Best and Worst of My Week

T.V. Viewing-

Best: Watching my favorite 3TV intern/writer pass, freshly pressed scripts, to the anchors.

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Worst: Watching the horrific spills in skiing and skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Dining Out-

Best: Lunch at NCOUNTER on Mill.  They have a portobello mushroom sandwich to die for!

Worst: Jason and I had been looking forward to a Valentine’s Day treat and scoped out the location of the “Waffle Love” truck.  We were going to try out one of their waffles with strawberries(heart shaped).  When we got there and were ready to order, we were told that their generator was down and they couldn’t make any waffles.  What a bummer!

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Purchase-

Best: Jason bought a new pair of Birkenstock sandals for our Hawaii trip! I even had a 20% off coupon!

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Worst: I had to buy a new battery for my CRV.  The Arizona heat is really hard on car batteries.

Best Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade-

When we realized our Valentine’s Day waffle “date” wasn’t going to happen, we headed over to World Market.  We found Twinings Blackcurrant tea and yummy smelling soap.

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Who Needs To Be A Rock Star

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I absolutely love being a teacher! I know we are not the highest paid professional, we put in long hours(despite what others, not in education, may tell you) and we often read in newspapers or hear in the news, what a crappy job we are doing! I still love it! Why? The answer is simply, the kids.
This fact really hits me when something comes up that pulls me away from working with my readers. As a reading specialist, other necessary tasks are part of my job. For example, school-wide, benchmark reading assessments are conducted by the reading specialists, curriculum specialist, and or other specialists within the building. This mean that 3 times per year, I’m assessing individual students, for a couple of weeks, each time. This is very confusing to my students. They see me at school, but I don’t come to their class and pick them up for reading intervention. Other times, our school may have ordered new instructional materials, and the reading specialists are called upon to unpack and organize the materials, so all the teachers can start to use them. Again, another extremely important task, but it pulls me away from the kids.

Here is a glimpse of some of the materials we have organized.

Here is a glimpse of some of the materials we have organized.

Whenever the other reading specialist, L.M.(my partner in crime) and I are pulled to complete other duties, our students make us feel like rock stars. I made this connection while watching the Grammys. Just as fans celebrate the presence of their idol, with the hollering of their name, fist pumping, and exaggerated waves, our students do the same, when we encounter them in the lunchroom and hallways. It is so cute! We are bombarded with a thousand questions-
Why didn’t you pick us up for reading?
Will you get us tomorrow?
Do I still get to be in your reading group?
What time will you come and get us?
We also get questions/comments from students we do not work with-
When will it be my turn to read with you?
Are you going to pick me next time?
I sure hope I get to be in your group.
Can you ask my teacher if I can be in your group?
The ultimate feeling is when I show up at their classroom door to resume our group and I hear a chorus of YESSSSS! Who needs to be a rock star when you are a reading specialist? Not me!

Our enthusiastic readers!

Our enthusiastic readers!

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Best and Worst of My Week

Student Quotes–                                                                                                                                    Best:                                                                                                                                             Me- “Why is it important to keep your eyes on the words, when your partner is reading?”

Adorable, 3rd Grade, ELL(English Language Learner) student- “It is important that you keep your eyes on the words so you can be focused and you are not subtracted when you read.”

Me- “Yes! Great thinking! Good readers stay focused and make sure that they are not  DIS-TRACT-ED when they read!”

Adorable, 3rd Grade, ELL(English Language Learner) Student- “Lots of kids, back in Ms. M’s class, are subtracted when they read.”

Worst:                                                                                                                                             Me-(Picking up students from their classroom, to bring down to the reading lab for intervention.  The other reading specialist is with me, collecting her students too.)

Bright, 3rd Grade Student- “D., L., and A. aren’t here today.”

Me- “Oh no! We are missing a lot of our reading friends today.”

Bright, 3rd Grade Student- “Ya, but it is because they all have lice!”

Event–                                                                                                                                                         Best:                                                                                                                                                           Celebrating my daughter’s 22nd birthday!

Tessa is 22!

Tessa is 22!

Worst:                                                                                                                                                                 Towing Tessa’s car from her rental to our place, so we can have our trusted mechanic put  a new starter in it:/

Outing–                                                                                                                                                            Best:                                                                                                                                          Jason and I took my Dad to the Phoenix Coyotes vs. Vancouver Canucks hockey game.  It was the most exciting game I have ever seen live!

Worst:                                                                                                                                                         Going to Target to fill 3 prescriptions for Jason’s bronchial infection and they don’t have the medicine in stock.

Best Example of turning Lemons into Lemonade:                                                                   It was going to take over an hour for the tow truck to get to Tessa’s car and we had to be there to meet him.  Her rental is less than a mile from REI.  We spent a wonderful hour looking at our favorite store!  Jason even found a perfect phone holder for his new bike!

