My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

September 1, 2015

Giddy about Gardening #SOL

Join us in writing a Slice of Life story at
Two Writing Teachers
C'mon.. you can do it!
One day in June the family piled into the car and went to Home Depot.  We usually don't shop the home improvement stores as a unit, so we must have decided to randomly stop after a meal out.

As we wandered the store, we came upon the seed rack in the garden section.  We started looking at seeds.  "It's too late," my husband warned, "but you should see what will grow in the back yard."

Ah, the backyard.  Our neighbors installed a stone retaining wall two summers ago.  We have not decided what to plant at the foot of the wall on our side, so we've just been mulching the area.  

Hmmm - could this be a place for a garden?  

We decided on the spot that we would plant seeds in our new garden.  My husband picked cilantro and peppers (he loves pico de gallo), I picked carrots, and the girls chose watermelon, cantaloupe and spinach.

That day the seeds went into the ground.  Weeks later the sprouts came up.  Then flowers... and ... you get the picture.  We were actually growing a GARDEN!  We added a tomato plant and jalapeno pepper plant.  (Jeff really wanted to make pico!)

We've been pretty good about taking care of these little plants.  I've been completely mesmerized as I've watched tiny seeds grow into seedlings, sprouts, plants, flowers and now FRUITS and VEGETABLES (thank you, first grade science curriculum, for the inspiration and vocabulary).

Will we ever get to eat a juicy watermelon this year?  Doubtful.  I don't even think the cantaloupe will get past the flowering stage.  We have enjoyed tiny carrots, lots of cilantro, and some spinach.  We may try fried green tomatoes, and I'll have to find out how the peppers grew... I don't eat jalapenos!  I can't wait to plan what we are planting NEXT year!

Tomato plant





August 25, 2015

"That's the Lady!" #SOL

Join us!  Write and share a slice
of your life at
Two Writing Teachers
Today was day five of school, and I've been in lots more classes, and assessing more students.  I'm quick to smile and wave at kids in the hallway, and when I quietly slide into classrooms, I have many kids volunteering to read with me.  (How awesome is that!?!?)

I'm also one of the people who works the morning car line.  With four of us directing traffic and receiving kids, it's getting easier each day.  It's fun to treat kids like celebrities as they arrive at school.  I make sure to have a smile, help little ones exit the car, and wish their parents a great day.

Today as I walked past some primary kiddos, one girl pointed at me and called out to her classmates, "That's the lady!"

"Who me?" I replied.

"That's the lady who took me out of my car today!" she told her friends.

"Did I do a good job?" I asked her, with a sheepish smile.

"Uh huh!" was the answer.

Day.  Made.

August 22, 2015

Connections. Passion. It's all good.

Join us in writing about the great
happenings this week at
Ruth Ayers Writes

After six days of new teacher orientation, staff meetings, unpacking boxes and learning names, I was READY to welcome students to school this week.  I joined the Car Line Crew in the mornings, and I have the opportunity to greet students as they arrive at school.  I joked that I felt like I was a footman at a gala event with a red carpet!  I grab a door handle and out pops a celebrity student who has been delivered for a day full of learning.  

My new school services preK four-year-olds through fourth graders, so the kids are adorable and excited to be at school.  They are lined up very early each morning.  The students and staff have such connections to each other - it's really a big family.   At the end of this week I received two hugs from kids passing by me as I sat in the hallway assessing other students.  They had just met me!

(Side note - I have been smiling so much that my face hurts!  I feel like Dug from "Up")


All of the staff - returning, veteran, new and seasoned - have a passion for teaching, a driving force to help our students succeed, and a helpful attitude.  Everyone has been patient and good listeners as I tell them my goals and my background.  Even though they may not be excited about some assessment or instructional directives, they are keeping the students in mind.  It shows!

It's all good.

To take a quote from Pete the Cat, it's all good.  Students are wondering who I am, but they are quick to return a smile.  I've walked the wrong way to my classroom and passed one room twice trying to find a teacher.  I am trying to be respectful when making suggestions, realizing that the way I've done assessment, grouping and data mining may not be the only way.  I'm working extra hard to keep my former students and colleagues in my heart and off my mind, but I feel their encouragement.  I can do this.

August 4, 2015

New beginnings #SOL15

Join us every Tuesday at
Two Writing Teachers
for Slice of Life stories.

