Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SOLC Friendship

What exactly is friendship?  I would define it as someone who has been with me through thick and thin since I was 18.  The person who I met the first day of New Student Institute and we just knew that her Minnesotan attitude and my Oklahoma drawl belonged together.

Fast forward 16 years.  She 3 children later. Me two children and a divorce later; trying to figure out where and what my world has become. She always picks up her phone. She always answers her texts. She is there.  Always.

She knows what to say. When she doesn't she is still there.  Listening.  Tonight when I called her and she listened and we talked. I realize I am so glad that we have this friendship that has lasted 16 plus years.

She is my sister. She is my friend.  She is my confidante.  She tells me to believe in myself. She believes in me.  I love her.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Memoir Monday: The Hudson

Many people think of NYC as mostly steel buildings, honking of the taxi cab horns, no greenery, and swarms of people.  But, when I think of NYC, I will always think of my last night there walking along the Hudson River. 

The wind rushed across the water and created an aquatic breeze.  The lights of the city danced on the water and seemed to twinkle knowingly at you as you gaze over the water.  Looking up and down the walkway were couples talking, laughing, and who knows what they were thinking.

As we continued to walk I was able to listen to all the rich history of the friend I had made the day before.  He described some of the events that had taken place along this stretch of walkway, like the landing of the plane that we all had seen on television a few years ago.  The George Washington Bridge was off in the distance lit up and it took my breathe away.  But more than that I loved listening to this person describe his love for the city of his childhood.

Ellis Island is located in NY. Years ago  my family years ago came there before trudging across the Appalachians, crossing the Mississippi, and staking their claim in Oklahoma.  Southerners always claim to be the friendliest in the land, but I will say this New Yorkers are honest, they will help out anyone, and they aren't fake.  (Which I love!) They tell it like is and expect you to do the same.  

NYC is a magical place.  It has Central Park, the Empire State Building, but more than that it's the people who live there who love their fair city.  Jokingly I had asked him if he was a tour guide in his spare time, but then he said, "It's civic pride."  Who wouldn't be proud of such a city with it's history.  NYC is so accepting of everyone. It doesn't matter who you are, you are welcome. 

The greatest parts of our lives are when we meet people who change them, even if it is briefly.  I firmly believe that people are brought into our lives for different purposes.  It is our responsibility to do with it what we will and hopefully grow from it.  That night led me to down a path I had been refusing  for different reasons. But, I don't want to live my life with regrets anymore. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Just Around the Corner

It's just around the corner, my favorite time of year where I get to meet my students and parents.  But first, I have a lot that I am still soaking in from TCRWP.  When I met with a friend last week she said if I could narrow down my focus to three things what would they be. This is what I told her--

1.  An interactive spelling and grammar notebook.
2.  A writing center with pre-stapled booklets differentiated for writers in my room.
3.  A peer conferencing station designed so that the students have a set place to discuss once the peer group has been established.

Word Study/Grammar

One of the areas I need to work on is word study (spelling) and grammar.  This needs to be explicitly taught at the younger grades.  We can't expect students to understand it through osmosis.

There are several programs you can use. I plan on using Making Words as my focus and words sorts.  Then holding kids accountable in their interactive word wall and notebooks for these words. (More as I get that figured out.)

In regards to grammar,  it too must be taught outside of writer's workshop.  Then students must be held accountable.  If they are expected in 1st grade to use beginning and ending punctuation, then the first day of 2nd grade they should be doing this. 

I plan on handling this, by saying, "You are a beautiful writer and I would hate for the meaning of your piece to be lost because you didn't use any punctuation." Then hand it back to the writer.

Differentiated Writing Center

I will have a chart of ideas of several things students can write including what we are currently studying.  But, I want students to see that writing looks many different ways.  Also, I will include booklets of  blank writing pages starting with a set of 3 pages, 4 pages and 5 pages.  Then a stack with loose pages.  This station will include a stapler (along with a lesson on how to use a stapler properly), pens, markers, and colored pencils.

Peer Conferencing Station

Last year after my writing partners were established and students began using them correctly I allowed students to meet without me facilitating.  As you know they become very comfortable and Ms. Hartman had a great idea on how to remedy this.  She suggested to set up a conferencing station with a timer.  Students could request a conference with their partner and set the timer for 5 minutes to discuss their agenda.  Perfect!! Problem solved.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer!!! Rest, relax and recoup because our little sun shines arrive soon!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

TIred of Broken

A few weeks ago Single Dad Laughing posted this poem, "I'm Broken," Says She.  As a single mom and on my fifth year as a divorcee it spoke to me.  In fact, so much so that it inspired me to really reflect at how I've chosen to live my life the last years since my divorce.

I've tried a few times to get out and "date" so to speak, but most of them have been disasters.  So it was just easier to throw myself into my work and motherhood.  It essentially protected me.  Until it didn't.  It left me lonely, alone, and abandoned.

For years, I was told I was the problem and even after two years of therapy I guess my heart still believed it.  Even with a bestie who tells me I'm fabulous which is obviously her job...I still saw myself as damaged goods...broken.

When I read Dan's poem I was shocked at how I identified with Dan's girlfriend.  The unworthiness of being loved.  Then  I read how Dan saw her. I had someone tell me once that I had strength and that I was beautiful. When I heard him say it. I actually believed it this time.  The question I have to ask myself is do I believe I have the strength or do I just want to continue to be broken?

The answer I have found is a definitive NO.  Broken is no way to live.  Broken leaves you scared.  Broken leaves you lonely. Broken leaves you shattered in pieces with no hope of being put back together.

