Sunday, September 28, 2014

sunday letters

Join us every other Sunday and share your letters! Write to people or inanimate objects - anything you wish...just don't forget to link them up below!

Dear Mike Ditka,
Thanks for showing up today for the race! We had such a fun time and are already excited for next year's race!
A fair weather runner

Dear Self,
Next time you want to run a 5K - train a little? Luckily you had the bf to pace you, but that was rough. Also, the fastest 5K you've have in ages!
Couch Potato

Dear Holly and Siblings,
Glad you could all come and stay with me before the run! I had tons of fun, but as usual, there's never enough time. So, perhaps our paths will cross again in the near future, but until then, I have these pics to hold onto the memories

Dear NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia,
Thank you for not backing down to the Morning Joe guy this week on MSNBC! It's so great to have a leader of our union that gets it!
A Proud Union Rep

Dear Jan Richardson,
I'm so excited to tackle some of the lesson plans in your book, The Next Step in Guided Reading. I'm learning so much about helping my second grade readers improve their skills and I owe it all to you!
A Grateful Teacher

Dear Grad School Students,
I'm sorry (last time!) for not explaining what a thematic unit was! and that I didn't realize this until 9pm the day before the assignment was due! Just goes to show that when it's your first time teaching, things don't go as planned. Anyways, I'm glad the chocolate chip cookies helped a little last Thursday!
See you in two weeks!


Dear Illinois Reading Council (IRC) Conference,
I can't wait to get there next week! What's awesome this year is that it's going to be my first time presenting (Our session is called More than the Common Core: Empowering Students with Authentic Literacy) but also we will have a whole pack of Literacy Specialists there again this year. Super excited to see my favorite reading researchers and learn lots of new stuff!
See ya soon!
An excited Literacy Coach

Excited to read your letters!

Monday, September 15, 2014

there will always be light

Work is busy and there's not enough time in the day. 

I forgot to get that letter in on time and I was late to a meeting.

I walked to my car at the end of a day under a massive, black raincloud.

At the grocery store (because I didn't do my errands over the weekend) I get a call from my best friend. She's worried about her son.

And then, when I finally get to getting home, I rear end someone because I was being careless as I drove.

When life gets like this, I have to stop myself to remember:

Even on the worst days when everything goes wrong,

something will go right.


There's always a positive

just like the sun will

always rise

to bring light after the dark.

Today that sunshine came in the form of a Tweet:

So thank you Ali for being my sunshine today.

Who (or what) was your sunshine today?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

sunday letters

It's time for the Letters Linky! Have you linked up yet? It's super easy - just write some letters to your family, friends, colleagues, or any inanimate object. Then, link your Letters blog with mine! It's a great way to wrap up the weekend and also start thinking about the week to come!

Dear Negotiations Team,

Thank for all your hard work in negotiating a new contract for us. I know it's so many hours but I really appreciate it. Especially the clause about Academic Freedom that has been written in. I'm hearing from teachers who are working in schools where every moment of their day is scripted. That's not teaching!
A proud union rep

Dear Graduate Students,

Thank you for being open to learning and trying new things. I bring Best Practices to you and encourage you to try them out in your classrooms!

Dear Boyfriend,
It's our third year two-and-a-half year anniversary this weekend - the third weekend of college football! Thank you for reminding me last night! I love everything about us and look forward to what the future brings!
Love, Dud

Dear JennieB,

Well, I did have a nice letter about how I'm not a blog bully, but then I saw this on your blog:

So it makes me happy! I'm so glad we work right across the hall from one another! You #thebest !

