Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SOL Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Monday I wrote the below for an application I was completing.

Essay #1: Describe a recent interaction that made a difference in a student's day. 

Mia’s 4th grade hand went up and I walked to her desk. She had just completed her online Unit 7 math assessment. It was 26 questions on measurement and elapsed time. I asked her to press “Check Status” and the screen showed that all 26 questions were answered. I asked her if she was ready to submit. With a nervous look, she said, “Yes.” After pressing submit, the screen read, “You answered 26 out of 26 questions correctly.” She about jumped out of her seat. The biggest smile came across her face.

Let’s rewind back seven months. I met Mia, her mom and dad during the Open House the Thursday before school started. The dad hung around to chat with me once the crowd started to disperse. “I just want you to know that Mia failed her Math SOL test last year and we don’t want that to happen again.” I thanked him for sharing his concern with me about Mia and that I would do all I could to help her in math this year.

As the months progressed, I kept a close watch on Mia. I noticed immediately that she had no confidence in her math ability. I started with where she was and helped to move her forward. I got manipulatives and math fact charts, read math books, and asked a district’s math specialist to come watch me teach to give me more ideas. At the end of the first quarter, I could see that one period of math a day was not enough time to make up the holes in Mia’s and a few other students math knowledge. I offered a before school Math Club on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mia never missed Math Club. Slowly, she started to gain confidence. She started to have a sense of math. She started to raise her hand in class.

Her smile the moment she saw that she answered all right on a math assessment showed me I made a difference in Mia’s day. At that moment, she smiled as a confident mathematician!

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31 - I did it!!

Back in February, I really wasn't sure if I COULD write something every day, as well as, read and comment on at least three others' writing. Now I CAN say "I did it!!"

To celebrate, I planned an ORANGE party in my 4th grade classroom. I bought clementines at the grocery store, orange crepe paper to hang at our classroom door, a fun pencil to give to the student who wrote and graphed the most small moments after me with me (Way to go, Ivy!!), and an orange pipe cleaner for ALL to twist and create their own party favor.

I am glad I made the graph and made it so public outside my classroom door. It kept me going. As soon as the student's also started to write, that kept me going, too.

When I look at my 31 blog posts made during this SOL Writing Challenge.
7 are small moments that happened while I was an adult and 2 while I was a child.
4 are my reflections about an author or a book.
2 are small moments about a family member.
3 are poems
5 are small moments that happened in my classroom.
8 are nonfiction writing - me sharing info I heard at a conference

Then I tallied and I received a total of 123 comments! Unexpectedly, getting comments was my favorite part of this challenge. Knowing that someone read my words and then took time to tell me their connection or thoughts about what I wrote gave me so much energy! It kept me going!

Which is why today I am taking time to make a BIG DEAL about the optional writing my students did. We all have stories that ONLY we can tell. I love that so many of my students' stories got onto paper this month. I plan to have us sit in groups of four and listen to each read a part from the small moment they wrote this month (an optional assignment that ALL did!). Then the other 3 can give a compliment. Then the writer can smile and say thank you!

Yet THANK YOU does NOT seem enough to only say. But I do say a HUGE THANK YOU Two Writing Teachers, who are actually six amazing writers who understand the power of a writing community and made a virtual one happen right here on their blog. I am so glad I learned about this March Challenge. It was a great honor to post daily my slice as a newbie. I worked my writing muscle. I end the month of March feeling like I am a writer! We truly do become what we do!

THANK YOU, Stacey, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, and Tara!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30 - an attempt at POETRY!

My second to the last Slice....in honor of National Poetry Month starting on Tuesday and being inspired by yesterday's SOL inspiration, I WILL TRY POETRY!!!

The first day of school, my 4th graders and I followed the pattern below and wrote an I AM poem.
Here's my I AM Poem
Sally                                                                  (first name)
Wife, Mother, Teacher, Writer and Reader      (4 words describing me)
Friend of Brian, Evi, Tammy, Marilyn, and Cindy
Who loves to eat Starbucks' egg and sausage sandwich for breakfast
Who feels happy when I am teaching Reading and Writing Workshop
Who needs moments of quiet and calm
Who fears snakes
Who would like to see Venice again with Brian and the girls
Resident of Arlington, Virginia
Donnelly                                                       (last name)

Now I'll try the format shared yesterday:
Right now I am:
:: appreciating all involved in the SOL writing challenge and grateful I learned about it and took the pludge this March.

:: patting myself on the back for writing daily for a month

:: worrying less about that I have no control over

:: forgiving others due to their ignorance

:: accepting that there is more than one way (yet I still like my way best!)

::running out of energy, hopefully never; I just need to stay focus on picking that which gives me energy

:: wondering what life will be like a year from now

:: thinking I made a great choice in returning to being a classroom teacher, as opposed to staying a Reading Teacher

:: smiling widely as I read my 4th graders' fiction stories

:: waiting for a new house to be built; a modern, energy-efficient house designed by my architect husband

::looking forward to sitting on the roof-top deck of my new house, quietly reading a new book

:: wishing my husband persistance and patience, as he oversees this big project - a new house for us!

Inspired by Soule Mama and Terje
My Favorite TEDtalks related to Poetry:

1. Billy Collins (his last recitation is priceless so watch until the end)
2. Sarah Kay - amazing performance poet. I get chills and cry every time I watch

Billy Collins on turning 70 and being as old as Cheerios - I LOVE his dry humor written as a poem!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 29 - My 4th Graders Got Invited to a 1st Grade Publishing Party

Yesterday a 1st grade classroom teacher invited my 4th graders to their Publishing Party. They had written All About Books!

The day before, each 1st grader wrote a Publishing Card Invitation and their teacher gave me these pile of cards along with her class roster that listed the topics each wrote about. Just before my student's arrived at school on Friday, I started passing out the Invitations, matching my students with her students. It was easy because, though these kids were 4 years apart in age, they had very similar interests. The boy who wrote All About Minecraft I match with Samuel who is often telling me about that video game. The girl who wrote All About Dogs, I matched with Ivy, another dog lover. And Mohamad in my room got matched immediately with the 1st grade friend who wrote All About Pokemon, his passion as well. I had fun matching writers with similar writing territories together.

"I can't read this word, Mrs. Donnelly," I heard from one of my students as he found his card on  his deck.

