Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


Slice of Life Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Dream

Slice of Life Small LogoI’m looking out the classroom window; the sun is bright overhead.

My head is spinning in dreams; Dreams take over my day.

Daylight, vitamin D. I need this day to be over!

“Over the river and through the woods…” Wait! It’s not Thanksgiving, but it is a holiday.

Holidays are meant for sharing.   valentineweather2017classroom

I’m sharing Valentine’s love with my family from far away.

Away I go…Ah! Back to class!


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Slice of Life Tuesday: Analyzing Books for Awards Season

Slice of Life Small LogoI love awards season! The Golden Globes hooked me on Sunday and reeled me into the bedroom so I could watch and not bother the other family members. I love the gowns, the tuxes, the speeches — all of it. I have a passion for awards. I now want to see all the movies and TV shows, and hear all the music that won those awards. It’s only natural, I think, to want to continue participating in the “buzz” that surrounds awards.

This is the same feeling I have when I read books that are considered for awards. I read list after list, recommendation after recommendation, to find the books that I consider noteworthy. I share books with my classes. I read books aloud, I talk about books, I show my students how books affect my life. That “buzz” is the passion that led me to take some time in class to teach a Mock Caldecott unit this year.  Wow! What an experience!

My students are actively engaged, in learning! Yes, we are meeting the standards. I can prove it: 6.RL.2.1 (Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text); 6.RN.2.3 (Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text); 6.RL.2.2 (Determine how a theme or central idea is conveyed through particular details…) Wow! Our experiences matter! caldecott_2017_classtop6

We narrowed the list to six books and we are voting this week. We took the criteria from the ALA/ALSC Caldecott Medal Terms and Criteria. We made lists. We ranked each point: 4 means “absolutely meets criteria”, 3 means “yes, meets criteria”, 2 means “maybe meets criteria”, and 1 means “nope.” (It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences in the two sections/classes, too.)

We will decide a winner on Thursday. Then we will watch on January 23rd as we find out if the real voters for the Caldecott Medal and Honors books will issue the same awards that we did. It’s going to be great! Just like learning should be.



Slice of Life Tuesday: The Loss Within

SliceofLifeSwagMarch2016I found out that one of my mentor teachers has passed away. At the age of 53, it’s not fair that such an intelligent mind and driven spirit is no longer with us. Even though I only knew her a short time and only in the context of education workshops, I feel sort of empty inside this week because of all the learning others will miss in the future with her not around. I met her at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project summer institute in 2008. Here’s what Kathleen Tolan taught me: kathleentolan

  • Testing is a genre. Teaching to the test is not acceptable, but helping students to realize that sometimes school reading is a different kind of reading, for a different purpose, and that students can pass a test if they know some key pieces of information.
  • You must have a passion for what you do. Lucy Calkins once told a group, “Passion is powerful.” Kathleen had a passion for teaching and learning. She wanted everyone to do their best always. She was stubborn about it! She put forth great effort in her work, and expected the same from others. When I applied to become a staff developer at TCRWP, she wrote me a long letter about the aspects of the job I was not qualified for. I appreciated her honesty, and my reading workshop teaching is now better because of her advice.
  • Children are the future. She held students on a pedestal. Children can learn to become intelligent thinkers and take part in the world. Allow children to be their best, and even you can learn from them.

Thank you for your time, Kathleen. We will miss your determined drive and work in the world of education.

picture credit:



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Meeting the Slicers

Slice of Life Small LogoI had the opportunity to meet many fellow “Slicers” during my week at NCTE16. It was fabulous to get to know more friends in person and place the faces with the small square icons on Two Writing Teachers blog (

Thank you to Deb, Mandy, Julieanne, Margaret, Dahlia, Beth, Glenda, Melanie, Fran, Tara, Dana, and Michelle for being my virtual—-> real friends!

By the way, who has the picture of our table? I would love a copy please.


Slice of Life Tuesday: See You in Atlanta, NCTE Friends!

Slice of Life Small LogoGo to bank. Check. Shop for a carry on bag with wheels. Check.

Feed family dinner (quickly). Check. Pack. Check. Do one more load of laundry for the people staying home. Check.

Check in for flight online. Check. Schedule Shuttle Van service. Check. Go to bed…!

NCTE, here I come!


Slice of Life Tuesday: Vote!


Slice of Life Small LogoI voted last Saturday. My husband, oldest daughter and I worked out, then decided to walk a block from the gym to the County-City building and do our civic duty on a beautiful November day (rare in Indiana!).

When we left, my daughter stated, “It’s not even 11 am, and I feel like I’ve been so productive today.” Yes, it felt good to be able to vote, to speak up, to contribute to society.

Vote today! Be grateful that you are able to contribute to your society, your country, in this simple way.



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Happy Birthday, Jake!

Slice of Life Small LogoJake the poodle is 15! From what I know about poodles, they usually live between 10-12 years, so Jake is an old man! Here is Jake’s birthday story:

I made it downstairs; it’s getting harder and harder to trudge down those 12 steps. I always miss the last one now. I can’t remember numbers after 10, so I trip every time. Oof! And that carpet is the same color all the way down; it burns my eyes to squint so much. I wish they’d give me a color strip or something so I could focus.

Once I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw Ashley. I was so excited! She’s never home anymore — always working. She smacked her knees and bid me over to the couch, “Come ‘ere, boy! Happy Birthday!” I wagged my tail because I was so happy. She giggled at me and gave me a bite of her donut. (Oops! We weren’t supposed to tell Mom!) I wound up and jumped with all my might to sit by Ashley on the comfy cushions. Ouch! My knee still hurt from rolling down the hill this summer. I forgot! I yelped, and Ashley pat me on the head and gave me another bite. Yum! Doesn’t hurt so bad now.

