Monday, December 28, 2009

One Little Word 2010

As I began to make my choice of one little word to live by for 2010, a few things came to mind. *The love of my children burns in my sould. *My desire to help my students achieve their full potential is my reason for going to work each day. *Searching for my dreams and realizing not all of them have been achieved. One word comes to mind in order to ensure all these things occur. PASSION


December Daily D21-25

Dec 25 pg. 2 discussed the blizzard and how we canceled our big family Christmas, but we spent the day together just the 3 of us.
Dec. 25 Recorded my thoughts about the meaning of Christmas
Dec. 24 pg. 2 Pictures of Gifts. The girls and celebrate on Christmas Eve
Dec. 24 journaling about the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 2009 along with the stowaway I found (neighborhood cat)
Dec. 24-Pg. 1
Day 23: Decorating sugar cookies; the pictures pull out (stole idea from Ali Edwards)
Day 22: Dec Family B-Day
Day 21: documenting my new antique table, chairs and china hutch. They were my grandmother's, but don't have the picture yet.

December Daily D. 15-20

Documented in my actual album
Day 20: The Blah-Hum "sick" Bug
Day 19: Emma's para getting engaged and showing me how many people in the world see my beautiful daughter for herself-sweet girl.
Day 18: Last day of school before Holiday break; lights at Rhema
Day 17: Nothing to document so I put pics from Rhema
Day 16: Papa and Gracie relaxing
Day 15: Nothing happened so I put Rhema light pictures.

Monday, December 14, 2009

DAY 14

Presents glistening under the tree,
air crisp, tingling my fingers,
winter arrives with chilling splendor,
It must be Christmas.

Giggles as we eat "ho, ho, ho" cake,
more, more yell the girls,
sprinkles on the floor,
It must be Christmas.

Giving of ourselves
our time,
realizing others lives are not like mine,
It must be Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 13

Tonight I went Christmas shopping for the girls and picked up some shoes for Gracie. When I got them home and tried them on her. She ran all through the house, "I have SHOES!! SHOES!! SHOES!!" I love that girl!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dec. Daily D12

One Little Word...the year 2009 was a year of transition. My major goal for the year was "create." I found myself in 2008 with feelings of not desiring to create things for my family and myself anymore which left me with new feelings: sadness and missing out on that side of my life. So last year I really focused on creating. Creating a collaborative teaching atmosphere in my classroom, creating a new home for my children, creating scrapbooks again for my family. I am happy to say all were accomplished.

Classroom: This year literacy workshop started without a hitch. It seemed my writers had very few hiccups getting started and we have written 3 published pieces this year. I am so proud of my readers and writers. They work hard each day to grow.

Home: Home is where my kids are. Home is a safe quiet place. New furniture, new paint amazingly have made it feel like it's mine again. Love all the colors of my personality coming out through the rooms.

Scrapbooking: One thing to say: Over 50 layouts completed!!

Now to think about what my new word will be for 2010. I am leaning toward simplify, passion, advocate. My life is changing in my heart. I am really trying to think about what I want to "be" when I grow up. I am not the same person, teacher that I was when I started my job. I absolutely love teaching, but each day a little piece of me keeps asking what else is out there and it is leaning toward advocacy. I don't know what the future holds, but only time will tell.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December Daily-D11

Astonished. Loved. Tears of thankfulness. My kids get a Christmas this year from me. Thank you so my sweet family who unconditionally love us and provided me with my Christmas surprise.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dec. Daily-D9

In our writer's workshop in the classroom we are working on writing essays and not sticking to the usual topic sentence, detail, detail, detail and concluding sentence. Instead writing from the heart about a topic the writer is passionate about. Today I asked my writers to think of topics they are passionate about. Once again these sweet kids surprised me. Their thoughts? Global warming, treating animals fairly, equal rights, standing up for yourself, recycling, love of a family, and children in foster care just to name a few. I was astounded. I was prepared for video games, why play station is better than a ds, and your basic sport games, but instead they were well thought, intriguing topics. They are going to grow these topics into sensational personal essays. The best gift of all for me this holiday season--the fifty-eight writers I have the privilege to write with everyday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December Daily-D8

Dear Santa,

I've been good this year. I am a big girl! I potty trained in a record number of days -14. I recognize all the letters and sounds of the alphabet. I also know my numbers 1-20. I have begun to write my own stories about popcorn, Gracie, Jacob, the park, popcorn, popcorn and popcorn. Most of the time I don't hit my sister; she has to make me mad first. Most of the time I stay where I'm supposed too except when my teacher gets busy and I decide to "slip" out and visit the school administrative assistant. Most of the time I would say I'm could I please have a wiggle racer?



Dear Santa,

Okay....I admit it...I ate the cookies. They were delicious. Also, I don't really know if I deserve coal in my stocking, but you have to admit that when I'm a good girl...I'm a good girl. However, there have been some not so great moments this year. If I promise that next year I will have LESS of those could I please have the new Tink movie?



Dear Santa,

Hope I'm on the good list this year. What I would like for Christmas is a good night's sleep...can that be arranged?



Monday, December 7, 2009

December Daily-D7

In the last few months I've realized that it is really truly the little things in life that set us free. Tonight as I came home from a FABULOUS day with my 5th graders I knew I was headed toward an evening of not so much fun. Gracie tends to be a little overtired and blames Emma and I for it. Instead I was greeted by a well rested Gracie and we had pizza night (love mazzio's 6.99 Monday special), watched parts of Narnia, and then played in Gracie's chest of drawers. We walked through her "wardrobe" into a magical land. It was fun, exciting, and memorable. At the end of the evening, as I tucked and tucked and tucked Gracie in I realized tonight was a moment I would cherish. Holidays can get wrapped up in the must do's, but really it's about slowing down and looking at life through a different lens.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December Daily-D4

Nighttime. Prayers. Reading books while laying under the warm covers snuggled up with Miss Emma is about as blissful as a perfect night can be. "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed" echoes in my brain. Emma's sweet giggles as I once again read that Momma Monkey had to call that doctor to help. As she turns the pages of her book, I continue to read. When I finish, she closes the books and asks to say her goodnight prayers. "God Bless, Nana, Papa, Gracie, Uncle Brandon, Mommy and Daddy. A-men." I grab her life size Elmo doll and "baby." Tuck them all in. "Mommy, Tiss pwease," she says. I lean in kiss her goodnight and go to turn out the light. "Sweet dreams, Mommy." "You too, baby girl."

These are the moments I cherish. These moments won't last forever, how I wish they would.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec. Daily Day 3

Papers and snowflake button from Shabby Princess Holiday Sampler. Third paper embellishment and light paper from Jessica Sprauge. Font: Lynnelle (my handwriting turned into a font)

Today I could feel the cool air finally descending on Oklahoma. Even so my girls wanted to play outside. While taco soup was simmering I had an opportunity to watch my kiddos play outside. Sliding down the slide, "Ta da!" Gracie says. Emma coming in shutting the door. Gracie opening it and Emma yelling, "BOO! I GOTCHA!" Today I am thankful. There are days that are so stressful that I forget about the todays. The todays that no one is hurt, no one is pulling hair, just playing like sisters. Today.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Daily D2

Scrapbooking Papers by Jessica Sprague.

