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

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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.

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Possibilities

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Slice of Life Small LogoPossibilities

My principal retired this spring, and at the last staff meeting, she bequeathed the items in her office to the teachers and staff. It was one of those white elephant-type gifting — pass something down to the next generation. Most of the items had to do with tigers (we are the Tigers) and mementos from past years.  My present was a nice wall hanging with an inspirational quote: “Possibilities. The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” She said she passed it to me because I’m always looking for new possibilities.

At first, I thought, “Yeah! Of course I’m always looking for new possibilities! Why wouldn’t I want to stretch myself and do what I haven’t yet done?” Under her leadership, I have become a literacy coach, gone back to the classroom, applied for other positions in different districts while talking about leaving the state, and asked for many impossible effects. I will continue to ask the new principal for updated technology in the classroom, money to attend conferences and workshops, and different ways to teach concepts with modern books.

What I find most exciting, however, is sharing my writing with my students. The best revision lesson I encountered all year taking out an essay I wrote in college and reading it to my students. Even years later, the class and I found words and phrases that needed revision. It was one of those “teachable moments” when the students gave suggestions and we rewrote my essay together. It was better at the end, too! Now that I’m on a path of regular writing, I will not give up. Even though writing a book may still seem impossible, I am writing; someday, publishing may truly be a possibility.

I’ll learn more this week at the All Write institute. I cannot wait to attend. Just imagine the possibilities!

 

“What Did She Say?” — Second Chat This Week!

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Twitter chat: ‪#TandCwriters

September 7, 2014 8pm EST

Q1: What do you expect your students to already know as writers?

A1: The writing process is not a one-day or one-period event. The basics. Parts of a story + some text knowledge

Q2: How do you find out what your students know as writers?

A2: “Write about the Bear” fun way to get to know style and learning profiles of writing.

Q3: How do you give and track feedback that shows you believe in writers?

A3: Many ways to write! Not just “my way.” Read and have conversations with Ss

(I favorited a Tweet,

Another A3: I try to spread my feedback and ensure all students hear from me in a positive way.)

Q4: How do you get writers to believe in one another?

A4: Make a point to state out loud what we like about everyone’s work during the sharing sessions.

(I favorited a Tweet here, as well:

Another A4: “each student ends up being an expert about something. Helps to give them each a boost.”)

Q5: What read alouds inspire writers to believe in themselves and others?

A5: So many! Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, If You Were a Writer…

Ruth Ayres (host) said, “Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon”

Another Tweet! Amazing conversations on Twitter tonight!

Another A5: “An Angel for Solomon Singer by Rylant is not about writing, but builds belief that all stories are important, people matter.”

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and others for a second amazing chat this evening. Time for bed now!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Running Out of Time

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Running, running, running…

To the school supply stores, to the doctor, to the dentist, to the SCUBA shop, to Ohio for SCUBA day…wait! Today is National Book Lovers Day! I have to read! I cannot believe these are the last days of summer. I agree with a fellow Slicer; I’m not ready!

Running, running, running...

I have draft-planned my first few weeks of school. There are so many great ideas, stories, and lessons. Mostly, I want my students to read and write well, and have fun doing it! Yet, I feel a sense of urgency, and the meetings for staff development start next week — wait! Oh, no, it’s THIS week!

Running, running, running…

With all of this running around, I should be in great shape to start the school year. We shall see!