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Thinking Maps

I have been very fortunate in my teaching career, to have taught for districts/schools that value professional development.  I have attended more than my fair share of PD.  Some have been good, some so-so, and some life changing.  Thinking Maps was one of the life changing ones!

Thinking Maps are not only an incredible teaching and assessment tool for educators, they are also an amazing tool for students to use to enhance and deepen their understanding of any content area.  Once the student understands the thinking associated with each Thinking Map (define in context, describe, classify, compare and contrast, sequence, cause and effect, part to whole relationships, and see analogies) they are empowered to organize their own thinking in a clear and concise manner.

A year ago my school’s staff was trained in Thinking Maps.  Then, my teammates and I went to the training to become trainers.  We also became trainers for the Thinking Maps writing program, called Write From the Beginning and Beyond.  It is extremely easy to provide training for programs I whole-heartedly believe in.  A few weeks ago, my team and I provided a follow-up Thinking Map session for our staff.  In my opinion it was the best received training we have done, thus far.  The teachers had used and tried out Thinking Maps enough that we were able to lead them to the next level of understanding.  We had each group create six out of the eight maps, to teach a concept taught at their grade level or content area.  We provided samples for each map, as well.  We heard many positive comments mainly because Thinking Maps are a tool you can implement immediately, without extra preparation time involved.  The teachers appreciated  having the time and guidance to create the maps that will aid their instruction and student achievement.

Our table at the training of trainers for Write From The Beginning and Beyond- Expository.  I was the only teacher from my school to attend this training, as everyone else went while I was teaching summer school.  I dread going to conferences alone!  I was fortunate to find the perfect table to join.  One teacher was a guy from Creighton School District and a woman who taught at Deer Valley.  We worked well together and I ended up really enjoying working with them.

Our table at the training of trainers for Write From The Beginning and Beyond- Expository. I was the only teacher from my school to attend this training, as everyone else went while I was teaching summer school. I dread going to conferences alone! I was fortunate to find the perfect table to join. One teacher was a guy from Creighton School District and a woman who taught at Deer Valley. We worked well together and I ended up really enjoying working with them.

Bridge Map- See Analogies- It would be read as Elvis Presley is an iconic musician of Rock-n-Roll as Ludwig Van Beethoven is an iconic musician of classical music.

Bridge Map- See Analogies- It would be read as Elvis Presley is an iconic musician of Rock-n-Roll as Ludwig Van Beethoven is an iconic musician of classical music.

Brace Map-Whole to Part Great for vocabulary instruction!  My husband helped me create the map for a guitar.

Brace Map-Whole to Part
Great for vocabulary instruction! My husband helped me create the map for a guitar.

Double-Bubble Map - Compare and Contrast- Here are Thinking Maps my 2nd grade students created to compare and contrast the main idea and key details from two different pieces of text.

Double-Bubble Map – Compare and Contrast- Here are Thinking Maps my 2nd grade students created to compare and contrast the main idea and key details from two different pieces of text.

Double-Bubble- Comparing and Contrasting MI and key details from two texts. This map was completed by a 5th grade student.

Double-Bubble- Comparing and Contrasting MI and key details from two texts. This map was completed by a 5th grade student.

Another student example of the Double-Bubble Map.  Fourth graders were comparing and contrasting the main idea and key details from a book about the sky and a passage about clouds.

Another student example of the Double-Bubble Map. Fourth graders were comparing and contrasting the main idea and key details from a book about the sky and a passage about clouds.

I always have my students include their Frame of Reference around their Thinking Map.  I want them to practice and get in the habit of utilizing this metacognitive strategy.

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Empty Nest

My husband and I are empty nesters! How did this happen?

On January 17, 1992, Jason and I welcomed Tessa Anne to our family. She was perfect!  I had been babysitting since the age of twelve, so I felt very prepared for parenthood.  She was the easiest baby ever!  She was a great sleeper, and eater, and she rarely cried.  Skip ahead to July 28, 1994.  Shortly  after 10 p.m. we met our big boy, Luke Robert.  He was my sweet boy from day one.  This boy has always been kind and gentle.  He never hangs up the phone without telling me that he loves me.

Tess decided to get her own place for her senior year at ASU so she was closer to campus and her internship.  At least she is close enough to come home often or I can head to Tempe to meet up with her.  Tessa was born Ms Independent, so I am accustomed to her going and doing things on her own.  She started school at age 3 and rode the bus to and from school each day.  I was teaching first grade at a school that had a preschool program for developmentally delayed children.  A decision was made to add a peer model to the program.  I was asked if I would be willing to have Tessa try it out.  It was a wonderful opportunity!  Tessa loved her teachers and classmates.  She was a great model because she talked non-stop(that is when she wasn’t singing) and most of the other students had speech delays.  There was never a lack of a verbal role model with Tess around.