Your neighbor

not a bully! :-)

Dear Blog,

I miss you. I never have time for you anymore (well, once a week, but I think about you far more than that!) Hopefully towards the end of October I'll be less busy and we can spend more quality time together. Looking forward to it!
a barely-there blogger

Dear Chicago Weather,
It's cold and I have my heat on! I was ready for cooler temps but I was thinking I'd sleep with the windows open for a few weeks first. I did not have this in mind!
Looking forward to a warm-up!
A Confused Chicagoan


Dear Bruce Rauner,
I know you want to pull a Scott Walker on the state of Illinois, but I'm not buying what you have to say! The dismantling of tenure and pouring more money into charter schools are not what is best for education. If I have any say in it, you will not be moving into the Illinois Executive Mansion!
Grrrr, <-- What other angry closings can I use?

Dear Teachers,

You have to get out and vote! Please be informed and vote for what's best for teachers and students! (Out of these two, it's Quinn!) Get to the poles in November! You're registered, right?
Do it!

A very concerned teach

Dear Christina,

You were the super nice high school girl at UIC College Prep who helped me on Thursday and I just wanted to tell you that talking to you has made me think even more about teaching at the high school level! Since leaving middle school, this has been on my mind, but having a super nice conversation with you today as you helped me get my classroom unlocked was inspiring. Thanks for being so helpful and for showing me I just might love to teach older kids, too!
A future high school teacher

Dear Buzzfeed,
I am a white girl and even though I do all of these things you mentioned, I don't consider myself 'basic,' so take it easy! I was laughing so hard reading this, and today I bought a pumpkin candle and am already planning my trip to the pumpkin patch! Don't judge me!
*sophisticated* white girl

That's all for me today! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and link your letters here!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

five for saturday

Yesterday I was so tired I skipped my plans for the night (a wine fest!) and all I wanted to do was sleep, so even though I wanted to, no blogging either. There is definitely no tired like teacher tired at the end of the first few weeks of school!

I had a great week! Just wanted to share some of the memorable moments with you! Thanks to Doodle Bugs for hosting this weekly linky party!

Well it wasn't really happening this week at school, but today is college game day! So excited to see my ASU friends at the alumni association today. ASU is playing New Mexico - Go Devils!

My principal, our new AP, and myself all originally met at the middle school in our district - both my (current) AP and I taught 7th and 8th grade, and my principal was (then) my AP at the middle school. The three of us are all new to elementary, so you can guess there's a learning curve when you move to a different age group of kids!

Yesterday, my principal and I had to go to a meeting which was held at the middle school. Meeting was great, and then as we were walking back to the elementary school, through the halls of the middle school, where the lockers are over our heads and the kids are bigger, she says to me, "Well here we are, in the land of peace and harmony!" It was so funny - how we both feel about middle and see it as the peaceful place, when many others would hear middle and go running the other way! We're both happy to learn so much about K-5 kiddos and the ways they learn, but I know personally, I just love those middle schoolers and all their crazy antics!

At my grad school class this week, I did a read aloud and a questioning strategy demonstration. I read Amos and Boris (Steig) to my class and used voices for the mouse and whale, just like it was read to me in grad school, by one of my professors, Susanna. I remembered loving hearing that story with those voices, and just like I did, my class did too.

At first they kinda giggled to themselves as I unleashed the Amos mouse voice, and then Boris whale voice, but then, they just loved it, just like I did. We did questioning, we talked about what we thought of the book, and I think some of them might like it enough to practice it with their students. It was just so awesome to bring a room full of adults to total engagement with a mouse and whale voice. I may have sounded crazy at first, but I think they're seeing the big picture with read aloud now!

Speaking of my grad school students, just wanted to share a few things they learned this week - which were shared with me on their exit slips.

1 - "ELA is the most complex/complicated subject I will teach.

Why yes, it is! When you teach balanced literacy, it's messy and so involved. But balanced literacy is so good for kids!

2 - "Everyone's school is so different."

This came about because of a conversation about independent reading - some people in various schools (seems like charters mainly) don't have time for independent reading. I'm glad these conversations are coming up, and my hope is that my students question what's going on in their schools. I'm sharing balanced literacy as a best practice, and it makes me *so sad* that independent reading isn't a given in all schools!

