Monday, September 29, 2008


All Write!!! Summer Institute will be June 22nd and 23rd.

Here are a few updates to get you excited and ready to come!!!

June 22nd-
  • Max Brand
  • Kelly Gallagher
  • Candace Fleming
  • Lester Laminack
  • Stephanie Parsens

June 23rd-

  • Stephanie Parsens- (writing one day, reading one day)
  • Amy Buckner--notebooks
  • Carl Anderson-talking about his new book
  • Gary Schmitt
  • Frank Serafini
  • Janet Elliott
  • Barb Morrow


  • Jacqueline Woodson

Friday, September 26, 2008


Where I'm From...

I'm from DeKalb County in the fall
when the fair pulls in
and rides are set up,
animals fill the barns
and doughnut smells drift in the air.

I'm from DeKalb County in late September
when 4-H is more than a club
when animals are shown
and the largest pumpkin
gets a blue ribbon.

I'm from DeKalb County on September 27th
when families line the streets,
local bands march in a high step,
floats roll by with paper flowers
and politicians shake your hand.

I'm proud to be from DeKalb County!
Thanks to George Ella Lyons...mentor author.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


It's Fair Time!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Every fall the DeKalb County Fair hits town. This is the combination of a street fair and the county 4-H fair. The streets are shut to traffic for the whole week. The fair grounds come alive with horses, cows, pigs and sheep. It is a magical place! Kids get off school to take care of their animals. Kids can't wait to hit the streets for the food and rides. All day at the county schools you hear, "Are you going to the fair?"
Our tradition is to take the grandkids to the fair. We spend one night seeing the animals, eating fair food and watching them ride on the rides. Every year Grandpa gets to ride the merry-go-round with the youngest grandchild. This year it was Shelby's turn again. Since Grandma Kathy wasn't feeling her best, Grandpa got to do more than his share in going on rides.

Ty is an animal lover, so the barns were his favorite place. They all loved seeing the different animals up close.
Shelby talked Grandpa into going into the Fun House with her. Grandpa even almost did a head stand coming out. I missed that shot, but Michelle got it recorded for us!

Lane and Shelby loved the scarier rides, too. This one was enough to make me sick just watching it. The kids are getting braver and braver every year.

Here is the historic, famous merry-go-round ride. Grandpa couldn't understand why they made him pay too. We told him, if he was going to ride, he was going to pay! I think he will be disappointed when he can't ride this because none of the kids will go on it. I suppose then it will be my turn to take him.
We sure have fun at the County Fair!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Yes, it is the season. No, I don't mean Christmas or even Halloween. It is the allergy season and I have become fully a part of this season. In the last few years I have occasionally gotten a stuffy nose or started sneezing. This year it has been a whole lot worse.

Everyone at school has been telling me to see a doctor. I finally called mine last week. He told me to get eye drops and gave me a prescription which I immediately got filled. It helped some, but not enough. Yesterday I woke up with very puffy, swollen eyes. I went ahead and met Marsha for breakfast as we had planned. I knew I was not getting any better.

For lunch The Big D and I walked to Subway. I wasn't seeing clear enough to ride my bike. While we were sitting there eating, he said, "You know, we could stop by the Emergency Room at the hospital on our way home." That sounded like a good plan to me, so that is what we did. The doctor gave me another prescription for some sort of prednisone and told me to take Zyrtec along with the eye drops from Dr. Page.

Today I am more dried up, but still very swollen. Did I tell you I can't wear eye makeup or my contacts until it gets better? Talk about a slap to the ego! So, as you can see from our picture, it is the season for me! I never thought I would be glad to see cold weather come!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The little cherubs gathered around me today with wide eyes and big smiles. I was visiting their class for the first time. We talked about how we loved to tell stories, stories about our lives, stories that happened every day. We talked about how we needed to write our stories so others could read them over and over, even when we weren't around.

I told them the story of how we had to take Nickey, the cat, to the vet last night. They stared and hung on my every word. They asked questions and told me about their cats. Then I drew my pictures and labeled my pictures. I asked if they would laugh at how I drew. They assured me they would not. So, I drew and labeled. "Now," I said, "You can read my story even when I am not with you." They loved that.

They turned to their partners and shared what they were planning on writing. They shared their stories. Stories about pets. Stories about birthdays. Stories about playing basketball. They went happily back to their seats to start their stories, pictures and labels.

As they were all busy writing, I sat next to several of them and was thrilled that they were not hesitant to draw. They tackled it with eager pencils and crayons. Their teacher had noticed the reluctance in the past. But, not today. Today they had stories to tell.

The teacher slid up next to me and in a low voice said, "Go check out L___"s story." So, I walked slowly up to her table and sat down. "Tell me your story." I said. She proceeded to tell me about walking her dog. She had a house on one side of the paper and a tree on the other. They were as tall as the paper. In the middle was the dog and girl. The dog was facing the tree. Quite clearly the dog was doing what he was supposed to be doing when he went for a walk and came to a tree. I loved it. I had to have a copy. Here is pure workshop with kiddos writing real stories of their lives.

I doubt if this will ever be a prompt on the ISTEP test, but if it is, we are ready!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Today I got to do one of my favorite things. I was in some kindergarten classes doing interactive read alouds. The classes had been reading Jazz Baby and were facinated with jazz. So, I took a couple books that would help them know more about this wonderful form of music.

