language.  I would like to believe that my son was making a purposeful decision with the store list.

Does he mean Colby cheese?  Or does he mean Kobe cheese as in KKKKKOOOOOOOOBBBEEEEE!?

He is a sports fanatic, and by the way he wrote his special cheese on the store list, it wouldn’t take long for most to figure that out. He is a young author with the purpose of spreading Kobe cheer for all to see and hear.

Now about the speggiti and mb…..


Bending the Truth

I guess I have a problem with not telling the truth.  It stems from long ago when I was in third grade.  You see, I didn’t like chocolate back then (I know, right?!) and classmates brought in birthday treats.  The first few times when classmates brought in a chocolate treat I was alright when declining.  But watching the other students enjoy the treat without me got old real quick.  So I made up a story.

I told everyone I was allergic to chocolate.  Problem solved.  Chocolate cupcakes for everyone and a vanilla one for me.  A chocolate chip cookie for everyone and a sugar cookie for me. The birthday treat for everyone else and a special treat from the teacher for me.  My chocolate problem was solved. Until the sleepover.

I was having two friends sleep over on a night where, unknowingly, my mom made my favorite chocolate brownies with a chocolate fudge icing.  I am not sure why I loved those brownies so much when really I did not like many chocolate desserts, but I adored those brownies, especially the same day when they were made.  Brownies are meant to be eaten on the very same day that they come out of the oven!

What to do?  My friends thought I was allergic to chocolate.  They were going to eat a brownie with or without me.  I chose with me. Delicious!  But now what?  They were wondering how I could eat the brownie if I was allergic to chocolate.  I waited a bit and then did what any nine year old would do.  I took a red marker into the bathroom with me.  A rash on my forearm was born.

When I returned to my friends, we continued to do what girls do at a sleepover.  Soon my “rash” had spread to my upper arm.  (We must have been playing hard and thanks to a little perspiration, my allergy was getting worse.) My memory gets a bit fuzzy here but I will never forget what my dad did when my friends told him I had a rash.  He did what all great fathers do…licked his fingers and rubbed that rash right off of my arm!  Humiliation at its finest!

Apparently I did not learn my lesson about fabricating allergies.  At the dinner table, Sam was recalling another one of my allergies.  “Remember when you told me you were allergic to glitter? I told my art teacher I couldn’t do the project because my mom was allergic to glitter!”  Yup, I used to be allergic to glitter too.


Relationships- They Matter.

Relationships.  They are not easy. But they matter.  A lot.

Teacher-student relationships are so vital to the learning in the classroom.  According to John Hattie, teacher-student relationship had a .72 effect size on student achievement (An effect size of .4 and above is highly significant for student achievement).  Strong teacher-student relationships shape the way children think and act in school.  Strong teacher-student relationships have a larger effect size than socio-economic status.  Relationships matter and are worth the time and energy it takes to nurture them.

When students are under stress such as a poor or weak student-teacher relationship, our bodies react in many ways.  One way would be chronic elevated cortisol levels, the stress hormone.  This can shrink or kill brain cells and hurt memory skills.  Under stress, we are more likely to stay in lower-level thinking versus higher-level thinking.  We also have a decreased desire to learn when in a poor relationship.


On the positive side, when we build relationships with students there are positive effects on our bodies as well.  Oxytocin, a hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, is directly linked to bonding and increased trust.  When we create a positive relationship with students, more oxytocin is released contributing to a better relationship and better effects on student achievement.

Working to create positive relationships with our students does not have to be hard. Bring joy to the classroom.  Laughter is highly contagious. Set high expectations and give specific feedback to the students in order to reach those high expectations.  Believe in the students. The self-fulfilling prophecy showed that teacher expectations influence student performance.  If we show the students that we think they can do it, they will!  Build trust by giving second and third and fourth chances.  Care.


Relationships are not always easy.  But our students are depending on us.  For some of them, we are all they got.

I have come to a frightening conclusion.  I am the decisive element in my classroom.  It is my personal approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make my student’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or hurt, humor or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and my student humanized or de-humanized. 

Adapted from Haim Ginott



Jenga in the Fridge

Recently every time my son would go into the refrigerator, something would fall out. He would blame someone or something for his misfortune.  Then he would unwillingly clean up the mess.

I realize our fridge needs some cleaning and straightening.  We are a family of seven so most often our refrigerator is bursting; especially after a grocery run.  You would think we would never have leftovers but I have seemed to learn how to cook for a crowd.  And so a crowd is who I cook for. And leftovers we have.  Patience is the key but patience isn’t in Frank’s blood.

