Saturday Sayings on Friday?

"We have to see ourselves as writers if we are to teach writing well."
-Regie Routman; Writing Essentials, 2005

I am joining Tammy at Forever in First for her Saturday Sayings once again-except on Friday this time! You should pop over and see what insightful and inspiring things she has to say (every day not just Saturday)!

Something I always think about in the summer is the in service training we will have just before school begins. I usually like our in service at our school, and have had a part of deciding what it will cover, and what will be presented each year.

One year I organized an “Iron Teacher Chef” challenge. We made up two teams, made names for our teams, and came up with a theme for each, the “secret ingredient” was revealed and we were off! It was a lot of fun, and a lot of good food! It was team building at its best. Here is a picture of our team we were “The Camo Teachers.” Thanks to the fact that I have a LARGE supply of camouflage at my house.

This summer I have been reading Writing Essentials by Regie Routman thanks to the recommendation of my good friend Tammy. I am loving this book and the connections it holds with my teaching, classroom, and school.
Many teachers do not teach writing or have writing workshop in their classes because they don’t view themselves as writers. Regie recommends the best way to view ourselves as a writer is to “write together as a staff.”  “Writing together creates opportunity for closer collegial interaction, sensitizes us to how we teach writing in the classrooms, and increases our confidence as writers.”
I love this idea and hope to present it to our administrator for our in service for this coming school year. Regie goes on to explain about an exercise she uses called “snapshot writing.” Each teacher is asked to “write something about yourself the staff doesn’t know, something little that tells us more about you.” No other “mandates” are placed on the writing.  
Afterward they are asked how their writing would have been different if they had been told “don’t forget to paragraph, use excellent word choice, vary the length and structure of your sentences, and be sure to get your voice in there.”
Regie writes that she has never had a bad outcome from this activity, and the teachers and staff leave saying they have not only learned a lot about colleagues-they have learned more about themselves-as writers.
I hope Mr. Principal likes this idea. I can see it being very eye opening and empowering for everyone.  
Thank you Tammy for letting me link up with your Saturday Sayings once again! Even if it’s on Friday!
Happy Weekend Y’all! 


A Nice Surprise

What a nice surprise. I was trying to think of something to blog about today and I spied a comment from TAMMY at 1.2.3 Teach With Me                               and she has given me an award. Isn’t that really nice!

I know. I know. You’re all saying “HEY you’ve already got that award once” (or twice). But Sooooo! I haven’t had it from a TAMMY!
So I’m going to do what I’m supposed to but I’ll probably just pass it on to a few people I know haven’t had the pleasure of receiving it yet. And if you don’t want to read all the weird interesting facts about me I will understand. Just remember I have a goal to meet, and I needed blogging ideas! So thanks again TAMMYJ.

So here are the rules:
1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you - Thank you Tammy!!!
2.  Include a link to their site - Check!
3.  Include the award image in your post - Yep!
4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself - fine :)
5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award or one or two Tammy’s
6.  When nominating, include a link to their site - Check!
7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated Okie Doke!

Seven Random Facts about this Tammy.
1.              My Whole name is Tamara Jo I was named after the Debbie Reynolds movies “Tammy” and my grandpa.
2.          I am not liking that my home is empty this summer after 22 years of kiddo filled summers. I even miss the whining- I know you already knew this, whatever
3.           I never make my bed until it’s time for bed.
4.          When my kids were at home we ate supper together, at the table almost every night. Now it’s just hubby and me. But we still eat together at the table.
5.          I would love to own a Bed and Breakfast on a lake or in the mountains.
6.          I love watching The Walton’s reruns. But I would never name a kid John Boy.
7.         I am a planner- parties, cookouts, get togethers, lessons, life. But I never get upset when things don’t go as planned.

Here’s who I am passing the award on to. Go check out their randomness too. 
                  Kelly@ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher 
                  Dannielle@Twirlybird Teaching 
                  Jamie@ Oh First Grade Friends


New Friend on the Blogck

It’s really hard to make your goal of 200 blog posts when the internet is acting whacko. Hopefully I can make it through this one.

