5 Questions on Friday!

5 on Friday

This week I was supposed to go into a classroom to model an annotation and questioning lesson. (The teacher called in sick today so it is pushed to next week now).

I love questions. I love to ask them of others and to reflect on them in my own writing and mind. I get questions from readings and listening.

Here are 5 Questions I am pondering today:

  1. What gives me life at work?
  2. What wears me out at work?
  3. Is there anything I can do to eliminate or diminish the effects of #2?
  4. What do I truly want to change?
  5. What do I miss from my teaching life?

 

Number 5 is the one that is popping out to me the most today. When I was planning and make the anchor charts for my lesson and thinking about student actions I was excited. I am truly looking forward to the responses and discussion that will come next week. To make the notes and think page more interesting I made it look like sketchnotes. My model on the large chart paper looks like a large version. I want my 7th graders to be motivated and I was thinking about how I would like notes to be more fun. I will let you know how it works! I used to take risks and ask kids in my class all the time to evaluate our practices and reflect. My goal was always to give them strategies they would use forever, not just for the next assignment or test.

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I also miss the day to day schedule funny enough. I liked the Family meeting time, the group written chart story and mini-lesson, the independent writing time and conferencing. I miss the many real alouds a day and practice time. I need to incorporate a time blocking schedule to my coaching life. Even days that are dedicated to certain tasks to keep myself on track and get more focused work completed.

Questions 1, 2, and 3 had me thinking about my first teaching job and a life-changing conversation. A good friend and I in the first building I ever worked in, had a discussion about what I missed about college. She asked me specifically what I missed with the idea that I could incorporate those missed experiences into my life now. To basically take the essence of the actions and make it real again. I took that to heart and made some changes that were wonderful.

Question #4 had both a small and large impact on my thinking today. The small impact is a self-editing idea that I learned in high school. A teacher advised reading my piece one sentence at a time, starting at the end. Taking the sentence out of context allowed me to focus on the sentence itself without the content of the story surrounding it. I would be less likely to skip over important details this way.

The large impact is a change that I really want to work from home a couple of days of the month. I have to work on a plan to try to make that goal happen.

 

Just thinking!

Happy Friday!

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Little Fires Everywhere Book Review

 

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I recently finished Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. This book came to be in my possession via Book of the Month Club for September 2017. If you would like to learn more about BOTM click here.

The anticipation for this book was high. I had listened to several of my regular book podcasts who all gushed about it which resulted in me being anxious and excited for it to come in the mail so I could read it. Then it came. I opened it, and it sat. I read it this month because a friend liked it AND it is a book club book. (We are meeting soon.)

I love Celeste Ng’s writing. I enjoyed Everything I Never Told You which I also read for a book club several years ago. There is a certain mystery to the storylines that Ng composes that I enjoy. The two books have this characteristic in common.

Family drama is prevalent in this book. If you enjoy reading stories about messed up people, this book is for you. I don’t gravitate toward drama too much – in real life or my book selections. The family storyline reminds me of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  The character/family threads are somewhat interwoven in Fires but I found them irritating, not intriguing.

I most enjoyed Mia in the book. She is an artist, she has a daughter, an interesting family history,  and forms a close relationship with a college professor and a poet. She was well written and I cared about her.

Overall, I had a hard time getting through this book. I would pick it up, read a few pages and then put it down. I do not prefer to read this way.

A couple favorite quotes:

(The “she” in this quote is Mrs. Richardson.)

She had been brought up to follow rules, to believe the proper functioning of the world depended upon her compliance, and follow them – and believe- she did. She had a plan, from girlhood on, and had followed it scrupulously: high school, college, boyfriend, marriage, job, mortgage, children. A sedan with airbags and automatic seat belts. ..

Now here was this Mia, a completely different woman leading a completely different life, who seemed to make her own rules with no apologies.

The first part resonates with me because I too had a life plan. My life now looks very different than I thought it would in my teenage years. There is an internal struggle flavor to this section of the book that I gravitate toward in my reading and my own writing so I find that extraordinarily appealing. There is a contrast here between these two characters and an envy on the part of Mrs. Richardson. The life that Mia leads is the most interesting part of the book for me.

The description of the book is magical in places. There is a slightly open ending and it is not neat and tidy at the end which I prefer. As to not spoil anything, I will just say I want to know where 3 characters end up and what happens to them after the last page was read. I have my own storyline I have given them – that will have to do!

I would love to hear from you in the comments if you read the book and liked it not.

 

Happy Reading!

Can You Feel the Love!?