I was facinated with all the things the children already knew about jazz. When I went in one class a boy saw my books and said, "Do you have Charlie Parker in there? I love Charlie Parker." Another little girl saw the front of the book and said, "Hey, is that Ella Fitzgerald?" We listened to a jazz CD that was in the book while looking at the pictures and then listened to the words along with seeing the pictures again. Yes, both Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald were in the book. The book was: Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Next, we listened to another book by the same authors. It was one of their favorites and they read it along with me. It was Rap A Tap Tap Here's Bojangles-Think of That. They loved the repeated line of Rap a tap tap Think of That.

We had a great time learning more about jazz and reading at the same time. We also learned that Leo and Diane Dillon must love music and that is why they wrote about it. So, now we know we want to write about what we love, too!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


This was the last week of ISTEP prep. I went from school to school working with third, fourth and fifth graders helping them prepare for the response to literature and writing application part of the test. We looked at what would make a good piece in the extended writing part. The students were smart. They listed things that we had studied the year before. I was so proud of what they remembered. I know they will do a great job next week.

Since two of the schools I had worked with before were without facilitators right now, I was able to work with them, too. This was an added blessing. One school I had not been to all last year. I hated giving it up at the beginning of last year, but that was the way they got divided. Last week I saw kiddos that had been in first grade and now were third graders. There were fifth graders who were formerly third graders when I had last seen them. They were so grown up. Yes, they remembered all about writing. Seeing these students grow made me realize how fast that happens. I had only been gone one year!

That is why our job as teachers is so important. We only have them for one year then they move on, on to other grades and other adventures. I remembered how Samantha used to love to write. We would have to get her to stop when I left and the class was over. I loved how they reminded me of stories they had previously written when in a lower class.

This week as ISTEP testing starts, we as teachers need to remember that our kids ARE smart. They WILL do their best. We have done our jobs and now they will do theirs. Sometimes when I leave a school a principal will ask me, "So, do you think we are ready?" I can always answer proudly, "Yes, they are ready. They will do well!" Now we just need to sit back and watch them do their thing!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Today two things caught my eye that inspired me to blog about. First, the message at church was: Life on Loan: Writing God's Story. This is going to be a series at Cedar Creek for a few weeks. I was fascinated with the part:
What is your life?
  • Loves
  • Intersections
  • Fortune
  • Eternity

The message was how much our life is one on loan from God. The people we meet and interact may have an impact on the rest of their lives as well as ours.

Next, I was reading Stacey's blog. She talked today about how something she did empacted her students years later. This made me think of all the pictures I had taken of my students, year after year. I put them into albums and kept them...I still have some. This was such a small thing to do, but now I have those memories. Some of my former students still keep in touch with me. In fact, I check on Nikki's blog all the time. Yes, I have pictures of you, too, Nikki!

After teaching as many years as I have, the albums began to stack up. Then I came up with another idea. I started giving the pictures back to those students when they graduate. If I didn't know where they were, I would give them to one of the students and let them pass them out.

So, for you teachers out there just starting out, that is a good thing to start now. You will gain friendships that will help your intersections through the years. You will gain friendships with former first and second graders that will become life-long friends. The things you do today DO impact the world for a lifetime!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


We have been back at school for three weeks now. In my job I travel across the district to six different schools. Students from these schools change and move from one to the other frequently. So, it isn't unusual for me to find a student that I have worked with in a new school the next year. That is what happened with a couple of these students this year.

Last week I was in a first grade classroom talking to the teacher. As the students were lined up to go outside, I was saying hi to kids that I had worked with in kindergarten last year. All of a sudden one little boy looked up at me and said, "I know you!" It was my friend, Bradley. He was from a neighboring school the year before. Bradley was an amazing kindergartener. He had a vision for writing books before any other student. In fact, he inspired his classmates to make books just like he was. Bradley always had something interesting to say and I found myself drawn to him and his room at least once a day when I visited that school. I was so glad to find him again in this classroom. When I was leaving, I promised him I would see him again. He said, "When you come can we write books?" I promised him that we for sure would write books!

I also found another student that I worked with last year. This one was now a fifth grader. Christopher loved to tell me stories about wrestling and the army. He had trouble reading and writing those stories, but boy, could he tell them. My thrill with Christopher last year was when his class had a celebration of some writing they had done and Christopher was brave enough to get up in front of his class and parents and read his story. When I found Christopher in the new school I went into his room, knelt down in front of him and said, "I am so glad I found you." He tried not to grin when he recognized me. (It isn't cool as a 5th grader to like teachers.) He said, "Will you tell my friends at _____ that I said hi?" I assured him I would and that I would be back to hear more of his stories. He "sort of" grinned and said, "Okay."

These last few weeks I have been working with classes on getting ready for our state test: ISTEP. Today I worked in six classes looking at a piece of writing by a student who last year got a perfect score on that test in writing. The story was awesome, but it was sad. After I read it to a group of 4th graders, I asked them to talk to their partners about what they liked about the story as a reader. I listened in to one group of boys talk about it. Here is what one boy said, "I thought the story was good, but I was crying in my head at the end." I told him, "You know, I have read that story six times today and that is just how I felt. I liked the story and thought it was good, but everytime I was crying in my head."

Aren't kids great?