I am so excited! I have met another bloggy friend Mrs. Flickinger's Butterfly Oasis, and her name is.wait for itTAMMY! Great name huh? Another Tammy! I really think we should have a “Tammy blogger Meet up!” How fun would that be, cause you know ALL Tammy’s are FUN! AND not only is her name Tammy she lives in this lovely part of middle America, and get this her daughter is starting college this fall!

It’s all just a little eerie and super cool too! Stop in  and see what she has to say about The Daily 5 book study, Tell her Tammy sent you!

I have been in such a funk for the last few days. This being home by myself all day is not good for my creativity, or peace of mind. I am pretty much over the whole lazy days of summer. I need something to do! I need a goal, or deadline. I need a project, or a new book. I need a classroom. And I can’t get into mine. The floors are being waxed. L

I have been working on a calendar journal for my kiddos. Last year I had a daily journal for my kids called “A Dollop of Your Day.” It was a place for them to write/illustrate little snippets (slices) of their day. This year I decided to combine the two. It has some calendar work, math work (with good ol Mr. CCS) and a place for a dollop of their day. Here is a glimpse of what I have come up with. I hope to add it to TpT soon. Don't forget my giveaway! You can find it here blog it or pin it to enter!



It’s been a lazy hot day here in the heartland. 102 is what the weatherman said at 3:00. I do believe summer is here.

I have been doing a little thinking about August (just a bit not much), and I have come up with a new cover for my homework binders this year. Since I’m kinda doing the whole “storybook” type theme on here I thought it would be fun to carry them over to my bindersalthough I don’t really do a “theme” in my classroom, other than kids work and chart paperbut my binders usually have sometime of theme.
So this year the “theme” issssssss Ta Da-
Pretty cute huh?
I’ve got some cute books to start the year with that have dragons in them, and the Glyph Girls have the cutest new dragon glyph that we can do to put in the hallway before parent night. You should check it out too. I just love those glyph girls!
Well that’s all I’ve got tonight but this is post number 193! If you want to know what I mean, and how they are connected to a Erin Condren life planner check it out here!

Giveaways Galore and My Goals!

WOW O WOWWIE Have you seen all the really great Giveaways out there? They are all over the place I tell you! (junie has been on my mind of late can you tell).

You really need to stop by these blogs and check them out they have some AMAZING things they are giving away to a few lucky followers.
No Monkey Business

The Tattooed TeacherFalling into First

Makes me want to have a giveaway of my ownit has been awhile.and I do have these goals I’m working towardsSO there you have it! I will have a giveaway.
But first my goalsI have ALMOST written 200 posts on here. TWO HUNDRED!
That’s a lot of typing for a girl that has never had one single typing or keyboarding class in her life. Let’s just say my skills are a bit “authentic”  yeah that’s a good word- authentic: “genuine and original, as opposed to being a fake or reproduction” They are most assured All. My. Own. Nobody would want to lay claim on teaching me them!
SO back my goal to have 200 posts by July 4th!  Today’s post is 192, so that’s 8 more posts by July 4th. I can do that!
But I have another goal that’s not really up to ME .
I need a little help from my friends. I want to reach 300 followers. I really don’t know why. It just seems the thing to do (maybe I should consult Farley’s Blogging stagesI may be digressing).
There they are- my goals for the rest of June...sad I posts by July 4th and 300 followers. OH and what will I be giving away if I meet these goals? Well it’s really something I’ve wanted for a long timeso I figure if I want it then YOU may want one too
Ta da here it is, an Erin Condren Life Planner...not that I have much of a life anymore since my kids are all grownup and I have no sports events to plan my life around...but hey! I can mark the days they are coming home to visit! 
Aren't they the coolest planners? I have coveted them for over a year now, and so if I reach my goals I am going to treat myself AND one lucky friend to one!
All you have to do to enter this giveaway is to follow me and blog about the giveaway, then leave one comment saying you are and did, with a link to it.  One comment only. 
Giveaway ends July 4th with my 200th post! Happy Fourth and Happy Blogging! 

Anniversary and Math Stretches

Just a quick post for me today because today is my and hubby’s 27th wedding anniversary and we are going out to supper this evening and I need to spiffy up a bit (flip flops and cut off sweats won’t get it I’m afraid).