This post was inspired as we came home from school. They immediately wanted the tree on! Ahh....memories.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Daily Challenge-d1

Time to start my December Daily. I am so excited to be documenting my holidays! This layout and papers are from Jessica Sprauge's Holiday In Hand online class last week. I edited pieces of it to fit my need. The pictures are of my tree and my girls' stockings. As we started to decorate the tree I began to tell my kids my favorite Christmas memory and Day 1 was created.

Monday, November 16, 2009

December Daily Challenge

As my students prepare to start their new genre of writing-essay. I am challenging them to write Daily in the month of December. I got the idea from Ali Edwards. I sent a letter home to parents in regards to the expectations. I am really phrasing this more as a slice of life, but calling it December Daily Challenge. In March, we will do this again with the Slice of Life Challenge.

December Daily

The parent letter below also went home. I used some of Calkin's letter to parents and add more to it.

Essay Unit Letter

I will be writing alongside my writers. So the blog will be very active in the month of December. I am also challenging myself to take a picture a day that month. If you would like ideas to get this started you can also visit Jessica Sprague's site.

Moving In Time

Today I taught my group of writers the art of moving in time to help the reader understand the meaning of the piece (idea from Raising the Quality of Narrative Writing by Calkins). However, I used a fabulous text Sweet, Sweet Memory. I also timelined the book to show how the piece moved from the present to the past and to the future at different points.

Lesson Plan

My writer's are wrapping their third small moment by "Putting Said to Bed" tomorrow and then going through the final stages of writing onto publishing. Once again I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this process. When my piece is finished I will post here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Slice of Life Oct. 16

Outside my window...I finally can see the sun! It has been raining for so long. What a gorgeous fall day.

I am thinking...I wish I got more moments in time to just rest and recuperate from the dailies of life, however I miss the hustle and bustle of my little girls.

I am thankful family always being there in the small and big moments; my students who are embracing their inner writer and surprising me daily with their mini-lessons for me when I confer with them; the person who nominated me for teacher of the year--ah inspiring to be thought of my such a great staff; my girls are healthy.

From the dr.pepper and my new favorite snack--kettle corn

I am wearing...pajama pants and big t-shirt.

I am outline for my entry one of my national boards.

I am enjoy my favorite shows...I deserve a little quiet time.

I am reading...Eclipse: book 3 of the twilight series and starting to read The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins.

I am hoping...everyone stays healthy in my family.

I am hearing...the sound of airplanes flying overhead as they prepare to land at the local airport.

Around the house...the sound of silence. Girls are with their daddy today and I am enjoying it, but also glad that they will be home soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slice of Life

"Can we quickly run to Target before we go home?" I ask my mom while Emma crams a few more fries in her mouth.

"Sure," she smiles.

We quickly drive a few miles away. I am pondering why the leaves still haven't changed even though October is a few days away. Knowing that when the first freeze arrives my allergies will be gone. How I wish I had time to just sit, rest and enjoy nature...but not my life right now!

We walk into Target and I make my few purchases--one of them a new car seat for Gracie who is now almost 3 and has outgrown her other one. I get the bright idea to switch them out. I mean really it can't take that long right?

WRONG!! Emma and Gracie are in the front seats of my car while mom tries to read the directions to me and Emma is screaming at me to turn on Imagination Movers and Gracie is just upset because I am changing out her car seat.

30 minutes later I am sweating and exhausted, but achieved my goal. New car seat intact--check....unhappy child--check!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Literacy Workshop is up and running....

My students have completed their first piece for me which I use as a baseline to create the rest of the nine weeks lessons. This year my focus is on making my conferring sessions count. Last year I felt so rushed trying to get to all the writers who wanted to meet with me, so I thought it through and came up with a schedule for my writers. I meet with six-seven writers a day Monday-Thursday. Then another six-seven students have an opportunity to visit with a "Guest Conferrer." Many times it is a parent who has volunteered to come in. I wrote a letter to the helper with their own conferring sheet and they meet with a writer also. So on a typical day 12 of my students (roughly 1/2 the class) talk about their writing with an adult. I love it!!! This week was my first week to start the "Guest Conferrer" and it has been a huge success. I highly recommend it. In fact, one day my principal was the guest conferrer and I called Student A up to confer with me and she said, "Well, actually Ms. S, I would prefer to meet with Ms. Sumner!" I giggled and explained while she was welcome to visit with Ms. Sumner, if there was time, I needed to meet with her because I had a special lesson in mind that was just for her.

If you would like to get this started feel free to adapt my letter and conferring records. The conferring record template was from Stacy and Two Writing Teachers and I tweaked it for my needs in the classroom.

Guest Conferrer Record for Meeting With Student

Classroom Helper

Parent Letter Asking for Volunteers
Parent Letter for Conferring

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chapter 3 Collaboration

Chapter 3 What We Know About Collaboration

Okay, so who has the book The Conversation Club by Diane Stanley on their list of books to locate or buy?

Right away page 37 first paragraph, “...If we are truly sponsoring active learning, there must be many people talking and doing at once – not just the teacher. There is no realistic option; we simply must train kids to team, give them plenty of structured practice, and then trust them to work as partners.”

Eight Ways That Small Groups Matter

1. Small Groups Are Lifelike … group, crew, office, team, line, shift, or staff it is the reality of the working world. I am so focused right now with Writer’s Workshop at school that I am drawn to think of an author. Even though the work itself is isolating it must be done alone however to become something publishable it must cross many people’s hands to reach its final publication. More importantly it must have an appeal to readers to acquire real value.

2. Small Groups Generate Energy For Challenging Work … Strength in number comes to mind here. Haven’t we all seen this in our own classrooms? Learning is a social activity this is where the ideas flow and change and take shape.

3. In Small Groups, We are Smarter … “…through talk we can actually make new and better meaning together.” What kid have we met that doesn’t like to talk? Once again the key is the well-structured groups, procedure oriented, expectations clear, etc. The engagement is there and you achieve what they state, “Minds-on every minute.”

4. In Small Groups, Diversity Is an Asset

5. Small Groups Make Engaged, Interactive Learning Possible… Best Practice right? Enough said. I wonder if every teacher placed this three column chart of “Best Practice” ideals in their lesson plan book each week how many of them they could highlight as areas they covered?

6. Small Groups Allow Us to Differentiate Instruction… This is why we have this kind of structure. I can see that this needs to be implemented from the moment children arrive on our doorstep. From PK-12 grades. This is where I see possibly part of the reason we get students arriving in 6th grade reading at a 3rd grade reading level with all kinds of interventions but no growth. I wonder what kinds of differentiation is taking place in the classrooms they have resided in.
7. Employers Increasingly Require Small-Group Skills

8. Well-structured Small-Group Work Enhances Student Achievement-… Drum roll please! Research shows this to be the case that “well-structured small-group work raises kids’ academic achievement as well as nurturing effective work habits, attitudes, and skill. Research by Hammond’s shows increased student achievement in such diverse cooperative models as project-based learning, expeditionary learning, learning circles, complex instruction, reciprocal teaching, and more.

Here again the value of what we do. We need to put it on our web site tell our parents tell our students!