Luke is the complete opposite of Tessa.  He doesn’t like an adventure or change.  He has a very quite soul.  He was also a really good baby, but he always wanted to be very close to me.  Luke and Tess are the best of friends and always have been.  There were never many sibling squabbles mainly due to the fact that Luke just said “sure” to whatever Tessa suggested.  Luke is very sensitive and empathetic.  He doesn’t want anyone to be upset with him and does not like to be around any type of conflict.

On the first of October, Jason and I moved Luke into his place in North Hollywood.  When we moved him in we had no idea how long he would be staying.  His school would not set up interviews or place him in his internship until  he was physically in Hollywood.  This drove me crazy!  I’m a planner and I have no idea where my son will have to drive to each day and I have no idea how long he will be away from home. I made sure we stayed another night in the nearby hotel so I could see with my own eyes that he was settled in and fine, before we drive 360 miles back home.  He did not have a good first night.   He had trouble sleeping and felt anxious about having roommates that he didn’t know.   Jason and I picked up a rental car because Luke would need a car for his audio engineering internship.  We made one last run into Target to get him a tea kettle, extension cord(he’s on a top bunk:/), and a reading light.  All that was running through my head was “Stay strong, don’t cry when we say goodbye, it will only upset Luke”.  As we walked back to the car, I looked over and Luke had big tears streaming down his cheeks.  So much for me staying strong!  Luckily Jason handles these situations really well.  He knew just what to say to Luke and he knew just what to say to me.  For the life of me I can’t remember what he said, but he calmed both of us down.  Luke told us how much he was going to miss us and we said goodbye.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Just drive away and leave my 19 year old son in another city and state, where he doesn’t know anyone!

Jason and I were going to stay two more nights in California, but two to three hours away from where Luke was staying.  Remember, when we left him, he still didn’t know when and where his internship would be.  Jason did a good job of keeping my mind off of my despair.  We drove down to La Jolla and had a room right on the water.  I texted Luke quite a few times, but he didn’t respond.  I figured he was sleeping because he didn’t sleep well the night before.  Finally, around 6:30 p.m. I got a text from Luke telling me that he couldn’t talk or text because he was at his internship.  WHAT?? We had just left him a few hours before and he didn’t even have an interview lined up!  Around 7ish he called me and said that he went to a record store(Luke’s version of Disneyland)to try to cheer himself up, and a recording studio called him for an interview.  He drove over to the studio, met the manager and audio engineer and they offered him a position right on the spot.  They could tell he was a responsible, well-mannered, and intelligent young man.  It was a perfect match for the type of work that interests Luke.  They told him to come back the next day to start his first day on the job.  In typical Luke fashion he said that he would like to stay and work a few hours right away, if they were ok with that.  They were.  He set up mikes, put away gear, did anything that he saw that needed attention.  That first day was October 2nd.  Between October 2nd and October 11th, he has worked every single day and has logged about 94 hours!  He has met incredible musicians(I can’t say names as it has to be confidential)and I look forward to his daily texts when he lets his dad know who is scheduled for a session.  I am so proud of him!

Now, back to our empty nest.  What does it look like?  What does it sound like?  Well, it sounds way too quiet.  This is a musical family!  I am accustomed to drums beating, guitars playing, vocals and bass lines being recorded.  Again, Jason has helped, a bit, working on some recording projects while we have been off of work.  It is just not the same kind of noise.  The pictures below will give you a sense of what an empty nest looks like.  It is going to take a long time for this to become my new normal.

My kitchen just doesn't seem to get messy.  Jason and I take 3 days to get enough dirty dishes to even run the dishwasher.

My kitchen just doesn’t seem to get messy. Jason and I take 3 days to get enough dirty dishes to even run the dishwasher.

The kid's bathroom barely needs a touch up.  This is the strangest experience for me!

The kid’s bathroom barely needs a touch up. This is the strangest experience for me!

The desk remains neat and tidy day after day.

The desk remains neat and tidy day after day.

Silent family room!  I miss hearing Luke giggle as he watches Portlandia!

Silent family room! I miss hearing Luke giggle as he watches Portlandia!

Luke's empty bed.

Luke’s empty bed.

And finally, my favorite part of my house.  I catch myself looking at these photos more than usual.

And finally, my favorite part of my house. I catch myself looking at these photos more than usual.