This week I have been thinking about the book study I have been following about GuidedMath, and good ol Mr. Common Core.
I have been reading what the other blogs have been posting as I have been reading along. I have already learned so MUCH! I just love it when others share their thoughts and feelings on books and curriculum. It makes me feel comforted to know there are others out there who have the same thoughts, feelings, and questions that I do.
Tania at MySecond sense is talking about chapter three this week. She has some great insight and ideas you should pop over to see what she suggests.
I have to admit I am Horrible at morning meetings/math meetings. The whole calendar time just seems to eat up my morning and honestly I only have about half the class focused about half the time.
Through the years I have tried it all and switched it up many times; smartboard, calendar journals, teacher led, student led, number of the day, graph of the day, and many other ways and means to “get math in.”
One thing I always have done and will continue to keep is Math journals. This is where I think I see the most growth and understanding. One thing that Tania suggested from Guided Math is “math stretches.” I like this name and the idea of streeeetccchhhhing our minds and comfort zones.
To add to this I will be implementing something I learned from the CC workshop the other day. 
My ears perked up when I heard the presenter say: “what’s wrong with giving the kids the answers?” 
So for our ‘Math Stretches” in our math journals I will be giving the kiddos the answers.

Here is an example of what I mean, and here is where you can find your free sample. It will take some modeling and whole group/guided group practice in the beginning, but it should be a wonderful assessment tool, and starting point for new lessons.    
Hmmmm I think I said this was going to be a short post... should have known I’m NEVER short!
********************** Farley*********************************
Have you seen the super cool homework boxes on the classroom DIY site? They were made by FRedia from Frogs in First Grade. (she is blogging about Guided Math too!) They are SUPER cute! Check them out you’ll be glad you did! I’m going to make one for each of my kiddos this coming year!   


Write it Down Slice of Life

It's Tuesday and I am linking up with the Slice of Life Community of writers once again. You should too!

Write it Down Make it Happen.
I have read this book almost every summer for the past ten years. I stumbled across it at our local book store years ago and knew I had to have it. I have always been a big believer in writing things down, wishes, wants, dreams, and needs.
I make lists for groceries, to-do lists, things I need to do in my day, for my classroom, at home.
I write down dreams and desires, gripes and concerns. I write what and who I’m grateful for, and how appreciative I am of them.
I write story ideas and funny things I read or hear. Sometimes I just write to write.
Blogging also gave me this wonderful place to put all of my thoughts and writing. It is a place for people to read what I write. It brought a new phase to my writing, and I love it.   
But lately I have felt empty. The words have eluded me and my pen. I have not wanted to write.
So this morning I pulled out my book once again. Each time I read it I discover something new and different. I have just made it through the first chapter and I already feel the writing me awakening again.
One quote I marked from the first few pages that I had not marked before was “There is no right or wrong way to do it. Life is a narrative that you have a hand in writing.”
And so I am.

Write it Down Make it Happen: Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph. D. English Literature 


Another Conference and Learning More Every Day

Last Friday my BTB (bestest teacher buddy) and I went to the last day of our state conference in OKC. This is a new week- long conference that was free to educators, administration, and parents. Since this was the first year, Miss Delighted and I decided to try it out for a day before we committed to a week out of our summer.

I thought Friday would be the best day because there would be speakers there from Indiana talking about how they are implementing the common core, how they have a 90 minute literacy block required in ALL K-3rd grade classrooms, and about their new iread initiative which is much like the new law here in Oklahoma about retention in 3rd grade.
We were not disappointed. The convention center was filled with venders selling products AND giving away FREEBIES! The breakout sessions for Friday were geared more toward administrators, but were informative for teachers as well (like the new Marzano teacher/administrator evaluations we will implementing next year). And the lunch wellllllllllll it was ok, not great but, ok.
If you have never been to the Indiana state department of education you should visit it. It has a plethora of information about their schools, and common core. Above all that we were told they had a panel of teachers review textbooks and grade them according to how they fit with the standards. They have a rubric for all the textbooks they reviewed and whether or not they approve them for adoption. They also have a section of comments from the publishers.
I was happy to see our Scott Foresman series for reading had passed. You can check here to see if the Indiana teachers approved the textbooks you use in your classroom. 