As the chapter unfolds I feel like I am in a laboratory with a scientist. Collecting the ingredients and creating a formula. I think the six dimensions needed for high productivity and morale is most interesting. I have never read this study and once again am thankful that someone has! The discussion about “off task” behavior is most enlightening. Once again we are seeing that all learning has its social component. I like the term “maintenance” and knowing where it peaks the beginning and end of the group’s work. So we should be expecting and embracing it. It is a sign that things are going well. I like the ideas they suggest on page 51. Give them two minutes to chat and warm up or throw out a warm up question to get them going.

Ahh the resistance movement we have all had those kiddos who, for whatever reason, don’t fit in or try to grind the wheels in motion to a halt. I love their newsflash…They don’t all bloom on our shift! So don’t let the unwillingness or unreadiness of a few kids dictate what will be happening in our classrooms. Malissa you and I saw this even in the last weeks of our social studies culmination project. We still had kids that weren’t doing their part, even trying to sabotage the work at hand. I do think the kids (in their groups) handled their unwillingness much better at that point and time and I guess we did too. I know we saw the value of small group work in our book clubs, writing partnerships, and socials studies work.
I look forward to your thoguths and onward to Chapter 4.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Slice of Life Tuesday~News~

Honk, went my cell as I walked into my room. I'm sure that's my mom I thought. It was she said she needed to talk.

I knew my cousin was failing quickly so I picked up my classroom phone and dialed home.

"Lynnelle, do you want the news?" She asked.

"Of course, Mom," I replied. I knew I had said my good byes. I was prepared for the worst with my sweet cousin. My mind and heart were begin to believe it was real.

"He has tumors with lymph node involvement," she replied.

"What?I don't understand. Are you talking about the CT for Dad?" I ask. My mind reeling from the news. My ears beginning to burn and sound rushing into them.

"Yes," she said, "Lynnelle, the doctor's calling I'll call you back."

I clicked end. I sat at my desk. My mind racing with the same one word. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. My dad has lung cancer. This isn't good. Lung cancer is deadly.

I find myself walking down the hallway teachers passing me getting ready to meet the new parents and students in a few hours. I walk into my friend's room.

"Caroline, my dad has lung cancer," I sob. I begin to shake as the words leave my mouth. She holds me up.

My tears rush down my face soaking her shoulder. Her words of strength and truth whisper to me.

But all the while listening to her hushed tones of comfort my heart beats to the rhythmic tune in my head--cancer, cancer, cancer.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. I found out the details. Googled his chances. Slowly began to push down my fears, my pain, and my tears to welcome 55 new students and their parents to the 5th grade.

As 5:30 began to approach I could feel teacher mode begin, as my wonderful students arrived and I shook their hands and welcomed them. There presence helped me. The new lives who entered mine. I was able to help them at least for an hour. I hoped I helped relieve some of their fears and let them know I was ready for a great year because for a few moments I was able to relive my old normal. I knew when they left my new normal would begin.

*Please note that 3 days later we found out my father does not have cancer. He has another illness, but it can be treated. Thank you for your support.*

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saying Good Byes

A simple call
leads to numbness.

Life changes in a moment,
never to be the same.

Memories of our childhood,
flash in my mind
as I drive to the hospital
to say my good byes.

The smells,
the sounds.

Those reminders
of my other memories here.

I see my aunt
your mother.
How do you say good bye
to your child?

My heart fills with sorrow,
it aches.

My sobs echo down the hall,
they do not heal you.

You are not aware.
You are not there.
I love you.
I will miss you.

How do you say good bye?

My silent prayers,
Trying to erase the sorrow here,
You are broken,
You are hurt.

Why must we say good bye?

Our childhoods together,
Our smiles in the pictures,
You hid your pain,
You carried it alone.

I'm sorry.

Watch over us,
Watch over my babies,
May you feel love,
May you no longer ache with sorrow,
Watch over your mother,
She is burdened with the loss,
Watch over you father,
Who fought to keep you here,
May happiness find you now.

Good bye, my cousin.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I love the title, What We Know About Comprehension, because there is so much to know. I am glad they crammed it into one chapter.

From my earlier days working with K-2 kiddos I learned background knowledge is so vital. You could always tell the students who had never explored beyond their backyard, had conversations with adults, let alone been read to. Having just finished summer school in June and working with Reading Academy students (K-3rd grades) I had a dose of what it is like to work with students who are our ELA learners. Imagine arriving from a refugee camp and not knowing the language let alone the social customs. Talk about a need for background knowledge! I love the sense of urgency given to us when they write, "...we need to start teaching those specific strategies right now, to every kid we see, from pre-kindergarten through high school and in every subject across the curriculum."

So what about the research strikes you as important or of interest?

I am very struck by the idea of “transactional strategy instruction” (pg 26). I think the way we currently introduce strategies in our first 20 days is important. It’s like getting them out on the table and then we can talk about them specifically as we use them in read alouds, non-fiction work, and in novel studies. I also am intrigued by the idea of Block’s work referenced page 26 “processed-based” comprehension instruction, teaching kids to articulate the processes they used to make meaning.” I reflect here on our grand conversation circles when introducing our first novel, and subsequent ones, to students and how it is a time for exploring and modeling thinking, our own and students. This is where I feel I can get behind each students contributions and probe further. The other part is getting them to go beyond articulating their thinking but writing reflectively about it. Think about this as you begin this process in August. The student that responds to a point of inquiry and you ask them to tell you more or explain their thinking. Often their response can be dismissive, "Never mind." Or they seem non-verbally to demonstrate a feeling of, “Gosh did I get that wrong or what? OR I really blew that answer!” It can often be a deer in the headlight moment for the student. This is such a crucial moment for the teachers, this is where we must support and encourage student's who take the risk, to articulate the processes they are using to make meaning. With 25 others looking on to we have a captive audience and possibly a make it or break it moment with the students. We need to send a clear message that we value everyone’s contribution.

Teach for Understanding
I enjoyed this section.
Arthur Costa, “Learning to think begins with recognizing how we are thinking-by listening to ourselves and our own reactions and realizing how our thoughts encapsulate us.” Isn’t this one of our goals with our modeling comprehension strategies all along the way? We are showing the kids our thinking to perpetuate them to do the same thing. The use of sticky notes I think helps with this because it holds their thinking and helps them verbalize it when it is time to turn and talk.
The Comprehension Continuum is something I am going to copy to use when planning with teachers I love the teacher language. As a teacher I want this with my plans to reference as I reflect on my practices.

OK Girls help me out here what is our comprehension goal or mission statement?
Our goal seems to be to instruct students in ways that keep them thinking about their learning and applying that knowledge with themes from literature, and big ideas in social studies all the while merging their thinking with new information.