I replied, "Isn't it wonderful that this 1st grade gets that lines and squiggles on the page can convey their idea. You are right. I don't  understand what that word is suppose to be either but that's OK. You can just compliment them on writing down lines and squiggles and then ask him to read it to you."

"What if they can't read it, either?"

"Then just say, 'What do you think it says?' and listen and give them a compliment ," I patiently responded.

This exchanged made me realize that during Morning Meeting I needed to emphaisze OUR JOB as a Publishing Party Invitee. I teach in a school that Writing Workshop is new. I realized that this was my students' first invite to a Publishing Party and they can't recall doing Writing Workshop when they were in 1st grade because they didn't. This was a new experince and I needed to help them.

I called all to Morning Meeting by calling their 1st grader's name and asked them to bring their card with them to the circle. I wanted them to hear the name and told them to call their 1st grader by their name. Then I ask each to look closely at their card and think of ONE compliment they could give their partner based on the writing they did on this card. Then one by one, we shared. I knew this would help them practice giving a compliment and also be an the opportunity to hear other possible compliments. It helped me to emphasize that we can compliment the picture and the ideas in their writing. I suggested that they try to give at least 5 compliments while looking at their 1st grader's All About book. They could count them on their fingers as they give them to keep track.

"OUR GOAL: we want these 1st grade writers to KEEP WRITING. We want this time spent together to make them want to WRITE more and more. YOU have a very important job. Your compliments and your excitement in seeing their published All About books WILL keep them writing. Be sure to do  your job well!"

Then I also reminded them that their 1st grader might be shy so THEY needed to keep the conversation going. If they think they are done looking at the All About Book, they should ask them questions. They can tell them about what we have written in 4th grade. They are to stay with their partner and have a conversation until they hear me say it is time to leave.

Then off we went...

My Reflections:
* I was SO proud of my students!!! They were such wonderful writing leaders!!
* The 1st grade teacher was amazed at how all her students were talking and smiling and laughing with my 4th grader and all stayed seated and engaged the whole time.
* WHY is it March and we are sharing our writing beyond our classroom walls for the first time? This 20 minute share needs to happen all year long. I'll advocate for starting in October next year. Maybe, along with a classroom writing partner, we could have another partner in another grade to interact with as a writer too.
* The power of a 4th grader giving a compliment to a 1st grader is priceless.....I will now ALWAYS advocate for building in this time as part of Writing Workshop!!

* I realized that the electronic comments I have been getting as part of the SOL Challenge was just like what my students were doing yesterday in person. Comments, compliments, feedback - they are essential to keep writers writing.


Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28 - Let's Go Hoo's

I am a proud graduate of the University. Others call it The University of Virginia but as a VA alum, it is referred to as The University. My time was spent learning and growing at the Curry School of Education. As a students, I cheered for my school teams and especially enjoyed basketball. Full disclosure - I did not grow up playing basketball. I don't really understand the game. I know there is something called man-to-man defense and zone but I could not explain any of  the strategy of the game. I know each team has 5 guys on the court and the tallest seems to be called the center and the short, quick guy is called the guard but not sure what their "job" is or what the jobs and titles of the other 3 guys are. I just know that I like the fast-paced, up and down the court plays. The 3-pt shots, the lay-ups, the teamwork needed to win.

I am watching again this year. This Wahoo team is GOOD! Along with being skilled, they genuinely seem to be having fun. They enjoy playing this game well. In return, it is fun for me to watch. The photo above was taken during last Saturday's winning game which earned them their slot in the Sweet Sixteen. They played hard. They were focused. They did not let up. And they also laughed and had the time of their life! It's that how all of us should approach our job in life!

Tonight I'll be watching and cheering starting at 10pm. Then plan to sing the Good 'Ol Song!

Any Wahoo fans out there, too??!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27 - Happy 50th Birthday to my husband

At 18, he was my date to the Senior prom.
The next two years, he filled my college mailbox with hand-written letters.
We walked The Lawn as graduates in '86, married in '87 and had our own Wahoos in '88 and '92.
The 90s were spent raising the girls and renovating our townhouse.
The 00s were about supporting our girls through High School and College and relaxing at the beach.
Now the 10s. We both are in our 50s, he just joining this decade today.
Both have good jobs.
Both enjoy our time with our grown girls.
Both still like each other.
The 20s...I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26 - I'm just realizing that I AM a writer

For 25 days I have written. Often I've drafted the night before and then as I awoke, I posted it. Then after school, I'd read and comment and write again. I had a routine and it was working. Then I went away for the weekend and I had to write and post whenever it fit in. I read and commented also when it fit in. Now I am trying to get back into my routine.

Routine is good. I know what to expect. I get up on time and get to work on time and cook dinner on time. I get things done. It feels good to accomplish stuff. I look to the clock often to stay on track and be where I am to be.

Taking a vacation from the routine is fun, too. From last Friday to Monday, I barely noticed what time it was, except to ensure I was on time to the conference and for the train ride home. Otherwise, I walked and stopped to eat when I felt like it. I browsed and observed and took photos to hold onto what I was seeing. I had limited structure and limited obligations.

Which is better? I don't think that is the right question. I think I thrive on having a routine, making teaching a perfect job for me. I also think I need a break at times away from the expected to enjoy the unexpected.

No matter what, I am realizing that writing is the task I'll choose to do during the routine and the during the breaks. I am grateful to this March writing challenge as it showed me how it can be part of both worlds. Maybe, just now after 25 days, I am realizing that I am a writer...someone who writes daily!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 25 - Kathy Collins suggests an alternative teacher evaluation

At the final Keynote by Kathy Collins at the March 2014 TCRWP Saturday Reunion, she suggested an alternative way to assess teachers. Presently, in many districts in our nation, end of year standardized tests are given and the reuslts are used to evaluate a teacher.

Her suggestion:  Short Answer Essays using my class list
 1. Circle the 17th name. Write everything you know for sure about this child's life outside of school. Include their loves, fears, quirks, etc. Write how this knowledge impacts your teaching of this child.
2. Underline the 8th name on the list. Share a classroom anecdote about this child and indicate what that anecdote can tell you about this child's humanity.
3. Put a star next to the 11th child's name. Describe the child's relationships to his/her peers and with other adults in the school. Provide an example of a collaborative classroom interactions involving that child.