Common Core and Wildlife- UPDATE

I now have the power point version of this worksheet at my TpT store for those of you who asked. Sorry I couldn't figure out how to get it into word so that it came out clear....I know, I know, I am technologically challenged....but hope it helps!

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday and time to talk about the Common Core. I have been busy working on a worksheet that I think will help me dissect these crazy standards so that I can read them and hopefully make them more user friendly-at least until we get to know one another, Mr. CCS and I.
I have a feeling we are going to become life-long cohortsnot friendsjust cohortsat least until the next change that they throw at us.
I have looked at it so much my head hurts. Or maybe it hurts because I’m out of Diet Pepsi, or because the wind is blowing 90 to nothing and my sinus are going whack-o. But I’m blaming it on Mr. CCS.
I’ve had some super sweet people comment on my blog and ask me questions about Mr. CCS, and I have to tell you I LIKE comments, and visitors. I do! There is nothing more fun than opening your page and seeing someone has stopped by with something nice to say. It makes my day.
Sadly I no longer have someone home all day to say nice things to me. My daughter used to. Until she got a job. Because I made her. Don’t judge she’s 18. It was time. She was no longer swimming all day for the swim team. So she needed a job. As a lifeguard. In the hot blazing sun. She does not like it. But she liked her paycheck.
So she no longer says nice things to me like, let’s go to lunch. Or let’s go to Braums (sorry Teeny) for an ice cream. Or can I have 20 bucks for gas?
Now all she does is sleep and work. And buy herself Braums and lunch.
Except yesterday. Yesterday we enrolled her in school COLLEGE  (Go Pokes!). FORTY-FIVE miles away! I thought we’d get there and she’d be intimidated with the bigness of it all, and say never mind lets go home.
But she wasn’t. And she didn’t. She loved it. And is SO excited to leave me start! L
They separated the parents from their kiddos right away. We were taken into an auditorium and told how different our lives were going to be. How our kids needed to learn to take care of themselves. Be responsible. Learn to do their laundry, and enroll all by their lonesome.
And I’m sitting there thinking, really? There are parents here that still do their kids laundry?
Then we went to lunch. We were allowed to eat with our kids.
We sat across from another mom and her daughter. Hadley asked what I’d like to drink and went to get them.
The girl across from us sent her mom to get theirs.
Hadley and I ate and talked about her morning.
The other girl talked AT her mom, and complained because she didn’t like any of the food, and (insert whine here) heeer freeennnndss werrrre sitttting oveeeeer theeeerrre. She had no meat on her plate.  She did not eat her food. I don’t think she was from Oklahoma.
Hadley cleaned her plate, and carried our plates away for us.
My girl is going to be and do amazing things in this next chapter of her life. I am so proud of her.
So she is now enrolled in OSU for the 2012-13 school year in the Degree field of Natural Resource and Ecology Management for wildlife management.
I can now officially answer when people ask what my kids are went to college for by saying-“One went for grass, and the other for wildlife!”
Okay I have no idea what ANY of that has to do with common core or how got from common core to wildlife. I think Farley and Teeny call those Squirrel moments.I think I call them having no one to talk to all day so you are my captive audience! Ha!
Here is the form I came up with to dissect the standards. One is showing how it could be used. The other is blank and free for a bit if you go to my TpT store. If you like the example I can probably come up with a page for each standard, and just leave parts of it blank for you to fill in.

I am still working on connecting some of my favorite units to Mr. CCS. Ok not really “working” on it, but I am thinking about it. J

My closing advice for you moms todayteach your kids to do their own laundry at an EARLY age. Mine were putting theirs away as soon as they could open and shut the dresser drawers, and washing and drying as soon as they could reach the knobs on the machines-which was an early age for my 6 foot daughter and 6 foot plus son. You’ll be glad you did when they go to college. J


Teacher's Write...and Do Math

Today’s assignment for Teacher's Write  writing camp is about outlines, and how they are a part of our writing lives, whether they are formal in looks or a few scribbles jotted on bit and pieces of scrap paper. I have my notebook that I use to write ideas, thoughts, wonders, observations, and feelings, but I have never thought about them as outlines. Kate suggests before we take on an outline for our own writing we can practice by making an outline for a favorite book. Which I think is a great idea, and will be my starting point for my “homework” today.
In first grade I have never had my kiddos use outlines. We have made them together, and I have modeled them as ways to gather thoughts. But rather than a formal outline I show my kiddos how to make story maps and webs, trace their hands and use it to write thoughts and ideas, even to draw a picture of something they’re writing about and then stem ideas from that.
Here is a quickie poem I came up about outlines and below is an example of what I might use with my kiddos.  

