Sunday, November 30, 2008


We were all ready for the company. The turkey smell was in the air, the table looked beautiful, we could hardly wait for our company to arrive.

Murphy sat by the door waiting. He had no idea who was coming, but he knew it would be someone to play with for at least a little while. He sat there all morning, just waiting for people to come up to the door.

It wasn't long before Aunt Kris, Uncle Darrell and their dog, Reggie got here from Indianapolis. Oliver thought Reggie brought his bed just for him to stay in all day. He was very upset when Reggie took it home with him. Todd and Beth were with us for part of the day, too. Officer Garman was on duty that day, so they didn't get to stay too long.
On Friday we took a trip to Toledo, Ohio, to do some Christmas shopping. We ended up just window shopping, but we got lots of ideas. While we were there, Glen Beck was signing books at a local bookstore. We didn't wait in line for him, but we did get a peek at him and saw his bus.

Oliver was all tired out and even fell asleep while reading. Well, really his dad was reading and Oliver decided he wanted to try it, too. I think this is a perfect picture of how we are feeling about now after a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Today I got to lead a presentation to teachers from my district. It was a Beginning Writer's Workshop. During that time we had them write a memory they had of a place they loved. I settled in with my notebook and went back down memory lane to a place I spent many summers. Every year I went for at least a week to church camp at Lake James. My memory was of the first time I went.

You see, my best friend was not able to go with me that year. I went anyway, since I knew the adult who would be our room mother and I knew most of the other girls in my dorm. My parents drove me to camp and helped me register and unpack my suitcase. I even got the top bunk. After they left, I ended up sitting on the porch feeling sorry for myself. I was homesick already and it was only Sunday afternoon.

Soon I found a family from my church. They were there to drop off their son, who was my age. Their daughter, who was younger, and I were close friends. She was too young to spend the week. We walked around camp while her brother got settled in his dorm. Then it was time for her family to go home. I got all emotional. I sniffled, I sobbed, I pleaded: "Please, take me home with you." Her mother was a kind hearted soul. She agreed to let me ride home with them. I rushed in, repacked my clothes and sleeping bag before she could change her mind.

That night we went back for the evening service. Boy, were my parents surprised to see me there. That was the only time I ever did that. Camp became one of my favorite places to spend a week in the summer. Maybe it was because my friend always came with me after that.

I shared my story with my response group today. In that group is a lady I now attend church with each Sunday. When I finished my story, she said, "I went to camp there, too. We probably went at the same time." After some quick questions we found out that we had attended church in neighboring towns and indeed, probably did go at the same time. We have lots to talk about now! Sharing a Slice of Life can be so enjoyable!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Just had to blog on this special day! Twenty-six years ago it was the day before Thanksgiving and we took the four kids and my best friend and headed to Lake James and the church camp. There we met a close friend, who was also a minister. There beside a roaring fire and the lake in the background and all the kids as witnesses, we were married. It seems like just yesterday! Loads of memories and wonderful times have now past. How nice to be married to your best friend!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

North Meets South

One of the great things about being a facilitator is I get to travel all over the city and see the wonderful things that teachers are doing to engage children in learning. Many times I find teachers from the same grade level, but different schools, who are teaching in similar ways. I just know they could be "soulmates". They could collaborate across the city via email. After all, if the two writing teachers can do it, why not here in our district. We have 30+ elementary schools. The curriculum is the same for all. Why not team up to make their teaching more fun and even better for the students?

Well, that is what we tried out on Friday. I got a fifth grade teacher from one school to meet with a fifth grade teacher from another school across town. I met them at 8:00 and we toured the school and classroom. When the kiddos finally arrived to the sound of music, we were situated at the back of the room so we could view the arrival. After the pledge and moment of silence another song played out: Celebration. The students slowly, but with determination, made their way to the gathering area in the center of the room. They sat in what I like to call "mashed potato" a big group. This was the time for the Morning Meeting. They discussed changes in the day, celebrations for the kids who made A.C.E.S. this quarter and what the schedule would be for the day. The Read Aloud time came next. The teacher would read and the students listened until she came to a stopping point. At that time, they would turn and talk to someone near them. The noise level was up a bit here because they ALL had something to say. Soon, the teacher called them back to the group and asked someone to lead off the discussion. Boy, did they talk! Not with the teacher leading it...oh, no, it was entirely student led. Then at a stopping point she began reading again. It went on like this for about 20 minutes.

When it was time for them to take a restroom break and then come back for Writer's Workshop, I left the two teachers together. I was gone for about an hour doing "my thing" around the school. As I came back into the room, I finally found the visiting teacher. She was sitting in the middle of the group fitting in as if she had always been there. I checked in with her and said my goodbyes. My job was finished. I had gotten them together, watched the beginning progression of friendship, and then left the rest up to them.