Finally I love the reference to Allington’s work:
1. Build in reading time. Students have to read. It is non-negotiable. My classroom mantra was: The more you read the more you know. The more you know the more you grow. I always shared with kids what research shows on reading and tell them that is why we have silent reading time in our class everyday.
2. Response principle. Students must respond to their reading everyday by talking, writing, and drawing about their thinking. Boy did this make you feel proud? We do this no question about it!
3. Explicit instruction principle. Amen

Chapter 3 collaboration love it!
Gotta run I am reading a novel Catherine Coulter's latest and it is soooooo good. It's calling my name.
Got my nose in a book,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slice of Life

Today I realized my daughter is growing up. Living with Down syndrome has been a part of our lives for over 5 years now. Life moves at a different pace. I have come to love the pace at which we move with Emma. Today we moved forward. The pace quickening a bit. Emma has officially begun a potty training marathon. Today I learned Emma thinks of herself as a "big girl." I try to not baby her, but to hear her BELIEVE she is big makes my heart swell with love, admiration, and the realization that no limits should be place on children. Tonight as Emma prepared for bed, I no longer put a toddler to bed, but a big girl.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chapter 2 What We Know About Comprehension

During the 2008-9 school year I really experienced students who had not developed prior knowledge in what I thought were basic geography and social studies skills. I was shocked to discover the truth of the statement at the top of pg 22 “the prime determinant of understanding is prior knowledge.” I can remember sitting in Michelle’s (our site principal’s office) discussing my Oprah Ah-ha moment. I can’t expect my 5th graders to understand US History if they first don’t understand Oklahoma is a state in the US or their impact within our classroom community. I also noticed that students had a lack of experiences outside of our little suburb. For example, many of them hadn’t been to the lake. Most of them were so focused on their families and the upsets in their immediate lives they couldn’t concentrate on the importance of “manifest destiny” even if it was introduced with an experiential exercise.

As I am preparing my notes for my PLC on Thursday with SPED teacher, I began to ask myself if teachers really understand what comprehension is and what fluency is. Do teachers understand that fluency and comprehension aren’t the same thing? In Summer School, I had an opportunity to work with all types of learners, but specifically we worked with ELL students. The paperwork received on two little boys stated they were very good readers and they needed the program to maintain their current levels. After a few days working with them our team realized they were very fluent readers, but they had little comprehension. I believe the continuum on pg. 30 would really be beneficial to teachers (regardless of how long she/he has taught). It could easily be used as a visual for teachers of where your students are and where they need to go. Imagine how easy it would be to monitor their progress on that chart.
In response to the “going deeper” or “digging deeper” I found really patience on my part was a huge key. I needed to give them THINK TIME. Not of all us have light bulb moments. Some of us are percolators (like me) and just need time to put it all together. Teachers should respect that. Not rushing the process and letting my excitement for the activity or discussion interfere so that the meaning would come from the group.

I love how all the pedagogical reading I have completed in the last year seem to encompass one another. As I read this new book I am reminded of so many others I completed in the last year. Reading this chapter reminds me of the excitement of strategy work in reading, coupled by the changes in my writer’s workshop in the last 2 years, now I am wondering what changes will occur in my SS instruction because of this book.

Anxiously awaiting your thoughts and ready to read Chapter 3.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memoir Monday-Back to School

Beginning of the school year. New clothes. Paper. Mechanical pencils versus Ticonderoga #2s. The excitement of a new era. The annual getting our clothes for school shopping day. All the colors of the 80s-purple was my favorite. I have to admit in my own future 5th grader eyes--I was stylin'. Long blonde hair. Tall. Purple slacks. Striped shirt with lilacs and lavenders. I had to wear it. Even though school was two days away. I had to show my friends next door. So I snuck out of the house and road my bike over to their house. Except there must have been a rock. Something that made me wreck my bike. Skinned up knees. And ruined my new clothes. Devastation. Utter embarrassment. Mom wouldn't buy me new slacks. Instead she covered the holes with patches. Now granted they were "cool" patches, but patches nonetheless. What will the 5th graders think now? Well, I guess it could be a conversation starter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chapter 1 Kids Want to Know

If I can say one thing this chapter was affirming. I love the way diversity of thinking and learning is going on in the scenarios they present. I think that is something I see in my classroom all the time and really love about being a teacher. I appreciate the discussion about asking students to look back and reflect on their learning (pg. 3). As teachers I think sometimes that is easy to neglect as we keep our busy pace with kids. So how can we ensure we take time to have students be reflective? How would that look? Charts to compare and contrast, open discussions, turn and talk, reflective writing or illustrating? I certainly think that is something we need to incorporate in our community building in the first 20 days. I like the idea of the words, "What lingering questions do you have?" It is so inviting and at the same time makes you feel as if that is the expectation and it is ok to have lingering questions.
I began to think that book clubs (as we conduct them) are inquiry circles, writing partnerships can at times be an inquiry grouping, social studies groups are all about inquiry, etc.

So my question is this: In book clubs could we not ask students to explore, reflect, and write about theme, etc in a deeper way? Can we push our thinking on this?

The last paragraph on page 6 to top of page 7 really got me excited because I could feel many of these things in my classroom and observe them. Malissa you and I got to see this when both our classes came together to finish out the year in social studies and I feel we hit the nail on the head. We were facilitators of kid's learning.

What about that quote about fifth graders were spending 91% of their school day either listening to a teacher talk or working alone! I'd die on the vine if I had to conduct my classroom like that.

How about the top of page 14 as our motto: "We teach thinking all year, every year: we teach students how to listen, view, read, gather, and engage with information; we make sure students acquire cognitive strategies, weigh ideas, develop judgment, and build knowledge; and just as important, we help them to remember, care, choose and take action"

I can't wait to read what you all have to say.
Susan C

New Site~Bohemian Teachers

Some colleagues and I have started a website (Bohemian Teachers) to promote discussion about best practices in education. Our first book study will be Comprehension and Collaboration by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Stephanie Harvey. We want it to be a place for discussion of the newest ideas or book releases and to help us continue to push ourselves in educating our students. I hope you will join us. (Just so you know...I'm still waiting on my copy of the book to arrive from amazon, so don't let that be why don't join us!)

Slice of Life~Drama Leads to Mommy Trauma

"You are going to have to wrap your legs around her," the doctor said matter-of-factly. He was so calm and acted as if this occurs in his office every day.

"Okay." Quickly I began to think how I was going to do this with a 5 year old in my lap and sitting in a small chair at the ophthalmologists.

I lifted my left leg wrapped it around her lower body, pushed her arms down with mine and tucked my foot behind my right leg.

I took a deep breath and prayed, "Dear Lord, let him have a speedy dripper!"

Emma's wailing. My heart is pounding so hard. My cheeks feel as if they are flaming.

"Done! I've never seen a kid who had such strong eye lids," he said with a smile.

I giggled and Emma said, "Bye!"

Should I tell her now that we will be back in 20 minutes after her eyes are dilated?

Bookish Talk

Hey everyone! Love the site name Bohemian Teachers! Great job Lynnelle!
Lynnelle and I have joked about this for sometime and felt like we are always a little outside the box in our teaching practice perhaps unconventional. In fact we like the view from there and this little tag "Bohemian Teacher" Lynnelle coined for us sometime ago and it has stuck. So if you are feeling a little unconventional and ready to try some new ideas based on best practice and current research you have arrived at the right spot. Welcome to this blog site.

We want to build a community of teachers who want to think about and ponder ideas in the field of teaching.

To launch we thought we’d start with the newest release from Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, Comprehension & Collaboration.

Susan C

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Possible Small Moments

Last week when I was reading through some of my favorite blogs I ran across Ali Edwards' post about the 12 scrapbook layouts that define you. I immediately began to think the 12 stories that would show the reader a piece of me. What would they be? What would they cover for me? For my students? For my colleagues who are on this journey with me?