Why haven’t I thought of that?
that dreaded, hated
part of comp classes,
but oh so helpful.
I am off to outline my day,
my week,
my next best,
amazingly loved,
wonderfully written,
quickly published,
sold out picture book…
Oh wait that would be my first book,
sitting on the horizon
of my yet to make outline!

Don’t forget the Guided Math book study starts today! Brenda at Primary Inspired has the first chapter. That’s where I am headed next (after I move the furniture in my living room and clean!) so
 *** POST ALERT*** there may be more than 1 today! Don’t call be calling the Blogger Cops on me! 

With a Little Help From My Friends

Don’t you just love meeting new people? And to top it off you know the instant you have a conversation that this is going to be more than a causal acquaintance, it’s going to be a great friendship. Well that’s what happened to me this weekend.
Of course in this world of blogging, my new friend is a fellow teacher and blogger. And guess what? She is also a fellow Okie! Woo hoo my Okie blogger list is growing and I can see a bloggy meet up Okie style very soon in our future!
But I digress, back to my new friend-Kelly aka “I’m Not Your Grandpa, I’m Your Teacher.” Don’t you just LOVE that name? It cracks me up every time I read it. It is so true on so many levels. Who hasn’t been called mom, grandma, or nana? But grandpa now that’s a new one!
Kelly is just getting her feet wet in this blogging thing, but she has some really great insights and ideas to share. She is working on some super cool things for a TpT store too, so hopefully she will have one of those up and running very soon.
And lucky me because Kelly has agreed to being a guest blogger over here very soon, I know, I know I shouldn’t be taking advantage of our new friendship, but hey I just love reading other bloggers work, and being able to do it on my own blog keeps me from having to stalk theirs.
I wonder what stage that is If you haven’t read Farley’s post about hunting and blogging you have to go there NOW! She cracks me up it is my life story! Scary funny!
So while you are out blogging around today or by the pool this week; drop in on 
PhotobucketFarley and then pop in and say hi to my new grandpa friend Kelly. Tell her hello and that you like new friends too. You’ll be glad you did. 

Saturday Sayings at Forever in First

“For us to have agency we have to believe that things are changeable, because if they can’t be changed, taking action is futile.”-Peter H. Johnston


I am so excited to be linking up with Tammy today from Forever in First and her Saturday Sayings. I love reading her sayings every week and she has been so kind to let me share her Saturday with her this week. With the weather hitting the 90’s today here in Oklahoma I kinda wish I was sharing her cool mountain air in Idaho too.
If you have never read Tammy’s Saturday Sayings you should pop over there and check them out. They certainly hit the spot week after week with encouragement and insight.

My saying this week comes from Peter Johnston’s new book Opening Minds. He is the author of Choice Words and wrote the forward for Debbie Miller’s (my idol) book Teaching with Intention.
I am just a few short pages into this book and I have already learned so much, and realized so much about my teaching. I had read Choice Words a few summers ago and of course knew that our language in the classroom and with our kids is a direct result of their behavior, learning, and of course their own language.
But Opening Minds gives us the “why.” The real scientific conversation of how our language and our theories of learning bond with our students theories of learning.  And good news it is not boring to read! The book itself is much like a conversation with a colleague or friend.
In the first few pages I learned that there are two types of theories about being smart, fixed and dynamic. A fixed theorist believes- “I am not a good writer.” A dynamic theorists believes-“I am not a good writeryet!”   Oh boy could I put some names with those two beliefs! Adult and students.  Of course these theories do not just hold true for writing but for all aspects of learning...of life.
Life is change. Learning is change. If a child comes to us thinking they are unable to change; to see the bigger picture, it’s how we approach them that can make or break their theory of learning. It’s the words we choose, the way we decide to engage our kiddos that determines if they continue to be “fixed” or “dynamic” learners-people.
As of late whenever I think about change or teaching my mind goes directly to the common core. It’s how we approach it- the agency we convey, the language we use that will show- Are we dynamic or fixed.
Do you have an agency for change?  