I can't wait to talk to each of them to see what they thought and what they will do with this new connection across the district! By the way, check out the two writing teachers' blog. They are presenting together in San Antonio this week for NCTE! How exciting!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


On November 21st, Shelby will turn seven. We went to her house to celebrate last Sunday. She picked out a dolphin cake. It was half chocolate and half vanilla. Great choice!

She had no trouble blowing out the candles. Looks like baby Audrey wants to get in there and practice how do to this blowing thing!
The interesting thing was that Buddy, the dog, had a birthday, too. He got one candle on the cake, but didn't try to blow it out...Shelby did it for him. He did get to open a gift, though. It was some pup corn. Shelby tried it out and informed us it tasted like dog biscuits! Imagine that!
We got Shelby a Glow Board to keep her busy. We also got her two books. That is what happens when your grandma is a teacher!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


This week the UPS man made a couple stops at my house. That means that when I get home I see those boxes on my front porch. I always jump out of the car faster, greet Murphy with a flurry and get to that front door in a hurry. I am absolutely in love with the new books. I have been reading them chapter at a time! I just have to tell you about them.
The first one is: R5 In Your Classroom by Michelle J. Kelley and Nicki Clausen-Grace. It is for the upper elementary kiddos. I love their ideas on independent reading. The five R's are: Read, Relax, Reflect, Respond and Rap. The idea is to get kids not to "fake" read... really get into the "Reading Zone" as Nancy Atwell calls it. I can't wait to show it to teachers who have been looking for this tip to get kids to really READ!

The other book was for the primary grades. In fact that is sort of what it was called: Of Primary Importance by Ann Marie Corgill. I had briefly reviewed the book one day at the office, briefly, but enough that I knew I HAD to have it. When I got it, I immediately dived into it. When I was only a few pages in, I realized that I knew this author. Well, not really well, but I had been in her classroom at Manhattan New School. She is a good friend of my friend, JoAnn Portalupi. In fact, JoAnn wrote her forward...and she did a great job! As I read this book, I feel like I am right there with her in her classroom. I write in the margins...YES!! It would be a MUST for any primary teacher!

The last one I didn't get by mail. I was browsing the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble and there it was. I almost yelled out loud when I saw it. I knew Janet was writing a grammar book, but didn't know it was out. The book: Grammar Study by Janet Angelillo. I had been waiting for this! I grabbed the book and checked out. You would have thought I just bought an expensive outfit. If you have read any of Janet's other books, you won't be disappointed with this one. What makes it even better is she acknowledges our All Write group in the front of the book! Awww, shucks!

If you want to see some great children's literature, check out my friend, Mary Helen's new blog: Book Savors!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


  1. I love kindergarten! We made books today in a kindergarten class. They had choices of what kind and size books to use. They had small ones with bright paper or large ones with no lines and large ones with lines. The kiddos couldn't wait to start. I modeled my story and wrote part of my book. When we were done one boy shouted, "I was an illustrator today!" Another girl said, "Well, I was an author and an illustrator!" They were so excited.
  2. In third grade we talked about Just Right books. I showed them shoes that I had and how I had a purpose for certain ones. I talked about how I didn't have any soccer shoes because I had no interest in soccer. Then I tried to read a magazine that I found at home and even though I could read all the words I couldn't comprehend it. Then we discussed how important it was to know the words. We ended up with I PICK books. The kiddos were all excited to talk about how they had been in The Reading Zone during Independent Reading that day. I PICK books comes from The Daily 5!
  3. This week I have spent two days working with a fifth grade class doing fiction writing. They had just gotten new writer's notebooks and were excited to start using them. On day one we talked about major characters in a piece. Then we created a class character including a sketch, thoughts that make the character tick and a heart full of things the character loves. Today we worked on minor characters. They listed several right along with how they connected to the main character. They are all set to do a few more journal entries before they begin drafting. I am amazed at the things these young authors are coming up with each day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today I had the opportunity to visit another school district and a kindergarten classroom there. I was at Little Turtle Elementary with my friend, Tammy, teaching Kid News. I went with some of the kindergarten teachers I work with in our district. We got to hear her history of Kid News and then watch it in progress. What a great way to learn. Those kids knew so much about words and letters already. They knew about capital letters and compound words. They knew how to be Word Detectives. They knew what quotation marks were. I am so glad I had the chance to visit this classroom. We have learned that students who do Kid News become better readers and writers. Daily homework and this form of interactive writing is so powerful. It transfers over to when they do their Writers Workshop each day. We were able to watch that, also. The kiddos were starting to make books. They had wonderful stories. At the end of the session they were excited to report whether they were authors or illustrators or both during the workshop. What is even better...on Thursday I get to work with one of the classes from Glenwood Park to start writing books like we saw in the Writers Workshop today. Who said Kindergarten kids can't write???

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Can't let Halloween pass without pictures. Since Halloween was on Friday this year, we didn't do our usual dress-up-and-serve-treats activity. We went out to eat and then did grocery shopping like we do every Friday. Still I wanted to post this picture of what I like to call: "Kathy's Klowns". It is just too cute to pass up!