1. Christmas Treasure Hunt: Christmas is my favorite holiday and this one is etched in my memory. My parents surprised my brother and I with bikes for Christmas.

2. Loves Lost: Family members who have passed, friends who have gone on..

3. Impact: How I got to be the person I am today.

4. Creating: how this is a vital part of me as a person and how important I do this whether it is in my house, scrapbooking, or photography, or in my classroom.

5. My favorite things: What I love right now

6. My beautiful girls: trying hard to capture the "stuff" not just the perfect picture

7. My passions: teaching, special education, advocacy, being your authentic self

8. Motherhood: mother to a child with special needs and mother to a child who is strong willed. Realizing that each day is new and I should learn what the day is supposed to teach me.

Still contemplating the others....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Slice of Life

We are so tired of the Oklahoma heat. This evening after dinner we went outside to "cool" off. We got out the Elmo splash pad, put on the swimsuits and I grabbed the camera. The girls loved it! Giggles, sand whizzing through the air, jumping through the water. Sounds of summer! Gracie is really loving the time outdoors and begins to experiment with catching the water in her mouth. Her face contorts as she figures out a way to make the water fall directly into her mouth. I giggle as I capture the moment through the lense and then she looks up. Sheepishly smiles, twirls so her ruffled tink swimsuit flies, and continues to figure out a way to catch the water droplets.

Visit Two Writing Teachers for more Slices of Life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A few slices of summer

Today as I was wishing Emma would stay in her bed I began to think of all the funny things that have happened this summer that I haven't blogged. So here are a few...

*We purchased a sand box for Emma and Gracie and they absolutely love it. Last week my parents were here for dinner and since it was only 95 degrees outside instead of 110 we went to play. Emma took her Papa by the hand and opened the door. "Hey, Papa, It's my beach!!" She yelled. Sure enough if you looked closely through a 5 year olds imagination you could see the steaming, soft sand and the hear the ocean waves (or in this case elmo splash pad). I love having children. It reminds me to see things through different lenses.

*Yesterday we went to the zoo. I packed the strollers, backpack and sippy cups and off we went. On the way there Emma began to sing. "Ha Bee, Ha Bee, Nana." I giggled. "Are you still singing Happy Birthday to your Nana, Emma?" I asked. "Yep!" she replied. "Ha Bee, Ha Bee, Nana. Zoo!! Zoo!!" Priceless moments like these will be cherished for a life time.

*Each day we could tell many Grace LeEva stories, but this one was just as cute as can be. We went by the tiger exhibit and I told Gracie what they were. "Mommy, BIG CATS!! meow!" I laughed out loud and the man next me drawled, "Yea, honey, but there a little big to keep indoors!" "Tank-too" She replied.

*Gracie recently switched from her crib to a toddler bed. I thought we would have the same battles as with Emma but I was wrong. She won't crawl in, but she lays down after you put her in it, pulls her blankie up on her head says, "Tank-Too, Night-night" and goes to sleep. Bliss!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ponderings-July 4th

Tonight as I picked daisies for my mom's birthday party tomorrow I listed to the pop,pop, popping of the fireworks and began to wonder how many woman during the Revolutionary War heard the rumble of what they wished was actually thunder but was the sound of fighting coming closer to them-to their family. I wonder what I would have done during that era? Would I have run or stood my ground to the red coats? I have little ones to care for...what would I do? This was very humbling. Many have fought for me through the hundreds of years of the USA's existence. I thank them and I am thankful that my little ones are snuggled in their beds-safe and sound.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Slice of Life~Reinvention~

This summer I was a specialist for summer school and used the money to buy new living room furniture. To my surprise once I put the new furniture in my house I decided to paint. It spiraled into a crash 12 hour painting fest. My wonderful mother helped me the entire 12 hours and my brother painted for an hour (he braved the 12 foot ceiling; I tried, but that's another story.) One year after my world turned upside I feel at peace; my solace-my reinvention.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Slice of Life~June 23, 2009

Idea from Ali Edwards
For Today: June 23, 2009
Outside my shasta daisies are blooming. Sunlight hits the green leaves and white blooms.

I am thinking...about where to start on the National Board for teachers process…I hear entry four calling my name.

I am thankful friends. At 31, I have found friends who love me for me…quirks and all.

From the kitchen...nachos.

I am capris and my favorite summer top-brown with polka dots and ruffles.

I am creating... a new layout for my living room; my furniture arrives Wed.

I am have a jello pudding pop.

I am reading...about vocabulary instruction.

I am cools off…100 degrees in June isn’t a good sign for July and August.

I am cat purr on my bed as I write.

Around the haphazardly placed by my favorite girls.

One of my favorite my daughters love to be outside and enjoy nature.

A few plans for the rest of the week...summer school, new furniture, and scrapbooking a few pages this week.

A picture to share...this was taken yesterday while my kids played in the “beach” in the backyard.

Memoir Monday~Night Wanderer

Inspired by my 5 year old

When my brother and I were younger we were convinced our parents were having wild parties without us after we went to bed. We would quietly do as we were told and go to bed at 8:30 PM. Then meet in the hallway and sneak down to the den where my parents were enjoying what I now know to be the only quiet time of their day. We would giggle and then just before they would yell at us to go back to bed we would run. Oh, the thrill of doing something "naughty."

Now the roles are reversed. I am the parent "having the party" while my 5 year old gets out of bed millions of times. Last night as I was once again tucking her in bed I whispered, "I promise Mommy isn't having any fun without you!!"

Just quiet time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Slice of Life Saturday

I posted it on my blog for my kids. I have to say..can't wait to scrapbook this pic and story. Click on the link below.

Click here to go to The Snow Girls Blog.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Memoir Monday~Why Must You Use Your Ugly Voice?

More of a slice of life, but touched my day none-the-less. I have been co-teaching with a fellow colleague in our reading academy this summer. I am the specialist in the room instead of the core teacher. As a class we have been looking at words and recognizing text clues and reading with expression. Today I read the book "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More" by Karen Caltrow. We continued our discussion of the clues authors give us as readers as to how the text should sound when we read aloud. When I got to the second page and said, "YA AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE" with much gusto and a child leaned over his desk and said to the teacher, "Why does Ms. Snow have to use her ugly teacher voice!!" Ahhh. Lesson learned. I haven't had the students all year and should have prefaced "sometimes I will be raising my voice when the author asks me to from the clues in the text." Needless to say I giggled the rest of the day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Memoir Monday~Missing

"Barbara, I have been sneezing all morning. I am going to get my medicine," I explain to our building secretary as I sign out. "Bye!" I yell as I walk out the doors.

I go to the drugstore and my phone begins to ring. I hit the ignore button and pay for my prescription. As I continue to my car I call my mom back.

Instead of her usually perky hello she says, "Lynnelle, I can't find Emma. I have looked every where for her. There are several others canvassing the neighborhood..."

"I'm on my way!" I try to dial 9-1-1 while driving, but my hands shake so hard I can't hit the key pad correctly. My mind goes to the worst possible place. Kidnapped. Taken. Gone....

I park in my driveway, grab the house phone and the world seems to be spinning. It felt like I was in a movie. I was watching someone else's life. This couldn't be happening.


"My daughter is missing. She has Down syndrome. We can't find her."

