Tuesday, March 31, 2015

day 31: challenge accepted

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Today I got to go plan with the third grade team. We were taking a third grade assessment again so we could create a rubric. I had said something like, "I love doing this! It's so helpful!"

Fast forward a few minutes as I was composing an Instagram post, and I said, "I love emojis! I wish I could speak in all emojis!"

Sometime thereafter, Jennie said something along the lines of "Michelle loves everything." The meaning I implied from that (all in good fun, of course) is that what I say I love doesn't count, because, quote, I love everything.

Very well, Jennie. Challenge accepted. I will come up with a list of things I hate. All day long I have been thinking about all the things I hate. I know yesterday I said I'd be more positive today, but sorry....I have been composing this post in my head all day!

So here you have it, the things I Hate...yes, Hate with a capital H:

  1. Traffic. I hate it. Such a waste of time, especially when it takes an hour or more to drive my 12 mile commute.
  2. Passive Aggressiveness. Please just be direct with me. If you're mad at me but conflict avoidant (is that a word? I clearly don't know how to spell it!) that's not my thing. You need to address the problem in a direct way. I appreciate that.
  3. Grudge lists. This kinda goes with #2. You don't get to be mad at me and keep a list of things in your mind, and finally, 7 years later ocme out with it. "Don't you remember that time in 1997 when you ___?" I don't remember what I did last week.
  4. Meatloaf. Meat should not be in a loaf. Ever.
  5. When my landlord doesn't clean up the leaves in the fall. This has now been two years in a row that my street looks like Skid Row (as H called it last year). It is all gross with mud and leaves and dirt buried in the snow and now that it's all melted it's just gross out there. Come'on man, do your job!
  6. Scary movies. I will not watch it if it involves super scary things or drugs. I don't want to know about it, see it, or have nightmares about it. 
  7. One more thing - but I forgot what it was. There was one more that I had at lunchtime, but then Jill said, "You can't put that. It's like saying you hate murder. Everyone does." hahhahaa...what was it? Anyone remember?

So there, Jennie. I do hate some things, but definitely not emojis, as you can see from my post from earlier today!

Look at those emojis....
Confetti, thumbs up, checkered flag,
trophy and a heart!

Maybe Jennie's right. It's not in my nature to not love stuff!

One more thing I loved: the SOL Challenge this year! I'll be back on Tuesdays!

classroom slice of life 3.31.15

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Hello! Today's the day - our last day for this challenge, but how amazing our time has been, right?

I'm already thinking about what's next. And what is next, you ask? National Poetry Month - it's April! Check out this awesome poem, Poet Breathe Now:

Let's try and pen some poems this month! At our meeting tomorrow, we can talk about a day to link them up...maybe once a week?

Excited to read your final posts today!

Monday, March 30, 2015

day 30: smashed

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So annoyed yesterday.

H and I decided to go to brunch. It was raining and cold and so my windows were all fogged up. We got in the car and I was raving about Louder Than a Bomb... I had my new shirt from the event in the back seat that I was showing him. Being all enthused in my conversation, I didn't think to check my mirrors when backing up and I totally smashed my bumper and driver's side tail light into the pole of the El tracks (The train runs right through his parking lot, elevated by posts.)

and now my tail lights and back bumper are totally smashed. As I heard the crunch of my bumper and pole, the other sound I heard was the "cha-ching" of my bank account being deducted my insurance deductible. I can think of 1 million other things I'd rather blow $500 on. This is not one of them:

I'm so annoyed at this accident. I know I need to be thankful that I have money in savings to cover it, but I'm still just so super annoyed. So annoyed, that I've even realized I've used that word three times, but I'm too irritated to fix it. So there!

ha. Well that made me feel at least a little better.

I'll be back on the happy train tomorrow. Everyone gets excused once in awhile for negativity, right?

classroom slice of life 3.30.15

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Happy Monday! Well, it's just today and tomorrow, writers! Be sure to link up!

I'd love to know what you thought about the Slice of Life Blogging Challenge, can you share some information with me about the questions below? On tomorrow's post, please write about any or all of these questions:

  • What did you love about the SOL Blogging Challenge?
  • What was hard about it?
  • What did you learn about yourself as a writer?
  • Do you think you'll blog more now in the months ahead? Why or why not?
  • Would you participate in the SOL Blogging Challenge next year?
Thank you for your honest answers, and I can't wait to read your thoughts!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

classroom slice of life 3.29.15

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Good morning! Hope you are having a great weekend. Here is a little bit of writing inspiration for you as we are in the home stretch of the challenge!