It's been said that good teaching is a 3-legged a stool: engagement, content, and pedagogy.
* I can know the content so well but without understanding the children, I won't be able to teach them a thing.
* I can understand the children but the content may still not be delivered using the best method so it doesn't stick.
* I can have the best relationships with all the children and use the best methods but if I don't know the content, child will not learn the content that they are to learn.

As a teacher, I must focus on ALL aspects. I try to focus on ALL aspects. Kathy Collin's got me to focus on the importance of relationships during her keynote and reminded me of how important they are. Standardized test results show that children know content. I have come to believe that the workshop model and authenic, hands-on activities are the best method to use to teach content to the children in my classroom.

It is a balance...one I am still striving to juggle well.
It is a balance...one that I will always work hard to accomplish.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24 - NYC...So many people

I arrived in NYC on Friday at 12 noon by train from Washington, DC. My train was packed and we spilled out onto the platform and followed the herd up the stairs into Penn Station. Above me was the jumbo arrival billboard and it was filled with more trains arriving all day long. So many people, just like me, coming to this city. Why? Me to be a tourist on Friday, attend a conference on Saturday, and be an explorer on Sunday. So many people.

As I checked my bag across the street at the Hotel Pennsylvania, I quickly realized this city has the space to accommodate so many people. It is listed in Wikipedia as having been built by the railroad in 1919 and is still a hotel almost 100 years later with 22 floors and 1.700 rooms. If four are sharing that room, as is the case with me sharing with 3 other teachers, that is a possible 5,100 people sleeping in this same block of space. No wonder it took us almost an hour to stand in line and checkin. So many people.

We had tickets to the Tenement Museum for Friday afternoon. My colleague's grandmother had immigrated to America from Ireland and lived in a NYC tenement so she was extra interested in learning about this moment in time in the lower Eastside of New York. As we watched the film at the museum, again I was struck by so many people coming to this island from the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s, coming from all parts of the globe to settle and make a better life, here in NYC. Our tour was called "Hard Life" and soon we learned that it really was. Crowded conditions, three room apartments (kitchen, living room, bedroom), 20 apartments per building, four outhouses outside per tenement. So many people.

On Saturday afternoon, I sat in a  huge church, The Riverside Baptist church, and was surrounded by teachers. Yes teachers - not Baptist Worshipers. Instead, TCRWP Worshipers! I came from VA. Most came from nearby NYC and NJ and CT but others came by train, planes and busses to learn from the smartest literacy people in our nation. Twice a year TCRWP offer workshops to attend for free. I attended an hour talk per hour starting at 9am and now was ready to listen to the fifth and final talk, a keynote addressing all who came to learn. At one part during the talk, the speaker encouraged the crowd to "find your people". As I looked around, I was among my people who, like me, are striving to be the best literacy teachers we can be. So many people.

I'll return home to VA which is also a relatively populated area, to my school that is 800+ students. I'll hold onto all I experienced in NYC...so many people...all coming to find their people and explore a part of the world that has room for them. I want those who interact with me back home to know I have room for them, I can be their people. So many people but not alone. Together we can collaborate and strive and grow.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23 - my new step in the writing process

We all know the steps on the writing process in Writing Workshop:
Generate Ideas

Today I am in an amazing city on a mini-vacation with my husband. Instead of going through all the steps above to post my next slice right now, I'm going to create a new step for me to do. Then I won't feel so guilty about this lame posting today.

One cannot do ANY of the steps the writing process without exploring the world. So today, I am off to explore, my new step in the writing process.

Then I WILL have ideas to generate, stories to draft-revise-edit and then will publish them from March 24-31.

But not today! Today I explore this city that never sleeps!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22 - Top quotes I heard at the TCRWP 86th Saturday Reunion

"Oh, you mean crutch, not crotch...phonemic awareness is important!?  Shanna Schwartz

Three Wonderful Books = a Gozillion Possible Mini-lessons:
1. That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems
2. If You Hold a Seed by Emily MacKay
3. Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin                Shanna Schwartz

"Come to your partnership prepared with your thinking on a post-it. Then the partnership or bookclub needs to squeeze it for all its worth. Instead of being like popcorn, and popping from idea to idea, be like a snowball, that grows and builds. Stay with the idea longer. "         Kristin Smith

"The more we get kids to think about their thinking and to talk about the strategies they are using daily, the more they will likely use the strategies daily while reading."   Chantal Francois

"You close read what you love.
What you spend time close reading, you come to love."               Kate Roberts

"Here's another way to raise awareness about your teacher evaluation. When you do something above and beyond your job as a teacher, post your actions @ #evaluatethat "

                                                                                                        Kathy Collins

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21 - Heading to the TCRWP Reunion Saturday

Worked for four days, teaching my 27 fourth graders.
Taught a group of teachers Thursday afternoon at another school.
Returned to my school at 7pm to leave sub plans.
Mission accomplished at 9:11pm.
Made dinner and packed once at home.
Emailed my grade-level partner because I forgot to leave something for my sub.
Set alarm for 5:30am.

Catching the 7:25am train to Penn Station.
Will be sitting in Riverside Church tomorrow at 8am awaiting the Reunion to start!

I'm exhausting thinking about all I did to take one Friday off from work.
I discovered TCRWP the summer of 2009.
Then every Oct and March, I've attended their Reunion Saturday workshops.
How can I pass up a day of freee workshops taught by the smartest literacy people in our nation?
I can't!

Suddenly, I don't feel exhausted at all!
"All Aboard"!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20 - ...the point when I am not longer needed.

While waiting for Doris Kearns Goodwin to come out on stage to talk to the large crowd of educators gathered in the ballroom at the DC Convention Center, a video started. I don't even recall who made the video to give them credit. But one aspect of the movie is still playing in my head.

A teacher was having his students work collaboratively on a project in the video. He then states: "There comes a point when I am no longer needed. My students are engaged...I can sit back and watch....my goal is to have students who are confident and excited... the by-product is increased knowledge."

I got to thinking, I have had those moments as a teacher. My classroom is buzzing, all are engaged, all are working together. I am not needed anymore. I acted as the catalyst and now they are in motion.

I got to thinking, I have had those moments as a mom. Days and weeks go by and I might not talk to my two twentysomething girls. They confidently are living their daily lives. I acted as their catalyst and now they are happily in motion.

In both instances, both return to me often to ask purposeful questions. Because of the environment I've created at school and at home, all know they can come ask me anything. All feel comfortable asking. They know I'll listen. They know I'll offer suggestions. They know in the end, they are still deciding.