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day here is a list of things I love today!

  1. Old school valentine cards

I bought some old school Valentine cards to give away to teachers today. They have little notepads on them with cheesy puns – what could be better for the day of love and friendship!? If it just makes one person smile, it is worth the small effort.

2. The Cult of Pedagogy empire

The podcast, the website, Jennifer Gonzalez. If you are a teacher and you don’t know her – look her up now – or just follow this link here. 

You won’t regret it! The only issue? You will go down a rabbit hole of resources and ideas so tell a loved one to come find you after 3 hours or so.

3. Post it Note Easel Pads

Chart paper that does not require tape – enough said.

4. Mr. Sketch smelly markers

I love these and have for years. The brown cinnamon one is my favorite.

5. Professional Conversations

I love great conversations full of big ideas, researchers names, pedagogy, educational theory, and intentional planning for student achievement! It fuels me and I have had several this week.

6. Writing Time

I am working on some pieces to get ready to submit for critique. I have a lot of rough drafts to edit! I love the writing  – the act and the product. I have been writing some longhand but mostly on the computer.

What are you loving today? Please share in the comments.

Everyone Needs A Coach #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualEveryone needs a coach.

Professional athletes have coaches their entire careers. There is never a time when a pro athlete says “I know all I need to know”.

I’m lucky in my life to have coaches that appear in real life and book format. Yesterday I had a phone follow up conference with one of the external coaches working with our corporation. I was able to unpack my own coaching and get some pushes from her to refine my craft. One of the benefits I adored about my TAP framework training and experience was the ongoing coaching support I received. Christie watched me teach lessons, watched me deliver PD, revised my paperwork and made me a better coach because she honed my skills and helped me overcome deficits.

Another way I’ve been coached in the past two weeks is by listening to the audiobook You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. I ripped through this book. I even chose to listen to it over my podcasts! That is saying something!  I loved her style. The book is read by the author and I laughed out loud. The best part is the book forced me to hear some great advice that was just what I needed to hear right now.

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Yesterday I had a real life meeting with another consultant and my curriculum director. We had such a great professional conversation about teaching and researchers and past experiences and people in the professional field that we all knew. I love those types of conversations and it’s so enriching to me. I wish I had them more often.

This year I feel like we have a wheel of consultants! Right now we have 5. There are so many that I forget sometimes which meeting and consultant we are talking about!

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Another coach for me is Emily P. Freeman and her podcast The Next Right Thing. She is nourishing to me. A new podcast came out today if you are interested in giving her a listen! The title is “Look for Arrows (Not Answers)”.

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Who are the coaches in your life?

 

This is a great TED talk about coaches!

Where the Magic Happens!

My Work Space

I am obsessed with the concept of Hygge. I love the feeling of fireplaces and good people. Good conversation and sweaters and leggings. The feeling of walking in the woods during a snowstorm. The feeling of warmth and coziness. Hygge and the feeling of joy are two things I try to incorporate into my workspace. You can read more about my obsession with Hygge here. Rainy foggy days where you feel like you want to curl up in reading socks with a mug of coffee and write in a journal are the equivalent in my world for lack of snow! So no matter where you live Hygge can be a reality!

20180208_103001.jpgMy office is full of books. One of the consultants in our building this year asked if these were school issued books. I laughed and said they were 99% my personal collection. The books I have now are about 25% of what I had a couple years ago. After a position where my boss made me move offices 3 times in one year I decided that moving the books one more time was just too much. I gave away books to students that likely had none at home and shared with colleagues. I started collecting books when I was an undergrad when introduced to the scholastic book order flyers – oh the books I bought for 99 cents!

I have a coffee pot that makes the room smell warm and inviting and keeps me fueled. I have the tables arranged in ways that can be used my bi-monthly professional development Workshop Wednesday. I have homemade bowls from art events from past students filled with chocolate, candy, post it notes pen and pencils.

Anchor charts are on the walls as well as funny and motivational phrases. I love a good quote!

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I also have a wall that is covered with personal pictures and fun things as well as the phone directory for my school. There is a section called “Things Overheard in Breitweiser’s Office”I always make it a point for there to be something interesting to read on the walls just in case my students’ minds wander! The wall has pictures of my kids and my husband, and post its of things to not forget.

20180208_104935.jpgThere are two large posters that have the results of the 16 personalities test I had the teachers do as a training to help understand each other better in order to collaborate. It also helps teachers understand how to work with some of the students that don’t seem to think the same way they do. It was a ripple effect I didn’t see coming. I write about this activity in this post.