PhotobucketThank you Tammy this was so much fun! I hope I'm invited back some time!

QW2 and Reading the Common Core

         First my assignment for today’s Writer’s CampI didn’t complete it. I tried. Three times. The good news is I learned something about me as a writer. The bad news is I learned something about me as a writer.
I am not a big fan of quick writes or writing prompts. Which makes me wonder how many of our students feel the same way? As you can see from my many attempts and scribbled up lines it takes time for me to think, rethink, change, and re-change sometimes days.

       So this is what I came up with today that I like, that I might want to keep, to not “re” anything. It’s the middle- not the beginning- not the end, but the part I like the best. The lost kindergartner has just turned on the light
      Light flooded the room. Charlie stood stone still. He could not believe what he was seeing. This was not his classroom. This room was ginormous! Books were everywhere. Big books, old books, new books, soft books, little books…….. books everywhere-so many books Charlie couldn’t drink them in fast enough. He had never seen a classroom like this before. Charlie wasn’t sure where he was, but he was sure he wanted to stay.   
That’s it that’s all I have so far. I kind of like it, and know where I want it to go with it, but I have a feeling it might take me a while to get where I’m heading.
Now on to Common Core Thursday. I have a few more tidbits for you from the conference I attended last week (I’m going to another one next Friday).
I have to be honest I spent a lot of the conference doodling and whispering with by btb (bestest teaching buddy). A LOT of it was about the assessment part of it and ick I don’t care about testing right now (only in April when I HAVE to).
When Dr. McCaw mentioned that if you have a unit you love teaching and it is not in the common core “you need to give it up.” She said that although you may enjoy teaching about Pirates, pumpkins, Hawaiiwhatever, if it’s not in the common core you should not be teaching it.
WOW.  That got my attention. Because my first thought was “what’s keeping me from connecting my favorite units to common core?”
Dr. McCaw had an answer for that, she said we (teachers) may have the best intentions but more often than not teachers fall back into their same way of always teaching a familiar unit, or theme.
Hump. SO now I have to spend my summer and all of next year proving her wrong. It is my hope to take those things I teach and connect them to the standards.
Now onto the way to read the lovely standards, I actually learned this at an earlier workshop, but you know I’m just like my kiddos and sometimes it takes multiple times before something sticks.
Here is an example for you visual learners (me).

Standard (1. OA.2)- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

First you need to do is circle or highlight all the nouns in one color. This is what the kids will be learning-what concepts you will be teaching.

Standard (1. OA.2)- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

Next underline or highlight all the verbs in the standard. This is what the kiddos need to know or master.  These are what the tests will be derived from people!

Standard (1. OA.2)- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

And there it is. The how of how to read and use the standards. Yet another addition to my endless list of summer to dos. Woe is me.
They did hand out this nifty neat worksheet to dissect the standards. It is very detailed. I think I will dissect it. I’ll let you know if I come up with something that might work I’ll share


Currently June

It's June time for Farley's Currently. I am currently in awe it is already June, and hoping July and August don't come as quickly.

Link up and share your currently

Slicing from a Quick Write

Today's Slice is brought to you via the second day of Writing Camp. Here I am again killing two birds with one stone again, but hey, that's just the way I roll. LOL. 
Today's Assignment:
Tuesday Quick-Write:
Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.
 When your two minutes are up, stop writing.
Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….
If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:
  • Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
  • Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
  • Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
  • Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better?  More vivid?  This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!
Feel free to share your final paragraph in the comments if you’d like!  I’m busy at BEA in New York through tonight but will check in to read from the airport if I can, and you can cheer one another on, too!
So this is what I came up with after the quick write. I will be trying this with my kiddos after we've been writing for awhile in first grade.  I love the idea of finding the sensory details in the school...Be gentle but PLEASE comment!