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Trials of Being a Teacher

When did it become acceptable for kids to be rude? Over the past few years, I have noticed a steep increase in disrespectful behavior in children. As a teacher, I see this inappropriate behavior both at school, and in my day to day activities. You may be wondering what I mean by rude behavior. Here is a list of examples, but not an all encompassing list: eye rolling, inappropriate language, name calling, put-downs, hitting(including hitting parents), telling their parents that they hate them, stomping feet, yelling while displaying disrespectful body language, and basically throwing temper tantrums when they are far too old to be throwing them.

It is neglectful for parents and teachers to not take these opportunities to teach the child appropriate ways to behave. It is fine to feel frustrated, but it is not o.k. to lash out in a rude fashion. It is great for kids to have their own opinion, but it is not always polite to share that opinion. Kids need to learn to filter their thoughts. If they think it is always acceptable to state their opinion, there will certainly be occasions where they come off as being rude. This takes direct instruction! Kids will not learn through osmosis, or if parents go around apologizing for their child’s poor behavior.

I have heard students say and do extremely rude things. Whenever I do, I call them out on it. It is surprising to me that it appears as if I am the first person who has confronted them about their lack of manners. For example, one day last spring, my school was having a “free dress day”. That means the students do not have to wear their school uniform to school. As I was walking a group of 4th graders back to their classroom, one of the girls looked at another and said, “Why are you wearing granny shorts?” The poor girl who the comment was directed toward shriveled with embarrassment. I asked the rude student to stay back with me so I could speak to her in private. When I confronted the student about her rude comment, she stated, “Well, they were granny shorts. Didn’t you look at them. They were all baggy and had some flowers embroidered on the front.” I was in shock! I was going to be the first person to correct her behavior? Needless to say, I took the time to help the girl learn from this unfortunate event.

Part of my responsibility, as a teacher, is to guide/discipline other people’s children throughout the day. The difficulty with being a teacher is that my teacher mode cannot turn off at 4 p.m. I have been known to tell a kid at Costco to use kind words when speaking to his mother. I’ve told kids at the park to clean up their language and keep their hands and feet to themselves. Why? Why do I take the time and energy to teach these kids right from wrong, even though their parents may not be putting in the time? Because if they were my kids, I would want someone to take the time to teach them. Although, it is kind of ironic because I can’t think of one time that either of my kids (now 21 and 19) ever spoke rudely to me or anyone else. I am thankful for that!

You may be wondering what inspired me to write about this topic. Well, it was sparked by an incident that occurred in my husband’s elementary music class. I was glad he took the time to correct this child’s rude and disrespectful actions. We can only hope that some learning took place, so this will not happen again. Here is the letter of apology he had the student write. I covered the name so the student could remain anonymous:)

Translation- I am sorry for not paying attention.  I am sorry for throwing toilet paper with poop on the boys.  Next time I will listen.  Next time I will not throw toilet paper.

Translation- I am sorry for not paying attention. I am sorry for throwing toilet paper with poop on the boys. Next time I will listen. Next time I will not throw toilet paper.

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We Must Have Angered The Gods!

Over the past few weeks we have spent about $5,600, and I feel like I have absolutely nothing to show for it!  I have always been one of those people who scopes out good deals and plans far in advance of a large purchase.  I was not able to plan ahead for any of our emergency purchases. It is no fun being a grown-up at times and I have photos to prove it!

1st Expense – Leaky Roof – We had a leak in our flat roof over our garage.  Cost to fix – $3,000

No enjoyment here:/ Especially not $3000 worth

No enjoyment here:/
Especially not $3000 worth!

2nd Expense- No air conditioning in Jason’s Element(Big Orange).  Normally this wouldn’t be an emergency repair, but Phoenix+August+Our son using the other car for college= emergency repair.
Cost to repair – $1,100
3rd Expense – Big Orange has unsafe, bald tires.
New Tires at Costco – $660
"Big Orange" Can you see a difference? I can't!

“Big Orange”
Can you see a difference?
I can’t!

4th Expense – Dead Pool Pump!
Cost of a New Pump – $700
No matter how hard I try, there is no evidence that $700 was spent here

No matter how hard I try, there is no evidence that $700 was spent here.

Although, I do LOVE my    pool!

Although, I do LOVE my pool!

Last Expense – Leaky Garburator (translation for my U.S. readers – garbage disposal).  Luckily my handy husband could do the installation.
Cost of a New Garburator – $100
Nothing too exciting here.

Nothing too exciting here.

As I try to find any enjoyment from these purchases, I come up with nothing.  I’m easily excited too!  When I bought my vacuum cleaner I was super excited.  The thought of a new dishwasher, sheets, even a mop, elicits excitement within me.  No matter how much I try, not one of these purchases brings me an ounce of enjoyment.  Aren’t things suppose to come in threes, not fours?  I’m going to cross my fingers that we will not have anymore expensive, no fun, repairs.

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