The space is conducive to learning and I love it!

We laugh,

We learn,

We remember the joy of teaching.

It makes everyone a better teacher…and a better person!

What is the favorite part of your workspace?

This post was inspired by DIYMFA’s prompts!

Two Hour Delay…HOORAY! #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualIt’s a much happier day

When we have a two-hour delay!

I’ve been lucky this week to have 2- two-hour delays because of weather. This week it has worked especially well because it extended my fabulous weekend. Monday night is always a late night for me so this morning to get a little bit of extra sleep was wonderful. At this point in my life, I look at the two-hour delay as a gift of time. It is time for me to enjoy my coffee and for me to shower when the sun is actually streaming through the windows instead of the darkness.

The two hours allows the commuters and plows to rid the road of ice and snow. There is also the benefit of the sunlight. The difficulty this morning was drivers not reading the signs…

Five years ago I would have panicked and would have tried to get to school as quickly as possible no matter the safety issues. Luckily I never had an accident or some sort of problem.

Gifts of time are hard to come by and I’ve learned to appreciate them instead of trying to move quickly to the next thing!

What surprising gifts of time have you become aware of?

Memoir Book Review – Fast Draft Your Memoir by Rachael Herron

Write The Story Of YOUR Life

I was going to wait till later this week to post but am so excited about this book I couldn’t wait.

Rachael Herron’s book came out on Sunday! My coffee pot is humming in the background so grab a cup and read about why you need this book!

There are many reasons to check this book out:

If you love books about writing, this is the book for you!

If you want to write a memoir, this is the book for you!

If you are a writer that doesn’t want to write a memoir, this book is for you!

It is a workshop in book form. I was lucky enough to snag an early copy for review. I read a lot of writing books but this one is different.

I actually read this book and did the exercises. It motivated me to write.

It reads like a conversation between you and the author which is a style I gravitate to.

I particularly like Rachel’s voice in the first two chapters. I love the fact that this is her class in book form. People, she teaches at Stanford (STANFORD!!!)

“Our job as memoirists is to be able to not only report what happened, but what it meant. It’s a balance of showing and telling.”

She is completely reassuring that if you have reservations about telling your story. Her reassurance is humorous: “It won’t accidentally end up on a bookstore shelf.”

“After the book is complete, and after you’ve revised it once or twice with the help of a good editor who is not related to you (more on this later), only then do you start to decide how to handle the truths you are going to put out into the world.”

“But in memoir, we go into the deepest parts of ourselves, and we lift them up into the light. We display our broken bits. We show ourselves, naked and flawed.”

I did her 15 min exercise and ended up putting down 850 words. If I multiply that x4 my hour word count is 3400 words. I really have no excuse for not writing.

She talks directly to the reader throughout the book. She guides you through the exercises which make them more personal.

This book is an experience, not just a read through or workbook.

The outlining section was the one I was afraid of. I went through the instructions and have a great outline started – that went in a COMPLETELY different direction then what I thought at the beginning of the book. That felt like magic.

My personal memoir right now is hard to write. Some of the things I NEED to write about are too fresh. I make notes and write through some things but it is not ready for anyone to see it. I also realized that my professional book about education is really a memoir which means I have been able to use the same exercises to outline that book.

Story structure is not ignored in this book either.

There are examples for each section so as the writer you truly understand what Rachael is asking you to do.

There is reassurance and heart in this book. If you are a writer, or even have a glimmer of a thought of being a writer in any capacity…order it! You won’t be sorry.

Words from Rachael herself:

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • What a memoir is, exactly
  • Why you should (and why you shouldn’t) write a memoir
  • How to start it, and how to get it done
  • How to structure your story to make it truly satisfying to your reader
  • How to tell the truth when memory is fallible or weak
  • How to protect loved one’s feelings
  • How to actually make yourself write
  • How to revise it after you type The End
  • How to get it published

This book isn’t just about memoir, though.

This book is a collection of every tip and trick I’ve ever learned about writing. If you’re only interested in writing novels or poems or short-stories, this book is still for you.

Based on the curriculum I put together when teaching this class at Stanford (which is a $650 class, y’all), Fast-Draft Your Memoir is only $5.99 in ebook, or $11.99 in print. It’s also awesome to order it from your local library (libraries are the best!) if you’re on a budget!

And the Winner Is…

Me!

Thank you to https://amnaaslamblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/the-first-nomination-versatile-blogger-award/ for nominating me for this award! I am extremely excited and honored.