"I wrote from a sense of need. I needed something to do. You can't just sleep all day long." -Snoopy

"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world." -E.B. White

"Writing is like baseball or piano playing. You have to practice if you want to be successful." -Betsy Byars

"I give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first it doesn't really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there's a 90% chance I'm just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. I also like to remind myself of something my dad said in (response) to writers' block: 'Coal miners don't get coal miners' block.'" -John Green

Let's finish strong, kiddos!

day 29: power to the people! Write on!

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A few days ago I was texting with friends, trying to figure out what we were going to do this weekend:

They laugh at me but have no idea about the event I attended yesterday. Said poetry slam was Louder Than a Bomb, presented by Young Chicago Authors. LTAB is a poetry festival, this year, celebrating it's 15th year. I came to find out about it last year when I came across this video on Twitter:

LTAB is a poetry competition, but the point is not the points, the point is the poetry! All of March, the teams and individuals attend bouts until they are narrowed down to four teams to compete at the finals. This year, finals were held at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place. LTAB is actually the largest youth poetry festival in the awesome is that?

I went with one of my favorite work friends, Alexa. Neither of us had been before. When we arrived, we found seats, and the DJ was playing music and all the kids were dancing on stage....tons of kids from all over Chicago and a few suburbs. "This is what the city of Chicago looks like."

Eventually the competition got underway. Each team was to have three individual performances and then one group performance. Kids were encouraged to "Step up to the microphone and dream." They were told to share their stories. This festival came about to give a voice to marginalized groups across the city.

The kids spoke poems about all kinds of topics - some I have no idea about, but many included themes of police treatment of black boys. Being such a traumatic event, what happened in Ferguson was woven through many of the pieces. Kids discussed politics in Chicago, wars happening in our city and around the world, their experiences being different than the "Barbie Army" applying their red lipstick in the bathroom mirrors as the different girl hides in a bathroom stall. One girl spoke about an act of violence she endured. All poems were just that - laced in metaphor, plagued with sounds that make the poetry come alive as it was performed for us.

The best thing? There was a theater full of kids who LOVE writing. One of the co-founders talked about how these kids who participate in LTAB walk around their high schools as popular as the star football players, but instead of catching a pass and winning Friday night's game, they are "hyper literate nerd word" kids, looked up to by their peers. LTAB gave them art, poetry, and a space to find themselves, and that's exactly what they did.

As a presenter at the end gave out the literary award, he shared a quote (I didn't catch who said it) but it was, "The world may be in bad shape, but you can't blame the youth." So true. Last night was exhilarating. I am definitely not done with classroom teaching. I totally want to teach high school. Think of all I could learn from the youth that sits before me if I was ever able to have that awesome opportunity?

Check out archives of LTAB here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

classroom slice of life 3.28.15

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Hi there! Happy Saturday! Not too many days left now - so exciting that you've all written so much!

Another strategy that Two Writing Teachers share for writing posts is to use one you've already written - revise it by adding on or making it different:

Some ideas for major revision:
  1. Take a favorite line from an old post and use the old ‘explode the moment’ strategy. In a new post, start with the line you chose, and then close your eyes and picture the moment that line came from. Write down everything you see, hear, and feel. Create a picture with your words.
  2. Go to an older post that you loved and highlight all the key words, then create a poem from all the words you highlighted. You might even decide to add on more!
  3. Reread some of your favorite posts. When you get to the end of a favorite post, write a new ending for it. Sometimes your new ending to an old story can become the beginning of a new story!
  4. Take a true story that you wrote and turn it in to fiction–or even fantasy or sci fi! Revise it to change the characters, or the setting, or both. Then as you begin to write, you might change around what really happened, giving it a new ending. You might even wind up with a completely new and fresh fictional story by the time you are done.

I know we only have a few days left of this challenge, but we can all continue writing a few times a week for all the months that come after March! Then, when you're feeling particularly tired (like Sidney was on Wednesday) it's okay to take a little break.

Excited to read some new slices that might begin from one you already have!

Friday, March 27, 2015

day 27: dudley

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I really really really really really really really really really really really really want a puppy. Hektor and I have talked about our future puppy, Dudley, a Goldendoodle for a few years now. We will get the dog sooner or later. And today I asked H about Duds and looked on a website for one. I emailed a breeder outside of Chicago - we need a puppy but at the end of June so I can be home to train her. So, we will see, but I can't wait for:

Puppers being so excited for us to come home.

Me and H having a puppy together.

Taking Duds on walks to the neighborhood park.

Making a Christmas card that features our fur child.

Showing Hektor how happy a dog is when you get home. (He never had a dog!!!)

Taking Duds for walks to street festivals in Chicago.

Duds not shedding all over the floor.

