26 Questions

Thank you to This, That, and the Other for posting these questions on his blog!

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1. Share your profile pic:

2. Who are you named after?

Debbie Reynold’s movie character Tammy

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Sometimes. I write differently with different pens. I get compliments on my handwriting which makes me snicker.

4. What’s Your Favorite Lunchmeat?

Butterball Deli turkey –  thickly sliced

5. Longest relationship?

It will be with my husband.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

No, they were removed when I was 4 because I couldn’t eat because they had grown so large.

7. Would you bungee jump?


8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?


9. Favorite ice cream?

Coconut without nuts

10. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

Their shoes! ha ha Usually their smile – or lack there of.

11. Football or Baseball?

White Sox!!!

12. What color pants are you wearing?

You all lucked out! Usually, I am in a dress – today my pants are army green.

13. Last thing you ate?

Pork tacos from a little family owned Mexican place

14. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?


15. Favorite smell?

Bleach – it’s very clean!

16. Who is the last person you spoke to on the phone?


17. Hair color?

Dark blonde -all natural

18. Eye color?

Blue or green depending on my mood

19. Favorite food to eat?

Pizza or bread

20. Scary movies or happy endings?


21. Last movie you watched?


22. Favorite holiday?

Hands down – Thanksgiving

23. Beer or wine?

Both, but usually Jack.

24. Favorite day of the week?

Sunday – usually a slower pace

25 Three favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?

HubCity Girl

The Introverted Christian

Chuck Wendig

26. Added info you didn’t know you wanted

I like the random little lines of text that are added in books or articles. The footnotes if you will! It is the reason I liked Abundance of Katherines by John Green.


How would you answer these questions?

Pick them all! Pick one! Pick three!

Happy writing!


5 Writing Exercises on Friday


5 on Friday

  1. Freewrite with the phrase, ” The writing I need to do today…”

  2. Freewrite with the word: RAIN

  3. Freewrite with the word: HOPE

  4. Word Ladder from Lady Writer

  5. Make a list of 5 opening lines.


Which is your favorite? What will YOU write today?



Quotes I am Pondering Today

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“We can count on so few people to go that hard way with us”  Adrienne Rich


“You are only free when you realize you belong no place-you belong every place” 

Maya Angelou


Nicola Davies from his book: King of the Sky

“It rained and rained and rained.

Little houses huddled on the humpbacked hills

Chimneys smoked and metal towers clanked.

The streets smelled of mutton soup and coal dust.

And no one spoke my language.

All of it told me This is not where you belong.”


“Things take the time they take. Don’t worry” – Mary Oliver


A Short Story – List Form

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The following short story was inspired by a prompt from Julie Duffy from STORYADAY.org and authors Jennifer Eagan and Lydia Davis.


Life Changing To Do List from an Unnamed Character #15

  1. File
  2. Write my Manifesto
  3. Change insurance
  4. Change beneficiaries on life insurance.
  5. Refinance the car loan.
  6. Plan trip to Portland, Maine
  7. Clean out closet
  8. Drop off items to Goodwill
  9. Rent a Uhaul
  10. Find an apartment that fits the 7 foot dining room table
  11. Open a new bank account
  12. Order checks
  13. Apply for passport
  14. Buy a vacuum
  15. Purge

Smelly Marker Writing Exercise



Smelly markers – the good smelling kind! The ones that conjure up memories!

I love the Mr. Sketch Markers for anchor charts. They last forever and the smells bring great stories to mind.

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At the end of last school year I was able to order some markers for teachers and myself. I brought them to my presentation on Wednesday and everyone went crazy with “OOO I love those “and “Can I smell them?” I even converted a couple people who were not on the Mr Sketch marker train.

You know your kids have been into the markers when a colored dot is on their nasal septum (that part between the nostrils) even if they claim they have not been sniffing the delicious scents!

My favorite scent is the Brown Marker that smells like cinnamon. YUM!

In my presentation last week, someone said it would be great if there was a marker that smelled like McDonald’s french fries. Broccoli would not be a good scent for green. What do you think? What do you think your students would say?


Writing Exercise:

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Go write!


7 Writing Ideas #SOL18

Twitter Chat Blog Header 5I am the guest blogger at TeachWrite today! Check it out here!

sols_6Most of these ideas I use with picture books, but short stories and longer text can work!

  1. Quickwrite: For a predetermined set of time (use a timer) use what the book reminds you of in your own life. The rule is to continue writing NO MATTER WHAT!
  2. Stop reading in the middle of the book and have students write their ending. Finish the book the next day and do a compare and contrast!
  3. Use the title to write your own story.
  4. Write a letter to the author.
  5. Tweet to the author.
  6. Create an anchor chart “Phrases We Wish We Had Written”
  7. Use great vocabulary for a reading inspired word wall – Favorite names for these I have seen over the years:
    1. Dynamic Words
    2. Vivid Vocabulary
    3. Purple Words
    4. Fancy Nancy Words

When you are stuck with your own writing these ideas work for the adults too!

Happy writing!!

Write an Autobiography Assignment

pexels-photo-256468.jpegI used to teach a writing lesson centered around writing an autobiography in fifth grade. It ended up being a traumatic experience with a fifth-grade section.