I made a decision this winter to pursue a reading position.  To get back to my passion, and to work as a resource teacher again.  I started sending out resumes and writing essays, and I started to feel lighter and excited.

I went on a good amount of interviews.  While I was nervous, I also felt content.  I love to talk about books and reading.  I feel confident about working with teachers to help grow their craft.  I know in my heart that a resource room is my comfort zone.

Then I was offered a job.  I agreed to work at a school far from my other district.  Away from my friends and students who I've worked with for twelve years.

How am I feeling?  A mix of excitement and nervousness.  I have a million questions and thousands of ideas.  I'm sorting my books and making notes and getting excited.

I've got my friends, Michelle and Karen on Voxer, so I'll have my literacy support system at my fingertips.  I also have my PLN on Twitter and all the slicers. (right!?)

I can't wait to get started this year!

From Crazypaperfreak

July 10, 2015

Digital Learning Chs. 1 & 2 #cyberpd

Text available from NCTE

Happy collaboration time!  Thank you to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting this summer's edition of #cyberpd.  A place to read a professional book with other like-minded people and have a great conversation!  Grab a copy of Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 by Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson and join the discussion!


Chapter 1 & 2 

This year I taught a classroom of first graders.  Everyone had a tablet.  The kids loved them.
I was not as excited.

I really thought I needed to hold back the reins on the tablets or my six- and seven-year-old charges would become completely dependent on their devices, needing to use them 24/7.  Yes, I am the same person who encouraged blogging and online reading just a year ago, but this felt different.  Would I be able to model the "right" kind of digital citizenship and using tablets as a tool?  I wasn't feeling confident, so I reluctantly let my students have access to these shiny, speedy digital tools.  I tried my best to provide guidance and anchor charts, yet I worried that my students would end up shunning our extensive library of books.

While reading the first two chapters of Digital Reading, I kept writing down the same word over and over on my sticky notes...
We (I, I, I) need to be intentional when making decisions about our instruction, our beliefs and our students.  First, we must decide what is digital reading. I love to read blogs and read lots of them.  They are snapshots of real people dealing with real situations, and I enjoy the insight into their thinking and feelings.  I have encouraged my students to write blogs, but I've never intentionally
showed them other blogs (written by kids and adults) that they can read and use as mentor texts.


Digital Reading Workshop
During my many years of reading instruction, I've encountered many students who are "passive consumers" of text (p.13).  This book reminds me of the importance of teaching students to reach for deeper understandings of all text they encounter, no matter if it's digital or hardcopy.  I appreciate the authors' commitment to creating a digital reading workshop model focused on:

authenticity - ensuring students see reading as an experience that doesn't just occur in the classroom

intentionality- purposeful instruction; students make meaningful choices about text they use

connectedness - help students connect to peers, other readers, authors and the world using digital tools


As much as I'm guilty of seeing technology as an extra "thing" to manage in the classroom, I have a better understanding of myself as digital reader and communicator, and how I must intentionally guide my students in finding success, no matter what text or format they choose.  I look forward to gaining more confidence and knowledge about digital reading from our book study!

June 23, 2015

One Little Word

The message was received this winter, or maybe it was in the spring.

I think hope is a wonderful choice for your One Little Word**.  Hope floats.

Then my friend sent me the graphic.  Aha!

I have been clinging to the string of the balloon, keeping my chin up, continuing to push forward and follow my passions.

The balloon and my attitude kept rising up, up, up.

This summer has already been busy and I continue to be hopeful.

Hopeful for the present and the future.

Hopeful that I can do what I'm wired to do.

Hope is a wonderful choice for my one little word of 2015.
Even if it's nearly July.

Everyone needs hope.

**For more information on One Little Word, see this link:


June 16, 2015

Prioritizing #SOL15

Read more Slice of Life stories every Tuesday at

It's summer.  Time to relax, reflect and re-energize.

It's also time to
hop around the house,
starting one project
then another
adding to a list
leaving laundry on the couch to fold later.

It's time to
keep the refrigerator filled with food
and the spinning cabinet filled with snacks
and keep track of one daughter's work and school hours
while encouraging the other daughter
to stay focused on her job search and chores.

It's not hard to find things to do.
I feel like the house needs lots of attention.
But then so do my books
and social media (to get more book ideas).

It all comes down to prioritizing.
It's something I'm working to become better at.
Sure, everything gets done
but maybe not in the order it should.
Everything then becomes a priority.

How do other people figure out
what needs to be done