It has always been her favorite spot to just-be. Her place to hide and think, wonder and worry. Her spot to go when the world is just awakening, and so is she.
It was built by her husband’s two hands and cared for by his loving touch. Its freshness envelopes you, and the stillness invites you to stay for just a bit longer.
It is here her children found treasures, buried a first pet, dug great motes and mansions, ran wildly through waterfalls and rainforests, hit game winning homeruns, told endless tales, and brought her their troubles. And it is here they learned the meaning of gathering and family ties that bind.  
This is the spot she yearns for in the winter, and excitedly unfurrows in the spring, soaking in the richness of the newly unblanketed earth with each turn of the shovel. She lets the richness of the sandy dark soil sift through her cool hands, and embed itself under nails and in her pores.  
And yet on this morning, this day, it seems different it seems restless. She seems different- restless.
She watches as the sprinkler makes its steady rotation. Spat, spat, spat it slaps at the hardened ground. In the next breath she sees and hears the pleet, pleet as it dances across an old washtub and metal glider; both faded and peeling from the abuse of the summer sun.
The smile that hasn’t yet reached her eyes quickly disappears as she skirts her way across the yard away from the spray as it thrumps its way across an empty cup tossed from the table by a gust of wind; instead of her bare legs.
Maybe she should have stayed still, should have let the fleeting shower wash over her. Wash over her soul.   
She turns and can’t help but feel the lure of the sprinkler. The pull of how her life is so much the same. Everything changing as it washes over. And it, doing its best to stay steady, stays its course; while the wind unseen, teases, pulling and pushing at its edges.
She feels comfort in its steadiness, in its faithful rotation, in its suggestion of new beginnings and new life.
Her life pours from this spot, just as the water empties from her sprinkler, staying its course and yet reaching out to all who encompass it.  
This is her spot to- be. It is her place to feel and smell, think and wonder. It’s her place to gather family and friends and keep their stories and thoughts close to her heart. It is her place to feel and think and know, and yet today it's, different. She is restless. 

Writing Camp! Grab Your Bug Spray and Pens!

         It’s here. It’s finally here! June 4th and the official start of MY summer break. The son has been moved in and settled. My classroom is at a standstill and off my radar, done or not (ok, ok I’m working really hard on that one). Daughter is working full time as a lifeguard, and gone most of the day. So here I am settling into my summer routine.
         I was so excited for today to begin because today is the start of Kate Messner’s summer writing camp for teachers and librarians. Yes, you read that right a writing camp for TEACHERS. I am beyond excited (you can still sign up too).
The first assignment is to make a “writing plan for the summer and school year.”
This one’s pretty easy for me because about three years ago I did just that. My summer writing plan involves early mornings and my patio. I set my alarm for 5:30, get on the treadmill by 5:45, walk for 20-30minutes, fix my diet pepsi, grab my notebook and the dogs, and head for the backyard and my patio. I am usually writing by 6:30. I write for thirty minutes to an hour (or more).
The school year is a little harder. I have writing workshop every day in my classroom. The first ten minutes after the mini-lesson everyone writes, including the teacher! So for ten minutes during the school day I (and my kiddos) have uninterrupted writing. It’s then time for workshop, conferring, and creating so my writing stops (mostly) and the kiddos continue on.  
I’m sure my evenings will be filled with writing this school year because I’ll have that empty house thing going on so I will have time each evening before bed to carve out some time.
Another great part of this camp is that you get to travel and visit different places (ok blogs). Mondays are made for warm-ups and are brought to you via Jo Knowles.  Each Monday she is getting us excited about writing with some great ideas of what to write about.
This week the warm up is to write about a childhood kitchen. This one is easy for me. I’m writing about my grandma’s kitchen on my grandparent’s farm in Kansas. Here is a picture of my cute new notebook I got just for this project, and here is the beginning of my journey.  

I hope you decide to attend camp with Kate this summer; there is still time to sign up. I’ve never been to camp before. I hope it’s not too deep or over my head  Because here I come, I’m jumping in- pen in hand!

************** DISCLAIMER****************
I will also be joining Mrs. Wills Kindergarten June 22nd for her book study of Katie Wood Ray’s book In Picture's and in Words
 (you should too) It’s the next best thing since I am not going to get to see here in Indiana this summer (trying to use my stiff upper lip here). Life happensJ So just so you know I may or may not be breaking some blogging rules this 
summer by blogging more than once a day, I may even blog THREE times in one day. I know, I’m sorry.  But you can’t say you weren’t warned!