Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Final Copies

Today we had to finish an essay that our administration was requiring be done as evidence that writing is taking place in our Language Arts classrooms in 7th grade.  This is a slice from one block today..

Ten students who took chances in their writing--whether it was trying out a new word or a different type of lead--these students wanted their essays to reflect how they have grown as writers this year.

Nine final copies that were great examples of "voice" in a text.

Eight computers that had some type of technical issue that had to be fixed before their essays could be published.

Seven students who wanted to confer one last time before deciding they were ready to publish their final copy.

Six students who loved their essays and wanted to share what they had written.

Five titles that were interesting enough for other students to comment "Oh, I wish I had thought of that one."

Four students who did not complete an essay.  :(

Three essays finished with only a few minutes left before the deadline in the block.

Two out-of -ink pens.

One teacher who was happy with the accomplishments of her students!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


There is no "official" Slice of Life Tuesday today since Stacey and Ruth over at Two Writing Teachers are taking a much deserved break.  However, many who slice regularly and those, like me, who started the SOLS Challenge in March for the first time this year, wanted to keep writing.  I am very late posting today and must admit that I'm beat!  If you are a teacher, you know how hectic and stressful this time of year (Testing Time...oh, joy!) is for us.  Out of respect for my tired body and brain, my slice is a very brief one tonight.


Listening to the rain peppering the roof and the thunder clearing it's throat

Loving that the day is winding down and I finally have enough time to be able to write

Thinking I need to make sure my fifteen year old is actually in bed trying to fall asleep and NOT on his cell phone, but first I need to write

Wanting the field testing and the regular testing to be behind the kids so we can concentrate on learning and stop stressing

Needing some uninterrupted sleep tonight with no worries

Super Power finding a way to let the day settle inside myself, going to a quiet place, and writing--no matter how briefly

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Haiku

Celebrating the last bit of Spring Break out in my yard today--beautiful Carolina blue skies and a mild 66 degrees outside!  I walked around the side of my house and ran into my azaleas, blooming in an amazing display of pinks and reds.  I rushed inside and grabbed my writer's notebook and jotted down some words and phrases trying to capture those flowers at this moment.

This haiku is what eventually formed from my scribbling:

Azalea parade
Pink and red pirouetting
Charming Southern belles

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teacher Brain

I am on Spring Break this week and boy, I needed it!  This year has been a tough one.  We have children who are sick, deathly so, and children who are challenges (to the point where one of my assistant principals calls us "THE team."  So, I am in need of time to relax to renew my energy for the whirlwind of testing that will soon begin.
One of the things that I did yesterday was catch up on some of my neglected blog reading.  I love the blogging world and the ideas that I get from fellow teachers, literacy specialists, and coaches.  There are so many wonderful things going on in schools and it amazes me all the shots that are being taken at educators right now.  The hard work and dedication to kids that I see each time I read the blogs out there show what you all value and how much you care about your students.  (Sorry, hold that thought for another post!)

Yesterday as I was reading the blog, A Year of Reading, I caught a post from Saturday on Newspaper Blackout Poems.  I was captured right away!  The thinking and creativity involved in this type of poetry would be just the thing to capture the interests of my seventh graders coming back after a week of Spring Break.  My "teacher brain" was intrigued.  Now to gather enough newspapers for my 100 students!

Quickly, I opened my school email and sent out an all-school request for newspapers.  This new idea really got me excited!  Even on break, I couldn't help but think about school and my students.  My "teacher brain" would not turn off.  Not long after I sent out the email, I received a reply.  This reply told me to quit thinking about school and enjoy myself this week.  Today, I got another response telling me basically the same thing.  My "teacher brain" DOES ENJOY finding new ideas to try out with my kids!

This all started me thinking about teachers, literacy specialists, coaches, and the like.   Doesn't everyone have a "teacher brain" that continually sifts through information and ideas for school?  Is this something that is that unusual?  What do you think about having a "teacher brain"?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Still More Book Spine Poems

Here are the rest of the "best of" my students' Book Spine poems.  We all enjoyed this assignment so much!  The kids are still talking about it.  Thanks, Dana, (She Writes Because...) for sharing your poems that inspired us to get started!  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More Book Spine Poems from My Students

Yesterday I posted three book spine poems my students put together in our Media Center with the promise of downloading some more off the memory card from a camera the media assistant let me borrow.  I did that today during planning.  Here are few more of their poems.  (I will post a few more this weekend.)  Hope you enjoy them!

 One of my boys who hasn't really participated all year!

My personal favorite of this group.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Spine Poems with My Students

Today my students went to the Media Center and created book spine poems.  We had a ball!  They were really unsure and a little leery of playing around with the titles at first.  Once they got started though they really got into it!  Once they realized they were free to use their imaginations (and that there were no grades involved) they explored so many options and actually had some fun with it!  Here are a few examples--I have 100 students and I took pictures of all of them, but I only have a few on my phone to upload here.

The media assistant felt sorry for me having to use my phone to take pictures so she swiped one of the cameras reserved for the yearbook and let me use it to take more pictures.  I couldn't bring the camera home to download more pictures of the book spine poems so I've only included three here.  I will try to put a few more of my best ones up tomorrow.

It was awesome fun for both the kids and me!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Slice of Life Challenge 2012 is Over

I am at a loss today.  Every day for the past month I have been writing for the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by Ruth and Stacey over at Two Writing Teachers.  This being April 1, I have completed the challenge!  I feel very proud of myself for this accomplishment and for the first time EVER, I feel like a writer.

I have felt like a phony in my Language Arts classes for a long time because I didn't write.  I mean I wrote, but not like I was asking my students to write.  Now I have a much better idea of what it means to write every day--how difficult it can be, how sometimes you just have to write junk just to get going, how you have to have strategies to get you moving again when you are stuck, and how opening yourself up for others to inspect takes a lot of courage.

I have also learned how important audience is when writing.  Before when I felt I had no true audience, I did not invest much in the act of writing and writing well.  Who's going to be reading it anyway? Now, I realize that I need to know that someone is going to be reading what I write.  They might be commenting on it too and telling me how they feel about the piece and their connection to it.

The feedback part of the Slice of Life Challenge is one of the most valuable parts of each day.  When people comment on what you have written, it validates your writing.  Those comments often fuel another day of writing.  I looked forward to reading those comments each day.  In turn, commenting on other writers' slices gave me a chance to pass along those wonderful connections too.  Many times, reading the blogs of others sparked a new piece of writing.   I learned about some wonderful new structures for writing that I did not know about because I took the time to read and comment on the work of others in the challenge.

I think the most important gift of the challenge was the writing habit that emerged.  The way I now feel that I have to write.  Everyday.  I haven't felt this strongly about needing to put pen to paper before this challenge.

I will continue to write.  I will slice each Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. I will look forward to continuing to work with this wonderfully supportive community and cultivating the friendships that have developed during the month of March.

Thank you, Ruth and Stacey, for giving me the chance to write and learn so much!