See the dog being wiggly-butt (as my family used to call our Goldens) when they wagged their tails so much that their backsides shook side-to-side.

Getting Duds out into a pool or lake at some point.

Starting a family.

Until then, I will send H google pics of Golden Doodles.

PS - I am making Dudley his own category today! :-)

Who else is a dog person?

classroom slice of life 3.27.15

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Hi there! Can you believe we have only 5 days left? It seems like it went fast...I had fun writing every day, did you? I'm so proud of you all!

Make sure to tell your families about the PTA meeting next week on Wednesday. I hope you can attend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

day 26: song of my people

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Today I was feeling kinda tired at the end of the school day, but had to run down to the gym to find the girl I just started checking in with, and so after I found myself as a spectator for the girls basketball game. Tired or not, hanging out with kids in a more relaxed environment is always my cup of tea! I haven't been to an extracurricular game since I worked at the middle school in 2013, so I was happy to stay and hang out for awhile.

I sat on the stage with some fourth and fifth graders. (Oh, and this is after a fifth grader asked one of the fourth graders if I was his mom. Umm...hi? I was just in your classroom yesterday and talked to you about what you were learning? Maybe that was a joke? and it was strange...but, at least kids are entertaining!)

Anyways, there we were watching the game get started. I taught the kiddos sitting with me the Slow Clap - they had fun and we did it a few times, before the chanting of, "Let's go Tigers, Let's Go!" followed by two claps started. And on and on (and on) that went.

The whole thing just took me back in the day, back to my days as a cheerleader, a young high school student, dressed in Cardinal Red and Columbia Blue, and crossing my fingers for a Wildcat free throw to sink through the net. These were the days when "Rebound that basketball...bring! it! down!" sang in my head and ribbons bounced with my ponytail. The days when my friends were everything and all I had to do on Friday night was cheer at the basketball game and then go to get food with friends after.

Memories....... :-) 

Since I can't get to one of my old pictures right now, here's one of my last them just as much! And this picture is SO the personality of cheerleaders!

Any more of my people out there?

classroom slice of life 3.26.15

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Happy Thursday, Kiddos! How did your commenting go yesterday? Remember the goals we set yesterday - the number you're sharing is how many comments you plan to leave EVERY day! Read some new blogs, make some friends online, and enjoy every minute of it!

You guys make me sooooo happy!!!! :-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

day 25: double mocha

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I taught late last night. Because of that, I felt that I deserved a treat, so I left just a little early today so I could run into my neighborhood Starbucks for a Mocha. It was bliss in a cup! Then I headed off to work where I got to see my blogging club - the highlight of my day, which had already ended by 8:20am --->

After school, I met with a few new teachers, then went with my mentee to Starbucks (and she bought me a coffee - another mocha!), and then met another teacher friend for dinner. I had lots of time to spend with work friends because we were waiting for the School Board meeting to start. It was hosted at our building and so it's always good to show a little love by being in attendance :-)

Luckily I had those two coffees to get me through my whole day, home, and turning my computer on at 9:30 to check into the Slice of Life! As tired as I am, I couldn't think of another place I'd rather be at 9:41 pm.

And now I wish you a good night!

classroom slice of life 3.25.15

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Today is Blogging Club Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed our mini-lesson and I'm hoping you leave tons of comments for other Bloggers! Let's spread the love!

Click here to go to the Emerson page where all of our SOL Friends are listed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

day 24: blown away

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I'm so proud of my student bloggers. I began my group in October with about 18 kiddos and a total different approach to what I had used when I was a middle school teacher. I set this blogging club up as: You write about whatever you want and get to enjoy the process. Not: write book reviews (and only book reviews). My former students viewed blogging as this assignment they had to do; my new kids see it as being creative and having choice.

While we've done so much learning this past month during the Slice of Life Challenge, one area we are going to work on tomorrow is commenting on our peer's blogs. Tomorrow, I am going to show them how to find other Slicing Students so they can begin building relationships with other writers. I want my blogging club to experience everything about blogging that I love, and making new friends via blogs is one aspect we haven't quite hit!

Our Family Literacy Night is coming up in April and I'm also planning on having any/all of the Tiger Bloggers running a station about blogging at that event. I know their excitement and passion for blogging will be very evident, and maybe we'll have a few new bloggers join our club! Also, this will be great practice for iEngage Berwyn - a conference my 1:1 district is having in May. My Tiger Bloggers (and I) will be presenting at that one, too!

Do you have students participating in the SOL Challenge? If you do, leave me the link where all your kiddos' blogs are hubbed. I'll add them to our list! You can find all my kids' blogs linked to this page!

classroom slice of life 3.24.15

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Happy Tuesday! Can you believe we are almost done with a 31 day blogging challenge?! Seems crazy that it went this fast, but I sure have enjoyed it!