I was in the kitchen tonight and saw Frank grabbing the pickles out of the refrigerator for his third nighttime snack.  He treated the fridge like a jenga game.  He whipped open the fridge. He surveyed the scene. He eyed his targets and slowly pulled out the pickle jar. The Tupperware of meatballs and mashed potatoes teetered….. but stayed. He won this round


It’s official.

It is official.  I sent in the deposit for college.  My baby is leaving!  (But according to the others, I only care for the youngest.. but that is another post.)  It really doesn’t seem possible that these 18 years have gone by.  I don’t feel that old, for one.  To top it off, she will be a camp counselor this summer so as of June 1 she’ll be gone.  So really? Only three months left with her?!

They say you’ll be ready for them to leave.  I am secretly hoping after her summer away at camp, she’ll change her mind.  There are great colleges around here.  But that is a secret selfish thought.

I am proud of her independence.  I am proud of her courage.  I am proud of her initiative.  I am proud of who she has become and who she will be.  Why would I want to limit that potential?  So, I will enjoy her these next three months.. and then I will miss her.


I am going to miss this.

“Can you dry my back?  I can’t reach all the sparkles.

What more do I have to say?  Should I admit that this child is old enough to dry his own sparkles?  That this child is old enough to make his own toast?  Should I admit that this child is old enough to tie his own shoes?  But he is the youngest.  But he is the last.  So I hold on to the “baby”- figuratively and physically.  I dry his sparkles.  I make his toast.  I tie his shoes so he won’t trip.

And the other kids tell me I baby him.  Which is probably true.  But he is my last so I will dry his sparkles for as long as he will let me.



Over Already?

Who else gets that Sunday feeling? It comes on later in the afternoon.  It is a pit in the stomach.  That feeling that something is just not quite right- that feeling of doom. Right about that time you realize your backpack has yet to be opened and it must be opened as you have papers to grade and lessons to plan.  Yuk.  But there is still laundry to fold, meals to plan, (and meals to clean up) and books to be read and games to be played.  And floors to be vacuumed and lunches to be made. And showers to take and homework to check over.  And comments to make and a slice to write…and we are out of half and half for our coffee tomorrow morning.  Going to the store….



March 2, 2017

Dare I say it out loud?  Have we reached success just when we thought it wasn’t possible?  She has jingled the bell with her nose, the door opens, and she goes out and……does her business!  And this has happened multiple times!  Am I jinxing it by saying it out loud?

I was beginning to think we had made a terrible mistake.  Why would be add a puppy to an already busy household?  We already had a two-year old yellow lab.  And Charlie is a wonderful dog who is so gentle with the kids  and everyone he meets.  Wouldn’t we be tempting fate with another dog?  After our bad experiences with dogs, do we take a chance AGAIN?  Why couldn’t we be content with one?

But I caved.  Me, the only logical one in the conversation. The only one who was saying, no, we are not getting another dog.  I caved.  I melted.  I said yes.

So Miss Luna enters our world.  Slept through those first nights.  Wow, I thought, she is great.  Charlie took forever to sleep through the night.  She knew how to sleep through the night but she couldn’t seem to find the front door!  She peed.  She peed without any warning.  She peed anywhere and everywhere.  She pooped for the most part, outside.  But she peed whenever or where ever she pleased.  She was not even cute anymore.  She was just a pee mess.  And I was regretting “our” decision and my angry at myself for caving.

But then one day she starts ringing the bell on the door and going outside and peeing where dogs are supposed to pee.  Just like that.

Now to stop the “too excited” drips.

March 1, 2017

Day 1 of 31.  That statement makes this endeavor daunting. Maybe I should say Day 31 of Day 31 and count down.  The little tricks we can play with our mind- just to make “things” or “it” a little easier.  So- I am taking on the 31 days of writing challenge. Why?  A couple of reasons.  The first reason is to become a better teacher of writing.  How can I teach something that I do not experience?  How can I actually feel the dread of the blank page that the students feel if I do not have that same experience or that same dread?  I want to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

The second reason I am taking up this challenge is because I need to get out of my comfort zone.  Our habits become us.  My habits of late are not.. what I would say?  Not what I would like to become.  I want to be productive.  Writing could be productive.

Writing could be eye opening.  Writing could be soothing.  Writing could be…  Day 1 of 31. Completed.