Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


SOLSC Day 13: Blast from the Past!

Slice of Life Small LogoThank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers ( for hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Blast from the Past!

My former-position curriculum pals and I scheduled a VIP (Very Important Meeting) after school today at our favorite local hangout to catch up on family and school stories and enjoy each other’s company for a while. It has been so long since I have seen this amazing bunch of gals! What a Blast from the Past! We spent hours (literally) blabbering about babies, weddings, growth of our team’s little princess mascot (she’s 5; we were all meeting the day she was born!), school work, places we will move someday, and how great it was to be together again. Then something strange happened to me. It must have been a “Friday the 13th” kind of thing…

I looked up, turned to the side, and saw a nice couple, about my age, leaving their table to exit the building. For some odd reason, they both sort of stopped to look at me. I glanced back to our table, then did a double-take, and almost yelled out loud, “Oh, my gosh! Talk about Blast from the Past!” My friends from freshman year at Ball State University looked at me and said almost the same sentence! We spent a few minutes, not nearly long enough, updating each other on kids, jobs, and addresses. It was really nice to see them again. Reminiscing is such an illuminating experience.

I sat back down at the table, and my original group kept talking, and talking, and talking, until we finally decided that we probably needed to get home.  We paid the bills, promised to see each other again (not so long between this time!), and went on our way. Well, what do you know…

As I crossed the sidewalk to find my car, I saw two more ol’ teammates from my first softball team after moving to town after college. Oh my gosh! Another Blast from the Past! The night was quickly becoming a surreal experience. I stopped again to chat, just for a minute or so, then left the restaurant parking lot and drove home. I think my story from earlier this week about being tired will be my tale for tomorrow, too. I’m exhausted!

You know, Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Enjoy your weekend.


SOLSC Day 12: Almost Half Way!

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Almost Half Way!

Wow! This month is flying by (thankfully). We are almost half way through the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I’m thinking we should have a theme every month, and write every day, all the time! April could be Poetry Month (it is anyway) and we could all post poems of our own or refer to our favorites; May could be gardening/flowers/nature’s wonders; June could be summertime celebrations, etc.

To be honest, it’s not easy to write every day, especially when you have other jobs and careers getting in the way. Not that my job gets in the way of my writing…yes! Sometimes, it does.  I feel guilty when I write some days, because I’m taking half an hour (or hour!) to write a little post, and then I still have to grade, plan, prepare for my reading conferences, look up resources, etc. You, know. All the OTHER tasks that need to be completed, at school and at home.

Very honestly, I just did the dishes tonight after 4 days! Both sides of the sink were full. I usually yell at everyone else in the house to help me get chores done, but I wasn’t doing the chores, either. Everyone else is busy, too, with school, jobs, etc. So I kept quiet. The sink filled. AAHHHH!

Back to writing: “almost half way” made me think about other things that I’m half way done doing:

Life (I’m 46; times 2, that’s 92!)

Paying the mortgage (Yes!)

Cleaning the stacks of paper off my desk (there were 4; I’m down to 2.)

The mid-way point is a good place. I’m really ready for the final stretch, though. Keep writing! I’ll see you all at the finish line!


SOLSC Day 9: Knucklehead

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Being a Knucklehead

My ELA classes are participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge with me this year. We couldn’t commit to the challenge officially, due to ISTEP testing and the lack of technology in our school/homes, but we have been studying what some slices might look like. One of my favorite mentor books to read aloud during this time of year is Knucklehead, by Jon Scieszka. The accounts of the “tall tales and almost true stories of growing up Scieszka” are hilarious, energetic, and entertaining.

The first chapter, “Beginning,” introduces Jon and his 5 brothers, his mom, and his dad. We totally relate — immediately! My students laugh out loud as I read, and then we go off to our writing places to record our own lives.  Not a day goes by that we don’t get some fabulous idea from Jon and his family. If I had to guess, here on Day 9, I would say that many of my students would label themselves “knuckleheads.” Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. But all of them honor this wonderful mentor knucklehead by attempting to write like him. What a way to SLICE!





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Happy International Women’s Day! Advice for my Younger Self

Today the Google image celebrates International Women’s Day. The reflection question under the search box reads, “What advice would you give your younger self? I would use this quote to begin (I’m not sure who used these words first. I stole the quote from Facebook):

“As I have grown older, I’ve learned that pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.”

Definitely! If you ask anyone who knew me 25 years ago what I was like, he or she would probably tell you that I was a “people pleaser.” I spent most of my childhood and early adult life making sure that everyone else was happy. It’s not even that I wasn’t happy. I was. I just always put others and their needs first. Now you might also think, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” I can tell you from experience that there’s nothing wrong with that. I still want others to be happy, safe, and satisfied. But now that I’m older, I know that I must focus on the happiness, safety, and satisfaction that count, and not every little event needs to be perfect all the time. As a matter of fact, pleasing everyone IS impossible. No matter what I do, I will make some people happy, for the time being, and some people will be left with that sense of longing, for that same period.

I remember specific times in my life when I put one person first, and sure enough, another person would say, “You don’t think for me.” Crazy! I would actually feel guilty for not being able to do two activities at once, be at two places at one time, give to one and not the other. Of course, pissing everyone off is a piece of cake. Most of the time, I would piss myself off. When would I learn? I had to make choices, and those choices may benefit someone else, but in the end, I had to make the choice that I thought was best — for the situation…for me!

