As a child of the early 1980s, our kitchen matched the lovely, leftover styles of the 1970s; the orange, plaid carpet and the olive green appliances. It was a mishmash of colors as different as the personalities that entered. I fondly remember the delicious smells and tastes when mom was in charge and pizza boxes if it was dad's turn.
As a kitchen grows and changes with the times, so does a kitchen. The carpet has since been replaced with beautiful hardwoods and the appliances are no longer olive green. The cabinets that hung from the ceiling are no longer there, but neither is grandma getting our drink order ready or grandpa whistling while he ponders his next project.
Instead, we now hear the squeals of little ones playing with their parents; the ones who used to squeal in this home. Probably not far from now, the hardwoods may be out of style and the appliances may need to be replaced again. Some family members may leave us, but others join. However, the kitchen will continue to foster memories for years to come.
As I embarrassingly clear my throat, it has now been over a year since my most recent blog post (Much respect to those of my peers who are able to balance their careers, private lives, and their blogs). I am constantly preaching to others the importance of keeping current with children's literature not only to match readers with interesting titles, but also so that my students see us as readers as well. As my dad, Dr. Jay, always says, "If you're going to talk the talk, make sure you can walk the walk." I have now been doing this for years within reading, but have taken a bit of a hiatus with my writing. Ironic, I know, since this website is designed to display some of my writing.
I am incredibly thankful to both Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, and Jen Vincent taking charge in the initial Teachers Write surge that I recently learned about through Twitter. Moving forward, I don't know what I will be writing about or exactly what it will look like, but I do now that I will be writing; and that, in itself, will not only improve my teaching, but also positively impact my students.
I'm doing pretty well with this whole blog thing. My most recent post before today was only eight months ago so....maybe I need to work on that. I had previously written that I was attempting to broaden my horizons as a reader and was planning on diving into fantasy in order to do so. Turns out, it wasn't really my thing (with the exception of Savvy and Scumble). However, in doing so I did find a certain type of science fiction that has dominated my reading this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed dystopian novels involving societies that are attempting to reach a utopian state. The Giver is quite possibly the most famous example, however I have also enjoyed Among the Hidden, Truesight, Gathering Blue, and Messenger (the last two are companion novels to The Giver). As often happens with life, it's interesting how one plan which might initially seem unsuccessful takes us down a seperate path of success which we may have not originally intended.
So....once again, it's been a while. On a different website, I was just asked to write a personal description and opted to go with the simple, "Living the dream!" While they may have been looking for slightly more detail, those three simple words certainly summarize my life. After closing on a house, getting married, and beginning my sixth year of teaching at an amazing school, I could not be happier.
In other news, I decided this summer to begin branching out to various genres of books after looking at my own personal library and having tons and tons of realistic fiction stare me in the face. I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons....to become a more well-rounded reader and to be able to suggest even more titles to my students knowing that I will find something that sparks (or continues) their passion for reading.
That being said, I ventured to fantasy and have enjoyed it so far. However, after 2.5 weeks with our current class, it sounds as though mysteries may be the popular genre this year. So, I have a mystery of my own....to solve the mysterious case of the missing mysteries....and put them on my shelf.
Some people bite their nails or eat too much dessert. I don't have a problem staying away from my nails and I certainly don't eat too much dessert (the streak is now at approximately 6 years), but I do have a habit of buying books. I guess it's not the worst habit to have, but it can be a little pricey....to the tune of over $250 last year (I just did my taxes yesterday and actually saved receipts this time!). I guess that I can begin to justify my purchases knowing that I benefit from my purchases both personally and professionally, and my students certainly benefit from all of my purchases (I do take requests....and purchase most books with a particular student in mind). It's dangerous having a very large bookstore less than five minutes from my current location, but I have found some good websites to help save some money and save some books from finding their way to the landfill. Now, since I just finished Peace, Locomotion (loved it), I just have to be patient for my thirty books that should be in the mail by now!
Currently loving Jacqueline Woodson and looking forward to
Everything I have read about writing has advised to read. Wait, what? It's so ridiculously similar to exactly what we are trying to teach our students at school. In order to become a better writer, one must continue to read. For my students, this is to better understand the craft of being an author; for the obvious characters, setting, and plot, but even more specifically how the author develops his or her characters, why he or she changes the setting, and how the author gracefully builds tension until reaching the climax and then gradually resolves the problem. For anyone who is trying to break into writing professionally, the advice is the same....read, read, read....
Last week, I finished Carl Hiaasen's Flush and this morning, I finished Gary D. Schmidt's Wednesday Wars (I would recommend both!). Up next, is Jaqueline Woodson's Peace, Locomotion, which I am very excited to read because of the unique format in which it was written. Additionally, Woodson has received honors several times from Coretta Scott King for writing regarding social change (my personal favorite...I frequently check Coretta Scott King award winners for my next read). Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading and writing over spring break (as well as enjoying the opening to the baseball season)!!
Mrs. Fry and I dressed up for Math Madness last Thursday in order to use kinesthetic intelligence to teach our students to "be the decimal point" as they slid to the left or the right. Moving the decimal within the metric system taught our students about capacity as they converted liters to kiloliters or milliliters. We had a great time (as always) and I am currently working on uploading the video to TeacherTube. Be patient and I will post the link shortly!
Okay, okay....I understand it doesn't have a lot to do with writing, but I did write a short rap to hook the students (part of it is in the subject of the blog). I'll try to post the rest later (it's still at school and I am not).
And now, the link! ..... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1758062259928455856&ei=iGHZSZSNJ5GsrQLc66yFBg&q=metric+slide&hl=en
Happy birthday Dr. Seuss! Today was an absolute blast! We started the day with an assembly for all the students (at which I got to lead cheers!), and then transitioned into reading all day long. I was fortunate enough to bounce from class to class reading a couple of my books. I read Jackie's Song to a 4th grade classroom and a 5th grade classroom and The Rappin' Prince to eight other 5th grade classrooms! Our kids were absolutely fantastic (as always) and asked some great questions about the publishing process as well as the writing process. Additionally, I even came up with a future story idea after Dr. Johnson came into our classroom with her boa on in order to read Fancy Nancy. Stay posted and.... SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY STUDENTS AT AUSTELL!!
Well, I just got called out for slacking off on my blog....deservedly so. Between teaching, grad school, data team, and math academy (along with trying to have a life), writing has found a very small piece of my already full plate. I have written recently as I added to a piece I began working on last spring. The time apart was certainly beneficial in taking a fresh, new look at it. I actually began the piece as we were teaching fractured fairy tales to our 5th graders. Writing with my students is very inspirational for all of us and teacher modeling is research based. Right, Marzano?
Summertime, and the living's easy. I just finished my last day of summer tutoring during which time I did a great job finding my way to the gym and to the pool. However, I haven't written in a loooong time. That changed today as I continued to work on Transcending Tyla as well as beginning a new piece to be revealed later (very mysterious, right!?). The critique group has certainly helped me see more of what a publisher may be looking for and I think I am going to go back and rework the format of a few of my pieces. Time to grill out!