3 - (something I found interesting) "Amos and Boris"

See what I mean? Read aloud + voices is so so engaging!

I really love the two teachers I'm mentoring. Building relationships is one of my fave things about teaching, so I'm glad to have two new friends this year and get to live their firsts vicariously with them. We have fun, we talk lots, and it really is a reciprocal learning experience for both of us, as I learn how to best support them, and they can come to me anytime they need - just to talk through something, to find out about school procedures, or discussion pedagogy. Good mentoring programs are really what can keep teachers in education, and I feel thankful for an awesome mentoring program in D100!

That's all for me this week! Have a fab weekend and enjoy the first fall weekend of football!


Monday, September 1, 2014


So what should I be doing right now? Reading and planning for the graduate class I'm teaching. But what am I *actually* doing? Yep, blogging. I'm sorry! I just can't help it! Who's with me on that one?

Once again, it's the first of the month (hahhaaaa....singing a little Bone Thugs N Harmony in my head for a quick second!) But anyways, it's time for writing up our Currentlys with Farley! Big thanks for hosting this partay, Farley...I look forward to it every month!

So first, listening to Taylor Swift
Not sure when I'm ever going to grow out of her stuff, but I love her new song, Shake It Off. It's a great reminder to just let some of the things go that you can't, what other people think? Plus, I love the video (actually except for the picture right there on the front of the video) but love the cheerleaders, love all the dancing people...just love it!

moving on...
Loving all the new bloggers in my district! 
My mentees are writing, Rachel, the teacher who was my opposite Language Arts teacher at the middle school is writing, another science teacher at middle is writing, more of the reading specialists and literacy coaches are writing... it's just awesome! Check out this video that I made to present at our opening Institute Day - it highlights all 30 of our bloggers and shares why we do it! You just might find a few new blogs to follow!

Thinking about....
the Windy City Wine Festival
It's next Friday and Saturday and it's at the Buckingham Fountain. Pay $30 and get 12 tastings, plus there's food and probably music, too. Us Chicagoans have to enjoy every moment of beautiful weather before we're in the thick of another Polar Vortex, so next Friday night, you can find me there! Can't wait!

Wanting to...
enjoy the weekend and be stress-free
So I know saying yes to teaching this grad school class was the right thing - for my resume, for my love of all things literacy, for my love of teaching my own students again. But, I have never done it before, and am creating everything as I go this first time. So all weekend long, while I'm at the beach, I'm worrying about getting things done. While I'm at dinner on Saturday night, thinking about getting up early to get things done. While I'm at Luke Bryan concert last night....okay well, def not thinking about it then, but it's just like being a first year teacher again in some ways. So what do I decide to do now? Write a blog. And think about the work I *should* be doing. Oh well. If you frequent my blog at all, you know this is totally me:

On a positive note, though, I did finish all the AIMS Web work I had to do this weekend! That counts for something, right? :-)

Needing to....
get rid of this cold!
It's already going around at school. A fifth grade teacher had it last week and went home on Friday and I have had it all weekend. Stuffy head, sore throat, cough. Not cool. Not used to being around all those little kids and their germs! I need some EmergenC, stat!

Three Trips
Oh yes, this is fun. Just went on my first trip to Europe this summer so I now have lots of new places I want to see, including España, wine country in Italy (are you sensing a pattern?!) and Hawaii. Next summer, the plan is to take it easy - probably a week with my family in Florida, and then I'm hoping for two weeks in California: One week with my bff from Phoenix and then another week with the boyfriend (he's never been to the west coast!) I'm planning next big European trip for 2017! I. LOVE. to TRAVEL!

So that's all for me here this month! Thanks for stopping by! I host a linky every other Sunday - the Letters blog - if you're interested. I just posted it yesterday and it stays open for two weeks until the next. Check it out and deliver your letters if you want to join the fun!

Have a great September!
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