Now that I’m older, I spend more time doing things I want to do and making choices based on what I think is needed at any one point. No one is standing in my way. No one is saying that I shouldn’t do “x” instead of “y.” I am not guilty if I don’t come through at the immediate moment of perceived need. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but pleasing everyone is impossible. Now that I’m older, I understand that people won’t use me to get what they want unless I allow it. We can all be happy, safe, and satisfied by helping each other to live life to the fullest.

My advice to my younger self? Don’t be a “people pleaser.” It won’t get you, or anyone else, anywhere. Be a good person: speak and act appropriately. Have a good sense of humor. Help others more than you help yourself, but make sure it is really going to make a difference in the long run. Live your dreams. And…

Bake a Cake. Share It. That won’t piss anybody off!




SOLSC Day 7: One Week!

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One Week!

Hey, Slicers! This is Day 7. We have been writing consistently for one week! Great job, everybody!

Well, today, we are all recuperating — and it’s sunny! The snow is melting into large puddles of splashing water; it makes me want to hook up the hose and wash the cars…

and have a garage sale (look at all this junk),

and go swimming (plans for the pool already),

and plan my summer PD traveling events (Boothbay! I’m working on it.).

Come on, spring! Thanks for the glimpse, the preview, the light at the end of the tunnel!



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Other Published Writers

I have a blog, but I don’t consider my writing published yet. I hope that someday I will live like other published writers — reaping the benefits of readers wanting to peruse and use my work. My daughter is living my dream; she just got a letter from her college literary magazine: “We love your poem…we want to publish it…please fill out information…create a 50-word bio for the back of the book…”

So wonderful!

I should get moving; our parallel dreams are moving at lightning speed…and the train is pulling out of the station!


Slice of Life Story Challenge 2015: Day 1

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The March Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by

“It’s Today! It’s Today!” I can just hear Stuart Little screaming those words as I start my second Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) today, March 1st, 2015.

Here are some facts about me: I teach 6th grade, I have 3 girls and a granddaughter (even though I’m not old enough to be a grandma — LOL), and I love to write, although I haven’t shared much of my writing publicly yet. This group of “Slicers” is my favorite group in the world, and I am looking forward to this month of March — which seems to be coming “in like a lion” right now. Oh, by the way…

I’m sick of winter! (I’ll probably post about that a lot!)

Two other points about me for my fellow Slicers: 1) I write later at night, so I’m sorry, but you’ll have to stay up past 9:00 pm to read my work (LOL), and 2) our school’s standardized testing schedule starts Tuesday, so I’ll be stressed out most of the time. Hopefully the writing will help me wind down and have some fun!

Happy Slicing, Everyone! And THANK YOU to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers for hosting this awesome challenge!


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“What Did She Say?” — My answers to chat questions from the past week

I want to remember and reflect on my participation in social media chats. Chatting with others is a wonderful PD-on-my-own-time opportunity, and I am learning so much from my time with new-to-me technology. I thought it would be fun to creatively record my answers to Twitter chat questions, so I dreamed up this blog column, “What Did She Say?”  — I will share my answers to some important Twitter chat questions and opinions about current educational issues each Monday evening.  Here’s the first one!

From “Teach and Celebrate Writing” First Sundays, August 3, 2014 (#TandCwriters):

Q1: What routines and procedures do you put into place to help students be organized as writers?  A1: Set up workshop routines the first week. Keep a consistent plan/schedule. We have notebooks and 3-ring binders. Never tear out pages of notebooks!

Q2: What are routines and procedures for conferring with writers? A2: I love Carl Anderson’s work, and attended his workshop on conferring in June. I love that you compliment the writer first. I found out about Penny Kittle’s “Bless (compliment), Press (research), Address (teach)” plan for conferring. I’m stealing it!

Q3: What are routines and procedures for helping students to revise/edit? A3: Read the piece aloud! (great help) Peer editing groups, circling parts to check, highlighting. I need to look up “Express Lane Edit” by @writeguyjeff (Jeff Anderson). I also learned that long-term writing partners give support.

Q4: What routines and procedures do you have for students to share? A4: Penny Kittle’s “Symphony Share”; writing alongside a mentor text to show comparisons. I want to review the book, Write Beside Them again. There was a YouTube video, “Austin’s Butterfly critique” I want to see again. The message from the chat group was that students need more audience — more forms of sharing. I loved the idea of “Best Lines of the Week” — students each share one great line from notebook.

Q5: What writing routines of your own do you share with students? A5: I share my mentor texts, my blog, my ideas list, and my past (college) assignments. I also show risk-taking — things I tried. The chat group repeated the “BIC” way of writing: “Butt in Chair.” Just do it!

Q6: What is something new to try this coming school year? A6: I want my students to blog at school, maybe using KidBlog. I joined a writing group already, and I want to have students get together in writing groups often. I loved the idea of going to a bookstore (field trip!) for a publishing party!

Q7: What are you celebrating as a writer? A7: I am writing more, and more often; I have carved out times in my week to write. I have writing buddies now. Writing is so much fun!

Thank you for taking time to find out, “What Did She Say?” I hope this outlet will help all of us to remember to be great readers, writers, and teachers. See you next week.