The idea came from an assignment given to me by my therapist in the late 90’s. She knew I could write and what she requested for was me to write my story – an autobiography.

At this point in my teaching career, I was a reading specialist and I was working on producing work products of my teaching. I had discovered great value in writing out assignments for students. This also worked well because I had a written record of exactly what I had assigned to the students. I often just had the students write what struck me from what I was reading or from an assignment I had given myself. I am organic in that way. Sometimes a child centered discussion would dictate a writing focus.

I wanted to incorporate choice but also have a format for a longer piece of writing. I wanted to scaffold for them so they were not intimidated by a longer piece. Writing about themselves gave them a wealth of material to work with. I found out more than I had anticipated.

One thing I learned is there are consequences of being the type of teacher that gains student trust. The students want to be brutally honest and write for you. The stories the students wanted to tell me were heartbreaking.

  • One girl had been on Dateline because there was a court case pending about her father murdering her mother.
  • A boy wrote about a sibling and father dying because the dad ran into the fire to save them.
  • One child that had never had a birthday party in their entire life and not because of religious reasons
  • One child wrote about a baby sibling murdered by the dad in the crib.



What I Would Change Moving Forward

  • Have a modeled autobiography. I do always write with students as I do a think aloud but did not save any of my own models from teaching this lesson.
  • I would collect student samples of work and use them as exemplars.
  • I would have many mentor text examples of autobiographies.
  • I used to have a note about not writing about video games but took that out after hearing Ralph Fletcher speak about writing with boys.

Here is the student print assignment:

Autobiography Planning

Your paper will be five (5) paragraphs long. One beginning, three body, and one conclusion. Please circle your choices.

Beginning: Choose One (1)

1.Family History – the country your family is from, interesting stories, famous people in your lineage

2. Birth – Where parents got your name, what it means, where you were born, when you were born, what time, what hospital, etc

Body: Choose Three (3)

1.Early Life – memories of another grade and/or preschool, baby stories

2. Family – who are you are in your family, people brothers, sisters, mom, stepdad  -where you live: apartment, trailer, house etc

3.Siblings – interesting stories about your brothers or sisters, you compared to them

4. Pet Peeves

5. Special time/traditions – special family times

6. Life’s Message – collect quotes that mean something to you and reflect what they mean to you. Quotes can be famous or something from parents.

7. What No One Knows – Who you are, what dreams you have, what worries or frightens you,  what you care about,  what you feel strongly about, something you like to learn

8. Special interests – hobbies,  what you like to do when you are not at school


  1. Your Future – career family college tech school goals
  2. What is happening in your life right now


Other related activities:

Rambling biography from teacher Linda Reif 

“Where I am from” George Ella Lyon 


**Something fun that happened was the fascination and interest in the meaning of student names. They became obsessed looking up the meanings!

May Day #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualOne of my favorite writing prompts I use on May 1 is:

Finish this sentence: One day MAYbe…

How would you finish this sentence today? Please reply in the comments!

One day MAYbe I will see my name with my short story in an anthology with other short story writers!

One day MAYbe I will take a walk in the sunshine in May in Indiana! (Today might be that day)

One day MAYbe I will work my 6 pack abs back in shape!

In other news…

I am participating in STORYADAY May! So excited! If you would like to see the Day 1  prompt from Julie Duffy click here.



Happy writing today! And yes, I do like exclamation marks today – I do like May.


5 on Friday! Favorite Mentor Texts for Ideas #SOL18 #TWTBLOG

5 on Friday


These 5 favorite books have been read to countless children over the years by me. They are books I return to over and over. I use these mentor texts for the exemplar of the writing and to use as a springboard for ideas. I have included suggested prompts but there are a variety of craft lessons that can be gleaned from each book.

All the Places to Love

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I love the language in this book. This book was introduced to me when I initially was trained in 6+1 writing with Ruth Culham. It never gets old to read aloud. All her books are amazing.

Writing prompt: What is the place you love?


The Black Book of Colors

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This book was introduced to me by Lester Laminack in a workshop session. It is a book the children want to touch. It is unique and has braille as well as print. There are unusual connections to color and how we think of hues.

Writing Prompt: Write your own poem! Use imagery to convey what you see in your brain.

Saturdays and Teacakes

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Picture books are meant to be savored. This book is memoir written by Lester Laminack and tells the story of the relationship he had with his grandmother. There are tons of craft lessons in this book. Lester made many intentional moves to lead the reader where he wants them to go. Spacing, repeated phrasing, the illustrations, etc. This book is one you can come back to again and again.

Writing prompt: Tell a story of an important person in your life. What is something special you do together?

I Want My Hat Back

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This book produces more conversation about the ending than any other book I read aloud. It is not for every class. I typically read it in upper elementary and higher. This book is fun to read and perform. The looks on kids faces at the end is something I never tire of.

Writing prompts: What REALLY happened to the rabbit? What kind of character traits does the bear have vs the rabbit?

This is the Rope


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Jacqueline Woodson is a national treasure in my eyes. Her books always take difficult topics and tells the story in the most beautiful ways.

Writing prompt: What is an object that is special to you? What is its story?