#SOLC18 18/31: A Final Farewell

Over the past week our daughter has been working tirelessly on preparations for Senior Prom. It is the responsibility of the junior class to handle all preparations for the dance. Since my daughter is a junior as well as a member of student council, she got to be part of all aspects of the planning and decorating for the dance.

One of the earliest decisions was choosing the location of the dance. Many options were considered, but after much deliberation over venue possibilities, it was decided to have the dance in an auxiliary gym on campus.

Not a terribly exciting or glamorous choice for a formal dance many initially said, especially since this building has been standing for a better part of 80 years. What is unique about this choice though, is that the gym is slated for demolition on Monday as part of several renovations taking place at the school over the next year.

With the impending doom of this timeworn building, the students realized how unique it would be to hold one final event in the gym before it came down. For me personally, this is especially nostalgic, because this is my high school that I attended in the 80s, and this gym was where I had PE every day my sophomore year. I am sad to see it coming down, but what better way to say goodbye than to see my daughter and her classmates close it down so memorably!

#SOLC18 17/31: Mom! You’ll Never Believe What Happened!

These were the words from my 17 year-old daughter, Annie as I was preparing dinner. She’s always got some great story from her day, so this wasn’t something that took me by surprise.

“What happened?” I replied.

“Well remember yesterday when Brinkley and I went to the store to buy a few snacks for skiing?”

(Brief side note: I neglected to hold onto the word “yesterday” which in hindsight, would have been a good idea)

“So while we were waiting at the check-out, the lady in front of us said to me that I looked just like her granddaughter. I smiled and said thank you. When the clerk finished ringing up our things, she said “That will be $79.23″ I said, What?! We only got 2 sodas and a few snacks! There must be some mistake! The clerk told us that the woman in front of us said I was her granddaughter, and that I was going to be paying for her groceries.”

“Annie!” I screamed, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is crazy!” (right now my Slice of Life brain turned on, instantly planning my next slice..)

“Yeah! It was crazy! So the clerk and I look over at the door, and the lady is practically running out of the store pushing her cart, so we start chasing her!”

“What?!” I reply – again, now getting quite excited at how amazing this slice will be…

“So we kept chasing after her all the way to her car. The clerk grabbed the lady’s car door just as she was trying to close it! And then I grabbed her leg so she couldn’t get in her car and get away!”

“Are you serious?!” I exclaimed. “This is crazy! I’m going to have to write about this on my blog! People are not going to believe it! What happened next?”

“Well I kept pulling on her leg, ya know. Kind of like I’m pulling YOUR leg right now.”

Balloon deflates. No amazing slice to share after all.

The joke’s on me. My joke-telling teenager got me hook, line, and sinker. Why didn’t I see it coming?

#SOLC18 16/31: Kinders ask: What’s a Grāpple?


Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Linda at TeacherDance

Snack time in kindergarten is a coveted time. On most Thursdays, a fresh fruit or vegetable snack is delivered to our classrooms from our school district’s central kitchen. Today’s snack was something altogether new to my students.

The Grāpple. Have you heard of this unique fruit? They come from the state of Washington, and are an apple that basically has been infused with food-grade grape flavor through a sort of bathing process. It’s quite a fascinating process that you can learn all about here.  Basically, they are an apple that tastes like a grape – no kidding!

As we were munching on our apple slices, a few kids commented that they smelled something in the room. I told them that was from the grāpples. As I explained the process to them, we began talking about how tasty they were. I told them to close their eyes and asked them what color came to their mind as they were eating. A few said blue, and I told them I saw purple while I ate mine.

We continued visiting about how much we liked them and how unique they were, this half grape/half apple snack. Suddenly inspired, I proposed to them, “We should write a poem about the grāpple!” To which they enthusiastically responded, “YES, YES!”

Keep in mind, this would only be my second attempt at an interactive poetry writing experience with my students. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work out; I am still new myself to writing poetry, so imagine what it might look like as I lead 18 six year-olds through the process. Seasoned teachers of poetry, you might shudder if you were a fly on the wall…

To clarify, they are not entirely new to the genre of poetry; I have been reading poems to them nearly every day for a better part of this school year. A few kids have dabbled in writing a poem here and there, but for the most part their experience has been nearly all receptive. As we launched into writing, I reminded them of what we have noticed about poetry: short sentences with powerful descriptive words.

I must admit, I was genuinely surprised at the high level of engagement I saw in everyone. Even my students who I consider struggling readers and/or writers contributed to the process. It was as if they had come to life in this endeavor!

While not a piece of poetic genius, I think they gave great thought and consideration to the ideas they shared, and welcomed my support along the way with suggestions for upping the descriptive word choices here and there.

With that, I proudly present our ode to the Grāpple:

#SOLC18 15/31:The Red & White Box Arrived!