I remember telling the operator what she was wearing. How tall she was. All the while looking around. I look down to see Gracie gripping my finger. A police car drives up. In the distance I hear "We found her." I drop to the ground. Another mother found her a block away--Emma was picking wild flowers. My heart stopped. She's safe. The sobs echo for all to hear. Emma gets out of the car. She walks up to the officer. "Hi, me Memma," she says as she reaches to shake his head. He checks her over and says, "Yes, we know who you are and we are glad you are safe." I say nothing, but hopefully the look on my face echos my thankfulness.

I didn't even ask the woman's name. I just hugged my daughter. I hope she knows what I owe her.

Over 2,000 children goes missing a day. Now, I wonder how many are found and how many must continuously feel the anguish I felt for 15 minutes. Heart wrenching.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I have spent the last few days being the "learner" instead of the teacher. I have learned a few things. I am lucky to work for a district that pushes my thinking forward and has consistently asked where can you refine your skill? I have learned not all teachers have a sense of humor. I have learned you can become fast friends when you move into a small hotel room for two days. I have learned I am not the only adult who likes to be in bed by midnight. I have learned that friendships can happen in a matter of minutes. I have learned that ignorance still bothers me. I have learned that I can still learn in a classroom setting. I have learned that I am ready. Ready to grow as a teacher.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memoir Monday

Today my eldest daughter turns five. This means all day kindergarten, learning a new classroom, meeting a new teacher, and making new friends. I am astounded at how my life has changed since my little four pounder was born. This is her story.

Sobbing on the phone with the OB nurse assuring her I had been doing my kick counts until I took a nap. She hadn't moved in an hour. My husband was packing up his classroom and I was alone. Alone with my horrible thoughts. All of the what ifs that were pounding through my brain. "I think it would be best if you met the doctor at the hospital," she finally said.

I hung up and called my mother. I tired to explain to my mother what was happening, but to this day I am not sure she understood anything other than Emma hadn't moved even after I drank a Dr. Pepper. Within minutes she was at my door and we were on our way to the hospital. What seemed liked hours was only minutes, but needless to say I hadn't calmed down. Something was horribly wrong. When I arrived in OB they were waiting on me. Nurses scurrying me in to try and calm me down. "Honey, what can I do to help you calm down?"

"Her heartbeat," I replied, " I need to hear it." Swiftly and efficiently the nurse grabbed the monitor pulled up my shirt and we heard the swooshing of a baby's heartbeat. My sobs stopped and I climbed into the bed. I began to answer their questions and the doctor walked in. He wanted me to stay for an non stress test for the next few hours. This had begun to be my routine. I had non stress tests twice weekly for six weeks now.

Finally, my heart rate returned to normal. I tried to get comfortable. My mom turned on the TV and suddenly a rush of activity filled the room. They were putting me on oxygen and moving me on my side. Then I heard it, "Her heart rate dropped. We need an ultrasound." The machine was wheeled in and the tech began his measurements in silence. My how the silence was deafening. My brain kept wanting answers, but the only answer was silence. After 15 minutes, he left and a nurse came in and brightly said, "Hello, Ms. S! Let's get your IV started I hear we are having a baby today!!" My jaw dropped and I said, "Nope! Not me. My baby isn't due for six more weeks." Her face turned red and she left in a rush. My nurse who had held my hand through the last few hours came in and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Lynnelle, your baby needs be delivered. Your amniotic fluid is low and she is under stress."

I couldn't believe it. It was too early. She was too little. What is happening? I can't handle this. My mind reeling in different directions. She wheeled me to a new room and they started the pitocin to start the contractions. I didn't feel a thing, but after the third contraction Emma's heart rate dropped to 49. I was having this baby now. She wouldn't make it unless I had a c-section.

I was so scared. I was about to become a first time mommy and everything was not going according to plan. Little did I know that pretty much sums up motherhood. Emma came early. Emma softly cried while they wheeled her away from me to the NICU. Our lives were changing. I had 34 weeks to prepare for her birth and I wasn't ready. Now, I've had 5 years with her and I realize that I was ready. She is my joy. She is my strength. She is my love. She is my fighter. She is my daughter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slice of Life~Can You Smell the Creativity?

"Hey, I am on my way home you want to check out the new Michael's?" I ask my mom as I walk to my car.

"Sure," she replies.

So I zoom, zoom to pick up my mom and off we go to the new Scrapbook Mecca.

When I walk in I gasp in awe and begin to giggle with glee as I see the aisles of perfectly themed crafts in Michael's. Aisle and aisle of creativity just itching to be put onto pages or crafts created for the perfect gift. Or to be honest for yourself. My heart stops as I look at the specialty papers. Oh, how I wish I didn't live on a budget.

As I began to walk up and down the aisles and into the themed corners I ran into my biggest temptation--bling. Oh the gorgeous bling; reds, pinks, emeralds green and of course the pink letters with yes...diamond bling. Oh, I could hear it saying to me the perfect picture is waiting to be taken for this embellishment. I cautiously walked up to the rack that held the blinged art. As I pulled it off the rack Just Say No echoed in my ears, but alas I couldn't resist. I must. I must have the bling. Secretly my inner bling demon says, "Score!" as the bling lands in my cart.

Ahhh, a great end to the day. The Bling Force is now subdued until....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Memoir Monday

"When are we going to start our books?" C asked.

"As soon as everyone gets settled, " I state matter a factly. Goodness I wonder what the excitement is about. There isn't an assembly today. Why are they twittering about I wonder to myself. I begin to walk around the room and I hear small snippets of their conversations as they get the items for the day.

"Is it true? Do you think we will really do what the agenda says?" A asks another student. I turn to glance at the agenda to see if maybe in all the busyness of the morning I wrote something wrong.

The agenda clearly states-Wed. -Begin Nonfiction books, finish novel study and review Westward Movement. My mind realized that they are talking about their new writing project: nonfiction books on a topic they are an expert on.

"Good morning, class!" I said, "Are we ready to begin the day?"

"Only if we can start with our books," S said under his breath.

"Well why don't we get started in our Writer's Notebook, I say grinning from ear to ear. Too my surprise my students quickly did as was asked and waited expectantly to begin. Which is exactly what we did.

School has been so different this year. My room has been very diverse with ability levels and behavior issues, but one thing has remained constant. My students love to write. It still surprises me when someone asks how soon will Social Studies be over so we can write. It makes my day. My one goal this year has been to create confident writers. I believe it is accomplished.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poem A Day

Flashes of my Day


phone calls,

knocks on the door,

7 minutes of uninterrupted time,



adults who roll their eyes

at students who are not

in a perfect line,

sighs from me,


sighs from my students,



students teaching others,

interruption-developmental films,


SHHHHHHH from the nurse,



with a student,



the realization that

despite the day,

I wouldn't trade it

for the world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slice of Life~Conferring With Writers~

Today as I conferred with my writer's I found myself asking more and more "What would you like for me to specifically look for?" because IT has happened. My students have become more and more independent in their writing and no longer need to me to tell them what to "fix." They instinctively know. Today as I enjoyed my little conferring corner, I listened to the words of my students. All the memoirs are different, but one thing was constant~their words had meaning. After school I reflected in the Writing Professional Community, I began to mourn the fact that now my room of confident, independent writers will continue their journey with another teacher. Isn't that selfish? In my heart I know in 28 days they will move onto someone who will take them even farther than I probably could. As quickly as this feeling approached another takes its place. My throat catches in a slight gasp and my heart quickens at the thought of who awaits. Those who have never been on the writing journey that we take await. The door that they are behind is one of anticipation~where will they take me on the writing journey? And of course the mourning is short lived and replaced with the thought of what is to come.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memoir Monday~My Motherhood~

Note to the reader: My class and I are working on our memoir unit. This is my first draft. We talked all about the different forms to memoir and our big goal is to show meaning through our mental pictures. The section that is a flashback about Emma's Diagnosis was from a small moment I wrote earlier in the year. I was really able to explain how difficult I thought this was to write with my students. When they saw my reaction while reading it I think they understood how much this means to me. We talked about the defining moments of our lives and how it has to be the right time to put them down on paper. Some moments are ready and some are not.


