Book Club

I just returned home from book club. It is one of my favorite pleasures. Spending an hour or so discussing the virtues of the latest read is always interesting. 

But really, the biggest pleasure is meeting with my lady friends and sharing anecdotes of family, jobs, current events , etc. Once a month we drink tea, share a sweet, and just enjoy each other’s company.

What a great way to experience a book!


One of my favorite strategies when teaching a piece of writing is to have students color-code the areas we are focusing on when they think they are ready to write their final draft. By highlighting or underlining in colored pencil, they are able to visually check their writing. Content that is missing is more likely to be noticed than if I give them a checklist. Often with a checklist, they will check things off, never really making sure their writing is complete. By color-coding, they can’t color-code what isn’t there. And it can be done on the final copy too, if you only want to score for specific content.


In the Blink of an Eye

March Madness. Check. Barn work done. Check. Groceries purchased and put away. Check. Minor house cleaning done. Check. One set of papers graded accompanied by a couple of movies. Check. March Madness. Check. Visit with a dear friend. Check. Second set of papers graded accompanied by a movie and March Madness. Check. Laundry. Check. Dog walked. Check. March Madness. Check.

Where has the weekend gone? In the blink of an eye, it is Sunday evening and I’m already preparing for the week and what lies ahead. With more to grade and with more March Madness. Check!


The Blocks Came Tumbling Down

What drew them to one another. Was it good looks? Him – dark haired, muscular bodied. The way he could move on the dance floor? Or was it something less noticeable? His work ethic? Or maybe he was a sweet-talker. Her – blonde and blue eyed, slim and petite. The way she could easily sketch the world around her? Or was it something less noticeable? Her easy laugh? Or maybe she loved to listen-hanging on every word.

They had little in common, but with what little they had, they fell in love and decided to marry. He – a boy from the south side. She – a girl from the north side. One – a Sox fan. One – a Cub fan. Protestant. Catholic. Serious. Humorous.

There were many truths. Many stories. Many hurts. What pulled them apart only they TRULY knew.

The marriage lasted twenty years. Through five births and four children.

Only vaguely aware that things were amiss, involved in their own world. The four. Vying for attention. Forming bonds, taking sides, playing peacemaker, shouldering each other’s burdens  the way only siblings can.

As the world around them came tumbling down like the blocks once carefully stacked, they were left wondering…



To Blog or Not to Blog

I have been trying to get a blog set up for my classroom. My hope h ad been to have it created in time to start the classroom SOLC so that my students could participate this year. Well, it didn’t happen in time. I continue to struggle with getting it started.

One of our techie people had come in back in October and did a paper blog with my students and then actually set it up. But there was a glitch somewhere along the way and she wasn’t able to figure it out. As you all know, just like regular lives, school lives go on and by the time it became available, we were deep into something else.

Finally, I was ready and able to make time for blogging and the sites had been taken down because no one was using it. Very disappointing and frustrating. So here I am, not sure what to do. Well. I haven’t given up yet.


Snow, snow, stay away

I am sorry for my friends in the Northeast hit with this latest snow storm. We had only a few inches here in Southwest Michigan and I am relieved. At this stage of the winter, with spring just days away, I am hopeful that any further storms stay away.

I know that this is a selfish thought. Many of those in the latest wallop wished for it to pass them by. Many here would love to have that snow. They would find happiness with extra days away from work and school. Extra days to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and other winter activities.

Me? I am already perusing garden catalogs. planning the vegetables that I will plant this spring. Planning the vacation that my husband and I are taking when school ends in June. I am relishing the longer summer days and the seemingly neverending twilight hours.

Snow, snow, stay away. Come again next winter’s day.


Can’t Beet It!

I love beets! So I was quite (and delightedly) surprised when I bought lunch at school and the vegetable of the day was a mix of root vegetables! Carrots, turnips, and BEETS! And of course, there was a large supply of them left as they are not a favorite of the students.But I savored every bite!

I love beets! So I was quite delighted when I was shopping this weekend and  found packaged, sliced beets that were ready for eating without being pickled! I can add them to a fresh salad with greens and maybe some feta. And of course, they will be left untouched because my husband does not eat them!

I love beets!

The least favorite of tasks

I am not a huge fan of grocery shopping. It is one of those necessary evils in my mind. I dislike the overabundance of options for almost everything needed. When I see the endcaps at our grocery store packed with discontinued items at rock-bottom prices (and not because they are expiring), I know that there are too many choices. I feel there are better things I could be doing with my time than pushing a metal cage around the store, trying to locate the few items needed for the week, with the hope that I bring home everything I need so I don’t have visit again in a few days’ time.

That aside, my favorite time to shop is early in the morning. By early, I mean around the 8 a.m. hour, sometimes earlier. The store is quiet, the aisles empty except for a few shoppers that might be there for the same reason, and the employees stocking shelves. The produce department is full, the fruits and vegetables not yet picked over. I always wonder what time the employees start in order to get everything in its proper place?

My cart travels unheeded down the aisles as there are no shoppers to maneuver around, few people stocking shelves, little going on.

So, if I have to be there, make it the early morning for me!




I Am Thankful I Am a Writer

I am thankful I’m a writer because I can share my ideas with an open-minded, supportive group of fellow writers that include a broad spectrum of abilities. I am thankful I am a writer because I can look forward to responses to my writing that include relative ideas as well as reflections and thoughts that provoke further thinking.

I am thankful I am a writer because even when I have little to write about, I know that tomorrow will bring me a new experience and a new spark which will lead to a new idea to write about.

Something New

We are beginning our study of Africa next week. I wanted to begin in a different way. Something other than the usual reading intro and mapping labs. Something that might be more engaging. “Who wants to play a game?” I asked. Not surprisingly, every hand shot up. “Alright! We are going to play The Explanation Game!”

If you are  unfamiliar, The Explanation Game is a visible thinking strategy that can be used in many ways involving students in an upcoming activity. In this instance, I wanted to pique their introduce them to Africa using pictures, without telling them that the pictures were of places in Africa. I purposely chose photographs of terrain, modern cities, neighborhoods, and beaches that could be mistaken for other parts of the world.

As they studied each picture with their partners and responded in writing to what they saw, where they think the place was, and what made them think that, my intention was to break the stereotypical cycle of thought about what Africa is like: savannahs, deserts, grass huts, giraffes,  lions…

Not there is anything wrong with those images, but Africa is so much more! When they found out later that what they were looking at were photographs of Africa, there were many utterances of surprise.

“Welcome to Africa!” I was excited to open the door and invite them in to a new way of thinking.