I got to thinking, I have had those moments when I am not needed at all and I have had those moments when my students and my girls articulate their thinking in the presence of someone who will listen and offer valuable feedback. I am that person!

Viewing the video on Saturday reminded me of the importance of all aspects of no longer being needed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19 - 5 minutes a day CAN make a difference

Jeff Charbonneau teaches Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering  at Zillah HS in Washington State. He is also the 2013 NBCT Teacher of the Year. Because of this title, he was asked to introduce Tony Wagner at the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference on Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Washington, DC.

He took time to first joke about how you can't get anything done in 5 minutes. But then he quickly switched his tune and inspired the crowd of over 1,000 by saying " five minutes can change the world!" He stressed that in 5 minutes "we can lift each other up to have the energy to keep going". As teachers, he reminded us that we need that energy to do our job well so we should take five minutes to lift up our students, as well as our colleagues. Instead of only gripping with co-workers, we need to take just 5 minutes to lift a fellow teammate up.

This got me thinking. On Friday, a colleague came by my room with her computer. For a Gifted and Talented Class she is taking, she needed to watch a TEDtalk. She thought I'd like it so together we watched a talk by a young girl who emphaisized that teachers should let kids guide the class - Adora Svitak - What adults can learn from kids. Then I shared the TED link to my favorite - Rita - Every Child Needs a Champion We were together for 15 minutes of our break time but it was fun to together be inspired. Together we lifted each other up!

Then I thought about how this same colleague made the effort to ask me a few Fridays ago how my Parent Browsing Breakfast went. I smiled because I wanted someone to ask me this. I shared how it went great and how the parents really liked the movie we made. She asked, "Can I see it?" and so I brought her back to my room and showed her the 6 minute video we made to show our parents how we used the computer to make an eBook (really just a powerpoint presentation but it is more fun to say "eBook"!!). Then we  parted to use our planning time separately. Next thing I know, she is back at my door with a card - she took time to write my students a Thank You note to tell them how much she enjoyed the movie we made.

WOW! Claire, my colleague, totally gets what Jeff is talking about. She took time to lift me up. Then we both had the energy to keep doing this hard job called 4th grade teacher!

We all have 5 minutes today - take time to lift someone up!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18 - Reflections on hearing Tony Wagner

Tony Wagner -
At 10am on Saturday during the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference at the Washington Convention Center, over 1,000 educators gathered to listen to this strong voice in education. Writer of many books, Tony has spent many hours interviewing top business leaders, asking them what skills they want their newly hired employees to have. From these interviews, he created a list of seven major skills that companies value most:
1. critical thinking
2. collaboration - in person and virtually
3. agility/adaptability
4. initiative/entrepenurial spirit
5. can communicate strongly both orally and in writing
6. ability to access information
7. curiosity and imagination

He then stressed to this audience of teachers that we can ensure that these skills are taught if teachers incorporate the 3Ps - play, passion, and purpose - into the school day. This got me thinking.

Do I allow my 4th graders time for the 3Ps?
PLAY - One plus of the many snow days we have had in VA this winter is that we've had lots of indoor recess which has given me the opportunity to watch my 10 years olds play. Mancala, paper airplanes, beanie babies and white board markers have been used the most. However, it is also play when I ask groups of four to work together in science to create an image and research interesting facts related to a planet. It is play when students read and jot down thoughts as they prepare for a book club discussion. It is also play when a fruit basket and a scale is set out and students in math class must weigh each piece in grams and pounds. My natural approach to teaching by having my students do, by having hands-on learning, is play!

PASSION - I know my students' interests, their passions,  because they read and write about them. Reading and Writing Workshop are the perfect structures that allow a teacher to know the interests of a student. In Reading Workshop, I foster students' interests by matching kids to books related to their passion. In Writing Workshop, I teach students how to write in a variety of genres while encouraging them to write about what they know and love. For this reason, I will only work in a school that allows me to teach using the Reading and Writing Workshop structure. I guess this is my passion!

PURPOSE - My students fluently read and learned many new vocabulary words by learning all the military songs which we performed for our families and friends at our Veterans Day celebration. They researched all there is to know about a plant or herb so they can create a marketable product to sell at the 4th grade Farmer's Market in June. Through purposeful events, learning occurs. I have made it a habit to ask WHY as I plan. This helps me to ensure that purposeful work is being done by my students. I never want them, when asked why they are doing something, to say "I don't know. The teacher said so." I want them to know the purpose of why they are asked to do what they do at school.

By reflecting on the 3Ps, I still have room for improvement but I am incorporating play, passion, and purpose into my school day! The by-product is that my students are learning the skills they need to be college and career ready. My students are 10 years old. I can't even image what jobs they will be applying for in 12 years. Yet, I am confident that they will have the skills they need!
How about you?

Tony ended his talk by sharing a 7 minute preview of a documentary he is making that shows strong 21st century teaching. Look for it soon at a neighborhood theater. To see video, click here.

More info can be found at his webpage.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17 - Doris Kearns Goodwin

My district paid for me to attend the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference on Saturday in Washington DC. As the alarm went off at 5:30am on Saturday morning, I thought about not going. Who would know?  But then I rolled out of bed and I'm so glad I did! I decided I'll share some reflections I had from attending this conference as my slices this week.

I amost did not go to hear the afternoon keynote - Historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin. I was thinking how she is not a voice in education. Her books are SO thick that I have never read one, though I did like the Lincoln movie that her book was based. So I joined the 1000s of educators in the big convention center ballroom as she sat to have a discussion led by Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President. At one point, she spoke about her newest book - Bully Pulpit.

The book jacket states:
"The gap between rich and poor has never been wider...legislative stalemate paralyzes the county...corporations resist federal regulations...spectacular mergers produce giant companies...the influence of money in politics deepens...bombs explode in crowded streets...small wars proliferate far from our shores...a dizzying array of inventions speeds the pace of daily life. These unnervingly familiar headlines serve as the backdrop for Doris Kearns Goodwin's highly anticipated The Bully Pulpit - a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.