Every month, each and every K-2 student in my school gets to choose $7 in books from Scholastic Book Clubs. Thanks to an organization called Book Trust, these books are paid for from a local corporate sponsor. $7 per student , every month, across 8 classrooms. This totals over $1,200.00 each month! There is never a month when I am not incredibly grateful and utterly amazed at the generosity of our sponsor.

Each month when that red and white box arrives in our room, there is a buzz that breaks out immediately.

“The book order is here!” “When can we look at our books?!”

The excitement is palpable. It’s like Christmas morning every month. The joy and excitement from each of my students never gets old. They immediately begin to gather with friends, eagerly showing each other their books, giddy with excitement over their collection of treasured new books.

Today was book celebration day. Enjoy this peek into our reading party!

Thank you Scholastic, thank you Book Trust, and thank you Teletec Corporation. The investment you are making in the lives of these young readers will reap dividends beyond these special moments. You are building readers, and the impact runs deep in their hearts and far into their futures.

#SOLC18 14/31: Shepherding Their Hearts

One of the toughest challenges in teaching often has more to do with character development than any academic or curricular expectation. Teaching content has plenty of demands, but instilling positive, intrinsic motivation for being a responsible and contributing member in a classroom, and ultimately in society as a whole is not an easy undertaking.

One specific struggle I am wrestling with is how to instill in my students an authentic, internal desire and willingness to make positive behavior choices. I think in most classrooms, there are always some students who just naturally do this. They are the rule followers. The teacher pleasers. But what about the students who don’t have a propensity for this? How can we come alongside the students who seem to be working harder at asserting their independence rather than demonstrating a willingness to behave in accordance with the teacher’s expectations?

I am all about positive reinforcement over negative consequences. I have designed many a positive behavior charts where students can earn a positive “reward” when they exhibit the appropriate predetermined behavior. The struggle I have is when I stop to consider the “rule followers” in the room. What must they be thinking when they see their classmate(s) earning what appear to be extras just for doing the right thing? Do they feel it’s unfair?

Maybe it is. Maybe the saying “fair is not always equal” is right. But it’s not sitting right with me. I want to find other approaches for students who struggle with behavior choices that dial into their intrinsic thinking & motivation. How can we help them truly want to make good choices just because it’s the right thing to do?

I teach 5 and 6 year-olds, so I must acknowledge that a lot of positive growth comes with maturity, and developmentally, it takes time for them to have an awareness of the world outside of themselves. Nonetheless, I still believe my little ones can develop the ability to make positive choices apart from receiving a reward for doing so.

What struggles have you faced with behavior and management issues? Do you have any go-to strategies that have proven effective with students?

#SOLC18 13/31: Let’s Party!

When I read her first #SOLC18 post, I was immediately hooked. Leigh Anne Eck @ A Day in the Life is hosting a party for any and all slicers who would like to come. It’s a great way to make new connections with fellow slicers – and it’s a great go-to post if you’re struggling for inspiration. Thanks for the invite, Leigh Anne. Head over to her post now (or anytime this month!) if you want to come along too!

What I am bringing:

  • Favorite book: I’m going with the first one that comes to mind – Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. There are not many books that make me laugh out loud, but hers definitely does. It is one that I have read and reread. Her style of writing is engaging and super fun & I find that I relate a lot to the topics she writes about.
  • Favorite person: I have a lot of favorite people, so this is hard. I think I want to go with a fictional character – someone who cracks me up to no end: Junie B Jones. Having raised 4 daughters who all loved read alouds with Junie B., I think she would be hysterical at a gathering with teachers!
  • Favorite food: A dear friend of mine introduced me to the yummiest lemon cookies I have ever tasted: Quadratini Lemon Wafer Cookies are amazing! The burst of lemon that you experience when biting into these bite size babies is like none other.
  • Favorite song: Anything by ABBA. Great music to share in a group!
  • A surprise! I would bring a huckleberry pie. Unless you’re from the pacific northwest, you’ve likely never tried huckleberries. It’s always fun to share this delicious delight with newbies. Excellent warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – delicious!


#SOLC18 12/31: I Want To Be F-A-T

I recently came across an article about the Reverend Billy Graham’s funeral. Specifically, it shared what each of his children shared about their father at his funeral.

His son, Nelson Graham simply stated this: “My father was F-A-T. He was Faithful, Available, & Teachable. May we all be that way.”

For a man so well-known and deeply respected truly throughout the world, I was struck by the simplicity, yet the profound immensity of what these words said about Billy Graham as a father. Moreover, I was challenged to consider my own role as a parent to the four beautiful daughters my husband and I have.

In the most hectic of moments, the most challenging of circumstances, and the most heart-breaking experiences life brings to me, I want to exude faithfulness, availability, and teachability to my children. I want them to know they can count on me no matter the situation. I will listen to them. learn from them, and love them unconditionally through everything that comes their way.