 

 

The rules for this one is quite simple:

  • Write 7 interesting facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 amazing bloggers for the award.

 

7 Interesting Facts about Me

  1. I have run with an Olympian. A couple years ago I was running regularly with my run club. One of the runners opened a running store and invited the authors of RUNNING THE EDGE to come and speak. One of these authors is Kara Goucher’s husband Adam, who is an Olympian in his own right. We then arranged for a group run at the Indiana Dunes State Park! It was an awe – some run!
  2. I have raced distances from 5K to 50 miles. I have run the Boston Marathon and I didn’t like the course.
  3. I read all the time. I am constantly reading something on my phone, I have a loaded Kindle, I am checking out books from several libraries at the same time, and I always have a book with me in my purse. I probably should be patted down before I go anywhere. I would rather be reading than socializing at a party. You can read more about this concept here.
  4. I can only stay quiet for so long. I often tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I have to watch my filter…or lack of.
  5. I have the humor of a 14-year-old boy. For most people, this doesn’t match with what I look like. 🙂
  6. I have clothing schizophrenia – I will dress up in 5-inch heels and a nice dress and then wear black Adidas workout pants, Ball State sweatshirt, and running shoes the next day. I often get confused for a middle school student when I dress down.
  7. I am obsessed with good food, fire, and Hygge! I would move to Denmark…or Minnesota if I could …tomorrow!

My Nominees are:

  1. http://simplykaylee.com/
  2. https://jenniely.com/author/jennwp/
  3. https://newtreemom.wordpress.com
  4. https://onathought.com
  5. https://justsophandriley.blog/author/justsophandriley/
  6. http://sarahjuneblog.com
  7. https://insiderecessagain.wordpress.com
  8. http://imwritingtoo.blogspot.com
  9. http://imlivingmywords.blogspot.com
  10. http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com
  11. https://ureadiread.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/a-change-of-pace/
  12. https://readingtothecore.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/slice-of-life-catalog-nerd/
  13. https://mrspalmerponders.wordpress.com
  14. https://pleasuresfromthepage.blogspot.com
  15. https://redemma1991.blogspot.com/2018/01/soltuesday-getting-moving.html

5 on First Friday!!

5 on Friday

 

  1. Rachael Herron’s new book is released on Sunday!

Fast-Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours by [Herron, Rachael]

You can preorder a copy here.

If you love books about writing, this is the book for you!

If you want to write a memoir, this is the book for you!

If you are a writer that doesn’t want to write a memoir, this book is for you!

It is a workshop in book form. I was lucky enough to snag a copy for review and will be posting more and a full post next week. I actually read this book and did the exercises. It motivated me to write. It reads like you and Rachael are having a conversation. Please check it out! The audio version will be out soon as well.

2. My 6 word story for today:

HOPE THE FASTFORWARD BUTTON UNSTICKS TODAY.

3. Workshop…Friday?

I participated in an AMAZING workshop today on reading, writing, and teaching. I was able to be surrounded by my tribe and talk books and writing. We talked about hopes and dreams for our students surrounded by great text and thinking. I have some great anchor charts on my wall now too!

Reading Is THINKING!

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4. Extraordinary Exit Ticket from Lisa Vahey

Using an index card there are two acronyms to reflect:

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WWW – WHAT WENT WELL

EBI – EVEN BETTER IF

5. Daily Poem

This week I started writing a poem throughout the day. I am capturing what is happening with a poetic phrase or two.

Feb 2

It’s Groundhog Day.

It’s Groundhog Day.

6 more weeks of winter

I am ok with that.

Not such a bright moon as yesterday.

My tribe.

Too many directions.

But happy glitter is on the floor.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Welcome to Feb!! We Made It!

January felt really long.

Throughout the month I did FEEL like a useful engine!

I…

  • Submitted a story to a contest
  • Wrote every day
  • Increased my blog traffic
  • Found some AWESOME bloggers I now add to my daily READ
  • Started work on my book proposal for my non-fiction book
  • Revised short stories
  • Kept a regular schedule for the gym and running. I was able to get a longer run in than I have been lately
  • I examined the relationship I have with the treadmill – I still hate it – but not as harshly
  • I read a book off my bookshelf
  • Work overall went well

For February I…

  • Will write at least four short stories
  • Will continue to revise
  • Will finish the book proposal
  • Will blog at least twice a week
  • Will run outside twice a week (If the wind cooperates)
  • Will continue to read in the edges
  • Will read books on my kindle and bookshelf
  • Will continue to refine and study the craft of writing
  • Will practice HYGGE! See my post here!