I was inspired by Doris to push myself to read her newest book. She said we can go forward by looking back. Doris' book is about a time that matches so much of what our nation is dealing with now in 2014. I'm motived to see how Teddy and Taft solved the problems of their time. Doris said that people make the problems and people are needed to solve the problems. After Doris spoke, I bought a signed copy of this 8oo+ page book. I tend to challenge myself to read this long book.As a reader, Harry Potter was the last time I read such a long book. Instead, I tend to spend my reading time mostly reading picture books and YA novels. Bully Pulpit will be a harder read but then I can tell my students honestly how I felt when I was reading a hard book.

Doris Kearns Goodwin taught me Saturday the importance of historians. We must look back and record and reflect on the past. It is the only way to see clearly into the future! I hope I can accomplish my new reading goal...I plan to start the first Saturday of Spring Break!! Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16 - St. Patrick Day Recipes

I married into an Irish/Hungarian/Polish family. I am grateful Bob Donnelly and Marilyn met, married and raised a big Catholic family, my husband being the youngest son of the five kids. While dating and then onced married, we would celebrate St. Patrick's Day with my husband's family, the menu always the same: Corned Beef with Galusca. Finally I asked Marilyn how to make this meal and learned it is so simple. You just need time, something that our generation does not always spend when preparing meals. Here are the recipes:

Corned Beef
Boiled for 3 hours on the stovetop.  Then place in a baking dish and bake in the oven with a brown-sugar glaze added to the top for another hour. Once warmed, slice thinly.

Galusca  (a Hungarian cabbage and noodle dish):

6 cups or one head of cabbage           1 tsp salt
2 tbsp Crisco or margarine                8 oz package broad noodles

Grate or food process cabbage until fine. Put 2 tbsp crisco or margarine in frying pan. Melt. Add cabbage and salt. Fry slowly until browned (takes at least 15-30 minutes) Cover, stirring often.

Boil the noodles, following the directions on package. Drain. Add cabbage to noodles. Salt to taste. Serve warm.

My own girls LOVED this dish growing up. I will be making it today so I am ready to serve it tomorrow.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15 - S is for (not snow) snorkeling

Monday is St. Patrick's Day and the forecast in VA is for snow. I decided to focus on a different S word in my slice today - snorkeling, my new favorite recreational activity.

"Follow me down this path," Raul, our guide said to all 20 of us, 10 couples from the cruise ship, some here as newlyweds, some retirees and then Brian and I, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I was glad I had on my water shoes as we walked down the pebbly path, a lagoon on our right and palm trees all around. The sky was just one shade of blue as I looked out at the many shades of blue in the water beside us.

After a 10 minute walk, Raul stopped. "We'll get in here. Remember to only step on the sand and not the coral. The water is drifting back to the boat. Maria will be at the front and I'll be in the back. Leave about 10 meters between you and the person in front of you."

With the sun shining brightly, the water felt refreshing as I entered the crystal blue water. I carefully stepped on the sand, avoiding the green blobs that I guessed were coral. Off Maria, the one guide went, then the next perosn and the next. I adjusted my mask and snorkel as Brian took off. Then as he glided off, I waited and then it was my turn.

As soon as my mask hit the water, a whole new underwater world was revealed. Brown, yellow and purple coral covered the floor of this lagoon which was only 3 meters in depth. Darting quickly in and out of the coral were fish of every color. A school of yellow and black striped fish darted right before my mask. As I floated, the coral continued and between the jagged rock holes were more and more and more fish. So much color, so much movement, so much to see under the water!

Now back in VA, I think back to that day of floating along during that excusion. When I took time to stop, look and just enjoy the ride, I saw SO much of this beautiful world. I wonder if I am stopping and looking at my students enough? Am I enjoying this ride of being their teacher? When I do, I see so much more! So much under the surface is happening. So much to enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 14 - Wonder by RJ Palacio

As I read about 10-year old Auggie and his family and then about how he is treated at school in a variety of ways by a variety of people, I ended the book learning a valuable lesson. I must work harder every day, especially as a teacher, to be kind to all.

I read Wonder for the first time during the summer of 2012. I am currently reading it to my 4th graders. Today we started Part Four told from Jack's point of view. I love thinking aloud about the main character, as well as, the many secondary characters with their own important subplots. It has lots of flashbacks and events told by multiple perspectives and I'm able to show my students how we have to work hard to hold onto so much information. Working hard while reading is a new concept for my 4th graders. So is always being kind. I hope to accomplish lots through this read-aloud!

If you get the chance, I think you will find Wonder worth your time!

I am reminded of Mark Twain who said, "The man who doesn't read great books is no better than the man who can't read at all." Wonder is a GREAT book!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13 - Katie DiCamillo!!

Last October, I heard Kate DiCamillo speak as the Keynote at TCRWP Saturday Reunion. She shared how her story of Flora & Ulysses came to be. As she spoke, I kept thinking that it really is SO important to gather our stories, only the stories we can tell, in our Writers Notebook. Her mother and her mother's vacuum cleaner and that almost dead squirrel found on her front stoop were then used to create this new story. We must, as writers, be like Kate, and keep gathering our stories.Who knows when we might use them!!

After hearing the backstory of this newest book of hers, I immediately bought it on Sunday once I returned to VA and started reading it aloud to my class on Monday. My 4th graders LOVED it. Needless to say, we were excited when this book then won the 2014 Newbery Award and when Kate was named Ambassador of Children's Literature by the Library of Congress.

I'm not sure if anything gathered on this blog over the past 12 days or next 18 days will ever become more than just words on this blog, but I am glad I am gathering my stories that only I can tell.

To view her speech given at the Library of Congress' Ambassador of Children's Literature ceremony where she states: "This happened because of a story.This happened because of a story read out loud, a story read together. So what I want to say to you today is this, stories are a glass-bottom boat ride. We sit together and look together at this world and at the worlds hidden inside of this world and looking together, listening together, helps us to connect. We are able to see each other, we open up, we change." CLICK HERE:  http://mrschureads.blogspot.com/2014/03/video-of-week-kate-dicamillo.html

To learn more about Kate: http://www.katedicamillo.com/

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12 - I'm getting a new house!

15 years ago, we moved here, 5218 N 12th Street, to live in a 2 bedroom, one bathroom house with no central air. We were a family of four; mom, dad, a 4th grader and a 1st grader. When you do the math, you realize that now, we are a mom, a dad, and two twenty-something girls and yes, still one bathroom. I guess you just make it work. We had a routine. I used the bathroom first daily, in and out by 6:00am, then Brian, then the girls. We picked this house because of the great lot. It had plenty of room for an addition and being married to an architect, plans were drawn to build another bedroom and bathroom, while adding central air conditioning. Then somehow, 15 years went by. Bridgit graduated college and Anne graduates college in May.