Well all that excitement made me tired! I yawned and snuggled myself next to the blue blanket. Soft! Cozy! Wonderful! Time for a nap. jakeyawnsoct2016jpg

I was startled when I heard the door upstairs open. Mom and Dad are home! I looked up and saw people walking around, so I decided to see who else remembered today was my celebration. I hobbled up the stairs, turned the corner by the refrigerator, and found Mom. “Happy Birthday, Boy!” She gave me a short massage on my graying ears — Aah! I couldn’t see the treat she dropped on the floor, but she pointed her toe at it and I gobbled it up! Canine Carryouts with cheese are my favorite. Then I watched from my post, the cabinet at the corner of the kitchen. I sat nicely and looked at Mom with my adorable (blinding) eyes. She saw me. She walked to my cabinet and got out the big yellow bag. I forgot, I AM hungry!

After lunch, I was sleepy again. Dad let me outside — it’s such a nice day, but really too cold for me anymore. I shivered on the step for at least 10 minutes. I swear he doesn’t keep track of the time. I had to bark again. I hate that, and so do the humans. I don’t mean to be rude, but sometimes I have to remind them that I’m old and I can’t handle the outside like I used to. After that fall I took when I dislocated my knee, I just don’t have as much fun outdoors.

Well I got back inside — Dad gave me a treat, too! Wow! They MUST love me on my birthday! However (urp), I now have a tummy ache, so I’ll go under the table and hide. Don’t want to get into trouble for throwing up anywhere.

After another short nap, I felt like playing. Outside time with Mom is better than being alone. We ran around a little bit, but I get tired so fast. These old legs just cannot handle the chase. Back inside for some cool water and — you guessed it! — another nap. But this time it was getting dark. I waited for Mom to say the words. I was ready for it.

Dad was watching sports again. He loves that tv. I don’t like all the yelling. That’s a game? So annoying — all the yelling. I can’t see the screen anyway, so I don’t pay much attention when the tube is on. I guessed Mom had enough yelling, too. When Mom said, “Time for bed,” I was already on the way to my pillow in the quiet master bedroom. I love sleeping with Mom. I’m too small to be on the bed anymore (she’s afraid I’ll jump off and break my leg), but I love my doggie pillow. What a nice birthday that was! Good night, humans. See you at 3:00 am. (he he)

Happy Birthday, Jake!



Slice of Life Tuesday: Book Birthdays

books_zackdelacruzjustmyluckSlice of Life Small Logo

So many new book birthdays today;books_asheshistorical3

“So little time,” I have to say.

I want to sit and read the books.

I want to read without the dirty looks!bookbirthdayoct4

If I had all the time in the world,

You’d find me curled, furled…


Images from John Schu’s Book Release Calendar 2016 and


Slice of Life Tuesday:

Football Dreams

I would love to be able to attend every Notre Dame home football game as a season-ticket holder, but alas! I am not. So when my husband came home with tickets to Saturday’s game, I was excited to attend.

Even though I had been sick all week, I didn’t want to miss the chance to be in the crowd. We waited until 2:30 to decide to get into the car. It had rained all morning, and the threat was still imminent. But at 2:35, we packed up the car, made sure tickets were in hand, and drove to Edison Road. My daughter is on vacation this week, so we had a free parking spot! Nice!

We walked to campus and found our seats. A cool breeze swept through the stadium. Clouds rolled by, some dark and some white and fluffy. Would it rain? Yes. In the first half, it sprinkled for a few minutes at a time. Then the blue sky appeared and Notre Dame scored.

Notre Dame won the game! It was nice to get out of the house on a Saturday and be a part of the action, instead of watching on TV. I hope to get more tickets this year. Football season is a blast!



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Peanut Butter and the Middle School Mess

Slice of Life Small LogoDISCLAIMER: The following story is my on-demand writing done with my 6th grade class after the mini lesson, “Add Some Spice” to the Narrative Arc with tension/conflict. Students were able to choose a type of conflict and use tension to move the plot along so that readers will want to turn the pages. This is my draft based on the true story, with a little added spice!


The worst argument I ever had with my sister was a summer day after my mom went back to work. We were both old enough to know better. Middle school students are supposed to be able to handle Mom going to work, and we knew what we were supposed to do in case of an emergency. This was NOT an emergency.

My sister and I were doing chores and she did not finish the dishes. She said she was going out for a bike ride, but I reminded her that we were not supposed to leave the house without job being done. She said she would do them when she got back. I blocked the door to the garage so she could not leave. First mistake.

Judy pushed me into the desk, and I fell backwards. She’s taller than me, so I had to think fast. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the jar of Jif Peanut Butter. Second mistake.

I opened the jar and scooped up handful of peanut butter. I lunged towards Judy and smeared the goop into her long black hair. She screamed bloody murder! She grabbed the jar and dug into the middle, then covered my face with brown sticky peanut butter. I screamed, heading to the phone that was on the desk. I dialed my mom’s work number. Third mistake.

My mom heard both sides of the drama through her earpiece at her cubicle, and so did all her co-workers! She was so embarrassed that she excused herself, saying that one of us had fallen down and needed help. Thankfully, her boss allowed her to leave work so she could “deal with us.”

She dealt all right! She dealt out smacks on our rear-ends, more cleaning duties, and a week’s grounding to both of us. I vowed never again to worry about what my sister was doing while my mom was at work. I did my own chores and kept out of trouble the rest of my middle school days.

Responsibility is a hard lesson, but learning to stay out of other people’s business is even harder. Especially when it’s your little sister.