I believe that sometimes life sucks.  We can choose each day if we want to live a broken life or a life with the pieces cemented back together.  The problem with that is that every once in while the pieces have to be put back.  Once you're broken you are never the same.  But, you  must decide to put the pieces back together. You can either recreate yourself  with a new job or a move or a new lover, but you aren't the same any more.

Now, as I begin this part of my journey. I'm thinking about the future and what risks I need to take. I know that one of those is in my dating life.  I have other risks to take too in my professional life, but those are to come later and we shall see what happens.

If you are broken, I encourage you  to choose to live a life that is cemented back together.  It's truly worth it. A beautiful mosaic of life will occur.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Last week I began my summer camps. I was looking forward to working with some future second graders and in the afternoon the young poets. I still have been reflecting on my time in NYC at Teacher's College.  Trying to put it all in perspective.  When I uttered something to a friend, "I just want someone in my corner." His smart reply was, "You're in your corner. You don't need anyone else."  His retort wasn't what I expected.  It shocked me. It literally made me stop in my tracks with my thinking.

Here I had arrived back from this wonderful trip from NYC that was supposed to be soul rejuvenating, but left me feeling as if a piece of my soul is missing.  I can't seem to get my groove back.  So, I was really hoping that going back to a semi-quasi routine would help.

Routines are just that a routine.  Seeing my young poets grow each day was wondrous.  By the end of the week, reading their work was pure joy. 

Then when my friend uttered those words it hit me.  I'm in my corner. I decide when I get out of my post NYC funkilicious issues.  I decide. I decided what happens next. I decide. Not anyone else.  It's not like I didn't know that, but to here the bluntness of it.  The underlining stop trying to please others and do something for yourself was also there.  I decide.  So I decided.

Tulsa is not NYC. It never will be.  But pining for a city thousands of miles away is only going to make the soul lonely.  I could choose to pine away and forget the rejuvenation or choose to use the muse it was and let my soul fly.

I'm in my corner.  Use the things I miss the languages, the culture, the colors and let it be My Muse, feed my soul.  I'm in my corner is now what echoes when I begin to feel as if I can't take it another minute.  I'm in my corner.  The reminder.

My Muse was fed and she was rewarded.
The Farm

A new born chick is born!
Peep, Peep
Stacks of hay
Horses, cows, ducks, 
Nay! Moo! Quack!
The smell of bacon
The taste of eggs (fried).
On the ground
Watch out the babies are here!

By: Third Grade Young Poet

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reasons to Write

Today as I was writing my letter to my "Welcome to 2nd Graders" summer class and pondering an email I needed to send. I don't particularly enjoy writing emails anymore.  In fact I rarely write them unless it's for a specific purpose such as for work or bills.

I can remember getting my first email address.  When all my "mail" so to speak was snail mail. And now all my mail is mostly spam in my email.

I can remember sending pages and pages of email and now I send lines and lines of text.

How I used to love to hear the sound of "You've Got Mail" and now it has been replaced with the sound of the tweet on the iPhone. 

Time changes things. 

It's the same way I suppose in my life as a writer.  I have times where I feel very inspired to write and have filled writer's notebooks quickly and with urgency.  Then it seems that my life takes a different spin and I can't find the words to put on paper.  They are stuck.

Time changes things.

As I begin to write again with a new fervor, I find myself finding dreams and thoughts hidden and I'm not afraid this time to expose and discuss them. I don't know what makes it safe this time around, but as I fill the pages of my writer's notebook I am looking forward to the new things that time allowed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Princess to Bumpkin

Empire State Building
My last night in  NYC I couldn't sleep knowing I was leaving. Leaving behind the dream.  NYC has a pulse the entire city pulses sometimes quickly and other times slowly, but it has a constant life pulse.  I had felt like a NYC princess all week. Okay yes most of the week New Yorkers new immediately I wasn't from the area, but the more I explored the city and I do mean explored.  Hopping on a train knowing where I wanted to end up, but no expectations of who I would meet or what I might do when I arrived.  Just living to the pulse of the city.  I began to blend in more.  In fact three times I had several ask me what part of New York I was from.  It made my heart fill up and giggle with glee. Part of my heart wishes it was still there and still is there wandering the streets heading toward my favorite places.  Not the touristy places, but the neighborhood spots.

View from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building
The pulsing of the city is what haunted me this morning as I awakened with my two gorgeous girls beside me.  For this NYC princess overnight turned back into the country bumpkin.  My city doesn't pulse it mostly sways.  I had never thought of it before.  Pulsing and swaying. This city sways every bending never breaking.

It made me think of my classroom and how I like my classroom to have the constant pulse like NYC.  Who new my teaching heart had already created NYC in the classroom.  That when you are lost you can stop and ask for help and everyone  is willing to help.  There are different places to catch your interest all throughout the room. A bright yellow wall that catches your eye (Thank you Jose!) Tons of books to keep your interest and inform.  Places to talk to your friends.  And of course a spot for us all to come together as a family and meet and greet and talk and giggle. Yes, this teacher giggles! 

Central Park
NYC has always been my dream and as I sat realizing that my dream was accomplished and wondering what lies ahead. My ever dreaming heart kept saying learning more, learning more, learning more.  But I know that dear old Oklahoma does not have the program I long for.  I would be settling. I yearn to learn from the experts in my field and more from those that are missed.  The ghost of the NYC princess haunts me and begs me to listen to her to go back.  She is pulsing in my mind and heart.