Brian and I are renting the house across the street while his design for a 21st century energy-efficient house with geo-thermal heating and cooling and a rooftop terrace is being constructed on our lot. He calls it the white(out) house! As of today, the "before house" has been totally removed and the backhoe has dug out the new foundation. I wonder what the site will look like on March 31st? I wonder when I can start to enjoy the master bathroom? I wonder if I'll still, out of habit, be in and out by 6:00am each morning. I hope the girls will still enjoy coming home to visit us in this new house at 5218 N 12th Street. I'm excited but a bit terrified as this is a huge project. But I know Brian's a great architect and I know the white(out) house will be worth the wait!
You can see more pictures at www.whiteouthouse.tumblr.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 11 - Breakfast Browsing

Breakfast Browsing
The cinnamon buns were on the plate, my mom arrived to be a "mom" for any students who didn't have a family member to share with, laptops were fired up, a balloon at each group of desks showed we were celebrating. The classroom was ready.

At 8am, the students started to stroll in. Some with a mom, some with both mom and dad, a few grandmas came and one big sister. Only four had no guest but my mom, the principal and the reading teacher filled in. The students' job was to share their work and the visitors' job was to learn LOTS from us. We even gave them a handout so they could jot down all that they learned.

We shared a video we made explaining HOW we used our laptop to research a topic we wanted to become an expert on. Click to watch video.

After we all viewed the video, our eBooks were explored, our fiction story was read. The back wall with student made Guess Who? Posters related to VA History facts were read and flaps lifted to reveal the answer. The Biography Persuasive Posters were viewed in the hallway.

Until 9:10am, browsing occurrred!! I stood and smiled and thought that this is truly the job of a teacher - to empower her students to teach others! This was happening today!! I am SO glad we held a Browsing Breakfast on the Friday morning of another short week of school. Despite the crazy winter, we have learned LOTS in Room 121 and today our guests were learning from us!!

To view photos taken at event, Click here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10 - Classroom Teamwork

27 Students -  27 Realistic Fiction Stories, 27 Social Studies Guess Who Posters, 27 Biography Posters, 27 Nonficition eBooks
During January and February, 2014, we've had MANY snow days, as well as, student absences due to sickness. That, compounded with the fact that all students work at different paces and abilities, trying to guide a group of 27 can be challenging.

Our invitations were already sent out. Parents were coming in to see our work on the morning of Friday, March 7th. So when we FINALLY got to school Wednesday (another snowstorm caused us to miss school on Monday and Tuesday and a 2-hour delay today) MUCH needed to be completed!!

We spent Wednesday afternoon making it happen. Pages were printed. Final scenes were typed. Work was hung. One student helped another who had been absent. I helped scribe for the student having trouble getting all the ideas on the page. Thursday afternoon, we worked nonstop again. We were on a deadline.

It was my goal that ALL 27 students would have 4 products to share on Friday morning. And at 3pm on Thursday, because of class teamwork, we were ready for our visitors!!

(check back here tomorrow to read about our Friday Breakfast Browsing event!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 9 - Student Transference Success!

Close Read of Stray by Cynthia Rylant
The Reading Teacher came in to lead us in an argument discussion of this story. The debate would be: Doris should keep the dog VS Doris should not keep the dog (modeled for us during the January, 2013 TCRWP Reading Coach Institute). She paused after reading the first two paragraphs and asked the kids to jot down what they were thinking. Both her and I shared a think-aloud. Then a student hand was raised and waving and I called on this student.

"I have a comment. The line that reads "its ears tucked, its tail between its legs, shivering." I think the author is showing us that the dog is scared."

WOW! This child just made a HUGE transfer from what we were learning while writing realistic ficiton in Writing Workshop to now reading a story. "You are so right. Cynthia Rylant IS showing us and not just telling us how the dog feels by picking just the right words to SHOW it to us. Thanks for pointing that out, " I replied with a HUGE smile on my face.

Inside I cheered and thought to myself, "Yes, the transferring of skills IS happening in my classroom!!"

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 8 Ballad-like Poem, inspired by Reading Aloud to my children!

Last year I was helping the 6th grade students at my school understand what a ballad is - a songlike, narrative, poem that has rhyme, rhythm, and a refrain. In the process, I wrote this ballad-like poem, inspired by my daughters, Bridgit and Anne!! I love that it has recorded for me the best part of being a mom, getting to read-aloud so many stories filled with so many great characters to my two favorite readers.

My daughters, at 4 and 1
Licked their cone of ice cream
Listening to me read The Tweedle Beedle Battle
And the adventures of Spot and his mom, Sally,
While taking turns to open the flaps.
The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Once they turn 6 and 3
They spooned their jello
As I read everything by Donald Crews.
We rode his train, plane, boat, bike, and carousel.
Then listened to the troubles of Arthur and DW.
The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Soon both could read at 8 and 5
Yet, they still listened, munching on popcorn
As I read of Elmer on Wild Island
And we met Samantha, Molly, and Josephina
Living in another time.
The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

By the ages of 10 and 7
We met Ms. Jewels, Louis and the 28 students
in that tall, skinny wacky school.

Also, Anastasia and her funny brother, Sam.
The clock chimed eight.
I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.

Time flew by, and suddenly they were 12 and 9.
They made the cookies we all munched on
As I read-aloud the adventures of their newest friends:
Harry, Ron, and Herminone.

The clock chimed eight.I said good night, sleep tight, and turned out the light.
Now, they are 25 and 23.
The clock chimes 2:00am.
I’ve been asleep for hours
Closing my eyes after reading a chapter alone on my kindle fire.
Bridgit tweets the latest news of the day.
Anne posts a TEDtalk video to her facebook wall and grabs a play to read.

Good night, great readers, sleep tight.

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 7 - My daughter, Bridgit, accomplishing what she sets her mind to!

"Mom, I want to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention," my 19-year old daughter said while on the phone with me. She was calling from Barnard, where she was finishing up her Freshman year of college. I chuckled to myself, thinking how I loved that Bridgit's generation seems to think they can do anything. I just listened, not wanting to say anything that would burst her bubble. But to me, this seemed like a very lofty goal. As she continued to talk, I realized she was serious. She had read the rules and sent in the paperwork and was on the ballet to speak at the 8th Districts Democratic Convention meeting in a few weeks.