My Motherhood

By: Lynnelle

Motherhood seems so easy when you watch from the outside. Each day I “take care” of kids, but I never expected my journey of motherhood to change me so much. At first, the desire to be a mom was so strong my heart would ache to the point I thought my eyes would dry from all the tears that fell, each time I found out another couple’s baby was on the way.

I remember the day I found out I was going to be a mom. Excitement does not begin to express the way I felt. I called everyone to tell about our baby that was to be born on July 4th. Little did I know that her arrival would rock our universe.

Throughout my teaching career I believe that my life has been touched in some way by my students. I also feel that it is important that all children receive the best in education. Many people believe that I only advocate for children because my own child has a disability—but this was a strong piece of heart long before my girls arrived. As a teacher it is my responsibility to speak for a child when he or she is unable to make their voice heard.

My life did change after having Emma. The moment I heard her feeble cry and “it’s a girl” my heart danced with joy. Then my heart actually seemed to stop after we received her medical diagnosis.
Dr. Saddiqui and his messengers entered my room quietly. He came over to me. “I’m sorry, but we believe your daughter has Down syndrome,” he stated. “We are performing genetic testing and will have the results by Friday,” he continued. As the entourage left the room my mind swarmed with many confusing, racing thoughts. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening! Not my daughter! This only happens to other people! My silent room was filled with emotional chaos. Outside my room the buzzing of the nurses continued, while the doctor’s voice echoed in my ears. I kept replaying the scene: genetic testing, no eye contact from the doctor, and I knew he was right. Emma had Down syndrome. Tears flowed down my cheeks in furious streaks and my temper flared!

“There is nothing wrong with Emma! How can they even think that? I exploded. I could feel the protective instinct envelop my child even though I had only been a mother for 24 hours.
How can this be happening? How can I possibly wait 3 days to find out? What do I do? Well, I waited. I prayed. I visited my tiny baby. And I waited.

On Friday, the hospital social worker called and asked us to come up to the conference room. My heart was thumping in my chest as I walked into the elevator and then into the room. On the table sat a box of tissues. My heart sank. I gasped. My heart began to break into tiny pieces. My sobs could be heard own the hall.

“Shh…you don’t even know the results,” said the social worker.

I wanted to scream what!!! This is my child we’re talking about! Instead I quietly replied, “True, but I don’t believe the news is what we want to hear.” I pointed to the tissue box and sat down.
A rush of activity caught my attention. Dr. Saddiqui entered the room with an unfamiliar doctor. She was very animated and it was obvious she was talking about my daughter. She turned and smiled at us. Then it seemed the whole world came crashing down around me. While I tried to stop my sobs and tears, Dr. Moghadan tried to explain what it meant when she told us Emma had Mosaic Down syndrome. But, it seemed that someone had pressed the mute button. I could not speak; I could not hear her words. My mind was rushing with many different thoughts. Will she be “normal?” Will she fall in love? Will she walk or talk?

Dr. Moghadan’s words changed me. I was no longer a “new parent,” but a parent of a special needs child. Not only did her words change me, but they changed others. People went from saying, “Congratulations” to “I’m sorry,” as if someone had died. However, I learned a lot about my self that day. I would gladly sacrifice my life to prevent my child from being hurt.
For me motherhood isn’t about just being a mom. It is recognizing that we don’t know where our life journey will take us. If our path takes us on way that seems unexpected we must embrace it; learn from it.
After Emma’s diagnosis I received the poem Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley. It expressed in words I could not articulate about how my life changed.
Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
Now when I see tulips I am not just reminded of Spring and the rebirth of the flowers, trees and the smell of freshly cut grass, but the change to my life. My pace. My children’s pace. Don’t just endure hardships, but chose to grow.

As a mother and a teacher, my desire to impact others by helping them see the world and others in a different way burns deeply in my heart. I don’t know if my life story will change others, but hopefully the way I choose to treat others through my actions will plant a seed for other people to join me in my heart’s desire.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Memoir Monday~Grandmothers~

Everyday I am blessed to watch my mother as she takes care of my girls while I work. I am always in awe at her patience and I hope that they love their Nana as much as I loved my Granny.

One of the hardest things for me as a teenager was visiting my Grandmother in the nursing home while she suffered through the stages of Alzheimer's. The medical world is still looking for cures, but this was even before they had support groups and medications to help patients. They knew so little about this disease in the early nineties.

I dreaded walking into the home. The acrid smells. The moans of the patients. The little old lady who wheeled herself down the hallway as she cursed at those that passed. I couldn't understand how God could let this happen to people. How do you end up here? But, usually once we arrived into Granny's room she would be there. Her face would light up as we walked in to visit with her. I don't remember where my Mom was this day. I know she was there. Perhaps she was at the nursing station. My aunt and I walked in and she gave Grandma a kiss and asked how she was doing. I went to her bed to give her a hug and she jerked away. "Who are you?" She almost growled it to me.

"It's Lynnelle, your granddaugher," my aunt replied.

"No it's not. I want HER to get out!" My grandmother yelled.

I quickly left the room sobbing. It was so hard at 14 to understand what I know now as an adult. Even though she was not in her right mind and did not mean to hurt me it did hurt.

Now of course, I too have regrets. Regret that my stubbornness at 14 kept me from visiting as often as I should have. Regret that she didn't know her granddaughters on earth. Regret that she didn't watch me grow.

Grandmothers are special. I hope my girls treasure theirs.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today I introduced Memoir to my kids and it went great. We read two stories, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and What You Know First by Patricia Maclachlan. We talked about what is in our own notebooks. My students know what it is mine so together we looked through it and came up with 3 Life Themes. Then students looked into their notebooks and came up with their own themes. Tomorrow we are going to look at 3 different chapters of Knots on my Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli. Our focus is to look at why people write memoir before we begin writing our own.

My 3 Themes that appear most often in my notebook are

1)My family-my daughters and days from my childhood
2)Remembering who I am-thoughts I have about myself and how I am growing
3)When my eldest daughter received the diagnosis-Mosaic Down syndrome

Challenge #31~Today~

As I was getting my girls' dinner ready I saw a bird's nest and even though we had 8 inches of snow on Sat. and 60 degree weather on Sunday. I felt that Nature was speaking to me through this beautiful sight.

Today I am one step closer to being the teacher I always dreamed I would have.

Today I am reminded to pause and embrace the moment.

Today I believe my life journey is for a reason.