Tiger Bloggers: Do you think you'll keep writing this month next month? Have you found a new habit in the past 23 days? I hope so!

Monday, March 23, 2015

day 23: to be vulnerable

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If you follow my blog, you know that yesterday I wrote about all the things I did for myself. I began drafting today's blog in my mind after I clicked the publish button yesterday...

After I finished posting my blog, I went and took a bath and was reading a little bit from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I'm just in the very beginning where she's talking about what vulnerability really means. Many people see it as a weakness - how being vulnerable is putting yourself in a place where others can judge and criticize. But to be vulnerable takes courage. We expect vulnerability from those around us, but how much vulnerability are we putting out there?

I was reflecting on that post I wrote yesterday - and thought maybe people would interpret it as me bragging. I thought maybe people wouldn't like it. I thought that it wasn't my best writing, and even after I published it, I considered taking it down. I definitely don't want to come off like I'm better than anyone - the truth is that I didn't have a great slice yesterday so I just thought telling about my day would be the easiest way to proceed. But it wasn't a piece of writing that I was particularly proud of.

Then I got to thinking about how we ask our students to write - to pour their hearts and minds out onto paper. Maybe they don't want to share! Maybe they think it's not their best work, and they don't even want their teachers to read it. The post I wrote yesterday gave me a lot of new perspective about teaching writing.

If we as teachers are not willing to be vulnerable in what we do, how can we ask that of our students? How is that fair? Had I not been doing this challenge, I would have never come to this realization  - I taught writing for 10 years before I began blogging. I'm so much better of a writing teacher now that I'm a writer. I put pieces out that I am so proud of, and then some that I'm not proud of. I share my ideas, my passions, things that frustrate me, and random fluff that probably no one cares about. That takes so much vulnerability! Even teaching the grad school class I'm in the midst of - it's not easy, but I know it will help me grow professionally. I know I have tons to learn from others, my grad school students included.

Is this understanding the norm for teachers? I'm in year 12 and I'm just coming to this conclusion! What do you think?

classroom slice of life 3.23.15

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Well, I'm not sure what I was thinking today...It's 9:16pm and I'm sure my Tiger Bloggers are wondering where their post was all day! Total oversight on my part!

I hope you'll still be able to link up your posts for Monday, March 23, kiddos!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

day 22: treat yo'self

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I began teaching my grad school class for the second time three weeks ago. Last time I taught it, class was on Thursday evenings. Now, it's on Tuesdays. This little change has really taken a toll on me. Before, I would only have one day to go after an evening of teaching - now I have three. I've been so extra tired the last few weeks and so this weekend, I did a lot of nothing so I could get to feeling back to my old self!

I stayed in my pajamas until like 4:00. I did laundry while I planned a little for Tuesday's class. I also had a Taylor Swift biography on that was pretty good.

Hektor came home from playing basketball and we went to lunch at this little place by his house - Snappy's Shrimp. It's two blocks away from home, so it was nice to get out of the house for a late lunch. (Catfish was good!) Then we walked to the grocery store to get some things for dinner and then went home and relaxed some more. I watched a super funny movie and went to bed at like 10. It was ah-MAZE-balls! :-)

Woke up and had a nice breakfast and then went for a massage. I told the guy that I had been really stressed and carried it all in my shoulders, and he did some work there. I'm kinda sore actually, but it was good. I ended up buying a six month package, which I wasn't expecting to do, but oh well. I like it and life's too short, right?

If that weren't enough, I then went for a mani-pedi. Yep, you heard right...more things for myself. I've been needing this for a long time; my nails were in a bad place and one of my bffs, if she had seen them, would have given me an earful. Now they are nicely manicured and I didn't even screw up my nails. (Okay, well maybe one, but last time it was 7 that got smudged right after!!)

I did go grocery shopping, but I still need to prep salads for the week, but first, I'm going to take a bath and read something wonderful.

I guess it was all about myself this weekend, and I'm glad I spent the time to relax and now feel much better going into a long week.

Two weeks till spring break and then this...

What did you do this weekend?

classroom slice of life 3.22.15

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Hello kiddos! Hope you are enjoying your weekend! How is your writing coming along? If you feel stuck, here are two strategies from Two Writing Teachers to get your ideas flowing!

What songs are you listening to right now? What stories do they remind you of? Or, do you have a favorite song from the past? Music is all about bring on memories - I know you've done some Just Dance in school....does that idea bring about a slice? Use music and dancing to remember great stories to share!