So on Saturday, May 17, 2006, I tagged along with her to the Convention held in an auditorium at a local school. When it was time for the speeches, I sat in the front row as nine women lined up, each to give a 3-minute speech about why they should be a District-elected Delegate at the National Convention. Two women would be chosen from the nine. Bridgit, confidently, joined the line, 2nd from the end. I noted that she was the youngest by far.

When it was her turn, she began:
Hello. My name is Bridgit Donnelly....At the beginning of this year, I never imagined I would be standing before you today. I never imagined that I would forgo schoolwork to host phone banking parties out of my dorm. I never imagined that I would march from 135th Street in Harlem down to 59th Street in Columbus Circle with a group of 100 or so other Obama supporters, chanting "Yes We Can!" I never imagined that I would give up my Spring Break to go to Pennsylvania and register young people to vote for the first time. I never imagined I would skip school to go back and help them get to the polls. I never imagined that I would actually read the enormously long document explaining the procedure of how to file to run for National Delegate. And I especially never imagined that just two days ago I would sign the paperwork to take the fall semester off to campaign for Barack Obama....
I know that I do not have much of a chance at getting to the National Convention as a District-elected Delegate. I am just grateful for the chance to stand among such a dedicated group of people and be considered for this position. Thank you for considering me, and I look forward to Barackin' the Vote with all of you in November. Thank you."

The crowd clapped loudly for Bridigt and after the final women spoke, ballets were distributed and those in the room checked the two men and two women they wanted to represent at the National Convention them from the VA 8th District. Then the counting of votes began. Many came up to Bridgit and congratulated her on her speech. A little while later one man came over and said, "I was in the room counting.It looks really good." Then minutes later, Mayor Euille was saying, "The female delegates will be Cristina Chiappe, and the young woman from Arlington who stole all of our hearts, Bridgit Donnelly."

I love that on May 17, 2008, my daughter taught me that if you want something, you go for it!! I hope I can always be as brave as she is! 

To see Bridgit's blog notes and her complete speech, read below:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Virginia 8th District Convention

So today, I went to the Virginia 8th District Convention as an Obama Alternate Delegate, meaning if one of the Arlington Obama delegates didn't show up, I could take their spot. But of course everyone showed up, so I was just there for fun and to hear from our lovely elected officials: Sen. Jim Webb, Rep. Jim Moran, and Mayor Bill Euille of Alexandria.

Also, I was there running as a District-Level National Delegate, meaning I would get to go to Denver and the DNC Convention. However, the Obama campaign had chosen a slate of 5 candidates to go to the convention, to try and ensure that the delegation would represent the diversity of the district. The delegates didn't have to choose them, but they were a slate, nonetheless. So I wasn't getting my hopes up. I was just there to see how the whole thing worked and get my name out there so I could run successfully in four years.

Then I gave the following speech:

"Hello. My name is Bridgit Donnelly. I graduated from Washington-Lee High School last year, and I just finished my first year at Barnard College in New York City. I stand before you today to wholeheartedly endorse Barack Obama. You may not think my endorsement means much, but consider this. I am one of the many youth who have never been involved in politics besides reading the morning paper or maybe making some phone calls for a local candidate. One of the many who thought you had to know somebody to be involved with processes like these.

At the beginning of this year, I never imagined I would be standing before you today. I never imagined that I would forgo schoolwork to host phone banking parties out of my dorm. I never imagined that I would march from 135th Street in Harlem down to 59th Street in Columbus Circle with a group of 100 or so other Obama supporters, chanting "Yes We Can!" I never imagined that I would give up my Spring Break to go to Pennsylvania and register young people to vote for the first time. I never imagined I would skip school to go back and help them get to the polls. I never imagined that I would actually read the enormously long document explaining the procedure of how to file to run for National Delegate. And I especially never imagined that just two days ago I would sign the paperwork to take the fall semester off to campaign for Barack Obama.

But standing in Washington Square Park on a beautiful September evening, something happened. Standing there, with people from every walk of life - young, old, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian - all there to hear Barack Obama speak, I realized that if we can all come together, we can all have a say this year. It's not like the elections of years past. You don't need to know somebody to make a difference. This year, WE get to decide what we want for our future. And WE choose Senator Barack Obama because WE know that he has brought people together across this country. We know that WE have made a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a spectacular group of people running for National Delegate. We have all worked extremely hard to get Senator Obama to where he is today. And I know that we will all work even harder to get him to the White House. I know that I do not have much of a chance at getting to the National Convention as a District-elected Delegate. I am just grateful for the chance to stand among such a dedicated group of people and be considered for this position. Thank you for considering me, and I look forward to Barackin' the Vote with all of you in November. Thank you."

The delegates were extremely inspired and kept telling me how awesome my speech was. Was it really that good? Well then, thanks Prof. Stokes for teaching me how to write a speech in Reacting! Anyway, I was still not hopeful. Many of the delegates had come to the convention knowing who they were voting for. Some had even already turned in their ballots and left before I spoke (I mean, we had been there for 6 hours!). So I wasn't hopeful.

But then people started coming over and telling me they had voted for me. People from every Virginia Democratic group were trying to get me involved and giving me their business cards. While I was chatting with the Obama campaign representative about helping them out, a man came over and said, "It looks good for you." I didn't want to believe him until he said, "I was in the room counting. It looks really good."

Sure enough, minutes later, Mayor Euille was saying, "The female delegates will be Cristina Chiappe, and the young woman from Arlington who stole all of our hearts, Bridgit Donnelly."

So there you have it. I'm going to Denver as a Delegate! Like, I'll be on the floor when Barack gives his speech! I won't have to sneak in or hope I get a good volunteer post. I'm gonna be there! Thanks again to everyone in the 8th District who voted for me! I promise I will serve you well!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6 - Softball Memory

I picked up my red, white, and blue glove, placed it on my right hand, and ran out to first base. To warm up, the coach threw me the ball.

I caught it and threw it with all my might all the way to the 3rd basemen. She caught it and threw it back. I rolled it to the shortstop, who squatted down, touching her glove to the ground between her legs. She scooped it up quickly and threw it back to me. I tossed the ball now way up into the sky near the 2nd baseman to simulate a pop-up. "I got it!" she called out. Once caught, she threw it back to me.