Today I hope I can make a difference in someone's life.

Today I can forgive myself for not being perfect.

Today ends.

Tomorrow begins.

A new to-day.

Inspired by Ruth's post on TWT.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Challenge #30~Down to the Wire~

Tonight as I was preparing my school bag and Emma's backpack I began to think about what I would write for my slice today. A sadness hit me. Full force.It could have knocked me down it was so strong. Soon this journey will end. My first reason for participating in this challenge was to help me get into the habit of writing each day consistently. In addition, I wanted a challenge for my students as they ended the genre study of essays and finished with the state writing test. I never expected to feel so close to a group of people so much that I am already missing our daily slices. I loved reading about our daily pieces of life whether funny, silly, melancholy, happy or sad. I felt a part of a writing group. I will admit at first I was nervous. I wasn't confident enough, but as I have looked at Ruth's posts this week I am reminded that I too need to just love myself for who I am. Just as the writers who participated in this challenge treated me with such respect, I should treat myself the same. Thank you to this wonderful group of writers. This has been a fantastic, inspirational journey.

Cheers to the Slicers of 2009!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Challenge #29

I don't win many things. In fact this week, I found out I didn't receive two of my grants that I applied for, but someone was smiling on me. I won a blog award~the Splash Award. Thank you to Thinking Aloud for this honor. The Splash award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive and inspiring blogs. Upon receipt of the award, one must

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.

My nominees for the Splash Award are

1)Elizabeth at Pen*Ink*Paper for inspiring me to continue to write even though life sometimes interrupts us.

2)LiteracySpark is splashed with inspiration for showing others ways to use a writer's lens.

3) Trish at My New Normal for living a life so open that others flock to her for help at a point in their life they need to hear her words, touch her spirit, and receive her love. Thank you!

Challenge #28~I sweet~

"Bath-y time!" I call to Emma and Grace as I ran the water and poured in the "fairy dust" aka bubble bath.

I quickly undressed and put the girls in. I love watching them play. They have a great time. Suddenly Gracie looks up at me and says, "I sweet, mahmah."

I giggle and say, "No, you're ornery!"

She laughed and said, "I ahn-ree!"

Nana laughed from the other room, "Did she say what I think she said?"

Gracie replied with, "Yeah, I ahn-ree!!"

My Gracie-sugar and sweet with a WHOLE LOT of SPICE!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Challenge #27~In Honor of My Class~

Journey of Writers
In honor of my class of 2008-9

The sea of faces,
Changes each year.
Each one unique.

I don’t know you yet,
But I will.
As we ride the journey together

You tentatively jump aboard.
This new day.
Days of writing, revising, and writing and revising.

Overcoming our fears,
Realizing we are all writers.
Growing one-by-one.

Fears abate,
Trust occurs,
Crafting our words.

This journey will take
a new shape at the end,
But do not fear,
For they will gently move you farther.

Celebrate with me
So we all can see
The journey of writers during a year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Challenge #26~Disappointment~

I teach my children that writing matters. We write because we want to write and our thoughts are important.Today I feel worthless as a writer. I want to cuss, give up and just never try again. I failed to receive my grant to hear Ellin Oliver Keene.I poured my heart into the application. I poured out my dreams. My dreams for what works best in my classroom. And it was rejected. I know it isn't personal, but oh how it still feels personal.

I am a writer. My thoughts are important. Disappointment won't last forever. I will even see it again (hopefully not soon), but it still hurts. I am a writer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Challenge #25~Conversation~

"What do you mean you are purposely taking other laptops?" I asked my fifth grade students.

I could feel my blood pressure rising as I realized they only wanted to see what would happen if they crossed the line.

"Well, I suppose we should all put up the laptops and instead of taking the tutorial to study for our test we will complete a worksheet," I stated.

Worksheets in my room are the signal of death. The hush of the classroom deafened my ears. Their heads began to hang as I passed out the 4 page study guide over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

After 20 minutes, I asked the students to put their pencils down and to come to the carpet for a meeting. Instead of reaming them out again we discussed a possible solution to the behavior that occurs during transition time. It took about 8 minutes from their recess, but we all felt better afterward.

Hoping tomorrow's transition between classes and subjects goes better, if not there is always ice cream to make the day better!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Challenge #24~Spring Life~

Today as the weathermen prepares us for severe weather I wrote this concrete poem for my class. Sorry it's in Scridb, but it was the only way I could get it to look correct on the blog.

Concrete Poem

Monday, March 23, 2009

Challenge #23~Back to School Blahs~

I arrived at school so excited to begin the last nine weeks. We are wrapping up our poetry unit preparing for our big celebration on Friday. Then someone asks when I am starting test prep and I realize the tests are only 3 weeks away. It seems now we are in a testing crunch time line. It was so depressing to see teachers handing out booklets of test prep today. I don't even know what to say. I guess I just have the back to school blahs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Challenge #22~Inspired by william carlos williams

morning arrives too soon

inspired by william carlos williams

written by: lys

so much depends

a diet dr.

awakening my

from the sandman's

the red wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

by: william carlos williams

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Challenge #21~Heart Pains~

I know that my marriage is over and I have grieved that moment, but we have tried hard to make sure that we dissolved a marriage and not a family. We did not want to make our children feel as if our issues were more important than them. At almost a year post separation I believe the picture below speaks volumes. I have no idea if my girls will understand our decision when they are older. Hopefully, they will see 2 parents who despite their faults, knew they were good parents. I have never said he wasn't a good Daddy. I know our girls feel loved. Today, I was able to capture it. Sigh. It makes my heartache not of pain, but of love. Love for my family.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Challenge #20~Bedtime Saga~

"Amen," I say as I tuck Emma and Elmo into bed. I quickly put the guard rail up, double check the tucked in Emma, and kiss her good night.

"Wov you," she says as I shut the door.

"Love you too, baby girl," I whisper.

Not even one minute has gone by, Emma has thrown back the covers, grabbed her Pooh alphabet book, and opened her door. "Mommy?" she asks.

"Emma we are not doing this again!" I exclaim, "you must go to bed."

Two and half hours later I call my mother, "Mom, you were the master at getting a particular girl to stay in bed. I have tried everything."

"What about ignoring her?" She asks.

Okay, I think to myself I am desperate. I close my door and sure enough I hear Emma's door open. I know she is just standing in the hallway dragging Elmo looking around wandering where I am. But, I was wrong. Instead she went to the kitchen let Jazzy (her black cat) in from the garage and locked the door. Then she went back to the hall. I hear her talking with Jazzy. Then she starts saying my name louder, louder, and louder. Finally, after about 7 minutes I open my door and she is standing in the hall petting Jazzy. But, she has stripped of her cute, pink PJs and her diaper. I had no idea she was a streaker.

What is a mother to do in this situation? Get angry or laugh. Well, I chose not to react and put her back to bed. Then I went straight to my computer. Motherhood...funny, fascinating, and unforgettable.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Challenge #19~Our Mortality~

Not that I know Liam Neeson or his family, but this tragic accident has given me pause. Pause to be thankful for each day that I have. Pause to be aware of those around me and realize it is those things that are important. Today nothing great happened or not necessarily significant, but I did spend time with the ones I love...hoping they realize what they mean to me.It was just simple.