Make a timeline of your week. Jot down the things you did each day in the last few weeks - what sticks out? What do you want to be sure to remember? Use this timeline strategy to find spots in your week to share more about!

Excited to read your posts!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

day 21: easy saturday

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I love when I have fun things planned on the weekend, but I also love when I have nothing planned.

Last weekend, we had to wake up early to head out for St. Patty's Day festivities. We saw the river when it was dyed green:

We went to the parade and mostly just stood in a sea of people and were unable to see the parade...

And finally met some friends out in the afternoon for green  drinks:

Super fun day, but we were up early and out all day.

Today is a different kind of awesome. I get to sleep in, take my time waking up, make a cup of coffee, surf blogs and finally get around to writing mine. And, I don't really have any plans this weekend other than to get myself caught up on work so I'm ahead for the week. And one more thing:

What are you up to this weekend?

classroom slice of life 3.21.15

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Happy Saturday bloggers! Hope you are enjoying the start to your weekend and some quiet time with blogging. I know I am!

Friday, March 20, 2015

classroom slice of life 3.20.15

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Happy Friday! Are you like me and feel like this...?

I am always so looking forward to the weekend to reenergize and relax - and read and catch up on great blogs! Be sure to leave yours here for us all to share!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

day 19: letters

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Dear work friends,
Super funny belly laughs at dinner make me so happy. Thank you for a hilarious night!
xo, Michelle

Dear Tiger Bloggers,
I love how you are writing every day about the realities of your life. I LOVE to read your posts - they are clever and funny and engaging and make me so proud!
Love, Teach

Dear JB,
You're going to make a great partner for Union Rep next year. So excited!!!
(Think about it.)
Partner-in-Crime-To-Be :-)

Dear Kitchen,
I'm sorry my laundry is all over the floor. Perks of living alone!
Your tenant

Dear HP,
I love you. That's all.
xo, Dud

Dear Weekend,
You can't come soon enough. Eagerly awaiting your return!
Exhausted Teach

classroom slice of life 3.19.15

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Well yesterday was Wednesday when our Tiger Blogging Club meets, and I had the privilege to hang out with these kids in the video below. I asked them what they are learning from blogging - take 2 minutes and hear what they have to say!

Love all of this!!

So with that being said, on with writing!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

day 18: quiet time

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No one here
home alone.
No one calling
on the phone.

Just quiet time.

No one needs me
no papers to grade
Time for me
and blogs to raid :-)

and quiet time.

No classes to sub
no meetings to plan
It's me with the world
at a click of the hand.

Quiet time.

No budgeting to consider
No materials to find
Doing what I choose
for my peace of mind

Love quiet time.

Even on our busy days
that seem to never end
Gotta keep that balance
So our soul can mend.

What's your quiet time?

This post was inspired by one of my student bloggers, Alex. In his post, he wrote about finally taking his computer home again now that PARCC is done and once again having peace and quiet for blogging. (!!!!!!!!!!!)

classroom slice of life 3.18.15

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Happy Wednesday! Here's a little quote for you, from Two Writing Teachers:

"The essence of writing is to know your subject."
-David McCullough

Your subject this month is YOU! I hope you are getting to know yourself better through this process of slicing!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

day 17: embarrassment or entertainment?

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Today in one of our common plans, I was working with a team of teachers on planning their summarizing unit. Jill planned the whole thing - with teaching points, articles, and assessment, too, but we thought it would be a good idea to actually take the assessment (read the article and write a summary) so we would be more informed as we wrote the rubric.

So we did - and there I was, making a graphic organizer of the info in the text. Then I finished and started to do something else. Jill asks me, "Are you doing another one?" And I said, "Oh, no...I'm just replying to an email while I'm waiting." She's like, "You know, you didn't write a summary, right?" Little People In My Head (LPIMH): Duh.

So there I was, being a good student using my notes to write my article. I'm all proud because I'm writing every detail from the text down, and someone looks over and is all, "That's too long." Everyone else looks over, too...and I'm sure I'm blushing. LPIMH are reminding me of what a summary actually is, and that, I am most certainly NOT doing a good job. I'm feeling so embarrassed that I didn't think this through because both of our admins are in the meeting with us, too...but actually only kinda embarassed.

The thing is that I've built such a super close relationship with this team - they are part of the group that eats together with me every day and we share a Pinterest board and we joke around and challenge each other and listen to one another, too. There's a solid foundation of trust there, and so me (the literacy coach) doing a summary wrong is totally okay under these circumstances. We got a lot done at our meeting, and we highly entertained, too.

So now it goes down in history as a Slice instead of an embarrassing moment I never want to think about :-)
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