We were warmed up and ready to go.The 7th grade St. James Girls softball team against the 7th grade St. John's Girls softball team.

"Hey, batter, batter. Easy out!" the chatter began. I shouted out, "Play's at 1st!" The umpire signaled to the pitcher to start the game.It was Springtime on a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 5 - a Spring Story!

It is March 5th and I just had 2 days off from school due to a snow storm in VA.
I am VERY ready for Spring so I recalled this moment as my Slice of Life to share today!

I push open the screened door and run all the way to far corner of my backyard. First, I hop on the swing and start to pump. I push my legs forward and then bend them back - legs straight, legs bent, legs straight, legs bent.

Soon I am swinging high, so high! The wind blows my hair and I feel happy,  so happy that I start to sing the song we learned in music class today. I sing and keep pumping, higher and higher!

Soon I hear, "Sally, dinner." I pump one more time back. Then, as the swing moves forward, I push my body, let go of the swing and leap. I land with both feet on the ground in a squat position. In I run for dinner.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 4 - Mom's 70th Birthday!

"Brring...brring....brring...The alarm sounded and Mom and I awoke. We were still tired from taking the evening train last night from Washington, DC to NYC but we had a big day planned, so we quickly dressed and hurried out the hotel door.

First stop - The Today Show at Rockerfeller Center!! Holding the sign I made, we entered the outside courtyard and joined a large crowd of people. Suddenly, the crowd cheered very loudly and walking onto the platform in front of us was the Today Show host, Matt Lauher. He was speaking to the home TV audience and we were his live audience. His segment ended and the TV went to a commercial break and Matt walked right to where we were in the crowd. He began shaking hands and once in front of us, with his left hand, he signed his autograph to our poster!! WOW! What a great start to my mom's 70th birthday.

(Though this "slice of life" happened on May 6, 2005, it is fun to recall it today and share this blog entry with my mom. I am reminded that I have just over a year to plan an even better 80th birthday celebration for her!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 3rd - :( news...E.L. Konigsburg died

Last April, I was sad to learn that author, E.L.Konigsburg, died.
I posted my thoughts that day to my blog which you can read by clicking here.

Then today, while checking my twitter feed, I saw that on February 21, 2014 a Memorial Service was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for my favorite author.    Click here to read news article.

To me it is fitting that a Memorial Service was held at the museum! I plan to stop by the Metropolitan this summer when I'm visiting NYC to have my own quiet moment in her honor in the space that she made magical for me as a child reader.

Why did I like Claudia so much?
I recall poet, Nikki Grimes saying that while growing up, she never saw herself in books So she decided to create characters like herself once she became a writer so other African Americans would see themselves in her books. I think I loved Claudia (main character in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) so much because she was a white, suburban girl (just like me) who always did what was expected of her (just like me), yet longed for an adventure (just like me and every kid my age!). While reading Claudia's adventure, I saw myself  and loved that experience.

I ended my April blog posting by writing "And as a teacher, will ALWAYS introduce students to her books. We are lucky...though she is gone from this earth, her books, her stories, remain!"

YIKES...I haven't shared her books yet with my 4th graders...but it is only March, so there is still time!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 2nd - At the grocery store

I briskly walked to the express line at Safeway with my one bag of a frozen Bertolli Pasta Meal for Two that I can quickly heat up for a dinner that should have already been prepared by now. It seems that all day, I have been 30 minutes behind and now, as I glance at my watch, it is already 7pm. As I wait to buy my one item, the line behind me grows and I become aware that this line, thought called express, is not moving at all. “Ugh,” I sigh, just wanting to quickly pay and head home, change into my jeans, sweatshirt and slippers and heat up this dinner in a bag.

“You don’t want it?” the cashier asked the diminutive dark-haired middle-aged women who is presently checking out. Then I see the tomatoes the cashier was inquiring about are now returned to the scale. She pushes buttons and the number on the screen goes from $12.48 to $8.89. Next a head of cauliflower is scanned and the woman, holding a $10 bill in her left hand makes a motion with her right hand. “You don’t want this either?” I can hear the annoyance in the cashier’s voice and I start to be annoyed too by the extra time it is taking to scanned and then unscan.
Then I glance at the woman. I glance at her quivering $10 bill and on impulse, I pull out a $20 bill and say to the cashier, “Let her keep it. I’ll pay for it.
The cashier snaps, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Calmly, I reply, “Just keep the cauliflower; rescan those tomatoes and then key in that she is paying $30 – her $10 and my $20. Then give me all the change.” The cashier listens and obeys, adds the veggies to her bag and gives me $16.73 in change.
“Gracias,” the woman replies, lowering her eyes.
“Enjoy!” I reply and move forward to have my one item scanned as the women leaves with her grocery bag.
As I walk back to my car, I think how lucky I am. I am used to having cash in my wallet and having money in the bank and having a credit card to use. I don’t think twice about having enough money to cover my grocery bill.
All day I ran 30 minutes behind schedule. Now I am glad. Otherwise, I would have missed being behind this woman. I am glad, in my hurry, I could slow down to help out with a mere $3.27.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

March 1st - Day One of SOL

     "Did you hear? The Smithsonian is honoring Eric Carle Wednesday night!" my friend blurted into the phone.
     "When? Where? I'll meet you there!" I replied excitedly.
      As a teacher, stacks of Eric Carle books can be found in my classroom and I love sharing his bright and beautiful picture books during read-aloud time. When I heard he would be just a Metro stop away receiving an award and speaking, I just had to attend this free event sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute.
     Days later, I got off the Metro at Federal Triangle and began the three block walk to the Natural History Building. As I walked, I suddenly noticed that a white-haired man was walking in front of me, flanked by two women seemingly in their twenties. I sped up to walk beside this trio and glanced over to see if this man was indeed Eric Carle. To my amazement, it was!
    Not wanting to intrude but also not wanting to miss this opportunity to be standing two feet away from my favorite children's book author, I spoke.
    "Congratulations, Mr. Carle! I am excited for you to be recieving the award tonight! I've come to watch and hear your speech. I'm a teacher and I can't imagine teaching without your books."
    The one woman guiding him to the museum seemed startled. "How did you know this was Eric Carle?" she asked.
     "How did I know? Come on," I chuckled. "He's Eric Carle. ALL teachers know his kind grandfatherly face.!"

I recommend visiting his Official Web Site and reading his blog!